It’s rough when articles you envision begin to sound like a broken record. Bear with me in this one, however, because we have a ton of new players coming into the game and it’s absolutely essential to understand a few key concepts to truly grasp Crowfall. Sure, there are methods and ways around some of the system designs the Crowfall team has put together (the largest and most glaring being buying into a half dozen “alt accounts”). The intent is fairly clear, however, of ACE incorporating community building blocks in every aspect of their game design (despite murder-hobo’s tendency to prefer these types of sandboxes). So let’s take a look at some research we did on Tradeskills within Crowfall.
You’ll need to note that we broke out each of the gathering professions into separate “tradeskills”. The skill trees and specializations within each gathering and materials type almost necessitate this break-out. It is likely we’ll see individual gathering disciplines of some kind, so this isn’t a stretch by any means. Instead of simply stating “gatherer”, you’ll see us refer to Gravedigger, Lumberer, Miner, etc. This also allows us to neatly show relationships and dependencies upon the various material types and crafter professions.
This is a fairly straight forward chart, but it does require a small caveat. We were made aware this weekend of yet another profession coming online called “Geomancy”. Geomancy appears to be the profession for players interested in crafting plots for EK’s (and possibly the people responsible for building cities in campaigns). This profession is one of many changes that we are faced with in the near future and so the accuracy of this chart is subject to change as game development progresses. With that said, it’s pretty clear based on the above chart which professions are going to be “easier” than others.
Any time a tradeskill requires numerous other tradeskills, the difficulty of said tradeskill increases. The most difficult tradeskill in Crowfall right now is Runemaking, by a landslide. Not only does it tie Blacksmithing for the number of other tradeskills it requires to fully operate, Runemaking is needed more than any other for dependent tradeskills to be successful. The primary reason for this dependence comes from its ability to craft high-quality material-gathering tools (think: mining picks, shovels, etc). As a result, Runemaking is likely to be the domain of the richest players in the game, should they have the necessary support network of crafters to create their high-demand products.
When looking at the Gathering skills, we see a fairly well-distributed requirement among the various crafting skills. This is a great design, as it means your gathering efforts can be sold to many buyers (niche markets suck for gatherers). Further, most of the gathering skills seem to be getting passed over right now to incorporate some of the larger node structures we’ve seen in Mining and Quarrying. These mother-nodes are ideal for group work, and it’s great to see this being passed around to all of the tradeskills (if that is, indeed, their goal). I like to see cooperative play encouraged by putting some firewalls between solo-play and group-play. This is a massively multiplayer game, after all. Some social interaction should be expected.
The biggest take-away you should have from this visual, however, is not that most of these tradeskills seem to be evenly balanced in their need to work with others. No, the biggest take-away is that you need to work with others!
When designing an MMORPG in this age, the worst thing you can do is to cater to the player who feels they should be able to be great at everything. Just like in real life, we all have our skillsets and it’s incredibly difficult to master everything (virtually impossible!). The same should be true of our virtual avatars, as well. By encouraging these inter-dependencies in the tradeskills and gathering skills of Crowfall, they’ve effectively created the need for players to develop a support system. Our friends can both help us and be helped. That’s important to creating meaningful relationships in a game, and bodes very well for players growing attached both to Crowfall and their support network. All of this social scaffolding allows us to picture an environment where the community begins to recognize players for the positive things they do in a game, and not just how notorious they might be.
More importantly, by not obfuscating the player’s identity behind some sort of auction house or market apparatus, we get to know people who aren’t in our social support network. This allows us to make additional connections, further growing our attachment to the game and community. The chart above is merely representative of one game system that shows the intent of Crowfall isn’t merely to replicate the crafting systems of other MMOs. It also isn’t about creating a robust player-driven economy (because how many titles have you seen make this claim…), despite actually doing just that. No, the real intent in Crowfall‘s Crafting and Gathering system design is to find as many ways as possible to bind players together and force them to rely on one another.
At this point, one might wonder what’s to stop you from simply creating 15 (at current count) different alts, so you can run around the world on your own. Sure it’s possible. I fully expect it to happen. I’ve yet to see anyone truly believe they could pull off 15 alt-accounts and be productive, though. It’s very obvious at this early stage that one person micro-managing 15 alt accounts to “cover the bases”, so to speak, wouldn’t come close to 15 actual players working together. Anyone who says otherwise is quite plainly deluding themselves.
We’ll take a look at how this chart might influence guild design in our next piece. Till then, happy hunting!