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And then the usual sample:
And you've asked for it. You've Waited for it! Crafting in Shroud of the Avatar
One of the top questions people have been asking is about how crafting in SotA works. Crafting in any game is huge but because of its heritage we wanted to make sure that crafting was both top notch and easily expandable for SotA. For the multiplayer game, crafting is also vital to a balanced economy and as a creative outlet to allow players to take a role in the society of the game that is not purely tied to adventuring. For single player, it plays a large supporting role in making the game feel like it is taking place in a believable world.
Because the outputs of crafting systems are hard goods, soft goods, and consumables that need to be balanced in comparison to other game systems that are still in a state of flux, we're only going to reveal the base system designs and core loops.
When we started the crafting design discussions there were a number of differing opinions on how to attack the problem a design standpoint. One idea was essentially work in reverse and figure out the outputs we wanted from the system and design the crafting system around the outputs. Another important voice on the topic was that crafting itself should be able to stand on its own without regard to the output because if not we could be asking a whole class of players(crafters) to endure a system that was designed only with another class of people (adventurers) in mind. Finally, some voices believed that we should address it from the head and base everything on realism because that is what people will expect from a Richard Garriott game.
In the end we feel have a system that will please most everyone and, most importantly, is a solid foundation from which to build on for future expansion. During production we will continue to tune both the systems, the inputs, and the outputs based on both player feedback and player behavior.
So now that we got all that BS out of the way, let's get to some of the reveals!
We've split the large category of (Crafting) skills into two major categories of resource production and crafting. While we haven't revealed much information on the skill system just yet, players who prefer to split their time between crafting and adventuring will be happy to hear that the crafting skill trees and adventurer skill trees are completely separated and do not share skill advancement points in any way. In other words, working on crafting skills will not hinder your combat or magic skills in anyway other than the time you lose to crafting!
Each of the five categories for the resource production is split into a gathering skill section and a refining skill section. For instance, for mining, there is one skill tree dedicated to the collection of ore and gems, and another for the refining of those into final forms for use by the crafting skills. This same idea is mirrored for the other four categories of hunter(skinning/tanning), forager(herb collection/preparation), woodsman(lumber collection/lumber cutting and planing), fishing(fish catching, fish cleaning).
Skill trees for each of the above categories has branches for faster collection/refining, more output from each collection/refining, higher quality collection/refining, and greater tool endurance for collection/refining.
The output from the above sets of skill result in the majority of the input for what most people think of as crafting. The major categories for crafting are Blacksmithing, Cooking, Tailoring, Alchemy, and Carpentry. The outputs from crafting are any of dozens of various recipes but the the outputs tend to fall into the categories of consumables, wearables, and decorations. They also generally fall into one of three categories for durability which are hard goods (never breaks), soft goods (wears out through use and needs maintenance), and consumables (use it is gone).
Due to economy and balance reasons we are striving towards balancing each category to make sure it has at least some items in each of the categories. After weighing the game balance with reality we decided that we were willing to accept that some areas of crafting would be more focused on an output aimed more at specific target audiences. For instance, trying to make sure that the output from the carpentry skill tree was equally important to an adventurer as alchemy and blacksmithing did not seem like a good use of time. Instead we decided to embrace that and let supply and demand dictate what players focus on instead of trying to artificially force each skill output to be of equal value to everyone.
Players who were reading carefully will notice that there was no mention of farming in the above resource or crafting skills. Currently we are planning on making farming a bit of a different type skill from the other resource production categories. The other resource skills involve going out and hunting for elements in the wild and the time to collect elements in seconds to minutes. Farming on the other hand is generally done in the safety of cities and villages and generally involves a lot of patience.
For our first pass at the resources, we are planning on leaving farming out of the main skill system and instead making it something that any player can enjoy without a huge investment of time. It will also give the player a reason to come check in on the game daily to harvest and collect goods which they can use in other crafting skills or use for adventuring.
The general process is that players would find, buy, or earn a seed of some sort. They would plant the seed, in their garden or the community garden(for those without a house) and possibly add other elements with the seed to help it grow better or differently. The other elements could be things from gathering skills(fish, granite, straight stick, manure, etc) or from adventuring. Some additions make the resulting plant create more seeds, some make it grow faster, some make the output more effective, some seeds simply won't grow without additional elements, and some have other more mysterious effects! While many of these garden recipes can be learned from talking to local villagers, many will only be found through experimentation!