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Crafting as the Lifeblood of MMOs

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This is adapted from a comment on another poster's argument for why Lineage 2 was a good MMO, which contained a point that the exclusivity of crafting to the combat-weak dwarven blacksmiths created a neat interaction between that category of players and all of the rest. I thought it was sufficiently different to warrant its own thread.

MMOs devs don't seem to understand that crafting has to be meaningful or you might as well not put it in.. And meaningful has to be from a game play perspective, which fundamentally requires that it be restricted by something (class in the case of L2), else it becomes meaningless.

In OSRS (RS circa 2006, not the modern OSRS) you were restricted by the lack of an auction house which creates the need to login to the server W2 (always difficult) and go find what you need. This made crafting your own things make more sense in many cases (not just the skill crafting, the general sense of the term). With the addition of the grand exchange, crafting skill levels are now nothing more than numbers and arbitrary requirements for quests. They are essentially removed from the game play loop. Ironman mode (no trade) does a good job of putting them back in. There isn't a single item (correct me if I'm wrong) obtainable exclusively through a combination of gathering and crafting skills (no PVM) that is best in slot, which now makes those skills once again removed from the game play loop even for Ironman, but that is another issue (really it isn't. The restriction on crafting items has been removed, so crafting becomes meaningless).

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It's really a shame. This potential for cool economic interactions is what made MMOs awesome for me as a kid/adolescent. MMOs are inferior in every other way to lobby based multi-player games, RPGs, etc. or some combination thereof. I keep looking out for a game that manages to remedy this, but until one does I think that no matter which particular itch I wish to scratch at a given moment, MMOs are outclassed by another category or games for scratching that itch. Unique barter-type economic interactions with other humans within the context of a larger game are the only thing that isn't replicated elsewhere, but it's been decimated, whether by automation via auction houses or other means (PVM gear blowing craftable gear out of the water). I don't think it's just rose colored glasses, either – I used to make a majority of my money in the old RS by a combination of crafting and bartering (I'd hang out in banks like Catherby and buy up banksales (garage sales, essentially, for those unfamiliar) at a discount only to traverse to W2 when my funds were depleted to sell everything at the market value at a profit). I was able to take advantages of inefficiencies in the market due to lack of player knowledge of shifting prices and lack of willingness to travel to W2 just to save a few coin (so, I was providing a service in a way). I've heard some indicate that Albion might be the closest to successfully reviving this feature of olden MMOs, but I wasn't really impressed with the remainder of the gameplay. It can't really be the main attraction – it's more of a soul which is required for a game to really feel alive, IMO, rather than the primary pull of a game.

Anyway, while I've admittedly not tried many modern MMOs – as I became a bit disillusioned with the ones I did try – those are more or less my thoughts on why I in particular feel disenfranchised by them.

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