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Crafting a slate

November 14, 2007

This is an entry about the crafting systems in Tabula Rasa. In short, I think there is some potential, but at least one of the crafting systems definitely need more work and they really need to get the player-driven market in place. It does not feel that they have spent a huge amount of effort to make some good crafting systems – there are elements that probably look good on paper, but does not work out that well in real life.

Now on to more details, if you are interested. Tabula Rasa contains two crafting systems, one which you make various types of consumables and another one to enhance weapons and armor.

The enhancement crafting

The latter one is a system where various modifiers to boost your character and debuff your character’s enemies, which importantly is separated from the regular properties of the weapons/armor they are applied on. This is a bit different from a number of other MMORPGs where modifiers on the different items are fixed to that item, e.g. the Sword of the Howling Guineapig might enhance your spirit by +12, if that is no use for you then you might consider yourself out of luck, even if it looks cool.

City of Heroes is an example of a game where the modifiers are completely separate and other future games, like Chronicles of Spellborn also seem to go for a design with slotting of modifiers, thus separating looks from good-to-have properties. So one may have the option to both look good/cool and have useful modifiers.

Adding modifiers to the “slots” of weapons and armor is disguised as a sort of crafting in Tabula Rasa. Since this slotting is separated from the core properties of an item, the rarity of an item does not dictate how cool/good properties an item has – all items of the same type and level requirement has the same core properties. The rarity instead dictates how many “slots” are available on the item for modifiers, from vendor/standard items, through green, blue and purple items. More rare items have more “slots”.

To get the parts to enhance an item, one has to disassemble other items with enhancements on it, destroying the item in the process. This looks a bit similar to Earth&Beyond’s crafting system, as well as World of Warcrafts enhancement profession.

This system was revamped not long before the release of the game and it is now in a state which seems reasonably usable – at least of they get the player-run economy and market in place soon enough.

The consumables crafting

The second crafting system requires investment in certain available skills, which is different from the enhancement crafting. The problem here is that while the previous system did get some improvements in beta, this other system pretty much seems to have stayed as is. One has to invest skill point to be able to craft the consumables, but there there is little help or indication that crafting these will be worthwhile. Judging from the items at lower levels there is very little incentive to spend time on crafting. A number of the items can be bought from a vendor and those those that cannot be bought does not seem to provide any siginifcant advantages, at least not at the lower levels.

The system also suffers from too many items that can be crafted and too low volumes of the things that can be crafted. With all the different recipes available there are too many options, leading to a lot of recipes that just get dumped at vendor, because there are too many uninteresting consumables recipes dropped. Too many different recipes also makes it more difficult to find and get the correct parts to construct the item. Many parts can be bought from vendors, but that just ends up being more expensive to craft an item than buying a corresponding item directly. And some items have relatively low volumes, e.g. crafting recipes for various types of ammunition is for 100 units at a time. 100 rounds of ammunition can be consumed very fast sometimes (e.g. machine guns or to some extent polarity guns) and when people buy new ammunition in the 1000s, getting to a crafting station to craft another 100 rounds is something that is not likely to happen.

What I would like to see here is that they both cut down on the number of items that can be crafted, e.g. the 3 types of medpacks at each class level. At the very least cut it down at lower levels. Also, instead of having a huge amount of recipes, one for each type of item that can be crafted, make groups of items instead. E.g. put all the grenades at a certain class level in one group and create just one recipe for those. The recipe can require some mandatory parts and then maybe some optional parts in order to make specific types of grenade. E.g. all grenades will require part A. If you want to make EMP grenades, you need parts A+B. For fragmentation greandes you need A+C, concussion grenades A+D etc. But it is the same recipe for all of them.

And also simplify the current model to construct other parts from more simple parts. It is too many steps to reach the end result and too difficult to find the proper parts. Look at the simplification done in Everquest 2 to crafting and the simple but well designed system in City of Heroes/Villains. This is not A Tale In The Desert.

Luckily the developers realized that they need a player-driven market system in place – they realized that a bit late, but at least they are working on that. This was one of the big flaws of Earth&Beyond, which only had a chat channel for trading. Look at and learn from City of Heroes system – it took them years after release to add a market and crafting system, but when they did that they designed it to fit well with the rest of the game. I really do hope they put in a consignment house system like in City of Heroes/Villains also – that would be preferable to an auction house system, if one would have ot be chosen.

Enough of my ranting now. While I might not come out so positive about the crafting in Tabula Rasa, I still have good hope for improvements. Until that happens I would at this point ignore the consumables crafting – it might become a bit more useful at higher levels and by the time the higher levels are reached they might have something about it.

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Categories: Tabula Rasa
  1. November 16, 2007 at 20:49

    “Too many different recipes also makes it more difficult to find and get the correct parts to construct the item.”

    Absolutely. I have been having a hard time with this as well. These components don’t auto stack in either the footlocker or backpack and even still I have no clue which component I will need for lower end and which I will need for higher end crafting. The system is easy and frustrating at the same time.

    I love the enhancements that you can add to weapons/armor and this is the only thing I have been spending my time on.

  2. sente
    November 17, 2007 at 14:05

    In theory you should be able to construct higher end components from lower end ones (when it comes to consumables crafting), but that just works out in theory.

    The enhancements part is pretty decent and since no skill points is needed for it you do not really waste any precious points by playing around with it. Only dropped items are potentially wasted, or the item you enhance if you have some bad luck and add a higher level enhancement.

    They should also include a sort option and fix the icons for some of the components.

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