I have always enjoyed the side-track of crafting in most RPG’s, be it SWG or table-top D&D. As the internet becomes saturated with MMO-wiki’s the challenge for new games to create intricate and challenging crafting mini-games is daunting. How can new games give their players the ability to ‘invent’ or craft new items by trial and error? Once a recipe is ‘invented’ anyone with Google can get the specifics, negating the need to spend time, resources and creativity in pursuit of crafting.
Adding a random chance into basic A+B+C recipes leads to grinding, not invention. Nerfing the best gear available to be crafted, in order to limit min-maxing of wiki-recipes, in turn nerfs crafting altogether. Is there a middle ground? Can intricate and original crafting systems exist in today’s environment of infinite-wikis?
Once thing that has intrigued me recently has been the use of Communification to solve some of these problems, and it might be used to help fix crafting. What if an MMO were to embrace it’s own Wiki, and incorporate it into the game by allowing ‘sub-classes’ for content generating players within a framework that rewards them for accuracy and censors the use of spoilers.
Another angle would be the inclusion of a recipe for each non-unique item in the game. With each specific item, proprietary rights could be granted to the first player to decipher the recipe, with item rarity determining how many players could ‘learn’ the recipe before it can not be ‘learned’ by anyone else.
The use of random chance could even be tweaked to diminish the need for grinding and increase the desire to experiment. If a diminishing percent of success was used for crafting an item each time a copy of that item was made by any and all players, recipes would be hoarded and kept secret by those who put effort into discovering the recipe.
Any (and all of) these quick thoughts do rely on the addition of content on a regular basis. When new content is added, even low level items should be changed, even if just the name and recipe, if not in stats and graphics. This would not only keep players testing and experimenting, but it would also regularly invalidate most of the independent wiki-spoilers that are sure to appear.