Many video games these days have some sort of crafting system, whether it be an integrated part of a larger game purpose, as in MMORPGS, or the entire purpose of the game, such as in Minecraft. In these games, players craft everything from bonnets to bullets and handbags to houses. This editorial will talk about the crafting systems in two games that I have played: World of Warcraft and Terraria.
As Lusiprites everywhere know, World of Warcraft is an MMORPG with, among other elements, a reasonably robust crafting system. Players choose two professions, some of them used for gathering materials and some of them that use those materials to create items. The ultimate purpose of the majority of these items is to improve players’ characters so that they can fight other players and monsters more effectively. Like most games with crafting systems, many of the items that can be crafted in World of Warcraft require the player to be near a crafting station, such as an anvil, forge, or campfire. Unfortunately for players, these items are not portable, so the player is required to be in a major settlement in game in order to craft many items. Also, because players are only allowed to have two major professions at any given time, they run into many problems. If the player does not have a gathering profession that supports their crafting profession, they are forced to either make another character with that gathering profession and go through a very tedious level up process in order to support themselves, or they are forced to play the game’s auction house. It is a vicious cycle in which players need money in order to afford the materials and recipes that they need to craft items which they then sell for more money to buy more recipes and craft more items. Worst of all, the most important recipes in the game are only found in raids and dungeons as rare item drops that bind to the player as they pick them up, making it incredibly unlikely for a player to have those recipes. While it keeps the items created using those recipes valuable on the auction house, it means that a player who wants to stay current with their professions is forced into the endless hours of raiding that make the World of Warcraft endgame content so inaccessible to any but the most hardcore of players. Though the crafting system in the game is well thought-out, I consider it a failure, especially in comparison with other games that involve item crafting.
Terraria is another PC game, this time with almost the entirety of its focus on crafting. It is a 2D indie game that is very similar to Minecraft, with the exception that in Terraria, the player does have an ultimate objective. The players collect material with which they can build a house, weaponry, armor, and accessories that can be used to combat monsters. Players can create stations at which they can forge more advanced items. For instance, a player can craft a forge that can be used to turn metal ore into bars, which can be crafted into weaponry and tools at a workbench that the player builds out of wood. A person can play alone or with friends, but the player does not need to play with others in order to fully experience the game. There is a tier system when it comes to crafted tools. Some tiles in the game are too strong to be broken down by some metal types, so the player must create stronger tools in order to break down better materials into a state where they can use them to create more advanced armor and weaponry. When players feel that they have crafted the best weaponry and armor for themselves, they can explore the game’s vast dungeon in order to eventually defeat its boss, the Wall of Flesh. Once the Wall of Flesh is beaten, the world expands and new materials are added, which the player can use to create even more powerful tools, armor, and weapons. It is up to the player whether or not they wish to use the game only to build impressive homes for their characters, fight monsters and defeat bosses, explore, or any combination of those things. With the only restriction to crafting in the game being that the player must find more powerful materials to break down powerful materials, the game’s crafting system is far more accessible than that of World of Warcraft.
Whether or not people enjoy Terraria or World of Warcraft or any other game, the fact remains that item crafting is a large part of many of today’s most popular games. A good crafting system can make the difference between tedium and accessibility in a gamer’s experience.