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October 18th, 2021, 19:12
Logic Artists posted their new Dev Diary about crafting in Expeditions: Rome. They're planning a dev stream on Wednesday to discuss this topic.

DevDiary 8 - Crafting

Ave! You have discovered our eighth DevDiary. Last time, we went over all the character progression systems in the game, including how the loot system works - but there was one part of that we didn't have time to touch on: Crafting.

In roleplaying games, there are typically three ways to acquire new equipment: you can loot it off dead enemies, from treasure chests etc., or you can purchase it from a shop with your hard-earned gold, or you can roll up your sleeves and craft it yourself. Each method serves a slightly different purpose: loot drops are rewards for combat or exploration but are typically completely random. Item shops offer you some choice from a randomised menu. Crafting gives you full control over what item you'll get, but you'll have to invest resources, time, and effort.

We always thought there was too much overlap between these three methods - that the differences between them weren't quite significant enough to justify their existence. When we were fleshing out the item system in Viking, we wanted to eliminate one of these ways to get items, so your items would only come from two systems. We had to keep loot of course - exploration is a core pillar of our series, and as a viking, why shouldn't you be able to kill people and take their stuff? This left us with the choice between crafting and item shops, and crafting was clearly the more interesting system: it's more different from loot drops than item shops are in that it gives the player much more agency with less randomness, and in terms of the fantasy, it felt more right for a viking to forge their own weaponry rather than purchase it from a travelling sword salesman.

[…]

If you want to learn more about crafting or item progression, or about how our skill system was designed, please post your questions as comments on this post, and join us on this week's DevStream on Wednesday October 20th, at 1:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 PM GMT on the THQ Nordic Twitch Channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic. On this week's stream, Senior Producer Brad Logston will once again host Combat Designer Hans Emil Hoppe Rauer to discuss how crafting fits into the intricate meta systems of Expeditions: Rome.
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October 19th, 2021, 08:56
This sounds a tad curious for me. I could have sworn that there were people that you could buy weapons from in Vikings but maybe my memory is wrong and you could only buy crafting ingredients, food & other stuff.

Also, can't really see what they are on about "too much overlap". You can find stuff, which is free but kind of like a lottery, you can buy stuff, which means you get what you want but it will cost you or you can make stuff, which requires training, skillpoints, reciepes/blueprints, materials and so on.

To me, the three methods of "getting stuff" are complementary and the obvious overlap is hardly an issue.
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October 19th, 2021, 10:01
Originally Posted by Feist View Post
Also, can't really see what they are on about "too much overlap". You can find stuff, which is free but kind of like a lottery, you can buy stuff, which means you get what you want but it will cost you or you can make stuff, which requires training, skillpoints, reciepes/blueprints, materials and so on.

To me, the three methods of "getting stuff" are complementary and the obvious overlap is hardly an issue.
I haven't played Vikings but that sounded weird to me too. I'd say the overlap is welcome and realistic, theoretically. I'd prefer that to a game in which each item can only be obtained through one method. That's often the case, to simplify the design of the game. But if it already works that way, I'd keep it.
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October 19th, 2021, 15:00
Well, how much it overlaps depends on the grade of generalization. The main function
of these three methods is to provide equipment. So on this level the methods are the same and the overlap is complete. So from an economic viewpoint you can omit two of them saving development ressources. However when you generalize that much and have only an economic viewpoint, the game gets dull.
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October 19th, 2021, 19:24
Originally Posted by Feist View Post
This sounds a tad curious for me. I could have sworn that there were people that you could buy weapons from in Vikings but maybe my memory is wrong and you could only buy crafting ingredients, food & other stuff.
You could commission a blacksmith to craft weapons for you, but that required you to be on good terms with whatever faction they belonged to, or in some cases, sufficient diplomacy skills. Also, IIRC the very best weapons could only be crafted by one of your members. Or if not, at least that was definitely the cheaper way to get them.

Originally Posted by Feist View Post
Also, can't really see what they are on about "too much overlap". You can find stuff, which is free but kind of like a lottery, you can buy stuff, which means you get what you want but it will cost you or you can make stuff, which requires training, skillpoints, reciepes/blueprints, materials and so on.

To me, the three methods of "getting stuff" are complementary and the obvious overlap is hardly an issue.
Well, I think I see where they're coming from. If the crafting system allows you to make the best stuff or equipment that is just as good as everything you can find or purchase from a shop, then crafting obviously becomes the superior method; it's bound to be cheaper than buying the best equipment in shops and you have more control over what you can get than loot (unless you're using a walkthrough to find specific items obviously).

As you mentioned the developers attempt to "balance" crafting by making blueprints are expensive / hard to find, making certain ingredients rare, or by the tradeoff of spending skill points on crafting that could have gone towards another ability.

To some extent the scarcity of blueprints / materials works. However, my top complaint with Viking remains that they had too many damn crates and barrels to loot from. Really hope they learned their lesson for Rome.

With skillpoints… it depends on the game. With Expedition: Viking the problem was you could create additional party members pretty early on. This meant you could easily create a character whose sole purpose was to be the crafter. You never needed to use them in combat. So there was no tradeoff. In party RPGs that only have premade companions there's usually at least one who is the designated skill monkey, so there's generally not much need for your main character to learn crafting. So it's really only in the solo cRPGs where you might actually consider investing in crafting.

That said, I don't see why their game needs crafting. Personally, crafting is generally a feature I could do without in cRPGs. Complex crafting systems, while initially interesting, tend to become tedious because you have to spend so much time acquiring specific ingredients. Simple crafting is less of a chore but it's also pretty dull. Does it feel more rewarding to put a hilt and blade together than to simply find or buy the completed sword? I'm not sure. I liked the simplicity in BG2 approach to "crafting" but I don't think anyone would've found the game significantly less enjoyable if you found the Equalizer intact.

In post-apocalyptic RPGs I tend to think crafting is somewhat necessary. It makes sense in a chaotic world full of ruins why you'd need to scavenge and put together makeshift weapons & armor. Dead State has a really great example of crafting IMO. But in a medieval / bronze age RPG it doesn't really make as much sense why you even need a crafting system. It doesn't really make sense that any of your adventurer party members have comparable or even greater crafting skill than an experienced blacksmith. I'd rather developers focus their limited resources on other systems than something which is (at best) a tolerable way to get cheap equipment. But that's just my two coppers.
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October 20th, 2021, 00:32
Yeah I never liked crafting either unless it fit the setting myself. Anyway you are part of the Roman army. It consists of blacksmiths who should supply arms and armor.

Just like today's army the government supplies everything you need.
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October 20th, 2021, 08:32
I find crafting usually adds very little to games. I don't find it as rewarding as exploration so unless it's part of the exploration, I find it very subpar.

There are a few games where it's simple enough and provides nice benefits then I use it but it's rare.

The only examples I can think of are Gothic 2/3 and Age of Decadence.

In Gothic 2, smithing can give you a nice leg up in the mid game depending on what you've found, but exploration rewards you even more if I remember correctly.

In the Age of Decadence, either alchemy or crafting is almost required to maximise fighting potential depending on which one you prefer, but they work in similar ways.
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October 20th, 2021, 08:50
The thing about crafting is that it's mostly shit because no dev has ever properly focused on it in any meaningful way, permanently rendering it a curious add-on rather than a remarkable feature, a feature that has become a tick-box, nothing more.

Some games can claim to "have a good crafting system", but most of these will be games that came out when crafting was a new and fresh novelty that helped the game stand out from the crowd. The sense of novelty = positive memories.

Much like Disco Elysium proved that the RPG audience could be presented with a game that ticked many of the right boxes, but without a key feature (combat), we could one day be presented with an RPG where the devs solely focus on crafting in complete exclusion of all other forms of item acquisition.

And it could work. But would it be a blueprint or just a novelty? And how long would the sense of novelty last once everyone did it if it did become the norm? Is it preferable for such ideas to be exceptions to the rule rather than the rule, etc, for both fans of such games as well as their objectors.

I see a dev talking about crafting in their new RPG and I tend to roll my eyes, because every time I play an RPG with crafting I've always abandoned interest in it by mid-game as it's almost always uniformly pointless, finding and buying loot is always preferable, even if the potentially crafted item is uber-powerful, as the game is comfortably completable anyway without it, just with less hassle.

And crafting always feel like 'hassle'. Unnecessary hassle. Clutter. Etc. I'm not getting any vibes here that this game will break that mould?
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