A chief complaint I often hear when it comes to crafting in MMOs is that it is often an overlooked aspect that, if lucky, results in one or two key recipes once you’ve reached maximum level, but is otherwise a waste of time, money and resources in the game pursued only by completionists.
With as many MMOs as I have played, I sadly find this to be true more often than not. Many games have attempted to come up with ways to help crafters better monetize their skills (such as WoW allowing enchanters to infuse their enchantments into scrolls that can be sold on the auction house) while others have attempted to create dedicated tiers of crafted items that — if however briefly — exceed the quality and power of items you might otherwise earn through random questing. Unfortuantely, such tiers are easily and necessarily overshadowed by max level dungeon and raiding gear.
Something I have always proposed was that items should be looked at from their base components and potentially any item that exists in the game is learnable as a receipe given time, practice and expertise. In addition, an item’s “ilevel” should be equivalent to the skill level required to create it. Taking armor crafting as an example: You would have your standard city blacksmith who could teach you any number of common type items and techniques so that you could improve your skill through standard, mundane crafting. You might encounter the occassional recluse or eccentric or master level blacksmith in the wilds who have uncommon talents at their disposal that they could impart with the proper inspiration; but the real meat and potatoes of your crafting value would come from adventuring.
In the middle of a dark dungeon, you might face off against an enemy who drops an uncommon piece of armor you’ve never seen before. Returning back to your smithing station, you might opt to disassemble and reverse engineer the item for a chance at learning how to recreate it yourself. Being an uncommon piece of armor, there would be built in code that would set the base requirements (for example, the appropriate level metal ore, multiplied appropriately based on the body part the armor is designed to fit) followed by another formula that would enrich the recipe based on the bonuses granted by the armor in question (such was requiring infusion of elemental components for resistences, or herbs and gems to boost attributes, etc.). Such recipes would not necessarily need to exist in advance and could, in fact, be created by the game code on the fly as they are discovered — this would allow the coders to modify them later if need be.
But how do you prevent crafters from flooding the market with dungeoneering goods? First, by disassembling the item, they lose the item. No salvaged components would come from it. Further, they only have a chance at learning how to create the item — not a guarantee. The higher the rarity of the item, the smaller the chance to learn it. Further, the crafter’s exeprtise in the skill would have to exceed the “ilevel” of the item in question. Items of exceptional rarity or uniqueness may simply be coded to prevent them from being disassembled at all; the same could be true of soulbound gear such as those items earned at the end of complex quest arcs. Finally, limiting either the number or frequency of which a crafter might learn recipes through this method; allowing them to attempt a disassembly once every 24 hours and to successfully learn a new recipe once per week.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.