Why I will never be a crafter (and Vanguard is innocent)

It’s surely not easy to create a good crafting system for an MMO. As a developer, you need to balance so many things: You want to create a moneysink with materials, special equipment and the like, you need to create a timesink with harvesting resources and yet you shouldn’t insult your players’ intelligence by making something repetitive and boring. You should make crafting itself interesting and perhaps even fun.

Considering how hard it is to keep all these factors balanced and how many games I’ve played in this genre, I still haven’t found any game that really pleases me. I’ll blame myself for it: I’m not a crafter, probably never will be. And that’s why I’m the wrong person to judge Vanguard’s crafting.

It seems interesting on the surface. Vanguard gives you separate experience tracks for harvesting, crafting, diplomacy and adventuring. Each of these also have separate equipment sets, so that you don’t have to saw wood in your evening robe or flirt with aristocrats in sweaty pants and a hard leather apron. So I donned some artificing gear and did some crafting starter quests, which happen in this room:

Check out all the crafting nerds!

The actual act of crafting is done through a sort of mini-game. For each stage the thing you’re crafting progresses through, you need different activities. For example, you need to polish some things towards the end, and you get to decide whether you do that just briefly or really thoroughly. Depending on how effective the actions are that you use, you will have to pay higher or lower action point prices. It seems I have 2500 action points I can use for each item I craft. This is what the mini-game looks like:

You can also run into complications while crafting. During this one, I cramped up and had muscle pains! The only thing that helps is relaxing, which costs action points. So if you run into a lot of complications, your original strategy for investing your action points might become impossible and you have to settle for creating a lower-grade item.

I don’t quite understand the system yet, but it makes more sense to me already than EverQuest II’s, and it’s more interesting than the “click on the recipe and you’re done” approach of Guild Wars 2.

There seem to be a bazillion recipes and half a dozen crafting disciplines, but I know nothing about those, or how the balance of crafted vs. dropped vs. purchased gear is in Vanguard, or how much time it might take to be a good crafter — and I will never find out. Because I realized, one more time, that I’m not a crafter. Sorry, Vanguard. It’s not you, it’s me!

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