Crafting by design the Star Wars The Old Republic MMO approach

With the first blog that I will post about the crew skills system in SWTOR I wanted to reach back into a dev blog from the main site and show you why it was that I decided I was going to partake in this crafting system they are creating.

from the dev blog entitled  ” closer look at crew skills” written by Patrick Malott located at

http://www.swtor.com/news/blog/20101203

You can find what I am referring to there.   I wanted to take just the first part because to me it says enough to let me know I like where this is heading…

“I’m Patrick Malott. I’ve worked as a Game Systems Designer on various titles over the years, but what we’re working on here at BioWare Austin is my dream project: Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. In my current role, designing and building out the Crew Skills system is one of the biggest projects I’m involved in. As a passionate multiplayer online gamer myself, I know that crafting is a critical part of the experience for many of you, and I’m dedicated to making sure you enjoy the way it works in The Old Republic. In this blog, I want to shed some light on the design decisions we’re making with Crew Skills… and I might just drop a few new specifics on the Armstech crafting skill.

The Design Approach

As the System Design Team prepared to create the Crew Skills system, we spent a lot of time examining crafting systems in other games, noting the pros and cons of as many systems as we could find. Our primary goal was to create a system that’s fun and rewarding, so we gathered inspiration from the pros and scrapped the cons. During the process, we also kept our minds on innovation, making note of crafting features we’d always wanted to see. In the end, it took many long hours and lots of careful consideration to decide exactly what features would make Crew Skills into a truly exceptional crafting system.

The system has shaped up well, and we’re excited about the results. The Crew Skills system offers crafting features that players expect along with surprising innovations that make our crafting experience stand out. For example, in The Old Republic there are multiple ways to gather resources. Not only can you gather resources yourself, but companion characters in the field can be ordered to take care of the task. Companions stationed on your ship can also be sent on gathering missions, freeing you and your active companion up for action. Gathering missions will even continue while you’re offline – the ultimate in efficiency! Allowing several gathering options enhances the crafting experience by accommodating a variety of play styles, making crafting interesting and useful for everyone.

Companions and Crafting

Companion characters are a key part of The Old Republic, so one of our goals for Crew Skills is to fully incorporate them into the system. Having companions perform crafting tasks and missions encapsulates the approach we desired for crafting, and adds to the story and detail of the game world.

Players can issue crafting orders to up to five companions at a time, and each companion can add up to five crafting tasks to their queue. You can cancel crafting progress from anywhere if you need to, and the resources your companions were using will be returned to you. Your crafting queues will even continue to progress if you have to go offline – when you log back on, you’ll receive any items that were completed while you were gone.

Your companions all have different skills and personalities, and their strengths carry over into the Crew Skills system. Some companions are better suited to particular Crew Skills than others. We revealed recently that Vette is an excellent Treasure Hunter; that means she’ll have a bonus when performing Treasure Hunting missions. Companion traits in Crew Skills are designed to be story-appropriate and meaningful, but the bonuses aren’t designed to be so extreme that you’ll feel you only have one companion choice for a given task.

Companions are much more than just a block of stats to be ordered around, of course. In true role-playing fashion, what your companions think about you will affect how motivated they are to work for you. Companions with high affection will have their ability to perform crafting tasks greatly improved. For example, a companion with high affection can craft items faster – this becomes really significant when crafting tasks can take hours or even up to a day to complete!

Though companions are vital to The Old Republic and the Crew Skills system, we do know that some players want to be the primary crafter for all their crafted items, or for particularly special pieces of equipment. It’s worth noting that players will definitely need to be directly involved in the process when learning rare schematics, and that Lightsabers aren’t acquired or assembled via the Crew Skills system. We’ll have more details on this later.

The obvious care and planning that has went into this system gets me very excited.  There are many items I see that I like.  The more I think on this design they have concocted, the more I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

One of the proposed mechanics that jumps out and grabs me right away is the EVE style offline skill queue sort of feel.  That was something that kept me in that realm longer than I should have and was something that fed my completionist mentality.  A very addictive mechanic to be sure.

I remember times when I was subbed to that game that I would go weeks just logging on everyday to check my skill queue totals and then log out.  If I was willing to pay to just do that in EVE, how much more will I be willing to do in this vibrant system?

Especially when I see things like this:

“Your crafting queues will even continue to progress if you have to go offline – when you log back on, you’ll receive any items that were completed while you were gone.”

That makes the min-maxer in me smile as I know this is something I will certainly be interested in.  Spreadsheets galore!

When you combine this with the possibilities that the companion system will add to the mix you begin to see a whole new batch of options arise.  As a Bioware fan from the past, I know what the companion system could become.  I can’t wait to engage in a sidequest geared towards garnering me affection with my slaves…err compainions.  🙂

Another thing that gets me excited is this:

“It’s worth noting that players will definitely need to be directly involved in the process when learning rare schematics”

The ability to acquire “rare schematics” thrills me as a crafter at heart.  Long have I dreamed of being in this game and being able to get those kinds of drops in the SWTOR MMO universe.  Hopefully there will be the ability to acquire truly unique to one player account, rare schematics allowing you as the crafter to be the only one that can craft a certain item on a server.

luckily, I have information from a developer interview that answers that same question.  I will however save it for the next installment of swtorcrafter!

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About swtorcrafter
About the author (using the term loosely) swtorcrafter is a crafter at heart, dating back to the start of the Ultima Online beta. It was there that he developed his love of massively multiplayer online game crafting systems and economies in online games. It was there that he was first introduced to what it was like to actually play online with other people. It was a grand six years. The longest he has been in any one MMO since. He has searched countless realms since trying to recapture that feeling, sometimes finding satisfaction, sometimes not. Now as he grows older he decides it is time to go all in, one last bold attempt at finding that perfect anvil, the crafting system of his dreams. Enter stage right..... Star Wars The Old Republic MMO by Bioware *Fingers crossed*

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