A short disclaimer first. I’m not aware of every single crafting system in every single MMO so before telling me I might be “stealing” an idea from another MMO keep that in mind. Hopefully that’s not the case but eh …

A story about a newly born crafter

Back when I was playing SWG there was a time I had 2 accounts. My not very successful bounty hunter and an alt used for crafting. When I created that new character I thought playing a crafter would be quite enjoyable. I wasn’t in a hurry to become rich and just wanted to have my small store to waste some time so I figured that I would be able to level-up while selling the stuff I was crafting to get XP. Oh I was so wrong …

I wanted to become a weaponsmith and mostly sell to my guild first as I knew there were many renown and hardcore weaponsmiths out there so I wasn’t trying to compete against them on a large-scale. I first had to make it through the artisan profession and that’s when I realized that nobody would buy the stuff I was crafting to get XP simply for the fact that most of what an artisan could craft was completely useless. I tried to convince master crafters to let me sell them some components but it was hopeless. What I could craft they could craft better and it wasn’t even annoying thanks to factories automating the process. So I grinded …

I finally made it to apprentice weaponsmith and thought I would finally be able to do something interesting. Wrong again. Why would anyone buy that cheap and ridiculous pistol when you can buy the best ones from a master weaponsmith for the cost of running a couple of simple missions to get the necessary credits. Even when I started to be able to create some of the weapons people would buy a master weaponsmith was still better at crafting them since their skills bonus were maxed. Great …

I ended up forgetting about being a weaponsmith (I just couldn’t grind anymore) and started selling resources and speeders in crates which was the only thing I was able to sell.  Players were always blowing up their speeders so it meant that even I would be able to sell that.

Getting rid of useless items

So for Star Corsairs there is no artificial skill tree filled with useless items you must grind before being able to craft something you can actually sell. In fact there are no skills at all. There are schematics you must buy and to buy those schematics you’ll have to figure out a way to make some credits. The quality of a crafted item is not determined by your skills or level but by the resource you use. And no you don’t need to fight you way in a high-level zone to get “better” resources.

So how to make credits to buy new schematics? By crafting and selling items. Isn’t it how it should work anyway? But what can a new crafter craft when he joins the game and some people have been playing for months or years?

Tech levels and getting rid of fixed recipes

Every items you can craft always start at a tech level of 1. Instead of having some items being outrageously more powerful right away and that can only be crafted by “masters” you have to upgrade the tech level of existing items.

For example you want to put some powerful turrets on your big capital ship. You first pick a turret of your choice (with the stats you are looking for) which is of tech level 1 (and that everyone else can craft as well) and then you pick the resource you want to use to craft this turret. There is 1 resource slot in which you have to put maybe 100 resources. If you put Elecanium in this slot then the maximum damage of the turret will be improved by 10% while the maximum range will drop by 10%. If you put Catesium then the fire rate of your turret will be faster by 10% but the turret will be less efficient against shields by 10% (those are all fictional numbers btw).

So as you can see the stats of your turrets depends of the resource used. The resource used will vary based on what kind of turret you want. Are you looking for a heavy-hitter with a short-range or a fast-firing turret that might inflict less damage? There are many more combinations based on stats but that gives you an idea.

So now you have a tech level 1 turret but it still isn’t great to put on a capital ship. That’s when you reprocess this same turret to improve its stats. It works the same way as creating a new item. You have 1 resource slot but this time it will require more of it. Instead of requiring 100 units it might require 200 units. Once again you are free to use any kind of resource you like. So if you use Elecanium once again the maximum damage will be improved by 10% again but the range will also drop by 10%. Here you can see that you won’t be able to use Elecanium all the way up to tech level 10 for example. You might need at some point to use another type of resource that will raise up the range of your turret a bit but at the cost of possibly lowering another stat.

So as you can see this system will allow you to create a multitude of different turrets out of the very same schematic. What’s in there for new crafters? Well it’s quite easy for them to sell tech level 1 turrets specialized for damage for example. The guy playing for years won’t be any better at creating this turret but he might be very well interested to buy it to transform it into an amazing damage specialized tech level 20 turret though. Sure he can decide to craft everything himself from the ground up but it means spending time and resources on something that in the end won’t be any better than the one he could buy right away.

Bottom line

The idea behind this system is “if it’s not useful later than it’s not useful at all”. Fox example what’s the point of “healing potions” if you can buy “extra healing potions” later for cheap? If you had to use normal healing potions to craft the extra type then it would serve a purpose other than dividing newbiws and veterans. In Star Corsairs if you can craft it right away it means it’s always relevant. I’m not saying this system would be good for all games but for what I’m going for with Star Corsairs it’s perfect. The faster I can get new crafters to play a meaningful role in the economy the better. I had such a frustrating time trying to become a crafter in SWG that finding a way to “fix” this has been on my mind since them.

That’s why game development is great. Don’t like something you have played? Go on and do it the way you’d like it to be!