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Podcast 3 (crafting) by: Forged Chaos
 

Podcast of 11 february 2013 (crafting)

transcribed by Ildefonse

Please let me know of any inaccuracies or mistakes.

Brax: This time around we're going to talk about crafting. A few notes before we get into it, we're going to change the format of this podcast a little bit. We're not going to do a Q&A session. We've taken all of you questions and integrated them into a discussion about crafting. It'll make things a little bit more concise and I think we're going to cover a lot more detail. The other note is, we're not going to be covering your questions regarding structures today. Structures is its own topic and it deserves its own podcast in the future. 

So the overview of crafting is, it's going to be a very involved and engaging process. It's going to be easy to learn, yet just about impossible to master. You should expect for it to take time to craft items. It's not going to be the combine-click-create-in-two-seconds system that you might be used to from other MMO's. We're not going to have mini games in the sense where you must click a sword pattern at a particular location or anything like that to form something. That system, although we loved it, and we had that in the old design, for the sake of simplicity and being able to get this thing (ToA) out of the door, we had to simplify things. But I think you'll like this system just as much or more, once we get into the details of it.

We're going to be using a recipe system, but with quite a bit of twists. I know some of you and us too, would really like a free-form system where you thrown in a particular ingredient at a particular time and something happens, and we want that too, but it's a very complex system to code. So we're gonna stick with some recipes, but again, I think you'll really like the twists.

A few things to note, just about every single thing that you will see in the game will be craftable. Just like we have almost no NPC's other than guards and merchants, and we have very little impact on the economy, we're going to have very little say on what is and what isn't craftable. Another thing about our crafting system that's pretty unique is that you can attempt to craft anything at any "level", regardless of your skill. That doesn't mean you're going to make it, but you can certainly try. And there are techniques within the crafting system itself that can allow you a better chance of success than just clicking and praying. We'll get into that in just a few minutes.

The first thing I'm going to cover before we get into the process of crafting itself is the techniques. For those of you that have really studied our design, you'll know that techniques are essentially subsets of skills and they're things that you pick as you gain in the skill itself. The example we've used on the website is smithing, where the techniques are forming, tempering and balancing. Those techniques you pick up as you gain in the smithing skill in this case. At a certain point you'll be asked which technique you want to learn. Not all skills are going to have techniques, and some skills are actually going to have more than others. This is also where co-operative crafting comes into play. What I mean by that, is that you will never be able to master all techniques within your skill. So if you master forming, and maybe some tempering, it doesn't mean you've mastered balancing. So if you want a masterwork item (which is an item of the absolute highest standard both in quality and the quality of the techniques that were put into the item), you're going to have to pass it along to another crafter that has the techniques at a level that you don't.

I'm going to walk us through the example of crafting an item. The example is going to be a one-handed sword, via smithing. The first step is that you're going to interface with a crafting tool. Examples of crafting tools are things like a skinning knife, a hide rack, a cooking stove or a forge. We've got about 40 crafting tools planned at this time. That could go up or down based on development. The important thing to remember is that the quality of your tool can impact the quality of the crafted item. If you have a high quality tool it's going to help you, if you have an average quality tool it probably won't give you much impact, and if you have a low quality tool then it's probably going to hinder the quality of the crafted item. 

So you've interfaced with the crafting tool and in this case let's just say it's a forge. Each tool is going to allow you possibly one of three things. It's going to allow you to select from a list the items that you can craft directly from that tool, it's going to allow you to drop a crafted item onto it to continue its crafting process, or you can drop a completed item onto the crafting tool in the case of repair or salvage.

So let's craft out sword. The first thing you're going to do is click on the forge, because that's where you start crafting a sword. In the dropdown you're going to see in the list of available items that you can craft the one handed sword. You click on that, and it's going to ask you to light the forge. The only thing you really need for that is fuel, so let's say three wood. You have that in your inventory so the light forge button is clickable. You click it, and here's the thing to keep in mind. During the remained of your time at the forge, you're going to see a temperature gauge, and options to pump the bellow and add fuel, because you've got to keep the forge lit during the rest of this process.

As soon as you light the forge, step two is going to appear. And this step is the heating of the forge. This step will have a timer of say a minute, during which the forge is heating up. There's not much you can do other than wait, but if it's a non-interactive progress bar, you don't need to have the interface open for it to continue. You are just waiting for the thing to heat up. So you can just close the forge interface, go deal with a customer in your shop, or work on smelting some other iron. You can have multiple tools going at one time.

When the progressbar is complete and the forge is heated, step three is going to appear. Step three is forming the sword. It's going to require resources like an iron bar, and here is where you get to set some options, and I think you guys will really like this. Based on the step and the item, different options will be displayed. One of them is crafting speed. You'll have a little slider where you can set it to craft at a very slow speed of a very fast speed. And also things like techniques that you've learned. If you've learned a bit of forming technique in blacksmithing, you'll see a forming technique bar that you can also slide. What this says is basically I want to craft this at a very fast speed or a very slow speed, I'm going to craft this with as much forming technique as I know or not, it's completely up to you. And all these options are going to impact the speed of the progress bar as well as your crafting skill check.

So for example, if you just want to pump out a bunch of swords for the neighbourhood armory, you'd set your crafting speed to fast and not really use any techniques. You're just pumping out some run of the mill basic swords. So your time with speed weigh up and chances are you'd probably have a much lower quality at the end of it, but if that's your goal, if you're going for quantity over quality, you can do that in the system.

Vice versa, if you'd want it to be top notch, you'd set your crafting speed all the way to slow, meaning you're being very careful with the forming of the sword, you'd turn your forming technique all the way up which would allow it to get a bonus, based on what forming does for the sword, so you get a lot of choices.

Since this step requires you to be at the crafting tool, closing the interface is also going to stop your progress and it's probably going to destroy the resource that you're working on. The point being, in some steps you don't have to be there, it's just a timer that you have to wait for, and other times you've got to be active doing things or at least having the interface open, implying that you're at the tool working.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but some tools are stationary, like a forge, others you can walk around with, like scissors or a skinning knife. If you are working on something and if the tool is equippable, essentially if it's movable, you can actually be doing some of these steps while you're moving around.

Getting back to the example, once that last step is complete you're going to be presented with an item. In this case you're going to see "formed sword". That's not an item that you can use in battle, it's just a partially done sword. And it's also going to give you a quality indicator, so you can say well, am I going to continue with this, I only got a 30% quality. This is going to turn out really bad, maybe I should just scrap it and start over. Or you got one that says 90% quality, you're doing really good, so you decide to move on.

Now you can either put the item away and finish later, let's say you're going to spend all day just forming swords. If that's all you're going to do, you can put it away and come back and take it to the next step later, or you can just move on right there and then, it's your choice. 

We'll keep going with the sword, so we take it and drop it back on the forge. The forge will know that it's a formed sword and it can interact with it. As soon as you drop it on there, an interface is going to come up with sword tempering. And you're going to go through just about the same process to temper the sword. The biggest difference though is in the options. Instead of forming technique, you're going to have a tempering technique. And again, crafting speed, slow or fast, etc.

And again, this is where co-operative crafting comes into place. Maybe I only have the forming technique, but Loestri here, he has the tempering technique. I formed the sword and I give him the formed sword. Now he can take it back to his forge and temper it, using his tempering techniques. So Loestri has taken the formed sword from me, tempered it, and his result is a tempered sword. Again, you can't use it yet, it's a non-usable item. Neither one of us have the balancing technique, but Varl does, so Loestri hands of the sword to Varl. And Varl now has a choice of taking the tempered sword to either a grinding wheel or using a whetstone. That's a pretty important note. You're going to be able to take the same item to different crafting tools and they'll offer different pros and cons. In this case, the grinding wheel is going to be a much faster process, compared to using a whetstone. But the drawback is, grinding stones are going to cost you a lot more than whetstones.

So Varl takes the sword and he's going to drop it on the grinding wheel. He's going to set his crafting speed and balance technique according to what he wants, and he's going to click the sharpen button. What's going to happen is, the progress bar is going to appear and he grinds away. If he closes the interface before he is completed with the grinding process, this particular step knows that you can essentially pause the progress. So he hasn't completed the grinding, but maybe he got to 60% and a customer walked into his shop, so he's got to stop the grinding process, attend to his customer and when he comes back and drops the tempered sword back onto the interface, he'll see that his grinding effect is at 60%. And he can continue on.

The grinding can take 30 seconds, or 20 minutes, we just haven't set any of that yet. The point being is that some processes you can walk away from, other processes walking away means a pause on the effect, and in other cases it can mean that you destroy the resource.

So let's assume he completes the sharpening of the sword and it becomes an actual sword. The sword is ready, it's been formed, it's been tempered and it's been balanced. The final quality is essentially an aggregate of all the quality checks throughout the process of the sword's creation. This is why masterwork items are going to be relatively rare, because quality needs to be at 100% across every process, for every step of the process, as well as any and all techniques. So if any of us didn't have maximum skill in our techniques (forming, tempering or balancing), we could not make a masterwork sword. We would have to find somebody that had absolute top notch skill level in those techniques.

Loestri: So can you clarify a bit about what a masterwork sword is, and what a non-masterwork sword is? What is the difference? Is there a huge difference in quality and damage/durability, or is it pretty close to each other? I mean even a masterwork crafted item is not a magical item, so I just wanted to let the fans know what the differences are.

Brax: That's a good point. The definition of a masterwork item is, the crafting quality on each step of the crafting process has to be completed at 100%, as well as if any of these steps have a technique to them, you have to be able to complete that technique at 100% as well. So if you've only made it halfway through your tempering technique ability, then you won't be able to create a masterwork. You won't be able to contribute to a masterwork item in the way of tempering. You have to get your tempering technique to 100%.

Now the difference between a highly crafted item and a masterwork item is, a masterwork item will give you a little bit of a bonus, maybe 10%, to some aspect of it. But what's just as important here, is the techniques being poured into the item result in bonuses to the item. My forming technique of the sword is going to give it more damage. The tempering that Loestri did is going to give it more durability. And the balancing that Varl did to it is going to make it easier to wield, a little bit faster or attack speed basically. So essentially, the difference between a highly crafted item, say a 99% crafted item and a 100% crafted item, is we'll give a little bit of a boost to a masterwork item. But it's not going to be magical. Magic is completely outside of the crafting realm.

                                                * * *

Ok, innovations. How do innovations impact the crafting process? When you receive an innovation for crafting, it's either going to be in the form of an entirely new item that only you get to see in the dropdown list of items that can be crafted with that tool. It might be an extra step within the crafting process,  or it might even be an additional option within a step. Taking the sword example, maybe you got the innovation of weapong edging. Meaning you could make edged weapons a bit sharper, allowing them to cause more damage. (This is just an example, don't count on this being an actual innovation in the game). Basically the innovation would affect the sharpening/balancing process that I described earlier, but maybe it has an extra option setting in the step. So when Varl was doing his grinding, he saw the crafting speed slider that he could slide back and forth, and he also saw his balance technique slider, but he's also got an option of adding an item. Like let's say diamond dust. So if he adds the diamond dust and sets his sliders before he hits the sharpen button, it's going to give whatever the bonus is of that innovation.

So again, innovations can give you an entirely new item, with all the steps involved, or it can give you an extra step somewhere. Say an item is steps one, two, three, four, all of a sudden now you have one, two, three, an optional four, and then a final five.

Varl: The addiontal step that might be sometimes included through an innovation, that will actually enhance the item further right?

Brax: Yes, every innovation that you're given is going to be a benefit to the item that you're creating. Again, it could be optional, like my example of the diamond dust. Maybe Varl doesn't have any diamond dust, so he just skips it, but it's not going to be a detriment if he doesn't use it.

That about does it for the process of crafting. You can expect the global system kind of like that, just multiple steps. Some things are going to have a few steps, some things are going to have a lot of steps. Like in the case of large items, you're looking at a lot of steps. Mostly you're going to craft the sub sections first, and then you'll assemble those sub sections for the final product. Even though we're not going to have it at launch, a wagon would be a good example. You create the wheels, the bed, the axles and the yokes separately, and then you finally combine all the parts into the final wagon.

Some other notes to answer your questions, it will take many different crafters to create a lot of the finished products. A lock box for example is going to require a carpenter to create the box. He's going to need nails, which will come form smiths. Smiths will need ore, which will come from miners. Miners are going to need pickaxes, which come from carpenters and smiths.... it's a very circular system.

Your character's attributes are not going to directly impact the quality of your crafted item. It's all about your skill.

Better crafted food wil give you a bonus in a way. It's not going to give you a +12 to your strength, or anything like that, but it's going to keep you full for longer. We're going to work on some other perks for food later on (post launch), but right now, the better crafted the food, the longer it's going to keep you full. And I would like to think that's a pretty big bonus, considering that you can die from starvation in the game.

Somebody asked about the cost of getting into crafting. Getting into crafting is really only going to take you a tool or two. You just go out and get your resources and start. But moving from being an occasional crafter to a professional is going to require quite a bit of an investment. Our smith in our example, he needs a forge.

Loestri: Tools will wear out eventually, so you will need to replace them.

Brax: Yes.

Loestri: So, on character creation, is a character going to be given a crafting tool of their choice? Or are they going to have to build them from scratch?

Brax: Well we're not finalized on it, but we're going to give you guys stuff on creation. Not so much that it can be abused by creating characters over and over, but we'll probably give you something like a crafting tool or two, a weapon or two, and enough food and water to keep you alive for a couple of days.

Somebody asked about farming, if farming is a skill. Farming is not a crafting skill within itself, but we do have multiple skills that contribute to farming. Basically there are skills around growing plants and tending animals.

Can you craft magical items? The answer is no, but I'm going to throw you a bone here: at a certain point in time, items will be able to be imbued with magic. But magic will only imbue itself to masterwork items.

Ok! I hope my explanations here didn't confuse anybody, but if you've got any questions go ahead and post them on the boards and we'll answer the ones we feel comfortable doing, and thanks for your time! 

Appendix

by Brax

One thing we forgot to mention in the podcast is maker marks. You will be able to leave a maker's mark on an item you craft yourself or help craft.

The slower you go in a crafting step the higher your chances will be of making the item at a higher quality. You sacrifice time for possible quality.

You can continue to make an item even if it's at 1% quality. Your choice. The final quality of an item will be the average of all qualities it was assigned throughout its steps. In that sense, yes you could raise the quality of an item as it moves through the steps.

You can outright fail during any step. If that happens, the half crafted item and any resources you added during that step are destroyed.

An item that is partially complete (the sword that was 60% sharpened) can be picked up by someone else and continued where the other person left off (at 60% in the sword example).

Some items will be tougher to craft than others meaning low skilled crafters won't be able to make certain items no matter how many times they attempt it. We're purposely not telling you what you can and cannot craft given your current skill. Experimentation is the name of the game.

Large stationary tools like forges will have the permission system applied to them meaning the owner can determine who can use their tools.

There isn't really a master/apprentice system in place at this time. That doesn't mean a highly skilled crafter couldn't take an apprentice under his wing by allowing them to use his shop and tools and in return the master gets to keep whatever the apprentice makes.

The End