Crafting in games. When did it all start and why?
From the very beginning of the games, crafting has evolved from the rarely applicable mechanics of role-playing games to an almost ubiquitous addition to any modern title. Today it is used almost everywhere: from RPGs to first-person shooters, action games, and driving simulators.
The origin of crafting mechanics can be traced back to the early 80s. One of the first examples that contained something similar to crafting were King’s Quest and Ultima III: Exodus. King’s Quest, as the name implies, is a quest. It was developed by Sierra Entertainment in 1984. Ultima III: Exodus is one of the founders of the genre of computer role-playing games and was released in 1983.
Since then, crafting in games has been constantly evolving. Let’s take a bird’s-eye view of the industry and analyze the types of crafting that exist now.
Type 1: Resources vs money
This is the most common type of game crafting. In this case, the player pays for the necessary item with the collected resources, and the exchange takes place at a fixed and transparent rate. Literally, this is not crafting in common sense, but only an abstraction: you take a certain amount of iron, go to a craftsman or a workbench, and as a result, you get a new sword.
Basically, this system is inseparable from the main in-game economy, but instead of using some kind of thematic monetary resource like gold coins, thematic raw materials are used, such as iron ingots, logs, or wolf skins.
Type 2: Recipes and sketches
In this system, the creation of an item is impossible until a player gets a blueprint, a sketch, or a drawing that unlocks the item. Such blueprints can be found, bought, or given as a reward for completed missions.
As soon as the player receives the desired blueprint, the crafting process continues according to the same scenario as in the “Resources vs money” model — by the established exchange of resources for the end product. The difference is that the player needs to unlock the possibility of crafting itself by obtaining the blueprint.
Type 3: Improvise
With this system, there are no initially known crafting blueprints, nor those that can be obtained. Instead, the player must independently discover blueprints through trial and error. The user is provided with an interface for crafting, where it is possible to combine all the collected resources and components to obtain the desired result.
The complexity of such crafting can vary from simply selecting the right ingredients (as in Skyrim) to specifying their quantity or order of addition (as in Minecraft). This approach makes the resource combination system, not an abstract mechanism for discovering new items, but a recipe that needs to be studied. Due to the ingredient-oriented nature of this system, it is most often used in those games where crafting is expressed in the form of alchemy or culinary preparation.
Type 4: Improvements to your taste
Any system with modular or dynamic crafting can be attributed to this type. Instead of creating items strictly according to a learned formula or through an established exchange, the player can make an item to his taste, choosing a number of options.
In Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, players can produce bombs and depending on the chosen type of case, fuse, and ingredients for the filling, various types of explosives with their purpose and effect are crafted. Unlike the previous type of crafting, where the player’s choice is limited to two possible outcomes — the right and the wrong result, here the player can strategically choose from a number of known results. It may look like a choice of different materials, design elements, improvements, or even purely aesthetic additions to the subject.
Type 5: Everything is possible
Now let’s move on to some real hardcore crafting. In this category crafting itself becomes a core mechanic of the game. The result of crafting is a truly dynamic process with a wide strategic choice. For example, the system of combining the blade and handle in the game Vagrant Story allows you to create thousands of weapons. Usually, this system becomes the only source of obtaining items in the games where it is presented, because otherwise, it would be much easier to obtain items literally any other way.
For a complete study of systems of such complexity, players may need a lot of time. For example, in the game The Legend of Mana, the crafting system is so extensive that even 15 years after the release, players continue to discover useful recipes.
Type 6: P2E
Crafting in Play-To-Earn games can be attributed to a separate type of crafting, since the result of crafting remains in the ownership of the player. That is, in addition to the fact that crafting has in-game value, it also creates a valuable product, taking into account the rarity of the created item or the beauty of the design.
Accordingly, if such mechanics are implemented well, then the player is not just interested in playing, but also acquires profit. For example, in Project Hive, almost all game content is NFT, and therefore available for crafting and improvement. The player has access to crafting playable characters, and weapons, of which there are 12 types and 3 per class, and 4 main types of armor which fall into five categories. All this is also ranked by rarity, and the final result of crafting is almost unique, which makes crafting in Project Hive one of the brightest examples of well-thought-out mechanics.
Over the years, crafting has evolved from an additional form of goal achievement into an independent and sometimes even core game mechanics. Of course, with the development of games, crafting will also develop, and the mechanics of play-to-earn will only warm up the interest of developers, since it will create a separate market for creators’ crafted items and even ateliers and studios of crafters. Now it is difficult to imagine a game that would not contain these mechanics. That is why, if you are still poorly familiar with it, you should start diving as soon as possible.
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