The demise of the guild crafter


Crafting skills were designed into games like WoW, EQ2, LOTRO etc to keep crafters busy and encourage players to interact. That’s why players are limited in how many tradeskills they can take on each character, to force some trading and interaction.

Enforced interaction has never been popular with the playerbase, but has given us some great community payoff. For example, in DaoC, crafting was such a dull grind that most players didn’t bother. The ones who did were very likely to be adopted as guild crafters, supported by the guild with materials in return for crafting items for the guild. Although I always liked this as an idea, it never really worked brilliantly (especially in games that didn’t feature mailboxes and auction houses). What if the guild crafter wasn’t around when you needed them? What if they were *gasp* busy? What if creating a masterpiece item took several hours in real time and a variable, unpredictable amount of materials, and you were tenth in the queue to have yours made?

Crafters felt wanted, but also stressed and hassled. Players felt frustrated. It was definitely an interesting experiment, but no great surprise that later games made things easier.

Now it is almost irrelevant that tradeskills are limited, because high level players often have alts with all the tradeskills that they need (this is as true in EQ2 as in less crafting friendly games). They just mail items around between their crafters when they need something done.

I wonder how much of a niche there can be for different crafters at endgame if bored players will level one of each craft anyway. Is it possible to make crafting itself into a more fun minigame, as opposed to the gathering/collecting side of levelling the skill.

Do you use guild crafters? Or do you prefer to level crafting alts yourself?

18 thoughts on “The demise of the guild crafter

  1. We used to use guild crafters in WoW, until crafting became moot. The only thing we really needed was Flasks, we had 5 alchemists and 1 Master Flask maker. I had stupidly picked Transmutation Mastery (Utterly useless)
    Almost every officer had an enchanter, and the scrolls made it even easier to be self reliant.
    We had a few Jewelcrafters in guild, but most people just bought their Gems from the Auction House.
    Blacksmiths, Leatherworkers, Tailors all useless to almost anyone at max level now that you can do one run of Nax 25 in a night and get yourself kitted up, or run a few heroics for badges.
    Champions Online has taken a similar route to crafting, you’re reliant on it to craft the best gear for levelling, but it’s not hard to do, and as far as I can see you can’t craft anything as good as the Nemesis or Unity Rewards.
    Fallen Earth has the most complex crafting of any new MMO and it looks to bring back the idea of a Guild Crafter purely because there is *so much* you can craft, and it’s not limited to one skillset. Someone at Max Melee weapons may be able to make mid-level Science stuff, so you’re not totally reliant on one crafter if you’re gearing up alts or completing low-level quests.

  2. If you’re interested, check out how the Atlantica Online crafting system works. It’s fascinating. And, if anything, it’s never dull and there’s always something to keep busy with. And I mean always, since you can craft everything in the game. And everything is useful to someone, somewhere at any given level.

    But, EVERYONE in the game would be considered a crafter, since a single player is completely self sufficient on their own. Amazingly, the market is really fast paced, and things sell quickly if priced right. Every mat is always available in the auction house for a fixed price. It’s the most interesting, most daunting, but most rewarding crafting system I’ve come across thus far in an MMO.

  3. In my opinion, I think its a tough decision for Developers to choose whether Professions should be a grind or a “fun minigame”.

    There is pros and cons of both;

    Grinding means that there will likely be less people in the high-end profession market, rewarding those who do the horrible grind with a lot more market control.

    However, it makes it horrible for people who want to level there profession but the leveling system is horrible- plus it means its more of a chore.

    Fun minigames:
    This would be great because it would mean even proffesions(feels like a job some times..) can be fun.
    I mean, you can mine a bit, or you can do a daily minigame and defonately get at least a skill a day. I’d like that.

    However there would be a lot of end-game proffesion people meaning the market would be dull and little profit- but , at least it would be fun.

    Im not sure which I’d want tbh, I’d want the fun for all market, but at the same time its not much of a market if everybody can do it.

    Hmm. Sorry if I didn’t write that well.

  4. I usually focus on gathering professions, and I prefer to gather ore. I noticed that I might not skin some animals in WoW or walk past some branches in LOTRO, but my inner dwarf demands me to collect shiny ore and gems all the time.

    I totally rely on other players to craft me stuff. I usually only have one main character, except in Guild Wars where at least initially level 20 meant the char is “finished” and where all crafting was actually collecting materials, the NPC crafter crafted stuff for you, if you provided him with all the materials he wanted. Which fit wonderfully to my gathering disposition.

    I do not have the time anymore to raise a second char high enough in a crafting profession to be useful. In the case of WoW and some other games, the best recipes are bound to the crafter himself anyways.

    I was looking for 2 or 3 days for someone to craft me a high quality axe in LOTRO. This axe required a certain material that has a crafter cooldown, so some just could not craft me the axe despite having the recipe. Others did not have the recipe. Others were not online. Nothing was in the auction house.

    A friended player who had 5 max level alts and his latest twink was already level 56 (feels a bit embarassing to see a twink more pimped than your main!) was finally able to craft me the axe yesterday.

    I think this is the core issue, your guild crafter can be useful if you want a set for a cheap price. But you usually have to wait if cooldowns are involved, if many more want something from him and all that.

    I cannot help, but I feel that gathering materials for guys levelling crafters yields you more money to buy whatever you want than any crafter can ever make, even if he has a very rare recipe and high demand for it.

    BTW – this is Patrick Swayze, and the image is named “Ghost”? I did not know he was a crafter. 🙂

    • You may notice that the woman in front of him is crafting a clay pot 🙂 That’s why I picked the screenshot from Ghost.

      I do wonder if Guild Wars had the right idea all along, and that people really do like gathering much more than crafting. So why not just have NPC craftbots to take the gathered mats and turn them into gear.

      • I think some people really enjoy gathering and some people like crafting…a few like both.

        I used to spend a lot of time in early WoTLK on mining circuits. Enjoyed it a lot. These days having gone goblin on the Ah I much prefer to just buy my mats and gather so rarely I’ve been considering dropping all my gathering profesions. I’m guessing those people love to gather are effectively supporting my crafting habit (if your names Tucano keep on selling herbs at 9g per stack and I’ll give you a free cake)

  5. We still have some guild crafters in WoW. Blacksmithing is patently unpopular, so we have a very short list and I make many belt buckles for guildies a week. Usually the first go to for new 80s for Titansteel gear too.

    We even have a guild spreadsheet tracking Jewelcrafter cuts and Scribe glyphs, because selection is still pretty individual and not everyone will know every cut or glyph.

  6. Fallen earth is pretty neat but everyone can craft everything…. given enough time.

    There will be people with a master crafter in every craft – however I expect there will be people who choose not to bother with all of the skills, or even any of the skills at all (especially since a crafter character suffers in their combat skills, so people often have a crafter alt rather than a main – myself I’m rolling a pvp alt)

    There’s not a lot of item loss in Fallen Earth at the moment – I think PvP can kill off your horses/vehicles so there’s a market for them, plus there’s a market in repair kits and ammo. As they increase the level caps I think there might be a few more ‘expendables’ (I’d quite like to see items decay permanently after a few repairs, given you can craft them again) making the economy a bit more like EvE’s (which is almost entirely powered by the massive losses in materials from ship losses in PvP/PvE)

    Hmm, placeholder/rubbish equipment that scales up with your level that you can get for free plus crafted stuff that decays permanently. That’d sort it 🙂

  7. As a player, it depends on the game. If I like the crafting, I’ll do it myself. Otherwise I’ll leech off others if I have a good support network.

    In WoW, I picked Leatherworking and was perpetually disappointed. I should have dropped early, but I always figured that after I did the mythical patch to make Leatherworking not suck would arrive. My friends were enchanters, so I got enchantments easily enough.

    In EQ2, I was a scribe to make my own scrolls as a Necromancer. It was handy, but not sure the time invested was worth it in the end. The fact you might be giving your rare item to an idiot that can’t do crafting properly was always a worry, though.

    In LotRO, I went insane. I have a Supreme Master who is Kindred to the proper crafting guild (completely maxxed out) in every profession. Unfortunately, most of my characters are only 20-30th level, so they can’t make extreme best stuff that requires high-level (Lothlorien) faction. They also can’t use high end tools and scholar scrolls, so their chance to make crit items is sub-par comparatively. But, I can make high end crafted gear for all my characters when I play them. I offer my crafters services to the kinship (guild) my main is in, though. Of course, except for a few recipes high end crafting is not that great since the best items (legendary items and armor with radiance) can’t be made often if at all.

    From a design point of view, I’m divided about which is the better scenario. My initial thought is that crafting should be exclusive in some way (not just to people who can stand a monster grind) to allow people to invest a lot into that side of the game without having any drooling moron craft stuff and flood the market. But, is the most fun for the widest group possible? Not sure….

    • I’m really not sure which is the better scenario as a player either. I really like the kind of immersion you get in a community where you need to go to the local crafter to get what you need, but it can be such a pain.

      I wonder what it’d be like if characters had inbuilt talents towards different skills when created which were randomly determined so you might find you had this great talent for one tradeskill rather than another. I know people would complain, but if the skills were reasonably balanced it might be kind of fun.

      But restricting it to people who can stomach the grind just favours a) achievers who don’t mind grinding and b) people with a lot of time. It’s not that it is necessarily a BAD way to simulate someone putting a lot of time and effort into mastering a skill though – it might really be quite a decent way to simulate that.

  8. I have always tended towards the Alt Method.
    Back in vanilla WoW I had a master spreadsheet to keep track of crafting (and sub-disciplines) in hopes of becoming my own “self sufficent ecnonomy”.
    Many patches, crafting nerfs (bye bye sub-disciplines), and buffs (hello passive bonuses) later I have achieved my goal: 4 @ 80, 3 @ 71+, a lvl 21 mage who runs my AH needs, and a 56 DK who know is the GL of my very own bank guild. I have a capped Engineer, BSmith, Scribe, Alchemist, and JCrafter. I have an Enchancter at 441, and Tailor at 440. My LW is now at 420 and finally getting some love now that I am actively leveling Him.

    We still use “Guild Crafters” in that we do have a designated person the guild will chip in to buy new, rare patterns for et cetera.
    But with so many people with so many alts, unless you are looking for top shelf stuff, it is not a big deal if the Jewelcrafting Steward is AFK, someone else can fill in.

    Skarlarth and Company

  9. I think the heart of the matter is that developers are often confused about exactly what they want professions to do, what role do they play in the game. Are professions a means to have fun, are they designed to improve social interaction, to make the game more immersible, etc. Often times it feels like the professions are there because an MMO has to have professions.

    I too like the immersion factor and one solution to the “pain” problem is to allow players to set up shop like NPC vendors and sell when you are not on-line.

    This is why I don’t like mini game professions a la Free Realms. For me it breaks the realism, the immersion. If I want to play those games I go to, not WoW.

  10. I think players should have to chose. Are you an adventurer or are you a crafter? In Vanguard we had a guild crafter who went to level 50 relying on the adventurer’s in the guild to supply him with mats and defend his weak butt when he needed to go study architecture at dangerous places.

    There was a thrill in knowing that our investment in him meant a guildhall for us. And there was a bond formed between him and the guild for helping him accomplish great things.

    The problem as I see it with crafting is it either needs to be all or nothing to have meaning. Artificial limits on crafting levels is moot when you can just make an alt. Throw it out there like EQ1 and just let everyone master everything, or really make it be the sole purpose of a character but have it depend on others.

    Also, Fallen Earth is time based crafting. Supply is artificially limited in that I can’t craft any faster by action. So everyone will simply be a side crafter and will just remember to logout at a warehouse/craft station. Effectively that limits the rate of crafting but not the ability. Alt armies will arise just to keep the crafting clocks spinning.

  11. Someone mentioned Vanguard, where the architect/crafter was a specialist class or something like that.

    Ultima Online was similar in this regard. You have 700.0 Skillpoints, max 100.0 in a skill, to distribute.

    So many players had a crafter alt – a guy who was a smith, tinker, master arms lore and several other things. The issue was that most players focused their mains on lots of things, but not gathering stuff for sure.

    Mining and harvesting with a crafter was, before the pve/pvp split, dangerous as hell. Carrying a pack horse with you in a pvp zone is like a sign reading “KILL ME”. So you either risked to do it on your or you had your guild mate(s) accompany you for protection.

    It was also a nice way to set up a trap for wannabe PKs. A lot of buddies hiding near you… hehe.

    • @Longasc

      I mentioned Vanguard because in their crafting system you had full levels. Crafting got XP, you got new crafting powers, crafting gear sets, crafting quests, faction etc.

      Someone posted something about it needing to be as deep as adventuring and more than “skill assignment.” It was an entire game built around just crafting. Of course, the rest of the game had so many problems it was doomed to fail. But the crafting system they did right.

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