Customisable crafting

The long-planned “Firefly Universe Online” MMORPG, which didn’t happen in the end, had what seems to me an amazing idea for crafting; players were going to be able to design their own custom items.

Interview With Craig of DarkCryo Regarding Their Shiny MMO: Firefly Universe Online.

Indie Game HQ: I see that each character has almost 40 slots for armor, clothing, and weapons. How much variety do you intend on implementing into the game for these items?

Craig: None. As an indie Crew, we don’t have the resources to model thousands of pants, or even begin to fathom keeping up with the demands of old school endgame content. Instead, we’ve implemented in-game crafting tools that you can shape, texture, bump, animate, trigger, particle and prefab. We’re just the patent office. We determine what resources must be salvaged to craft your invention, add PC interactive capability, and check off a series of NPC triggers in order to recognize the item. Once your invention is approved, we upload the prototype to the server where all players stream it into their asset library, and you can then go off and exclusively manufacture, distribute, and resell all the wobbly-headed geisha dolls your heart desires. [/quote]

I’ve very rarely seen an online game that does that - allows people to “craft” custom items. When you first come across “crafting” in MMORPGs, you assume that’s half the fun of it, but in fact I think the only game I’ve seen where you can make custom items is Underlight. (They would.)

In Underlight, it’s much simpler, no particles and modelling editors. It just consists of picking the item type and its stats and that determines the ingredients you’ll need, picking an item graphic from the game’s repertoire of about a dozen, picking two colours for it, and typing a description. (Underlight has very simple mechanics and graphics generally, so that’s about in proportion to the rest of the game.) But that simple system is indeed one of the things the players have a load of fun with.

Maybe we could have that here? Or in one of the studio’s other games, which sound like it would also suit them? Having players make all the goods and run the economy is a good feature of this game; think how much more fun it would be if different crafters’ works were unique - even if it was only a matter of making items stamped with a particular “master craftsman”'s special trademark.

Example item descriptions off the top of my head
Overloaded Civilian Mining Laser Class 3 - “Runs alarmingly hot if used too long. Built by CrazyGorn.” +1 Maximum Yield, +50 Energy Use.
Davros Heisenbergs Expander FR1 - "Bigger inside than outside. Built by Davros."
Monkey Industries Frontier Chassis - "Built for speed! Hyperdrive AND go-faster stripes! Built by Moon_Monkey."
Beetleburg Rajoran Aegis Shield RA2 - “This shielding device bristles with brass dials, levers and what look, inexplicably, like cogwheels. The armadillo logo of the Beetleburg workshops is stamped into the metal. Built by FlyingSpark.”

Incidentally, I’m boggling at the implication that DarkCryo had in fact already built the system they describe, before they closed down the FUO project after being pipped to the post by a browser game. They should sell it to other games, they’d make their fortunes and the world of MMOs would be that much better!