Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Crafting in a Star Trek MMORPG +

While I'm thinking about crafting, I have to say that I'm a little ticked off at online game developers who implement a "crafting" system that's basically just a manufacturing and sales system. It's gotten to the point where gamers are starting to think that the word "crafting" as used in online games just means "trading," which is bogus.

I think there's also an important argument to be made for crafting as defined to be a creative art. When we talk about (for example) a "finely crafted violin," or say of someone that he's a good "craftsman," what we're saying is that the process involved is about more than just cranking out five million copies of something and selling them -- it's about artisanship, about making a new thing that meets an unmet need, or is unique, or is beautiful, or is all of these things.

So when I put on my wannabe online game designer hat, and cogitate on what I'd like to see as a "crafting" system, manufacturing and sales are part of what I come up... but they're not the whole story. I'm also going to make sure that the artisans, the creative types, the artists all have features that support the creation of new and unique and beautiful things. Not everything has to be new or unique or beautiful, but the opportunity to achieve those things ought to exist in these gameworlds.

Because they are much, much less interesting when "crafting" is allowed only a cramped and inaccurate meaning of "make more stuff than anyone else and make more money selling it than anyone else."

And I especially don't think that definition is right for an online Star Trek gameworld, where the imagination that sees opportunities to bring new intellectual goods into being ought to be more valuable than the urge to pwnz0r everybody else.

Let's see crafting implemented as a craft!