Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crafting in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by Samodelkin:
I briefly explained a possible crafting system in this long post ... To summarize it, everything is made of simpler components all the way down to elements.
I'm also a fan of the idea of building complex objects from simpler components, as I noted in my Starship Operations in a Star Trek MMORPG blog entry. If every component has the same basic function but differs in some slight way from the others of its kind, players would be able to create unique new objects by connecting alternate components together. It creates the possibility of creating a new kind of item that everyone else would want, which could be pretty cool for everybody.

In addition, I suggested allowing players to write their own subroutines that could be inserted into objects to modify their behaviors. I'm sort of thinking of Engineers being the ones with the skills to modify objects, and Scientists being the ones who are skilled at writing programs. It's not perfectly in line with what we saw on Star Trek, but it's close and I think it lines up well as gameplay.

I agree with you on this approach to crafting.

Originally Posted by Samodelkin:
As for making beautiful things, if a model/graphics editor is introduced, it may become necessary for developers to filter out inappropriate content; this is not essential in the utilitarian sense, but necessary if players are to make something with a touch of their own individual personality, like sculptures or oddly-shaped vessels.
If I were making a game I wanted to finish, and that wasn't too exploitable, I don't think I'd go so far as to allow players to actually create and import their own 3D meshes and textures. You just know there'd be some moron who'd insist on fouling things up for everybody else by constructing an enormous 3D phallus.

If this is to work, I suspect there'd have to be limits. It might be necessary to say that players can change out the components of types of objects, but that they can't actually design new types of objects. That would be a pretty severe limit to creativity, but we have to consider it if we're talking about a design that has any chance of being implemented by a professional game development studio.

Perhaps a slight weakening of this design might work -- what if you could change just one component of a predetermined object type? (And once one component has been changed, no other components can be changed on the new object. This would be necessary to prevent people from coming up with completely new types of things by changing one component at a time.) Being able to change one component -- if most objects are reasonably complex -- could open up a decent amount of opportunity for creativity without exposing the whole system to abuse.