Crafting Mechanics Are Unfit For Purpose

Bethesda have a spectacular talent for making moth-eaten ideas feel like revolutionary concepts: Fallout 4 [official site] will let you play a property baron who constructs not just houses but connected settlements from bits of duct tape and broken globe. I was beside myself with excitement at this news – giddy, even – but not because of any particular flair on display in the five-minute crafting reveal at E3. As my New Vegas mod list and cack-handed fumbling with the Creation Kit will attest, I’m a sucker for anything that lets me inhabit the Wasteland. The idea of reshaping it by my own hand (benevolent, naturally) is intoxicating, even if the mechanics are crap.

And crafting mechanics are almost always crap.

A different developer announcing their entry into the post-apocalyptic DIY genre might have heard tired sighs among the audience. Minecraft hit alpha in 2009, DayZ opened shop in 2012, and already ‘survival and crafting elements’ is a dirty phrase to be muttered and quickly passed over on Kickstarter. At this point, ‘crafting’ is more a marketing buzzword than mechanic – a bolt-on with the dreary ubiquity of multiplayer forced into singleplayer games because a focus group once mentioned it in passing.

Videogame crafting is desperately unimaginative. The time invested in populating the world with materials, planning the links to finished objects and then balancing the lot must be monumental, but the interactivity is typically on the level of text adventures: use gizmo X on trinket Y to whip up an artisanal lockpick/shack/battlecruiser. Zork did that. The process is unabashed data entry in which you plug resources into your inventory and gawp as a timer bar heralds the appearance of a prefabbed asset. Press E to build gazebo. Around the 10-second mark in Fallout 4’s construction demo, the Lone Wanderer falls upon a bungalow, reducing it to 15 Steel, 20 Wood, 15 Concrete and 5 Rubber with a click. Crafting mechanics are to crafting what shopping at IKEA is to hewing a bookcase from a tree.

Crafting systems, whether in the likes of The Long Dark or an MMO with structured professions, teach us to covet the end product, not the satisfaction of a challenge overcome. Crafting is a barrier imposed to slow the acquisition of something you want: in survival games, it exists to make things harder by ensuring you can only click ‘build’ once you’ve pushed your avatar to the edge scavenging resources; in MMOs, it can be a key method by which money is sucked from an inflating economy and the endgame prolonged as players work towards better gear. If all goes as planned, the usefulness of crafting is just enough to be worth the bother.

‘Bother’ shouldn’t be confused with difficulty – I want Fallout to hand me the keys to the Casa del Wanderer no more than I want to run around dismantling typewriters via a menu. Neither of those options is difficult, because in the latter, a capuchin hitting the right key is going to receive the same ready-made furnishings as a pro gamer. In real life, crafting, whether you paint miniatures, make texture packs or go nuts for quilting, is a continuous process from raw material to finished object. Things go wrong, the first attempt doesn’t bear speaking about, and you pray that you never have to test your hand-stitched duvet in a survival situation, but you can be proud in the knowledge that no one else owns a malformed blanket quite like yours.

Though a mouse click may be analogous to pulling a trigger or picking up a pocket-sized item, it’s a few steps divorced from dismantling a house and repurposing its innards as defence turrets, yet still we see the ancient recipe-based model of crafting pop up like a Nigella special on lair assembly. How can the process of cobbling a fortress together be made to feel less like an exercise in Excel and be enjoyable in and of itself?

The realistic approach would be heinous. Höme Improvisåtion [official site], by devs The Stork Burnt Down, is indication enough that manual assembly of furniture would be the most stressful activity in a radioactive hellhole. We need some abstraction, or a degree of automation that lies between full control and production line.

I’ll take a breather to concede that projecting objects onto the world for the player to twiddle with before placing – as in Rust and many others and now Fallout – is a step forward for crafting. The gulf that your imagination has to plug between the mouse click and the construct is smaller, and manipulating modules that comprise large-scale dwellings allows us to inject some personality even when working with prefab chunks. We are asked to participate in some of the crafting process.

But these wall kits and mass-produced floors, they’re still magicked up within the inventory, and once they’re down, expansion is confined to laying identical panels on a grid like some post-apocalyptic expansion for The Sims. And that’s the issue with crafting: it’s forever like what has been before. Who designs a crafting system from scratch? Instead the functional, bland systems of tradition are recycled and the recipes themed appropriately. It often feels as if the premise of a game was decided long before ‘with crafting’ was hung off the end. Survival horror ‘with crafting’; zombie apocalypse ‘with crafting’; Fallout 4 ‘with crafting’.

There are a handful of games in which you craft for crafting’s sake – in which the crafting came first, the technology is bespoke and the traditional trappings of the RPG are the add-ons. Of all the cube manipulators, Minecraft and its 70 million sales should be sufficient evidence of the allure of the creative process. It’s in the bloody name. Minecrafting is heavily abstract, the blocks ensuring that simple construction takes minutes while remaining small and non-specific enough to build castles, spaceships and towering dongs to your exact specifications. Disbelief: suspended. Its item crafting feels like a concession to the old ways, but well judged: resources have to be arranged by hand to resemble the desired product (as Picasso might have imagined it) before it can pop into being.

Heaven forbid, we do not need more Minecraftbuts – there are dozens, and the approach wouldn’t work for a game like Fallout in which crafting isn’t the main event. We need the mentality that lead to Minecraft’s creation – a will to invest in new mechanics that are better analogues to the individuality, freedom and skill involved in assembling stuff from scratch, and which don’t jar with the fantasy. I’m going to venture nervous excitement for Oculus’ and Valve’s touch controllers and all the grabbing, reaching and lifting they promise to have me doing with the curtains drawn. Plus, conventional design rarely carries over well to VR – if we’re lucky, crafting-by-numbers will make us vomit like dogs on a ferry, and we can push it overboard for good.

82 Comments

  1. axfelix says:

    I seem to recall RPS being one of the only outlets that gave it its due in the first place, but it’s still worth mentioning: Teleglitch’s crafting was excellent.

    • Nevard says:

      I’ve played that game and I don’t remember anything particularly exciting or revolutionary about it’s crafting, was it not just once again combining object a with object b to get object c or am I forgetting something?

      • Eukatheude says:

        That’s about it. Though I have to say crafting “felt” real good in that game. Maybe it’s more a case of good UI design.

      • axfelix says:

        Good UI design, plus it was excellently utilitarian and the results were fun. You’d be hanging onto some scrap metal not sure whether to turn it into a detector or an auto-revive chip or some armor, and each one was crucially useful and interesting. Very good roguelikey stuff.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Agreed.

          Someone below also mentioned Last of Us and how it’s effective. I think Teleglitch and LoU have similar takes on crafting.

          Essentially traditional, but with clean, immersive UIs that don’t take you out of the immediacy of your environment. A spare, utilitarian library of craftables. There arent a huge amount of things to make, but they’re all pretty damn useful any time.

          Also a limited inventory with no bank/storage. It encourages you to use things. If things don’t fit, they get left behind for good.

          And it all meshes well with the style of the games.

      • Taihus says:

        I actually wrote an article not too long ago about the crafting in Teleglitch and why I liked it so much. The gist of it was that, yes, it was an incredibly simple system, but it was thematically cohesive and its simplicity combined with good UI design meant that the crafting process never got in the way of the core gameplay, which was the running, gunning, and resource management. It provided interesting and meaningful choices to the player because you had limited inventory space and some rare resources could be used in multiple useful ways. Plus, the stuff you made was almost always fun to use. Everyone talks about the Cangun for a reason. Can+RDX+Nails=Literal can of whoopass.

    • khamul says:

      Neo Scavenger.

      Crafting is logical to the point where you can guess sensible recipes. Resources are potentially very constrained, or not, depending on the situation: in a wood? You can have as many sticks to craft with as you want. Not in a wood? Hope you brought plenty of sticks with you. In your shopping bag. Which is the only way you have to carry them.

      But again, game was designed around it as a mechanic, rather than it being tacked on. Super game, though.

  2. SupahSpankeh says:

    OH GOD YES

    I always feel like I’m the freak for not enjoying “crafting” in games. It’s tedious, time consuming, and almost as lazy as “floating achievement orbs” in open world games. Hey, you put something on a roof – thanks for the engaging gameplay. Hey, you put something behind an in-game menu which I can’t use until I’ve gathered 10 faerie pubes – thanks for the amazing concepts!

    Crafting is miserable, lazy and annoying. Especially in MMORPGs.

    • draglikepull says:

      I like the conception of crafting in older MMORPGs like Ultima Online, where the idea of a player-driven economy was actually important, where every sword for sale had really been built by another player, and so forth. But the way most MMOs do it now is just to create another timesink and provide another opportunity to extrinsically reward players by letting them watch numbers get bigger.

    • omicron1 says:

      Except for one MMORPG that made crafting matter (and also be unique, skill based, and a compelling timesink to learn)… A Tale In The Desert.
      Most tellingly (heh), the crafting of metal items involved beating a heated iron blank into the right shape, with six different types of hammers, where the result was measured in how close you got to the ideal shape. A skilled blacksmith in that game was both rare and valuable.

      (They also had crafting for everything from alchemy to mineralogy, and an interesting system of production chains to turn Nile mud and reeds into houses, temples, and decorations. I miss that game.)

      • Zaideros says:

        Amen. ATITD’s blacksmithing system was hands down the best thing I have ever seen in video game crafting, and more should take note of how it made the work interesting, challenging, engaging and fun.

        Too bad the rest of the game was mostly watching bricks dry..

    • fco says:

      agreed. too often crafting means spending time in menus, and to me every minute I spend in a menu is a minute of your game I’m not enjoying.

      also, I fail to see the point of crafting houses in Fallout, a game mainly about exploring a huge wasteland in a very nomadic kid of way. why would I want to spend time building a home when all the game happens outside (and mostly far away) from it?

      • drinniol says:

        Roleplay, or a space to keep your stuff.

      • jonfitt says:

        My guess is that by crafting a settlement it allows people and animals to move in so you can craft workshops and utility buildings that allow them to build things that help in the questing part of the game. Stimpacks, food, weapons, etc.

        Build a shack so that a doctor has somewhere to live. Then craft a lab so they can build stim packs. But they’ll need to eat, so craft a building for a herder to live in and have him herd brahmin to increase your food stocks. But then you’ll also need to craft a water purification facility so you have some h2o to drink. Etc. etc.

        A settlement management game done in first person.

  3. Zallgrin says:

    Last of Us had a very simple and fantastic crafting system. One would scramble behind a counter, trying to find something that would give you an edge, find a bottle and a piece of cloth, then immediately on spot craft a Molotov cocktail in real time as a suspicious raider approached your position. Then Molotov in the face!

    That was one of the few examples of good crafting systems, as it directly influenced the combat and your decisions during it.

    Generally though, crafting feels redundant in most games. There are very few games where I actually enjoyed or valued the crafting systems.

    • draglikepull says:

      The big picture of the crafting in Last of Us was interesting (resource management, scavenging, etc.) but the crafting itself was the same boring mechanics used in every game: collect X of item Y and then go into a menu and wait for the game to build the item for you.

      • Xeshor says:

        Do you really want minigames to craft every item you need though?

  4. ironman Tetsuo says:

    Best ever crafting game? Fantastic Contraption!

  5. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Honestly, the thing I always loved most about Minecraft was using mods to automate the crafting away. Making a giant automated base that could craft anything I conceivably wanted was an end in itself, and crafting was just a means to that end.

    So really, I can’t even say that Minecraft’s crafting is entirely appealing to me — except insofar as providing an early-game contrast to my late-game automation, and something that I’m pleased to have eliminated.

  6. abrokenchinadoll says:

    Anyone else notice this whole talk was about minecraft crafting and such..but the only pictures up there were for rust and Fallout 4 lol..

  7. stonetoes says:

    I think crafting is good if it allows customisation. Can I craft a piece of armour that has the exact balance of protection, mobility and camouflage that I need? Great. Can I craft a leather jerkin that every bandit for miles around drops on death? Not so great.

    One of the Dead Space games had a great system where you could combine any two guns, like an ork combi-weapon from Warhammer 40k. I thought it was fantastic, and let you craft something which actually fitted your own playstle, like my spear gun combined with a gatling gun.

    • Cederic says:

      While I love the concept of a gatling speargun I think I’d rather be the target than the poor sod that had to carry the ammo box.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      You’d like the crafting system in Kingdoms of Amalur. There were no recipes per se, every sword was made the same way with the same components but the components themselves varied in stats and abilities. If you wanted you could just go for straight up damage based sword, or you could use a different handle and create a sword that gave you a bonus to your passive skills. There were no right or wrong choices, just experimenting with different materials. Also to get the majority of the components you had to break down over weapons, armour and items but even then they were random loot drops.

  8. LogicalDash says:

    Why not do crafting the same way games like this already do character creation? I know people spend entirely too much time tweaking their character builds.

  9. Binky the Boojum says:

    When I watched the Fallout 4 presentation, I was impressed by how derivative the game appears to be.
    I was reminded of some odd games, the strangest being the Rayman series and LittleBigPlanet.
    I like the Fallout games, but my expectations of the forthcoming game are low.

  10. Viroso says:

    I like the idea but dislike the implementation in a lot of games. But it’s been done right. Games with good crafting mechanics made the materials scarce and gave them multiple use.

    Odin Sphere was probably the best one. Materials weren’t necessarily rare, but you had limited inventory space, each material could be put to use in a number of different ways and you crafted almost after every battle.

    So after each battle, you had to decide if you wanted to level up your magic, heal, increase your total HP, create offensive potions, save up for the future. It was never an easy choice, but always an interesting one.

    Honestly, it was one of the games where resource management was done the best, out of the many I’ve played to this day. I was surprised.

    • Baines says:

      The interesting bit of Odin Sphere was that you planted seeds and harvested plants during battles. (Seeds grew by absorbing Phozons, which were created when you killed enemies.)

      That, and that to get lamb chops, you started by planting a seed that grew into a plant that bore two sheep as its “fruit”. (When the sheep were fully grown, they’d drop off the plant and start moving around the area, and you had to go kill them to get lamb chops.)

  11. maninahat says:

    Oh what I would give for a game that actually simulates the specifics of building something like a wooden shack, in which I have to individually angle the boards and slats, and nail them into position. The nails are important because physics are actually having an effect on the individual boards – meaning if you didn’t put enough screws down on something, or attach things in an excessively wonky way, the whole thing risks coming down. I imagine that would be a bitch to simulate.

    • jonahcutter says:

      I think it’s well possible. That’s essentially what bridge building games are. It would require a more complex modeling of physics, but I don’t see how it’s not doable with today’s tech. We play games today where things will obey physics (sorta) when we start knocking them down. Just reverse the process.

      It might be interesting to see some sort of “Carpenter/Fabricator Simulator”, where you actually have to process the individual elements. How accurately you cut, plane and mill the parts affects how well they fit together.

      • banananas says:

        Or, you know, you could always try to pick up a saw, some nails, and a few pieces of wood from your local carpenter and try to “craft” something yourself… Jeez. Let’s imagine that process in full VR now. Amazing!

        • Chiron says:

          Oh wow, I’ll get right on that, how could I be so daft?

          Oh wait, I live in a fucking shoebox so thats not really an option.

          link to rightmove.co.uk

          • banananas says:

            Well, it was just meant to be a cynical remark upon the growing disconnect between reality and a gamer’s perception of it. Of course not everybody is in the position and/or has the time to start such an endeavor. Although it is not hurtful to sometimes think about what is gained through the simulation of menial tasks. We are steering into the realms of VR in the near future, so I believe it is necessary to contemplate why we (want to) do these things in the first place. It just struck me after reading that comment…

            I’m sorry for your shoe box tho.

    • grega43 says:

      link to simbuild.com is a good building game similar to what your looking for

  12. Premium User Badge

    Serrit says:

    While Dragon Age: Inquisition’s crafting wasn’t mechanically that interesting, I enjoyed its use of the different colours and textures for the various materials, and how the different material types mapped onto the armour piece (e.g. for heavy armour, the cloth translates visually to the armour’s padding, the leather to supple joint areas, with the metal being the bulk of the protection).
    This was especially good once they allowed you to alter the materials used independently of the stats in a later patch, such that I could craft a delightfully brash bright yellow brocade robe for good ‘ol Dorian and not worry that I was wasting points on “+x% barrier damage” (or whatever).

    • montorsi says:

      I definitely appreciate being able to refine the aesthetic points, almost to the exclusion of everything else. It allows me to set up a dashing party full of color to suit my companions and that makes me unreasonably happy.

  13. Binky the Boojum says:

    Crafting has it’s place. However, would prefer it if game developers remembered to bring the funny.
    Do people who enjoy crafting, actually finish the games they play !

  14. TechnicalBen says:

    I want to be able to craft anything from anything. I guess Starbound and Minecraft go this way a little. But I want to make a sword out of jelly or a car out of wood…

    … with the hilarious results that come from it. What? I’ve been spoilt by inventitive failure in KSP.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    How does Factorio rate? Creating individual items and structures by hand is still a matter of gathering the appropriate materials, selecting the product from a menu, and waiting for the timer; but most of the game is about finding more and more complex ways to automate the process, so that machines mass-produce items from materials mined and refined by other machines while you’re off doing something else.

  16. Binky the Boojum says:

    I enjoyed the ability to make objects in the Bioshock series. It was fun and simple.

  17. gobbo14 says:

    The only crafting in a game that has ever captivated me was in NWN.

    Not in the single player campaign though… it was in some of the online persistent worlds.

    There was one server I played on where crafting was incredibly realistic. It took in to account your characters stats, and skill levels in crafting, gave you success rate, told you the materials you would need, and then took a certain amount of time to complete.

    For example, making a bow wasn’t as simple as just clicking a button. You had to choose the wood (oak, pine etc.) and get a carving knife. Then once you had carved the wood successfully, which would take a few goes depending on your skills, you would have to chose what kind of bow string you were going to use, craft the string, and then you have to set it to the bow, which took about 8 hours IRL to set. You would wait 8 hours only to find out that the bow frame had snapped… or the string had snapped. There was also a chance the bow would be of exceptional/normal/poor quality.

    It was an incredible, detailed and time consuming crafting system that I’ve never seen recreated in any other game since… but I’m a sucker for realism so I guess it’s not for everyone.

    • tauntegdiher says:

      Sounds like you might like Wurm. Crafting in Wurm can be ridiculously tedious, there’s a lot of skills involved that u build up by like .012% each time u get a little bump. But what’s cool about Wurm is that not every sword blade turns out the same. Quality depends on your skill and also on the quality of the iron being used. Which is going to depend on the mining skill of the person whoever mined it. And on the metalworking skill of whoever smelted the iron lump. And also capped by the quality of the ore. And then there’s just variation, and where u keep doing it to get that one sword blade with a couple points higher quality. and then u gotta do the same thing with the handle, and you’ll have this pile of handles and sword blades sitting in some barrel just to get the best two to put together and then you hope that that’s a success and that depends on a whole number of things too.

      Wurm also has the ‘fun’ of hauling heavy stuff around in wagons. it’s on the tedious end, probably for most people, but that NWN mod reminded me of it.

  18. amadeus9 says:

    Kingdoms of Amalur was one that actually did crafting surprisingly well – it would have been nice to have a bit more visual variation among crafted things, but the customizability of having 3-5 slots, allowing each slot to be filled with any number of different options, and having each component have a serious effect on the end results – that was actually pretty good. I mean sure, it’s a pretty standard RPG, so the effects didn’t vary a whole lot – elemental damage/resistance, bonus damage/resistance against beasts/demons/golems/people, health/mana steal, bonus damage/armor, bonus STR/CON/INT/etc. but the ability to say “Well, I want as much health steal as I can get” and then *actually spend time hunting for more and stronger health steal components*, combined with the excitement of finding rare components at times, made it feel much more worthwhile than “combine 3 iron ingots to make a sword.”

    Also, I’m a fan of any system that can be completely and utterly broken (but with work) – in the case of the aforementioned health steal swords, I discovered that dismantling a sword made with 2+ health steal components had a chance of returning a single component with the total bonus the sword had – so with some work, and a large number of constructed and dismantled swords, you could theoretically make a sword that heals you to full health with every swing.

  19. Zorn says:

    There’s a small gem on steam. Although still in Early Access, I still had more fun with it, than
    with some finished games. It’s about 3dollars, price to increase with the next versions.
    The crafting is quiet simple, and miraculously not annoying. It doesn’t divert you from
    playing. The Dev is very active on the forums and open about not planning and wanting
    to let the game end in micromanagement hell.

  20. vorador says:

    I remember a console RPG in which crafting was done by setting up manufacturing lines in a grid like a puzzle, in order to manufacture the items needed. It was pretty entertaining.

    After googling around, it was Rogue Galaxy i think.

  21. Leland Davis says:

    For a game like Fallout, where the general focus is on exploration and travel, a real-estate crafting system makes very little sense – except for the fact that I bet a ton of Fallout 3 and NV players scoured the landscape looking for little houses to claim as their own. I had a couple spots that I claimed as “my” home away from home, where I would leave stuff and go rest. I rarely used my “official” house because I wasn’t there all that much, but I had a couple unofficial houses in Fallout 3. They were just sitting there, looking all empty and stuff …

    If the Fallout games actually paid serious attention to Time as a game-resource element, then this could be pretty cool. Imagining an actual construction engine where you place nails and truly construct things from garbage is way beyond rational. However, if you actually had to worry about time ticking down, both for quests and for your character (food, water, old age), and if building things actually took time (I can only imagine how long it took to craft all those hand-made bullets in NV), then this would pose some interesting tradeoffs. Do I have time to upgrade my house, or will my quests expire and the bad guys win before I will finish? I’m low on ammo, but need to press on, so I guess I’ll have to buy it from a merchant. Likewise, weight and storage. If you’re going to be scavenging in the wasteland for construction material, than it only makes sense to consider the logistics of transporting serious construction material from place to place. If you can just strap it on to your back, then it’s automatic and easy to ignore entirely. However, I can say from experience that wood and bricks are heavy, and it’s a big problem if they are in the wrong place. You can get a Brahmin to carry stuff for you, or you can hire people to carry stuff around for you – but all of it requires connections, time, and money.

    By turning Time into more of a game resource, interesting tradeoffs could be built into the crafting system, and by forcing the player to account for transport difficulties, interesting tradeoffs can be built into the scavenging system. Two things that are a-thematically automatic and silly all of a sudden become interesting.

    • freedomispopular says:

      This is something I’ve wanted to see in RPGs for such a long time. It’s so ridiculous to me that there’s this urgent thing I need to do to save the world, but I can mosey around helping every other person on the planet and still save the world before the bad guys win. I’d really love to see a game where I can actually run out of time and lose, and where I’d actually have to take time into consideration when doing anything. Is there even any kind of game that utilizes time in such a way? Only one I can think of that utilized time at all that I’ve ever played is Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

      • mr_barnacles says:

        Well, Fallout 1 originally had a time limit on the water chip retrieval (though I think perhaps it was patched out?). I think the ideas about time — and particularly weight! — discussed above are fascinating, and probably ought to be included, though to be sure FO4 won’t.

      • acheron says:

        You could run out of time in Star Control 2, though that wasn’t necessarily emphasized and you might not realize it until all of a sudden the Kohr-ah were overrunning the galaxy.

      • EMI says:

        Final Fantasy Lightning Returns did this. You actually had a very limited amount of time to collect souls for the next world to be reborn. Granted doing certain quests would extend your time, and you have the ability to pause time whenever you want (although pausing time costs a limited resource). Along very similar lines was the Valkyrie Profile games, which gave you a limited amount of time to collect souls for the next world to be reborn.

  22. Stardog says:

    The last part sums it up well – crafting mechanics are normally added to a game later, so it tends to fit the systems that already exist (Inventory + Object Spawning).

    A true crafting system would be an entire game in itself. The issue is that most games with crafting are more focused on being FPS’s, etc, rather than a pure crafting game, so the crafting is always tacked on.

    How far can you go before you’ve just made a 3D modelling program?

  23. Lionmaruu says:

    omfg people will just whine about anything. the system is fine and if is not or even if YOU want something different the modders will “fix” it for you or you will do it yourself.

    The idea of having it build in the engine on a such “mostly easy for the looks” way is a big deal for fallout 4 and people should be happy about it. I have tested most of the “be king/rebuild city x/rule the land” mods for oblivion/skyrim/fallout3/new vegas and they all sucked ass when it came to crafting the actual place you would be living it. or it was already made or was garbage to make your own.

    This new game already has a much refined system build in the fucking engine! why shouldn’t it be BIG news?

    come on… what the fuck you want, use unreal engine and maya and craft your own fucking place :)
    or you know, just use the geck after launch and add something that you will be missing… I for one hope for a day1 “clean” walls and objects from that pre-nukes era, if they arent already avaiable, of course.

    • Myrdinn says:

      Like above article stated, implementing a good crafting system is a helluvalot of work. I’d personally rather saw they put those resources into other stuff, like more streamlined mod tools, some better writers, try to implement co-op etc. Not saying it’s horrible they put in a crafting system, but like Angus said, 99% of the time crafting systems are just not very well done. Combine that with the fact that Fallout games already do so much and have so much content.

      I’m hoping Bethsoft will prove me wrong tho.

    • Tylermcd93 says:

      Could not agree more. All I thought during this article was “seriously? You’re seriously going to complain about a crafting system that was shown only five minutes of?” also Fallout 4’s crafting is honestly the best I’ve seen in a game so far. I hear people continue to say they “want” a system that is basically an actual representation of crafting, or that it should be more difficult and I just think, “you say that, but do you REALLY want that?”

  24. MrBehemoth says:

    Despite all it’s other flaws, I enjoyed the crafting in the Alone In The Dark reboot. I think it came down the underrated in-world inventory. Looking at the items in your pockets and combining them with your hands felt more immediate and less abstracted than the usual menus. The items were limited and relevant, and the combinations could be discovered like logic puzzles rather than having to find gated blueprint pickups. If only the rest of the game had been better…

  25. malkav11 says:

    I generally find it a boring waste of time, yeah. I think one of the most common mistakes is to present crafting as an alternate system in games where loot is a primary driving factor. Why would I ever bother crafting stuff in a game like Skyrim, where finding magical treasures is my reward for delving into dungeons, or in a game like WoW, where the driving force of every group encounter is beefing up your gear? Actually, especially in games like WoW, where even if the crafting at a certain point reaches parity with looted gear (in limited, arbitrary ways), you still had to grind through many pointless levels of nothing to get there. And yet, the materials for crafting become this clutter in every loot container and weighing down your inventory.

    It works a lot better in games where crafting is the primary way of getting anything going, especially if the resources are limited and multi-function so you have to make hard choices about what to build. But conversely, even in those I do like to have some reward for exploration. Terraria’s “build most of your tools and gear but loot crazy special stuff now and then” model was pretty satisfying, even as I found other aspects frustrating.

    • Tylermcd93 says:

      Here’s the answer to that question for Skyrim, or for Fallout 4 from the look of it. Usually in those games, crafted gear is generally of better condition than gear found from loot. Honestly, crafting in games like Skyrim, Fallout, and WoW, is optional. It’s awesome that they put it into the game in the first place, allowing people options and choices.

  26. snowgim says:

    Best crafting in a game: Kerbal Space Program

    Imagine KSP style crafting in Fallout 4… “Look I’ve created a new laser rifle! Oh no! I’ve put the energy transfer pipe on backwards and have shot myself in the face.”

    • honcho66 says:

      I love that idea

    • Raoul Duke says:

      This is exactly what crafting should be.

      I want to build a gun with 20 barrels that weighs a frigging ton but destroys anything I point it at… ok, I can. I want to build a pea shooter with a super long barrel that is accurate over 2 kilometres… ok I can.

      Likewise buildings. You should be free to build whatever shapes you want, and to choose how heavily you want to invest resources in things with corresponding tradeoffs in terms of durability, flammability, etc.

      Also, the visual look of things should be a result of your choices. As in, you should literally construct your gun with 20 barrels in the game world, and the gun you carry around after that should be the exact gun you made. Not a pre-designed art asset.

  27. KDR_11k says:

    Core problem with realistic crafting is that resources literally grow on trees so crafting is mostly the reward for repetitive collection. In something like Monster Hunter or Terraria the resources needed for that awesome new weapon or piece of armor grow on giant monstrosities you have to stab in the face until the bits you want fall off. At that point you don’t care about the actual crafting process, you fought a giant monster and ripped its claws out to make that sword. Also gameplay-relevant rewards, I’m not the kind of person who likes to decorate a room, I want to craft a better gun rather than a nice sofa.

  28. Tuhalu says:

    The Fantasy Life RPG on the 3DS gets a “you tried” for actually doing something a little different. You basically did a simple randomised mini-game every time you wanted to craft something that consisted of timed button presses that varied depending on the action you needed to do next. There were also a couple of skills that you got as you levelled up in a crafting job that would let you finish faster if you were doing well.

    It was still basically a “put items X and Y in; get Z out” system, but you’d spend hours upon hours playing these minigames. Especially if you wanted “the best” version of an item.

  29. Premium User Badge

    piphil says:

    So, basically, Fallout 4 is Hearthfire with guns?

  30. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Wurm Online has a pretty detailed crafting system, and even though it just comes down to “click on tree, make boards, click on iron lump, make nails” it’s quite compelling until suddenly, and without warning, it isn’t.

  31. Great Cthulhu says:

    That bone(r) knife looks rather… suggestive.

  32. HighlordKiwi says:

    Amen to that.

    Some games with good crafting: Kerbal Space Program, Factorio, Spacechem… so puzzle/simulation sounds like a strong way forwards. RTS base building could also be seen as crafting, and it’s interesting in that it happening as part of the actual game, not separate from it.

    • jonfitt says:

      OOh imagine a system where things like the stimpack and water purification items in the game required you to modify them internally to create spacechem like machines. The less cycles taken to perform the task, the quicker it churns out water/stimpacks.
      Inevitably there would be a youtube video where someone shows how they do it in half the cycles of everybody else, and the problem is essentially solved, but imagine when you’re playing before the wiki is complete.

  33. mona says:

    What I would really like to see in Fallout re the building is something that makes it feel more real and weighty, makes it take time, by using the fact that there are other people in the world and you are apparently setting up little settlements. Don’t make my character who lived in a pre-built house and likely has put together one wobbly nightstand in her life suddenly become a master builder who puts up a house; make her a manager and planner who tells people what to dismantle for components and what to build, then let us watch a group of others drag the tires over, cut and hammer the boards, and generally build the house manually. Or we can go away and come back later when it’s done. Or join in to help with some of the tasks. Speed it up, sure, but I’d rather building a structure feel like a real accomplishment.

  34. theblazeuk says:

    My only problem with crafting is that my protagonist is already a prodigy of skills without being an accomplished builder and bricklayer. And if I can’t pay someone to build a house for me, why am I even raiding all these vaults/dungeons/etc?

    In short – let me pay someone to do this shit for me. And that includes the unique craftables. Anything a PC can make I want to hire an NPC to do for me, barring specific flavours of fantasy magic stuff.

  35. Premium User Badge

    IronPirate says:

    The concept that excites me is designing rather than crafting. Rubbing a bunch of items together to make a prebaked sword requires minimal input from the player but designing one with the stats and abilities to match your needs can feel very rewarding.

    In modded Minecraft and Kerbal Space Programming do this very well as there are a nigh on infinite number and f designs with varying degrees of success and the process of getting something working is fun in itself.

  36. Gap Gen says:

    I’m pretty sure Fallout 3 had crafting, no?

    • malkav11 says:

      I think it did. New Vegas definitely did. It wasn’t really emphasized in either and it wasn’t very good.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      It was mostly relevant for keeping things in repair. You found or earned the good weapons; the craft-able ones were simply okay.

  37. noodlecake says:

    It would be great to have some kind of system similar to how you make objects in Spore or in Kerbal Space program applied to melee weapons, but then somehow apply things like mass and air resistance and things like that to the way the weapon handles, and have the attack animations be procedural and physics based. That way your weapons would be genuinely unique. I’m sure it’s much easier said than done, or people would already be doing it.

  38. kentonio says:

    Star Wars Galaxies crafting was so good..

    • Chiron says:

      We shall remember it, always.

      *takes off hat, mourns*

      A true player led economy was amazing at the time, if you could combine that with what are effectively sliders/material values to actually customising things, great.

      As it is I agree with the article, I’ve never particularly liked the crafting mini-games, its always felt a bit tacked on or just another bunch of menus to navigate.

      • James says:

        Don’t remind me. I can feel the nostalgia creeping up on me, looking over my shoulder…

        I wish crafting would get back to the KoTOR 2 and SW:Galaxies way of doing things, namely:

        Dev 1: We need a crafting system
        Dev 2: So what bits are in a lightsaber?
        Dev 1: Well, some crystals, some lenses and a power source
        Dev 2: So can we get players to make and combine these items into a lightsaber?
        Dev 1: I think so, yeah.
        Dev 2: Great! Let’s make that our crafting system

        Done. None of this ‘plonk massive shed pulled from ass here’ nonsense.

  39. aaronderuiter says:

    I’m going to agree, I was looking at this crafting system with one eyebrow raised. I have never seen this executed properly and the first thing I thought was ‘why?’. Then they said the best items can only be achieved with settlements and I thought ‘Oh dear, please don’t.’

    It probably feels tacked on and will kinda ruin the Fallout feel to me. I’ll be ignoring it for as much as possible I presume.

    • jonfitt says:

      The new Fallout games both started with the world feeling hostile and barren; but by then end you had found all the pockets of life and had the levels and gear so that the whole place felt borderline civilized.

      Also, the settlements you find where people have tried to build order out of the wasteland by following some creed or idea.

      The logical extension to that would be to allow you to try to build one of these settlements yourself. As you conquer the wasteland, you also carve out your own attempt at civilization.

      It all fits.

    • Tylermcd93 says:

      I mean, like they said, it’s completely optional. If it’s not your thing, then don’t do it. Simple as that. You just won’t get specific gear, which may be a good thing. It’ll be more challenging then.

  40. zipdrive says:

    Emmm….Second Life? Crafting is a major part of it’s “thing”.

  41. Tylermcd93 says:

    It seems like people have forgotten that crafting in games like Fallout, Skyrim, WoW, etc. are COMPLETELY optional. If you hate crafting, don’t do it and avoid it. Simple as that. I don’t understand the point of commenting or complaining about it. Now if this was about a game like Minecraft or Terraria or something, where the game is focused around crafting, then I’d understand the need for discussion. I don’t think it’s right that just because some people don’t like a mechanic “such as crafting” they feel like it should be erased from future games, disallowing players to play their own way, which may be crafting. It’s amazing to me people feel the need to ruin everything for others.