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Crafting in Pantheon: Artisans vs. Peddlers

    • 1759 posts
    July 25, 2020 9:52 AM PDT

    I posted this as an editorial on Pantheon Crafters, but I figured I would cross-post it here too for more visibility.  It's something that I feel is very important, and I've been reminded about it recently in several games and discussions.


    There are many people like me in the community who tend to think about crafting in an MMO in terms of the game economy. We talk about things like the viability of items, and supply/demand, and setting up the various systems, requirements, and markets within the game world so that players can engage and compete, instead of being shut out from participating just because they aren't the first or aren't the best. We spend a lot of time debating the best ways to achieve something that is both broad and deep, where players can earn money through it and not feel like they're just throwing it away, and where crafting and gathering stay valuable and meaningful throughout the life of the game.

    All of this is important, but there's another aspect that's important too, and it's one that we probably don't talk about enough, because it's the motivation for many people to try and pick up crafting in the first place. Artisanship.

    An artisan is defined as: "a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand."

    Further, consider this text about artisans from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:
    Artisans aren't the same as artists, but it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. In the Middle Ages, artisans organized themselves into guilds. In every city each group of artisans—weavers, carpenters, shoemakers, and so on—had its own guild, which set wages and prices, kept standards high, and protected its members from outside competitors. In America, however, most artisans have always been fiercely independent. Today, when factories produce almost all of our goods, artisans usually make only fine objects for those who can afford them. And we now even include food among the artisan's crafts, so you can buy artisanal cheeses, breads, and chocolates—but probably not if you're watching your budget.

    In MMORPGs, most people who get involved with crafting do it because they envision their character as an artisan. They want to be that blacksmith forging legendary swords or armor, the weaver who makes magical cloaks and robes, the alchemist who creates powerful potions and elixirs, or even potentially the cook who creates feasts fit for kings. While there are certainly some players who simply view crafting as a way to earn quick cash, and are happy making bags all day long because all they care about at the end of the day is the money, those people are a minority. The vast majority of crafters and gatherers are doing it because it fits into the role they want their character to play in the world. This is exactly the same as someone wanting to play a mighty warrior or a steadfast cleric or a wily rogue. While there are certainly many people who base their adventuring class choices on gaining a numerical advantage or securing a place within a group, the silent majority of players are making choices because they identify with that character concept.

    I bolded those sentences intentionally because it is often far too easy for us to forget those facts. We tend to believe that the people we see talking are the ones who define how the game is played by everyone. So when we see giant threads in the forums trying to determine optimal group makeups, or when we see people trying to theorycraft out which abilities will be most useful in different situations, or even when we see people arguing over the best way to set up the game economy, we tend to assume that everyone thinks as we do and that everyone is approaching the game for those reasons. While talking about these things is important for the design of Pantheon, and it is a very healthy thing for the community to do, we should never allow ourselves to start believing that this is representative of the majority of players.

    When it comes to crafting, it is absolutely important that the economy works. It's important that the items crafters make remain viable long-term. It's important that the game provides challenge and depth for them to grow and feel like they are progressing and succeeding. It's important that the mechanics of crafting be engaging, balanced, and fun in their own right. It's important that resources are balanced to retain value, and that there are coin and item sinks, and of course many interesting and useful items that can be crafted.

    However, it is also critically important that we allow people to succeed - because ultimately, that success represents what many players really want to be. It's important that Pantheon is built to support having a large percentage of its player base pursuing crafting, not just a few. It's important that we don't allow our desire to provide more depth and challenge for the players with limitless time and focus to detract from the experience of those who may only get to log in a few hours a week. We have to make sure not to swing the pendulum too far in one direction or the other, but that we try to keep things balanced and working together to provide a positive experience for everyone.

    It's important that we build a world where any player can have a fair shot at fulfilling their dream of becoming a legendary crafter, and not be shut out or penalized or forced into becoming a bag-maker or grinding out items for NPCs first. We need to allow players to be the artisans they envision, and not consign them to life as virtual peddlers.

    If I have an overall point it's this: When we think about the design of Pantheon we need to try to think about the people who aren't in the forums or the discords arguing every day. The people who want to log in, and play out a role in an amazing fantasy world, and have adventures together with current and future friends, whether that involves combat or not. The game needs to be fun for them, too.

    This post was edited by Nephele at July 25, 2020 10:22 AM PDT
    • 289 posts
    July 26, 2020 2:24 PM PDT


    Its going to be interesting to see how VR makes crafting fun, difficult, profitable, and necessary.  I'm really looking forward to being an artisan.  It is definitely a role I want my adventurer to have.

    • 6 posts
    July 26, 2020 4:46 PM PDT

    Good post.   I am very interested in what they have in store.  I hope it gets as much thought into crafting as adventuring does.  


    Here is my unpopular opinion but my view of how artisians could work in an mmo.

    Imagine a buckler, 5ac, 2 block,  small round shield.  All blacksmiths get this recipe, all of them look the same with the same stat.  The buckler sells for around 2 silver.  One could learn to change the shape of the shield to greek style, or roman style, or whatever style.  They could learn to add spikes on the shield, or colors, or patterns, etc.  Over time all the bucklers could look different with shape, accesories, colors, patterns,  depends on what the crafter finds or learns.  Maybe some crafters leave their shields as the default one.  The stats stay the same however cost goes up and crafters could put their own style and pattern into it.  This, in my opinion, could lead true artisians in an mmo and not just another blacksmith. 

    I realize people just want to look at a piece and gear and know everything about it.  So the above will never happen, but i think it would be cool.