Crafting

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The activity of creating game items.

Crafting is the activity of creating game items within game worlds through actions. By allowing these activities, games explain how the items come to be in the worlds as well as offer players the possibility to engage in a constructive activity.

Examples

Crafting is most often found in Massively Multiplayer Online Games such as Entropia Universe, Eve Online, Ultima Online, and World of Warcraft. Here, players can craft weapons, armor, and tools depending on the setting.

Players of Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress start with a small cache of items but need to craft more for their dwarves having a chance to survive; in Minecraft players need to craft all tools they wish to use. Zombie Lane allows players to buy more powerful weapons that the default shovel, but also that they can create special types of weapons through Crafting.

The Fable series let players engage in mini-games that are diegetically presented as crafting but doesn't actually create game items.

Using the pattern

The design choices associated with creating Crafting in a game are primarily what is required to engage in the Crafting activity and what Game Items are constructed from the action, alternatively how can one improve the quality of functionality of some Game Items. Crafting is often modulated by Creative Control in that players may be able to choose which Game Items to produce from the Resources at hand.

Crafting consists of improving something or transforming something into something else, so requiring that some form of Resources is consumed in the process is quite natural and common. To limit who can do the Crafting, or when it can be done, game designs can require use of Tools or that those doing the action have specific Skills or Privileged Abilities. A more specific form of the latter can be to require that some actions are done by Neighbors. Making use of stationary Tools, i.e. Installations, for Crafting, makes possibilities to craft into Location-Fixed Abilities (Minecraft does this for crafting larger items). Making the Construction of each Game Item have a Development Time or require Extended Actions can modulate how often new items can occur. Besides allowing the Crafting to begin with, the use of Skills or particular Tools can also be used to influence the quality of the produced Game Items, the use of Resources, and the time taken to finish the action.

Any type of Game Items can be the result of Crafting, but Tools is worth mentioning as a subcategory since it may be required for players to engage in other types of Crafting and thereby can set up development chains where the New Abilities gained can be seen as a form of Character Development. For some types of Game Items, e.g. Ammunition, it can be worth considering that each completed Crafting action provides not one but several instances of the Game Items. When Crafting is instead used to modify existing Game Items this is most often to either counter Deterioration or give New or Improved Abilities - Upgrades and Sidegrades are specific examples of the latter.

The actions making Crafting possible can be Extra-Game Actions if they only can take place before gameplay begins.

Diegetic Aspects

Crafting allows players to help create the content in Game Worlds and is therefore a Diegetic Pattern.

Interface Aspects

Since Crafting typically concerns manipulating and transforming Game Items that one has, the interface for Crafting is quite often part of the interface for Inventories.

Consequences

Crafting provides a way for players or other Agents to engage in the Construction of Game Items in Game Worlds, quite likely resulting in Player Created Game Elements. Performing Crafting activities can be seen as making Investments since Resources are usually consumed while engaging in Crafting (if nothing else, gameplay time is consumed). Crafting makes those that engage in it into Converters, and when Tools or crafted Game Items are required to engage in other types of Crafting, this sets up Production-Consumption Chains. When this is kept to one Focus Loci, this provides a form of Character Development. In games with Persistent Game Worlds of Multiplayer Games, both this type of Crafting and repetitious "basic" Crafting can disrupt both the economy within the game and the Player Balance if not the effort to create Game Items is balanced with the value of them.

When Creative Control is given to players regarding Crafting, as for example in Minecraft or Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress, this gives them Framed Freedom and Constructive Gameplay. The knowledge of what Game Items can be construct, and what is required to do this, can be Strategic Knowledge. The possibility of Agents to create artifacts can be a vital component in explaining civilizations in Game Worlds, and therefore help instantiate Thematic Consistency (although of course only artifacts which are consistent with the theme should be possible to create).

Being an activity that does not inherently need to have risks involved or require player skills, Crafting can easily open up for Grinding. However, it can give some worth to other forms of Grinding, e.g. that of Collecting resources.

Relations

Can Instantiate

Construction, Constructive Gameplay, Converters, Extra-Game Actions, Improved Abilities, Investments, New Abilities, Player Created Game Elements, Thematic Consistency, Grinding, Privileged Abilities, Strategic Knowledge

with Creative Control

Framed Freedom

with Tools

Character Development, Production-Consumption Chains

Can Modulate

Deterioration, Game Items, Game Worlds, Grinding, Persistent Game Worlds

Can Be Instantiated By

Privileged Abilities, Skills, Tools

Can Be Modulated By

Creative Control, Development Time, Extended Actions, Neighbors, Resources, Sidegrades, Skills, Tools, Upgrades

Possible Closure Effects

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Potentially Conflicting With

Player Balance in games with Persistent Game Worlds in Multiplayer Games

History

New pattern created in this wiki.

References

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Acknowledgements

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