Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I've been playing Skyrim lately. A lot of Skyrim: over 70 hours in 3 weeks. Naturally, I had some thoughts on the maps in the game.

Read the article on my main site.

Side note: I'm not really happy with my blog format. It's designed around updates, but many of my writings are more “reference” style articles that I'll update over time. With the polygon map posts, I experimented with formatting the content twice, once for the blog and once for the site. That led to fragmented discussions, and it was also a lot of extra work for me. For some posts I experimented by having a reference-style post only on the blog, but these didn't fit well into the main site. For this post I'm experimenting with the opposite — I'm keeping the content on the main site, but using the blog only as a pointer to it.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

I’ve only played a few games with crafting, but the basic approach seems to be that I collect some materials and then combine them into what I want to make. In some games the recipes are in the game; in others I have to find them on a wiki. Many games have multi-step crafting, where I can use a crafted item as a material to craft another item.

In a game where I find crafting materials randomly (e.g. Dungeons of Dredmore), the question I want to answer is which of these items do I want to make with what I have, or do I want to wait?. For example, if I find a Gel in Terraria, this is what I can make, sometimes by combining Gel with something else:

Diagram of what I can craft given what I have

In a game where I can choose to find materials (e.g. Terraria) or buy materials (e.g. World of Warcraft), the question I want to answer is what materials do I need to make what I want? For example, if I want a Hero’s Hat in Terraria, this is what I need:

Diagram of what I need to craft something

Both of these are subsets of a crafting graph, which may be rather complex and difficult to show on the screen at once. This is an approximate graph for Minecraft crafting:

Diagram of Minecraft crafting graph

I either want to look forwards from the materials I currently have or I want to look backwards from the items I want to make. Games typically give me a UI that only shows a single step forwards. They can’t show the entire crafting graph because it’s typically too complex.

I’d like better ways to interact with the crafting graph:

  1. In games with a complex crafting graph, help me explore it in the game so I don’t need to use a wiki to find the information.
  2. In games where I’m discovering crafting recipes, help me track what I’ve learned and what I’m missing.
  3. In games where I’m able to pick which materials to find, help me track goals like “make Hero’s Hat” that translate into subgoals like “find 9 seeds from the Jungle”.
  4. In games where I’m unable to pick which materials to find, consider adjusting the loot drop rates to favor materials that would be useful for the goals I’ve set.

In the good old days, RPGs didn’t explicitly track the map or quests for you. Instead, you did it yourself, on paper. These days, RPGs have removed much of the mundane aspects of tracking things by automatically remembering things for you. There are nifty interfaces for maps, skill/tech trees, quests, subquests, lore, and so on. I’d like to see that sort of thinking applied to crafting.

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