Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Massively goes to WAR: Insights into Warhammer's crafting system

Michael Zenke

Many of the systems developed for Warhammer Online focus around the art of war itself. Realm vs. Realm combat, Keeps, sieges ... the bread and butter of the game is combat, adventuring, and excitement. Which is not to say that a few moments of quiet time aren't appropriate even in the harsh world of WAR. The most recent newsletter unveiled a new production video from none other than Mark Jacobs himself, talking all about crafting.

During our visit to EA Mythic last week, we had the chance to talk with one of the folks that's turned concept into reality. Justin Webb is a Senior Design Manager with the company, and sat with us to clarify some of the particulars Mr. Jacobs set out in the production video. Join us as we explore the world of potions, lotions, fungi, and butchering: Warhammer Online's crafting system.

Mark Jacobs did a very nice little video that came out in the newsletter yesterday that covers pretty much all of the stuff I would be talking to you about, so I'm going to try and see whether we can find some other little things to talk about that he just mentioned in broader terms. I think the best way to talk about crafting is first of all to admit that there's gathering, and then there's crafting. There is how you get your stuff, and that's how you turn your stuff into other things. The skills that we're talking about at the moment, we have four gathering and two crafting. The two crafting are Apothecary and Talisman-making, and the four gathering are Butchering, Scavenging, Cultivating and Salvaging. Some of them function like skills you might have seen in other games, like Butchering, and Scavenging is extracting stuff from corpses.

Cultivating is a pretty new idea for an MMO. Essentially you start off with something useless and spend some time and attention, nurture with love, and water. Eventually your seeds can grow into something that is much more useful and someone else will want to buy off you and use to make potions. You can, of course, use your own materials. Salvaging is taking something that you have, that maybe you don't want, hitting it with a hammer lots of times so it breaks apart. Then you have some stuff left over. Apothecary is potions lotions and powders, it's essentially our combat consumable creation system. Talisman-making is making stuff that goes into slots, where those slots are on weapons and amour. I don't think Mark touched too much on how those skills basically interact with one another, I've seen a few people asking questions about that.

Just as an example of how resource gathering works. Butchering is where I go out into the wilderness and see a wolf or a boar, and I kill it and some flies start buzzing around it, and I interact with it. Then I get some loot! And the kind of loot you get from Butchering is - mostly - going to help you out with the apothecary system. So ingredients you might get to make potions are like guts and blood, and goo and all kinds of disgusting things. Scavenging on the other hand feels basically like the same kind of skill except that you're doing it on predominantly player races. Anything sentient, like Mark said "anything with pockets". When you Scavenge from them you get things that are slightly less disgusting, things like gold teeth, you might get fleas and ticks, that sort of stuff that's stuck to their body. Generally, the stuff you get from Scavenging will help you out in Talisman-making.

There is a bit of crossover, if you do Scavenging there are some things you use in apothecary that aren't available elsewhere, aren't as easily available elsewhere. The same thing with the other two resource skills. Cultivating is growing stuff, and stuff you grow in Cultivating generally ties in to apothecary too. Salvaging - that stuff generally ties in to Talisman-making. So we give players a choice, they can have one gathering, one crafting. At very low levels there's enough to just get started at your local crafting vendor. Once you get above that, you need to go and do stuff on your own. With your one gathering skill you can pretty much get just about everything you need, but there are going to be some times where you need to trade with other players.

You only have the option of choosing one gathering and one crafting? You can't do two gatherings?

No. Definitely one and one, Mark replied to someone asking that question on one of the boards today. The primary reason is just that we don't have that many skills at the moment. The other thing we've tried to do with all of these skills is - I'm not a big fan of chasing yellow dots on a radar screen. When I play our game I want to get into a scenario, I want to get into a keep siege and I want to kill people! I don't want to be doing rings around the edge of the zone or looking for yellow dots on my radar to go and interact with not-people. I want to get in to RvR and kill people. So - developing the entire crafting system, which is based on Mark's design, we tried very hard to make sure that if you want to do crafting, it's not going to impact your ability to do RvR. It's not going to soak up time, you're not going to have to go to specific places and do it. If you want to do it, you can just do it. If you've got 10 seconds downtime? Make a potion, or start something growing, while you're waiting for the scenario timer to kick off so you can get in and start killing people. That's been a very important, conscious choice for us. I think we've pretty much hit it on just about everything you do in the game to do with crafting.

So if we're talking about how they feel to use ... Butchering and Scavenging, the way they play out is very reminiscent of World of Warcraft's skinning. Salvaging shares some similarities to WoW's disenchanting, some of the things you can do in Salvaging. Let's say I have my staff, I don't want it any more, or it dropped and I don't use it, and so it's got Wisdom and Intelligence on it. When you go to salvage it, it'll give you the option to choose which one of the bonuses you'd like to extract. Once you've made that choice, the end result, the stuff you get will actually be different depending on your choice. Then, you take one of those things and plug it into your Talisman-making. Let's say you chose intelligence, if you use that as your core ingredient for Talisman-making, you'll make a talisman that boosts intelligence.

Mark in the podcast was emphasizing the exploratory nature of the system, and that's the sort of thing we've been trying to ensure all the way through. We don't want the system to be as simple as in some games, where if you find a recipe or unlock a recipe then it's the same set of four items you need to make it. In our system, there are many different ways to arrive at an end product. The interesting choice we give to the players is to kind of figure out the best way to get the ingredients they need to make that, based on their own play-style.

I've artificially given myself 100 skill at Cultivating, which has opened up three of my four plots already. The first thing you do when you get the cultivate window to open is you stick a seed in a plot. The low-level stuff grows pretty quickly, and you can have multiple things growing at the same time. When you back out, it shows you which state which ones are - all of these are at the beginning stage at the moment. There's an overall time, there's a time per stage. What we can also do is input additives that will reduce the time taken as well.

You can use one additive per stage?

Yes, at specific times. Basically what happens in Cultivating is, you're growing stuff. We'll also fill in some little surprise things in, like you can have criticals and supercriticals, and the chance of those happening can be modified by the additives that you use. If you find a special sort of soil, maybe that makes criticals happen more often, or maybe it makes supercriticals happen more often. We're also trying to do things like hybridization. Essentially most of the seeds you grow give you ingredients that you're going to use to make something. We are reducing the amount of types that you can immediately get, and make them happen as a result of say a supercritical in cultivation. So you might say "oh, let's grow a respiration plant" and then grow ten of them, and one's a supercritical and suddenly it gives you a healing seed. You haven't been able to make healing potions before, and you can't find them anywhere.

You've created the healing seed as a hybridization byproduct of the respiration seeds. Cultivation's also going to be a way that we can put in more weird stuff. You might be growing some particular plants and you might get an insect at the end of one of the products, which you can grind down and use as a pigment, Or, you get a sap or some goo that you can use as an ingredient for something else. Once it's fully grown, at the end you can harvest it. Oh, I got one of those back. I'll try to see if it's in a stack ... I got a failure! There's a common mushroom there, which ultimately will get sold to a vendor.

Some of the seeds can also come from Scavenging, some of them come from just killing particular types of animals. Usually ones that have hair, because thematically, it's stuck in their hair. We have the starter stores mostly as a customer service for our players. Once they get into they game, they can start out and get their first few skill levels in a particular skill, at no risks, the guy in the store will just sell you as many of the skill level 1 stuff as you want. Then when you outlevel that, you're on your own, and you have to go find stuff. So particularly potent or rare seeds, find more PQ bosses, any particularly hard piece of content, as well as regular drops and Scavenging.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr