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Massively's look at DDO's new crafting system

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Dungeons and Dragons Online Update 9 has been anticipated for quite a while among its fanbase. It's bringing a creepy new adventure pack, a huge skill update that Wizards and Sorcerers are paying close attention to, and possibly best of all, a brand-new crafting system.

We've had a look at some of the new content of Update 9, and we've pored over the skill changes, but our recent discussion with the Turbine crew was the icing on the cake. We sat down recently with Fernando Paiz and a few other members of the DDO team and jumped into the new crafting system with both feet. So what does this much-hyped system look like? We loved it, but follow along after the jump to see for yourself!

Gallery: DDO Update 9 crafting hall | 9 Photos


Fernando had some interesting things to say about Turbine's long-term plan for introducing the crafting system: "We want to be cautious with crafting, because it's a very big system to add to a game the size of DDO, one that's been around for a while.

"At the same time, it's got a lot of moving parts, and it's something that we know we're going to want to tune. We don't think it's perfect even though we're pretty happy with it. It's a powerful system that lets the players do a lot of things, but it's not all the way there. So we're doing something a little different: a live beta rollout of crafting.

"We'll start with Update 9, but Update 9 will not have the entire crafting system -- but you won't have to wait for Update 10 or 11 either. There will be points along the way throughout the Update 9 and Update 10 cycles where we will enable different parts of the crafting system, and we'll just keep adding more and more so that by the time we reach Update 11 there will be a very big part of crafting in there. So with Update 11 there may be some very high-level crafting, but we'll have a fully represented crafting system in by then."

Don't worry -- the crafting system as it stands now isn't skimpy by any stretch of the imagination. The beauty of it is its combination of simplicity and complexity. The system itself is simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. The purpose of everything is very clear and doesn't get too involved in a hundred different confusing methods and options; you're either breaking something down into components or putting them back together. The end.

There are symbols for each part of the crafting process, as shown above. The shield symbol represents the item or weapon you're working with; the bottle represents your deconstruction materials; and the diamond represents the shards (the mods taken from the deconstructed items).

In addition to the handy pictorial guide on the wall in the crafting hall, each room is labeled with one of the symbols to indicate its function. As you move around the central area of the crafting hall, you'll notice that several rooms have a symbol circled by a chain. When you begin your crafting journey, you'll be restricted to crafting only bound items, but once you reach the higher levels (attained by accumulating crafting XP just like you do in regular gameplay), the better crafting devices will become available to you and you'll be able to create unbound items.

Moving from the crafting equipment to the process itself, I found it to be extremely simple and user-friendly. You're able to choose the part of the item you'd like to break off -- prefix, suffix, enhancement bonus, or the item itself -- in the deconstruction process. You'll then be able to add that part to a different item using a different crafting device. The symbols over each door show both the purpose of the device inside and the process for using it.

While the foundation of the system is simple and clear, the choices it allows feel infinite thanks to the that same simplicity: Any enhancement can now be combined with any weapon (named items are excluded, of course). It opens the possibility to make the perfect item from pretty much any vendor trash you pick up.

Update 9 will bring crafting to Eberron on April 27th, so you just have one week to wait -- start saving that vendor trash and see what you can make!

Our thanks to Fernando Paiz, Amanda "Tolero" Grow, and Eric Boyer for their hospitality and a lot of fun!

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