Crafting in 5 Subscription MMOGs: The Good, the Bad, and the Blah

Updated Tue, Sep 06, 2011 by jeffprime

For many online gamers, crafting has become an integral part of the gaming experience. Countless hours are spent in the arduous pursuit of reaching the pinnacle of crafting achievement. The rewards for crafting can be very generous indeed: incredible gear and weapons, the ability to generate incredible amounts of gold in-game, and having fellow gamers clamor for your specialty services to help them become the fully-equipped juggernauts of their dreams. However, there can be quite a downside for crafting in that the gamer may face long hours of endless grinding for the raw materials needed and there are other pitfalls that may incur based upon the game’s crafting system itself.

Indeed, the most important component of any crafting system is the crafting system itself. Not every crafting system is equal to one another. One system may have some fine points in one area, but found to be lacking in another. Another game might have some innovative features, but can be clumsy and confusing in execution. Many crafting systems share similar features, usually because one system may “inspire” the system in another MMOG. Let’s be honest: game companies look at what other companies have done to see what works and what doesn’t. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, is there? No matter the true origins of the crafting system, each game looks to put their own spin upon it to make it stand out from the crowd.

Our mission (should we choose to accept it….which we have or else you wouldn’t be reading this!) is to examine the crafting systems of five different MMOGs that are subscription based and look at the good, the bad, and the blah that the different systems offer. We’ll start off with a cursory glance at each game’s crafting system and then go over what they offer, good or bad. Please not that I won’t be doing a detailed step-by-step guide to crafting for each game, but just a general overview of the system they have in place. The games that we’ll be examining are World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Star Trek Online, Warhammer Online, and Rift.

world of warcraft
The Great Forge in Ironforge.


World of Warcraft: This game’s crafting system can be viewed as the standard due to WoW being the 800 pound gorilla of MMOGs. In WoW, players can learn up to 2 primary professions (such as Blacksmithing, Mining, Skinning, etc.) and any number of secondary professions (Fishing, Cooking, First Aid, etc.). The basic system is that you go a trainer who trains you up to a certain level in a profession and from whom you can also purchase recipes to make various items. You can also gain rare recipes from loot drops, faction grinding, and raids. To create an item, you must first go out and gather the necessary raw materials (either from a profession such as Mining or Skinning or by using the Auction House). As you create items, you gain skill in that profession. Items have a level associated with them so that as you increase in skill, lower level items will no longer give you xp towards your profession. In addition, if you choose to replace a primary profession with another primary profession, you will lose all the knowledge you had gained in the old profession. For example, if you have Blacksmithing and Mining, but then decide to replace Blacksmithing with Enchanting, you will lose everything you have learned in Blacksmithing.

The crafting hall in Meridian.

Warhammer Online: WAR shares some similarities with WoW, but there are some differences. Here you can pick one crafting skill (Apothecary and Talisman Making) and one gathering skill (Butchering, Salvage, etc.). Skill levels are associated by the equipment you buy (such as vials). If you choose to learn a new skill and unlearn an old one, the skill in the old skill will fall back to zero. While there are trainers from whom you pick up the skill, there are no recipes in the game. Creating items is totally based trial and error, but the game will inform you before you try your recipe of whether or not you should feel confident of the final result. There are crafting guides that have recipes on third party sites, but nothing in-game.

Rift: Rift follows the same method of WoW (again, why reinvent the wheel?). Rift allows you have up to three different professions, chosen from both the gathering professions (Butchery, Mining, etc.) and the crafting professions (Armorsmithing, Runecrafting, etc.) You will go to a trainer who will train you up to the next crafting rank and will also sell you recipes. You can also gain rare recipes from doing daily quests. Like WoW and WAR, you’ll need a certain skill level to create specific items. The main addition to the crafting system in Rift is through the use of Augmentations, which are items that can add a variable amount of bonuses to the item being created. Like the previous two MMOGs, you can choose to unlearn a skill.

age of conan
By Crom, I must be high level to
think about crafting even a hankie,
much less this item!
Age of Conan: By Crom, there are some differences to be found in the crafting system in AoC as opposed to WoW and Rift.  You can choose two crafting skills out of five (Armorsmith, Gemcutting, etc.) and you can learn these skills at various trainers once you hit level 40. There are multiple tiers of crafting and to advance to the next tier, you’ll have to do a series of quests for the master trainer once you’ve amassed enough xp to hit the next tier. As always, there are plenty of resource material gathering, but you can create some different things in AoC. You can build siege weapons to be used in large-scale PvP warfare and you can create building for use in guild cities. While most recipes are available from trainers, you can pick up rare recipes from loot drops or raids. The highest level recipes will require the use of special buildings that can only be found in the highest tier guild cities, so if you want to fully maximize your crafting, you will have to join a guild that has a great city behind it.

Star Trek Online: STO has recently revamped their crafting season with their Season Three update. Just like any other crafting system, you create items by first gathering raw materials. However, you don’t need any specific skill to gather these materials. You just have to search through space and on planets. After you’ve gained a few levels, you’ll be given a mission to go to Memory Alpha (if you’re Federation) where crafting takes place. Klingon crafting takes place on Qo’noS. Players create schematics which are then later consumed in the creation process (unless you’re making a consumable which does not require a schematic). Unlike other MMOGs, there is a general research skill so a player can create a variety of items from healing items to personal weaponry and shields to ship systems.

News from around the 'Net