Posted Wed, Oct 09, 2013 by ricoxg
Shroud of the Avatar will be a skill-based system, so obviously one reason to craft a lot of stuff or to enchant it is so that you can work on building that skill up. Of course, there’s likely to be a solid player-market for quality items as well. All pretty standard so far, but there may be another reason you may not know about. That’s so that you can sell the stuff to NPC vendors.
I know, I sort of did a double-take on that one too, but once you hear the reasoning, it borders on genius. It’s not finalized yet, but there’s a plan for handling player-made items sold to vendors that would take a percentage of those items, and put them into the world as loot. So it’s very possible that after clearing that kobold lair, you may find yourself the proud owner of a Lord British-built chair, or an end-table possibly.
The idea stems from the thought that the NPC vendor maybe sells said player-made items to some other NPC in another town, and some are “stolen” as they’re shipped and eventually find their way into some random loot pile. The NPC will keep a few to sell in his own store as well of course, so shopping in a town with a prolific blacksmith would mean you’d likely see a lot of his wares on local vendors.
What I love about this idea is that crafters will in effect be getting advertising by selling their stuff to the vendors and that it promises to give the players even more ownership of the world. Sure killing some critter and looting a short sword isn’t something to go nuts about, but seeing that the looted sword was created by a player-smith adds tremendous depth to the world. You immediately ask yourself how the sword ended up there, and where this smith may reside. If the sword is of some make you’ve never seen and you’re a smith as well, perhaps it generates a personal quest to find this smith and learn from him.
Richard Garriott points out, “We’ve got to do something with all the swords anyway, so rather than just delete them from the game, let’s just keep those swords we swept up. When we need some treasure out in the world, we’ll just populate that treasure with player-made stuff first. So you might loot a sword somewhere and see that it was made by a friend, and that’s just cool.”
Starr Long says, “We don’t want the world to be filled with stuff we made. We want the world to be filled with things that the players made.” And I think that really sums it up very nicely. In the end, I think that’s what we all expect and will likely find in Shroud of the Avatar. Those small touches that don’t really seem all that significant on the surface, but that give the in-game world more depth and texture. Touches added not because it was the shortest route to completing that piece of the game, but because it gives players that greater sense of ownership of the world.
Crafting is a direct extension of a development team’s philosophy, and by looking at this system we can see more directly than anywhere else what the motivation behind the game is. It’s the foundational component used by developers to empower their customers to own the product, and from what I’ve seen so far, Portalarium wants you to have as much ownership over the in-game world as possible. They have some pretty cool ideas and only time will tell if they can live up to them or whether they fall beneath the Axe of Deadlines. I have a good deal of hope for them, though and I think they’ll find a large number of fans are rooting for them as well.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Special Agent Jones is here to handle the exchange …er, I mean I need to turn my next article in.