I think I spend a good hour or more last night getting the water entrance to my new structure in Minecraft ‘just right’. That activity involved placing and deleting dirt squares repeatedly. Finally it’s now a waterfall that only has water falling down, rather than down and under into the ‘secret’ passageway behind it. :Achievement!:
This was, of course, after I cleared half the Sahara digging up sand to turn into sandstone for the middle layer. Plus I needed to bake lots of cobblestone into stone, because, well, you can’t have things not looking right, right? Sure cobblestone and stone do the same thing, and the only real difference is that cobblestone is more white/gray/black specs while stone is just mostly gray, but listen, the gray looks better, so that’s how it was built!
Which brings me to the point of today’s posts: ‘fun’ crafting has nothing to do with the actual activity required to craft something, but is all about the WHAT and WHY of crafting. That’s why 99% of MMO crafting sucks. The ‘what’ is my 1000th pair of chain pants to grind up smithing, and the ‘why’ is because I need the skill at the cap to make that one epic I’ll actually find useful (until the next raid that replaces it, if not the raid last week that already replaced it, oops). No amount of ‘mini-games’ is going to make that fun, because if I actually want to play a mini-game, I’ve got a Wii, and it does that type of gameplay far better than an MMO. And no Wii mini-game is fun after the 1000th time anyway, so yea.
And it’s not like WHAT and WHY has never been done well in an MMO. Crafting the 1000th pair of chain pants in UO was fun. Why? Because I had a vendor to sell them on, and by keeping my vendor well stocked and with reasonable (but still very profitable) prices, I developed a reputation and had repeat customers. A few of those repeat customers then became friends through the somewhat ‘natural’ interaction of me being around the house and them visiting it. My characters FULL TIME activity in UO was crafting and gathering at one point, and it was thrilling. UO had click and wait crafting.
Minecraft is much the same, although less ‘massive’. The crafting is still very simple ‘drop it into this, pull out that’ stuff, and the gathering is ‘mash left-click x1000000’. Yet the gathering is fun thanks to the huge random world, and the crafting works because you not only set the purpose, but also directly see the results. I don’t start by baking sand to allow myself to finally reach gold-smelting. If Minecraft was a ‘tradition’ MMO, $10 says smelting iron/gold would be an ‘end-game’ activity you skilled-up to reach. That sounds incredibly stupid, but that’s how a lot of MMO design works, and that’s why 99% of crafting sucks.