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Gaming 101: Crafting vs. Looting

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Crafting vs. Looting

By Sean "vVvBlazek" Emes, Edited by Jordan "Doomhammer" Kahn

In more than ten years of MMO gaming, there has always been one major debate where I have had difficulty in picking a side: whether crafted items or looted items should be the best equipment in a game.


Looting items for better gear is one of the most common ways for players to progress through any MMO. Most developers have adopted this as the primary method of giving new equipment to players, and part of the reason stems from a real world pressure: Real Market Traders (RMT) aka "gold sellers." These are the people who will sell in-game items and currency for actual money, and having the best of items only available as loot allows all players to attain them, but prevents the trade of said items after they are picked up. Recently, Blizzard (creators and distributors of World of Warcraft) lodged a formal complaint with PayPal. PayPal is now cracking down on those who participate in RMT.


Another reason looting is a favorite method for getting gear is that it gives all players something to work towards in a fun way, since the most frequent way to get this gear comes from dungeons or extremely tough bosses.

But looted items do have a down side. Due to low drop rates on very tough bosses, this can cause a form of "grinding," in which players must repeat the same dungeons constantly just to attain the one piece of gear they need for their particular character (think the right sword for the warrior, or the right staff for the mage). This turns fun into frustration, and can become more tedious than a term paper. And if dungeon lockouts are added (long periods of time before the player can re-enter the dungeon), it can quickly turn people off from even playing the game.


In the MMO genre, the art of crafting varies widely from game to game. In its best version, crafting is a fun, engaging activity. At its worst, it is a repetitive process of, "create 50 wooden planks. Now do it again." As long as there are ways to augment your gear and create better quality items, a developer is on the right track but there's a fine line between too easy and too much of a chore. Crafting also creates a player run market (players place items they make in an in-game auction house), and many players focus primarily on cornering specific markets and making tons of in-game currency. Yes, some players would rather be economists than wizards and rogues. MMOs mirror real life: it takes all kinds.

Crafting also provides an easier method for obtaining gear. Don't have time to keep running dungeons until your item drops? You can trade with a crafter and get a good piece of gear for your coin instead!


WHAT?! You mean I can't run to the store while I craft?!

Crafting still has its flaws, specifically when crafting becomes a burden on the crafters. Crafting takes time, and it takes time away from actually killing monsters and fighting major bosses. But if crafting items are only found on specific monsters or bosses, then someone has to kill them to get the crafting materials. As an example, if a raid boss only has a 10% chance to drop a craftable item, it's not likely that a player will invest the time to both grind the boss until the item drops, and then spend the time required to craft it.

Crafting always falls victim to the constant need for supplies, but if it is balanced and worth the effort put in, then crafting is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Where crafting can create fortunes, it can also lose them as well. In some games, when making an item there is a chance that you will fail and in other games there is only a percent chance you will craft the "high quality" item you desire. Failure, or not hitting the percentage needed for the high quality item (the MMO slang for this is "proc," or "proccing" the item) it can cause much distress to the crafter, causing them to not even attempt to produce some items, as the payout isn't worth the investment.

At the end of the day, both crafting and looting are important aspects of any MMO. If there is a focus too much on either, you end up with games like Tabula Rasa or Lineage 2; where currency is either pointless or items cost far too much. I continue to advocate a balance between the two. Having both possibilities rewards all players and gives more reasons to play a game; as long as the crafting is enjoyable!

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i hated having to spend a week on my blacksmithing in world of warcraft.it costed alot of gold because i was a lazy miner.alot of time i had to spend.and its really annoying when i have to spend hours in one dungeon to gey a nice new weapon or piece of plate armor only to have some douce need roll over my need roll.add some drop rate percentage will you Blizzard.

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with games like World of Warcraft they need to tweak the items used for crafting. They always have one "high-level item" used by almost all professions that you must run the pve raids to obtain. Instead they should have a specific item for each profession so if it is dropped it would be more likely that you would obtain the item. I'm aware this wouldn't create and entire solution to the problem what it could help..

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