If you go with a non-decay route, then your crafting system won't really have a major impact on the game. Typically, I-lvl type progression games take this route so the 'crafting' system that the game really uses is drops. However, if you do a sandbox route, 'drops' really don't make sense. Why would a vulture have a two-handed sword?
I plan to go with Decay, and it's not just to carry through with 'realism'. With decay, you can create enough of a player market that it becomes the economy itself. With players at all ends of the creation process, You create an entire class of players that can succeed in what they want to do in a non-combat related way. You do, however, need to put some kind of barrier in the process to allow some kind of 'progress'. In EVE, this barrier is blueprint research. That process involves researching a blueprint and allowing the possibility of discovery of a new level of tech (i.e. level of the item, or a stronger version). That, however, doesn't fit a post apocalyptic society, at least in that form.
Well, blueprints will sort of be part of the equation. Let's take a sword for example. It will have a Blade, Hilt, and Pommel. Each would have a size allowance. As in, a minimum and a maximum. You could chose anything in those ranged. Then, you would choose curved, straight, wave, or notched for the blade. Server side, each of these would do specific things to the weapon, from major (making a weapon take two hands) to minor (increased damage on angled plate).
However, the root of the system is actually much more important than this. Here, we have my jewel of a system created from bits and pieces of many games all into one amalgamation of awesome...at least awesome in my opinion.
Everything in the world will have 'unit's. A tree would have X 'units' of wood. When you choose to harvest an item, you choose a unit size of X by Y by Z. Then, each unit will have properties viewable and not-viewable. These properties will be given a value by some form of in-game scanner. Of course, have to keep it realistic, but making it technology related keeps some of the sci-fi theme. So, let's say you pull a 2 x 2 x 10 unit of tree. If you scanned, you'd get:
- Hardness: 5, Flexibility: 7, Flammable: 10, Aging: 3, Bouyancy: 8
Now, when you go to make a sword, it requires an item at least 2 x 1 x 8 for the blade type you chose. Items must at least have a hardness of 3, a flexability less than 10, and an aging less than 8. Since this wood you took is within range, you can use it. The item will keep the other factors as well. So yes, you could make a wooden sword, but it might not be your best choice. So, why go with this system? Well, everything feasible in the game will have stats like this. this allows Minecraft level gathering with EVE level crafting. Just fit your items in the limits and you can make it. Of course, gathering becomes a bit interesting. Metal, cloth, rock, meat, most anything becomes a barter good. This will lead into my post Monday on Currency.
However, what if all the rock in your area is of junk hardness, and you want to build your fort out of very hard materials? Well, here is where the Caravans come in. Caravans at their end-points become markets where you can buy and sell materials...kind of. When you arrive at a carravan end-point, you have a buy and sell option. For Buy, you can either search for specific stats, items between a range of stats, or place a buy-order for an item with specific stats. Then, that caravan will spread the word to other caravans, and if there is a sell order with that item then will give you a time frame when it arrives.
When you put in the buy order, it takes your money at that time to keep things from getting out of hand. Note, the item you will get will be the first item it comes across, so you'd need to be specific since it will be chosen by whichever caravan they run into first. Selling is also just as simple, with you giving your items in a sell-order to the caravan and they take it with them selling it to the first order that comes up that is above your minimum allowed, or you can scan buy orders they have and sell yours instantly. You could also add in the option that if the cost of an item, or the offer by the buyer was too low or high, you would be allowed to approve it instead of just passing over a possible good market transaction. Also, the caravan would likely take a cut, but it would be a small amount.
These caravans, however, become an entirely different PvE element when they are traveling between towns, and that will be on the list Monday as well.