The Problem With Diablo 3′s Crafting System
I was getting all ready to give Blizzard both barrels until Monday, until a “Game Design Update” revealed that Diablo 3 developers were already aware of problems with their crafting system:
Other areas of concern have been both the gem combination system and Blacksmith leveling and crafting costs. The intent, especially with the Blacksmith, is that he’s leveling with you, you’re able to use him as an alternate source for upgrades. Our design goal is that once you get to level 60, his recipes are actually good enough to help fill a character’s potential itemization gaps. To correct these issues, we’re looking to adjust the Blacksmith costs for training (gold and pages) and crafting from levels 1-59.
This is obviously a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s a step that doesn’t go far enough. Crafting new items shouldn’t cost any gold at all.
Charging a cash fee negates the idea and purpose behind crafting. There’s a pretty intuitive dichotomy in video games — and in life, for that matter — between building things and buying things. If you’ve ever cooked a fish you caught yourself, or — to use a more complicated, but more relevant example — built your own PC, you’re familiar with the concept. Building and buying each have their own advantages and disadvantages, and in games that get it right, players are able to choose between two balanced options.
In Diablo 3, crafting is simply an inferior choice. Crafted items have randomly generated stats, which means that there’s a good chance that those greaves you just forged are more worthless in Sanctuary than a pair of sequined Uggs. Players might be willing to spend hard-earned crafting materials for a slim chance at success, but why should they be expected to pony up huge sums of gold as well? That gold is easily spent on the auction house, which enables players to choose exactly the item they want, and consistently provides better value for the money.
It’s possible that Blizzard expected the Auction House market to be more expensive. Or that they wanted to prevent gold inflation by routing some of it out of circulation. Or maybe Haedrig wants to be paid for his time and labor? Sorry, pal — when you’re helping to prevent the impending apocalypse, you have to work pro bono.
Hopefully, when the Diablo 3 developers get around to releasing patch 1.0.3, which will contain the crafting fixes, the discounts will be sufficiently aggressive. Randomized crafting has the potential to be a fun complement to loot drops and auction house investment, but not if it has to compete with auction house for gold.