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Gaarawarr Gabs with Phillip Chan

August 24, 2009

Today, we talk crafting systems with Phillip Chan, Player Systems Designer.  He’s known on the Official Forums as “PChan”, in the Core Tester Forums as “PChan the Crafting Man” and by Mykiel and I as “The Taffy Slayer.”

Over lunch, we had some interesting conversations about crafting systems in various MMOs, who should eat white rice vs. brown rice and why, and why he (and people like him) aren’t fixing server stability “RIGHT NOW!1!11!!”  At one point I even /Godwin’d a conversation we were having.  Good times.

While I wish I’d recorded those conversations, as some were hilarious, I did get a lot of answers to crafting system questions during our interview.  However, I think we were all still in a food-coma during this interview (it happened right after lunch) since it ended up being one of the shortest ones I did that day.  Oh well.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing lots of adjustments to crafting over the next year, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to sit down with him and chat again. :p



Let’s dive right in, shall we?

GG:  So, crafting in WAR.  Are there plans for future implementation of different crafting skills?

Phillip:  Absolutely.  We’re definitely looking at new crafting trade-skills down the line.  I can’t say whether or not we’ll have one before an expansion [comes out], but we definitely have plans to expand crafting.

GG:  A lot of the population base…they like to refer to other MMOs saying “Why don’t we have this type of system in place?”  Such as, making our own armor or weapons.

Phillip:  Sure.  I think it’s important to…I mean, WAR is its own game.  It’s not like other games.  The focus of WAR is very much about the fight and it’s hard to have a robust crafting system like a lot of other games when something permanent like armor or weapons could grossly imbalance game-play.  So, we chose to stick with consumable-based crafting for the time being, because we’d like the economy to stay fluid and buoyant, without having the heaviness of player-crafted items.

We also recognize that crafting is not the primary item delivery method.  We like to emphasize the world drops, the player-loot drops, the RvR rewards and the Influence rewards.  All those things are really important facets of the game and we don’t want to fall into the trap of two delivery systems fighting each other, or item bloat for that matter.

GG:  Butchering!

Phillip:  Yes, butchering…

GG:  Butchering itself seems a little lackluster in comparison to its counterpart in offerings that are viable.  Are there plans to implement or integrate some type of hybrid potion within the butchering line, maybe something different than you can get via cultivation?

Phillip:  That’s a really good question.  Definitely, in the near future, we are going to be making lots of additions to butchering.  We’re hoping to add a few recipes that are distinct in butchering, such as hybrid potions and also butchering-specific dyes, so it can stay competitive with cultivation.

It was really difficult for us to choose which systems needed the most work done initially, and cultivation was one of the ones we felt needed it the most at the beginning.  We’re making our rounds and we’ll definitely be revisiting butchering very soon.

GG:  One of the big issues with butchering is that, to get certain items, it’s a long drawn-out grind and you also have the trash loot that comes along with it.  Are we going to see this streamlined somehow?

Phillip:  We’re definitely looking at making the trash loot a little bit more generic, but much more efficient in terms of collecting it and stacking it in your inventory.  We’re definitely looking at making the drops a little bit more predictable and we’re also looking to improve the parity between scavenging and butchering.

GG: So, we have hybrid potions at Rank 40.

Phillip:  Yeah.

GG:  We don’t have hybrids anywhere else.  Are there plans to put hybrids, obviously with lower effects, in the lower Tiers since they’re so popular?

Phillip:  I wouldn’t say that we have any immediate plans for adding those in.  I’m sure it’s something we can consider in the future, but right now we think of hybrid potions as sort of the end-game crafting for Apothecary.  So, I think we may, for now, be looking at keeping that the way it is.

GG:  Is there chance that with the single-stat potions, we’ll see you guys maybe making those stats increase more or possibly stack with other buffs so those potions become more appealing instead of the hybrid being the end-all, be-all need?

Phillip:  Of course.  We’re always looking at ways to improve Apothecary.  We’ve looked at a number of things, among which is making big buffs to stat potions.  Actually, we were looking at boosting up some of the effects of a lot of the non-stat potions (like Molotovs, the Fire-Breathing potions, stuff like that) to make them a little bit more viable in combat, because we realize that right now they’re a little bit underpowered.

GG:  For Apothecary and Talisman Making themselves, are there any plans to increase the amount of vendor-purchaseable items for the Guild merchants?  Or will we maybe see some unique supplies for crafting being added to the Quartermasters so you can buy them with the RvR tokens?  This would make RvR a way to get crafting supplies.

Phillip:  I know that the Items Team is committed to integrating crafting more into the items-delivery cadence.  Right now we have a few utility things planned specifically for crafting with the Guild merchants, or at least related to Guilds. In terms of stuff that affects actual combat balancing, that’s stuff we’d have to discuss.  I can’t do that unilaterally, obviously.

GG:  Are we ever going to see the ability to do…right now you have to choose a production profession and a gathering one.  Are we ever going to get the chance to just pick two gathering professions?  You know, for the people that don’t want to craft but want to support their Guilds.

Phillip:  We actually considered unlocking that pretty early on, but we decided that, at the time, it was not the best option to explore.  But we can certainly look into that.  I can’t make any promises.

GG:  Yeah, it’s just that I remember, going back into the days of Star Wars Galaxies, there were people that just wanted to supply stuff to others, and that player is still out there.  They want the income, but they don’t want the crafting grind.

Phillip:  Yeah, it’s definitely something we can look into.

GG:  OK, I asked this at lunch, but let’s get it on record.  😉  Now that we have some consumable drop-loot sub-components for crafting in the Land of the Dead, are we going to see a broader range of these types of drops in the future?

Phillip:  Yeah, I think that we’ll certainly see more crafting stuff appear in content.  There’s a push from all the teams involved to integrate crafting more into the every-day flow of WAR.  That’s not going to be a one-off thing.

GG:  Cool.  So, because the game is based so much around Tome unlocks and the “You have correctly cultivated a plant while being in lava, naked, in combat, while watching a movie,” are there any plans to implement some kind of Tome unlock item (like the Trophies and Pocket items) that would give you some kind of a static buff for crafting?  You know, for being this exceptional crafter who has made, like, 25,000 of something.

Phillip:  Yeah, actually, we’ve been in long-term discussions about that.  It’s kind of an items thing we’ve been discussing for a while, having useful rewards for getting all those Tome unlocks.  We realize that while people enjoy the Tome unlock on its own, it’s always fun to get a trophy or pocket item [as well].  Something that gives you an advantage somehow over someone that hasn’t gone through the trouble of unlocking things.  Yeah, it’s definitely something we’re looking at.

Mark Davis:  I got a question for you… (as he’s texting back and forth on his phone with his wife while waiting for his interview).  My wife wants to know if blue and purple curios still drop in the game, and if so, where?

Phillip:  No, they don’t.  There’s only one rarity now.  Anything other than that was grandfathered in.  So, there’s no more Paragon’s Ashes.

GG:  The better ones were what we called the Tier 5 curios.

Phillip:  The Cathayan Dragon Discs.

GG:  Yeah, like those.  If you had those when they grandfathered in, they had the same power as the Paragon’s Ashes, but the Special Chance was jacked way up.  Those are very nice.

Mark:  Yeah, if you could actually get them.

GG:  Yeah well… (whispers) I had a bunch…

Philip:  Yeah, that’s because you find out everything.

All laughing…

GG:  Well, I knew where I could get them…and not the broken quest chain either.  Anyway…   🙂

We’ve noticed that with salvaging, people are beginning to be able to get the crit chance Talismans and other items.  Are we going to see other stats?  Like, there are some items you can get that have stuff like threat generation stats on them.

Phillip:  Yes, absolutely.  We’re looking at other bonuses that we can put on Talismans.  We felt that crit and power were probably the best ones to roll out first because they have the most appeal, but we are definitely, definitely, definitely looking at including more bonuses.

GG:  So, with Talisman Making right now, if a Rank 1, fresh-to-the-game player got really lucky, he could make himself epic, Rank 1 +17/18 Talismans for a specific stat.  Was that intended or is it a byproduct of the change that was made to Talisman Making?

Phillip:  Well, first of all, the character Rank doesn’t play any part in the trade-skills themselves.  That was a policy that we’ve had and hold to.  We understand that, also, fighting other Rank tens that have +30/40 stats on them is not very fun, so we tried to change that by putting the character Rank requirements on Talismans.  We did that specifically so that a Rank 1 player who is new to the game doesn’t have to deal with as much crap.

We’re always looking at ways to improve how things are delivered in the crafting system.  I’m sure that, in the future, with either new crafting systems or revisions of the current crafting systems, we will keep that sort of thing in mind.  I don’t know about other teams, but in crafting we try to have a holistic picture of the system and we try to make it internally-consistent more than we worry about anecdotal problems.

GG:  Soooo…are we going to hear about any super tippy-top secret squirrel stuff in the near future?

Inside joke.  Sorry, had to do it. 😉

Phillip:  If I do [have any], I’ll roll it to the Core Testers first.  That’s one of the things we’ve integrated into the process is getting player-feedback on stuff before we start tweaking major systems.  At least for the Player Systems Team.

GG:  Thank you!

Phillip:  It was nice to meet you.  Good luck!

So Ladies and Gentlemen, that was Phillip “The Taffy Slayer” Chan.  In what free time he does get when not working on Player Systems, I hear he fixes server stability with the power of words…

It was a short interview, although it didn’t feel like it at the time, hehe.  I have to say though, there were a lot of questions — Phillip just has a way of answering them succinctly.  That gives him more time to fix stuff, I guess. 😉

Thanks again Phillip, it was a blast!  Until next time…

Have fun!


5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 5:26 am

    Super Secret Squirrel.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      August 26, 2009 7:04 am

      hehe, hey man!

  2. Teefstompa permalink
    August 26, 2009 7:48 am

    I feel this calls for squirrel-derived potions and talismans:

    Nutkin’s Potion – turns you into a Super Secret Squirrel for 1 minute.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      August 26, 2009 8:48 am

      That would be awesome!

      I wouldn’t mind a pocket item that calls forth help from my forest friends either (aka: squirrels). Would love to see them swarm a gobbo. hehe

    • August 27, 2009 9:20 am

      hehe… Good ol’ M:tG. I loved me some squirrel hoardes back in the day… almost as good as my Gobbo/Zombie deck. =D

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