Item collection/crafting math?

I’m thinking of adding item collection/crafting to a game, so many games do this and I can see the advantages. I can’t help thinking there is an optimum way of working the math, but I’m not a math head. You know the idea, you need to collect 3 red apples, 4 gem stones from Queen Gertrude and a pink shoe lace and you can make a goat. An odd goat, but a goat all the same! Once you have 2 goats and a saucepan you can make a bicycle.

The obvious to me is, 64 to 16 to 4 kind of thing, but I need to be careful with the asset count. Of course there are many different combinations of 4 items, so I might be able to start with 16 base items and maybe some rares. I’m not really bothered that the ‘ingredients’ make any sense.

Does anyone know of any research into this? How difficult it should be so it’s a challenge, but not so difficult it puts people off? And what differences there are for different ages of players?

It’s possible I’m going in completely the wrong direction with this, so I’d like to mull over the math, the assets needed, the resources devoured and the code complexity before I start.

Many thanks folks.

As someone who has been making a giant RPG with a team of two for the last four years, I highly recommend that if you go down the crafting path that you make it simple and only create art assets for the items you’re making if you plan on having a small amount of them. Otherwise, use a generic Item-Type icon (helmet/weapon/animal/vehicle) for each and just change descriptions and stats of them. This sort of thing can get out of scope REALLY fast, trust me.

I ended up shoehorning a crafting system into our game a couple of months ago because I found a way to do it with minimal effort. I essentially took equipment that we already had in the game as random loot drops and said, “What if enemies didn’t drop these, but you could make them by giving this NPC a bunch of random items?”

I only added crafting because I was finding that a lot of our testers were racking up a ton of money and had no where to spend it. A system like that is supplemental, but not necessary, so I would suggest starting small and add complexity afterward.

I’m not sure what you mean by the 64 to 16 to 4 stuff, but it sounds like you’re talking about a pretty large range of crafting possibilities. I remember when we were first writing our design document and I had created this sprawling crafting system that allowed you to craft items and use those items to create new items by mixing and matching things. My god, I’m glad I didn’t do that because it would have taken up so much time for both myself and the artist.

Edit: Of course, if you have a larger team or if your game is focused heavily on just the crafting aspect, my answer changes. I think the moral of the story is that there are a lot of things to consider for this sort of thing, but your very first concern, in my opinion, should be scope.


Interesting topic for me as i,'m wondering what kind of crafting system i’ll do/choose
As a diablo3 player the crafting system can become a pain. They changed it twice to make it more friendly

It’s tricky isn’t it. I’ve decided to make things a lot easier than I was previously thinking, I’ll have a base of 16 items which can be combined in different combinations to ‘craft’ the next item.

Most of those created items will be consumed by the game as progress, a smaller number will be used for upgrades. The upgrades will require ‘specials’ and I really haven’t got a clue how they get into the game yet.

I’m not that keen on the progress=upgrade path, because you get to the end of the game with all the best stuff, but you really could have done with it earlier on. I hate pay to play so I’m not doing that. They’ll have to be some kind of random pop I guess, I don’t know yet.