The mainstay of In-Game economics is the ability to create items other players wish to buy. Some games control the economy via auction houses, others have vendors which are controlled by player-merchants. The avenue of buying, selling and trading in virtual worlds would not exist without the ability to create items within them. This fundamental understanding is, indeed, one that Shroud of the Avatar is developing in depth.

We must remember, SotA is still very much under development. Full-time development is not even a full year old! Yet, the world of New Britannia is very rich – an environment that brings the player into deep immersion, vastly improved conversation with NPCs, the ability to jump off parapets! All this comes with the second pre-alpha release, but the big anticipation: we are introduced to Crafting.

Using a recipe model of discovery, players are given very raw resources like iron ore, coal, flax and logs. All of which are to be used at various “crafting tables” with tools such as a carpenter’s hammer, saw, smith’s hammer, weaving shuttle, siccors and more. The trick: what combination of tools, resources and table produces what? And how many of which resource with another resource will make what? Some numbers people at the SotA forums extrapolated the number of possible combinations to be, literally, in the tens of thousands! Oh my goodness!

People who are inclined to explore SotA’s Crafting might look at the possibilities and feel a bit overwhelmed. After all, early brainstorming on the forums does make one believe that every item within this world that can be touched, picked up, manipulated and used can potentially be created by Players. Look at your desk, dear reader. Imagine having to make every pen, pencil, paperclip, pad, siccors, cup, spoon… yes. That’s a whole lot of stuff! Crafting specialization will most likely be the case in SotA – along with a whole lot of bartering between Artisans for different parts. After tinkering around a bit myself, I really do not think I will have the time in this life to excel at every possible craft within the game!

Take for example, creating a bolt of cloth.

First, you must spin the flax into thread. As exampled in the video below, it is not as simple as you might think. In Ultima Online, you simply get some wool, take it to the spinning wheel, spin some thread, then move on to the loom, and weave a bolt of cloth. Simple, yes? In SotA, you must figure out how many bundles of flax is used and what other raw material you need to generate a spool of thread. Then you need a tool of some sort to weave how many spools of thread into cloth. And lo! You’ll be surprised at what other craft you need to delve into just to make a spool of thread! A real guessing game – or puzzle. This is just one item in the thousands of possible combinations within the world.

Some things are not as intuitive as one would expect, and this has lead to rampant frustrations from the Pre-Alpha participants who tested crafting. Repetitive mouse movements for even fifteen minutes can cause a bit of pain-of-the-wrist for a dedicated crafter, and this is being expressed rather loudly in the SotA forums. Many suggestions for improving the interface, combinations and process are posted in both the public as well as the developer+ boards – some are downright awesome, really. The conversation will carry on, I’m sure, for weeks to come.

I just used spinning thread and creating a bolt of cloth as an example here, but I did spend about 3 hours at the onset of the release, learning how to craft. Then another 2 hours making boards and discovering the recipes to create quite a few pieces of furniture. Once I got the hang of the crafting, my mind took off is so many directions – and yet I see room for more. I see Pottery & Ceramics being added far in the future. I do know Alchemy, Baking and Butchering tables in the world now (but those are not active yet, I’m sure). The possibilities are as numerous as items in the game. There is still Farming, Lumberjacking, Mining and more to be implemented, as well as combat, magic and other cities.

Shroud of the Avatar, scheduled for public release toward the end of this year, still has a way to go. In this gamer’s opinion – it is progressing rather nicely though! The third release is due toward the end of February and I’m already anticipating the improvements to one of my favorite past-times in the virtual realm, Crafting. check out the short little introduction to Tailoring below, or visit the full broadcast on our Twitch Channel [full broadcase is 2 hours long].