Crafting System Design

Something that can differ between games even in the same subgenre is how crafting is designed. Naturally, because Planetora has crafting and is part of progression, the crafting system design is a major pillar of the game and how it is designed can change a lot.

So the question of this topic is, what do you think is the best crafting system is (perhaps an example of a game that has it) and why?

On top of that is whether crafting should take time or be instant.

The two major closest examples are from Terraria and Starbound.

1. Proximity-Based Crafting

  • Game: Terraria
  • Design Features:
    • Crafting List: All possible craftable items are displayed in one long vertical list.
    • Proximity Requirement: Requires the player to be near the appropriate crafting stations.
    • Ingredient Requirement: Only shows items that can be crafted with the ingredients currently in the player’s inventory.
    • User Interface: Simple and integrated into the player’s inventory screen.

2. Station-Based Crafting

  • Game: Starbound
  • Design Features:
    • Crafting Stations: Different stations for different categories of items
    • Station-Specific Lists: Each station has a list of items that can be crafted there visible regardless of if the player has the materials
    • User Interface: Each station has its own crafting menu that opens when interacted with.

One step away would then be Minecraft whose original crafting system was like:

3. Pattern-Based Crafting

  • Game: Minecraft
  • Design Features:
    • Crafting Grid: A grid where players place ingredients in a specific pattern to craft items.
    • Recipe Memorization: Players need to remember or look up crafting recipes.
    • User Interface: A 3x3 crafting grid (or 2x2 in the player’s inventory)

For what it’s worth, there’s also Factorio’s crafting system.

  • User Interface: All recipes are listed in the player’s inventory and split into four major categories
  • Auto-Crafting: Crafting can be automated with machines(mainly since it’s a Factory game)
  • Ingredient Requirement: Most recipes can be crafted so long as the player has the items in their inventory(some requires fluids, which can only be done at machines like auto-crafters)
  • Chain-Crafting: To craft an engine, the player needs 1 iron gear, 2 pipes, and 1 steel. If the player doesn’t have iron gear but has iron plates, then when the engine is queued for crafting, iron gears are also automatically queued for crafting

In the absence of any opinions I think my preference is crafting using creating stations similar to Starbound and core keeper, since it easily allows players to see what recipes are available at that tier.