A Thought On Crafting Resource Distribution

Witcher3-8

My replays of the first two Witcher games have me spending hours in front of a game mechanic that’s becoming painfully common in basically everything today, and which I already hear talked about in Witcher 3 — crafting. Specifically, it’s got me thinking about how unbalanced crafting resource distribution is, which is usually why it annoys me so much.

The WitcherSkyrim, and even Far Cry at this point have worlds that let you pick up every flower, mushroom, animal hide, or piece of rock so you can combine it into hopefully useful things. In most games this results in a world so cluttered with crafting materials that I pretty much just ignore them all the time, which causes it all to look like clutter in the first place.

I get why developers do this, especially for open-world games. When you let players go anywhere it becomes impossible to predict where they will go and more importantly how much of the game’s content they’ll actually see. They can’t balance the main story around the assumption the player is completing every side quest. By the same token they have to make sure the critical path, or anywhere the player might go for that matter, has enough crafting resources for whatever they need to craft. So you get the resources thrown everywhere so they’re always accessible.

I’d like to see a game that puts a little more thought in where it distributes all the different kinds of herbs and metals. Right now in Witcher 2 instead of picking up everything and filling up my inventory, I’m only gathering resources when I need them, which makes the process of searching for them more involving. The problem is there’s really no way to figure out where a particular herb or mushroom might be. It’s all random except the fact that ore occurs mostly in caves. Stores are the only reliable source you know about, and they’re expensive. It would be really interesting if there was something in this game that told you this herb is more common in one region while this ore is more common in another region. This would make even more sense in games like Witcher 3 and Elder Scrolls. I guess games already do this with monsters that drop resources and are generally identified geographically. That kind of system makes a world not only feel more functional, but makes gathering resources a more challenging task that also makes more sense.

I wonder if Monster Hunter does this. It certainly does so with enemies but I don’t know about crafting resources. I didn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. There are also a ton of indie survival games out there I haven’t played. Since gathering resources is a big part of that genre, I imagine at least some of them have systems where players can reliably count on certain things being in certain places.

It’s just something I wish more big games would consider. I wonder how much, if anything, they’ve learned from modern survival games.

BULLETS:

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