I’ve never really seen a crafting system I genuinely like in a game. They all have bits I like, but they never really gel into a proper whole for me. As such, one of the things that I’m most interested in exploring on Epitaph is the possibilities of a genuinely expressive crafting system. While there aren’t many schematics at the moment, it’s my hope that the Epitaph system will indeed offer ways for people to create the exact, specific items they want.

There is a pretty substantial infrastructure required to do this – there needs to be an element of normalisation in equipment so that things like weights, and durability, and damages and such are banded into rough categories that can be easily balanced. There needs to be an impact to decisions made – making a sword out of tin should have an actual impact as opposed to making it out of steel. That requires a comprehensive system of handling materials.

Epitaph crafts are modelled on a single core infrastructure – each craft (at the moment, only really lumber jacking, harvesting, mining and leather working) hangs off a common set of inherits, and the various transforms objects go through are handled similarly consistently. The ‘assemble’ command is the thing that does all the magic though – the assemble command takes a set schematic and integrates the components into a finished product.

At the moment, the only schematic that offers a peek at how expressive the system can be is the machete – first you need wood to make the handle, and then you need a metal bar to make the blade. The skill that you have in gathering as well as assembling a schematic determines how good the item ends up being (which normalised band it falls into), and the materials you choose impact on the final description, but also on the characteristics of the weapon. Tin weapons will damage very easily for example, but be quite light. Steel weapons will be heavy, but durable. A similar type schematic exists as a simple necklace – you choose what metal to make the chain out of, and then you can make a symbol out of a specific metal and attack the two. If you want a gold chain with a silver skull hanging from it, that’s what you can get.

Where I see this going is, in Epitaph, the primary mechanism for people actually outfitting their characters. Scavenging is short term and erratic, but crafting lets you get exactly the thing you want. If you want a pair of ass-less chaps made of elephant leather, then why shouldn’t you have that? If you want a jumper with one red silk sleeve and another with a pink wool sleeve, then why not? If you can get the raw components and you have the skills and the commands, then you should indeed be able to construct exactly the items you want.

All of this can be supported by the crafting system we have, and more schematics will be introduced into the game to really show how expressive it can be.

The fact it all hangs off a common core is incredibly important – it’s the reason why a new craft can be added without huge amounts of work. If we wanted to add, say, ice sculpting – there’s no reason at all why we couldn’t do that. The core inherits handlethe busy work, so all that a new craft has to concentrate on is the unique features that define it.

Crafting has the potential to be one of the real ‘gold features’ of Epitaph, and I am very excited to see how it all shapes up as time goes by.