Crafting seems to be one of those "Love it" or "Leave it" features of MMORPGs. Some players use crafting to motivate play (like me), and others see it as a complete waste of time. Regardless if you enjoy crafting, you can't deny the importance of IRL crafting.
Everything is crafted: the monitor you are using to read this right now; the keyboard I used to type it; the meal you just ate; the machines used to gather the ingredients for that meal; and so on. Every good has a story. It has a long list of people responsible for getting the item to you. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Lee Kun-hee to Henry Ford had a part to play in the creation of my monitor.
Human manufacturing is at the center of prosperity (which is why many Americans have issues with manufacturing going "overseas"). A process is applied to raw materials and resources in order to turn those resources into something of even more value. Businesses hope to sell finished goods for more money than the resources used to make that good, i.e. make a profit.
If a virtual world hopes to be a microcosm for the real world or hopes to have deep player-social interactions, then a virtual economy is needed. The heart of this economy should be a crafting system. The system should be infused through all aspects of the world. It should not be an afterthought, a modular widget plugged into the game, nor a bone thrown the players to placate their cries for a crafting system. It should be the grand motivator--the reason players log on and want to progress their characters; the reason players form guilds and fight for resources.
Right about now, you should be imagining me as Tyler Durden, explaining the world as I see it. But pervasive crafting systems are not that outlandish. EVE is its economy. I bet you could delete the AH from WoW and no one would care (except Gelvon). Of course I'm being absurd and dramatic; it does have its merits, and there are plenty of people who adore WoW's economy. There are also plenty of people who enjoy autoerotic asphyxiation.
The crafting system which I have been working on uses EVE as its base. I say that unabashed. EVE has research, invention, factories, manufacturing, resources, and finished goods. I'm going to take it one step further. Not only does this system have Blueprint (AKA Recipe) creation and limited use contracting, but the same kind of research and contracting can be done with processes and technologies. And I would like players to be able to name the Technologies, Processes, and Goods they invent, rather than the designers. Yes, I know I run into the issue of having the PEN15 technology and the NUTSAXLOL finished good, but if I make players work for original discoveries, they might understand the importance of the situation and rise to the occasion. If not, then there is always the UPDATE statement in SQL.
My next post will hopefully contain all the details, rather than those useless generalities above.