Video games please stop making me fuck up

A tired man plays games with crafting materials floating behind him.

picture: WB Games / Kotaku / Ten03 (Shutterstock)

If I’ve played a video game this year, there’s a good chance I’ve also played some kind of crafting system. Sometimes I fought zombies in a big open world. Or kill monsters and bandits God of War Ragnarok. Or fight bad guys on the mean streets of Gotham City as Batgirl. I was fair once Chill out with Disney characters like Mickey. Whatever the game, they made me screw up and I’m so sick of screwing up. please let it stop

You know, crafting: collecting items that you then transform into other items. It has existed in video games for a long time. Use giant bomb‘s wonderful (though admittedly not comprehensive) wiki where I was able to find games very early 1990s that had some kind of crafting mechanic. For a long time, crafting was mainly limited to MMOs and RPGs. There were of course exceptions to this rule, things like Empty room had some basic craftsmanship mixed in with his cosmic horror. Then, following the release of Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed PS3 action game in 2013, The last of us, I noticed a growing trend. More and more games from numerous genres started with crafting. Now in 2022, most major AAA games (and even many smaller ones) contain some sort of system with materials and additional currencies that you have to turn into other random crap. And I’m so tired, y’all.

I played earlier this year dying light 2. I liked the open world and parkour system and found the zombie fight fun and bloody. But you know what I didn’t care about: having to tinker everything. But how, I understand. The game is set in a world devastated by a zombie outbreak, forcing people to search for everything. That’s how crafting works I guess. then Horizon: Forbidden West also included crafting and again, narratively I understand why it makes sense, but it still doesn’t change the fact that I gather boring resources to build things I need, which adds extra grind to everything. then God of War Ragnarok made me crafts. then Gotham Knights, a game about superheroes, made me scavenge for resources and craft new suits and weapons. And then…I just…don’t want to do that anymore.

A screenshot shows how you can craft upgrades in God of War.

Crafting an upgrade in God of War
screenshot: Santa Monica Studios/Sony/Kotaku

While the people making a game work really hard to make sure the craft “makes sense” and “fits the narrative,” I’m just not sure it’s going anywhere. In all the previous examples of crafting, I can’t name one that I found funny or entertaining or interesting or anything other than a chore that I had to deal with for hours. A barrier between me and fun.

When I talk to other gambling people God of War, not a single one of them stopped and said, “Oh, and the crafting system! All those resources you have to manage and collect…man, good shit!” It’s not the crafting in Ragnarok bad or ruins the game, it just doesn’t really add anything other than one more thing to grind. Yes, sometimes crafting leads to cool shit. But this cool shit is what I like. Not the boring, tedious crafting system I interacted with to make it.

I understand that crafting can be a useful thing to add to a game – especially open-world titles – as it provides a set of resources to use as exploration rewards. It also theoretically gives developers more freedom to create the gear they want, whenever they want and at their own pace. But now that every game under the sun seems to involve some sort of crafting system tied into some boring resource economy, I’m just over it all. I’m not having fun I’m not learning more about the world or universe of the game. I don’t enjoy my time at all. I’m just looking at which gear has more green arrows or bigger numbers, hold X and trade in leather, iron and silver scraps for something better that I’ll soon be replacing with something else I craft. What a great time!

A screenshot shows crafting items in Dying Light 2.

handicraft material in dying light 2
screenshot: Techland/Kotaku

Apart from a few rare exceptions, such as Minecraft, whenever I start thinking about a game’s crafting system, I usually have another, subsequent thought about how much more fun the game would be if I just found a cool sword instead of having to compile a list of ingredients, that I need to forge it. How much more fun would some already great games be if you didn’t have to trudge across a large field to grab every piece of clay or mud you find?

The answer for me is “probably a lot”. And if your counterargument to my question about more games abandoning crafting is “well, it’s usually something you can avoid most of the time,” then I’m just wondering why it’s in so many games at all.

Many of the biggest games of recent years, critically acclaimed blockbusters that have sold millions of copies, included crafting systems, so of course many studios might be tempted to say, “If it’s not broken…” I get that. But alternatively… what if you break the mold and try something different? Many recent success stories Surround games that did something completely different than everything before. And while I understand that crafting systems and all their trickle-down details solve various game design problems, there has to be another solution to these problems, new approaches that don’t condemn us to, in almost everything we play, to collect random crafting shit in 2023, 2024 and beyond.

Let’s try it, shall we? At worst, some games ship with no craft nonsense and fewer people enjoy them. At best, you’ll discover a whole new way to connect with players and expand your large open worlds. I would say it’s worth a try. I know my thumbs, sore from all the collecting and crafting I’ve done this year, would thank you.

https://kotaku.com/crafting-games-god-of-war-ragnarok-last-of-us-gotham-1849768840 Video games please stop making me fuck up

Curtis Crabtree

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