We've all played many games with item crafting. Mostly the formula is the same, even if the games are different. Collect the ingredients, move the right numbers of each into the crafting menu and after a button press, the menu spits out your new item.
These systems are intuitive and they make sense to use. I think they pop up in more and more games because they are easy to understand but interesting to learn more about. It's fun to see which items can go together in the most useful ways and it makes us feel like we are becoming experts about our knowledge of the world we're playing in.
For Contingency, I thought that a crafting system would be a great way to give my world more depth and make usable items more interesting. The worry I had however, was that a simple crafting menu where you put in your recipe quite passively and then get the result, didn't really fit into the more active gameplay I was wanting to have.
I like games where you need strategy to succeed, but also skill in physically executing the plans that you have made. I wanted Contingency to follow that idea, where there are lots of strategy choices but also skill challenges once you make those choices.
My idea to bring these 2 gameplay types together for crafting was to make a drink mixing system. If you've ever made a smoothie before, you know that a smoothie can taste a lot different based on how much of each ingredient you put in. If you put a lot of dairy into a fruity drink, the smoothie will taste a lot more creamy than if you put in mostly fruit with a little dairy. There's strategy to planning the amount and types of ingredients, but there is skill in pouring the exact right amounts into the blender.
In Contingency's world, you can discover fruit trees, each having a different color of fruit on their branches. Each type of fruit can improve to a different stat the player has, wether it be your attack damage, movement speed or maximum health.
Once you collect fruit, each fruit can be used to make a consumable drink of a different color. Once the cup is on screen, you hold a button down to pour the liquid on screen. That drink will improve your corresponding stat once consumed.
The crafting goes deeper than just making 1 fruit into a drink, you can combine 2 of any of the fruits to make a more advanced drink. Once you finish pouring, the the ratio you poured of the 2 juices will appear at the top.
This recipe system introduces the skills of timing to the recipe, as well as estimation. It is a blind recipe system, where you can only see the ratio of your combination after you try to make the drink. Also just like real life, the juice has some gravity to it, so the pouring can go faster than you want and you can easily overshoot the ratio you are attempting. All of this makes creating consumables more interactive.
What do you like in a crafting system? What are some of the best and worst crafting experiences you've seen in a game? Let me know in the comments.