Crafting in Rift is good in the sense that it does pretty much what you would expect for a AAA MMO crafting system. Up until you hit level 50 crafting is quite passable. Things scale well, new recipes unlock at a pleasant pace, and the ingredients have a proper drop rate for the pace you acquire new rare recipes.There is a major flaw in that it follows this style of crafting right into level 50 where the environment changes so dramatically from a questing/leveling progression, to an instanced gear drop progression. Someone missed where the crafting needs to continue on this path as well for some reason. Unless in the future there’s a planned level cap raising expansion (which in turn would suggest the crafting level cap would raise past 300), crafting needs to progress in an alternate manner as well. To be fair, the recent 1.4 patch has addressed some of my concerns by adding in more crafting content, but most of it is in the form of the crafting currency purchasable recipes.
Among the various quests in the game, the small section of them dedicated to crafting are very simple. Metals for example. Upon harvesting a node you can occasionally run across a quest item similar to the resource you were after, shiny nuggets of varied colors usually. This gives a quest to head back to your main city and show it off to your crafting trainer. He in turn promptly wets his pants and gives you another leg of the quest to gather 10 of each resource nearest that level so you can create a hybrid resource of the two metals. Steel for example is created by combining Iron and Chromite. In turn, you can craft Steel items that are a blue rarity variant of the normal green items. The Steel recipes are on a vendor that can be purchased using the crafting currency which points you right back to grinding dailies. At lower levels this seems like a mistake, mostly in that I probably won’t be in level range long enough to amass the amount I need for more than one or two recipes (at most!) before they’re useless again.
This makes a lot of the inbetween materials wholly useless, hence expanding on the quests. At low levels you could take those recipes off the vendor and make them rewards for doing a quest chain that takes them around level appropriate zones. These should be mostly solo-able, meaning no more than one elite mob at a time, but essentially difficult enough to justify the time spent doing them. Another idea would be to make the lower level dailies have a longer chain of quests that take you around the zone crafting items at different locations instead of making them in bulk at the capital city and delivering them like a glorified pack mule. This would get people out and about using different crafting nodes and interacting with different characters as well. Making the world feel more worldly is a wonderful side effect. Another way of spurring different aspects of the game would be a quest that requires you to interact with fellow crafters to trade items back and forth, or needing to craft an item with someone elses materials before you can learn the recipe yourself as a sort of mentorship quest.
This is all for the entry levels of the game, things that would add to the meta that crafters enjoy anyway, and possibly if expanded far enough it could be a viable way to level. Later levels of crafting when you start getting up into the power scale of T1/T2/T3 gear (currently it appears that crafted gear has gotten a bit higher than T2 Expert drops and not quite up to GSB Raid drops). Once you get into these echelons the rest of the game moves toward a group mentality where anything meaningful requires a handful of like-minded individuals. Crafting Rifts exists as a reward for burning a lot of mats at a weekly quest giver, but the risk/reward is a bit imbalanced. The Rifts themselves are very easy to do solo, but you get the most out of it by inviting your entire guild who all have a chance at the more rare drops near equally. At least, I haven’t noticed having too many people to be a detriment to loot distribution. Bring on the Expert and Raid crafting rifts stocked to the brim with interesting mechanics related to all of the things that crafters crave. Bars, slowly filling up. Or, maybe just like the other rifts with crafting loot. That’d work too.
This actually feeds into the next piece that I was looking at to give a revamp, and that would be Augments. Right now augments are a vague and slight enhancement to gear that come with a whole smorgasbord of names to assign as prefixes. Improve the method that one can deal with these augments. Tie the ability to interpret what value they hold to the level and experience of the crafter. A more skilled/experienced crafter should be able to know nearly exactly what a particular augment would be able to do, and should also be able to implement them more efficiently than other crafters. The purple augments, I think, should be reimagined entirely as highly valuable rare drops from Expert and Raid rifts that add a very significant boost to stats on an item and can only be applied by the appropriate crafter to an item that doesn’t have an augment already. This leads nicely into my last point for now on crafting
Attaching augments and enhancements post-partum, and for that matter, only allowing the original crafter to attach them. This would do wonders for that other aspect of crafting that pushed people to do it in the first place. Pride of the quality of our work. If augments could only be attached to items after they’ve been crafted by the original crafter it would do wonders for repeat business and developing a name for yourself as a crafter in the community you provide for. This could easily turn the stale “everyman” crafting caste into varying degrees of crafters at the endgame. Don’t be afraid to dive in and make it worthwhile. With the amount of grind already tied into the crafting system you’re really hitting a large percentage of players that would consider themselves hardcore crafters anyway.