The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

December 6, 2010

Crafted by (Insert Name Here)

Filed under: Games,LOTRO — Cranky Sysadmin @ 7:57 am

I never really made note of it before, but Lord of the Rings Online has what I would call personalized inscriptions when crafting. If you build a product (sword, armor, bow, etc), your name is attached to the item in a “Crafted by XXX” entry. It seems like a small thing, but I know that folks in other games ask for this all the time.

For some items (mirkwood jewelry paterns), you can even place a personal message on critical success items. Technically, this probably requires extra resources (especially storage) since every crafted item needs these fields which can vary from item to item.

I’m trying to imagine efficient data structures which could handle this without a huge increase in storage needs, but I’m at a loss. Each item in your whole inventory including vault and housing storage would need two links. One goes to the generic item data that each item of that type has, and one would link to the personalized data. For Mirkwood craftables, you would actually need a field to hold the inscription since this is unique for each item.

These extra needs would impact performance when browsing your inventory since more data would need to be collected to show a tooltip for instance. This feature could impact general game performance since it’s more work done on the server side.

What am I getting to here? All of the features you think are neat in some game and would like to see in your favorite game probably cost something. Even a seemingly small feature like personalized crafting likely costs a lot in computing resources and development time. That’s probably why you don’t see housing or personalized crafting in World of Warcraft (and maybe never will). Imagine having to add all of those data structures for more than 10 million users on tens or hundreds of servers. Housing would be an especially huge addition.

On the other hand, a game that starts out with these types of features will probably figure out how to grow with the features in. So, if your favorite MMO seems hesitant to add that small customization feature, remember that there is a lot of work and compute resources needed to implement those features. If there is no obvious financial benefit, you’ll probably continue to wait for that feature.

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