What I'd like to do with crafting, part 3: Marketplaces
One of the fundamental problems with the idea of making lots of items available via crafting is that at the moment, it's pretty difficult to find specific items on vendors. Many people will probably hear that, nod their heads and say "ah, yes, what we need is an auction house."
I agree that would be effective, but it would pretty much put vendors out of business, and I think vendors are one of the things that give UO it's unique feel. I would rather not kick them to the curb unless there were no other way . . . and I believe we could address that problem in party by making vendors easier to use.
Imagine, if you will, a shopping gump that lists all the items on vendors on the screen. Imagine you could buy these items (or, perhaps, make an offer on them for the vendor's controller to accept or reject later) with one mouse click within this interface. Now imagine you could filter that list based on whatever criteria you wanted. That would certainly make shopping for unique crafted items a lot easier, wouldn't it?
That's kind of cool, and, frankly, something I want to do eventually regardless of where this whole crafting discussion goes. But there's another idea I really like (and yes, in case it's not blatantly obvious, pretty much everything in this series of articles has been suggested by players in one form or another). That idea is player-created BODs.
Maybe "BODs" isn't quite the right term here, but the principal is the same -- a contract for a specific set of items. In this case, I'm envisioning that you could post an order to some kind of public bulletin board and crafters could compete to be the first one to deliver the goods, sort of like a bounty system. This would certainly be an easier way to get a specific item you were looking for, and all it would cost is a bundle of cash.
But player BODs wouldn't be just for crafters, oh no! Many people picked up on the point that rare crafting material "fragments" mentioned in my last article would be loot drops and not easily attainable by pure crafters. That was deliberate. The intent is to supply a commodity to PvM players that will not be directly usable by them, but will have value to crafters, thereby making the trade relationship reciprocal instead of one-way. But that could irritate a lot of crafters who don't want to have to find suppliers of these kinds of materials. Once again, player BODs to the rescue! Crafters could create BODs for "100 Phoenix Feathers" or "3,000 Adamantine Ingots", which some PvMers could then compete to fill, in exactly the same way.