In SW:ToR there are several types of crafting system, all of which can involve your companions to a greater or lesser degree. Harvesting can be done by yourself, or you can command crew members to do it for you. Crafting is done by crew members that have been trained in the correct way. Finally you can send companions on a large variety crafting missions when you are not using them. The missions can last for up to 23 hours, and will take place even whilst you are offline.
The basic idea is that crafting is as deep as other systems, but instead of the player watching a progress bar, your companions do instead. It seems like such a simple and genius idea to take the grind inherent in all crafting systems to date.
As described there are a few concerns - what is the amount of input from the player, will everyone be able to become a master crafter with little effort and just time, and so on. These concerns are addressed by several posts on the official forums which I have paraphrased below:
- You can have three gathering skills, or three mission skills, or one of each. Or two gathering and a craft. The only limit (right now) is you can only have one crafting skill, and you can only have three as a whole. That means you each character can still only master one craft, as in other games.
- The system is designed to support the casual crafter (the guy who is taking crafting largely to outfit himself while levelling up) and the devoted crafter (the guy who wants to be known as the best Armormech in the galaxy). Supporting the former means making the system accessible and easy. Supporting the latter means ensuring that hard work can allow you to provide goods and services that almost no one in the galaxy can. The systems design team is striving to satisfy both groups of people.
- The goal is that some crafters can get so good that players all over the server seek them out.
- You can unlearn crafting skills and respec into other crafts.
- Yes, if you want to, you can stare at a progress bar, on the crew skills page. In fact, you can stare at FIVE of them. That's, like, five times as good, right?
Finally, lead writer Daniel Erickson was interviewed by massively.com. It's a good read and very reassuring, especially this quote:
"If you wanted to play the old-style crafting game, and you wanted to watch that progress bar for 20 hours, I mean, you could. You could just stand there. But this is always the part that seems monotonous. So [in SWTOR], I'm the crew boss. I decide what we make. I'm the guy that knows all the recipes. I'm the guy that knows how to do everything. And then I'm putting all of these people to work as my whole crew, into one unit -- your companion characters are all a unit with you. And so, one, it makes all of your companion characters useful, which is nice. Two, it puts in skills for people who aren't ever going to be real crafters. People who are not really into crafting are going to take mission skills, so their people are still going to be useful, but they're going to run them on missions all the time. But serious crafters say that it's a super deep system.
[I] can't talk too much about it, but you are going to be able to make stuff that is among the top stuff on the entire servers. And there are going to be people who know things that almost nobody else on the server knows how to do. "
I really like the sound of what they have announced. It seems like an innovative system that is flexible enough for those who are not interested in crafting to at least support their own character, whilst being flexible enough for dedicated crafters to really stand out from the crowd, all whilst removing the crafting grind. The crafting missions that you can send your companions on sound like a really unique and fun idea.
You can read the full details of the system here, or check the video below.