Design-It-Yourself Equipment

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It's time to get tacticool.

Item Crafting, taken Up to Eleven.

In many video games, you often are tasked with completing given objectives with the tools, equipment, units, or vehicles that are given to you by the game's designers. Often this can be an inflexible situation.

Not so much with DIY, or Design-It-Yourself Equipment, as the game designers give you, the player, the power and ability to craft your own instruments of destruction, typically with some form of in-game editor. Generally, any game that allows (or in some cases, requires) you to create your own tools for your use in the game environment falls under this trope.

Used frequently in serious racing Sims, Real Time Strategy, First Person Shooters, and many other genres, and ranges from purely cosmetic design choices(such as different custom paint-jobs on a vehicle) to customization of existing items, to being a critical and integral part of gameplay with designing equipment from scratch.

Depending on how well it is implemented into the game, It can be a unique and refreshing way of playing the game. Done poorly, and it may result in an utter Game Breaker.

Not to be confused with An Interior Designer Is You. That deals with designing interiors or the insides of rooms. See also Item Crafting.

Examples of Design-It-Yourself Equipment include:

Tabletop Games

  • The old tabletop games BattleTech and Car Wars both used this. In both, you picked a basic chassis/frame and then added whatever you wanted, up to weight and money limits. For example in Car Wars, you could mount an Anti-Tank Gun on a compact car, or anything larger, but not on a subcompact.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay series supports weapon and armour upgrades.
    • Rogue Trader runs on "no two Imperial ships are the same". Navy can maintain something like standards under command of one admiral and within reach of one supply chain, but beyond this jury-rigging and opportunism begin. Anything goes, as long as you got hull space, power supply and funds for it, and it's actually available at the same place where your ship is docked… A wild array of weapons goes without saying, but there are 10 types of bridges, and as to the non-essential components, everything from Asteroid Mining Facility and/or Manufactorum to dedicated hospital deck to temple-in-a-can that can be deployed on a planet of choice and then picked up when they'll build a permanent one - if you're in that line of work. And those components have different grades of quality with variant adjustments (e.g. it may take less space or need less power, and Morale is +1d5 rather than fixed bonus).
      • Then there's random artefacts generation system from Stars of Inequity — roll "unique" personal equipment and vessel components by combining tweaks for origin, random quirks and random quality level, then see if it's worth having and what needs to be done to compensate for its drawbacks or make good use of advantages.
    • Only War pays a lot of attention to Iconic Items, so it does this more. There are specific patterns (e.g. Elysian Drop Troops use Accatran weapons) or variant patterns (differences between similar equipment built by different manufacturers) used by a given regiment, and on top of that, individual weapon customisations (e.g. making a stock from wood of the soldier's homeworld improves morale; giving a lasrifle longer barrel won't make it a long-las, but increases its effective range — and weight, of course).
  • Alternity got vehicle and spacecraft design. The design system as such is fairly straightforward and has decent level of detail without drowning in them (see e.g. expansion Starship Perks & Flaws from Dragon #255 — you can see what these options do without looking into the core rulebook), and then got a better one (Warships), which takes scalability support built into Alternity and runs on a rampage with it; this could handle lots of Rules Conversions without breaking, but between Alternity being discontinued and its less strong sides, only managed to prolong the game's "unofficial" life.

Video Games

  • Resonance of Fate allows you to modify your characters' guns by attaching barrels, scopes, and extra magazines. This can lead to some ridiculous designs, such as the picture above.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Do you want a Nerve Gas fighter-bomber with Air-to-Air missiles and psionic defenses? A cruiser with a time-travelling particle beam, a radar facility and the ability to double as police in any harbor it enters? An espionage capable tank with drop pods, armor made from spider-silk woven steel, and extra resistance to hacking? A buggy-mounted artillery piece that launches fungal spores on enemies, with resonating armor made from alien technology and a built-in teleporter? How about a hovering fighter with psychic armor that launches psychic attacks and is extra-resistant to wildlife? In short, if you could imagine it, in SMAC you could build it.
  • Both Dark Cloud games.
  • Pretty much the whole gameplay gimmick of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.
  • The entire point of Spore—creating your own creatures, buildings, vehicles, spaceships. Only the combination of elements on your creature mattered though; all other designs were cosmetic.
    • The ratio of weapons to speed to health on vehicles is also important.
  • In Robinson's Requiem you could combine nearly everything you found in several ways in your struggle to survive. You could even create several methods to kill yourself in interesting ways.
  • Earth series. Tanks and other vehicles in that game could be designed from scratch, almost down to the individual nuts and bolts on a vehicle's chassis.
  • The PC game Warzone 2100, which featured vehicle design from scratch fairly prominently. An advertisement from 1997 boasted over eight million different component combinations.
  • The Armored Core series featured the capacity to design Humongous Mecha completely from scratch.
  • The Front Mission series. Also enabled you to design Humongous Mecha completely from scratch.
  • Gran Turismo. The game series took vehicle customization, attached tits to it, and then set it on fire.
  • Need for Speed: Underground took Gran Turismo's customization and attached it to a battleship full of angry bees.
  • The Naval Ops trilogy featured a ship editor called HLG61. It allowed the player to completely customize every part of their warship.
  • Space Empires. From IV onwards (and with the right tools, in III as well) you can modify the components out-of game, providing an extra layer of customisability. Then you get mounts for various components on top of that...
  • Galactic Civilizations also has ship editors in-game.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire plays with this somewhat, even more so in its recent expansion Entrenchment, with the ability to highly customize starbases.
    • Ships and economy buildings are stock, though.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featured the ability to customize some vehicles to enhance their performance and appearance: Usually your car would only really benefit from the nitro speed boosters, but feel free to blow money on the golden dollar-symbol hubcaps and pimp hydraulics.
    • As Saints Row 2 can be considered the spiritual successor to San Andreas in its general tone and gameplay, it also has rather crazy customization options for vehicles (SWAT tank with nitro and spinners? You betcha!)
  • The main selling point of Impossible Creatures and its Mix-and-Match Critters. But your baddest melee creature will still probably be a demi-lobster.
  • In the Master of Orion series, you are able to design your own space ships. Moreover, Master Of Orion 2 allows modification of specific weapon group depending on known technologies, and refitting of existing ship.
  • Stars! allows players to create unified ship and starbase designs by placing components in slots limited by number and functionality types. But no unique ships, every last one belongs to some design scheme (which also serves a purpose: there's rather low cap on existing designs, limiting "redesign race", at least until the endgame, since scrapping all ships of a given design wastes much resources even with ).
    • Here is an example of practical (strategy driven) designs. Observe that they look underwhelming ("Defensive Station" has 1/3 to 1/2 performance-defining slots unused, "Peasant" has half-filled slots, etc) because they are optimized for cutting costs while still doing their job.
  • In Ascendancy you design a ship by placing components on the "deck map" one by one.
  • The old Humongous Mecha strategy game CyberStorm allowed the player to customize their fleet of fighting robots, as well as oversee the training of their semi-human pilots.
  • City of Heroes introduced a Weapons Customisation feature in an update that allows players to choose a variety of different skins for each of the weapon-using powersets, some of which are unlockable, and many of which can be colour tinted. It's purely cosmetic, however.
  • Final Fantasy XI introduced an augment system for equipment in one of the latest patches, with special equipment also using this system being the final reward for two Add-Ons. Augments that are NOT the final Add-On rewards are completely random, however.
  • Final Fantasy X does this with the Customization feature. You can put any abilities that you have the stuff for into the weapon or armor. Making these is pretty much the only way to get some abilities, like Break Hit Point Limit or Break Damage Limit outside the Celestial Weapons.
  • Master of Magic allows player to create custom magic items for heroes.
    • Its Spiritual Successor Age of Wonders allows player to create custom magic items for heroes or wizards in the cities with "item forge" building. Unfortunately, it's a bit of Game Breaker, in that you can spend as long as you like at the end of one level hitting "end turn" until you have the resources to make mind-bogglingly powerful weapons that you can keep for the rest of the campaign.
  • Kingdom Hearts and its sequel allow you to create and edit Gummi Ships.
  • Fire Emblem 9 & 10 (Gamecube and Wii) have a forge to create weapons. Basically, it let's you take a generic weapon, choose a colour for it, and mess with its stats. Each increase in a stat raises the price. The more important the stat, the more the price goes up. For whatever reason, decreasing a stat below normal also costs more.
  • The two Privateer spin offs from the Wing Commander series allow you to customize whatever ship you're currently using. Especially in the original Privateer, though, there's only a few pieces of equipment that are worth equipping, and the rest is just for "make do" until you earn the money to pay for the good gear.
  • Vega Strike gives player a good choice of ships and equipment for different tasks—there's at least three viable strategies for optimization of beam weapons alone (range, damage, shield bypassing) and some practical limitations (like hull volume and reactor's power) that avert "one is obviously better" trap even more.
  • Summon Night, specifically the Swordcraft Story games, where you have to make your own weapons rather than finding them in a dungeon, though the dungeon itself is used for finding the materials to build your weapons in the first place.
  • Nethack lets the player wish for items if they find a means of getting said wish. The trick here is that the player can also wish for modifiers to said items. Some of the more popular wishes include: blessed greased + 2/+3 grey/silver dragon scale mail, 7 uncursed candles, cursed potions of gain level, and magic markers.
  • Infinity the Quest For Earth's ships are based on a "non-specialization principle"; that is, any ship can be used for any purpose (although obviously some are better at certain things then others) if outfitted properly.
  • The entire point of Robot Arena. You must design a robot from scratch, using the parts provided by the game (like pistons and wheels and engines and of course various kinds of weaponry), paint it, decal it, and control it in a deathmatch with other robots. The trick of course was to keep the weight of the robot to a minimum, and also to make good use of the limited space inside the robot's chasis.
  • Legend of Mana almost WALLOWS in this trope, as the player can build weapons, armor, musical instruments (used ingame for magic spells) and even custom robot sidekicks. There exists a subset of Mana players whose sole reason for still playing the game is creating recipes for new items.
  • Starting with Daggerfall, the Elder Scrolls games have a system in which the player creates their own spells. Naturally, this often renders the spells made for you completely and utterly worthless.
  • In the Genesis and Game Gear versions of Home Alone, Kevin has to assemble all of his weapons other than the BB Gun. In general, the only difference is what the weapon fires or what the trajectory is. In the easier difficulty, the game will automatically suggest combinations based on what he's collected so far. The harder difficulty has a few exclusive parts, and thus exclusive weapons.
  • An upcoming FPS They touts the "Weapon Tuning System" as a major feature.
  • The Neverwinter Nights expansion Hordes of the Underdark gives you access to a forge at the beginning of the second act. If you've got the gold for it, you can make some pretty insane weapons, like a Keen Flaming + 7 Longsword... that's still called a + 2 Longsword, because you can't change the names of the weapons.
  • In Overlord the overlord can only use weapons and armor made specially for him. While available designs and materials are limited, said items can be given special effects by sacrificing Minions. Lots of Minions.
  • The online game NavyField features customizable World War II ships. You can change out engine, guns, torpedoes, ammo type and quantity, armor, fire control, aircraft, and crew within specified maximum limits based on weight and physical size. Of course, bigger guns have larger shells and on a tiny ship that can really limit your ammo. The guns even have a few quality modifiers for guns where an "L" gun will have longer range but weigh more while a "D" gun of the same caliber will have less range but weigh less.
  • The player could design a weapon of their own in Worms 4, complete with adjustable variables such as knock-back, terrain destruction potential, and even whether or not its rounds could poison enemy worms.
  • Trinity Universe has the managraphics system which lets you repaint weapons with bizarre themes to have slightly different abilities.
  • The old Amiga game K240 had this, basic ships had only hp, no weapons, those were added onto Hardpoints, with ships having from 1 - 6 depending on size. It wasn't just weapons either (of which you got air-to-air and air-to-ground types, you could also get several different types of defences.
  • Sword of the Stars, a turn-based 4x game, has this with ships. Ships are made with a number of interchangeable sections (3 sections for ships in the original, but the first two expansion packs added the Zuul, who have some race-specific ship types with just 2 sections, as well as drones and Morrigi ships that make their fleets faster with only 1 section), plus each section has hardpoints to attach weapons to. There are 3 sizes of weapons hardpoints, a weapon must be the same size or smaller to fit, with smaller weapons than a hardpoint's size leading to multiple barrels, there are also specialized hardpoints such as for missiles (which also utilize the size system), drones, and beam weapons. Most sections also have checkboxes for (reflective) armor and engine sections have checkboxes for fuel options as well.
  • Interplay's Tanktics is all about producing DIY tanks (what else?) from scratch and pitting them against the enemy.
  • In the purely aesthetic corner, Drawn to Life. It's the main gimmick.
  • This is literally half of the game in Gratuitous Space Battles. The other half is watching these designs fight in the aforementioned battles.
  • World of Warcraft allows this to some extent with gem sockets on higher level items, which allow you to mount gems that provide stat bonuses depending on their type. The Cataclysm expansion also introduces Reforging, where you can actually reallocate the intrinsic bonuses built into an item.
  • Elemental War of Magic allows you to arm, armour, clothe and outfit your sovereign, heroes and your entire army to whatever specifications take your fancy. Want everybody in your Legion of Doom to wear a fez? Go ahead!
  • In a combination of webcomic and adventure game, Wicked Awesome Adventure encourages its players to design equipment out of pocketed items. This has led to unusual (and occasionally Game Breaker—swiftly confiscated by the Duck) items like the Swear-jar F-bomb, the Vevuzela Speargun, the Brusherhang, and the Rubik's Hypercube.
  • The giant robot pen-and-paper RPG Mekton uses this as something of a selling point: you're not going to war in Standard Mech Design 837, you're using a model you designed and equipped.
  • Minecraft and Terraria have systems built around taking items from the world around you and making them into tools like Picks or Swords.
  • Star Ruler has this.
  • Infinite Space allows the player to customize their ships with a variety of weapons and modules. The nationality of your bridge module even changes the views displayed while cruising and fighting.
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn breaks Mobile Suits into several parts (arms, legs, shoulder armour, etc.) that can be swapped and repainted.
  • Freedroid RPG allows to craft addons from broken droid parts and install them on some items.
  • X-COM: Apocalypse allows to fit vehicles for your purpose—changeable engines, weapons and other parts you can buy or build.
  1. for example, the LC aircraft's speed engines have a green glow, classic engines have a purple glow and powerful engines look like old-school jet engines