A few points of clarification:
* "Crafting" is one skill, but the crafting system uses multiple skills. I.e., the crafting system does not rely on the existence of the Crafting skill.
* Other than reaching the edge of a map to access the world map, there is no fast-travel in PE. That said, we will likely avoid the IWD-style 5-level dungeons without semi-regular shortcuts back to the surface (N.B.: this does not mean Skyrim-style loops).
* Most items do take up space in personal inventories! The party Stash is unlimited, but the Pack (made of personal inventories) is not. Crafting items (and quest items) always go into (and come out of) the Stash. We are doing this specifically to address common complaints about crafting items cluttering the inventory. Since crafting is typically done at camps or other non-combat locations, allowing the items to come out of the Stash doesn't seem to create any problems.
As I posted on SA, Crafting (the skill) and its associated subsystems (like durability) were the elements I felt least confident about in our skill system. I strongly believe that choices within an array should give the player reasonably balanced benefits. Because certain fundamental skills (like Stealth) can clearly benefit from multiple party members taking them and can contribute to party effectiveness in combat, I believe that other skills should do the same in their own way -- enough to make all of them appealing choices on multiple party members. This also has the benefit of making the uses of skills much higher-frequency than the individual uses that depend on designer content (e.g. unlocking doors or gaining a dialogue/quest option).
As an example, Medicine in its various Fallout forms contributes to the efficacy of stimpaks. There are many other places were Medicine can be used in quests and dialogue, but it has high-frequency use with stimpaks (in or between combats). It's a benefit that can apply to any character who has the skill, even if a character with a higher rating in a party may be "the guy" to perform the high-difficulty actions.
With all of the skills other than Crafting (specifically), those high-frequency benefits/uses were easy to come by. Crafting presented some difficulties and, as I wrote previously, I was concerned about the lack of systemic drains in the economy. Many people have mentioned a lot of potential uses for wealth. Most of them are great ideas and ones that we plan to use, but the vast majority of them are not systemic, rather content-dependent or scripted instances (e.g. bribes). However, it is clear from discussions here and elsewhere that the long-term balance of the economy is not a concern for most players who voiced their opinions -- and almost certainly not in the endgame.
Based on discussions on the forums and conversations I had with people on the team, we will be doing the following:
* Removing durability as a mechanic on items.
* Removing the Crafting skill (specifically). The crafting system and its associated mechanics will remain, as-is.
Ultimately, solving skill imbalance and endgame wealth abundance problems is not worth what players perceive as uninteresting and unenjoyable gameplay. I can still solve the skill imbalance problems by removing the problem skill. As for endgame wealth abundance, we will continue to create places for you to use wealth in the economy: unique items, the stronghold, optional quest/dialogue gates, etc. Ultimately, if those options go unused, I'll have to trust that the majority of players won't be significantly troubled by an excess of wealth in the late game.
Thanks for all of your feedback.