Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Jewel Dust Settles

We've had a while now to absorb the changes to tradeskilling, so I thought I'd make an assessment of how they've worked out.

Harvesting is easier, it is possible to find non-rare components of lower tiers on the broker for prices that are sometimes high, but not out of the question. To increase the availability of lower tier raw materials and rares, higher level characters were given an increased drop rate, and tools that make harvesting even faster. Coupled with faster movement rate, this gives them a huge advantage over lower level players harvesting in the same zone.

But this doesn't seem to matter all that much, since most of the lower zones I've visited appear to have lots of nodes laying around. I don't include Sinking Sands as a lower zone, since tier 6 has strong traffic still, and there is strong demand for goods made from the drops there.

Food nodes are the new fungus nodes. They drop no rares, so they are ignored by everyone but provisioners. This problem was solved in Desert of Flames and Kingdom of Sky by grouping nodes in specific areas: ore and stones in caves, roots and bushes by oases, and so on. In the lower tiers, one can come in and find them full of mostly bushes, since these are ignored by harvesters.

The non-rare crafted goods sell slowly, though they can be sold at a profit, at least for jewelers. Jewelry has been revamped to allow resistance specific gear, which can have its uses, though I think the trade is mostly for raids. Probably PVP servers would see more traffic here as well.

The base cost of rares is down some, though not a great deal. The real hit is to the margin of the tradeskiller. It appears that except in some very specific cases, it is difficult to get more than perhaps a 20 percent markup over component cost, whereas, 100 percent markups were common before. This is due almost entirely to competition, which is much greater. Profits can be made, though they depend more on volume, which in turn depends on a large amount of investment in inventory.

This is what I think the revamp was intended to do. The crafted gear in Kingdom of Sky was upgraded soon after that expansion came out, probably too much. The rare crafted armor was the best in the game, save for fabled raid drops. And there were only a few people willing to put in the time to skill up a crafter, since it was, well, highly repetetive, and a long slog.

This made crafters too powerful in the game's economy. There was little competition, and few alternatives. I think the plate tanks were in the worst position. They needed to have good gear to be invited to groups in the good zones where the really good gear dropped. And the armorers were the gatekeepers.

The tier 7 rare gear is good, but not so obviously better than anything else you can get. Also the tier 6 rare gear has been toned down, and there is now more competition, since folks seem more willing to make stuff, given that it takes only one combine, not 7. A seven-fold decrease in time spent is pretty significant.

Leveling does not to appear to be much slower than it used to be. Some believed that leveling would be slower, because one would do fewer combines to produce a final product to sell. There is a style of play under which this is true.

Imagine a merchant that has an inventory of products that she kept stocked in her store, and the only crafting that she does on any given day is to replace the ones that have sold. Assuming that things sell at about the same rate as before, then the experience gain will be somewhat less, since there will be no gain for all the subcombines. Mind you, some of those subcombines might well have been gray to you already, and they all gave very little experience. But not nothing.

On the other hand, if you do sessions where you just grind stuff, the leveling will probably be faster, since you will only be making final combines, which give better experience. It will take more cash though, and more raw materials.

SOE has made several attempts to get more high-level crafters, from geting rid of interdependence to faster leveling and bonus potions. This latest change is finally what's going to be successful. To be sure, many crafters are unhappy with it, which is understandable, since their economic position has been seriously diminished.

Is the current system more or less fun? It seems less interesting somehow, since it was kind of fun to make some components first, and then the final combine. Also, it was fun having the secondary skills and moving around to the different stations. But it got awfully repetetive, too. I can't say that I miss all those hours I spent making WORT at the Chemstry table.

In any case, I'm doing it a lot more these days. So maybe the fun is not so much in making the stuff as it is in being a merchant, shopping or harvesting for raws, and figuring out what to stock, how to price it, and so on. I find that stuff fun, too, and I'm spending more time doing that, and less time making WORT.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hands down better. No question. Moving from station to station was fun? I can hardly remember where my own station is. And all the extra hot keys one no longer needs. That's a gift right there.


1:07 PM  

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