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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tradeskill Changes

I actually had another post written for today but I thought I would try to be topical and comment on the tradeskill controversy. Funny, because my original post was actually also about tradeskilling (carpentry issues) but I'll put that off until next week.

Okay, I'm not going to link you to any specific post on the tradeskill stuff because you basically have to read through the dev tracker. Beghn has been posting seemingly every three minutes so there is a lot to read through.

I won't pretend to have enough crafting knowledge to comment on every intricacy of the changes but I will comment on the major point: doing away with subcombines.

October 5, 2005 I stated in
a post about the Community Summit: "Well, the main reason we were there is for feedback and so we gave it to them. I raised the point at the round table that people want to make things like a sword or a spell when they tradeskill and not 500 individual bottles of chloro wash (or whatever it's called) which in turn require subcombines and so on over and over."

So blame me, flame me, I can take it. I absolutely stand behind what I said that day.

While I admit I was thinking more of a combination of batch refines and eliminating a portion of the subcombines, I'm happy with this change and think it is long overdue.

SOE is not at all trying to eliminate crafting, they're attempting to make it more fun and accessible. And while I absolutely respect the right of crafters to protest these changes, there is also another group who is affected by them. That group is all the people who gave up on tradeskilling because it was an incredibly tedious and boring affair. And I am a member of that group. These changes have the capacity to draw people like me back into the tradeskill arena.

Why was a myriad of subcombines terrible? I'll first quote an
interview I did with Gaige:

"I recall you saying at the Summit you were actually a full-time crafter in SWG. Can you explain why you don't craft in EQII?

Sure in one word: subcombines. I hate the "reverse engineering" aspect of crafting, I hate the tedium of subcomponent crafting and therefore I refuse to utilize the system. I loved crafting in SWG for numerous reasons, but mainly because it utilized a factory system which allowed you to mass produce all the subcomponents you needed while you were doing other things. I'd really love to see EQ2 move its crafting to be more focused on harvesting, final combines and playing the market. I somehow doubt I'm alone in this sentiment ;)"

He's absolutely not alone in that sentiment. I agree with him. Blackguard also makes an argument I totally agree with
in this post.

The day I quit crafting was when I looked at one of the absurdly long spell recipes on
EQ2Craft. While that site is a great resource and very well done, I hated having to look at a third party site to plan crafting a spell like I was planning an assault on Mt. Everest. I hated having to make such an insane amount of subcombines to make what I wanted. I was just trying to craft a spell. And what it did to my inventory was just outrageous. I still have all kinds of garbage in my bank vault from my crafting days. I realized then that crafting was way less fun then my actual job and that it was annoying as opposed to challenging. And that's as good a reason to stop doing it as any.

As I saw it there were three main skills to crafting:

1. Countering those events that pop up and using your tradeskill abilities.
2. Using social skills to build a great reputation and connections with other crafters.
3. The capacity and patience to endure endless amounts of total tedium.

And it seemed like number 3 was the biggest factor. And that's not a good thing. While I fully admit that every MMO requires the patience to endure tedium to some extent, the amount required to endure tradeskilling seemed to me to be rather extreme.

When I asked for comments on the
Aggro Forums, Anskiere put forth the argument that, "As a weaponsmith, I got some kind of weird joy out of making the edge, the hilt, and the crossguard of a weapon, then putting them all together for the final weapon." (read his whole post because I'm kind of taking that one point out of context to use as an example - he is impartial overall). I find that one of the more compelling arguments I have seen.

But as a sage I got absolutely no joy in making Thylakoid Wash or Hexanoid Reagent. I don't mind a subcombine or two. I could deal with making a hilt or a crossguard to make a sword. But it's the sheer number of the subcombines that got to me, as well as the fact that many of them were not as easy or fun to understand as a hilt. What the heck is a Hexanoid Reagent?

I fully admit that there might be economic issues that result from these changes. And I hope SOE thought that through. But frankly, the economy is not perfect right now. While I am very pleased with the relative stability of the plat, at least on my server, what I'm not pleased with is how hard it is to get spells and other crafted items at the low to mid levels.

With regards to XP, they obviously have the capacity to tweak things so you level at pretty much the same speed so I'm not overly concerned about that.

A lot of the crafters seem to be making the argument that they don't want competition. And that's not a valid argument, with all due respect. I don't think high level crafters have anything to worry about. They have their levels, their skills and their relationship with the community. I think the overall goal is to make leveling from 1 to 60 just as hard as it is now. Just different.

To address the argument that this dumbs down the game or makes it easier, let me say that I have consistently argued against changes like that. But who is to say that the finished version of tradeskilling will be easier than it is now? Yes, removing subcombines makes things easier, but perhaps making items will now require more skill or have increased difficulty due to other factors that are as yet unannounced. The nature of crafting has to be made more interactive for this to be a success. If you want to make tradeskilling more difficult in terms of skill and attention, I'm all for it. I want tradeskilling to be a challenge. But forcing people to make a plethora of subcombines is not the way to accomplish that goal.

There is still much to be done to make tradeskilling enjoyable. This is a step in the right direction, but it is a long path. The actual process has to be more fun and more skill-based as opposed to patience-based. There has to be more content involved with tradeskilling.

But I think this is a quite positive move and I hope people give it a chance. I'm finally somewhat excited to start crafting again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know seems like world of wowcraft to me will be getting vanguard

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Gaige said...

OMG!! This is all your fault Aggro :P

Actually I'm very pleased to see these changes, which were intently argued for at the Summit coming to fruition.

I was on Test last night messing around with my lowbie (lvl 10) crafter making spells and I'm telling you when this goes live I'll be working on my crafting (if I'm not raiding) :P

I agree with most of your sentiments and I think this change, while being huge, will be better for the game and crafting as a whole. I've had a lot of conversations with Ixnay also, who is in my guild and he has an opposite view of these changes, but not because he doesn't want competition.. and he does understand my view.

In the end, all that matters to me is I can experience a part of the game that I want to but previously chose not to simply because it was tedius and unfun, and I'm not sure that can ever be a bad thing.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aggro, well stated. No Level 60 crafter is happy if they feel their work is devalued. But that seems to be the nature of these games. Changes. Players love something about it. The devs change it. The players get upset. Players endure. Players love something else about it. Changed again. Upset again. Quit. Try new game. Love something about that game. Changed again. Quit. It seems that even though the subcombines are out, they want to make the transition favorable and they are still listening to the players. They planned to remove rare poisons and potions one hour and then changed their tune later in the day. Everyone should keep making their case.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Quince said...

What gets me is the amazing amount of whining that started up the moment the first changes hit the server. Without even waiting for informatin from Beghn, people started shouting and hypothesizing.

Myself, I would like to see the process include subcombines but not refines (ie, no turning carbonite clusters into carbonite bars before making a stud or spike, and no refining cinnamon before using it in a dish). That would remove a great amount of the tedium while still leaving the "combine parts into a whole" concept.

That said, I'm waiting for the devs to figure it out and test it. I don't play on test server, so I am willing to wait and see.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Pirate Alice said...

I've got a mid level provisioner, and most of the subcombines in the provisioner recipies make sense (grill the steak, then make a sandwich etc). But when I tried other crafting with my main character (thought I'd try some spell making) it's just tedious, I preferred the provisioner to all the others and didn't want to start another provisioner.
I'm eager to see how the changes effect all the crafting, if it's less tedious (which yeah, crafting can be tedious - the only enjoyment with it for me was the names of the drinks and foods that were made) I'll be more inclined to get from mid-level to high level with it.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Tock AB server said...

this would have gone over a lot better if they'd also stated what they'll do to make crafting more interactive, challenging, and fun. more like a game and less like someone at a factory pushing buttons. dropping this no-subcombine thing on everyone was a massive mistake. without anything to replace the challenge of managing your inventory, learning your craft, and having the patience to become good at it (not skill-ups, i mean good making sense of it all), tradeskilling will be empty. gutted.

tradeskilling wasn't meant for everyone. if you couldn't deal with the complexity of it, you weren't crafter material. that was the bottleneck that kept everyone in every guild from crafting. if everyone crafts, then no one makes coin crafting. you'll just have droves of people throwing raws into a bucket, adding water, and POOF, all the equipment they need.

i'll be withholding money i'd have gladly spent on KoS before this announcement until i see these changes to crafting. tradeskills are most of what i do in the game. i enjoy them. every dedicated crafter does. and there are a lot of us. ...but you didn't see any of us asking the devs to reduce combat to something a lot less complicated so that we would find it more accessible...

10:40 AM  
Blogger Quylein said...

I agree with Toc on this one.

As much as I disliked the Tradeskilling I did it and watched my wife do it.

50 Armor
52 Provisioner
55 Alch
40 Sage
59 Cloth

Thats just a few me and mainly my wife has done.. As tedious and unfun as it was. Just taking out the sub combines will not fix shit.

We will just have to wait and see

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hated that I could make subcombines for 4 levels and still run out before I hit the next tier.

I'm really looking forward to the changes...

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me ask all the players who gave up on crafting as it was too tedious or boring what they plan on doing with their lvl 60 instant crafters once they hit the cap?

Plan on selling anything? If yes how are you going to do this when everyone else is a lvl 60 crafter already.

To say these changes are not going to speed up crafting even further shows how little you know about the current system.

3 or 4 months ago SoE already boosted the XP gain/lowered the amount needed to gain a crafting level. With 100% vitality I went from lvl 23 Jeweller to lvl 30 jeweller, guess how long that took.

4 HRS!

It's all well and good for people to say now yipee I can now level my crafter to 60 easily without the hassle, but what you seem to forget is what will be the point of this?

What crafting needs like EQ2 in general is DIVERSITY. This is obvious and will become even more obvious when you have 500 lvl 60 crafters of each class all sititng around going 'Hmmm, what do I do now'

11:23 AM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

They make stuff for themselves and their guild.

Surprisingly, not everyone that is or wants to be a high level crafter does it to get tons of money.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not about money, it's about progressional paths, diversity, making choices as you learn the craft so that you dont end up with every crafter having exactly the same recipes as everyone else.

This is what everyone has been asking for with the adventure side, the reason soe are finally adding new armors, adding AA's.

Why cant they do the same with crafting, the game has been out 14 months and nothing has changed in crafting except the mechanics of making items.

If SoE want to "concentrate on the final combine" then they should start giving players choices and allowing players to choose specialist paths within their crafting class.

There should be a choice of new recipes when you reach the beginning of a tier. There should be racial recipes when you hit the middle of a tier, that way when someone gets to lvl 60 they are not Carpenter #897 with exactly the same recipes as everyother carpenter on the server.


12:18 PM  
Blogger Quylein said...

I'm sorry but this is about money.. yeah not all will do it for money but Alot More then now will do it for the MONEY.

If it takes 1/2 the time to make a sellable item and everyone is doing it these items will all become devalued quickly. Dont say it's not about the money when TS is a major part of the economy and the reason why we gotta fukin Attune everything..


1:02 PM  
Anonymous MadLordOfMilk said...

About the annoying, relentless "SOE is dumbing everything down" part... that's a bunch of BS imo - all they're doing is removing the painful math process of it... and that's all subcombines were. You had to figure out how many resources you needed, how much fuel, etc, so you spent ten to twenty minutes just figuring out what you'd need so you don't have to go back and forth between places. Personally I like that now you don't have to do a bunch of math - that's not "dumbing it down" it's "removing unnecessary complication".

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just gotta be flexible. Tradeskillers will find a way to make money no matter what system exists.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe it is about money to the majority of the people who DID spend the time. But people that quit crafting because of it? If they REALLY wanted the money from crafting they would have stuck toit, wouldn't they have?

And if this DOES make things easier and "everyone under the sun has a level 60 crafter" then they would be silly to think they are going to make as much money as people who are 60 crafters NOW they are silly.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

Well.. whatever. You know this is the same thing that happens all the time anyway. Some change is announced. People bitch and moan. Change happens. People bitch and moan some more. Some people quit. Some people like it. Everyone gets used to it. A few months down the road people have a sense of nastalgia.. "back in my day we had to do subcombines!"

In the end, all the arguing doesn't even matter...

1:27 PM  
Blogger Twodragons said...

Many level 60 crafters looking for work with no pick-ups reminds me of the 50-59 chat channel, filled with many level 60 adventurers looking for groups with no pick ups.

Not being a fanatical crafter (only 27 Woodworker), my 5 large backpacks and 24-slot box that I carried were always filled with sub-components, raws, and a few crafted items I could squeeze in. Maybe if I studied recipie components and tiers like a physics final, I'd know what to get rid of.

I enjoyed the few gold I may have made from selling some items (now why would anyone actually WANT a tin sconce?), but got more satisfaction by supplying my guild with totems.

Days Without a Combine: 65

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As I saw it there were three main skills to crafting:"

You forgot the most important skill to being successful in EQ2 crafting: the ability to get a third party marco program running. Sad but true.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous tock AB server said...

i take offense at that, actually.

i don't use 3rd party software in my crafting, and i consider myself a very successful crafter.

for legitimate crafters out there, the challenge has been in making sense of it all. and once you had it down, you had it down. and then you were good.

now that they're removing the thought required to make something, it's going to feel a bit like going through the drive-through to get a sloppy cheeseburger as opposed to making your own excellent club sandwich with BLT and mayo on toasted bread at home: cheap and more than likely to send you running for the toliet ten minutes afterward.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

First, thanks for the EQ2Craft plug. I'm the guy who wrote it! :)

I agree 100% with the extensive subcombine problem. It was one of the handful of real big problems with EQ2's crafting, which although had lofty goals, just didn't work out.

I agree that SWG did crafting better than anyone else, at least in the old days. Factories were fantastic ways to mass produce. Optional ingredients to enhance an item were great ways to add crafting dependencies that were "soft" dependencies (i.e. they weren't required, but they made your final item better and more marketable).

In trying to fix the problem by allowing everyone to craft most things (at least the subcombines), Sony made things worse. Instead, they could have done three things: (1) expand the number of items you can sell from your house vault when not logged in (i.e replicate SWG's "Bazaar"), (2) allow you to craft one item and mass produce it (perhaps by hiring apprentice crafters or a bunch of gnomes), and (3) get rid of the WORT requirements, which was like adding a fuel on top of a fuel.

As much as I dread another crafting change, which will require me to either redo my entire Web site or shut it down altogether, it is necessary to fix the crafting problems in the game.

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