Aggro Me: 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.