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Monday, June 19, 2006

Live Update 24: Part I

Here are some comments on the portions of LU 24 I've had direct experience with. I thought the launch itself went quite smoothly.

Tradeskills & Harvesting

On a personal level, I'm actually enjoying tradeskilling since LU 24. I'm going to stop short of saying I'm having a blast tradeskilling but I am having a good time. This is totally new to me. The spreadsheets and inventory annoyances of the previous system were just not for me. And I'm seeing a ton of people who never tradeskilled before really get into tradeskilling and have fun doing it. And while I understand there are those who do not like the new system, I know that there are many who do.

For those who see the changes as easier or dumbed down, I understand your reaction. But to the best of my knowledge the core mechanic of tradeskilling has not changed at all. I'm referring to the screen you get with the progress/durability bars and the skills you use to counter events and so on. That is the "game" portion of tradeskilling.

Now, you may not like that "game" or think it is fun. I don't think it's the greatest. But it's not terrible either. If you really want to make tradeskilling more difficult or complex, SOE can make that core mechanic more difficult or complex. Add more strategy or pure difficulty to that mechanic and thereby make it harder to make a pristine. That would make tradeskilling harder, in a good way, if people feel it needs to be harder.

The subcombines made tradeskilling harder in a bad way. It was just a time-sink of tedium. The spreadsheets and lists you needed to figure out how many subcombines and what subcombines you needed were just an annoyance to me and not a "game." Managing tons of subcombines in your inventory was not a "game" either, just another annoyance.

Now, after LU 24, the majority of tradeskilling is based on how skilled you are at the core mechanic I discussed before. So, if you don't think that tradeskilling is hard enough, direct your complaints to that mechanic, not the removal of subcombines. Personally, I have enough trouble making pristines as it is but I get the feeling that's due mostly to my own incompetence. But even still, I would never complain if tradeskilling was made more difficult. As long as it was not tedious and annoying the way it was under the previous system.

I'm not blind to the fact that sub-combines in some way had an immersion factor but for me they were far too tedious and cumbersome. Under the new system, a friend asked me for a bag and I was able to make it as he stood there. For me that was a fun and rewarding experience. In the old days I would have needed 8 Stromo Oils or 4 Tin Buckles or whatever which would have each required subcombines and and so on.

What can I say, I'm a tradeskill convert with these changes.

I understand that some worry the economy will suffer with all the new tradeskillers out there. But you can't manage an economy by making a gameplay element so unpleasant that people don't want to partake in it. I think the new tradeskillers are a great thing for the game. I now actually look forward to tradeskilling for an hour before I start adventuring. And that element of variety makes the game as a whole more fun for me.

As for harvesting, it's still harvesting and it's never going to be pulse-pounding excitement. But the ability to harvest multiple nodes does add some amount of fun and variety to it. And the introduction of harvesting tools brings a new element to the process.

I like the fact that the tradeskill instances are open to all now. If the tradeskill societies ever had any purpose, I might feel differently. And it might have been cool if they did. But they didn't, so why bother restricting tradeskill instances? As a new player I found it annoying to go around to various instances to see which one I was supposed to belong to. And under the new system I can work in the same tradeskill instance as a friend, even if we are of a different race. I understand that people might have role-playing issues with that, but in practice it's a lot more fun and convenient.

All in all, I think the tradeskill and harvest changes are fantastic.

Access Quests

I haven't seen an official rationale posted for the removal of access quests to a large number of instances. That doesn't mean it wasn't, I just haven't seen it. And I'm having trouble understanding the reason behind the change.

I'm not going to buy a generic "artificial restrictions are bad" argument. Instance access quests never felt unduly restrictive to me. And gaining access to a certain area is a valid part of many heroic stories. I suggested previously that perhaps the change was made because people simply weren't visiting some instances.

But I've thought about that some more. I think that people are always going to visit awesome instances like Nek Castle even if there is an access quest (after all only one group member needed access). And I think that people are still not going to visit dull instances like the Lair of the Necromancer even without the access quest. I'm guessing that it's the quality and content of the instance that dictates use and not the access quest. I've visited some instances since LU24 and it just seems odd to be zoning in to some random instance without the backstory of the access quest.

Now, it's not all bad. I did get to check out some instances I'd never seen before and that was fun. I probably wouldn't have seen them otherwise, I have to admit. So that's like adding additional content without creating new content. And I didn't see any complaints on the forums about this as opposed to the morass of complaints about other portions of LU 24. So I might be the only one who cares and I'm torn on it myself. But if I had to pick one or the other...I probably would have kept them in.

I'll have more tomorrow on other aspects of LU 24.


Anonymous Wizzel Cogcarrier Wizzleton IV said...

Wow, finally. You may say 8:00am, but it's about 2:50 here. Three hours, Aggro! Three hours late!

Good post, though.

4:00 AM  
Anonymous Gaige said...

I *love* the ts/broker/harvesting changes.

I gained 8 levels in tailoring yesterday - I had gained 18 levels total since release.


Good write up Aggro :D

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Gaiges comments

And there's the problem with this completely dumbed down tradeskill system.

People are flying through the levels and tradeskill level value will pretty soon mean nothing.

You talk about tradeskills being tedious and cumbersome, well you know what I could say the same thing about adventuring. Why should I have to kill 1000 gnolls to level up? Screw that it's boring, I want to kill 10 and level.

Longterm these changes will make crafting meaningless, which is the exact opposite from what SOE stated about the EQ2 crafting system.

Damm check out the help file associated with crafting, they even mention themselves that they didnt want a simple one click system and wanted crafting to be a challenge, guess thats gone out of the window and been replaced with lets keep the WOW generation happy.

As for the access quests, shit god forbid someone would have to work for access to anything in this game, welcome to the wonderful world of everwow.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

RE: Mr. Anon's comments

I can appreciate why some people would be annoyed, heck, even upset with the changes made to tradeskilling... but I'm not one of them. I'm happy to finally enjoy a feature of the game I've never really made use of.

As a casual player of the game I could never justify sitting there trying to 1) figure how crafting worked, 2) figure out all the subcombine stuff, and 3) spend the time crafting - face it, even with the changes crafting is still not thrilling... it is now more rewarding, but its still not a thrill ride.

So, as a casual gamer playing EQII I'd just made the decision to not even bother partaking in the whole crafting scene... even though it is part of the game I pay for monthly, something I wanted to try out, but just could not justify the time sink it is.

Now with these changes I've finally spent some time crafting; I found it really rewarding to make a couple boxes to help my bank situation out, and then I found myself trying to figure out what I should really be... a carpenter or woodworker - I found myself caught up in the idea of really getting into the crafting system because I was enjoying myself.

So to someone like myself, from my point of view, this is a great success for SOE - I am enjoying a portion of the game I'd never bothered really trying, and I'm happy.

However, as I said, I can appreciate that some people that are crafters-of-old being upset. A slew of newcomers are going to be filling up the broker, taking some of your profits, and this might hurt the bottom line... but sadly I also appreciate that there are likely others like myself that truely going to enjoy the change made to crafting, its a lot better than it was before from my point of view.

If I had one complaint about it all, I find it far too easy to make a pristine - I have ahard time making them myself, but a guild-mate of mine said he'd crafted a whole bunch this weekend and never failed to make a pristine (I suck by comparisson, I can only make pristine about 50% of the time - I need to listed to Vadir's crafting tips yet again).

I would applaud the implementation of making pristine's something tough to make - perhaps introducing crafting equipable items (like a jewler's eyepiece for jewlers, and a hammer/saw/etc for carpenters) that have stats on them that allow you to make different quality of product would be a good approach... or maybe introducing a mini-game that's a little tougher to master... or here's a thought: introduce tradeskill-grouping to make more complex items and having to time things together similar to how Heroic Opportunities work.

So while I applaud SOE for making the crafting changes and putting the huge effort in to overhauling the whole system, I still think there's room for improvement for the system overall - but this is a good step forward.


As for removing instance-zone access quests? Not the best idea out there; I never felt getting an access quest done to be a chore - it was the opposite to me; finishing up an access quest felt good because you'd worked to gain access to the area... and that was always fun.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Karnatos

Why does a casual player feel they need to be able to do everything in a game?

Shouldnt some aspects of gameplay be limited to those who put the time into them?

Why does everything have to revolve around someone who plays 5hrs a week?

Some things should take time, effort and be difficult, boring, challenging whatever you want to name it.

A casual player could still reach the max level of crafting with the old system it would have just taken them more time and effort, if people couldnt do that then get over it, not everything should be easy!

11:44 AM  
Blogger Twodragons said...

In fighting for Affirmative Action for us adventurers, I've always wnated to get an exp bonus for killing a mob for the first time, just like an artisan making a pristine item for the first time.

Perhaps I'll blow some sawdust off my Woodworker and get busy again.

It's unfortunate SOE removed so many access quests. That was a valid part of the game's lore and action. I would look forward to that quest in a bittersweet way, wanting the challenge but not looking forward to the long and tedious road - especially if a rare spawn was involved.

What fun would the story of Jason and the Argonauts be if they didn't have to go get the Golden Fleece?

But I was confounded for over 2 weeks while trying to get a particular mob in Feerrott to spawn so I could advance an access quest to get into OoLS, just so I could get the last piece of Tartan's Wheel. Being a casual player I couldn't spend countless hours making that happen.

A guildmate with access got me in, and I never needed to complete the access quest - especially now since it's' removed.

By the time I got Tartons Wheel, I had outleveled it's stat boost with something better, although that teleport function is fun.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Wizzel Cogcarrier Wizzleton IV said...

Re: Re: Karnatos (anonymous)

I agree with Karnatos.

What they should have done is get rid of the subcombines but lower the xp gained per item. IMO, much of the tedium was associated with making six to ten extraneous items to get one final product. If one got less xp per item with these changes, the people who put time into levelling are treated fairly, more final products are made (a very good thing for people who purchase consumables like arrows, poisons, or food), and much of the tedium is eliminated.

There is always going to be tedium, tho, and gaining 18 levels in a couple days is ridiculous. It should be harder and take longer to level past 20, just as in adventuring. Crafting is supposed to be a self-sufficient chunk of game, not something to breeze through in between dungeon runs.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Tipa said...

I loved tradeskills before; but only alchemy and provisioning, as I didn't have to wrestle for a zillion hours on subcombines. Sure, there were subcombines, but I didn't have to leave the workstation to make them.

Yesterday I brought armorcraft up, because I just can't afford player-crafted armor. If it were affordable and in supply, I would definitely by it; but it's rarely sold, and when it is, it is too expensive.

The exclusivity of crafting made it so that most of the time, you did without, unless perhaps you were in a uber guild with an ample supply of rares from raiding.

Crafting still isn't WoW-simple, and WoW crafting isn't all that easy. Sure, it's a one-button no fail combine, but the components for the top-end items are extremely hard to get. So you spend more time - a LOT more time - gathering components. You really appreciated the top-end crafted items on WoW, and it's unfair to slam it because the combine is easy.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

RE: Mr. Anon's 2nd comment

"Why does a casual player feel they need to be able to do everything in a game?"

Well now, I do pay to play the same game as you - and while I agree 100% with what you say here, this is not the point I was making.

I doubt I'll ever make a level 60 crafter... but for now I have made level 20, and am content with this effort.

"Shouldn’t some aspects of game play be limited to those who put the time into them?

Why does everything have to revolve around someone who plays 5hrs a week?"

Well, I never said I only play 5 hours per week - I'm closer to 15hrs... but I digress.

I agree with you that time should be required to advance, and I agree that right now its too quick to level (as Wizzel Cogcarrier Wizzleton IV said), but I don't think that I should be excluded from enjoying an aspect of a game just because I am a casual player.

"Some things should take time, effort and be difficult, boring, challenging whatever you want to name it."

Again, I agree - which is why I made comment on it requiring more changes; I even gave examples.

"A casual player could still reach the max level of crafting with the old system it would have just taken them more time and effort, if people couldnt do that then get over it, not everything should be easy!"

And Amen to that; I am not in favor of making the game easier. If you ever read posts of mine you'd know (check the forums). I'm in favor of making a better game, and this is the point I was making - the changes to crafting make a better game.

Is it perfect now? Hardly.

Was is perfect before LU24? Hardly.

Is it better? I personally think it is. But, as I stated, it still needs work.

I can appreciate the frustration that LU's sometimes bring to the game, and I understand there's a constant heated debate between trying to balance things out in game too, be it between classes, casual vs. dedicated vs. hardcore players, or whatever... and I also know a lot of people are upset with the changes.

But I am voicing my opinion here, nothing more, and my opinion is that SOE has done a good job of making crafting more interesting and appealing to a player such as myself - and not because I find it easy, it is simply more fun for me.

And Wizzleton's got a good idea too; lower XP per crafted item - it'd make much more sense as a quick-fix to the current implementation imho. But I hope they go the extra mile now that they've sunken this much time into improving the crafting system - the tradeskilling side of the game deserves the attention.

1:23 PM  
Blogger SecrAtive Girl said...

i really like the speed and simplicity of the new system, and i agree that it certainly needed to be made less tedious, but honestly i find it a bit too easy now. there isn't any sort of challenge left. at all.

for example - my main character is a lvl 70 provisioner and the recipes are extremely uncreative. some don't seem to make any sort of sense - like using stone in sorbet *furrows brow*. also i have found i will have two or three recipes that use the extact same ingredients and produce items whose effects are exactly the same - they just have different names and icons, and that is just... extremely generic.

perhaps a better way would have been to make sure that no two receipes were exactly the same and to make imbuing and stat bonuses for food an extra step.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that SOE games in general seem to be catering to dumbing down games these days. It has pulled me away from some other titles I played and has hurt EQ2 as well. The longer it takes to level. The more rare crafted items are. The more interest I have in crafting. Due to the new changes I have dropped crafting completely. I can now just buy everthing so much cheaper that there is no reason to craft it and no reason to hold a business crafting due to the fact that there is an influx of items. This problem for me has destroyed the enjoyment and fortune that crafting once brought. I prefer a more tedious and challeging crafting system. I am thankfull that there is enough for my adventuring class to do for now. I just hope that they dont do to adventuring what they did to crafting. I tend to not be as interested in playing a game once I cap out. I think that is the feel most people get. So the longer it takes me to get everything the longer I will continue to play. Plain and simple.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, darn. You can no longer make a fortune off people who prefer to spend the majority of their time exploring the game rather than staring at a crafting table.

Back in the early days of EQ2, there were major changes made simply to appease the artisans. Gear wasn't always attuned - you could go get it, use it, and then turn around and sell it to up-and-comers as you got new, bigger, better gear to replace it with. Artisans whined - and SOE responded. They made significant changes which rendered the days of hand-me-down gear obsolete.

As the changes continued, SOE continued in its catering to Artisans. So much so that the game became EverCraft, or EverArtisan. You didn't see Artisans having to craft 1000 items in order to get a level like the adventurers did, and there for a time all but the absolute top gear was crafted gear. There wasn't any point in trying to get huge raids together to go after that rare drop - you could pick up something better for some coin.

As time has progressed, the balance has shifted. And finally, we reach LU24. The absolute tedium involved in tradeskilling, the major timesink, and the reason many never got more artisan levels than required to successfully complete a heritage quest combine has finally been removed. For every 1 person I've met who complains that the tradeskill changes have ruined everything, I've met 20 or more who are singing the praises of the developers. I personally worked through 51 levels the old way, and have done another 3 since the changes, and I happen to think the changes definitely made things better. I do have to agree with a previous comment that some of the recipes make little or no sense. And charts aren't completely gone, given that those of us who actually did tradeskill regularly tended to be packrats and had tons of the old stuff on hand...

The big difference? Things are more reasonably priced. And I don't think that's just because of the changes to the tradeskilling system. I think the new consignment system for sales has had a much bigger impact on selling prices. So I'm no longer expected to pay 5gp apiece or more for each level 60 food and each level 60 drink, or upwards of 3gp each for the harvested material just to MAKE said food and drink on my own.

If you really want your timesink back, craft an item, then paint a section of the wall by your desk and watch it dry. Once dry, craft another item and repeat. The rest of us will be busily enjoying getting to make new goodies to play with, or spending more time exploring all the content the game has to offer instead of staring at the crafting tables.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous BlueX said...

I like the no-subcombines very much, but I think SoE has improved tradeskills for the higher level player at the expense of lower level players.

I can't harvest my own raws as I'm not high enough yet. I've been trying to keep my tailor ahead of my monk so that when he gets to the next tier, I can make his armor. This means I generally have to buy the raws, because my tailor is a tier ahead of my adventurer. However, it's no longer economically sensible to buy raws to level up my tailor, since there are so many more crafters. The increased number of raws harvested only offsets the increased number required for the recipes, not the increased number of crafters. So certain raws needed by all crafting classes (e.g. roots) are prohibitively expensive.

I have my adventurer, so eventually, I will catch up and be able to harvest my own raws, but SoE sure has made it more difficult for those who just like to tradeskill and not adventure (a few people like that in my guild). The prices on raws are insane, and the finished products they make sell for below what the fuel cost is, not to mention cost of buying raws.

Harvesting is now similarly geared more towards high level characters, since once you are over maxed for that tier, you have a higher chance of getting rares and multiple harvests. So low level players (who may not enjoy adventuring or who are similar level to their tradeskill level) who might actually die while harvesting are also penalized with less rares and less raws whereas the people who are least at risk in harvesting reap better rewards (more rares, more raws per harvest).

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The changes to TSing boil down to a major change in the flavor of the game. For the casual TSer, it is much more fun and less time consuming; for the Artisans, the game has lost most of it's appeal.

Ask yourself, "Why don't I build my own car or grow my own food?" Unless you're a car maker or farmer, it's because you'd rather do something else for a living.

So, now we can all make our on Chevys, Fords and Toyotas, pretty quickly, so what do the car makers do? What's missing now are the Bentleys and Ferraris, meaning special items that only dedicated crafters could make. These could be like imbued items, but offering special stats, etc. or maybe HQ specific items. Without items like these, I don't forsee much commerce taking place after we've all leveled up.

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