Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Mastercrafting chicken farmer

Hopefully by the end of tonight I will not only have completed with my son the first of his many runs of the Halloween gauntlet of giving but also have a full suit of Mastercrafted plate armor for my Berserker in Everquest 2!  This could be a good night.

I woke up this morning to the site of what the boy is going to be wearing and all I can say is that I am thankful I have a closet full of flannel.  This is going to be an easy one for me.   The wife hadchicken boy originally planned on dressing up the tike as a clown but after outcries from family members and a couple references of Pennywise, she picked up a new costume for $10 on the way home last night.

Its not every morning you wake up to a three foot rooster next to your bed.   The wife and I will be his “Farmers” tonight and its kind of ironic really seeing as he will be doing all of the begging for us.  I’m hoping for plenty of Twix, 100 Grand, and Snickers bars.

If he was a chicken instead I would probably start coaxing him into laying those damn feysteel clusters instead of eggs as I have been having a difficult time finding anything even close to the quantity I need.  After harvesting over 350 Tier 4 ore I have only found one rare, so either I have very bad luck or SOE needs to do something about the rate there.  If it wasn’t for the great friends I have on Antonia Bayle and the way the AB auction seems to gobble up everything I place on it, I would probably have given up on crafting this set a long time ago.  As it is now I am almost level 39 and looking ahead to tanking Deathfist Citadel. I just hope that it manages to hold up until the next tier.

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October 31, 2007 Posted by | Crafting, EQ2, RL | , | 8 Comments

The Tradeskill Diary

DiaryOver at Warcry, they have an interesting article that is sort of a “day in the life” of a Everquest 2 Tradeskill developer. Emily “Domino” Taylor is one of the dedicated SOE employees working hard on the Rise of Kunark expansion and she took some time to write down a bit of what she does to get the crafting content ready for the latest addition to the game. If you are interested in a little bit of the process behind adding this type of content to a game, then be sure to stop by and take a look. I found it to be a good read.

I think the process could be automated more, with better spreadsheets and cleverer perl scripts to save more time, but with this short time before beta starts there is simply not enough time to try and get clever. I hope that by next expansion I’ll have had time to streamline things a bit more. But there’s still quite a long tradeskill “wish list” to fill up my time after the expansion is out of the way!

Its great to see that they have even more plans for the sphere even after the release. I haven’t really had enough time with crafting to take a guess at what this could be but they added Transmuting and Tinkering with the last expansion so who knows what could be on the plate for the future.

I bet if they add the pink mount and saddle they were talking about, I could get my wife to play again. 😛

October 11, 2007 Posted by | Crafting, EQ2 | | 2 Comments

Locking professions

A couple days ago I posted my woes with the Everquest 2 crafting professions and how IPadlock accidentally chose the wrong profession when I was going through the quest dialog. Now, I owned up to the fact that it was my error and that SOE did place in front of me three distinct choices for the paths I could follow, and it was clear on which was which. This was my fault entirely and I took my punishment for the inattention I showed the game by redoing the previous 10 levels of crafting and spending atleast 15 gold in payments to the broker. Not a bad penalty.

But is it necessary?

I believe that I would have had a better experience with the specialization quest if I had been routed to a NPC that was in the profession I was interested in playing. In fact, the first thing I did before hailing the NPC outside of the crafting instance was head to the NPC in which I had talked to when I did my class armor quest. I think atleast in regards to the EQ2 system, giving a player a small quest to do for the specialization, might give them enough of a chance to realize their possible mistake but also open up the game to allow soft locks on professions.

Soft locks are what I think of as barriers that are easily overcome through a series of quests or trials. These locks wouldn’t really bar a player from experiencing the content or options available to them, they would just block out the unnecessary information unless the player chose to take the time to open that content.

Why is it that some MMO designs are created to hard lock players into crafting professions. I don’t understand why this is and I have been trying to think of the various benefits and drawbacks to a world if every player has the chance to be everything they want to be. I am just talking about crafting professions here, not adventuring.

As a crafter free to learn every profession:

  • I have the freedom to further define my character’s abilities.
  • I am more self sufficient if I choose to invest the time.
  • I can personally use more of what I find.
  • I am online with one character instead of alt_tailor, alt_chanter, or alt_smith.
  • I become a supplier that can offer my customers a larger selection.

As a crafter limited to a single profession:

  • I cannot corner multiple areas of the market with one character.
  • I am forced to make multiple characters and use the mail system to transfer items between them.
  • customers are forced to learn the name of my alts when they want something specifically made.

From a community standpoint, I would rather have players on more with their one character than multiple alts. It would allow veterans to rise to the top and continue to be known by the population at large throughout their career. Its better for the player and does little to change the economy from what I can see. Why is it then that we are locked in these decisions?1

1 I did a search through Google Reader on this topic and it seems that the function is still not really up to the standard of the regular Google Search. I apologize if this topic has been beaten like Private Pyle at blanket party.

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, Crafting, EQ2, Rants | , | 6 Comments

Learning how to learn

Its often been said to me that you can learn from your own mistakes or you can learn from the mistakes of others. The wiser person chooses the latter and dares not repeat the failures of those who have come before him, but more often than not I hear about history repeating itself. Sometimes its the young showing disrespect for their elders and trying so hard by themselves to blaze their own path. Sometimes its pride that gets the best of even the most learned and blinds them from the lessons of their peers

But sometimes there are those mistakes that are completely avoidable and just happen because your wife is watching a really bad but strangely addicting movie with Gena Davis in it.

This weekend I had one of these rare mistakes in my crafting career and only when I finally got the courage to ask for help in the general crafting channel did I realize it was not my issue but that of the game design itself. There is nothing wrong with the crafting in Everquest, its simply the design of the game that SOE and unfortunately many others tend to go with.

Saturday evening I had reached the cap of level 19 in the Outfitter Profession and had figured outEQ2 Choose Profession that in order to progress I needed to speak to one of the trainers again. Pretty basic, just go up and go through the dialog and click the new specialized profession. Well wouldn’t you know it that I managed to screw this part up. I have no idea what I was doing at the time(never-mind, I do) but I clicked Weaponsmith instead of Armorsmith and sealed my fate to that of making pokey things.

After talking to a nice group in the crafting channel I found out that there was a NPC in a crafting instance in West Freeport that would allow me to change this error and begin again. What they didn’t tell me, and I don’t blame them for this, is that this decision reverts you to level 9 again!

BLARGG!!

SOE did put in enough information before I chose to revert my crafting experience, I will give them that. I sat there for about 5 minutes mulling it over before clicking accept. I wanted to kick that stupid ogre NPC smiling at me the whole damn time.

I just couldn’t bring myself to continue crafting just weapons. I knew if I could suck it up, face the music, bite the bullet and find the most motivational idiom, I would be happier about continuing crafting in Everquest 2.

So I did it.

Four crafting levels, 15 gold, and remembering that a bad worker always blames their tools, I’m back up to level 20 and certified as a Armorsmith. All in all it wasn’t a bad experience and I feel better about continuing with the crafting here. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and learn from your mistakes. I could sit here and blame SOE for limiting the player’s ability to learn multiple crafting professions, and to be honest that’s what I intended to do. I was going to write about the way games limit us by slamming us in a mold of X Adventuring class and Y Crafting Profession. Maybe that’s tomorrow’s discussion, but I’m going to track down some older articles from other bloggers before I paste some of the same ol’ vanilla opinions and suggestions.

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, Crafting, EQ2, Rants | | 2 Comments

A wiki comes to Vanguard Crafters

I have a bit of a confession to make today about something I did in the past. When Vanguard firstVanguard Crafters came to be and was released, I was heavily into the crafting. I really got into the system and learned a lot about it, contributing and participating in the various forums. Vanguard Crafters was and still is the premiere site for talking about this sphere of game play and I jumped right in. I had heard they were planning on creating a wiki about a month or so after release and immediately signed up to join the crew.

I didn’t have much of a background in mediawiki or any wiki development for that matter, but I had contributed to a variety of sites in the past and knew that I wouldn’t screw anything up bad enough that a simple “revert to previous” couldn’t handle.

I was accepted by Genda and joined the small crew of five, assigned specifically to the content team. I was psyched and at once I began saving a variety of information like recipe data, quest descriptions, npc locations, skill sets, clothing bonuses, and a ton of screenshots. I had some initial guidance from my team leader on what was needed and I hit these points off quickly, adding everything that was needed to the database on a daily basis. However, as I began to quickly finish what was assigned to me, I realized that the team leader’s response was arriving later and later. In fact, this person had gone afk from the game and was really never seen again in the forum. This was a common occurrence during the time of the Sigil to SOE changeover.

I had no guidance and no clue as to the optimal way to organize the data, but as the last remaining active member of the content team, I did my best to help the design and tech side of things. I tried to clean up bad pages and centralize information to make it easier for them to find pages no longer needed or redundant. I offered my help up in the forum and gave them details as to the best way to direct me. In the end, it wasn’t the lack of guidance that led me to stop visiting the forum, it was the introduction of a new contributor.

She came and she kicked some content ass. She blasted up the new pages and helped put out a final product that the community needed. I felt that the information she had was more than enough to get out a great backbone of content for the community to reference, and any more contributions by me would only gum up the work they were trying to accomplish.

So with that, I’d like to thank Demila, Genda, and the rest of the Tech/Design team for coming together to put out this wiki for the Vanguard Community. Nice job. Oh, and if you see any pages that look weird they may have been created by me (nuitwaters), don’t blame it on those guys.

Now, if they will take me back, I just might jump into Vanguard again.

October 3, 2007 Posted by | Crafting, Vanguard | | 7 Comments

Everquest 2 and my crafting introduction

I had told myself that I needed a break from crafting after a recent stint in another MMO, but when I decided to give Everquest 2 a try so did I decide to go back to the world of crafting. I had heard that I could craft a lot of different items early in the game and that the system itself was complicated enough to keep you interested but not overwhelming. A big thanks to my son here for getting sick and keeping me home from work last week as I am now a level 18 Outfitter.

I am choosing to truncate this post because I have a feeling its going to be fairly large and I don’t want it wallpapering the front page of the blog. More available after the link.
Continue reading

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, Crafting, EQ2 | , , | 4 Comments

The “I” word and Crafting – Part 2

This is a continuation of my brainstorm on crafting and eliminating the monotony.

Every game has thousands of items added to it on top of the recipes that are given to crafters. Usually these are separate from dropped items from mobs or quest related rewards. I have never liked this approach. I really feel that it separates the players. These dropped items are linked to loot tables that are being implemented much better in games. You no longer see that level 10 boar somehow drop a dagger or bow. NPC mobs are actually coming closer to dropping what they are wearing and using in game and I think this is something that we should use to an advantage.

The system I’m about to tell you about will not appease those of you who love the click process of crafting. Now here, take these John Lennon glasses and follow me for a moment. Imagine if mobs actually dropped items that they were wearing and crafters could use those drops to learn new recipes and then craft the items. This would create a world of items availiable to both crafters and adventurers.

How in the world could this ever work? It is a very free system and not like anything I heard of before. The crafter is not limited in the traditional sense to what they can craft.

How would you keep track of all of those items? The User Interface can be a wonderful thing if done correctly and to be honest, I’m pretty sick of the small window with the scroll bar, moving through a list format of my recipes. Lets please get with the program and change this. How often do you look at your avatar after you have seen the animation of him smelting copper for the first 100 times? Give us an optional full screen display of our recipes and we can accommodate all of these items.

Think family tree format but each point on the branch is a style of that weapon or item. Mousing over that style gives you a list of the recipes you have. For a quick example, lets take One-handed Swords. You would start out with the most basic of sword and then this would progress to scimitars and rapiers, shortswords and gladius. Each of these categories are nothing but placeholders for actual items that you might find.

Once you pickup an item or receive one in trade, you study it and open both the category and recipe for that item. Studying the item should be detrimental but rewarding to the crafter. It should destroy the item but in its place you receive the recipe to create more.

Well, thats about it for this brainstorm and I’m not sure I can really continue on with that thought of making a crafting world without the need to harvest materials. Its possible and I probably just need to drink the 4th cup of coffee.

later

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, Crafting | 5 Comments

The “I” word and Crafting

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer wrote an interesting article asking the community what they thought about the current state of crafting and what in the world we are going to do about it.

The actual act of crafting itself needs to be spiced up just a bit. Something needs to be added to make it go…for lack of a better word…”pop”. Honestly, I’m at a loss right now (I blame the Corona I’m drinking…too much lime) as to how this would be done…

I hate grinding, I like reward and I love the “I” word. Innovation is what is needed here and that does not necessarily mean making it more complex. Crafting has been in almost every MMO I have played and I usually have tried it beyond the beginner levels. There are only a few that I have maxed out the level or skill in and I have yet to find a system that I could not understand.

Now, hes asking about the act here, and not how its implemented in game or across the “spheres” of gameplay. The act I assume is the actual, click click – change recipe – click click – check inventory – click click – drink beer – click click – skill-up. I agree that it is monotonous and even in the most complex of systems its just a disguise of a grind. So how do we change this? I’m going to try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one but answer it best that I can.

Why does crafting need to have this longwinded approach to creating an item? Why do we need levels or tiers? Lets bring together the players by combining the adventuring and crafting and I propose this by not basing what a crafter can create by how much time they have sunk at a table but how many items they have studied.

If a Weaponsmith for example, had an action called “study” or “reverse engineer” and that action allowed the player to use up items in the world to learn a recipe, this would open up the system to a whole new area that I have yet to see before. Clicking a shortsword for the first time adds some type of notation that shows the type of sword it is and how many more are needed before you truly understand the recipe. Then once the recipe is learned the player simply goes to town and can craft the item. The timesink of crafting is moved to that of adventuring and discovery rather than grinding and repetition at a table.

What about the harvesting and materials needed to craft the item, what do they use?? Well let me ask you this, how often have you been ticked off about the amount of boar skins or dwarf swords you have gathered through the years had absolutely nothing to do with the game economy? Imagine if these items actually contributed to a regional stockpile of materials. This could include not only quest items but also drops sold back to vendors as cash. These materials could then be used to create items by crafters. Do you see the cycle here and why a crafter would be able to create items from these drops? Its because he learned recipes from them as well.

I’ll go into this idea more in part 2 as its leading more into the game integration of crafting and not about the actual mechanics of it.

later

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, Crafting | Leave a comment