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ESO’s Redeeming Qualities

I’ve been on the fence with ESO for a long time.  I’ve also been a harsh critic of a lot of Zenimax’s choices.  I’m a very straight shooter; when I see things I don’t like I tell you, but I also feel it’s important to share things I think are pretty neat.

veteran-content

Small-group Content

I am a fan of small groups.  I like PvPing in small groups, and I like PvEing in small groups.  I love when content is fine-tuned precisely for a small group of people and everyone has a specific role to play.  Whether or not ESO’s content ends up being good, they are at least appealing to my love of being able to just grab my friends and jump into some content.  Forget that 40-man zerg.  I would rather the ‘experience’ guide me than the mechanics.

In ESO there are Veteran content, Adventure zones (4 people), and Trials (12).

Specialization

All of the crafting skills are part of the overall skill system, so you’ll need to consider your options carefully when you spend a skill point. Should you put one more point into blacksmithing, or do you really want to learn a new two-handed weapon ability?

You guys know how much I love specialization.  No one should be able to be everything.  People should have to rely on each other.  That, to me, is a hallmark of a good MMORPG.  I love that people in ESO will have to choose to spend some of their overall skill pool on improving their crafting.  Crafting seems pretty useful, too.  From what little I’ve seen, I believe there will be an actual reason to make gear right from the start. [Read more...]

Should Everyone Craft Everything?

EverQuest Next Landmark’s recent Round Table question is one I am passionate about.  Before we get to it though, let’s watch this video.

Should one character be able to learn all types of crafting?

The real answer to this question is a firm “NO.”  I strongly believe in specialization for just about everything in MMORPGs.  People should have to choose a path and commit, and each path should be very unique.  People should have to seek out others in order to benefit from the skills and abilities they do not possess.

When everyone can craft everything, there is no need for a strong economy and there is no need to interact with others.  You can sit by yourself in isolation and do everything.  I know there’s at least one of you out there (you know who you are) who will say, “I like not having to rely on anyone.  I don’t like talking to or having to interact with anyone in a MMORPG.”  This may sound harsh, but have you considered a single player game?  I’m tired of massively multiplayer games having their design dictated by the needs of the entitled xenophobes.

The modern-era of MMOs, however, dictates the answer must be a “yes.”  

I’m not naive.  I know that now’days developers will dumb everything down to the least common denominator.  I know that somehow everyone can be every class, craft everything, solo everything, and never even have to see another person because they get their own little instance.  I think there’s at least a small way to address the crafting portion of this unfortunate reality.

A realistic solution!

Let everyone take every craft and make the most basic items, but have specialties.  I may have every craft, but I can choose to specialize in carpentry.  As a carpentry specialist I can make the same furniture you can, but since you didn’t specialize in carpentry you can’t make the awesome roofing, armor racks, or awesome looking doodads.  But you went weaponsmith specialization which means you can take the basic swords and make them glow, light on fire, etc.

Let people feel like they can ‘get by’ without having to specialize, but make them really think about and consider the benefits of choosing one particular path to improve.

NPC Merchants

Everquest NPC Merchants

Today’s EverQuest Next Roundtable question asks:

If a player sells an item to an NPC merchant, should other players be able to buy that item from the merchant?

I say absolutely yes.  I actually like NPC merchants — even in a player-driven economy.  In fact, I think merchants should sell decent gear and items to players.  Early Dark Age of Camelot handled this quite well.  Players made the best stuff, and occasionally a good item would drop from dungeons, but players more often than not sold and marketed the best items.

If the weapon sold by a merchant was lower quality, maybe it breaks quicker or does slightly less damage.  Maybe it can’t be repaired fully, and slowly loses permanent durability over time.

The idea of merchants can really be taken further.  What if certain merchants allowed players to put up items on consignment depending on that player’s crafting or merchant status.  Star Wars Galaxies’ merchant class had great tools to utilize both public and private merchant and auction services.

One of the best things about the original EverQuest was being able to find hidden gems on merchants in town.  I would always do a quick check of the merchants in my class training area.  Sometimes you’ll find bone chips, bat wings, and other spell or quest reagents.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!  There’s even the rare occasion where I was able to find magical dungeon drops just sitting on a vendor because someone just sold it to the vender to get rid of it.

So yes, merchants are awesome.

Being Poor in FFXIV Pays Off

There’s been a lot of buzz in the FFXIV community about the recent bans handed down to players with ‘a lot of gil’.   Allegedly players with 8 million or more gil have been temporary (72 hour) banned while their resources are investigated.  The reason being given is that the players violated the user agreement.  As of this moment, none of the players reporting their bans have any idea about whether or not their gil is gone or if they’ll be unbanned.

This is a tough one.  On one hand I can appreciate the company taking action to protect the sanctity of the game.  On the other hand, I feel awful for the honest and resourceful players who worked hard/smart to earn their cash.  Tonight alone I had to blacklist 10 spammers, and the bots farming fleece and diremite webs are still there — but the guy who played the market is trying to prove the only thing he did was succeed.

To complicate matters further, many of the banned players think they were banned because they sold their goods to players who obtained their gil illegally — essentially receiving dirty money through legitimate trade.  Ban the player who bought the cash and the person who sold it, but leave the crafter out of it.  Square is doing it backward.

Now I don’t feel so bad about being dirt poor in the 99 percent.

Brief thoughts on FFXIV Crafting

FFXIV AlchemistI’ve been putting some time into the crafting side of things lately. Not a whole lot of time, mind you, but enough to get my gathering professions (mining and botany) to level 20 and 14 and several trades (blacksmith, goldsmith, armor, leatherworker) to anywhere from 15-17. Initially my plan was to only do leatherworker but that didn’t last very long. Soon I came to a point where I needed various ingots so that’s when I hopped on over to do mining and blacksmith. Well, at least until I realized what I actually wanted to be doing was armor smithing, which luckily benefited already from being able to make leather. Then I hit another wall because OBVIOUSLY on goldsmiths can smelt tin ingots, so I had to pick that up as well, along with botany because there is a surprising amount of wood in armor. Yeah I don’t really understand that last one but whatever. I’m not sure if this heavy cross-profession reliance is meant to make YOU take almost every crafting or encourage you to work with other crafters. The latter wouldn’t be so bad except the current market prices for materials is just heinous. Even materials that can be bought off VENDORS are being sold above merchant price. I mean, who does that? Better question, who actually is dumb enough to pay that?

Forging On

FFXIV BotonistThe crafting process itself is something that I kind of enjoy. I’m not sure how close it is to the FFXI system but it does look similar. You pull out your little workbench and tool and a little colored crystal floats in front of you. Admittedly all of my crafting knowledge is self taught mainly due to the fact that I don’t have the attention span to read a guide. From my understanding you get a set durability and you need to make enough progress to complete the item before it breaks. Along the way you can use abilities to boost the item’s quality which gives you a higher % chance that you will make a High Quality item. Depending on the current condition of the item you might get a small, medium, or substantial increase to the quality percent chance. Or none at all if you miss. The condition is represented by the crystal, but I’m not sure if you even need to focus on the crystal color because there is a text indicator that does the same thing of letting you know the condition. White = Normal, Reddish = Good (Or something like that, and Flashing Colors = Excellent. But like I said, you don’t even need to watch the crystal color so I’m not really sure why it is there.

As you level up you gain new abilities to help you craft. These require the crafter equivalent of mana to use and can be anything from waiting for a condition change, repairing durability, increasing your accuracy, etc. Lot’s of cool stuff to use but there also seem to be some useless things, or at least I can’t figure out their benefit. You can use some abilities cross-class just as you can with the battle classes. I believe you get your first cross-class ability at 15 and the next is at 20 or 25 and so on. Some of these are actually pretty good like the one you get from leatherworking. It cuts durability loss by 50% for the next 4 turns and is cheaper to use than the durability repair option which only really gets you enough durability back for 3 moves. Some others don’t seem as great but it might be that I haven’t found a good ability combination for them.

The RNG Demon and You

The whole process is mildly addictive and getting an unexpected high quality item is a small thrill, but there is something slightly odd about the whole process. Your first ability to increase item progress has a 90% success rate and the first ability to raise quality is something like 70%. I can understand that a 30% percent failure rate is fairly high but the sheet amount of failures on some of these moves is really vexing. I mean, what are the odds that something with a 90+% chance at success fails 3/4 attempts? An isolated incident may be one thing but this seems to constantly happen to me. It’s not just with crafting either. When gathering you get a wide variety of success rates based on your level and the level of the item you are trying to acquire. Oddly enough the failure rate for things that are even as high as 95% chance to acquire is shockingly high. Just earlier today I was chopping down wood at that rate and I’d fail at least 1/4th of the time. Not only that but my 15% chance at find a high quality item RARELY ever happened. It’s just weird that something with a 5% chance of happening seems to happen quite a deal more than something with a 15% chance. Could I just have REALLY bad luck? I suppose so, yeah. I’ve never really asked anybody else about their experience so I don’t know. Still, this RNG seems to be holding a grudge and these success/fail rates seem a little off. [Read more...]