Yesterday the EQ2 Tradeskill bug bit me again, and I lost several hours leveling up tradeskillers.
Now granted, I’m prone to enjoy tradeskilling in MMOs, but only in EQ2 do I have “career tradeskillers” — characters that pretty much only exist to do tradeskills. In part, that’s because EQ2 allows pure tradeskill characters. As far as I know, you never have to suddenly go fight a dragon to advance tradeskills like in some (most?) other MMOs. Granted, you either need Adventuring characters/guildies to gather resources, or be a pretty shrewd wheeler-dealer, but the actual tradeskill character doesn’t have to go out and adventure (at least, in my experience, as in all other aspects of EQ2, I haven’t seen the endgame).
But there’s more to it than that. Sony seems to have really nailed the sweet spot in making tradeskilling interactive enough to feel like a process, but not so fiddly that it feels like a headache. And kudos to them for being flexible, because when EQ2 launched it was headache-fiddly, with sub-combines and a jillion different tradeskill materials. They heard the cries of torment of the players and streamlined it.
Also, tradeskilling here is useful, even if only for fun items. I personally am working on an Alchemist who makes Skill “Potions” for fighter archetypes, as well as various health potions, and poisons for sneaky rogue types. Since my main is a Berserker (a fighter architype) every time he levels and gets new skills, the alchemist can hook him up with decent upgrades. My other main tradeskiller is a Provisioner, who keeps the rest of my brood in good food and drink. Aside from the obvious weapon and armorcrafters, there are tradeskills that let you make fun items for your house; the imagination that EQ2 players have demonstrated in house-decorating is pretty astounding (see screenshot; that was an empty room before Angela/Seagoat started decorating it to reflect the Halasian theme of our guild), and the broker is always willing to sell your items to these home-makers if you’re not interested in that activity.
Tradeskiling doesn’t have the excitement of adventuring; it’s more a “relax and unwind” activity for the most part. After a couple of hectic days of Thanksgiving travel, it just felt good to sit at the PC, chatting with Angela, listening to Christmas carols streaming over her 24/7 Streaming Christmas Carols station, and mellowing out. It feels like maybe the same kind of process as knitting (maybe? I don’t knit but have spent many hours observing people who do)…something to occupy the ‘physical’ part of your brain while the rest of it kind of idles and rejuvenates.
Of course this only works because of the complex web of systems in EQ2. If the skill system didn’t require ‘augments’ to improve skills, or if the food and drink system didn’t exist, or particularly if the game didn’t have highly customizable housing, then there’d be no way to keep all the tradeskill careers interesting.
Later in the night, we did go adventuring. It was a topsy-turvey day, with me mentoring one of Angela’s alts for a change (I’m usually the mentor-ee). We ran around in the Ruins of Varsoon for quite a while; a zone I’d never been in beyond the first room or two. We both downed a +55% Experience Potion (a veteran player reward) so even though most of the mobs were green (with a few blues) we got good experience. Her Inquisitor made 4 levels during the evening, and my Berserker made one. A somewhat frustrating zone, though. A lot of target mobs seem to spawn very rarely, but the fighting was good fun.