There’s something about Friday nights that make them perfect EQ2 Crafting. I get home, tired and cranky from a long week, but feeling the relief that is a few days away from the salt mines. Crafting in EQ2 is … soothing. But it takes a good amount of time. I don’t do a lot of it on most weeknights because I always have that vague time pressure of “a few free hours, then bed and back to work”. And by Saturday I’m ready for a bit more action than crafting provides.
So yeah, Friday is for crafting.
The new Shadow Odyssey expansion adds Crafter Quests starting at level 50, so I’ve been pushing my Alchemist lately. Tonight I took him from level 43 to level 46 before his Vitality gave out (and I’m too stubborn to use a character that is out of vitality when I have so many other options). About haflway through the night I idly mentioned that he had 4 Achievement points not spent (he is also a level 28 Swashbuckler, but hasn’t unsheathed a weapon in years). Angela pointed out that there are new Shadow Achievements that relate to tradeskilling. I looked and sure enough, there’s one for harvesting and another for crafting. I put all 4 points into the latter and now my Alchemist is making an extra 8% Crafting Experience. Sweet!
So many good games to play. Really it is an embarrassment of riches.
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.
Last night I started messing around with the Apothecary skill in Warhammer Online. I had a backpack full of ingredients I’d grown, and not a clue as to what to do with them all. I just knew my packs were full of smelly herbs and slimy fungi and I had to use ’em or sell ’em.
Even for a nub like me it was easy to figure out I’d need vials, so I bought some of those. I got the cheapest ones possible because I had this vision of flinging them at monsters and I wanted them to break easily (ok ok, I just assumed low skill level = cheap ingredients).
OK vial. Check. Now I needed a main ingredient. I had half a dozen or so of those so I added one. “This potion will surely fail.” says my Home Apothecary Kit. Try another. Same result. Another. Same. Slowly it sunk in; I needed something other than a main ingredient.
Applying my keen logic skills, I thought “Well maybe I need a liquid to make a potion.” so I bought some cloudy water. Bought it. After traipsing through bogs and ponds and rivers, now I’m buying rank water from some vendor. But oh well, when in Rome, or High Elf Land, or wherever you are…
So vial. Check again. Main ingredient. Check. Cloudy water… “This potion will be volatile at best.” Well, volatile sounds good to me. I want to see fireworks, baby! So I make it and get a weak-sauce potion of something-I-now-forget. Try again using 2 cloudy waters, and now I get a slightly better potion. I’ll try 3 cloudy waters! And I get the same as when I used 2. Damn.
“Well,” I think to myself, “I have these other non-main ingredients. I probably need to add a cloudy water or two, and one of these other ingredients. Heck, how am I going to keep track of this stuff?”
And then my inner nerd woke up and shot to my frontal lobe.
I then spent the next hour carefully experimenting with ingredients and making note of all my results in a spreadsheet. While my inner nerd (which, lets face it, isn’t very “inner” on my least-nerdy days) gleefully listed ingredients, my rational self was yelling “This is a waste of time; some even bigger nerd has already compiled these lists and put them online somewhere!” But I didn’t care… using one of those lists was like reading a nerd spoiler. I wanted to figure out the logic behind this process.
All night I made maybe half a level. I did take part in a couple of RvR Scenarios with the CoWs and proved once and for all that nerds suck at RvR, but the bulk of my time was spent mixing ingredients and filling out a spreadsheet. And I had a great time doing it!!
Plus I now have potions that let me breathe fire, which is fun for effect if not all that deadly.