A Tale of Two Craftings

So you all know by now that I started playing Rift because I was upset with a few major things in my “main” game, DDO. Rift has now become my main game, despite more boring gameplay mechanics overall, because it simply does things BETTER. Customer service? Check. Intuitive UI? Check. The ability to change your build/role somewhat easily to suit your current party makeup? Check.

Crafting that makes SENSE? Big. Effin. Check.

Let me tell you about Rift’s crafting system first, so you can then understand just how big of a disappointment it was for me to try to craft in DDO – what used to be my favorite game.

In Rift, you have 6 professions, and 3 gathering professions. Telarapedia has a handy reference and map. Each profession has it’s own mats which should get confusing but somehow doesn’t really. To access your recipes, you hit P then click on the icon for that profession, and it opens up a “book” with every skill you’ve learned so far. Click on the recipe then hover over the item’s icon to see what it does. If you have the mats, click craft, craft all, or put a number in the box then hit craft.

Best part? If you need to make 100 of something, you hit “craft” then go make yourself a sammich or take a stretch break or go bio. You’re not tied to the computer while your character does the repetitive and boring stuff! You get treated as a human being who might need a break from the computer sometimes.

Each profession has items that, when augmented properly, can be used as part of the gearing up process for t2 dungeons. Getting to 300 (max crafting level) is somewhat boring and can be expensive as the last 10 points are a bit annoying to get (costing 5x the mats as the prior 10 points) but it’s still pretty intuitive. It can also make me more money as I sell the items I made or the extra raw mats I gathered. At the same time it’s not a big deal. I can choose to participate or not. And it’s not too horrible to buy something crafted by someone else – usually just mats + tip. If you can provide your own mats and augments you can have anything made for you. You can look over someone’s skillbook and advertise your own book in the trade channel by hitting P then open the channel and shift-clicking your crafting ability.

Result: I find leveling crafting in Rift is a nice, low-key, relaxing way to end the day after gathering mats out in the world while I was questing. Plus I can set the character to a task then go brush my teeth. Win.

Now on to DDO and why I almost completely quit a game I loved over the new crafting system. Yeah…

First off, DDO has several different TYPES of crafting. There’s Greensteel, there’s TOD Rings, there’s Epic, there’s … ok I’m tired of listing it all here’s the wiki. http://ddowiki.com/page/Crafting

Wit the recent introduction of “beta” Cannith Crafting, we were encouraged to believe that anyone would be able to access it and make things for their own characters, and unbound crafting would eventually appear. So you could pick one character to level in crafting and basically make anything you would need that’s capable of being made.

There are some serious problems with the system.

One, it’s incredibly non-intuitive. You deconstruct items to get essences, then craft shards of whatever from those essences (and sometimes other mats for no visible reason at all), then deconstruct other things to “blank” items, then add shards to blank items. Certain shards only go on certain items, with no visible rhyme or reason. You have to look through the machine and check if what you want to make is even possible to make on that slot. People have made lists of what can go where, but some of that isn’t even accurate – for example you can put Sacred on any Armor (Light, Med, Heavy) but not on a Robe (which is the same slot). So it’s incredibly difficult to even plan out what you’d want to make.

DDO Marketplace Shield

Uber shield is... uber?

I wanted to make a twilight mithral heavy shield of resistance+5 for my Bard. This would give 0% spell failure and the DR of a heavy shield (still not that great but better than a light shield obviously), plus 5 to all saves. Neat huh? Well, as far as I can figure out you can’t make twilight shards. Even though you can randomly have armor drop that is twilight and mithral and some third ability you probably don’t need, you can’t craft it. Why? No reason just not in there. And if it was in there, maybe it wouldn’t be able to be placed on a shield, again for no visible reason.

Then, while you’re at the machine, you can’t just tell it to deconstruct 100 things then go grab a cup of coffee while it does the work. No… you have to sit there and click it like a rat clicking a lever for cheese. But there’s no cheese, just cheesy unsatisfying sound effects. SAD LEI!

So crafting in DDO treats you like a lab rat not like a human being who’s time may actually be valuable outside of the game.

Then, to add insult to injury, they proposed AND PLACED ON THE BETA SERVER a system that used RARE RAIDLOOT as crafting components. *headdesk*

So, boring, labratlike mechanics, completely unintuitive recipes, attempting to plan your gear is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together with MISSING PIECES and then this. Encouraging players to never put raidloot up for roll ever again. To never help out a new player with gear. To never allow a more casual player a chance at becoming geared enough to play in elite raids or hard epics unless they roll 100 every time they raid and get the exact item they need for their gear.

The proposed raidloot components included things that already only have a 1% chance to drop at all ever.

…Does anyone there HAVE A BRAIN?

Seriously. DID ANYONE BRAIN ON THOSE CHANGES?

WTF.

I’m not even going to say “think” because it doesn’t take thinking to realize HOW AWFUL THAT IDEA WAS.

.

Here’s what I think crafting needs to be:

  1. Accessible to newer players who don’t have 40 large devil scales (rare item) sitting in the bank after 4 years of heavy raiding.
  2. Preparation for raiding that’s cheaper and easier than raiding, and allows newer players to “catch up” to a base level of effectiveness where if they’re smart they can be accepted into powergamer pugs and not do horribly JUST because of their gear being shit. Give people a chance to prove themselves THEN earn the rest, without it being handed to them. Crafting does take at least some effort.
  3. Not that attractive to powergamers and to those who already have epic this and that and even epic garbage pieces just for fun because they can because they have everything.
  4. Allows visual customization of your character using crafted pieces to enhance roleplay or character development. You like yellow? Wear yellow, crafted to be effective in that slot. You love purple like me? Wear purple. Of course, DDO also doesn’t have a wardrobe slot either, so once you get your epic armor you can’t have individuality anymore. Oh well… 😦
  5. If the mechanics are boring, hide the mechanics or give the players a break by letting them walk away from the screen. This is a game not a job!

What crafting needs to NEVER be:

  1. A thinly disguised plat sink. Seriously, plat is already almost useless in DDO (despite how difficult it is for a new or casual player to reach plat cap) and making large devil scales even MORE valuable doesn’t fix that. Making crafting a plat sink makes EVERYTHING inaccessible to new players or casual raiders. Rich get richer, poor get poorer or have to go get sugar daddied by a guild handing them everything just so they can do the same quests as their guild without sucking horribly. Do you play a game to get handed everything?

Also, I pretty much gave up on playing DDO because after a year and a half I have two capped characters and a whopping total of two large devil scales. I can’t do epics on those characters because they need greensteel HP items first. They also need greensteel SP items. AFTER A YEAR AND A HALF I have exactly 1/10 of the resources needed to get them BASELINE EFFECTIVE for quests where they would get the resources to get the resources. Sure that’s some horrible bad luck.

But still, a year and a half and not one of my capped characters has a single greensteel item or the complete set of raidloot for their character.I’m quitting the game because I have bad luck and can’t make my characters effective without a sugar daddy. It sucks to suck because you can’t get the gear. THERE’S ENOUGH OF THAT CRAP IN REAL LIFE I don’t need that in a game. Srsly.

Because I don’t have, I won’t have. I can’t run Epic Dragon to get red scales to trade for devil scales, because I need devil scales first, because 16 starting constitution isn’t enough on a Bard without evasion and GEAR. With my badluck droprate I’m looking at running shroud for another 570 times, meanwhile I do have other characters that need gear also! As a casual raider, that’s gonna take YEARS. I’d rather give up now and go play Rift, where I made something useful for myself and others after playing for 2 months and capping a single character in two professions. I can look forward to becoming more and more effective, and going on to t3, and putting my crafted t2-worthy gear in my wardrobe slot.

I mean…

WTF Turbine?

So yeah, I logged off the game I loved for almost 2 years to play something I’ve only played for 3 months because it allows me to be effective. Sure, I could be better still, but I can be part of a group and not be ashamed because of my gear or my dps. I don’t have to have a sugar daddy in Rift to just get by. (Although I don’t have my level 50 mount yet grrr.) If my build sucks, I can fix it with ingame gold. If my gear sucks, I can get the mats and craft something or have something crafted. It’s not insane luck to just be able to pull the min dps necessary to be a useful part of your team and to have opportunities to get better gear to allow you to be a better part of your team!

I don’t play DDO anymore. I log on to pike my Bard through a quest when guildies happen to need a Bard (happens less now another guildie rolled up a Warchanter so they don’t need a gimpy Spellsinger around) and hope to get a drop that I can sell to get the resources to get the gear so I can have fun. Week after week, I logged on to disappointment, to not having fun, to getting only worthless drops I couldn’t even sell. So I don’t log on anymore. Simple as that.

DDO would be wise to learn from Rift in this:

  1. Easy to use system. Mats are labeled as mats, no confusion about what can be crafted or what goes where or what does what. Augments state what they add to a recipe.
  2. Recipes are clear and useful to prepare your character for more difficult tasks as a baseline piece of gear, and get better with better augments.
  3. You can walk away during the boring parts. Imagine if you hit “compile” on a programming task and had to continuously hit “ok” every 4 seconds for the next 6 hours or it wouldn’t compile? Yeah… nobody would be a programmer.
  4. Leveling isn’t next to impossible without a ton of money. You can just do it as you level through questing in the world and actually make money from it by selling the results at vendor or AH.
  5. The leveling path is intuitive. Mats obtainable at a certain level of harvesting are used for a similar level of crafting.
  6. Enjoyable and meditative sound effects make it relaxing and fun.
  7. You can pick up rare recipes through running dungeons and special world events that make your character more effective as a crafter. But you can still make the basics to help people have better gear just by putting the work in on your craft.

For more info on Rift’s crafting system check out RiftCraft, including some useful leveling guides.

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