Friday, August 19, 2011

Masters and Apprentices

No, not them!

I like the crafting in Rift. It's generally simple, straightforward and satisfying. For an MMO that's heavily biased towards action and adventuring it largely gets the tone about right. I'm finding some of the recent fine-tuning a little puzzling, though.

Stargrace points out some of the oddities about crafting rifts. They do indeed seem to assume that all crafters are also going to be level 50 adventurers. While it's true that Rift has one of the faster leveling curves around, it still takes most people a week or two to get to 50, whereas getting to 300 skill in a craft takes a couple of hours if you have the money or the mats in the bank.

What master crafters with an adventuring level in the teens are meant to do with their crafting writ lures is one mystery. Another is what anyone is supposed to do with green quality augments. It used to be possible for crafters to fail to augment gear. If you failed, you lost the augment. The further apart in level and/or quality the item you were trying to make and the augment you were trying to add to it were, the more difficult the process became and the more likely you were to fail. This could mean losing a valuable augment, which wasn't popular.

On the other hand, augments had no skill limits on use and crafters of any level could attempt to use any augment on any gear they could make. It was difficult and expensive to create overpowered twink gear, but even the twink himself could try.

Really, just a small one for me.
Then Trion made some substantial changes. You can no longer fail to add an augment and there's no chance of losing it. So far, so good. They also added required skills to every augment. Again, not a bad idea. Only they seem to have decided that only a maxed crafter should get to use anything other than the most basic augments. Pretty much the only augments a crafter can use with a skill level below 300 are the ones that increase the generic basic stats like Strength or Endurance.

More interesting augments with things like Melee Crits or Spell Power or combinations of two stats on the same augment all require 300 skill as do all augments of a quality greater than green. And there's the nub of the problem. Once you hit 300 you can use blue and purple quality augments, so why would you want to use green ones? Below 300 skill you can't use anything BUT green augments and only the blandest ones at that. If there are exceptions to this rule I'd be happy to hear about it, but I've not seen any yet.

So who is going to use green augments? Master crafters, who are allowed to use them, would be crazy if they did. They have access to much better ones that are cheap and easy to acquire. They're hardly going to spoil the robe for a ha'porth of ermine by sticking a "small bonus" onto anything. Crafters just starting out, however, literally can't add anything but the basics to anything they make.

Like a lot of Rift's recent changes, the revisions to augments are part of a good idea, but the implications haven't entirely been thought through.

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