Monday, December 8, 2014

Level 100 - The Easy Way : EQ2

What a difference a patch makes. Just a short while ago the crafting channels and forums were buzzing with discontent and frustration. Tradeskillers appeared to have lost out to adventurers yet again in the leveling stakes. The crafting questline for the new expansion topped out with the best part of three levels left to go and other than a single daily giving around 8% of a level the only option appeared to be to grind writs and plenty of them.

Adding injury to insult the xp return from writs was dismal. Feldon at EQ2Wire calculated it would take around 180 timed "Rush Order" writs to do the full five levels, reduced to 130 if you first completed the quest sequences. Breaking the numbers down he observed "Each tradeskill writ from level 95-97 awards ~3% XP. This is with vitality and an XP potion. The number drops to ~2.4% for levels 98-100. These numbers have traditionally been 5-7% per writ!"

Players of most MMOs often express the opinion that no-one is listening to their concerns. The more cynical members of the community sometimes suggest that no, they are listening, they just want us to have a hard time. It's true that issues can often be left to fester for months, even years, before anything gets done. It's also true that the solution, when it comes, isn't always the one people asked for, or were expecting, or wanted.

This time no-one had to wait for long and the fix that went in with last week's update did, beyond any doubt, address the perceived problem directly and effectively. So, everyone's happy, right? Well, not exactly. There are a few naysayers:

"So, I just tested out today's change to tradeskill exp. I am now getting a FULL LEVEL of experience doing ONE writ at level 74! This is absurd!"

"SOE, you have made a big error here"

Those quotes are taken from the nine-page thread on the forums. I don't claim to have read it all but from a quick flip-through a more common reaction goes like this:

"THANK YOU for the change to writ xp! Awesome!! Now going to level all my crafters!"

"The change is appreciated."

"Thank-you very much for listening to crafters and increasing the xp for quests and writs. I think it is a good balance, I have to work to get to 100, but not feel like this is an endless grind. I read both of these threads, and it seems you can't satisfy everyone, but I for one am very happy. Thanks again!"

I was largely unaware this was going on. I'd read the patch notes, which say only that "Altar of Malice missions, repeatable quests and all Tradeskill Writs will now multiply experience rewards based on your experience modifiers such as veteran bonus, vitality, or potions. I hadn't even considered the potential effects on lower level crafting. I took the changes to be relevant to the expansion levels only. A close re-reading does make it clear that's not the case but who gives update notes close textural analysis?

I might have noticed, had I chosen, as I occasionally do, to knock out one of the Loyalty dailies with my Sage, currently somewhere in the 60s or 70s. As it happened I didn't. The only post-patch crafting I'd done was the Tranquil Sea daily, where I had noticed a very welcome increase: xp on the hand-in jumped from about 8% to over 20%. Nice.

That was clearly going to cut my time-to-cap from just doing dailies considerably. Indeed, it whisked me along so briskly that by today my weaponsmith was already a quarter of the way into level 99. I had a free afternoon so I thought why not make that up to a round 100?

After doing the daily (pickles again - what is it with pickles?) he had less than half a level to go. Back in Freeport he grabbed a Level 99 Rush Order. He even remembered to buy all the new "Essential" recipe books before setting the timer off, for once. Those are the basic ones the craft guild NPCs sell. The "Advanced" ones with the rare recipes are all dropped or come as quest rewards.

The rush order allowed about eight minutes to finish but it took well under half that, even allowing for running out of Effulgent Coal half way through and having to go to the vendor. The xp was very reasonable at over 5% with vitality (no potion). At that rate it would take less than 45 minutes to hit the cap.

On the down side, however, it would use up a lot of mats that I'd really rather hang on to for something more useful. And I really don't enjoy doing writs. So I abandoned that idea. I did the Adorning daily since the guy that gives it was standing next right there with a feather over his head. That was mostly for skill-ups but it did give a couple of percent. Then I thought I'd see if there was anything going on in Mara, which used to be craft central back in the day.

All the old favorites there were greyed out at my advanced level but stap me if I didn't run into Captain Ethan, who'd written me some letter I'd completely ignored. He starts the crafting questline for the last expansion I think. He sent me on a lengthy trip, first to The Feerrott, then to Stonebrunt Highlands, then Loping Plains and finally all the way to The Ethernere.

That took about as long as it would have taken to do most of the Rush Orders I was avoiding but it was about 10,000 times more entertaining. Unfortunately even a single writ would have given more xp. So I abandoned the idea of racing to 100 and decided to leave it to the dailies. It was only going to take a couple more after all. What's the hurry?

Going back to adventuring, which was lagging behind crafting by a little over a level, my ratonga changed his trade clothes and rolling pin for plate armor (another detail he's been known to overlook occasionally with fatal consequences) and headed over to Highhold Keep on Kithicor Island in the Phantom Sea. After a few tussles with one-legged undead orcs and skeletal gnolls he was doing his hand-in when he spotted a green glowing feather over someone's head way off in a corner.

There's a whole arcane language of feather-colors in EQ2 that I don't pretend to have kept up with over the years but that one looked identical to the one that hangs over Skritt the Crafting Daily ratonga. A quick flit across the lawn, another change of clothes, ten barricades quick-welded at the forge and a hand in later and boom! 100 Weaponsmith.

I was totally not expecting it and the deafening DING! and dazzling lightshow took me so much by surprise I barely managed to snap the screenshot above before the message and the glow faded away. That would normally be that because, much though I enjoy a little crafting now and again in EQ2, the prospect of taking another character all the way up to the top fills me with something quite like horror. Only now there does appear to be a window of opportunity...

I think I'll get my Sage working for an hour or two tonight. Just in case. Apparently there may already be a nerf correction on the Test server. It's not so much that I want to go faster for going faster's sake - its more I'd do just about anything to avoid doing writs ever again.


  1. Good morning, I just wanted to say thanks for the EQ2 posts. As it is an older game, not many people write about it anymore. This is my go to game after I get bored with whatever new game I have tried. I took a break for the last two expansions and I have started playing again about a month ago. Currently working my way through the CoE zones. Probably jump into the new expansion once I hit 95. I like these posts since you are ahead of where I am in the game. Shows me what to look forward to. Keep them coming!

    1. Thanks! EQ2 isn't my main MMO right now but its one I always have on the backburner so there should be a steady drip of posts that feature it in some way or other. It's the expansion that brought me back to play regularly though. It's the best one for quite a while.

      There are a few other bloggers on my blog roll who play and post on EQ2 now and then - GamingSF, MMOQuests, ETCMMO for example. Wilhelm of The Ancient Gaming Noob is musing over maybe, sometime playing again and if he does I'm sure we'll be reading about it.

      I must have a scout round and see if there are any EQ2-focused blogs I've missed.

    2. Thanks for the recommendations. I read Wilhelm's blog already but I will check out the other ones you mentioned.


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