Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Harvest For The World

Yesterday's post highlighted just how vague and inaccurate memories can be. I've mentioned numerous times over the years how the way memory works - or, rather, doesn't - fascinates me. I've read a fair bit on the topic. The more I learn, the lower my confidence in anything I or anyone else claims to remember.

I treat most memories as little more than fiction these days unless they come scaffolded by contemporary evidence. Often not even then, since accounts recorded within hours of an event have been shown to bear little ressemblance to objective reality, more often than not.

It's one thing to be taken by surprise. You might imagine repetitive processes, carried out thousands of times over hundreds of hours, might leave more of a groove in the mind. I would. Then again, maybe not. The brain tunes out anything it considers meaningless noise, after all. Why would it lay down records of such trivial, unimportant behavior?

These are some of the thoughts that went through my mind this morning, when I read Telwyn's post on gathering. I wondered whether my memories of doing that in the same games I mentioned yesterday would be any more accurate. After all, I really enjoy gathering in almost all MMORPGs. I'd put it very high on any list of things I like about the genre and I spend an inordinate amount of time doing it. I ought to be able to remember something about it, shouldn't I?

We're about to find out. Let's see if anything's made a lasting impression.

WoW Classic -
  • Should be on safe ground here. I spent a lot of time gathering in Classic just a few months ago. My memories feel fresh. 
  • Gathering comes in the form of several skills. There's a limit, shared with crafting, on how many gathering skills each character can have.
  • You can see nodes on the mini-map provided you have a particular level of skill.
  • Nodes are relatively rare and often not in safe places. 
  • Gathering is competitive. 
  • Distribution follows a semi-logical pattern. 
  • There are few pulls per node.
  • Respawn time is substantial. 
  • I believe certain nodes, specifically herbs, have some other nuances but I can't remember what they are. 
  • For some whole classes of materials, e.g. cloth, "gathering" takes the form of combat. I spent a great deal of time killing mobs for various types of silk last year. 
  • A lot of rare or special materials can be gathered from mobs.
  • When I say "gathered from" I mean "looted from their dead and broken bodies".
  • For some materials (skins come to mind) mobs are the only source and you also require the relevant gathering skill.

World of Warcraft -
  • My gut feeling is that gathering in WoW Retail hasn't changed all that much. When I played during Wrath of the Lich King it was about the same as Classic is now. When I've been on the sub-20 endless free trial I haven't noticed any significant changes. What it's like at endgame levels, though, I have no clue.
EverQuest -
  • Hmm. This is a poser. Let me think. Does EQ even have gathering? 
  • Whether it does or not it sure has crafting materials. There are so many mats it quickly becomes overwhelming.
  • I remember, right back at the beginning, there were a few what we used to call "ground spawns". Iron oxide, russet oxide, some sort of mushrooms...
  • The vast majority of crafting materials were dropped by mobs, when you killed them. Our guild used to form up specifically to kill clockworks in Plane of Innovation so our resident Tinker could get mats. Does that really count as "gathering"?
  • Given the way my Magician's bags fill up with crafting mats every time she goes on a killing spree, I imagine drops are still the main source of mats.
  • She has special, huge bags that only take craft mats. They auto-fill with mats she loots, so there's some element of gathering gear involved. 
  • And that's about all I can remember. Not much for twenty years, is it?

EverQuest II
  • If I don't know this one I may as well put myself into sheltered accomodation right now. I've always gathered extensively in EQII and I've been spending quite literally hours every day gathering in Blood of Luclin zones for the last three or four months. 
  • Gathering in EQII expanded under Domino's watch to become a full career path. She added multiple questlines, several of which could justifiably be called "Signature" if not "Epic". 
  • Gathering has AAs, gear, buffs, you name it. 
  • It even has companion NPCs that gather for you, something you rarely find in Western MMORPGs. 
  • Any character can gather from any node regardless of class or level. There were both level and skill restrictions for many years but they were all removed, not that long ago. 
  • The remaining restriction is that without the right level of skill you can only get commons. Rares still use the old skill floors.
  • With sufficient skill (or maybe it's an AA) you get the ability to track nodes.
  • Nodes are competitive but they're so prevalent and widespread it's almost never an issue.
  • As in WoW, different types follow an approximately logical distribution so you can usually work out where to look for what, even in an unfamiliar zone. 
  • What's actually inside a node can sometimes be less than logical, though, particularly in later zones. 
  • There are uncommon and rare pulls from most nodes.
  •  BoL introduced Shadow Nodes that can only be gathered using a special buff rewarded by the crafting Signature quest. 
  • It's entirely possible to spend whole sessions gathering in EQII and I could write several posts on it with ease.
Guild Wars 2
  • Another game in which I gather every day, if only because there's a daily for it and it's one of the easiest. 
  • Yet again, gathering nodes in GW2 follow a fairly logical distribution, although I would say slightly less consistently so than either WoW or EQII. 
  • GW2 was possibly the first major MMORPG to introduce non-competitive gathering as the norm.
  • Even if it wasn't, you definitely would think it was if you'd heard ArenaNet crowing about it.
  • It may have been why the game suffered from an appalling harvest-bot problem in the first few months. 
  • Nodes can be seen on the mini-map. No skill required. (That could be GW2's tag line).
  • Anyone can gather anything provided they have the right gathering tool. 
  • Gathering from nodes requires a range of node-specific consumables (tools) available from NPCs. A wide range of highly advantageous (and highly visually game-disrupting) non-consumable versions of these can be purchased from the Gem store for eye-watering prices.
  • You can acquire gathering nodes of all kinds to place in your "Personal Instance" (aka really crappy housing) either through gameplay or via the Gem store. 
  • I have never seen the point of this, given the extreme ease and simplicity of open-map gathering, but people seem to like it and often invite others in to gather from their personal node collection.
  • GW2 also follows WoW in having cloth drop from mobs. The reasoning behind this (in either case) escapes me. What makes cloth so different?
  •  There are other buffs and items available but I can't remember much about any of them. Crafting in GW2 ceased to be of any real interest to me sometime around 2013 and I haven't paid attention to much that's been added in the last six or seven years. 
  • In common with probably 90% of players my main interest in gathering is how much money I can sell the mats for on the Trading Post.
Rift -
  • Hmm. Does Rift have gathering? 
  • It has crafting. When this blog was new I posted about it, saying "I like the crafting in Rift. It's generally simple, straightforward and satisfying." You'd think I'd remember how I got the mats. 
  • Well, I don't.
  • I do know cloth is dropped by mobs, same as in WoW and GW2. I remember farming undead in Stillmoor for some kind of silk. I have no recollection at all of any kind of gathering or any kind of nodes, though. 
  • Nope... without looking this one up I have to admit defeat. Other than the cloth, no memories at all.
    Neverwinter -
    • Absolutely no clue. 
    • Oh, wait, there was that bit where you get some NPCs to set up some kind of sweatshop. That had something to do with crafting. I think I posted about it earlier this year. I vaguely recall having to get some mats or something so the NPCs could craft but if it involved gathering anything I've completely blanked it from my mind.
    Lord of the Rings Online
    • This one I do remember, even though I haven't gathered or crafted there in years. 
    • Nodes appear in the landscape in a way almost identical to WoW. 
    • You can see them on the mini-map. 
    • Probably need a specific level of skill, though. 
    • I remember there was more to it than that but that's all I do remember.
    Final Fantasy XIV
    • I'm fairly sure FFXIV is on a par with EQII in terms of having turned gathering into a full-blown game mode. 
    • I think there's gear and progression and all that sort of thing but I couldn't tell you any specifics. 
    • I tried it waaaaaay back in the original release and it was so mindbendingly irritating I never even looked at it when the Realm got Reborn.  
    • FFXIV has really good fishing but fishing is not gathering. Fishing is a topic all its own.
    Vanguard Emulator
    • Vanguard had the best gathering of any MMORPG I've played, bar none. It didn't count as a full game mode like Adventuring, Crafting and Diplomacy but it wasn't far behind. 
    • There was gear and progression, separate tabs in the UI, all the good stuff. 
    • Nodes had skill requirements and were both competitive and co-operative.
    • You could gather solo but if you grouped everyone could share and the pulls were bigger and better.
    • Grouping also allowed lower-skill characters to gather from nodes above their skill ceiling by sharing the skill level of their groupmates.
    • There was a quality system inherant in the nodes themselves, making rare pulls more than just rng-luck or a direct function of improved gear. I only have a vague memory of how that worked, though.
    •  Most mats could both be gathered both from nodes and also from the corpses of mobs, allowing you to choose between pure gathering or gathering via adventuring. 
    • As an adventurer, you couldn't just kill stuff and loot the mats. You still had to have the gathering gear and skills to gather from the corpse.
    • You had to think more about what you were doing while gathering in Vanguard than in any other game I've played.
    • That's probably why I liked it so much.
    • I hope the Emu manages to implement the full version. I'm sure it will.
    Riders of Icarus
    • I have literally no idea. Or memory. Maybe there isn't any. Or maybe there is but I never tried it. Or maybe there is and I did and I just can't remember. Or maybe I don't care.
    Secret World Legends -
    • I don't think either SWL or The Secret World before it has any kind of gathering. 
    • Crafting was that weird shape-making mini-game. I think that used mob drops but I wouldn't describe anything about the process as "gathering".
    • If there was more than that I remember nothing whatsoever about it.
    And there we go. It must be obvious I can remember far, far more about gathering than I could about the mechanics of casting in the same games even though in most if not all I must have spent more time casting. I'm also perpared to bet that much, if not all, of what I've said is reasonably accurate. And I'm remembering more all the time, as I write.

    I guess that's not too surprising. Gathering, while it may be repetitive, is a primary activity for the time you're doing it. Casting and moving are both just background things you do in combat.

    There's also the distinct possibility that I like gathering as much as, if not more than fighting. Or crafting, for that matter. I can't deny that in plenty of MMORPGs I gather materials for which I have no immediate use just because I find the act of gathering amusing, entertaining, soothing, relaxing or satisfying. Sometimes all of those at once.

    I'd be very interested in playing a fully-fledged triple-A MMORPG in which the core gameplay loop revolved around gathering. One in which the crafting was secondary and the combat mostly an optional extra.

    Or is that Animal Crossing?


    1. Neverwinter has special class skills that allow you to use special nodes. But you can use consumables to harvest nodes unrelated to your class

      EQ2 collections are gathering without crafting. :)

    2. Also later The Sims games have a decent amount of gathering for both collections and crafting. The game is very sandboxy (is that a real word?,) so you can spend most of your time gathering stuff or you can easily never touch gathering at all.

      1. The Sims is a game I've never played although I've read a lot of stories by people who have. I must try it some day.

        Collections in both EQII and Rift did cross my mind as I was writing. It's a very similar mechanic and it satisfies some of the same urges. I think because every "node" is one-and-done it feels more ad hoc, somehow.

      2. To me using the same node several times in a row always felt like an "artificial" way to make harvesting more time consuming.

    3. In old EQ fishing was sort of gathering. You would fish up rusty weapons which you could then sharpen to up your early metalworking skill.

      And I think with EQII that being able to find harvest nodes in places they might logically be only came in with Desert of Flames. Before that I recall nodes being randomly scattered and mixed together in certain areas. Also, ore nodes look a lot like the badger model at a distance, which was an issue for me in Antonica.

      But those are both historical footnotes as opposed to being anything useful today.

      1. Fishing in EQII is definitely gathering since it's identical to all the other gathering skills and fish are just nodes. EQ fishing at least had bait and hooks and rods and suchlike.

        I was thinking about the nodes in EQII as I wrote, too. I seem to remember a lot of random clustering in Thundering Steppes back before there were any expansions. Desert of Flames definitely had the ore nodes along rocks and cliffs and roots in the grassy places. What happened inbetween I really can't remember.

      2. I don't remember any changes to the nodes. Since you both mention it I guess it's me whose memory is at fault.

    4. The biggest change in Retail Wow is the fact gathering nodes are shared, unlike Classic. That's been nice since there's less of a rush to get to a node. Also, gathering skills have ranks so you need to not only learn the skill, but rank up to three stars for each type of material gathered.

      1. Ah that's interesting to know. I have a very vague memory of hearing about the nodes becoming shared but the gathering skills having ranks is completely new to me.

      2. You also gain XP by gathering in Retail (at least in Mists you did), but not in Classic.

    5. I think EQ2 is the most satisfying gathering gameplay of a live game that I play. Sadly, I didn't properly try the cooperative gathering in Vanguard, I'd have liked to do more of that. Wildstar had 'normal' gathering from nodes, but also the housing system had nodes that you could go back to every so often to gather - with an upkeep cost on the nodes to make it not entirely cost-free mats.


    Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide