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.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Used To Be A Werewolf...

I was out mining in Iron Pines Peak this morning while chatting to my mother on the phone. Deep in amongst the trees I saw something rise up out of the snow. A ginger werewolf. No, not that one.

I can't say I've seen a ginger werewolf in Iron Pines before so I followed him. He ran around being werewolfy until he got tired. Then he lay down among some trees up by Whitefall. My miner is only level 35 so I swapped to a bigger boy and came over, hardly expecting the werewolf still to be there, but there he was, fast asleep.

He must be one heavy sleeper because he didn't wake up once as I set him on fire and blasted him with acorns, or whatever it is that those life spells do. He just lay there and died.

Good boy! Now roll over!

The werewolf's name is Razormane and he's one of Telara's many "named" creatures. I love nameds in MMOs and I was very happy indeed when I ran across my first early in Beta.There seem to be three basic kinds of named creature in Rift. The best known are the ones that have quests attached. Often if you kill one of those without having the quest already they'll thoughtfully drop some body-part that gives it to you. Then there's the least-known type, which are mostly just bigger versions of the local wildlife. You can usually spot them because they're called something slightly different to the rest of their herd or pack and they're physically larger. These always drop a green item, but only a generic one.

And finally there are "Blue Diamond" nameds like old Razormane here. They're very easy to spot. They have a big, blue diamond over their portrait and they have an actual name all their own.

Put a target on my back too, why don't you?
They are significantly tougher than regular mobs their level, but still reasonably easy to solo. Especially when they sleep through a firestorm, although I think that just might have been a bug...
They also have unique drops.

Hey! Which of you clowns straightened out my scimitar?
 Mostly these are green quality and aren't something you'd be all that likely to use. Sometimes, though, they look cool enough to go in your Wardrobe slot. (When are we going to get wardrobe slots for weapons and off-hand items, eh? Eh??)


I think these nameds are a good start but they could do with more work. I'm not sure if they can drop blue quality items as rare drops, but if not then they certainly should. They could be promoted and featured a bit more, too. I'm not sure how many people even know they exist. They could even be worked into crafting. I could have made a gorgeous leather tunic out of that pelt!

Monday, August 8, 2011

On a Rope

On a rope. Got me hanging on a rope . No, not that one. Not this one either, although now we're getting warmer.

I fell through one of these once
I thought I was slipping free of Rift's grip. The second world event went on a little too long, my third character had reached level 50, I'd done much of what I'd had on my to-do list. For the first time since March I'd begun sloping off to play elsewhere. A little EQ2, some Eden Eternal, a few hours of FFXIV, a whole weekend of Ryzom. I was beginning to get comfortably settled into the old routine of a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Then, completely out of the blue, Trion dropped patch 1.4. I mean, I knew it was in the works. I'd read the test server patch notes (took me over half an hour). I'd even moaned about some of the changes here. But I wasn't expecting it to go Live for ages. I also wasn't expecting it to be so...compelling.

Since 1.4 landed I've played hardly anything but Rift. Again. I've spent nearly half the platinum I had saved up, and used a ton of rare mats, working on the new high-level crafting. I got server discoveries both for buying the recipe and making my new Shady Netherforged Slicer. Despite being a dual-wielder I only have the one. Can't afford to make another.

Not so much a weapon, more a fine example of Victorian street furniture   

It's not just crafting that's had a huge poke from the latest patch. I spent most of the weekend PvPing. Not just in Warfronts, either. The revamp of Whitefall Steps is poor, but it does seem to have brought in the crowds. As do the PvP rifts, which are very silly. There's been a huge increase in interest in PvP on my RP-PvE server, which makes me wonder just how popular PvP could be in Rift if Trion could actually work out how to do it well.

The PvP rifts are very easy to start, to join and to complete. The rewards make doing them worthwhile. The rather obvious flaw seems to be that Defiants and Guardians each open their own rifts, which they can complete without any recourse to PvP whatsoever. Consequently there's something of an "after you Claude, after you Cecil" vibe going on, with Defiants and Guardians taking it in turn to open their rifts while studiously avoiding each other. I think it will have to be tweaked.

The whole PvP gear system got a revamp, making PvP gear a lot more attractive than it used to be. I picked one character to be my PvP focus and she's a third of the way through Rank 2 now, benefiting heavily from the temporary boost in Prestige and Favor gain. I fitted her out with pretty much a full set of PvP gear. We could really do with separate PvE/PvP gear tabs now the two sides of the game are supposedly going to be developed separately. Bag space is already at a premium without having to lug two sets of gear around.

Crafting and PvP weren't the only parts of the game that got a huge shot in the arm from 1.4. But they're all I have time for right now. The new mounts, epic solo quests, world events and so on will have to wait for another day. As will all those other great MMOs I thought I was going to be getting back to at last. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Stuff Weighs A Ton


No, not the Dave Graney number , that'd be another post entirely. I mean the vast stores of pointless clutter that all my characters acquire, and the psychological responsibility it entails.

Most MMOs dropped the concept of weight on items long ago, but the weight of responsibility for what you own just goes on growing. EQ2X was having a double xp event this weekend and I planned to log in and get straight on with killing or crafting to take full advantage. Fat chance.

This is AFTER I sorted them

I spent the first hour sorting through my bags and working out what I could sell just to make enough space to pick up a few flying body parts and loot any chests that might drop. That was before I realized it was also Tinkerfest. I've done Tinkerfest every year since it started and it's probably my favorite Norrathian holiday. This year some bright spark (Domino I expect) decided to add a tinkered backpack that displays.

So instead of killing stuff I find myself first sorting bags and then running to and fro between all the gnome enclaves of Norrath. That's really beneath a ratonga's dignity, if such a thing is possible. To add injury to insult, there's a part of the quest where a whole lot of heroic clockworks can be violently dismantled if you choose not to sneak past them, but they give no experience when you smash them up!

Eventually I had my backpack, and a fine piece of gnomish engineering it is, too. Strapping a gnomish contraption to your bag is a lot like chaining yourself to an unexploded bomb, but hey, style over safety every time. It's the ratonga way.

 That was when the Silver restrictions on my EQ2X account came into play. Part of the reason I played on EQ2X was for the restrictions. I have a gold account as well, but mostly I play my Silver one. Silver offers a fairly limited number of storage slots, although the size of the containers you can put in them is very generous. There are the four slots for the bags you carry around, as above. Then there are three bank slots per character and two shared bank slots.

A place for everything...
 There's the storage in your house, which has now expanded to a universal 6 slots since the addition of multiple housing. (No picture. I'm blowed if I'm going to run all the way to Maj Dul to take a screenshot of some holes in the wall). And you can even stick a few bags in the broker slots, although you can't actually put anything in them.

I keep them because I keep them, alright?
Oh, and let's not forget the guild bank, which Silver guild-members get full use of.

Space and tidiness courtesy of the rest of the guild

I'd have been able to swap out my old full bacpack for the lovely new tinkered one by using all that guild bank space, but the two extra storage slots I found in my Maj Dul house saved me the trouble. And here's the finished result

Time well spent!
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