Thursday, February 8, 2018

Everything But The Kill : EQ2

As Telwyn posted yesterday, the signature crafting questline that wasn't ready for prime time when the Planes of Prophecy expansion launched last year is coming to EQ2 next week as the center-piece of GU105. With Domino long gone back to Canada and Daybreak evidently operating on reduced resources all round, I wouldn't presume to comment on the overlap between what you might argue would once have been discrete expansion and live content. I'm just glad we're getting a full tradeskill questline at all.

The quest is currently available on Test, where the invaluable and astonishingly dedicated Naimi Denmother of EQ2Traders is among the selfless players slogging through buggy, undocumented content so the rest of us can whine and complain when we coast along on their coat-tails in a week or two. That she's doing so while quite seriously unwell says volumes. Thanks, Mom!

I read her first post on the work in progress with some fascination. What she says is revealing; what I read between the lines even more so.

It's likely that when most people think of crafting they imagine a rather staid, static activity with characters standing at crafting stations performing the same rote actions over and over. Indeed, in many MMORPGs, crafting consists of little more than making sure you have all the correct materials then pressing a single key and watching a progress bar fill.

Tradeskilling in EQ2 has always required a very great deal more interaction and attention than that but under Domino's influence questing for crafters became indistinguishable from questing for adventurers. Perhaps the only difference was that crafters weren't required to fight anything.

The passing of the mantle from a tradeskill specialist to the shoulders of developers more used to making content for adventurers has narrowed the gap yet further. You still don't need to equip a weapon but you can forget any ideas you had about relaxing with something light and fluffy.

You have no idea what you're in for, do you?

Reading Naimi Denmother's detailed first quest walkthrough just about brought me out in a cold sweat. Fortunately, I know from long experience that most EQ2 quests look more daunting on paper than they turn out to be in game. Even so...

A timed instance that boots you if you fail to complete your tasks in time. Epic mobs that have to be avoided or stunned with crafted bombs - and lots of them. Multiple stages. Puzzles. And as for the crafting itself, many combines that take a skilled crafter using a progress potion over two minutes each to finish...

That is not for the faint-hearted. And it's only the opening quest in a run of five. What have they saved for the finale? I'd say I'm looking forward to finding out but I'm not sure I want to know!

So much for the content. There's also the timescale involved in bringing it to us. Naimi says that devs Gninja, Caith and the rest are "swamped" and that "It is beyond insane right now and we have such a tiny window of time to test this in that it is already stressful." It would seem that DBG's diminished resources are stretched almost to breaking point trying to get this done in time to include it in the Update.

All of which makes it even more impressive that they're doing it anyway. Yes, there will be bitter complaints when everything doesn't work perfectly. Yes, there have been moans for months that the questline should have been in the expansion in the first place. But it was ever thus.

In the entire time I've played EQ2, which is as long as there's been an EQ2, nothing the devs have done has ever been good enough for some people and too often those people have the loudest voices. Back when they had Sony's money to throw around and the dev team was who knows how many sizes larger, the forums still rang with complaints - too late, too little, too buggy.

We'll have none of this kind of behavior, thank you!

What's more, much of the ire will spill over to the volunteers on Test, who are clearly all just lazy moochers only there for the easy ride and the accelerated xp. People who would never spare a moment of their own exceptionally valuable time to test anything at all seem to have no trouble finding hours to spend on the forums blasting those who did. Even the few who pop in for just long enough to find out it requires some effort before logging out in a huff are more interested in telling DBG how they could organize their testing better than, y'know, doing some testing.

Not that I'm selfless enough these days to test much myself but at least I'm not about to slap the hand that's trying to help make my life easier. Especially when someone who's working the hardest to make my live experience as good as it could be is doing it while she's "sick, stressed, sleep-impaired, and upset."

I promise right here and right now not to complain about the implementation of the PoP Signature Crafting Questline; not to moan if it's buggy or whine that it should have been here months ago. I do reserve the right to critique its content and approach, to say what I do and don't like about it and to make suggestions about how it could be improved.

I'm not giving DBG a pass on the quality, style or appropriateness of the content they produce but I am cutting them some slack on when and how it makes it into the game because I am just happy they're still in there pitching. And honestly, I feel they're doing a fantastic job. When there were more of them with more money it wasn't always any better than this. Sometimes it was a lot worse.

And as for Niami Denmother - look after yourself! We don't have Domino any more - we can hardly afford to lose you too! If I see you online I'll be sure not to say hi!


  1. Niami gave me bags when she learned I was moving to Test. So helpful for a noobie! She also has free furniture in a couple housing zones for people who want access. I already received free bags so didn't want to be greedy with that other option.

    I have only had one experience with Crafting in EQ2 and it was from a quest I had picked up in Lavastorm - which I of course failed miserably. The whole interface and issues that popped up trying to make a widget* made me realize this wasn't a grab all items, click button, and win type of crafting. I gave up and quit the quest but suspect at some point I'll try crafting proper at level one. Definitey different and interesting! Is there a better/worse starting profession (if you have none, and no max characters?)

    1. If you're playing solo the usual pick is whatever makes your class's spells or combat arts. Especially important on Test, where, unless things have changed since I was there, there's no guarantee you can just pick up what you need off the broker. By and large you're going to get all the armor and weapon upgrades you need by way of quests, something that becomes more and more the case they higher level you are, but there are very few quests at any level that give Spells/CAs.

      If you're into housing, of course, then Carpenter is the obvious choice. Provisioner also has universal utility and used to be the easiest to level although that advantage disappeared long ago. It still has fewer recipes and recipe books if you consider that an advantage.

      Crafting in EQ2 is ferociously deep though. Picking a main tradeskill really is the least of it. If you do decide to jump down the rabbit hole I very much recommend doing the crafting quest lines right from the start. The ones that start in New Halas, then the ones in Butcherblock. Pretty much goes to the end of the game from there.

      Also the gathering questlines starting in Mara, the Mesage in a Bottle questline, the craft raids, Tradeskill Apprentices in Velious and Skyfire... so much non-combat content.

    2. -- What Bhagpuss says, definitely.

      - 7rlsy
      Antonia Bayle and,


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