Monday, June 02, 2008

What's Age of Conan doing differently in Tradeskills?

In general most MMOs spend very little time putting any innovation into their crafting systems. Almost every game I've seen lately has followed the same old template. Developers restrict the rarity of crafting patterns by locking them behind very grind intensive methods. This can include random loot tables, reputations, or high level raid encounters. Either way the idea is to make it so very few people can make items which are more useful then the average dungeon drop. Then to complete the old pattern they make it so tradeskills require lots and lots of resources to level up.

It's brilliant in that eveyone will want to have a tradeskill maxed out in case they get lucky and win or grind themselves a rare pattern. This in turns puts a huge demand into the market for raw tradeskill materials which are farmed mostly from nodes instead of mobs. Since the demand is so high for raw materials it often attracts professional farmers to the nodes instead of killing the mobs needed for questing and leveling. Also supplying raw materials for tradeskills doesn't produce the same influx of a gold into an economy like rapidly killing respawning mobs.

Age of Conan seems to be following a slightly different template for it's tradeskill design. First it seems like all item patterns are earned by doing quests which increase in difficulty. I find it hard to believe that you will get rare patterns just by following a long questline but that seems to be the case. I'm wondering if the later level quests will require rare drops from dungeons or raids which would fit more into the standard method of restricting rare patterns. It's something worth watching though. Especially, if you could quest yourself into a legendary weapon/armor smith.

Gathering in Age of Conan also uses a questline to determine what types of resource nodes you can harvest. The first quest for woodcutting I got required 20 ash branches which wasn't too bad, but the one afterwards required a rare type of ash that only drops from a node about 1 in 100 times. Thus you find yourself gathering about 120 ash to complete the first two quests. Thankfully, afterwards you just have to gather Yew which is pretty common. In general the gathering questline seem to follow a common, rare, common component pattern.

Gathering is very easy in Age of Conan since they have three zones dedicated to nothing but resource gathering and player cities. It's almost as if Funcom designed these zones on purpose to attract farmers. They're beautiful, but very empty with no aggressive mobs or non tradeskill quests to work on. There's a small chance mobs will spawn on you when click on a node but other then that its pretty safe. I'm sure this will be the place where the tradeskill grinders will hang out and it should keep them out of the leveling zones. Zones like the wildlands have plenty of resource nodes but they're constantly being emptied by players so you only ever get one or two resources from each one.

I think this is an improvement over World of Warcraft at least in gathering. Nothing more annoying then having a quest to kill elementals in WoW since they were always camped for their primals. Since primals served as the unofficial legal tender for farmers it kept all the spots where elementals spawned permanently camped. Age of Conan seems to be avoiding any similar problems by sticking mostly to nodes gathering. I even think cloth is made from cotton nodes instead of dropping off humanoid mobs. All in all I think Age of Conan is making small baby steps to a better crafting sytem but I'd rather see something more complex like what EVE Online uses.


Stropp said...

I haven't looked into the tradeskill side of things much yet. I've been busy with the different archetypes on Tortage. And with the tradeskills only starting at 40, I haven't had much motivation to give them any thought.

I did notice early on that some pirates dropped silk and cloth trade items. But come to think of it, I haven't seen that happen for a few days. It's possible Funcom changed the loot tables for this.

Killing wolves and other wild animals in the Wild Lands also landed me a few leather pelts, but I haven't been in the Wild Lands for a few days. It's possible this has changed also.

Relmstein said...

I haven't seen any silk dropping from humanoid mobs since leaving Tortage so they could have changed it in a patch or left old loot tables in by accident. Leather seems to be the only resource material that drops from mobs so far.

The gathering skills can be started at 20 but it looks like you can only do the first two quests. I just wanted to get started early since I play on a PvP server. I have a feeling PvP servers are going to have very bloody gathering zones.