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June 12, 2007
The Recipe for Success A Review of Crafting in Vanguard
 

By G. Lance Brazell AKA -Avalon-

There are three spheres of activity in Vanguard, four according to some, which are adventuring, diplomacy, and crafting, harvesting being the fourth depending on your outlook. Each of them needing improvement in different ways, or perhaps just in need of some good changes. The one that seems to need the most attention is crafting.

Base Materials

To begin crafting, the player is required to perform certain "learning steps" which, in some instances, requires the player to journey around for a good bit of time to gain the faction necessary to learn recipes from the crafters of the land they are in. After that, they begin on the first steps of making basic items and learning the actual art of how to craft.

When finished, the crafter is able to craft a bit more before being required to learn a specialty. This specialty requires the player to yet again wander about perfecting a specific item to give to the quest giver and obtain their working title. As the crafter journeys upwards through levels making all sorts of random items, they are periodically required to do more insanely difficult quests to get their next tier of ability.

To gain the in between levels, the crafter has the choice of either making specialty items for other players which requires rare items and is very hard to do, or take work order quests from NPCs. The work orders usually require one, three, or five of some item to be made successfully. This is fine as long as the crafter really is successful all of the time. If any of the items are failed it is a completely botched order and the crafter must start over from scratch entirely. This means that if the player gets an order for five swords, completes four of them, then fails on the fifth, they must start over with zero swords after taking the work order again from the NPC. The reason is that if you abandon an incomplete work order, it destroys all of the associated items, being in this case the swords.

With each gained tier, the crafter gains more points to use to complete the processes, but also more steps are included in the process that each require more points to be spent, basically equaling out the amount gained versus lost. Crafting is a pretty difficult task in this respect as a few unwise decisions could ruin the process and make it have to be performed again.

Also, as the recipes become tougher, the more steps there are, the longer the recipe is, which means that some recipes have altogether over one-hundred fifty clicks involved just to make one item.

Tools of the Trade

To perform crafting, a new set of gear is required, complete with specific tools associated with that job: hammers, chisels, needles, thread, etc. As the starting amount of tools allowed at any table is three, the player must choose wisely which tools they bring. Along with the major tools the crafter must also have the secondary materials required to fuel the process. Some of these materials are water, oil, coal, bandages, and the like.

Every time, whether the process is successful or failed, the secondary materials are used up and more must be used on the next attempt. This is only the beginning of a very difficult task if added to the above mentioned difficulties. Some materials have to be gained through harvesting. These include metals, gems, fibers, and lumber, among others.

Once a certain level has been gained, the crafter must also adventure to gain new recipes, sometimes from actually hunting and killing enemies. This blows away the entire theory of what makes a sphere a sphere. The definition of sphere in Vanguard has always been a section of the game that is completely, or almost completely, independent of any other sphere. Now crafting requires adventuring to truly master it, and harvesting to gain the materials to craft with.

Houston, We Have a Problem

As if all of that was not enough, during the process of crafting bad things can happen. These are called complications. Complications arise from a random variable being rolled up and compared to a strange combination of an assortment of skills. This seems fairly fair to begin with, but consider what I have already written. These things make the process near impossible unless the player is bound and determined to succeed where so many other have failed. Crafting, currently, is akin to tackling a raid by yourself sometimes.

These complications require the player to either spend extra points to get rid of it, or time to go by and it will leave on its own. If left to go away on its own though, it will drop the quality of the item, cause the player to spend more points per step, or reduce the gains from each step.

The complications board can hold up to three complications before the process is automatically ruined and must be attempted again. Surprisingly enough, it is very easy to get three complications, and they manage to stack just so nicely and cause the recipe to go astray horribly even if it is a recipe that is considered to be trivial! Although on the trivial recipes it doesn't happen very often, it still can happen which leads to a very irritating occurrence since adventurers never seem to die to things that are trivial to them.

When Finished, Add Glue

The final annoyance is that when the recipe is finished and the player has successfully crafted their masterpiece, it can only be worn one time! The developers in their infinite wisdom have seen fit to make a new term, "Bind on Equip" and applied it to every crafted item in the game.

So now, a player goes out, spends hours harvesting to get the rare materials enough to make the item, mails it to a crafter (because who would be crazy enough to try this insane process themselves?), pays a decent fortune to that crafter, and receives (if the crafter was successful) an item that once they put on, they can only sell to an NPC vendor! NPC vendors, by the way, pay a very minimal amount for any item sold to them, as opposed to putting an item on a broker to sell to another player for a nice return on what the original player paid. Bind on Equip guarantees that once the item is worn by one person, it cannot be sold to any other player.

Repairing the Problems

To fix this horribly bungled process, a few repairs need to be made, and then we would have a ton more crafters on each server. As it is important to keep the materials being used, that should not be changed in any case. The number of steps could be reduced, but why? The difficulty there is fine. Complications, on the other hand, do need modification. They do not need to be removed, just reduced dramatically. Work orders also need changed. They need to be fixed so that it is much easier to perform and more realistic. The idea of needing to destroy a few perfectly good items, only to create them again is absurd. If complications and work orders were fixed, the crafting sphere would be much more enjoyable for the majority of players, instead of being only for the select few who will put up with the insanity and tedium of repetitiously banging their heads against a spiked brick wall.

 
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