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.
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.