EQ2's live events have consistently impressed me with both their quality and their incentive design. The Bristlebane Day (named for a trickster god in the EQ pantheon) festivities are no exception. Lyriana now owns possibly the single most amusing April Fools' item in an MMO, after a quest that, appropriately, had her killing rats.
If that cloak looks like someone made it up by tacking every beneficial stat in the game onto one item using a web-based item generator, well, there's a minor catch. It can only be equipped in the cosmetic slot. The one that doesn't give stats. Well played, SOE, well played.
This is now my third cosmetic cloak, and I'm happy to swap in the latest version as each event rolls around. That said, the quests are worth doing in any case because they also award experience and alternate advancement points. Perhaps most importantly, time limited live event quests are not designed to require a massive amount of time in an extremely narrow window (unlike a certain other event).
During the time it would have taken....
One thing that struck me as odd in the proceedings was a discussion of whether one of the collection items is rare/ultrarare. Collection items are looted from sparkling spots on the ground, and the April's Fool versions are marked by especially prominent blue smoking sparkles that will be available for the rest of the week. The devs claim that all of the items in the holiday collection are random (in normal collections, one of the items is often rare and expensive), but both anecdotal accounts and market conditions seem to argue otherwise, as multiple people (myself included) have had difficulty obtaining one particular item.
Anyway, I didn't have the possibly rare item after concluding my other business in the zones that could drop it. What can a level 41 character with no rich, long-established level 80 main, do in this situation? In my case, the answer was to buy the item off the broker for 60 gold and then go harvesting. In under an hour, I obtained multiple rare harvests - I used one for a spell upgrade for myself and the rest collectively sold for well above what I paid for that last collectable.
Most likely, the person I bought the item off of would have earned much more money for their time harvesting, and I suppose I should be grateful that they never figured this out. More to the point, most of the people who are not happy with the rarity of the item should have been at least as able as the guy who's been playing the game for two months to buy their way out of the problem.
The value of self-sufficiency?
Us MMORPG players are not always that far up to par on the whole concept of opportunity cost. I'm certainly not immune - I spent a while leveling an alt as a provisioner to cook food for Lyriana, thinking that I was getting tradeskill experience on an alt AND getting products to eat for my trouble. It took until the mid-20's before I really stopped and evaluated what it would cost to buy the food I wanted from other players in the context of the amount of time I was spending attempting to cook it (along with the money for training and ingredients).
In hindsight, I'm very glad I elected to level Lyriana as a Jeweler, the profession which also makes her spell upgrades. Spell upgrades are a sufficiently specialized market that there isn't a lot of competition in the market for a specific upgrade to a specific spell (in a game with 24 classes, each of which gets 1-3 spells per level for 80 levels). I can buy the recipe book and the rare ingredient needed to make whatever spell upgrade I want for half of what the finished product costs. This is definitely worth my time and trainer costs to level the profession.
Food clearly isn't. Neither are potions. I'd considered leveling an alt as a carpenter, as they can make strongboxes - containers that go as high as 36 slots intended primarily for use in peoples' banks. Then I discovered that I can buy the 36-slot box for a mere 12 gold. Why level the crafter to level 80 when a single level 30-40 rare harvest can buy me four of the finished product? The same goes for gear to some extent - gear can get expensive, but a character who is leveling only needs to replace it every 10 levels. Perhaps rangers might actually burn enough arrows to make Woodworking worthwhile, but otherwise I'm not sure that my next crafter won't be another scholar-class, if I even decide to level another one.
This odd dichotomy where finished goods are strangely less profitable than the raw materials they were made out of is pretty universal to MMO's. I don't know how you fix this - WoW went the opposite direction with crafting in TBC, where professions existed primarily for self-only perks rather than making stuff for other people, and the results were dicey from a balance perspective (raiders became leatherworkers en masse). Maybe you just give up, and figure that the crafting market will be what it ends up being.
It's just unfortunate if, as EQ2 has, you've spent a fair amount of time making a good crafting system. It can be grindy at times, but I'm glad I'm doing it, and there is a fair chunk of content I would have missed out on had I decided to go harvest-and-buy from the getgo.