Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Harvesting Pet Peeve

In this picture, there are six harvesting nodes. You cannot see harvest them in any less than 90 seconds. Each harvesting attempt takes 5 seconds (less with certain racial abilities, or after you get to higher crafting levels), and, depending on your harvesting skill, can fail (indeed, is more likely to fail than not).

I'm somewhat okay with the chance to fail, even though this "feature" is not present in LOTRO or WoW. Failing and having to spend another five seconds watching the progress bar doesn't actually make the process any more difficult, but there is compensation. You have a chance at a skill point with every attempt (i.e. failing gives you extra chances to skill up), and a chance to harvest lots of any given resource on a single attempt (e.g. 10 common resources and a rare) that gets better as your skill improves.

You have five separate harvesting skills to maintain, four of which are needed in the screenshot. Those skills are capped at five times your level. (Actually, five times the HIGHER of your crafting or adventuring level, but that part isn't that relevant to this point.)

Here's where my pet peeve kicks in. As with WOW and LOTRO, EQ2's early levels go by very quickly. The most recent starting area doesn't even HAVE any harvesting nodes to harvest until players hit level 11 or so (at which point they will be stuck behind the curve at 5/55 in all five skills). The older areas do offer harvesting, but you will still be hard pressed to keep your harvesting skill up to par with your level.

Suddenly, that screen full of harvesting nodes is not a relatively quick string of watching a progress bar for 90 seconds worth of harvest attempts. It's more like three minutes or more of attempts that might lead to 15 skill points. If you're in the dreaded 5 x 5/55 hole, or worse, you're in for easily 30 minutes to an hour of watching the harvest progress bar in areas with trivial foes just to catch up.

Ironically, it isn't that hard or unpleasant to maintain your skill at appropriate levels once you've capped it. It's just odd that the game really goes out of its way to make sure that the single least fun experience in the crafting game is the bare minimal harvesting needed to get out of the newbie areas.


Staffan said...

I had a similar experience when I started a death knight in WoW. I was dumb enough to do it as Alliance, when my main at the time was Horde, so I couldn't help out by sending massive amounts of gold to help. There I was, just off the assembly line decked out in my shiny blue gear, ready to go to Outland to kick some butt... at which point I proceeded to travel all across the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor in order to kill lowbie beasts for their skins, and look for ore to mine. That part took about a day.

Thallian said...

I'm hitting this same thing in Lotro with Tin. For some reason they unbalanced tin and now its rare and this causes you to get behind in the lowbie areas with weapon or armor smithing. Loads of fun grinding and searching for hours when you could be questing in areas with Barrow iron. They need to be more aware of this in all games I agree.

Yeebo said...

Apart from the oddity that you mention, I'd say EQ II has one of the better gathering systems. Certainly better than WoW and LoTRO. The chance to get rare components that make exceptional gear is somewhat addicting. However the best thing about it is that anyone can gather anything. This keeps supplies of raw materials very high, while keeping prices down for the crafters. It's one of the few mainstream MMOs where you can buy mats on the AH and turn them into something for a profit (without having a near monopoly on some market).

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

On the other hand, this lagging of tradeskills may mean some people choose not to engage in tradeskills, increasing the market for people who do. Doesn't seem to be a huge factor in EQ2, though, since there's still enough people harvesting to keep supply high and prices low on auction when I played.

The thing that really grinds my gears is games where your tools shorten the harvesting time. That means if you start a new character, you get frustrated waiting for that glacially slow bar to harvest. Makes me cry. At least in LotRO you can easily harvest with a higher level character and still earn points for processing materials on the lower-level one.

Thallian wrote:
I'm hitting this same thing in Lotro with Tin.

I always joke that if you want to find more tin, just go harvesting with a jeweler (the profession that can't use tin).

Anyway, here's a real tip: Sell your extra copper ore and buy tin ore with the proceeds. Even on my low population server I can sell 50 chunks for 300ish silver, sometimes for up to 900 silver per half stack. On most of my mining characters, I'll stop and harvest copper just to sell it's so profitable.

Ysharros said...

@psychochild -- EQ2 is actually one of those games with speed-em-up tools, but anyone can harvest anything for anyone else. Harvesting skill isn't actually required for crafting (it *is* required for some crafting quests, which is a pain, but it's not essential and won't stop you getting to max).

What I've always done (till recently) is use *one* character for harvesting, and she's done the level 1-80 areas with little regard to her actual adventuring level. It's occasionally deadly, but I've become pretty expert at what can be got where with the least amount of potential aggro.

I'm actually working on several other chars' harv skills now, but only because I'm a harvesting junkie and I genuinely enjoy it.

I will agree with GA, though, that the Tier 1 and 2 areas are THE biggest pain in the harvesting butt, for some reason. After that it's all downhill for me.

Naithin said...

@Ysharros I'm glad to hear it gets easier after T2, I just picked up EQ2 recently myself (I know right? Pretty behind the times) and had the dubious joy of running all over antonica getting my skills up to 90 before I felt I could really head to Thundering Steppes and continue on.

Even though my Warden is now level 25, despite efforts to slow this somewhat by moving the AA indicator across to 80% for some time now. :P

Green Armadillo said...

@Staffan: Yeah, that's a problem with the higher starting level for DK's, I had much the same experience in the Wrath beta. Not that there's really any reason for DK's to take the 10 level detour to Outland either.

@Thallian: I remember tin having been annoyingly common when I was leveling, irritating if they broke that.

@Yeebo: Part of the market niche is that there are so many recipes. 24 classes with 80 levels and at least one spell upgrade per level means a lot of work for scholars. Even armor comes in specially customized versions these days.

@Psychochild: That was kind of my point, it feels like the low level harvesting game is designed to discourage players from taking up tradeskills. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to chase newbies away from a side of the game that SOE has otherwise put a lot of time and effort into polishing. Also, note that the supply of harvesting materials is almost entirely due to the rare harvests that Yeebo mentioned.

And yes, my LOTRO Jeweler was relatively skilled in using the broker to transmute copper into metals that I actually wanted. The same was true in WoW back in 2004, it was actually easier to mine 40 copper, sell them, and use the proceeds to buy 20 iron than to mine 20 iron.

@Ysh: I do like to keep all of my alts harvest skills up because it allows me to harvest as I adventure. In particular, now that you can do the harvest cloak questline at low levels, it actually pays relatively well to do so.

@Naithin: Make sure to pick up the tinkered harvesting tools once you hit crafting levels 30 and up, they shave a lot of time off the harvesting. You can dig yourself a new harvest skill hole at higher levels, especially if you like to run with your tradeskills above your adventuring level so you can actually craft stuff you need when you need it, but it's quicker to dig out of.

My Wizard is leaving the AA slider at 100% AA until he finishes mopping up the Commonlands, I don't see any point in outleveling content that I haven't seen yet.