The tradeskill system starts with your base materials, say Tin which you find in ore form and harvest, then you refine that ore into Tin Bars. The tin bars are going to be the basic thing that will be used the most. So you'll take those and maybe make one into a Pommel, one into a Crossguard and one into an Edge. Then you'd take all three of those items and make them into a Sword. Depending on how well you worked on those processes will also affect how high you can get in the final combine. There are rare components and ultra rare components which can be found in zones or drop off of boss type NPCs. You can then use those components in your recipes to make some of the more powerful items in the game. We have a tiered system on how the items in game work and the tradeskills work right into that. There's a common set of items for drops and a common set for tradeskills. The tradeskill versions are always slightly better except for the highest highest end items, which are a combination of drops, quests and tradeskills.
Also for tradeskills we have a social structure setup for them. You can join a workshop that's in your village or district. You'll start off as a novice or apprentice of some sort in that workshop. You'll start off doing menial tasks for that workshop such as refining 10 Tin bars. You'll earn cash as a reward and gain faction for that workshop. As you progress higher in the workshop you'll have access to more stuff such as buying refined components, so you wouldn't have to go out into the world to get them. You still won't be able to make the best items in the game, but this would allow you to still progress through the tradeskill trees on your own without adventuring.
Two questions: First, how are the recipes acquired? And secondly, can you explain what is going on on the screen as you're working through creating an item?
As far as gaining recipes goes, normally there is the base set of recipes, which you'll gain automatically either from your level or from the workshop you're attached to. Your Artisan level is completely separate from your adventuring level, and you progress through each completely independently. The Artisan side of your character has a Class/Subclass tree for you to progress through just like the Adventuring side. Some of the base recipes can be picked up from NPCs for a minimal fee, while other more rare ones will be dropped by boss Mobs out in the world. Adventurers who loot one of these recipes and have no use for it will either pass it on to a friend/guildies crafter who needs it or put it up for sale on the Consignment system. And then there will be Ultra-rare recipes. All of this will help differentiate people, say I've spent some time, made some items and sold them off and now I have a little bit of cash. I'm going to buy an ultra-rare recipe that some adventurer looted off a Dragon or some other high end mob and placed for sale on a Consignment merchant. This will set me above other crafters of my level and subclass who don't have that recipe.
As for what's going on on the screen, it's like combat in that in combat you have damage versus delay against the mob and you're doing a certain amount each round. You have chances to hit or miss or hit really well, etc. The same works for tradeskills, you can have a success or failure or critical success or critical failure. The recipes difficulty versus your skill determines what field you land in mostly. If the recipe is very easy for my current skill I'll be succeeding a lot, so I'll be able to progress further in the crafting process on that item while losing the least amount of durability. I'd come out with better items on a more regular basis. And then the Arts are going to play into that. As I get to higher levels I'll have access to Arts which deal more with Metalworking let's say. I'll be able to use my Arts to make me more efficient.
For Gathering and things like that it'll be based more on your Adventuring class than your Artisan class since it's more of a role of an Adventurer than a Crafter. So the higher you go as an Adventurer the more skills and opportunities you'll have to find and acquire these resources. You might be able to see the really rare rock now because you're a good miner, stuff like that. And even if you're not interested in crafting at all, it is still profitable to gather up the items as you come across them in your adventuring. There will always be an open market for the resources, both common and rare, from Crafters who don't want to do the Adventuring and Gathering, who would rather just buy them from other players. There are some high end materials that will only be attainable by either adventuring or buying them from an adventurer.
Another thing that we're thinking about, though I doubt it will be ready by release, are zone based adventurers centered on tradeskills. For example you got this rare drop off of a Dragon, some rare metal, and the only place you can forge it is in the bowels of this volcano or something like that, which is another higher area. So if you weren't an adventurer yourself, just a high level Crafter you'd need an adventurer escort to make it down there and them to protect you while you forged it.
What about tradeskill interdependency?
For interdependencies when we added in more classes and subclasses that's one of the reasons we did that was for the interdependency between the tradeskill classes and subclasses. Say I'm an Armorer and I like making Plate Breastplates and my Ogre friend wants a new Plate BP. I'll be able to make the big metal plates for it and be able to do the final combine, but my hands aren't nimble enough to make the small tin studs or other small items like that, so I'd have to go to a Jeweler to get those. If I've advanced enough in my social structure or workshop then I'll be able to buy some of the lesser forms of those studs from the NPC. But in order to make a truly high quality item I would have to go to another player to have high quality studs made. The Artisan class and subclass tree is finalized now and I'll draw that up on the board for you before I go:
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So you could make the item without NEEDING another player, it just wouldn't be as high of quality as if you used another player for the parts you couldn't make as opposed to buying them from an NPC?
Correct, we didn't want to create so many interdependencies that they would limit people in what they wanted to do, it'll just limit what they can make as far as the quality goes.
What about a Crafter's Mark of sorts? Is there a way to identify the crafter of the item?
Yes, on all of the finished products it will have identification. So not on the pieces like the Tin Bars or Pommels or parts like that, but in the final end product it will say "Made by <Crafter's Name>" or something along those lines.
So will all the Vanguard armor for example look the same even if they're different qualities?
For the same tier level yes. So all common Vanguard would look the same, but if I made the uncommon or rare Vanguard set for that level range it would look different.
And will the crafter have a choice of color?
Not as it stands now. It's possible in the future, but as of now and for release that won't be an option. I definitely expect Armor Dyes and such to be in the game at some point. We're building the armors in such a manner that they can definitely be dyed. When they are introduced down the road the dyes would probably go to the alchemist more than anything since they're the ones who deal with potions and poisons and such.
You commented on how Boss mobs will be dropping recipes, are these recipes going to be Boss specific? And furthermore is there the chance of the Boss dropping materials like for example a Dragon dropping a block of Mithril specific only to that Dragon and you can use that Mithril block to craft certain different things that will have certain different properties? Such as a Mithril Tunic that is strong in this property versus a pair of Mithril Leggings that are strong in another property.
Yes, for item balancing we have spread it out so that certain pieces have certain properties associated to them. For example Breastplates might give Strength and Stamina more than Intelligence or Wisdom. The rarer the item you get the more times it will break that mold. It will still be primarily Strength and Stamina, but you might also see one Intelligence or Wisdom off of it. The higher that you go the more limiting we will be. The really high armor with the really good stats and stuff like that will be on the rarer bosses in the high end zones. But other NPCs of a high enough level in that same zone will also have a chance to drop that same item. We want to stay away from forcing people to camp a specific mob or Boss to get the one thing that they need. By spreading the chance of it dropping out to more things in the zone it tends to alleviate that Boss camping.
Another cross-game comparison, but in DAoC there is the Spellcrafter tradeskill which basically lets you craft gems to add adornments and procs to crafted weapons and armor. Is there anything like this in EQ2? Is there anything in the tradeskill and item system which will allow us to add adornments or procs to crafted items?
We had been working with an adornment type of system earlier in development, but have opted to leave it out at release. Do expect to see it at a later date as an expansion feature or an update down the road.
Are there more abilities that open up as you gain adventuring levels, or do you basically get all of the harvesting/gathering abilities from the start?
All of those skills you will basically get from the start. The skill for them basically goes up with you as you level, and we have the ability to set it so you can't even see a resource node if you don't have the skill level needed to do anything with it. All Adventuring Archetypes will start off with the same set of harvesting abilities. We're also adding in Trapping, so it'll be Harvesting, Gathering, Fishing, Foresting, Mining, Trapping, etc.