For those that don’t keep up with EQ2, especially the changes that are on Test, last week they implemented a very major change for tradeskillers. Basically they removed the tradeskill instances that had been present in each of the starting villages and moved the tradeskill stations into various shops around the major city zones (North Qeynos, South Qeynos etc.). Needless to say this has created quite the uproar in the crafting community as they feel they’re being yanked out of their comfortable instances and put on public display for no good reason. It doesn’t help that the city zones are some of the laggiest in the game, even when there are no people in them.
If you’re interested in watching the uproar check out the In Testing Feedback forums of The Development Corner section on the EQ 2 Forums, especially the Tradekill Changes, Feedback and Playtest thread.
As you might have noticed they did a play test of the new system last night and, while it lived up – or possibly down – to the players expectations as an unmitigated disaster from a gameplay perspective I also felt it was at least beneficial. After about 30 minutes of testing Glendral, the tradeskill person, basically called a halt and gathered everyone around for a Q&A session. For the first time the reasons for wanting to make the changes were given…they want to make the tradeskill community a more intregal part of the overall EQ2 community. This sounds like a noble cause but, if you play the game, you might be a bit confused I know I was. You see I already think of our crafters as an intergal part of our community if for nothing else than their breadth of knowledge about the game in addition to their good humor and company. If what they’re actually trying to do is make the crafters a more “needed” part of the game then they’re going to have to work on making the items they produce more valued by the adventurers and that’s a whole other issue.
Personally, I think they’re worried that a new player, or worse a reviewer from some website, will log in to the game and find the two major cities all but empty. I hate to break it to them but this has been the case almost from the begining. Adventurers rarely go to the city zones except to pickup a new city writ and instead conduct all of their business in the smaller villages. The crafters spend most of their time in the tradeskill instance, also located in the village of their choice so any business conducted outside of the instance is conducted in that village. Once an adventurer decides to go off hunting he leaves directly from that village or, at higher levels, zones into the “harbor” section of the city proper and immeadiatly uses the bell to be on his way. So I think the real goal here is to use the tradeskillers to make these under-utilized zones look busy. If that’s the case I think it’s a pretty crappy way to treat some of your most loyal players.
I’ve tried to remain positive though, especially since Glendral really seemed to want to get the player feedback and I know from having met many of the dev team that they really do care about the game. I just think that sometimes they get focused on something and lose site of their players.
After the break is a copy of the posting I made in the feedback thread, I’m posting it here as kind of an open letter to the EQ2 Dev team.
As I’ve stated elsewhere in this thread I’m primarily an adventurer/explorer that occasionally likes to spend an evening crafting. From the comments last night and just looking at the changes I think I’m actually the target audience for these changes and I have to say that even I feel that the proposed tradeskll changes, as currently implemented on Test, are a huge mistake. I could list numerous reasons for this but I’m pretty sure that everything on my list has been listed at least 10 times in the multiple pages of this and all of the other threads on the subject. Instead I’d like to address the issue of why you – and by you I mean the dev team as a whole – feel these changes are necessary.
During the Q&A at last nights play test you said repeatedly that, basically, you feel that it’s important to bring the crafters out of the instances and into the open in order to make them a more intregal part of the EQ2 community as a whole. To this I can only say – HUH!
I’ve spoken with several of the dev team at Fan Faire and GenCon so, unlike some of the more…cynical…posters in these forums I know that you guys actively play this game and really do care about the future of the game. So I have to wonder what server you’re playing on that your crafters aren’t an active and vibrant part of your community? I can only speak to my primary server, Permafrost, but I have to believe that the other servers would have a similar experience.
First of all, the two, or technically four, most active faction wide channels are the city_traders and city_crafting channels. People go to these channels not just to buy/sell goods and services or for questions regarding tradeskills specifically but also for general gameplay information. Need a pointer on a quest, ask a crafter, looted some strange item and want to know what it might be for, ask a crafter. 9 times out of 10 you’ll probably get a quick answer with no snarky newb comments. Try that on one of the level or class specific channels and you’ll probably hear nothing but crickets.
Secondly, if I were a new player today and just zoned into one of the villages from the island I’d see quite a few people standing around the bank and running between the bank and the TS instance. This collection is a mix of adventurers and crafters so forcing the crafters out into the major city zones would, at the very least, reduce this number significantly and could encourage the remaining adventurers to start conducting all of their business in the preferred zone. This would make the initial villages ghost towns and leave the poor new player feeling like there was something going on somewhere – they can see the chat – but they couldn’t find where.
Finally, the last several times I’ve zoned into the Willowwood tradeskill instance I found myself standing in a huge crowd of my fellow players all gathered around the broker. I’d be willing to bet that well over half of those players were adventurers buying and selling and not crafters. However, never once have I seen anyone go roaming around just to watch someone craft something. Heck, I’ve never even seen someone that ordered a custom armor piece and provided the rare follow the armorsmith down to the forge to watch him craft it. For that matter most of them initially go about looking for a crafter over one of the above channels and then conduct their business in tells from then on. I even know of crafters that get orders for their goods via the mail system, with a rare attached if needed, and send out the results the same way never once seeing their customers. These are some of the most respected crafters on the server, they have to be to have earned that kind of trust, and some of the most valued members of our community.
So again I have to ask, how are the crafters NOT part of the community that you’re playing in cause they’re darn sure part of mine. Me seeing their avatar is not going to make them a bigger part of that community and could, if the general discontent shown by these threads is an indication, drive them out of my community thus weakening it. So if the goal is truly to make the crafters part of the community I say you should just leave them well enough alone.
However, if there is another, underlying, reason for these changes I strongly suggest you be open and honest with your players. I realize that you’ll have a percentage, maybe a large percentage of those that post on these boards, that will rail against any changes and start numerous “I Quit” threads but I think you’ll also find that the majority of your players will respect the honesty and be more than willing to work with you to come up with a solution that meets both your goals and their needs. Remember we players have a vested interest in seeing this game succeed as well.