Thursday, July 30, 2009

EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger's Vacation

Sometimes people just don’t change with the times. The same holds true for wood elves. When Antonia Bayle began the construction projects that made moving into guild halls fashionable, an old wood elf named Yonger Celli just couldn’t bear to leave North Qeynos. He liked working outdoors at the woodworking table, and with the Ironforge Exchange, bank, and broker within easy walking distance, why should he move? That easy walking distance was important as Yonger’s adventuring career was cut short by a leg injury he suffered in the mage tower when he first arrived in Qeynos and walking from the bank to his home in the inn was as far as he really wanted to travel.

But a careful look at Yonger makes one realize that the old wood elf didn’t just stay in Qeynos running the family business. The fine cloak and striking earring he wears could have been bought, but his companion gives the lie to the image of a stay-at-home merchant. For following Yonger around on his daily activities is a sokokar. Sokokars are usually found in the lands of Kunark, a place most consider inhospitable to all but the most experienced travelers and adventurers.

I finally got up the nerve to ask Yonger about his pet sokokar and this is the tale he spun.

The whole thing started because I like king prawn. Now, I should know better than listen to my daughter Rosemarie about travel plans. Just because she’s travelled to the far corners of Norrath doesn’t mean she gives the best advice about where to go. But a fishing trip where I could catch all the king prawn I wanted sounded so good. My son Boyrdi can do wonderful things with king prawn and perhaps I let my stomach do my thinking for me.

So I went down to the Antonica docks and boarded the Maiden's Grace bound for Dreg’s Landing in the Kylong Plains. The trip didn’t cost me anything but time. I suspect that the ship owner is in league with those Gibblegobbler goblins that run a gambling operation on the docks and that is how he is able to provide free transportation, but who am I to gainsay popular wisdom about the ship owner's generous nature?

When I arrived at the docks, I started looking around for some official looking person. Rosemarie didn’t tell me if I needed anything like a fishing license from the local authorities and I don’t like king prawn so much that I’m willing to land in the local gaol. So I looked around until I saw a little halfling in what seemed to be the local uniform and hailed him.

"Hello there stranger!” the halfling said. “Good to see more friendly visitors coming to the area. Just call me Jones, everyone else does! I work for the Lieutenant here, we help maintain this landing for Teren's Grasp. And who might you be?"

"I'm Yonger, nice to meet you,” I replied. “And what is Teren's Grasp?"

"That's our main outpost, along that path up to the west,” Jones said, pointing up toward the mountains. “As you may have heard, there's intense fighting going on between the Di'Zok sarnak and the Sathirian iksars around this area. Those of us who aren't allied with either can find it quite dangerous. Fortunately, Teren's Grasp is tucked out of the way up in the hills and so far they've left us alone."

"Sounds as if you're pretty safe up there then," I told him.

Jones replied, "Well, Teren says that's just because they don't know about the outpost yet. With Bristlebane's blessing it'll stay that way! But we're ready for any contingency if they do decide to attack us. I think we're fairly safe for the moment though."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Well, as you can see, we're not exactly hiding our port here,” the halfling pointed out. “I think the iksar and sarnak are just too busy killing each other to worry about us. Now, when one of them finally wins the war, then we may have to worry about the outpost. In the mean time, I have more pressing worries on my mind ... like what to do with five hundred and twenty-seven bags full of drolvarg fangs!" Jones exclaimed.

I was starting to think Rosemarie had forgotten to tell me something important. Of course news of a mysterious group of invaders arriving in the Kunark might have made her disregard some of the more mundane dangers. "What's a drolvarg?" I asked.

"Filthy dog-like beasts, vicious with a weapon and barely intelligent enough to hold it the right way up. The Sathirians sometimes use them as mercenaries, though you'll often find them causing problems all on their own," Jones explained.

Halflings are famous for collecting jum jum, not body parts, so I asked, "And, uh, why on Norrath do you have five hundred and twenty-seven bags full of their teeth?"

"Oh, well,” Jones began, taking a deep breath. “Borbin here, he's always encouraging visiting adventurers to go hunting them down, and they bring back the fangs as proof so they can collect the bounty. He used to ask them to bring back the ears, but I put my foot down on that! Bags full of rotting ears is not something you want lying around on a hot day, let me tell you. At least the fangs keep well. But I'm at my wits' end what to do with them, I tell you."

I don’t always think about business, no matter what my children say. But the poor little halfling looked just a bit desperate, so I asked, "Ever considered making them into something useful?"

"Oh, a bit of a crafter are you?” Jones asked. “I never had the patience for it myself, but if you can figure out something to do with all these fangs, I'll be eternally grateful."

"I believe I do have an idea ...", I said. I’m a woodworker, so the answer was obvious. Arrows, with the fangs as the arrowheads! I can make arrows in my sleep. So I just do a little work, gain some favor with the local authorities, and then sit on the docks, enjoy the sea breeze and fish for some yummy king prawn.

"I'll be happy to give you a bit of coin for your troubles,” Jones offered, handing me bags of drolvarg fangs. “Oh, and I should warn you, the merchants around here do tend to overcharge strangers though, if they don't like your face. I doubt my budget can extend to refunding the kinds of fuel prices they charge if you get on their wrong side, so you might want to shop around a bit."

"Thanks for the tip, I'll be back in a bit," I told him and wandered off in search of the crafting area.

I wasn’t worried about dealing with the local merchants. I always have some sort of crafting materials we woodworkers use on me. Heck, even when I think I have everything put away, I always seem to have something tucked away in a pocket I forgot about. So I just strode over to the crafting area and …

Did I forget to mention that Dreg’s Landing is small? I’d grown so used to Qeynos where even the outlying villages have everything a crafter needs to ply his trade that I never considered what it's like trying to make things out in the boondocks. Dreg’s Landing is no Qeynos and all the small port had was a forge. No tools for woodworkers to make masts and replacement parts for ships damaged by storms? No looms available to repair sails? I was beginning to get the impression that Jones and his group needed help with more than disposing of some unwanted teeth.

But I did promise to do something about those fangs and one thing I learned in business is to not go back on a promise if you can at all keep it. I did happen to know a way to make arrows using a forge. They wouldn’t be my best, but they would be a lot more useful than what Jones had now. But that meant dealing with the local merchants who naturally jacked up the price of coal for the stranger. Ugh!

After taking a lot longer than I’ll ever admit to the guys back in the Ironforge Exchange, I finished and headed back to the docks and Jones.

"Did you get rid of those fangs for me?" Jones asked.

"Yes, I did. Ta da ... fang-tipped arrows!" I said as I handed him the arrows.

"Oh, that's brilliant!” Jones exclaimed. “I can hand them out to the drolvarg hunters when they go out to get more fangs. I'm sure the rangers in particular will use up hundreds of these arrows in one outing. And here's some coin towards your fuel costs, thank you so much."

"It was nothing, really,” I bragged. “All in a day's work for a crafter."

To be continued…

Related Posts
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Working for Teren's Grasp
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger Gets a Sokokar
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger Gets a Sokokar
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: New Lands, New Profits

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

EQ2 Macro: Changing Clothes

Sometimes the smallest things can leave the biggest impressions. I had a pretty productive time in EverQuest 2 last weekend. On my armorer, I finished the New Lands, New Profits quest and am halfway through the faction grind required to start the tradeskill epic quest line. I leveled my sage up to level 77 and should be able to hit level 80 and start the tradeskill epic next weekend. Oh, and I got my 192nd AA point on my ranger. But none of those got me as fired up as a discussion about changing clothes.

Changing clothes? You have to understand something about EQ2. We have appearance slots to put equipment into purely for show so we can wear our truly ugly and mis-matched armor that have great stats and still look good. I have two sets of really good equipment I use; my tier 2 shard armor which I think looks rather drab, and my dark green Far Seas crafting gear which not only gives me great crafting stats but looks really good. So I wear my crafting gear in my appearance slots.

The subject of guild chat became my appearance gear and how I switch between my crafting gear and my adventuring gear. I mentioned that you can have macros to swap your appearance gear with your adventure gear. At that point I was told that no, the devs screwed up and you could not do that. Now, I really hadn’t played with the macros since the change, but I had some clunky ones that worked and said so. At that point I was told that’s all you could do with the macros, that what I had written was totally inadequate and that the devs were incompetent because they couldn’t come up with anything better. I was actually told I was doing a good job of trying to cover up for the devs’ incompetence.

WTF? I guess to some people if you don’t blindly trash the game you like you’re a fanboi. Besides, in my line of work, I get tired of programmers telling me the software will not allow them to do something when I know it will. This sounded like someone who couldn’t figure out how to make the macro so decided that the problem was not his skill but the tools the game gives us. I was so mad I stopped what I was doing and asked questions until I knew exactly what he was looking for a macro to do. Basically he wanted to use the appearance slots as another bag. My macros required that I have a lot of empty bag slots to use them and he didn't like that. So I wrote a macro that will unequip gear in your appearance slots, then place it in an equipment slot, then take the piece of gear that was in your equipment slot and place it in an appearance slot. Once I figured it out and said what I did in guild chat, I got a request from someone else asking me how to do it. Below is what I posted in my guild’s forums. It isn’t the full macro, but it will tell you how to create your own.

I wrote a macro that will allow you to swap gear between your appearance and regular equipment slots. The secret is the following command...

/unequip_appearance [slot]

The slots you can use are named:
  • head
  • cloak
  • chest
  • shoulders
  • forearms
  • hands
  • legs
  • feet
  • ranged
  • primary
  • secondary
To swap your chest piece, for example,
  1. choose command at macro step and click on add step
  2. type in /unequip_appearance chest
  3. choose equip item in macro step and click on add step
  4. drag the icon of the item into the empty box. You cannot do this directly from the appearance tab. You have to do it from one of your bag slots
  5. choose equip item in macro step and click on add step
  6. drag the icon of the item you want to move into the appearance slot into the empty box and check the appearance check box. You cannot do this directly from the equipment tab. You have to do it from one of your bag slots
I'm told there is a limit of 24 steps to a macro, so you could switch all your armor and cloak between your appearance and regular equipment slots in one macro. In order to run the macro, you will need to have 1 empty bag slot. I created two macros; one to move my crafting armor from the appearance to equipment tabs and my T2 armor to my appearance tab and then another one to switch them back.

Just remember that as you are building your macro that you can hit the "Test" button at any time. I hit the test button after I set up each macro step and not only did this let me test the macro, it moved the item from either the appearance slot or the equipment slot to my bag, making it easier to access the icon to move it into the macro window.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What I've Been Listening To: July 19-25, 2009

Another week, another set of podcasts, although I'm beginning to fall behind again. For those wondering why I haven't listened to Through The Aftermath, I'm saving listening to episode 13 this week because I want the review posted next week. Those into World War 2 history might understand why.

Here is what I listened to last week.

First Time Listen

RealmsCast Episodes 1 & 2 (Host: Beau Turkey) - Veteran podcaster Beau Turkey has created a podcast focused on Sony Online Entertainment's new free-to-play game FreeRealms. The first thing people may ask is: "Beau Turkey covering a kids' game?" The perhaps surprising thing is that the combination works, at least for the first two episodes.

RealmsCast is targeted to kids, from everything from the introduction to Beau's explanations of MMO terms that are known by veteran gamers but would be new for the first time game players entering FreeRealms. In an echo of his old-school attitude toward playing MMOs, he does encourage players to explore and find things for themselves first and gives warnings before giving out spoilers for those who couldn't finish a quest. But Beau is giving out the spoilers, probably knowing that sometimes kids just need some help getting past a rough spot.

With an old time children's show format, a short length (episode 1 ran 15 minutes and episode 2 was 26) and an associated web site that is informative and well put together, I encourage all people playing FreeRealms to sample Beau's new project. Length: under 30 minutes.

Old Friends

No Prisoners, No Mercy #39 (Hosts: Sister Julie and Sister Fran) - In episode 39, the sisters turn the podcast back to its early days and Warhammer Online roots. In addition to the second part of the Paul Barnett interview, Sister Julie faces off with Saylah of Mystic Worlds for a lengthy discussion about the state of WAR today with Sister Fran somewhat moderating. Once again an excellent podcast. Length: 102 minutes.

Van Hemlock #60 (Hosts: Tim Dale and Jon Shute) - This episode is the premier of the broadcast version of Operation Cheapseats. In Operation Cheapseats, Tim & Jon play either a free trial or a free-to-play game for two weeks and report back on them. In addition to the pair's usual news and Jon's hiarious reaction to the latest happenings at Sony, Jon gave his two week review of the original Jumpgate and Tim played Rappelz. Van Hemlock's take on the podcast is here. Length: 91 minutes.

Van Hemlock #61 (Hosts: Tim Dale and Jon Shute) - In response to No Prisoners, No Mercy's three part interview with Paul Barnett, the hosts invited their own industry professional,'s Managing Editor (and Massively Speaking and Through The Aftermath podcaster) Shawn Schuster for an hour of conversation about the news and the games they've been playing. Length: 68 minutes.

Channel Massive #97
(Hosts: Noah, Mark, and Jason) - Noah and Mark were Jason-less once again as they took a look at the news and more Brad-O-Steria. Length: 78 minutes.

PODDED Podcast Season 2 Episode 11 (Hosts: Dillon Arklight and War Childe) - The Eve Online podcast took a look null sec news, dev blogs & CCP announcements and exploration. Length: 92 minutes.

Spouse Aggro #83 (Beau and Leala Turkey) - To anyone who read the show notes checking Beau out before listening to Realmscast, let me assure you that Beau did not shoot his dog. But Beau's view on things is a little bit out on the edge, so if you listen to Realmscast, don't be shocked when you hear a more adult-oriented podcast. In this episode the Turkeys ate at home and discussed some guild drama in Leala's The Epic Dolls guild in the World of Warcraft. Length: 32 minutes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quest Text Is A Good Thing

I was reading a post by Wolfshead over on Wolfshead Online Tuesday night I found very interesting. He took a look at the new player experience in EverQuest 2 of a player entering Queen’s Colony and analyzed it from a developer’s perspective. According to him, SOE did so much wrong. I got a chuckle out of a few things. Too many harvest nodes? I thought Queen’s Colony was a great demonstration that unlike in World of Warcraft, players could harvest everything! Complaining about having crafting appear so early in the game when most people say that the thing EQ2 does best compared to almost all the other games is crafting? Really? I thought that the purpose of the newbie experience was to put your best foot forward.

But the thing that really made me question what Wolfshead wrote was the complaint about SOE putting in too much NPC dialog. I found the text in Queen’s Colony very helpful when I started out. I think SOE does a good job with the quest dialog. Personally, I read all the dialog I can as long as I don’t have people grouped with me bugging me to hurry up and stop “wasting my time” reading the quest text. I actually like to know why I’m going out and killing ten rats instead of just running off and doing it. I’m not into mindless killing. I’m funny that way.

But how do I get the point across about the quest text in EQ2? I guess I could list out examples like some school term paper or master’s thesis, but that would get boring. Instead, I’m going to do something that I hope is a bit more entertaining. I’m going to write stories based on the quest text I encounter in the game. In fact, all dialog in the stories will come from the quest text. EQ2 has a logging function that allows me to easily capture the quest dialog. I’ve done it once before and liked writing the story. So I’m going to start posting these stories starting next Thursday. And the first stories will be centered on crafting. Think nothing ever happens to crafters? Then be sure to pay the blog a visit next Thursday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Order of Rime With A Side of Grind

In EQ2 I am close to finishing the Order of Rime story line that was introduced in Game Update 52. I just have one regular quest, one heroic quest, and about six or seven repeatable quests that I have not done for the first time, then perhaps a short grind of repeatable quests before I have 50,000 faction with the Order of Rime. To everyone who has completed the quest line and been able to purchase one of the faction’s items from the faction merchant, I salute you. Why the respect? Because finishing that quest line involves a huge grind.

I understand that the grind is present for story reasons, but it is present in large chunks of time. I think that the biggest complaint is how the grind is implemented. In the beginning of the quest line, you are killing members of the Order of Rime for Teren’s Grasp before being asked to infiltrate the organization. To infiltrate the Order you are given an illusion form that is based on your adventuring archtype. For example, as a ranger my disguise turned me into a ratonga scout for the Order. For good measure, the illusion also grants the wearer +40,000 faction with the Order. That’s pretty cool, right? The only problem is that the illusion only grants the faction bonus when your toon’s actual faction is between -50,000 and -8,800 points.

So why is that important? Because each of the main quests in the story require a certain amount of faction with the Order before the quest giver will grant you the quest. The Order of Rime quest line is not like the Brokenskull Pirate quest line in which you just do quests that prove your loyalty. No, you have to do repeatable quests, filling up barrels with bones and scorpion parts and fish parts and poison sacks in order to raise your standings to get the quests. In my case, I was doing the quests in the Order of Rime camp in Jarsath Wastes when poof, no more quest givers would talk to me. I had too much actual status and had to grind over 30,000 in faction to get back to the level required to continue the quest line. That was a long, long grind with each repeatable quest only offering 800 faction.

I understand the story reason behind forcing the faction grind in the middle of the quests. The lower levels of the Order of Rime are a pretty stupid bunch and are fairly easy to fool, but as you progress the quest givers get smarter and smarter and a character’s uncommon competence and common sense can’t be cloaked. If you don’t have the actual faction, you’re not going to fool those quest givers into involving you in their plans. After all, they are on the lookout for spies, and YOU are a spy.

I even understand why the developers set up the quest line like they did in terms of rewards. Once you get 50,000 faction with the Order, characters can purchase items from the Order’s faction merchant. Most of these item run in the 7–9 platinum piece (that’s 700-900 gold pieces) price range with the mount running 40pp. I calculated that players will do at least 80 of the repeatable quests, which at 15 gold pieces per completed quest will net a player 12 plat. Add in 814 gold pieces for completing the regular quests in the quest line and a player will be able to buy 2 pieces of equipment plus the faction cloak from the faction merchant. If a player saved up all the money and item drops from the hundreds of mobs killed in addition to the quest rewards, buying that faction mount is less than 20 plat.

So why do I have a problem with the grind in the Order of Rime quest line? Because the sudden stop in the progression of the quests left me a bit disheartened. I can see getting knocked back in a quest line for failing to achieve something. But I felt like I was knocked back in the quest progression for succeeding. I know that I wasn’t really knocked back; after all I didn’t lose any faction at any time. But that’s how I felt, and oftentimes perception, especially in an MMO, turns into reality. And this reality didn’t feel like fun.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What I've Been Listening To: July 12-18, 2009

I had a busy week at work, which forced me into choosing between adventuring and crafting in EverQuest 2 all week. After all, when you only have 60-90 minutes to play each night I can't do both. With the expansion set for a February release date, I'm feeling no pressure to get those last 10 AA points so I chose to work on my crafting. And for me, crafting means ... listening to podcasts! And I had a lot of podcast goodness to listen to over the past week, which is something to say since I didn't get to listen to a new Van Hemlock podcast.

What could fill such a huge hole in my podcast listening schedule? Check out the podcasts below:

First Time Listen

Warp Drive Active #47 (Hosts: Urban Mongral and Winterbeak) - In my ever increasing fascination with Eve Online, I was pleased to see a new Warp Drive Active appear on the Virgin Worlds home page. As happened with The Drone Bay, Urban Mongral and Winterbeak are having to start up the podcast again and are a little out of touch with the news. But I liked the chemistry between the two and if work will allow them to coordinate their schedules (Winterbeak is Canadian while Urban Mongral lives in the U.K.) I'll be interested in listening to their commentary on Eve on future podcasts. Length: 139 minutes.

Old Friends

Shut Up We're Talking #51 (Hosts: Darren and Karen) - In episode 51, Darren and Karen are joined by long-time guest Jon the Ancient Gaming Noob and two first time guests, Andrew from Of Teeth and Claws and Frank from In addition to the usual news and "What we're playing" segments, the panel has very good discussions on white collar crime in MMOs (mainly Eve) and a discussion on real money transactions and microtransactions. Length: 78 minutes.

No Prisoners, No Mercy #38 (Hosts: Sister Julie and Sister Fran) - While this episode has the usual news and "Mad As Hell" segments, the highlight of the podcast is not the Aion beta discussion. No, the highlight is the broadcast of the sisters' interview with EA/Mythic and Warhammer Online pitch man Paul Barnett. The interview is broken up into 3 parts with this segment focusing on Warhammer. The sisters basically asked a couple of questions and let Paul take it from there. The world according to Paul is a fascinating listen and I can't wait for the next two installments of No Prisoners, No Mercy. Length: 98 minutes.

Massively Speaking #61 (Host: Shawn Schuster) - Shawn is joined by Spouse Aggro co-host Beau Turkey in a discussion ranging from what they don't like about MMOs to Warhammer Online's new server consolidation, improvements in Age of Conan and emergent gameplay being tried in Heroes of Telara. The pair also spend some time discussing Beau's new project RealmsCast, a Free Realms podcast. Once again, Shawn has put together a very interesting podcast. Length: 61 minutes.

Channel Massive #95 (Hosts: Noah, Jason & Mark) - I started the week listening to episode #95 and failed to take notes about the podcast. However, I do remember that they talked about the People's Republic of China "banning gold farming" and handed out some good advice:
  • Never fight a land-war in South-East Asia
  • Don't fight a war against the Russians in the winter
  • Never bring a knife to a gunfight
  • Don't get into a deal with a company as big as Microsoft without a written contract
Brad McQuaid. The gift to continuing podcast goodness on the Channel Massive podcast. Length: 80 minutes.

Channel Massive #96 (Hosts: Noah, Jason & Mark) - The M Team was able to overcome Jason's abandonment of chicken wings to produce an episode that had me crying from laughing so much. The hosts served up appetizers with the news like World of Warcraft's patch 3.2, the Mythic/Bioware reorganization, Google's Chrome OS and introducing Twitter to games before serving up a main course of Blog-O-Steria. This week's special was Twixt, the sad little character created by a sad little professor at Loyola University who exploited a weakness in City of Heroes/Villians PvP play in the name of "research". I liked the M Team's analysis, both for the logic and the comedy. Length: 100 minutes.

PODDED Podcast Season 2, Episode 10 (Hosts: Dillon Arklight and War Childe) - The hosts celebrated episode 10 with a 140 minute broadcast chock full of special content. Interviews with Aegis Militia leader Soratah and Tech 3 expert Paul Darth highlighted a show with lots of news, dev postings, 0.0 space discussion and, of course, stealth bombers. Length: 140 minutes.

The Instance #153 (Hosts: Scott Johnson & Randy Jordan) - The highlights of the podcast for me were the discussion of those parts of the World of Warcraft that are unused, unnecessary and inefficient and the "Ask Buxley" segment concerning murlocs. After listening to that segment, many things became clear.

And despite the short description I gave this episode, I just have to add that if you play World of Warcraft and are not listening to The Instance, there's something wrong with you. Length: 114 minutes.

A Pleasant Surprise

EQ2's-day Broadcast on July 14, 2009 (Hosts: Dellmon and Zanadi) - Dellmon posted last Tuesday's show in record time, possibly to give everyone a chance to participate in the contest to guess which zone Dellmon will get his 200th AA point in. All entries should be emailed to Zanadi at with the subject "What zone will Del be in". The show itself explored Dellmon and Zanadi's experiences at this year's Fan Faire. Length: 91 minutes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WoW Video: What Hurts The Most

Raiders versus casual players. Role players versus theory crafters. PvPers versus carebears. Players of massively multi-player online role playing games have developed a lot of different ways to play the same game. I was thinking about how the same game can play differently depending on a person’s play style when I thought about the song “Hurts The Most”. Two popular versions of the song became hits in two different genres of music. Below are two World of Warcraft music videos inspired by Rascal Flatts and Cascada. The lyrics are the same but the arrangements and style are very different, just like the way people play MMORPGs.

Rascal Flatts


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EQ2 Transmuting Without Breaking The Bank

Secondary tradeskills are a pain to level in EverQuest 2. Transmuting especially is known for being a very expensive profession to level up. The conventional way I’ve been told is to buy items off the broker to transmute or purchase the powders for the appropriate level of item you wish to make in order to make the adornments you need to level your character’s transmuting skill. To level up transmuting skills with this method, while relatively fast, is very expensive.

Did you notice I wrote “so I’ve been told?” That’s because when I leveled my transmuting skill I was still leveling my ranger and wanted to spend the money I had on upgrading her equipment and combat arts. So instead of leveling my transmuting the fast and expensive way, I did it the slow but cheap way. In fact, I probably broke even as far as my expenses for transmuting went because I did not discover this method until I had my skill up to around 150 points. If I had used this method when I started transmuting, I would have turned a tidy profit.

The secret is that unlike the primary crafting professions, transmuters can level up their skills by crafting grey items. So what I did was just make tier 1 adornments from the time I had 100 skill points until I hit 400 skill points. I’ll admit that is a lot of adornments to make. So how did I get the materials to make all those adornments? Well, unlike Dellmon from the EQ2’s-day show, I did not make an alt wizard, level-lock him and condemn him to Queen’s Colony grinding the never-ending supply of level 1 goblins.

What follows below is the process I used to become a max level transmuter. I have to warn you that this process takes A LOT of time and involves A LOT of crafting and even a bit of organization. But the process, if followed, should ensure that transmuting doesn’t empty your bank.

Where to Start – The NPCs that grant you the transmuting profession, skills and basic books are found at the docks in the Butcherblock Mountains. Remember while you are there to buy the first two essential transmuting recipe books and all of your skills.

Crafters – The process requires transmuting a lot of tier 1 items and the surest way to obtain them is by crafting them yourself. Transmuting expert level spells always produces either an infusion or powder and transmuting mastercrafted armor produces either a powder or fragment. When I was just buying items off the broker to transmute them, I found I wound up with a lot more fragments than I did powders and I never received infusions. Near the end of my leveling time using this process, I actually needed fragments more than powders.

To follow this strategy does not require an army of crafting alts like I have. In fact, because we are only crafting tier 1 mastercrafted armor and expert level spells, anyone can do it who levels their character’s crafting profession to level 10 before beginning. Because crafting grey items is easier than crafting green, blue, or white items, I strongly suggest having a minimum of two crafters in your transmuting operation, a scholar and an outfitter. If you don’t already have the crafters, just visit your city’s tradeskill society and take the tutorial. The tutorial will quickly help you get your new crafter up to level 10. Don’t forget to buy the advanced versions of the books from the NPC vendor because those books hold the recipes for the items you will be making.

You really only need to get your crafters up to level 12 or so, but since you are going to be making so many items, you might as well take advantage of the situation and level your crafters up to 20 by making the tier one items. And if you follow one of the strategies for getting your transmuting skill up to 100, you will need to have your scholar reach level 20 and beyond.

Harvesting – Once you have your crafters established, you need to supply them with the materials to craft the items. I originally did this by buying tier 1 rares off the broker. The weakness in that strategy became apparent when a rather well-known commodities speculator on my server decided to corner the market on tier 1 rares and the price went up 300%. I couldn’t afford to level transmuting and equip my ranger properly at the same time, so I began to harvest.

I discovered that the best place for harvesting tier 1 rares is on the island that is home to Gorowyn. When you harvest, you are not looking for a specific type of node. Harvest everything except fish! And when you harvest, harvest the entire node. Every rare you get means another item you can transmute. Besides that, nodes will respawn faster if you harvest the entire node and that is important if you spend any significant amount of time on a harvesting session.

Before going out to harvest, try to equip everything that will help your harvesting skills. For low-level characters trying to level up their transmuting at the same pace as their adventure level, don’t forget to equip either the tinkerer or woodworker harvesting items to make the harvesting go faster. For those with crafters over level 50, don’t forget to go to Mara. In addition to a quest that grants a 36-slot harvesting bag, the Far Seas Supply Division has a trading post where you can purchase mounts that increase your harvesting skills if your earn enough Far Seas Trading tokens. Finally, high-level adventurers should do the quests to get the Cloak of the Harvester.

The Broker – Once you have obtained a large amount of rares, you are ready to craft. But before you do that, you probably noticed that your bags are full of tier 1 common items. That’s good, because those tier 1 commons are going to pay for this whole operation. Just because something is in tier 1 doesn’t mean people don’t find it valuable.

The most likely tier 1 commons to be valuable are leaded loam and lead clusters. Why? Because tinkerers use those materials for crafting their low level items and a lot of players don’t want to be bothered to go to Gorowyn and harvest. After a harvesting session, you should go to the broker and put your excess harvested items up for sale.

Leveling from 1 to 100 – When leveling your transmuting skills from 1 to 100, the prevailing opinion, which I share, is that players should just break down items and start making adornments once your skill reaches 100. You can gain skill-ups by breaking down items 5 levels above your transmuting skill to 2 levels below your transmuting skill, with the skill-ups coming faster by transmuting items higher than your level. To convert your transmuting skill to item level, divide your transmuting skill by 5.

Because all tier 1 mastercrafted armor are level 2 items, you may want to transmute those items first. After that, make expert level spells/combat arts 5 levels above your transmuting skill until your transmuting skill reaches 30. At that point you have to make a decision. You can either continue making tier 1 items or you can move your harvesting operations into tier 2 harvesting zones like Antonica or Commonlands. I have heard from guildies that the Commonlands is the best place to harvest tier 2 materials. Or you can continue making tier 1 items until you hit 60 skill points and then start crafting adornments. An option at this point would be to take your harvesting profits up until this time and start buying tier 2 rares and items off the broker.

One point I should make. If you decide to craft tier 3 items, your scholar will not be able to make all the spells, since at level 20 he will need to specialize as an alchemist, jeweler or sage. At that point, you really will need an army of alts to take full advantage of what you harvest. Of course, you could just sell the tier 3 rares you do not use and add to the profits your transmuting operation is raking in.

Leveling over 100 – Once you hit 100 skill points, you can no longer gain skill-ups by transmuting items. At this point you should have a good supply of tier 1 and tier 2 powders, fragments and infusions to use for making adornments. The first adornments you should make are tier 2 adornments. You get the most value at 100 skill points from making tier 2 adornments. The reason for getting the most out of using these adornments is that they require more raw materials than the tier 1 adornments to make. After you use up all of your raw materials making the tier 2 adornments, you’ll be making tier 1 adornments until you reach the max level of skill points. The only exception is if you choose to make adornments for your gear; then by all means make the adornments and hopefully you will get a skill-up or two along the way.

When using this process to level your transmuting, there is a particular order in which to make the adornments. Make the adornments that use infusions first. The tier 1 adornments that require infusions require 1 infusion, 1 dust, and 1 fragment. If you make a pristine adornment (one in which you complete all four bars of progression), you get the dust back. This is handy because the next class of adornments requires 1 dust and 1 fragment to make. In other words, you get to use your dust to make multiple adornments. If you make the pristine version of these adornments, you get your fragment back. Personally I like making pristine adornments because anything that makes this lengthy process shorter without my having to shell out money or make more mastercrafted items is a good thing. Once you run out of materials, go out and harvest some more tier 1 and start the cycle over again. Rinse and repeat until you hit the maximum skill points.

Sentinel’s Fate note – Once the expansion comes out, you can go ahead and have your crafter’s involved in the operation also learn transmuting. Since all toons will be able to learn both tinkering and transmuting, you might as well take advantage of the fact and have your crafter transmute items after making them. This will free up slots in your shared bank that you don’t have to keep open to pass items to the character you are leveling up.

Conclusion – While currently not the most attractive way to level transmuting skills, Kaisha (who writes for EQ2 Traders and was immortalized as an NPC working for the Far Seas Suppy Division) doesn't seem to think its that bad. I predict this method or something similar will become popular once Sentinel’s Fate is released in February 2010. As we saw when transmuting was first introduced in EQ2, the price of treasured items and adept I (now expert) books rose greatly and I expect something similar will occur with the release of Sentinel’s Fate as those players who chose to specialize in tinkering will take advantage of the new rules to become transmuters as well. At the same time, transmuters (including myself) will also become tinkerers and drive up the broker price of tier 1 harvestables like leaded loam and lead clusters, the items that drive the money making part of this method.

Is going through all of this effort worth the payoff? Sometimes I wondered if I was in my right mind as I was leveling. But once I get my armorer up to level 75 so he can make my ranger a couple of adornments in a couple of weeks, I will have adornments on every piece of equipment I wear, with almost all of the materials made for those adornments coming from items I transmuted. Considering I don’t raid, I’ll have reached my goal of having the best gear I think I can get without raiding or buying loot rights. So for me, all the effort will have been worth it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I've Been Listening To: July 5-11, 2009

This is the week I figured out that if I'm going to play a computer-role playing game, the game really needs to have the "MMO" in front of "RPG". Maybe from the outside looking in that's obvious. After all, my favorite game is EverQuest 2 and I write a weekly post on the MMORPG-based podcasts I listen to every week. What really brought this to my attention is when I started to try to analyze the economic system in Fallout 3. The game play, while quite good, just doesn't engage me like the game play in EQ2 does and I think the difference lies in economics.

I think I am at a point where combat is not the primary thing driving my play. In EQ2, I have a small army of crafting alts that are almost all involved with tier 8 tradeskilling. Eve Online is so appealing from the outside because a player can concentrate on industry instead of combat. If I play another game outside of the MMORPG genre, I think it will be a game like Europa Universalis III. Not only is it a game conducted at the grand strategic level, but it would allow me to play Sweden's Vasa dynasty, a subject I've become interested in after reading Eric Flint's 1632 universe novels.

Enough about why I'm giving up on Fallout 3 while so many of the podcasters I listen to love the game. Here is what I listened to last week.


Epic Dolls #69 (Hosts: Leala Turkey and Katerina) - Leala and Kat were joined by Stardancer as this episode marks the end of the Epic Dolls podcast. I basically only listened to 2 World of Warcraft podcasts, The Instance and Epic Dolls. While I'll still get to listen to Leala on Spouse Aggro, the passing of the Epic Dolls podcast leaves me a bit sad. I'll just wish good luck to everyone involved with the Epic Dolls podcast and hope that we'll see everyone involved with future projects. Length: 44 minutes.

Sticking Around

Massively Speaking #59 (Host: Shawn Schuster) - In episode 59 Shawn was joined by bloggers Colin Brennan and Kyle Horner. The news covered included government actions by the People's Republic of China and Australia as it related to MMO's, beta information concerning Global Agenda and Champions Online, SOE's Community Address at Fan Faire and Mark Jacobs departure from Mythic. Length: 64 minutes.

Van Hemlock #59 (Hosts: Tim Dale and Jon Shute) - Tim and Jon, bloggers themselves, present the news with Jon remembering to watch his language when talking about Sony. This episode was a "what are we playing" show with the hosts opening up Twitter to allow listeners to ask questions. A very brave decision by Tim. Length: 83 minutes.

Free To Play Podcast #21 (Hosts: Riknas and Andras) - The hosts are joined by Jonathan Morris of Through the Aftermath as they look at the F2P news and review Anarchy Online. Length: 73 minutes.

No Prisoners, No Mercy #37 (Hosts: Sister Julie and Sister Fran) - In this episode the sisters were joined by Tipa from West Karana and Saylah from Mystic Worlds for a far ranging discussion from everything from games to what they choose to write about on their blogs.

Add in the discussion on Warhammer Online's Land of the Dead and the fact that with all the numbers the sisters threw out about which episode this was, they never mentioned "37" once, and the podcast was an enjoyable listen to on my train ride to and from work. Length: 86 minutes.

The Instance #152 (Hosts: Scott Johnson and Randy Delux) - Scott and Randy discuss Blizzard's announcement that World of Warcraft players may get to change faction between Alliance and Horde as well as races. Other topice included what Cataclysm may be, 2-toon arena teams making a comeback and changes in Engineering. And as always, don't forget to listen to all the contributors like Mean Gene, Patrick and Buxley who help make The Instance a special broadcast. Length: 91 minutes.


Spouse Aggro #82 (Hosts: Beau and Leala Turkey) - The Turkeys experimented with a live audience and a web cam in this episode in which they looked back at 10 years of gaming. The story about their wedding was nice too. The technical difficulties were left in, making this a podcast not unlike the ones I listen to from Online Gaming Radio.

Beau also announced that he is going to start a Free Realms podcast while keeping Spouse Aggro up and running. That I have to hear. Length: 44 minutes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Search of Eve

I’ve written before that I wonder if I can survive and thrive in the universe of Eve Online. With the game’s reputation of having a steep learning curve and a real-time based skills acquisition system that would lead people to believe that new players could never compete with the old hands, I’ve started to do research to try to make entry into the game a little less daunting. After all, I think I should know more than that Chimera’s look cool.

The first thing I discovered is that Steam actually offers a 21-day free trial of Eve instead of the standard 14-day free trial I’ve seen in other places. Given that I don’t plan on making Eve my main game, I like the idea that I could get another weekend of free play time in before having to make a decision on subscribing to the game. Right now my plan is to start playing when I take my next vacation and then I’d play on the weekends (and perhaps one day during the week depending on my progression in EQ2).

The second thing I did was look at Eve University. I didn’t know that they had entry requirements. In EQ2 terms, a player just has to avoid gaining negative faction with the educational corporation in order to gain admittance. I’m really glad to have discovered that little fact because I think a tour at the school is probably something I should do fairly shortly after I complete the tutorial and finish the free trial.

The third thing I discovered is CrazyKinux’s blog. I stumbled upon it because I saw a story in the Eve Blog Pack on Kirith's blog and clicked on it. A little reading led me to his post "10 Posts for the Eve Online Newbie." I'm still trying to read through all of it. All I can say is I hit the motherlode when it comes to information and I'll be sifting though it for weeks.

I think I have a fairly good start on my research. But before I start playing, I really need to decide what race I want to play. With 4 races divided between 12 total bloodlines (I hope that's right) with racial bonuses in the form of ship types to decide between, I need to make a few decisions before I download the free trial.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Starting Fallout 3

Out of all of the computer games I’ve played I’ve always enjoyed role-playing games the most. I started out with the Gold Box Dungeons & Dragons games for the Commodore 64/Macintosh and Wasteland, graduating to World of Warcraft before finding a home in EverQuest 2. When SOE announced that the release date for the next expansion for EQ2 is February 2010 instead of November 2009, I started looking around for an alternative game to play to stretch my EQ2 content to last another three months. So what is the first game I tried? The game everyone on the podcasts I listen to raves about: Fallout 3.

Over the weekend I started playing Fallout 3 and finished my game session by reaching the town of Megatron and doing a bit of exploring in the town. So far I’m really impressed by the game. I love the character creation in the game. Instead of starting the game in a small village or winding up in an outpost, you are in a delivery room being born. The devs continued with the theme and incorporated the tutorial with your character growing up. An interesting part of the tutorial appears to be a test you take that I think sets your starting personality, or karma, for when you leave the vault. Once you’ve become an adult, the game begins with you escaping from Vault 101.

The game has other mechanics that I like in addition to the character creation and karma system. I loved using the V.A.T.S. system. That is a system that slows the game down and allows you to take aimed shots at parts of your target’s body. Yes you can take head shots and yes, those are bloody. I also like the scrounging you have to do in the game. Don’t let the NPCs in the game rush you. Stay calm and search for what you need. At least in Vault 101, you get more time to scrounge if you just kill the bad guys.

Another feature I like is the Pip-Boy. The Pip-Boy is a combination inventory management/map/quest journal item. Oh yes, it is also a light and a radio. I got a kick out of listening to Enclave Radio. I’ll have to make sure to listen to the radio when I’m out of settlement areas to try to pick up more of the story. I wish I could look at the Pip-Boy map and wander around at the same time, but you can’t have everything.

So did I throw EverQuest 2 to the side in order to play Fallout 3 over the last 3-day weekend? Hardly. I took advantage of the XP bonus weekend in EQ2 to level my sage to level 70, armorer to level 65 and carpenter to level 40. I also raised the amount of AA points on my ranger from 186 to 188. But I did spend two hours playing Fallout 3 and I think I’ll spend a couple of hours every weekend playing the game. If the rest of the game is like the first couple of hours of play, I think I’ll probably go get some of the downloadable content (DLC) like The Pitt.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What I've Been Listening To: June 28 - July 4, 2009

The evil influence of the Through the Aftermath podcast finally took effect as I have not only started playing Fallout 3 but watch the 1984 British docu-drama Threads this weekend. I'll call it an evil influence because I forgot to search out a new podcast to listen to. But in truth, I can't lay the blame solely at Shawn & Jonathan's feet. Despite listening to ten (!) podcasts this week, I didn't get a chance to listen to some of my favorites, like No Prisoners, No Mercy, Epic Dolls, or Massively Speaking. So many podcasts, so little time!

Here is what I listened to last week.

Old Friends

Virgin Worlds #146 (Host: Brent Darren) - Darren once again fills in for Brent to give us the week's MMO news. The topics included "The Great Firewall of Australia" (not Darren's words, btw), Dungeons & Dragons Online changes (and not just the fact the title is going to become free-to-play), Age of Conan's 1.5 update, Mark Jacob leaving Mythic and the joining of EA's studios Bioware and Mythic, patch notes for Eve Online's update 1.3, Fallen Earth & Runes of Magic. Length: 26 minutes.

Van Hemlock #58 (Hosts: Tim Dale & Jon Shute) - In addition to the usual look at the news, Tim & Jon took a stroll down memory lane with the Twitter question "What old and busted gaming classics would you want to see revived and playable?" The hosts also announced a format change. The topic show format will be scrapped and in its place Tim & Jon will bring Van Hemlock's Operation Cheapseats to the podcast every other week. For Van Hemlock's take on the show, click here. Length: 72 minutes.

Shut Up We're Talking #50 (Hosts: Darren & Karen) - The guest hosts for show 50 were Brent from Virgin Worlds, Michael Zenke from SOE's DC Universe Online, Jonathan Morris from Through the Aftermath and John the Ancient Gaming Noob. The all-star cast produced a great show talking about Brad McQuaid, Mark Jacobs and the whole EA/Mythic/Bioware restructuring, and the effect of micro-transactions on real money transaction services. The show also featured a world-class rant by Jonathan and poetry from Karen. Length: 95 minutes.

The Instance #151 (Hosts: Scott Johnson and Randy Jordan) - In this Randy tested, Scott approved show, the hosts took a long look at the release of patch 3.2 on the Public Test Realms as well as Ghostcrawler's post on death knights, PvP during the Midsummer Fire Festival and Gamer MusiCON 09. Length: 106 minutes.

Through The Aftermath #13 (Hosts: Shawn Schuester & Jonathan Morris) - In episode 13 Shawn and Jonathan discuss the news about Left 4 Dead 2, Fallout 3 and Fallen Earth as well as look at the 1984 British docu-drama Threads. Before listening to this episode, I suggest you go to the YouTube link in the show notes and watch Threads before listening to this podcast. Just a warning; the movie is a bit disturbing, but then again, so is the thought of living through a nuclear war. Length: 64 minutes.

Channel Massive #93 (Hosts: Noah, Jason & Mark) - While Jason touts this episode in the show notes as being about Champions Online, console rumors and dirty old men, that's not the most memorable content for me. No, it's the reaction of the M Team in the Blog-O-Steria segment to the return of Brad McQuaid and how they have honored his near return to the world of MMORPGs. Length: 86 minutes.

Channel Massive #94 (Hosts: Noah, Jason & Mark) - Mark took a performance enhancing substance called Game Fuel at the beginning of the podcast and it had a most amusing affect on him. The Blog-O-Steria segment concentrated on the departure of Mark Jacobs from Mythic and why Paul Barnett is still around. Length: 93 minutes.

Star Wars Galaxies With Yivvits and MrBubble #114 (Hosts: Yivvits & MrBubble) - The hosts talk about their plans for SOE's Fan Faire 2009 as well as more thoughts on how the server transfers were handled and a couple of other ideas for the game. I think Yivvits and MrBubble have some good points on the server transfers and hopefully SOE and other game studios will learn from the mistakes SOE made in SW:G. Length: 86 minutes.

PODDED Podcast Season 2 Episode 9 (Hosts: Dillon Arklight and War Childe) - In this episode the hosts touch on some of the 0.0 warfare that Kirith's corp is involved in as well as player reaction to the first Council of Stellar Management Q&A session and how War Childe managed to aggro a whole alliance into spending the money for a war dec. Length: 73 minutes.

EQ2's-day Broadcast on June 16, 2009 (Hosts: Dellmon and Zanadi) - I'm almost caught up with listening to all the shows I miss because I'm still on the train home when the show is broadcast live. In this episode Dellmon is almost over his addiction to Free Realms and he and Zan talk about GU 52, shinies, and the new books that turn players into authors. Length: 84 minutes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Pressure Is Off

I’ve been giving a little more thought to SOE’s announcement that the next expansion for EverQuest 2 is coming out in February 2010 instead of November 2009. I’ve been reading the forums and some people are arguing that the expansion should still come out in November because players are going to get bored with The Shadow Odyssey and leave the game. Others are arguing that the delay will ease the pressure on players to grind alternate achievement experience and actually play the game the way the developers meant EQ2 to be played again.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m a bit relieved that I have an additional 13 weeks to get the last 14 AA points. With the additional quests added with the recently released GU 52 as well as the upcoming content in GU 53 and GU54, I should have no problem reaching my goal of having a level 80 adventurer/level 80 crafter with 400 secondary tradeskill points in transmuting and 200 AA points. Did I mention my guild hit level 78 over the weekend, so my max level toon might also be in a max level guild? I’ll just have to work on getting the last 5 points in slashing attacks and 53 points in safe fall to have a truly max’d out character.

So with the pressure to hurry up and reach all the goals I’ve been working towards for the last three years greatly reduced, what will I do? Well, I still have a lot I want to do in EQ2. One of the goals I set for myself when I started to play the game was to have maximum level characters in all 9 crafting classes. I currently have 6 master crafters and am busy leveling up my level 65 sage, level 60 armorer and level 32 carpenter. With an extra three months, I think I have an outside chance at getting all three toons up to max level.

Will I start playing any new games? Well, I think playing Runes of Magic has shown me that I don’t think I could start playing another fantasy MMO. EverQuest 2 has just been too good and I’d always be comparing any game with EQ2. But I will start playing single player RPGs again. I bought Fallout 3 and will play it over the upcoming holiday weekend. I’ve been looking at Steam and I spotted a couple of other games who’s demos I may wind up downloading.

Would I play another MMO? Since I’ve already dismissed another fantasy MMO, and quite frankly the superhero MMOs don’t interest me. Going back into Free Realms would be good just to be able to play the mini-games, but there really is only one MMO currently on the market that I am interested in playing. That game is Eve Online. Am I really good enough to play with the big boys, at least on a part-time basis. SOE’s delay in launching Sentinel’s Fate may give me the chance to find out.