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SWG – The Master Speaks

I mentioned Raph Koster’s post a few days ago, but as it turns out there are a bunch of them about SWG and I’m still cursing the loss of Google Reader (yes I bloody well hold a grudge, at least in this case). So for my own convenience and that of a couple of other people who keep saying they need to read those posts — and they do, they’re fascinating — here are some links.

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 1

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 2

SWG-tagged posts

That should be enough to get you started.

It’s weird how often Mr. Koster says they didn’t end up with what they wanted for various systems in SWG (especially crafting!), when I and many others still remember it as the best crafting system ever, bar none. Actually to me it was the only real crafting system ever, bar none. All the others were just… bleh. Even EQ2, and I love EQ2 crafting — but it never even remotely compared to SWG crafting. The difference is one of several orders of magnitude in terms of complexity and depth. EQ2 is fun, but it’s whack-a-mole: once you’ve figured it out, you’ll never get anything but pristine (and yes, that was true even in the days when Death By Forge was a possibility).

And this is why SWG worked for crafters and people who wanted to be part of a society and not just someone who ran a ‘toon’ (apologies to all of you who use it, but I hate that term). It’s also why I doubt anyone will ever design another SWG. More’s the pity, but at least we have the Emulator:

I get asked this question all the time. In fact, now that I do consultancy from time to time, it’s not unusual for a company to come to me and say “can you put in crafting like SWG? Our players say it was the best ever!” Usually, they have actually, you know, designed their game already, or even built it. And I have to tell them, “No. You build your game around it, not the other way around.”

In other more fluffy news, I managed a little bit of playtime in between bouts of being sick and feeling sorry for myself. Here’s a pictorial account:

Coronet by night

Coronet by night

Poor Heidegger, can't hold his liquor

Poor Heidegger, can’t hold his liquor

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.


A couple of people asked for pix, here and on FB, so prepare for full-on (mega-newbie) nostalgia.

My first char (can’t make another until tomorrow) is a crafter, which means she’s going to spend the next 3 days sampling till her lekku fall off. Because no resources = no crafty = no money, and you can put those in whichever order you wish. Currently I’m running artisan survey mission in between sampling because those training NPCs must live in gold-plated mansions in Kadaara when they’re not busy fleecing poor saps just off the space-boat.



Fambaa baby








That pile I was talking about last month? It just got bigger.


One of my favourite games EVAR and one I miss perhaps even more than I miss Asheron’s Call (which was a wonderful MMO-virgin game nevertheless). I miss it like the spousal unit misses UO or hardcore raiders miss EQ. I followed SWGEmu a number of years ago but time, life and the state of the emulator’s progress back then conspired against me and I never got to try it out.

This is about to change. Well, in 2 or 3 days when my pooey internet allows me to update.

I’m not even going to mention the NGE and the CU and if you don’t know those acronyms you’re much better off, trust me.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I’m really excited about this. My workload is pretty heavy right now but I may have to make time (i.e. lose sleep) for this one.

A propos nothing, it’s the game I was playing just before I got caught up in the Warhammer hype and started this blog. That was back in 2007-2008. Man, that was a long time ago, and despite all the changes they’d brought to the game it still had something unique going for it. Can’t wait for that update to finish…

Auction Houses: Pandering to those who hate crafting

This. Elder Game’s The Case Against Auction Houses.

But I mean, what are you gonna do, not have an auction house in a modern MMO?

Sure! There’s no reason every MMO should have an auction house. Lots of MMOs implement it unthinkingly, because they believe it’s a mandatory back-of-the-box feature. Few MMO developers take the time to think about the ramifications of the feature.

I’ve got a lot to say on the subject myself, as a self-professed crafter before anything else in MMOs, but having ignored most of my work over the weekend I’m now forced to actually do some in order to pay the bills. Bah humbug.

Also: I miss SWG. The whole crafter/merchant/harvester thing did sort of turn into a second (and sometimes third) job, but it was the most fulfilling crafting and selling in any MMO, evar.

TSW – Crafting basics

Crafting is… weird, in TSW, but actually quite useful and apparently built for the long term. No huge guide here because it’s actually not that complicated.

– The above-mentioned “Moose” has a kind of crafting mission found on the table near him, to disassemble a shotgun and make a weapon with the parts.

– The Raven’s Knock (Madame Roget’s place) also offers a crafting mission which enables you to learn how to make glyphs (gear add-ons – think WoW’s enchantments). Sadly you can only make a Chaos focus I think, but I could be wrong.

Here are the Basics According to Ysh:

i. Disassembly and learning shapes

You can disassemble most items you outgrow or loot, and I would recommend it. To disassemble an item, open the crafting interface (Y) and drag the item in question from your inventory to the “Item” part of the crafting window. This has two results:

– It will break down the item into its base parts and return crafting ingredients

– It will also show you the “shape” of the item in the assembly window.

The second part is worth knowing, because to MAKE items you have to place crafting ingredients in the assembly window to form the correct “shape” (i.e. recipe) for the item. If you want to make a Shotgun or a Belt but have no idea what shape you need to use, drag a similar item to the disassembly slot and make note of the resulting shape without actually disassembling it. Drag it back out to your inventory and Bob’s your recipe uncle.

ii. Obtaining actual crafting materials

You can disassemble items to get mats and you can loot them. The draug in Kingsmouth seem to drop a fair number of runes, for instance, whereas I’ve never had a rune from disassembly yet (just the ‘elements’ – fire, water, dust and metal).

As far as I’ve seen, disassembly only returns “base” materials, but that may likely change later in the game. Most crafted items require base materials to be refined into more usable stuff before you can craft with them. Qualities are, but don’t quote me: Base –> Imperfect –> Normal –> Sacred –> Pure. QL3 weapons can be made with Imperfect stuff, so it won’t be too hard to find what you need.

Materials can be improved by refining them in the crafting window: pop them in the assembly area and you’ll get 1 material of the next quality level for every 5 you put in. So 5 base [whatevers] make 1 imperfect, 5 imperfects will make 1 normal, and so on. My guess is it’s designed to suck down a whole lot of resources, which is mudflation-prevention in action. It works.

iii. Making something

Yesterday I decided to use one of my QL3 weapon kits I got to see if I could improve on my Blood magic focus. Knowing I’d need metal to make it (all weapons seem to need metal) and knowing I’d need 7 bits of Imperfect metal to make my focus, I collected 35 base metals and refined those down to 7. Then I dragged my QL3 Weapon Crafting Toolkit (I think it’s a mission reward) into the Tool section of the crafting window, added my 7 imperfect metals in the required shape, and hey presto.

It’s not THAT much better that what I’ve got, but I can improve it with glyphs until I can afford the Council of Venice one / get one from a mission or drop / or get one from Polaris. Every little helps.

And finally, the biggest crafting tip of all

I can’t swear to it but I think Scopique passed this one on to me:

To add stacked crafting resources to the crafting interface without having to laboriously split them up by hand (THE single most nerdrage inducing thing about TSW crafting), left-click to pick up the stack from your inventory then right-click in each square you need in the crafting interface. And suddenly crafting isn’t so much of a nightmare.

LOTRO – One more wafer-thin alt!

There’s a reason the spousal unit’s superhero name would be “Mr. Methodical” — or, if he were a villain, probably something like “OCD Boy”. He is utterly incapable of doing anything casually, and this includes gaming.

Which means, if he starts crafting, that he can’t help but want to make one of everything even if 99% of everything is crap. This takes up a lot of his gaming time, as you can imagine.

When I talked him into playing LOTRO with me a couple of months ago, we swore up and down that he wouldn’t have to craft if he didn’t want to, yadda yadda yadda. He crafted. Now he doesn’t dare log in because he knows there are piles of unsorted crafting all-sorts waiting for him — and, being Mr Methodical, he’s also incapable of just ignoring said piles and playing like they don’t exist.

The long and short of this is, I now have official permission to make more alts. Because, you know, someone has to craft all the stuff we use. Really, that’s the only reason. Nothing to do with making a pile more alts and starting some more crafters. Nothing at all.

Stop laughing, you there at the back.


Random pic below — Captain Ysharros checking out the canyon approaches to Angmar on her spiffy new Harvestmath Festival mount. The horse looks keener about it than she does (can’t blame her).

EVE – The people down there look like ants!

As promised, my extremely noobish PI — Planetary Interaction — setup in EVE.

There are written and video tutorials in various places — here and here — that aren’t bad at getting you started, though nothing substitutes for a solid bit of in-game market research. You’re going to be producing stuff so it pays to decide what stuff, which depends on demand, ease of production, and whether you intend to refine (and do more with) your raws or whether you’re just going to sell the raw materials.

If you’re as much of a noob as me but interested in the basics, here they are. At base a planet installation needs:

  1. A command center. The name is fairly self-explanatory and without one you can’t do squat. They come in different planetary-type flavours (temperate, barren, ice, gaseous, etc) and also different goodness levels. A basic command center will set you back less than 100k, at least in my region, and that’s peanuts; on the downside the center’s powergrid and CPU values aren’t great, so you won’t be able to run a gigantic empire off one basic CC. Better CCs start to cost more, obviously. I stuck with the basic CC not only because that’s all I can use right now but also because it would keep my expenses in check. Better to spend only a small amount if I was about to discover I hate Planetary Interaction and want nothing to do with it.
  2. Extractors. These also come in various flavours depending on the resource you want to extract.
  3. Processing plants. Not strictly necessary if you don’t intend to process the base raw materials you’re extracting — but refining smushes stuff down in terms of volume, and volume is a big consideration in EVE when you have to haul everything around yourself in ships whose cargo holds are defined by the volume of goods they can carry.
  4. Storage units and other nice-but-non-essential-goodies.

So, you put down a CC, plop a few harvesters down, process or not, and grab your resources for sale at the other end. It’s a little more fiddly than that, but that’s the basic idea.

What you see above is as follows: Command Centre on the far left, leading to a storage unit (dark blue in middle). The Blue circles with arrows on them are extractors, of which there are 3. The orangey icon is the processing centre that turns my aqueous liquid into sellable water. (The aqueous liquid is sellable too, but in my estimate wasn’t as cost/benefit effective.)

It’s a rather messy setup because I wasn’t zoomed in far enough to begin with and so my various installations are further away from each other than they should really be — this is nibbling me in the ass (as opposed to biting) because time and distance are both money in this game. I also read halfway through that it was more efficient to route raws to a storehouse and then to a processing plant, but by then my buildings were plopped so I had to play a bit fast and loose with the routes. (You LINK buildings together for power and whatnot, and you ROUTE products from one linked place to another.) I’m also not sure why it’s more efficient, but it sort of makes sense so I’ll take the author’s word for it. I’m not sure it’s actually making a bit of difference in my low-volume, noobish setup, but it’s worth being aware of for later.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. To begin with, I decided to keep things really simple. I checked out first-step processed resources that are in reasonable demand for decent prices. There were a few decent candidates (among them water and toxic metals), and once I had those noted down I picked a relatively safe, relatively isolated (i.e. less people setting up PIs) system and went to check out its planets. I expected to have to check out several systems before I found something that fit the bill; I therefore didn’t shell out on a command centre until I had some idea what kind of planet I’d want to rape exploit use for resources.

Having found a temperate planet with pretty good concentrations of Aqueous Liquids, I got myself a CC and spent the next hour muddling about. Tutorials are all well and good but they can never replace the experience you get screwing up in practice. As it turns out my setup isn’t disastrously bad, and in any case it didn’t cost me all that much (~400k I think). Now I’m watching my little extractors suck up water — err, aqueous liquids, that I then turn into water. The water itself is slowly piling up in the command center, and when there’s enough of it I’ll shoot it up into orbit and go scoop up my goodies.

I can imagine that this will be fun, once I have the experience — and more importantly in-game skills — to run more than one of these / more complex / more powerful Planetary Installations. Of course, one can always extend one’s potential by using alts, too, but EVE is one game where I’m not at all sure I want to have any alts. I’ll no doubt end up with some, but I’m going to try and put that off for a while even if it makes me less competitive.

And that’s one of the problems I have with EVE. It’s an extremely competitive game where everyone is constantly measuring themselves against everyone else — in which I suppose it’s not that different from most MMOs. The difficulty for me is resisting the idea that I’m somehow sub-par by not wanting to buy in to the Achievers’ paradise. I just want to do my thing, have fun (which atm is actually debatable with respect to EVE), and maybe make a bit of money to fund whatever other fun stuff I want to do.

Another problem I have with EVE is that it’s definitely not a theme park type game. I like that — especially intellectually — but now I feel like many players do when they try something like EQ2: there are so many shiny interesting and ZOMFG QQ complicated things to do in EVE, I’m paralysed by my inability to choose. It’s the beauty and the curse of sandbox games: they can be hard to grasp and it can be extremely difficult to find your own bliss in them, so to speak.

RL encroachements may be impacting my mood, too — in fact they almost certainly are. I’ve written before that when I’m not having fun in a game, it’s not usually because of the game but because of the out-of-game baggage I’m carrying at that moment. Couple that with a MUNDUNGOUS and very, very complex game and you end up with confused, directionless, crabby me. YSH SMASH!

I’m pretty sure EVE is fun. I just need to find my bearings.

PS — I’m not looking for pats on the back or advice. I’m not overwhelmed to the extent that I have no idea what I’m doing (I have a small idea what I’m doing), I’m just overwhelmed by choices and possibilities. And crabby. More to the point, I like to do things my own way and in my own time, so if you want to tell me how and what to do, do so at your own risk. You Have Been Warned.

EDIT — for those of you who do play EVE and find it hard to see much of anything with that #)(*@)(*#)(* {many expletives deleted} font they use, which appears to be designed on purpose so that people with astigmatism can’t focus on it, try this. It might help. Note that I may be especially affected — I have one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye, which runs in the family, and the soft contact lens I (sometimes remember to) use doesn’t compensate very well for astigmatism.  All that option really does is expand the font, which can’t be changed, but it did help me quite a bit when I discovered this a few days ago. It’s still very eye-strainy especially at higher resolutions, but it’s not YSH SMASH LCD-SCREEN bad, unless I’m in a crabby mood like today.


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