Unending plats and fame as an expert crafter were once motivation enough to spend countless hours sequestered from friends and real in-game content. Fortunes were made and people scampered up the wealth leader board. Reputations were established and maligned. I recall venomous posts normally reserved for price hike discussions when the new “consignment” feature was discussed. “If someone won’t trust me with a rare based on my reputation, I will not do business with them anyway,” was one comment I recall from guild chat. I also had a friend make it to the top five wealthiest ‘toons by crafting tier-six boxes. Boxes.
As I ascended the adventurer’s leveling ladder, beginning at the launch of Everquest II, I decided I needed to get into the “tradeskilling” game to establish a reliable “coin” flow, myself. I needed better gear, other players needed a helmet as the armor quests lacked that slot; the logic was obvious. Seeing someone run by in full carbonite plate elicited some drool and a quick tradeskill choice. Friends and guildmates scoffed at the prospect of mindlessly mashing buttons for hours on end in the Qeynosian equivalent of a dungeon. After roughly ten levels of the grind, I tended to agree with that assessment. However, the monotony did not stop me—in fact I became adept at mashing keys while watching TV or reading other higher interest material, i.e. obituaries, legal documents, the user manual, etc. Even when SOE botched the reactions keys for armorers, and as “the forge” crept up the NPC rankings for “players killed,” I still hammered on—adding a tailor to the growing ranks of alts who would (and have) done little more than crafted gear.
I was hedging my bets at the time–every class except for alchemists needed other tradeskillers to make the raw components for their products. Armorers seemed to need more components than any other class. In a truncated move aimed at simplifying without anesthetizing the creation process, this has evolved from secondary tradeskilling abilities, to no components at all in the combine process. I feel like my gear should have additional stats on it since I did it the hardway—uphill in the snow.
Has the great “Tradeskill Simplification” been good for business? Not particularly. Do I have any statistics to prove more people tradeskill now, rather than when one had to tediously grind each component or rely on others to make your products? No, but more people did begin to produce items for the market, and also to level their crafters much faster, and to lower prices server wide.
You could make a fortune as a crafter providing one thing—you were the first to reach specific recipes in your area of expertise. A particularly lucrative time for my armorer and tailor was during the early days of the Desert of Flames expansion. I quickly reached my tradeskill level 59 with both ‘toons, allowing me to make the rare and imbued chest/legs for plate, chain, leather, and cloth. With or without my “looking for work” flag displayed, I could be assured a full night of crafting cobalt or rare robes for aspiring casters. In fact, the profits from those few weeks have tided me over nicely to today—supplemented by my real money maker, the Froglok cook—no leg jokes, please.
Incidentally, I received a death threat when I first reached tier five with the armorer. I was, roughly, the 11th or so armorer on Crushbone to begin crafting tier-five armor in the spring of 2005. When I first broke into the tier 5 market, I priced my goods at the exact price of the other armorers, not because I didn’t want to undercut anyone, but they were selling every piece for 12-18 gold and that was a veritable fortune in those days. After a week I had sold exactly zero items. What to do? Cut prices! I didn’t slash prices, but I did lower them enough to attract buyers, and it worked. After a day at the new price point, I received a couple of tells from people with names I knew from the armorers’ list on EQ2 players. To make a long story short, I was told if I did not conform to their pricing standards, which, I was informed, they had all agreed to, that I would not ever sell another piece of armor. In fact, I was told by one individual, in the form of a “tell” in Spanish, that “I swear on my mother if you do not raise your prices I will kill you.” I do not speak Spanish, but Babelfish does, and it told me what he said. On my mother it did. A guildmate advised me to reply with something resembling the following, and it seemed to deter further motherly invocations as I did not receive any more mail from these people—“Cracker honor is the cheese on Friday?”
But I diverge from the narrative. How did I arrive at so diverse a workforce? Shortly after launch, along with some friends from other games, TorilMud in particular, we decided to carve out a crafting cartel, so to speak. Mudding tends to make the tedious routine. To me went all things metal and cloth. Later, with the revamp of food and drink in a “Live Update,” I began to grind my Froglok on the stove—figuratively. Money was, and is, so easily made selling food and especially drink, that he is my sole level 70 tradeskiller at the moment. My armorer has eeked his way into tier seven, and the Halfling tailor, though only a wee troubadour, is now crafting goods with hanging roots and stonehide pelts as well. With the addition of my second account, the Ratonga has begun to hammer furniture and boxes together, reaching tier five to discover that fulginate will cost him his tail, and ears too.
The other members of the cartel have fallen away, leaving myself and the other lone survivor short the requisite classes we once thought necessary. Thankfully, he has an affinity for alts as well filling many of the needed classes we lack. Jeweler, weapon smith, alchemist etc. are now covered by one or both of us. It has become a point of pride to craft all our items ourselves, and only wear gear graced by a “made by” tag with one of our ‘toon’s names attached—unless of course it came from a master chest.
The grind has become more of an expense of late, however. As I was getting ready to work on some tier-five furniture yesterday, I found myself lacking fulginate to begin work. Off I scampered to the broker, only to find the lowest price at over 1.2 gold each— and he was selling over 1000 clusters. This is the cyber equivalent of a cortisone shot sending my main off to Ferrott.. As usual, the nodes were especially scarce, but not scarce enough to force me to buy clusters. Many of the furniture recipes require 3 fulginate clusters per combine, and that adds up rapidly.
Which brings me to my point—is it in fact lucrative to manufacture much of anything in Everquest II anymore? I can sell rare items for a profit, typically, and sometimes a handsome one. I am not complaining about supply and demand either, as when there are a number of people selling the same product and limited demand I would expect the price to fall. What I am asking is, have tradeskillers over produced themselves, or does the grind itself result in overproduction? It seems the real profit is in rare items, which are only available to crafters once one has done the prerequisite grinding.
After returning to the game I feel little of the sense of urgency I once did to level my tradeskilling ‘toons, and instead find myself drawn to sell raws for a profit instead of adding to what seems to be a glutted market.
If you made it through my little story above, you are probably a crafter as well, or you would have given up long ago. Is there an angle I am missing? I will continue to craft, just for the sheer addictive nature of leveling my ‘toons in a new area and the ability to sell the odd rare item. I just wonder if I can find a better way to maximize what my hard work has produced.
I also feel like being away from the game for months has put me behind. But behind what?