EQ2 Crafting, Part III: The Crafting Process
Well, we made it here in the end. Here’s hoping this one won’t weigh enough to founder a camel. (African or Asian?) Previous parts of this guide:
They may end up with their own pages, but I haven’t got that far yet.
I’m Ready Already!
So you’ve got your resources and your fuel and you know what you want to make, and you’re even standing at the right crafting station (not a mistake I ever make, no no). Here’s what you see, stolen from the previous post in the series:
If you’re seeing this crafting window, you’ve already started making the item. Just so you know.
Crafting items in EQ2 is broken down into 4-second rounds, also called ticks. In each 4-second window you can a) do nothing or b) hit 1-3 crafting arts (aka reaction arts). At the end of the 4 seconds the RNG spits out a random result which will increase or decrease progress (the blue bar) and/or durability (the green bar). Progress goes from left to right (top to bottom) and durability decreases from right to left (bottom to top).
The basic idea is to make the blue progress bar go all the way from left to right in the summary area, or top left to bottom right in the detail area, without letting the green durability bar go down beyond that rightmost section marker (or the lowest detail-area bar). If that happens, you lose a level of durability and if you can’t claw that back before progress gets to 100%, chances are you won’t end up with a usable item. You’ll get some fuel back in most cases… big whoopee, right?
More Matter, Less Arts
I lie, but the title pleases me. In fact it’s all about the crafting arts. As mentioned above these are also called “reaction arts” but I don’t like the term because it implies you can only use them in reaction to events, which is utterly incorrect. And using them only in reaction to events is how people find they can’t craft to save their lives, shortly followed by the decision that crafting in EQ2 is awful and should never be touched again. The pic below shows the crafting arts as they appear for a weaponsmith, but they’re similar in function across all professions; the only thing that changes are the fine details (like specific modifier numbers) and the icon art.
For those with especially sharp eyes, yes the icons are partly greyed out: each art-pair has a cooldown timer and that’s what you’re seeing. More on which later.
Even the less sharp-eyed may have noticed that icons 1 and 4, 2 and 5 and 3 and 6 are identical. That’s because they perform similar functions and they share a cooldown timer, so you can use only one of each pair every crafting round — so if I click 1, I can’t click 4 in that same round. Actions 1-3 are durability-affecting arts, while actions 4-6 are progress-affecting arts. More specifically:
Action 1: durability boost with progress penalty
Action 2: durability boost with success chance penalty
Action 3: durability boost with power cost (from character’s power pool, which is more or less the same as a mana pool)
Action 4: progress boost with durability penalty
Action 5: progress boost with success chance penalty
Action 6: progress boost with power cost
You can use any combination of durabilty and/or progress boosts every round, but you cannot use both arts in a given pair in a single round. So, I could hit 1-2-3 or 5-4-6 or 6-1-2 but I could not hit 1-2-4 because of that shared cooldown timer for actions 1 and 4.
Here’s the most important thing any novice EQ2 crafter needs to know:
- You can use all three available actions (one in each pair) every single crafting round.
Everything else you can figure out by yourself, but this one has stumped many, many people. If you EQ2-crafted before and didn’t know this, then your experience was probably unpleasant and not very successful, especially at the lower levels.
Each art has a duration of 4.1 seconds and a cooldown timer of 3.5 seconds, which is what enables crafters to button-mash all three arts every round. It may take a bit of practice to begin with, and the usual advice given is to get comfortable with hitting 2 arts each round before you try to get 3 in there. Lag can wreak merry hell with 3-art rounds, as you might expect, and small offsets in timing tend to add up so every now and then you may need to take a round where you hit less than 3 arts just to let the various abilities cool fully down.
Ah yes, that’s another tippish trick: you don’t have to wait for the icons to look “usable” again before you can click them (or hit the corresponding number or numpad keys). Remember: duration is 4.1 seconds but reuse is 3.5 seconds, even though it may not seem that way when you look at the icons themselves.
To be honest, compared to some of the button-mashing hoops MMO players jump through these days when it comes to combat, learning the 3-art per round technique for EQ2 crafting isn’t very difficult. And even if you’re terminally unco-ordinated, hitting 2 arts each round will get you through most recipes just fine, though they’ll tend to take a little longer to finish.
Crafting arts are granted as soon as a character becomes a crafter, and can be found in the knowledge book (K by default). However, since they’re updated automatically every 20 levels and automatically shown when you craft, you’ll probably never need to go check it out. This is a vast improvement over the old-style, “we don’t need to show you no stinkin’ crafting arts while you craft” system, believe me. When I reactivated my old account I still had 6 hotbars full of various different crafting arts. Bleah.
And yes, crafting arts improve as you level. This is another thing novice crafters need to know because it’ll help them get through the first 20 levels. When you first start out, your arts are — how do I put this delicately? — crap. You’ll be mashing durability for all you’re worth most of the time, because the arts you have are barely good enough to keep you from losing durability every round. At 20, however, these arts improve a little, and crafting gets a bit easier. At 40 they improve again, and at 60. And when you finally hit 80, an average all-durability round will net you somewhere between 60 and 100 durability (that’s a lot) with about 50 progress, while an all-progress round will net you 150-200 progress for the measly cost of -15 or so durability. Critical successes and fails will, of course, alter these numbers.
The screenshot above (which I’ve skillfully doctored) shows a pair of crafting arts and their specific effects. The numbers reflect the arts my weaponsmith had available at level 79 — when she reached 80, those were upgraded and became even more potent.
When each crafting round begins, it’s possible to get a crafting event. As mentioned earlier you can get good events and potentially bad events, but the good ones are much rarer than the bad. Not every crafting round has an event; in fact, I’d guesstimate that at least half the rounds on average will be event-less. (Again, just so nobody forgets: that doesn’t mean you can’t use your crafting arts! Mash away!)
Each possible event is associated with a crafting art, which is why they’re also known as reaction arts: when an event shows, you need to “react” with the correct action, also known as “countering” that event. The countering action can’t be in the middle of the sequence of 3 if you’re using 3-action rounds — you have to lead with that one. You also need to react within the 4-second round window, at the end of which the event will fire and you’ll see either a good result, not much of a result (some events are more or less neutral), a bad result, or a really bad result… and the event goes away. There’s a reason “death by forge” was a bigger killer than most mobs back in EQ2’s early days; these have been toned down in normal crafting (which is a shame in some ways), but they’re alive and well in the higher-level crafting instances.
The three screenshots below show:
- The appearance of an event at the start of a crafting round. No arts have been used yet to counter it. To correctly counter that event I would have to use arts 1 or 4 — and no, it doesn’t matter which of the two you use, as long as you use one of them.
- The middle screenshot shows a rare positive event “[Profession-name]‘s Insight” which has been correctly countered, as shown by the icon’s green background.
- The rightmost screenie shows an incorrectly-countered event, which has a corresponding red icon background and may well be followed by the crafter saying “Owie”. Or maybe that’s just me.
Crafting Round Results
The base unmodified result of any crafting round is -10 durability, +50 progress. Given that the last durability segment is around 200 durability (if memory serves) and that most recipes require 1000 progress to complete, it’s almost possible to finish a recipe without ever touching any keys, provided all you get are base results. As if! The RNG is never that kind.
Round results are shown numerically near the name of the crafting station you’re using — so usually somewhere above said station. A couple of stations have what I’d call “off-center” names so you may have to move yourself or the crafting window around if you want to see them. Seeing them isn’t essential; I’m a compulsive numbers-watcher, but my husband simply goes by whether the bars go up and down in the main crafting window. The screenshot below shows the numbers as they appear over the forge; the first number represents durability and the second represents progress. As you might expect, gains are shown in green with a + sign and losses are shown in red with a – sign.
If you go back to the arts-detail screenshot above, you’ll see that with the single application of the “Set” art, my weaponsmith could modify that base round result by +35 dur/-7 progress. On an average round and with no other arts used, then, the round result would be +25 dur / +43 progress. Or, she could use the “Harden” art and get a net result of -15 dur / +78 progress.
The RNG, however, likes to spit out non-base results quite often, and they can range from abysmally bad (crit fails) to amazingly good (crit successes) with a whole range of lesser good or bad results in between. So the arts you’re using every round will be munged in with whatever the RNG comes up with. Yes, that’s a technical term.
Say you use all your durability arts in a given round and the RNG-modified round result is -100 dur / -50 progress. If your arts added up to +50 dur / +25 progress, you’d have a final result of -50 dur / -25 progress. Which ain’t great, but it’s better than the unmodified version.
So why would anyone NOT want to use as many crafting arts as they can every round? They wouldn’t.
The Price of Good Results
As with any decent mechanic, however, success comes at a price. Remember that each pair of arts has some sort of cost associated with using their actions: either a durability or progress loss (for a corresponding progress or durability boost), or a decrease in the chance of success for that round, or a cost in power for the character using the action.
The first pair is an easy win/lose relationship. The second pair is a little more subtle, but there’s no doubt that the chance of getting a poor result in a given round is increased whenever you use that art; for the most part, however, the benefits outweigh the possibility of disaster. And the third pair can add up to a really hefty power cost if the item you’re making takes a long time (as can happen with non-spec recipes, e.g. in the crafting instances) or if you’re making a lot of items one after the other, as is the case when you’re doing crafting writs or even just making consumables for sale.
I’m Done! Now What?
Once an item is completed it’ll be placed in your inventory, at least most of the time. If it’s an item you’re making for a quest or for a writ, finishing the crafting process will trigger a quest update but won’t necessarily produce a physical item. (This wasn’t the case in the long-ago, so you could double-dip by making stuff for writs and then selling said stuff to a vendor. Then again, stuff sold to vendors for less than it cost to make, usually, so it wasn’t really a good way to become Rockefeller.)
Similarly, the new (to me) consignment crafting system enables a crafter to make an item for another player (who has to be in the same zone), using resources provided by the client (optional). The resulting item is automagically placed in the client’s inventory. This enables crafting no-trade items for other people, or heirloom items that can be shared within a given account but which are otherwise no trade.
But Where’s My Phat XP?
In this respect EQ2 crafting is like most other systems: the more difficult the recipe you make, relative to your level, the more xp you’ll get. Eventually recipes will “grey out” and stop giving you any experience at all when you make them. Like mobs, recipes are colour-coded from red (way hard!) through orange, yellow, white (even), blue and green (easy) and down to grey (trivial).
Making any non-trivial item will net you some experience, with a little xp bonus for the first time you ever make a recipe. We’ll get to that next time though, when I’ll cover levelling, crafting styles (defensive vs offensive), crafting gear, and whatever else you lovely commenters come up with that I’ve forgotten.
As far as I can tell that leaves two parts to go: the xp/levelling/crafting gear part and the part on harvesting. If there’s anything else you’d like to see covered, speak up!