There’s something the EQ2 team have understood that very few other games have: exploring, crafting, lore-chasing and other non-combat activities are playstyles in their own right. Most other games seem to assume there’s only one playstyle: end-game focused, raid-focused, achiever playstyle, and that anything else is just an amusing but temporary side-trek.
Now, before you tell me that combat is what these games are all about and all these games will ever be about — STFU. That’s a failure of imagination and not a failure of the games themselves. Look at oh, I dunno, Hello Kitty Online. I bet that’s not all about fighting. And if it is, I guess I’ll drink my own cup of STFU and raise ya a keg of Puzzle Pirates. Games are contests of some kind, sure, even if they’re only with oneself or against the game itself. Still, contest does not have to equal conflict does not have to equal combat; starting with the same letter is no logical reason either.
On Sunday, my first max-level EQ2 crafter, Fairuza, got her epic crafter’s earring. Yep, it’s epic. Yep, it’s only for crafters. Yep, it’s a pain in the butt to get — though in true EQ2 crafter form, it makes you (gasp) talk to and interact with a bunch of other players to get what you need rather than just making you craft a million different things. (Yeah, you can do it all with alts, but I talk to myself when I’m alting – that counts, right? *twitch*)
Nope, I don’t have a screenshot — though I did take one of an absolutely stunning giant chessboard I came across in my travels to get said epic. That’s not a single item “giant chessboard” thing — it’s a collection of other furniture bits cunningly arranged to form a chessboard. I love this kind of stuff, which is common in EQ2 and was extremely common in SWG, and once again shows that no matter what other boats SOE may have missed, they certainly understand housing and its importance to their players. (Oh, it’s not quite as huge as it may seem — my character is shrunk by 40% courtesy of her veteran moppet thingy reward.)
I’m pretty sure it was at the <Bloodsworn> guild hall, though it’s hard to tell from my scribbled notes. It might have been Bloodswoon or Bloodwoot.
I’d shout out to the various people who crafted the updates Fairuza needed, but I’m very sure none of them have ever heard of this place, and I thanked them on the day in any case. I’m polite like that.
So, you ask, what the hell do crafters need epic anything for anyway? Well now.
1. It has go-faster stripes. (45%) Granted, that’s not actually faster than me on my harvesting-buddy unicorn, and it doesn’t have harvest-better stripes, but it sure makes me zip around indoors like a demented purple-trousered thing. More on the purple trousers later.
2. It has craft-better stripes. Really,that’s standard equipment on crafter bonus gear, along with power steering (45%) and Sirius radio.
3. It lets you see SPECIAL RED SHINIES!!!!! Red shinies are like normal gold shinies (see shiny, pick up shiny, add to one of a million collections for various fun & funky rewards) but you can only see them with the epic crafter earring. I’m not sure what those collections are — I could look them up, of course, but where would be the fun in that? I’ve found a few in my travels in the last couple of days, and you can be sure I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more.
Oh yeah, and you get a Master <Profession> title which I mostly don’t bother with because I can’t stand it when I accidentally mouse over myself and my title + name + suffix takes up 40% of a 28-inch screen. Remember, I come from Asheron’s Call (where names over heads didn’t exist) and not EQ or UO. One’s early experiences shape one’s expectations, which is why I tend to turn names off in games. If I want to know who the hell you are, I’ll mouse over you or (perish the thought!) talk to you — but not seeing a mess of text on my screen helps preserve the immersion for me, as well as some of the mystery. (Tangentially, Vanguard was positively awful for that, especially when the name-bug was active where people’s names might end up staying in inch-tall letters. Besides, the base font that game used for names was fugly. But I digress.)
There’s a cool-looking master crafter cloak you get, too, though it’s kind of an Easter Egg — nothing in any of the quests tells you to hie thee back to the original quest giver, though I do remember promising him I’d give him an update on what I’d found out. But come on, since when do we actually listen to what any of the NPCs in these games say? Hah! Well, we should, especially in games like EQ2 where often then only clue you had was from some throwaway NPC line that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the recorded quest text. In any case I didn’t get that cloak till yesterday, since I didn’t know about it.
I even got an opportunity, that same Sunday afternoon, to pay forward the help others had given me by crafting someone else’s Provisioner update. The EQ2 crafting community is one of the tightiest, friendliest and helpfuliest I’ve seen anywhere, which was already the case back in 2005 and hasn’t changed a bit since. That whole paying it forward thing is motivating me to try and get at least to the last step of that epic quest for my other level 80 crafters (3 of them right now, 4 as soon as I get my tailor through the last 2 levels), which would enable them to craft updates for others. Problem is, as with most epic things, the steps you have to do before you can begin the epic quest are a little daunting, especially for a slacker like me. You have to do a couple of travel-access quests, then you have to grind a bunch of faction in a somewhat out of the way and pain-in-the-ass-to-get-to place — and those uncivilized bastards don’t even have a bank! Hell, their people are so wary of you until you’ve made them about 18,000 sets of field latrines that they won’t even sell you fuel, so you have to travel with everything you’ll need to begin with.
Okay, I’m making it sound like more of a hassle than it really is, and no pain no grain, right? Still, it’s a bit of a hassle and I’ve not done any of the pre-req steps with anyone else. So don’t expect a “Ysh has FIVE!! epic crafters, ah! ah! ah!” post anytime soon.
In any case, for the time being I’m happy to rest on my epic laurels and zip around like a demented purple thing. Purple because that’s the colour of the level 62 (aka Tier 7, 60-69) mastercrafted leather armour. I know, I know, I’m almost letting the hardcore crafting side down by gaining adventuring levels, but I assure you it’s entirely incidental. I was chasing achievement points because I was determined that at least ONE of my characters would have AA points higher than her level, and I’m hardly going to turn off adventuring xp when adventuring xp is something I tend to get once in a blue moon. So a side-effect of whapping out grey quests and getting AA was the slow but steady trickle of adventuring XP, and before I knew it, Fairuza was 60. And once you’re 60, if you want to wear the mastercrafted gear (made with rares), you may as well get to 62. So I did.
I’m amazed. I never thought I’d make it to 50, let alone 60. And now I’m opening cans of whoopass on bats and basilisks up in the Bonemire rather than being the can-openee, which trust me is quite a change. The Bonemire is a Tier 7 harvesting area I’ve been frequenting since Fairuza was in her late 20s, and when you’re level 28 or so a level 67 critter can lay you flat before you can say “My, what sharp spines you have!” When you level as slowly as I do, it can be quite weird to realise stuff can’t one-shot you anymore. It’s entirely possible I may have cackled maniacally a few times as I got some bat and basilisk payback, in between harvesting stuff.
Anyway. Whatever you’re playing and whatever you’re achieving, have fun with it. Do what you enjoy and not what others think you should enjoy. It’s worth it.