One of the changes that came with update 9 is that your characters now accrue character XP towards leveling.
In our kinchat, we’ve had some lively discussions as to whether this is good or bad.
To address this at CSTM, we had a “mini-roundtable” with Vraeden, Ketani, Merric and Goldenstar to talk about how this might affect the game.
Vraeden: What do you think about this new development?
Ketani: I think this an excellent change. I have approximately eleventy billion alts and not nearly enough time to level them, so anything that allows me to speed up the process of getting them to the level cap is a great addition to the game.
Vraeden: For an alt-oholic, I can see how anything that makes leveling easier to be good, but what happens when you get your toon up to the level cap through crafting and you haven’t killed anything or left the craft hall?
To me, the worst case scenario is a level 85 character showing up for a raid or group with no class traits, no virtues, no racial traits and no legendaries because all they’ve done is craft and haven’t used any of their skills.
Ketani: Ah, but how likely are we to actually see characters that did all of their leveling in the craft hall? You get experience from gathering materials as well as crafting things, so it’s going to be in your best interests to have these alts out in the world, mining their own ore and studying their own navels (or whatever it is scholars actually do with one of their resource nodes). I’m not advocating using XP from crafting as your sole source of XP, but as an additional boost.
Vraeden: I just see the tremendous potential for abuse For instance, if you have high level prospector alts, you can feed your lowbie crafting materials and level up your prospector and weaponsmith/jeweler/metalsmith without leaving the craft hall. Same thing for a yeoman who wants to level up their farmer and cook crafting, or a tailor whom you can feed leather and hides.
Ketani: How is it abuse, though? It’s a feature added by Turbine that they clearly want us to use. I feel if you’re spending your time doing something in game more useful than trolling GLFF, you should be getting experience for it
Why should killing be the only thing we learn from? Is the only experience worth remembering that of taking an orc or goblin’s life? Shouldn’t there be a valuable lesson in learning how to make a campfire kit or hunter’s trap or beautiful cloak? Who’s to say that a hobbit doesn’t benefit more from knowing how to bake a bilberry pie than from whacking a warg over the head?
Vraeden: My worry is that people will use this in lieu of learning their skills to race up to the level cap and then trying to get into a BG or Orthanc raid without any class traits.
Do you think this may be something for the RPers and folks who have crafting alts to help them get into the zones where crafting is reputation gated?
With all of the XP accelerators that are out there now, I’ve seen people who have high level characters who don’t know how to play their classes, and in a group, that becomes a problem. I’ve encountered captains who don’t know that they can remove fear, lore-masters who don’t know what a stun DoT is, and burgs that don’t know what HIPS is.
Ketani: I think that the problem of people being unaware of their class’ skills is a problem we’ve had for quite a while, and not one that would go away even if they were forced to slow down their leveling. If a person can’t be bothered to read their skills and earn their class traits, that’s definitely a problem, but it’s not one that is brought about by giving people accelerated ways to earn experience. It’s an issue that’s been around for as long as I can remember.
I really don’t think that a completely clueless character walking into a raid is going to be an issue (at least not solely because of XP from crafting), though. In my experience, most players interested in raiding pick a class or two that they want to raid on, and focus their energy on making sure that their main character is ready to raid. In most cases, crafting alts are there to simply support the main. These days they’re being leveled to get the reputation they need to make whatever scroll or earring or trail food they can’t otherwise make without reputation, and then they’re back to being parked in the crafting hall.
I would not be surprised if a big part of the motivation for Turbine adding this feature was an attempt to appease players frustrated that their alts needed to level before they could continue on with their crafting. For finding a way to address that concern, I applaud them.
Merric: I’d also like to add that don’t you think that accelerated experience is just shedding more light on how awful the system is for acquiring virtues and traits? These are two things that are based on some fairly antiquated MMO development strategies. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any games out there that are top-tier MMOs and don’t allow you to obtain skills through leveling and traiting rather than mashing a skill button 300-400 times or killing 300+ enemies in the same area; just so you can move onto another area and kill another 300+ mobs. I would also argue that leveling through the landscape doesn’t necessarily make you better at playing your character.
Vraeden: I agree with both of the above statements. I’ve always been puzzled as to why we need to use [INSERT SKILL HERE] 100/350/750/1,500 times in order to earn a class trait, or kill 120/240 of something to earn a virtue point. That just seems very grindy. At the same time, it also makes me more invested in my character since I’ve played him/her for a hundred hours or so by the time they get to the level cap.
A few years ago, to get to the higher craft tiers, you had to go into a higher level zone to complete a quest, but people solved this by getting a max level kinmate or friend to escort them to Angmar or the Trollshaws, so you’d see a level 17 supreme master tailor or something ridiculous like that.
At the same time, I also know that most folks really only play three or four different characters (tops), but you need 7 toons to get into each of the craft guilds, so a lot of people were having toons that couldn’t advance through the tier 7 and tier 8 crafting levels due to the reputation gating.
My problem with this is that I just see new players coming in to the game, leveling up their toons through crafting rather than playing, and then wanting to go on raids or skirmishes under-virtued and without all of their class skills. Without arguing the merits of the grindy virtue/trait system, the fact of the matter is that this is what LOTRO has in place, so do you think this will result in an increase in players who don’t know their classes, or is this something that is in place as a convenience for the players with a bajillion alts to level up their crafting alts that they really don’t play anyway?
Ketani: Oh, don’t get me started on the class deed/virtue grind. I’ve actually abandoned leveling one of my alts because I thought it’d be fun to power level it in skirms over a double XP weekend. Then later, it was nearly impossible to play that character without any virtues or traits appropriate to my new level (around 20 levels higher than when I started skirmishing). It was simpler to me to just start over with a new character and level the normal way than to try and get caught up on that toon.
So I suppose there is the danger of leveling too fast to keep up with character progression, but the same could be said for using the pocket items that give +50% XP to monster kills or any of the XP boosts in the store. If people want to find ways to skip ahead in leveling, they will, this just adds another option for doing that.
One positive thing with this is that it gives another option for free-to-play leveling. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aside from having to purchase crafting guild access, F2P players can craft all the way up to Eastemnet tier if they like, right? I know there would be some recipes gated by reputation that may be unavailable to them, but they’d have the basic tier access, at least. So, this gives someone tight on funds a way to progress their character in addition to the usual grinding of mobs and tasks. I don’t think this will be a F2P player’s sole means of leveling, but in an already limited system, one more option is a good thing in my opinion.
Vraeden: I read about the crafting XP in the release notes, but it didn’t hit me until I was crafting on my lowbie lore-master, who was about 4 bubbles short of level 25 at the time. I was farming and cooking (two activities which I LOATHE, but might not be so bad if I can get regular XP from them), and set it to “autocraft” and then went to do laundry. When I came back, I had leveled up and was a quarter of the way to level 26!
After two days of this, I am now level 28 and just starting tier 4 of farming and cooking. It should be noted that it appears that crafting XP is counted as a “monster kill” with respect to rest XP and other XP accelerators.
At this rate, I can see myself making supreme master farmer/cook and getting to level 40 without leaving the Shire. The idea of there being more to a character than killing things makes a lot of sense from a role-play or character development point of view, but I wonder if this is going to screw up the game’s other mechanics.
Goldenstar: Wut is crafting? Can I eatz it?
Vraeden: Yes, it’s very good for second breakfast. I’d try it with some delicious crispy bacon and an apple and cheese pie.
Ketani: LOL, on that note, is this the time to mention how coincidental it is that the crafting XP is being added at the same time as the XP disabler in the store? Personally, I’m of the opinion that more options are good, and that although a lot of people have asked for an XP disabler for a long time, I’m sure the number of people wanting that option is still smaller than the number of people who will appreciate crafting from XP, so I’m glad that’s the option they chose to add to the store and not the crafting XP one.
Vraeden: It could very well be that this is a way to sell XP disablers, which I might consider buying if they weren’t 495 per character. Maybe if they were per account at that price.
Maybe we’ll have to see how this plays out over a period of time. Will it make existing problems (players who don’t know their class) worse? Or is it a nice way to level up alts that you just keep around for crafting?
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.