Itemization Watch: Crit Chance Faces Reality Check

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Game Updates & Maintenance, Itemization

Announced at Fan Faire and rolled out in late August, the long-awaited revamp of level 20-90 gear was staggering in its ambition. Some 7 years of items, numbering over 50,000, would go under the knife or be recreated entirely for the Revamp. Now just over two weeks since the launch of Game Update 61, it remains unclear just where we stand on the Great Reitemization of EverQuest II.

More than anything, players have wondered at the intent of the revamp, seeking out an overall vision of item progression that would flow from level 1 through to level 90 items. Thus far, there hasn’t been one. In fact, any kind of guidance whatsoever on this crucial Reitemization has been singularly lacking from both EQ2 Mechanics and Management.

While we applaud members of the EQ2 Design who have put in absurd hours trying to wrangle some sense of order to this monstrous undertaking, the chaos has been palpable. The lack of direction has led to conflicting announcements, and some items having undergone their fourth revision in just a few short weeks.

A Matter of Crit Chance

EverQuest 2 was never designed for Potency (first called Base Damage), nor was it designed for Crit Bonus. Even Critical Chance was once used only sparingly via certain Alternate Advancement lines. It was not until the Rise of Kunark expansion that the stat started appearing consistently on gear. These stats were at one time extremely rare, intended for characters who had attained the highest levels.

Fast forward to Destiny of Velious, and every piece of gear has some combination of these 3 stats. Which is fine — if a little bland — at levels 85 and above. However the most obvious change in EQ2′s GU61 Reitemization was been the proliferation of these powerful stats on gear as low as level 20.

And so, although the announcement was greeted with some with exasperation, we are actually relieved to have read SiliusFriday news that gear under level 60 would re-lose its Crit Chance, Crit Bonus (and presumably Potency) stats:

We are changing the crit removal to be a progression starting at 60 across the various crit bearing slots. You should see this next week. Once again sorry for the late update.

We sympathize with those who discarded, vendored, or transmuted other gear in favor of this suddenly beastly gear, but these stats should never have appeared in such abundance at the lower levels. Via Alternate Advancements and current gear inflation, players are already more than powerful enough at lower levels.

Crafters in Limbo

An unexpected blind spot in the Reitemization has been the armor, weapons, jewelry, and other equippable items created by crafters. Considering how early the Crafted Gear Revamp was started (the first changes appeared on test in the last week of June), it is shocking just how unfinished they remain.

Crafted gear, which for far too long has been the de facto replacement for all level 20-70 Treasured, Legendary, and yes Fabled gear (even x4 raid gear was inferior), relaunched in Game Update 61 exhibiting serious problems. Some archetypes were entirely left out from getting items appropriate to their class and tier. While it is refreshing to see the Mastercrafted -> Legendary -> Fabled progression restored, the current state of affairs is not ideal.

Players are reporting crafted items that just don’t make sense anymore, and Broker pages full of cheap Treasured items that rival the power of Mastercrafted.

Domino, who hasn’t taken an eye off of the state of tradeskills, had this promising update:

The balance on crafted gear is something that Silius is still looking at. As you can see from the patch notes this week, there are still some changes being made to both mastercrafted power and treasured items power. I would certainly suggest waiting for a few weeks for the changes to settle down before leaping to any hasty conclusions anyway.

Down the Road

EQ2′s Reitemization still has a lot of work ahead of it. We are concerned about end runs around the Test server and QA process to get fixes pushed Live as quickly as possible. Thus far, the batting average on these shortcuts has been rather low.

Hopefully the continued Reitemization won’t drive players to drink. We hope it won’t overshadow the rapidly approaching Age of Discovery expansion. Reitemization really needs to be squared away before we sink our teeth into the Freeport revamp and Beastlords.

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Comments (21)

  • XK

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    You should mention the fact that, in their (as usual) slipshod manner of removing crit chance below 80 (which they then said was a bug and then said was intentional but would be changed to a smooth progression), they also removed crit chance from all of the items that had it BEFORE GU 61.

    This whole reitemization fiasco (and its 25,000 aftershocks) just gives me heartburn. Crap effort from a clueless developer with zero oversight and no concern for the actual playerbase.

    Reply

  • XK

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    Also, this: “I would certainly suggest waiting for a few weeks for the changes to settle down before leaping to any hasty conclusions anyway.” is so absolutely clueless that my first reaction is to just stare in disbelief.

    The concept of ‘hey, just don’t worry about it for a few weeks’ which has been the de facto response from SOE to all itemization issues puts their decision making in perspective. Because they decided to go live with GU 61 despite pages upon pages of feedback about everything that was broken, they’ve been forced to release buggy update after buggy update, and think it’s cool that those of not in Velious should just kick back because ‘in a few weeks’ it might be in a better state.

    Yup, heartburn.

    Reply

  • Catharz

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    This is one of the problems with them not using test driven development. All of these things could have been caught in a test harness, instead of on “production” servers.

    While I totally understand (and agree with) what they’re trying to do, and applaud them for taking it on, they’ve been (and are still being) total cowboys in the way they’re implementing it.

    Seeing stuff like \aITEM 595219945 1477180294:090_797_priest_ranged\/a drop on production is just crazy and highlights the issue. The item itself is fine, but it’s obvious they don’t even have their “naming” code working correctly. Unit tests would have picked this up BEFORE it hit the test server, let alone production. Even better, they could use a BDD framework, so they can test the “behaviour” of an item before it gets to test.

    TDD has been around since last century. Start using it guys!

    Reply

  • melpheos

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    Sorry about the rude word but : WTF ?
    They are going to completely change items below 60 (why 60 now as it was 80 before) AGAIN ?

    Yes, they have to fix the itemization which is still messed up (in particular, the mastercrafted charms still have crit chance and a lot of it ) and a lot of fabled gears are just good for nothing more but transmutation but i dont want to have another fix to get another stat mix up, idiotic names (item with “priest” in it that can be equipped by warriors only ), and a few days laters another item fix !!!

    SOE must take at least 2 or 3 months of work on test server so that only a few items here and there might have problems and not all of them !

    Reply

  • Inque

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    I don’t think that I have ever commented on the work of a single Dev before, but Silius has seemed out of his depth and his work has been pretty much hated ever since DoV Beta. Some of it will be management “direction” but the failures do keep rolling.

    It is this sort of thing that drives people away though, even long term players who see gear nerfed to uselessness only to get it changed again and again. And comments such as “wait a few weeks” are just designed to infuriate.

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    The main thing that has ticked me off about the reitemisation has been the lack of care shown about making the lower levels offer some challenge instead of being a uniform shade of easy.

    Right now I guess the silence means either they don’t care about the reitemisation, or hopefully they are working away on it behind closed doors a lot more before they release it again.

    Personally I think it still needs a few nerfs to the overall power, at least sub 80.

    Fabled items at lower levels are also either untouched, or left lacklustre compared to legendary. Maybe a slight nerf downward for gear along with a buff up for fabled would be right, the buff upwards could be by adding procs, or even extra adorn slots.

    Gotten right the lower levels should feel fun to play with content ranging from easy to challenging to just out of reach for all players, with that design we should actually care about getting upgrades because they really do make a difference (while at the same time we always have something we can still do).

    Rollling an alt shouldn’t only be about trying to rush them to the level cap as qickly as possible, whatever happens some way of power levelling will always exist but there should be an option to actaully replay the game and this time choose some different paths and adventures.

    Reply

  • Golur

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    As a keen Crafter I’ve been a tad depressed since 61 came out – and nothing proposed here has improved my mood. Time was, when a decent set of MC gear would do a toon for 10 levels, often for 20. It was a sensible way of getting a set of items that had the stats needed for THAT Class and give them a fighting chance. Given that there is not a lot of Raiding going on below T9 (i.e. none whatsoever) then MC was pretty much the best available. It also encouraged crafters, and gave them a sense that they were doing something useful.

    Over the weekend I got another one of my Alt Army up to 82, and went to make them some MC gear. It was clear, though, when comparing stats that this is mostly rubbish compared with (very common) legendary drops. Legendary is cheaper, too, when you factor in the cost/time spent getting Rares for MC.

    So crafters have been well and truly shafted, I’m afraid.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Mastercrafted was always intended as a set of armor and jewelry to get you started at the BEGINNING of a tier. It was never intended to REPLACE all of the content in a tier.

    Yet due to a few power boosts over the years, the only viable armor and jewelry in EQ2 from level 22-72 has been Mastercrafted.

    * Mastercrafted replaced the armor sets from Deathfist Citadel.
    * Mastercrafted replaced any drops out of Dungeons.
    * Mastercrafted replaced relic gear sets out of Kingdom of Sky.
    * Mastercrafted replaced any drops out of x4 Raids including Desert of Flames, Kingdom of Sky and later Echoes of Faydwer.

    Sorry, but Mastercrafted has been ridiculously overpowered for a long time now.

    When I started playing EQ2, people still grouped because it was fun and because of the gear. With the Mastercrafted revamps, there was no reason to group or raid. Once the Reitemization is done (and it’s obvious there’s a lot of work left to do), Mastercrafted will have a PLACE in low-level Itemization, but it won’t REPLACE low-level Itemization.

    Reply

  • Azzaroth

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    Item Progression that had grown through the expansions and special gear that had it use in the accordingly Tier of those Expansions have been destroyed by the item revamp. Well every next Tier loot has always destroyed loot progression from the Tier before. But its has gone more worse with every expansion. T9 Gear from SF Underfoot Depth to T9 DoV start gear showed that very well.

    The item revamp was the chance to get things straighten and set in a smooth progression. But their are itmes that alwasy had a special flare or knick knack wich they could be used situationally. Cards on this items have been dealed new, and there are new items wich are “on Top” of the tier now. But EQ2 has lost some of it flare and the cool touch of items that where hard to aquire and people had buidl up really some kind of knowlege what special things drop where.

    Summary is that it is impossible to to such an revamp by running an automatic script, also with 50k itmes+ its not possible to do it by hand in an reasonable time.

    >>>But what must be done is to take a second look on “every” item that is reported broken or petitioned for not performing the job that did it before.<<<

    That will be a long task and it would be far better if this revamp had been planed with minute care and enough time it would have been going in much better.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Or done a Tier at a time.

    Reply

  • camelotcrusade

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    I’m with Golur. It may be that Mastercrafted was never intended to eclipse – or at least match – legendary gear, but for crafters like myself who basically grew up in that environment, the game has been that way longer than it has been the “intended” way. We had no reason to believe the original progression would eventually return… on the contrary. Every expac, we got a boost (even if it was late in coming). Why did that happen? To avoid this all-to-common scenario: a) spend hours and hours grinding to the high end of your new recipe range (which, early on, calls for mats nobody has in easy supply) or b) adventure for half an hour and find stuff better anything you could make anyway. Throw things back to MC as third class legendary and you’re right back to making crafting a pointless labor of love.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    I should add that I have:

    * 90 Jeweler
    * 90 Sage
    * 90 Alchemist
    * 90 Weaponsmith

    Reply

  • Gaean

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    Placing mastercrafted gear at the beginning of a tier effectively negates its purchase/crafting completely. At present, the rares for most tiers are nearly as costly as the rares for tier 9. Who is going to bother to do the work or spend the platinum needed to outfit a character in MC gear that is going to be replaced almost immediately?

    I do agree that MC gear is overpowered when it is better than any legendary gear and some fabled gear. Instead, I’d suggest that it be SIMILAR in power to average legendary gear. The better legendary drops should be better than MC gear and the worst legendary drops should be worse.

    A good alternative would be to significantly increase the drop rate of rares in the tiers below 9. This would bring the price of rares (and the items crafted from those rares) down, which is a good thing since their prices are currently highly inflated by the fact that almost no one farms them. It is worth remembering that everyone who plays doesn’t have a set of high level characters to make money or power level their characters. My guild is full of low to mid level characters of players who’ve recently started playing EQ2 or have returned to the game after a long time away (Yay for new people!) and for them, mastercrafted gear is way out of their league once they get to 40+ unless someone gives them a lot of help since they can’t afford to buy the rares and farming them is insanely time consuming.

    Reply

  • Trueflight

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    I understand their need to attempt this revamp with a new and untested program just due to the sheer number of items that were effected. The simple result though was that it was a failure (the program should have at least been tested better before being used on such a large scale problem).

    What should have been done was a rollback fo the GU61 reitemization. Someone needs to go thru manually and revamp the items by hand one tier at a time. Sure it will take a lot longer and tie up someones time, but in the end I believe it would be well worth it for the problems that it would have avoided.

    Reply

  • Potayto@guk

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    @Trueflight: One Tier at a time or even one Expac at a time in descending order. This would have been the most wise choice. At the least it would have given a few people at SoE some kind of project/work stability for at least a few months :/

    Reply

  • Gazrath

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    I’m going to agree with Feldon on this one… and I’m a level 90 armorsmith. Having MC as the tier below Legendary makes more sense to me. What doesn’t make sense is doing all those quests for specialty armor (or armor recipes) in the Kingdom of Sky and Kunark and not ending up with something *better* than MC.

    I’ve complained at length to my guild.. “for once, couldn’t I get a piece of quest gear that is worth the bother of doing the quest?!” Since the reitemization, I have actually kept a number of my quest rewards because they are better than the stuff I can craft. I love it!

    To those who have commented on the price of rares… what do you think makes rares so expensive? The demand for the level of gear that could be produced from it. With MC lowered to a more reasonable level, the cost of rares will be driven down my normal market forces.

    Yes, I think the implementation was botched, but I also think they are headed in the right direction.

    Reply

  • Catharz

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    “Having MC as the tier below Legendary makes more sense to me.”

    Thing is, it wasn’t always this way. When I started playing EQ2, legendary gear was rare and fabled was ultra rare (especially in the non-raiding guild I was in at the time). Even seeing an adept spell you could use drop was rare. Even as recently as Kunark, instance named dropped treasured much more frequently than legendary. For a long time MC gear is what many people “aspired to”.

    What has really stuffed this up is the legendary gear coming from solo questing in DoV. It’s effectively made “legendary” the new “treasured”. While that’s a blessing for adventurers, it makes those recipes useless for crafters.

    They really need to rethink the whole thing, down to which mobs they want dropping gear that is better or worse than master crafted, and what you should be able to do in master crafted. As Feldon said, they really need to do that on EVERY tier (including DoV).

    Reply

  • Mike

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    The reality is that itemization in this game has been consistently borked in various degrees since around GU13. Prior to that, player crafted gear (that used rares) was actually Legendary. The Mastercrafted nonsense started when the next tier of crafted gear was out of whack compared to the T5 Fabled.

    The original game had the broad strokes right: player crafted gear that uses rare components should be rare. Legendary gear should be very rare and Fabled exceedingly rare; having one or two pieces of Fabled gear should be a big deal.

    But no, with each passing expansion, EQ2 was turned more and more into a Monty Haul game with Legendary and Fabled gear flying out of practically every mob’s arse. What amazes me, however, is those folks who think that somehow, some way, this time they’ll manage to get things right. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

    Reply

  • Glenolas

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    Eventually, it all comes down to the Senior Producer. He pushes his vision onto the game, authorizes the direction of every portion of the game, and approves everything that went live when it actually did. He has access to every comment, both public and private in Test and on the forums, all to all the internal testing notes. There is never anyone a level lower that is to blame, by himself/herself. SP’s should see team weaknesses, and move to reinforce them (or not) well in advance of the issue being seen by the client. He has the ability to change the pace of any event at any time.

    We have had several senior produces in the life of this game. Each has a situation for which they are remembered either well or poorly. This particular mess started with DoV, and the mechanics change, with skyrocketing power. This rendered all previous same level content obsolete (all of SF heroic and raid zones), as well as the lower level dungeons within DoV, (for example, TOFS and parts of Velks) since it essentially was a restart of the leveling process, involving only gear, not numeric levels.

    Until we get a new Senior Producer, and a new vision, we will get platitudes, endless oscillation of gear effects, chronically poor software performance, near zero new adventure content at anything below raid level, but opportunities to collect new mounts and housing, for copious quantities of extra money.

    Management 101. Same management, same results. If you want the same results, you keep them. If not, they hit the road and the next manager gives it a go.

    Until we get a change at the top, we just wait it out.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Ah but we don’t actually have a Senior Producer right now.

    We have an Executive Producer who is trying to keep 3 balls in the air (EQ, EQ2, and EQNext). And we have Domino, newly minted Associate Producer there to liaise with SmokeJumper, but picking up more and more responsibility.

    Reply

  • Glenolas

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    From Feldon
    September 14, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    “Ah but we don’t actually have a Senior Producer right now.”

    EQ2 is irrevocably marked with SJ’s fingerprints. A year of nearly zero content, followed by DoV’s skyrocketing stats, obsoleting all the SF zones, decision to NOT reitemize levels 20-80, the reversing of the decision and deciding to reitemize, but spend as little as possible to do it, all audit to SJ.

    Domino is easily my favorite dev, for the extraordinary work she did on the crafting/moonlight madness/traveling faire activities. However, EQ2 is, when all is said and done, an adventure game, and she never played the adventure sideenough to develop the judgement necessary to recognize big issues from small. Neither SJ or Brenlo had any EQ2 experience either, and as a result we are down down to 1/4 the player base we had in late 2008. Good as she is, she can’t get experience quick enough to fix the problems at hand. They are cultural, and need a subject matter Vince Lombardi.

    Reply

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