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Choose My Adventure: Craft it one piece at a time

Eliot Lefebvre

Sometimes, a well-planned weekend turns into a complete mess. Case in point: This past weekend, which I fully meant to use to get more of a footing in Ryzom, wound up being almost entirely dominated by a mixture of other responsibilities and necessities. As a result, I didn't get nearly as much time playing the game as I would have liked. The plan is to spend more time crafting away over the course of the week, but this article needs to be written up earlier than that.

As you can imagine, this results in a little bit of a hole in the narrative. Fortunately, crafting is pretty deep as a system but fairly thin in terms of a core narrative, unless you find "and then I made another set of light sleeves" to be engrossing. So while I didn't get several hours of story, if you're not familiar with what the system offers, there's still plenty of ground to cover.

Early gathering, mostly because crafting just looks like a program window.The bare minimums of crafting are pretty easy to understand. You slap a crafting tool of the appropriate type in your main hand. You click on your little icon to start a crafting action, select the plan that you want to create, fill in all of the spaces with appropriate materials, then click "craft" and hope everything goes well. Understanding that much will get you through the basics of putting together boots, but it won't do you much good when it comes to actually making something useful.

See, for that, you need materials. Every sort of material comes with its own list of what it can be used for and what modifications it can impart upon an item. So a piece of capryni skin will make armor that's thicker and more resistant to damage, while a piece of bodoc skin will give you a better parry modifier. Each material also has several different grades in addition to its numeric quality value, so you can have an Excellent piece of skin that's lower quality than a Choice piece of skin while still being a better overall material. (The number is apparently more connected to your level versus what you're crafting rather than how good the item itself is.)

There's also the fact that you can't use the same materials for everything. Sure, that capryni skin is great for some of the armor, but you need something else for the lining, something to give the material more durability, and so on. The net result is that you'll be carrying around a veritable army of different ingredients, each of which may or may not be useful to anyone else. To the credit of the interface, while the inventory system kind of just vomits all of your materials at you, the actual crafting pane is very straightforward and makes clear what you have for each ingredient type and what the ingredient will do for the finished product.

If there's a major downside here, it's the fact that crafting quickly feels overwhelming. The process is fairly straightforward, but there are many elements to keep track of, and to my understanding you really have to get a feel for crafting when you get into the higher brackets. (There's also the fact that I'm told higher-end crafting basically makes no use of anything looted from enemies, which means that there's almost no point in quartering... but that's hearsay.)

On the other hand, the bright side is that crafting recipes are basically loose outlines rather than strict rules. You don't have to wait until you find the right sort of animal skin to make certain armor; you can start right out of the gate. It provides a lot of options and ensures that almost nothing you find is useless, which is a big bonus if you're used to having a lot of junk items just meant for sale.

That belt around her waist that makes a loincloth look modest is apparently pants.  Yeah, I thought that was great.I like the system in broad strokes, but I think it's got a bit too many fine-grain moving pieces for me to like it without reservation. There's some real cleverness buried in there, but it's buried amidst fine detail that's on the edge of uselessness. And as with many intricate systems, there's nothing there that lends itself to removal. Yank one piece of the equation and the whole thing tumbles to the ground.

Naturally, it's hard to get into crafting without also dipping your toes into harvesting. Harvesting is also complex, but it's a more accessible sort of complexity. There are, of course, several different ways that one can harvest nodes, as well as several different ways that one can prospect for new nodes, but all of it is fairly straightforward. Sadly, gathering itself is really a matter of just clicking and waiting for a node to be depleted; there's no real interaction beyond prospecting and the like.

As mentioned before, I didn't get nearly as much time in Atys over the weekend as I'd hoped, so I'll be spending some extra time on a tree this week. However, that's still going to be according to the last poll results, meaning that I'll be working my way up to more crafted armor (and killing some bodocs for more skin, but that's not really a goal, per se.) So it's time for another poll to determine what I'll be doing starting on Saturday, and of course, another bonus poll to delight some and baffle others.
After five months out of the spin, Eliot Lefebvre is back for another round of Choose My Adventure, the game where you decide what the writer is going to do! Check back each Wednesday for a recap of the last week's play, then sound off in the polls and the comments to determine the course of action for the next week!

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