Yesterday I talked about randomness and luck as it relates to DarkFall’s combat, and how I believe the game benefits from having such events kept to a minimum. Today I want to address the other side of the coin; the randomness in DarkFall’s crafting and how it affects the overall economy.
Unlike in WoW or many other MMOs, each item you make in DarkFall will have slightly different damage and durability stats. For example, a rank 40 axe can have its damage range go anywhere from .52 (mob drop) to .57 (max). That .05 damage difference is the average difference between weapon ranks; or in other words, a top-damage rank 30 is just as good as a mob drop rank 40. Durability is also a little random, but a few points difference in durability is not nearly as big a factor as damage. The main differences in durability come from the Trueforge skills, and secondly your wisdom stat.
This randomness goes a long way to determining an items value, and presents some interesting choices. For instance, say you craft a few rank 60 weapons, and out of the batch you get one top-end piece. If you can afford it, you can opt to sell the lower damage weapons for a reduced cost and keep the higher end ones for personal use. Or, if the somewhat minor difference is not something you value highly, you can instead sell the top-end item for a nice premium and still use the other weapons you crafted. Factor in enchantment ‘crits’, and you can really build some very expensive stuff.
And the difference between the system in DarkFall and say the crit system in LotRO is of course the full loot and durability aspects. In LotRO the crit version of an item becomes the ‘best in slot’ item (assuming there is not a better PvE-based item to get), and the non-crit version is vendor junk for most players. In DarkFall, due to the fact that someone is likely to loot you, or even if you are really good, eventually due to durability even the best items are lost and need to be replaced. It’s because of this that non-crit items still retain much of their value, and why mid-level crafted items like rank 40s and scale/plate armor are still in demand. If DarkFall had rules similar to most themeparks, the only items worth crafting/selling would be Dragon Armor with Q5 enchants and Q5 keened R80s. That sounds silly if you actually play DarkFall, but it’s the reality in so many other MMOs.
And aside from the final stats on a crafted weapon, there are also other things to consider when determining an items final value. For instance, even the best crafters don’t have a 100% chance to create anything. Even a simple task like smelting ore into ingots has at least a 1% chance to fail, and smelting rare ore can be as high as 20% depending on your skill and stats. Now failing to smelt a regular iron ingot is not that big a deal. Sure you lose some ore, but at an average price of about 8 gold per ore, ‘wasting’ one or two is not very noticeable. If you fail to smelt a theyril ingot, where one piece of ore goes for around 4000 gold, well, that stings. And then of course you can fail actually making an item that requires a theyril ingot and lose it that way, which is a quick 8000 gold hit. Factor all of this in, and it’s not hard to see why some of the top-end gear goes for the prices it goes for.
The final piece of this somewhat complex puzzle is that the truly expensive gear; stuff that goes for 10k+, is really only marginally better than gear that costs you a few thousand instead. Take for example the difference between a Q5 (max) keen enchantment versus a Q3 (mid level) enchantment. The Q5 on average adds .11 damage to a weapon, while a Q3 adds .07 damage. The average difference is .04, which might only translate to 1-2 hit points of additional damage per swing. The average cost difference is literally thousands, and we are talking just one enchant on one non-permanent item. Multiply this across half a dozen items, and you just turned an ‘average’ 3-5k ready bag into a crazy 100k+ bag, both of which can easily be lost if you happen to get into a bad combat situation or simply get outplayed (or best of all, crash or disconnect and die).
It’s all of these dynamics working together (randomness in crafting, item power/cost scaling, full loot and durability) that keep the DarkFall economy going, and allow for mid-level players to still compete in certain situations (not 1v1s) against top-end players. The best player in DarkFall might die once for every ten deaths you die, but when that single death costs him 100k and your average death costs you 2k, things balance themselves out, especially if you loot that 100k bag and end up selling it to fund your level of gear. This is also why important sieges are such events, because almost everyone pulls out their top-end stuff, and the winners can walk away with a fortune in gear.
(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)