Introduced just before the launch of Frontiers, tradeskills and crafting allowed players to equip armor, jewelery, and weapons that were a strong improvement from the vendor bought items and random collection of rares a character usually had while leveling. Launched at the same time as auctions, this essentially changed the game’s economy on a massive scale. Most wealthy players went from having a few 100k tunar to having tens of millions thanks to crafting and auctions.
Three memories stand out to me when I consider tradeskills:
When gems were first released, they almost never dropped. This made crafting higher level items not worth the price of materials. At some point in early 2004, SOE bumped up the gem drop rate to an absurd level. Every creature dropped one. Your inventory would be full by the time you were level 3 but you were too hesitant to sell the gems to the vendor because you were still in the mindset that they were worth something. Eventually, SOE calmed down the drop rates. With that said, grinding at 60 and being the master looter is still annoying. I wish you could just turn gems off.
2. Level 28 plate gear for tanks and level 48 black plate.
Only two sets of tank plate gear existed before the light blue level 28 crafted set was introduced. Those two sets remain incredibly rare. Every player would stock up on level 28 pieces. Plate gear just looks much cooler and smoother than the eclectic mixes of 17 armor and random chain mail. Similarly, the level 48 gear is black. Black gear, along with white robes, seem to be what most people think looks the coolest. With a duration over 70 and some heartsblood alloys on their, every tank had a set of 48 gear for grinding.
There is no other activity in EQOA that’s more boring than crafting. You literally smash the X button for hours on end. I did it for 20 minutes straight and only got to 1.7. You start at level 1, go through till 1.9, then hit level 2. In total, there are 9 or 11 levels, which I’m not sure about since I refuse to give into that activity. The good news is, if you put in the time, it’s highly profitable. One black sapphire can net a jeweler 150k, easy.
I would say that tradeskills helped the game and yet also hurt it. Rares became less valuable but the average player could now compete in groups. One question remains though, why does crafting stop at level 48? It’s like SOE released Frontiers and forgot to expand that element of the game.