Friday, April 06, 2007

Farming the Beta

In what appears to be an industry first, Turbine, Inc., creators of the soon-to-be top tier MMO, Lord of The Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, have inadvertently created a beta gold farming craze. With their unprecedented World Tour open beta program, that allows pre-order customers to retain their characters into live status, they have opened the door to gold farming, before their servers even launch.

Over at the brand-new Kill Ten Rats forum, Ethic had this to say about the game, that ultimately sparked the debate about this strange turn of events.

I'm having a real love/hate relationship with this game. The other day I stood
on a dock, smoked a pipe and looked at a rainbow. There was even some morning
fog. It was very nice. Then later I was near the farmer fields and watched as 5
people stood around a workbench and appeared to be throwing seeds on the ground
and table. I'm sure they were doing something else, but the visuals ruined the
whole atmosphere for me.
After delving into the available information, this graphic is indicative of the trade skill, farming, and the workbenches used in the process have become hubs for max level characters (Turbine caps advancement at level 15 in pre-release) to grind out skill points and gold by processing the skill repeatedly.

From Tobold's LoTRO Journal back in February (emphasis added):

Playing a Farmer turned out to be more fun than I would have thought. I
spent quite a while growing pipe weed, and ended up making a good amount of
money in the process
, after getting past the first stage. There are different
kinds of pipe weed, of different skill levels, from apprentice, over journeyman,
to expert and beyond. You can smoke pipe weed, which gives a fun animation and
smoke rings, but there is no in-game advantage to it. But you can sure sell the
pipe weed you grow.
Without knowing the details of the LoTRO economy, or the intricacies of this trade skill farming, I can not make an accurate assessment regarding the long-term impact that this mechanic will have on the game, but I can only imagine that over a month of max-level characters farming a steady steam of gold will severely impact the game economy and trivialize future gold sinks, such as Mounts or gear purchases.

It may amount to nothing, or Turbine may have overlooked a severe hazard in their clever pre-release scheme. Only time will tell.


Zubon said...

Is farming a positive-sum game these days? It was a good money-maker for most of the beta, then changed so that the outputs were worth dramatically less than the inputs. I had not heard where things ended up when the closed beta ended. I recall that at least some plants had positive returns.

To gold farm, I suppose, you just need one that turns a profit.

Cyndre said...

Honestly, I don't know enough about it to make a statement one way or the other. I stopped playing in early beta, long before they announced the pre-release scheme, and at that time, I didn't know anyone farming and hordeing gold. The problem is not that people can profit from a trade skill and farm gold, its that they have nothing else to do for a month. If 100,000 people beta and are serious about the game, they are going to have a month of economic flux and major problems developing a 'real' ecomony at release.

Cameron said...

Unless they anticipated this and gold comes exponentially at higher levels, in which case this isn't that much of a problem. Does anyone know if that's the case?

If level 15 trade-skilling can match the gold output of a max level player or even come close to it, that points to a severe balance problem. But I have no idea if that's really the case.

On a random note, I want to go smoke a pipe on a dock!

Bildo said...

I'll chime in guys, being the local LotRO nut. They completely and utterly nerfed the money to be made on farming and cooking in the game. On purpose for the very reasons Cyndre brings up, I'd assume.

I won't be surprised if come release things are brought back to a more even level.

Though I like this set up better. In other professions there's a good deal of work you have to put forth. Mining for jewels, ores for the metalworking things, woodchopping for bows and staves, etc.

But with farming, you COULD literally spend an afternoon and get to the level cap of farming just by repeatedly buying and selling goods with a vendor. It's better that they nerfed it because now to farm gold, you have to behave like a true gold-farmer... go kill things repeatedly and sell their junk to vendors. :P

In short, they changed the farming prices to make it much harder to make money on (only way is to sell to other people, selling to vendors will LOSE money every time).

But still, at 15, until 4/24, all we pre-orderers are left to do is farm silver, Monster Play, and do deeds. That or raise the next guy to 15 (what I'll likely do, along with some of the above mixed in).

Robert said...

I smoked my pipe on some docks at the beach last year at Topsail Island NC.

It was as good as it sounds. Cherry Almond tobacco no less. Ah, summertime!

Cyndre said...

All this talk of smoking pipe weed on docks at sunset is making me want to play this game, again.

Anonymous said...

Momentous Blog here!! Store up the good work. I father create it to be mere instructive, Thanks for all the mitigate