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It begins again: p = 0.047 and dropping....

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Crew Skills
It begins again: p = 0.047 and dropping....

finelinebob's Avatar


finelinebob
12.06.2012 , 09:05 PM | #31
Recap: a "skillful" system in a game should include variability in actions you can take, in the outcomes they produce, and enough complexity to making knowing how the game works the difference between a crafter and a mastercrafter.

I'll make my first suggestion the easiest one to implement. It would require the addition of two placeholder variables for each character -- I've heard the moans from the devs about how many variables the game has to track, certainly with the number any one of our toons generate by changing locations, proceeding through quest stages, sending out mail, etc, another two will not break the databases. This is also something I've seen suggested at least a dozen times by as many people. It fits in well with the idea that crew skills should have a "story" aspect as well, and it does NOT require that people do crew skills differently. In particular, this has to do with reverse-engineering and the idea of a fail counter.

This is how it works. You click on a crafted item with your RE tool. The RE routines check to see if a counter has already been set for an item crafted by the same schematic. If this item is different than what your last RE was on, then the fail-counter is set to 0 and something like a "work-item" variable is set to match the item you are clicking on. Your base chance for success, as stated in the tooltip, has added to it the value of the fail counter. Since it is 0 on this first attempt, your RE chance is unmodified. If your random roll is successful, the fail-counter and work-item variables are set to no value, resetting them essentially. If your random roll is unsuccessful, your fail-counter is increased by 1. You click on another item in your inventory with your RE tool. Does this item match the one you just failed on? If yes, then apply the fail-counter as a modifier to increase your chance at success. If not, then reset and restart the process. If you choose to work on the same schematic's items and you keep failing, then your fail-counter keeps incrementing up until you do succeed and, again, the variables are reset.

A few more details are needed. First of all, adding "1" literally is not going to improve your chances, so some modifier is also going to be needed. If you want a linear increase in your chance for success, that modifier is equal to the base chance for success. To put it simply, for a 20% chance RE:
  • The equation for success is your base chance plus your base times the fail-counter
  • For your first attempt, this means 20% + (20% x 0) = 20% ... nothing new here
  • Your second attempt, tho, will be 20% + (20% x 1) = 40%
  • If you haven't succeeded or switched items, attempt 3 would be 20% + (20% x 2) = 60%
  • ... and so on.
I think it's plain to see that for a linear increase at this rate, you are guaranteed a success on your 5th attempt for a base of 20% or your 10th attempt for a 10% base item. The modifier does not need to be this large (or small). As long as it is a fixed number -- 5%, 8%, 12%, whatever -- you will see a linear increase in the odds of learning new research. If you wanted to get fancy, the modifier could be non-linear, producing something like a diminishing returns curve so that no one ever has a 100% chance on any one RE attempt. And we know the devs know diminishing return curves since most of our combat stats are affected by them and at varying degrees.

How does this play to the idea of story? This is a computational equivalent of LEARNING from your mistakes. If you value something and fail at attempting it, you gain more by studying it and attempting it again right away than you do from jumping around from one idea to another. Furthermore, if it didn't work this way in real life, in real stories, we would not have proverbs like "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." So, SWTOR builds in a crafting ability -- learning from your mistakes. Knowing how you "learn" is where your own brainpower comes in. Particularly if BW was to start throwing curves in at us, and changing the degree of the curve depending on the difference between the item rating and your crew skill rating, this is something that begins to look like a real skill.

Gonna stop again and put the next suggestion in another post. Sorry for being long-winded. Just gonna shut up for a while if people want to react to this suggestion.
Jedi Guardian JonBonJovi'wan
"Wanted: Dead or Alive"
Defenders of Monkeys - Prophecy of the Five
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psandak's Avatar


psandak
12.06.2012 , 09:54 PM | #32
Quote: Originally Posted by finelinebob View Post
To put it simply, for a 20% chance RE:
  • The equation for success is your base chance plus your base times the fail-counter
  • For your first attempt, this means 20% + (20% x 0) = 20% ... nothing new here
  • Your second attempt, tho, will be 20% + (20% x 1) = 40%
  • If you haven't succeeded or switched items, attempt 3 would be 20% + (20% x 2) = 60%
  • ... and so on.
@finelinebob
One of the major complaints about that "other MMO's" crafting system is that everyone can make everything, all you need is the currency to buy the patterns. You are proposing a similar system in SWTOR just taking a different path.

Further, with the system you are proposing, you might as well make it so that one has to craft and reverse engineer five or ten (for 20% and 10% respectively) of an item to get a schematic. Because if you don't players will still complain because they had to make and RE five while their friend only had to do three. The player population is in fact that petty...I guarantee it.

I think a formulaic increase in reverse engineering chance over time is a viable option, but I think it go up more slowly - along the lines of 3-5% with each attempt - and cap at something significantly less than 100% - along the lines of 67%.

Lastly, I think that an alternative may be a crafting specialization system could be introduced whereby a character can choose to focus on one type of whatever they can craft i.e. a Synthweaver could specialize in crafting heavy armor. This could (within your specialty):
  • further increase your chance to crit succeed and get an augment slot or 2x result
  • increase your base chance of reverse engineering
  • increase the overall stats on a crafted item
  • create the potential to reverse engineer artifact quality items into custom quality
any or all of the above. All characters could still craft what they do not specialize in, they simply would not get the benefits above.

This would give players a modicum of choice in what they want their characters to learn, and it would diversify the markets so that items have some inherent value.

TrigPt's Avatar


TrigPt
12.06.2012 , 10:00 PM | #33
Quote: Originally Posted by finelinebob View Post
You are confusing two things: frequency and difficulty.
The only crafted items that require any type of skill are the end-game item mods you get from high-end operations. What type of skill does it take to get these? Combat skill. If you have a group of people who can beat the bosses and get the drops on a regular basis, again it's a matter of brute-force probability. Do it often enough, and it won't be rare. Or have you not noticed the spamming on fleet saying, essentially, "I'll craft you an end-game mod for free as long as you give me your mats." I don't even see people asking for tips half the time.

In other words, the crafted items of greatest value have a profit margin of 0. People now expect to get them "at cost". Don't try to suggest that "supply and demand" works in virtual economies like that in SWTOR when compared to real-world economies. I will believe that the day you can walk into Tiffany's with some gold ore and some lumps of coal and say, "Make me one of those rings, please, and I don't expect to have to pay you anything because I'm providing the raw materials." It wouldn't even happen if you had 24 carat gold and the Hope diamond for a jewel.

Now, are the people crafting these rarely-acquired items doing so because they are more skillful crafters, or because they have a set of friends that are more skilled in combat? Yes, not everyone can "do it", but there are still enough crafters with no sense of the value of what they can craft -- because it took no measure of crafting skill to achieve it -- that the results are essentially the same ... it doesn't take "everybody" having the schematic to make it worthless, it only takes "enough". Your argument has zero validity.

Calling the system we have Crew "Skills" is a convenient fiction for BW/EA. There is no skill to it at all.
The guys doing craft for mats only high end mods aren't doing it for free. When they crit they get 2 of the item. One goes to the customer and the other to the GTN. Their margin is the crit chance * GTN value so about 500k a pop on my server at current market values.

Also they don't need a bunch of mates who can clear raids to get the schematics they need money to buy other peoples mods from the GTN. Which they then equip, unequip and then RE hoping for the schematic. So first to market needs friends but once its on the market the other crafters just need to reinvest their money.

Being a skilled crafter in this game is more about knowing the market and the tricks of the trade. You'll notice more and more spamming over the next few weeks as they try to cash grab as much as possible before the market crashes with patch 1.6. Why do I think the market will crash with 1.6? Well that'd be telling.

PS crafting anything higher than a blue pre 50 is a waste of time. People level so fast its just not worth it.

finelinebob's Avatar


finelinebob
12.06.2012 , 10:53 PM | #34
Quote: Originally Posted by psandak View Post
@finelinebob
...
I think a formulaic increase in reverse engineering chance over time is a viable option, but I think it go up more slowly - along the lines of 3-5% with each attempt - and cap at something significantly less than 100% - along the lines of 67%.
Which is why I said there needs to be a modifier. I don't think a linear increase with a base rate the same as the initial chance is a serious proposal at all, but it's an easy one to understand and so a good place to start a discussion. I agree with you that it should be capped lower than 100% but I'd rather see a diminishing returns curve on it. That would give you a little more of a bump for the first few tries, but less and less as you approach the cap.

It's also not the only idea I have for reverse engineering ... it's just that I had said enough for a good long while and other people with other good ideas need the space to chime in, like:
Quote: Originally Posted by psandak View Post
... I think that an alternative may be a crafting specialization system could be introduced whereby a character can choose to focus on one type of whatever they can craft i.e. a Synthweaver could specialize in crafting heavy armor. This could (within your specialty):
  • further increase your chance to crit succeed and get an augment slot or 2x result
  • increase your base chance of reverse engineering
  • increase the overall stats on a crafted item
  • create the potential to reverse engineer artifact quality items into custom quality
any or all of the above. All characters could still craft what they do not specialize in, they simply would not get the benefits above.

This would give players a modicum of choice in what they want their characters to learn, and it would diversify the markets so that items have some inherent value.
Which, except for the last bullet point, would be relatively simple changes to the system. Customized, personalized schematics mean storing variables somewhere and it seems that when this game's devs hear of an idea that requires tracking more variables, they run screaming. I have my own ideas on how RE can produce customized items, but I still want to hear from other people first.


Quote: Originally Posted by TrigPt View Post
PS crafting anything higher than a blue pre 50 is a waste of time. People level so fast its just not worth it.
I don't think I could have come up with a more succinct critique of the current system than this. Other than me believing it SHOULD be worth the time for the crafter, and the cost for the consumer. For me, it is worth the time to the extent I don't have to learn something new for my next toon or their alts. Tier 2 gear should be worth the effort it takes to learn how to craft it. Currently, for most people, it is not.
Jedi Guardian JonBonJovi'wan
"Wanted: Dead or Alive"
Defenders of Monkeys - Prophecy of the Five
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Heezdedjim's Avatar


Heezdedjim
12.07.2012 , 07:26 AM | #35
Everyone who knows basic statistics understands why long runs can happen. The problem is that with an RNG system they can happen. The deeper issue is that, as a rule, software RNG implementations suck and are prone to NOT generating random results, which means long runs can and do happen more often than they ought to if outcomes were based on a true random sequence.

The whole basic premise of RNG-based crafting outcomes and "learning" patterns through RNG rolls is just flawed, and it's not fundamental to the design of a "balanced," "challenging," "fun," or "good" crafting system. It's just the way Bioware did it, either because it's what was built into the crappy Hero engine when they picked it up, or because they're lazy and couldn't be bothered to think of another way to do it (which they could have discovered if they had looked at any of the dozens of other games on the market with crafting systems that don't depend on RNG outcomes from top to bottom).

I don't look for crafting to get noticeably better in this game ever, because they have demonstrated by now that they have nobody working on it, and could care less about fixing even atrocious, game breaking bugs like the silent magical disappearance of recipes already learned. With their obvious focus now being churning out cash shop swag to the exclusion of all else, I don't expect them to even consider fixing, let alone overhauling, anything about crafting for at least a year, and probably much longer.

nbayer's Avatar


nbayer
12.07.2012 , 08:45 AM | #36
I don't see how your failure modifier is really going to improve the system that much, not to mention it adds no skill or challenge that you have been speaking of. Let's say your trying to RE a dropped mod from an operation, it means that it's in you best interest to not RE anything else for weeks on end so that you don't lose your modifier.

So it's really most useful for items you can already craft the lower version of, and of those items the most frustrating can be the prefix progression items. How about this for a much simpler solution that doesn't involve storing any new fields or modifiers in the db: when you proc a prefix on an RE you get to choose which one you want.

None of that addresses the fact the crafting system only really requires time, and you have a huge advantage if you are part of a solid raid team the is farming the highest level operations. I think one thing that could be taken from the SWG system that I found most interesting is the concept of variable quality materials, and limited availability. One of the greatest things about the SWG system is when the resources changed there was a rush to see what new resources were available and where the best spots to get them were, also the old resource is now gone.

To put it in swtor terms for the people who did not play swg.

Currently we have durasteel, it's all the same. But what if durasteel came with a quality rating, a number between 1 and 1000 and when you used it the number provided a slight increase or decrease the the base stats of an item. Now apply that to all the materials in a recipe and at the end you get a slight variance in stats from one crafter to another depending on which mix of materials they are using. The variance does not have to be much, just enough so that an item made with good materials is a bit better than the stock schematic, and an item made with all garbage is a bit worse.

Now to make it more interesting, the durasteel available at the nodes around the world would change on a regular basis. For example, lets say you find a cluster of nodes in the northern part of belsavis that are providing 950 quality durasteel but they are only available in that specific area and at some point they are going to be gone and replaced with a new quality. Maybe lower, maybe higher. Dedicated crafters are the ones who engage in the barter and trade of collecting different quality materials that there is truly a limited amount of in the world. When they're gone they are gone until something similar comes along. The server might only have garbage durasteel for a month, and the crafters who are holding a supply of the last good stuff available are now in much higher demand.

SWG took this to a whole different level, to the point where if you really wanted to be good at crafting you were probably crap at combat because you shared skill points between all your skills. If you were putting a skill pint in tailoring, you weren't putting it in marksmanship. But the idea of different quality crafting materials and the true scarcity of them I think was the cornerstone of why that crafting system was so interesting.

Ucsimplyme's Avatar


Ucsimplyme
12.07.2012 , 08:50 AM | #37
Quote: Originally Posted by finelinebob View Post
We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of this game and we still do not have a viable, meaningful, skillful crafting system in this game that cost, what?, upwards of $200 million to produce ... and that was pre-launch? Indie games operating on budgets less than 1% of what BioWare has spent on this game have developed more meaningful crafting systems.

So, my current project is REing an Overkill Focus of Devastating Power (lvl49 focus: +48 Endurance, +60 Willpower, +41 Power, +49 Critical Rating, +483 Force Power, +28 Alacrity Rating), one last little toy for my Sage who just hit level 49 turning in my warzone daily a minute ago. To prepare for this, I have been trying to get maybe an Expert Tier 2 RE (add +47 Surge, increase Force Power to +543) or a Vehemence RE (increase Alacrity to a beastly +75, Force Power still up to +543). And +7 more Power for either, btw.

But this is crafting in SWTOR, so that means there are problems and more problems to overcome. Yes, I wanted the Overkill version and not the Critical version because my Crit Chance is already over 35% so I needed power more and, luckily (not skillfully) I got the Overkill after I got the Redoubt and didn't have to RE any more plain Focus of Devastating Power items. Then began the hunt for an Artifact quality item to finish off my <50 days in style. So, what has happened in the last two days of trying to learn one item?

I've spent hours circling the Primal Destroyer on Belsavis getting mats (Upari Crystals and Primeval Artifact Fragments) to grind out REs, as well as running missions non-stop for Cortosis Weave. Did it on my 50 Shadow, btw, so I didn't have to keep aggroing level 50 critters with my level 48 (at the time) Sage. So harvest, mail, switch toons, send out crafts, switch toons, harvest, lather, rinse, repeat ... you know the drill. Thankfully, I've run enough Treasure Hunting missions in the past to have more than enough Lorrdian Gemstones and Corusca Gems for my Prototype RE items and my final Artifact items (yes, I want one for Nadia as well).

Well, I think I have enough Lorrdian Gemstones ... I do have five full stacks, so maybe I'll get a successful RE before the 125 or so crafts I would get in before running out. One always must hope.

Currently, over the last two days, I'm at 29 consecutive failures for a binomial probability of 0.047. What does that mean? Let's say we take 1,000 artificers (let's assume skill 400 to eliminate necessary variables that don't affect the outcome anyway, but some people who don't understand stats might have suspicions) and give them 29 identical Overkill Foci of Devastating Power. Let's put them in the same place (Senate Plaza on Coruscant should be sufficient for that many) and at the same time (both of these to rule out other "variables" people mistakenly think matter when REing) and have them all RE those 29 items one right after another. Odds are that I would be standing in a group with 46 other people, of that 1,000, who scored 29 fails in a row. Double the number of items to RE, and if my streak of "bad luck" continued I would practically be standing alone of that 1,000, with one other person at best.

A streak of failures with a binomial probability of 0.047, and this is Working as Intended, Working as Designed.

Sure, this has nothing on my 56 out of ONE MILLION results a little while ago, but it still sucks. It still is unacceptable given what EA and BioWare care to think of the quality of their game. We deserve better. We are PAYING for better.

Of course, there is still the matter of my complete lack of control over what schematic I might learn should I succeed at an RE. As in my case of 93 consecutive failures, I could get a Rampart build (+47 points of useless Shield Chance) or a Commander build (+47 points of useless Presence on my PvP toon) or even a Hawkeye build (+47 points of accuracy, useless as my accuracy is already at 104%). Odds are 3:2 against me getting something useful. You would think that having a skill level of 400 would MEAN something, perhaps like giving me a 100% chance of choosing what advanced schematic I would learn. It means nothing. The true "story" here, since BioWare vaunts "story" so much, is that as a master of my craft, at the pinnacle of my knowledge and skill, I am still fumbling in the dark, making random decisions, learning nothing from past mistakes.

I'm guessing many of you are bored to tears if you've read this far. If so, you may understand my point: SWTOR Crafting is, at best, a mini-game that serious players should not waste their time over. There have been thread after thread for the last year calling for something to be done about just how terrible the system is. Even though we players know that "Coming Soon©®™" means little from BioWare, it still would be better than what we have received from BioWare about possible changes to crafting. Crafting in SWTOR has all the appearance of someone understanding ninth-grade simple probability, and absolutely nothing about how quickly binomial probabilities become vicious indicators of failure beyond your hope of ever attaining any sort of control.

There is no such thing as skill in Crew Skills, particularly crafting. The only true control you have is to not do it.

What have we heard from BioWare concerning improvements to crafting? Phkmg. That's a word I invented with the meaning of "the onomatopoeic representation of the sound of devastating silence", pronunciation guide provided below. And inventing a new word certainly takes more skill than I can hope to invest in any Crew "Skill", because to call them "Skills" is to use a convenient fiction with a wink and a nod from the developers and producers to the advertising team.

So, my question as we come up on the first anniversary of this game is: Is there a producer or developer who has the guts to tell us what is being done to improve the state of crafting or, if as we suspect is true, that nothing is being done to improve the state of crafting in SWTOR?

I double-dog dare the lot of you.

[Pronunciation guide: p as in pneumatic, h as in herb, k as in know, m as the in the first letter of mnemonic, g as in gnome. Yep, all silent consonants. There's even a song about this word. Well, okay, the song came first, but it would have been in the lyrics if the word came first.]

PS: Why not just give up? Why not craft the blue item and use it and forget about trying for the next level of schematic I would use for one (1) level? Because I'm stupid, and stubborn, and I don't give up even when I really should.

AND... because right now I have a Vehemence Immortality Relay (earpiece) that equipped on my companion just fine, but when I tried to equip it on myself I got the You cannot use or equip this item due to your subscription permissions. My subscription, which is something I locked in during Early Game Access and haven't let falter. My permissions, which are "You can use Artifact items because you are a subscriber!" And for the sake of full disclosure, attempt #30 got me the Expert schematic. Would have preferred that Vehemence one, but I said Expert would be suitable.

And I can't equip that either. You cannot use ....
Last night, I similarly was crafting a lv 47 specific ear piece for a toon that is quickly approaching the end of his sub-50 career. In the first 8 earpieces RE'd, I unlocked 4 of the 5 artifact schematics. The system is random; working as intended.

Sunjammer's Avatar


Sunjammer
12.07.2012 , 08:54 AM | #38
Quote: Originally Posted by psandak View Post
One of the major complaints about that "other MMO's" crafting system is that everyone can make everything, all you need is the currency to buy the patterns. You are proposing a similar system in SWTOR just taking a different path.
This particular suggestion (an incrementing modifier for consecutive RE attempts on the same type of item) isn't intended to do anything more than remove the frustration of excessively long runs of failures. It's a simple "quality of life" fix that BioWare could easily implement without having to change the way crafting and crew skills work. It gives the player a tiny bit of influence over RE which is a small step towards improving the current crafting system. It also makes our crew slightly less stupid since it gives them a limited ability to "learn" from their mistakes.

Another simple "quality of life" fix might be to slightly increase the base RE chance for a particular item for each schematic of the next grade you've already discovered for that item. Again this doesn't really change the current crafting system and it doesn't even require any additional data as the modifier can be calculated from the player's list of schematics. Unfortunately it doesn't give the player any more influence over what schematic is produced but makes failing to get the schematic you want a little less painful.

Of course while such "quality of life" fixes would be welcome they don't radically change the current crafting system so the fundamental issues remain but more on that later.
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Zem_'s Avatar


Zem_
12.07.2012 , 09:06 AM | #39
Quote: Originally Posted by psandak View Post
I think everyone is missing Finelinebob's point...
Wouldn't say I'm missing it. I get that he wants more complex and meaningful skill-based success and I am not opposed to that. I am just not as passionate about it. I craft when I play this game. I don't play this game to craft. I would be happy with a simple method of preventing long failure streaks. Considering how many far simpler things are NOT getting fixed, I would not waste my time coming up with grandiose plans to overhaul crafting.

It's just not in the cards.

asbalana's Avatar


asbalana
12.07.2012 , 09:36 AM | #40
Quote: Originally Posted by finelinebob View Post
.......The only crafted items that require any type of skill are the end-game item mods you get from high-end operations. What type of skill does it take to get these? Combat skill. If you have a group of people who can beat the bosses and get the drops on a regular basis, again it's a matter of brute-force probability. Do it often enough, and it won't be rare. Or have you not noticed the spamming on fleet saying, essentially, "I'll craft you an end-game mod for free as long as you give me your mats." I don't even see people asking for tips half the time.

In other words, the crafted items of greatest value have a profit margin of 0. People now expect to get them "at cost". Don't try to suggest that "supply and demand" works in virtual economies like that in SWTOR when compared to real-world economies. I will believe that the day you can walk into Tiffany's with some gold ore and some lumps of coal and say, "Make me one of those rings, please, and I don't expect to have to pay you anything because I'm providing the raw materials." It wouldn't even happen if you had 24 carat gold and the Hope diamond for a jewel.

......
Actually I do not think that this is true. The profit margin (whatever that means in this context) is not 0. People craft for free for the crits which they keep. Other than the amortization cost of the schematic, cost per unit drops the more units that you craft, for zero investment in mats the free crafter is making a ton of credits considering the pricing of the highest level mods, etc.

With reference to the amount of skill that it takes to acquire end game schematics, I refer you to the tear soaked thread about stealing schematics by virtue of the RE exploit that is not really an exploit and ask you to consider how crafting goes forward in raiding guilds.