Enchanting, and the Gear Tax

It’s funny to think of it now but there was a time when I loved enchanting type crafting skills in games. The idea that before a new drop was ready for use, it had to be specially enchanted and fixed up seemed immensely cool. (I even remember playing a MUD once which told you roughly what size clothes a mob had dropped and if it wasn’t your size, you’d have to go to a tailor to get it altered before you could use it yourself.)

This was back when dropped armour  generally did not have stats. It had some kind of defense value, but if you wanted bonuses on your gear, you had to gem/enchant it. I always felt this was more intuitive than “you have just crafted a woolen shirt of +1 intellect.” No, it’s not magic, you just crafted it to make the wearer EXTRA SMART via the power of fashion and sharp tailoring.

But let’s face it, enchanting in MMOs has always been a surtax on gear. Extra cost and research and stuff you are supposed to apply to your character’s armour before you can show your face in whatever high level content of choice you choose to name. There aren’t even any interesting choices involved – usually there will be 2/3 viable enchants for each piece and you just pick the one with stats appropriate to your class/ role. It would be easy for the enchants to disappear and the stat bonuses just to be incorporated into the base gear, mechanically the game would play out exactly the same.

It’s really just a scam engineered to drive you into the arms of waiting enchanters, who are the only people with access to the full enchant list (unless you go to websites) and usually also the only people who can provide the raw goods for enchanting. Or in other words, enchanting is an artificial way to stimulate demand in game.

Somehow it didn’t feel so artificial when you actually had more ability to tailor your gear enchants, even though everyone (in DaoC at least) ended up using similar templates.

Am I really the only person who would prefer to be able to just grab a cool drop and be ready to go without being asked to do all the legwork for an extra minor bonus? It’s funny, once I used to find these extra complexities so cool. I think that I’m over it now, or at least I’ve done it over again in enough games that I’d rather just cut to the chase.