Outstanding in My Field

As part of my return to LotRO, I convinced Mrs. P to return as well now that a major project that has been consuming her is winding up.  She hasn’t been as obsessive and I have, but has managed to get through the slightly disorienting “reacquaintance” phase of coming back to a game that you used to know how to play.

Saturday found three of us on, generally in the low thirties.  Dendromir, my Captain was a bit ahead of the pack, so I pulled out my Minstrel, Garfinkel, to join our wee fellowship for a bit of a romp through the Trollshaws and some cleanup in eastern Lone Lands.

Garfinkel was our LotRO group 2.0’s healer and primarily a group-oriented character.  Once upon a time, we more or less divided up tradeskills among those of us with the time and inclination.  The way it sort of worked out, Garfinkel ended up the Yeoman, leveling farming and cooking.  Realizing that everyone was a bit light in the food department, I resolved to hit the dirt today so to speak.

Oh the superlatives you'll earn!

Farming in LotRO has always been unique.  Over the various iterations since launch it has been revamped a few times.  At various points in the past, its been a money machine or second only to owning a boat as a money pit.  Traditionally, its also been a bit overly complicated.  And time consuming.

In the last iteration I recall, it also gave creedence to that old joke about how to make a small fortune in farming– start with a large one.

Once upon a time, it required no less than three crafting recipes and three vendor purchased ingredients (one unique to each recipe) to simple produce an item.  A farmer would purchase a “field” recipe, a “seed” recipe and a “crop” recipe.  You learned how to plant the field, harvest two different qualities of crop– one that could be processed into a usable item like “yellow onions” and the lower quality version which could only be processed back into seed, which could then be replanted for another attempt.

You purchased the applicable seed, the right kind of fertilizer, the right kind of water, went to the appropriate type of farmland (vegetable, grain or pipe-weed), and got down to it.  Reprocessing the lower quality output at least permitted you to “salvage” something out of what would be an otherwise unsuccessful crafting attempt.

The end result was often lots of bag clutter with odd lots left over and crafting menu clutter with three recipes to produce a single crop.  Left over seeds sold at a loss to vendors, basic recipes were often relatively expensive and the market tended not to be terribly great.  More importantly, with all the iterations: planting, harvesting, processing, ingredient making and finally cooking, going from seed to stomach represented quite an investment of time and often a substantial outlay of coin.

This round seems to have been streamlined a bit.  Turbine at some point eliminated the seed reprocessing step, so that’s one less recipe to buy and one additional time loop eliminated.  Likewise, they’ve done away with all crop specific seeds.  Now you simply by the appropriate tier seeds and they can be used for any crop in that tier.

While perhaps less immersive, its an immensely efficient improvement.  Zero waste, and it dramatically reduces bag clutter since I only need Artisan seeds for any number of different Artisan crops.  Likewise, eliminating the time burned on seed processing feels much better.

The task of the Yeoman is still not for the faint hearted.  Producing ingredients and cooked food items is still a substantial commitment of time to be efficient.  Witness this blog post, drafted while alt-tabbing out during long processing runs.

All for food that lasts only 5 minutes (or 20 minutes for the stat buff trail food).  Compare that with the 10 levels of use I get out of purple crafted armor from Wilhelm’s metalsmith or tailor… Granted, the gathering of raws or armor is not a zero time commitment process, but at least you can gather while questing.

Still, as a unique crafting element in the game, its not without its charms.  It would be fun to be able to truly build up a farming operation in your housing neighborhood on your own land, but of course that takes the slightly social element out, but would be an interesting game in its own right and offer a host of new items that could be used to enhance the growing process.

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