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A Guide to Gathering
Your character is born into the world of Atreia knowing how to gather materials. For your first ten levels, using the gathering profession in Aion is relatively straight-forward. Simply approach a node, whether herb, ore, fish, or wood, and right-click. Most nodes allow three attempts.Occasionally a slightly better quality item may be gathered, for instance, you may receive Fresh Angelica instead of the usual Angelica herb.
Any interruption during your gathering attempt will cause you to fail and will use one of the possible attempts, making it especially important to clear hostile mobs in the immediate area. The more you gather, the higher your gathering skill will level. The items gathered are then used in one or more of the crafting professions. Upon reaching the max level of your gathering skill, visit a trainer to learn the next range and boost your maximum higher. Even if you don't believe that you'll eventually train a crafting profession, you should be sure to keep your gathering skill current, as you never know when a quest giver might ask you for 10 pieces of Angelica, or 6 freshly-picked Zucchinis.
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After completing the Ascension quest and gaining your wings and Daeva status, you will note an interesting message if you attempt to gather in the start zone. Don't worry - you simply perform a different type of gathering now and will have to wait until you've progressed onto the first quest hub accessible from your faction's city.
Now that you are a Daeva and no longer need the same things as humans, you will be 'extracting vitality' from nodes, rather than gathering. Oddly, these items will not look any different when viewed in your inventory. However, you will now also be able to gather aether from nodes in the sky. Your new-found ability to fly in certain areas will help you out with this greatly. The 'Extract Vitality' skill is on a different scale from 'Extract Aether,' so spend a little time in your first Fortress (Altgard for Asmodians, Verteron for Elyos) getting used to the flight mechanic and sucking up some sweet, sweet aether. Aether is used in many crafting professions.
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Leveling a crafting profession in Aion offers a great deal of fun, plus an opportunity to use up those gathered items and carefully hoarded drops. Crafting also gains you experience points. The professions available in the closed beta version include Alchemy, Cooking, Sewing, Weaponcrafting, Armorcrafting, and Handicrafting.
While leveling a crafting profession is usually an expensive endeavor, Aion developers have designed a 'work order' system to help you out. After paying a trainer to learn the skill, you will be able to pick up a special kind of quest to gain crafting levels. The main ingredient for the quest recipe will be provided by your trainer, and any other necessary materials can be purchased for a little kinah from the vendor nearby.
You should be able to get 2-4 levels from each repeatable work order quest, and while the end results are turned in with the quest, you won't have to gather a number of expensive materials on your own. For those who have spare materials to burn, many of the craftable items sell very well to other players both in personal stores and on the auction house.
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Is Aion Crafting the Best it Could Be?
The crafting mechanism in Aion is not without fault. Instead of having recipes of a certain difficulty level that are guaranteed to give you a skill point, each successful non-gray crafting attempt adds a bit of skill. When this invisible skill meter fills up, you are awarded a point for that particular skill. This can be unsatisfying and could have used a visual indicator of progress.
In contrast, crafting, gathering, and extracting success seems to depend on a series of 2-step rolls. Roll #1 is for pass / fail, roll #2 decides how much. If the 'pass' meter fills up before the 'fail' meter, you successfully craft. Players spend far too much time breathlessly cheering on the 'pass' meter until the fate of the attempt has been decided. While the transparency of the system was initially fun to watch, it quickly becomes tiresome and you may find yourself tabbing out during crafting sessions to check your Twitter feed. Developers should be very wary any system that does not completely suck the player in and provide a sense of immersion. Boredom is death to MMOs.
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There is also a small chance of not succeeding with your crafting attempt. This can lead to waste of materials and player frustration, especially when the mats you just spent a great deal of kinah on disappear in a flash of bubbling failure. Additionally, the process moves rather slowly, and when crafting items in bulk your character may be spending a great deal of time at the Artisan section in your faction's city. There has been no sign of crafting areas outside of the major city for each faction, at least up to level 20. And while the bank is very close to the crafting area in Pandemonium, the Elyos are forced to drag their items quite a way from the warehouse in Sanctum. Your inventory, or cube space, is at a premium, and while you can purchase additional cube and warehouse slots, it gets expensive rather quickly. Making upgraded inventory space a priority is probably your best strategy if you intend to take one or more crafting professions.
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It's Still Pretty Darn Good
With tons of craftable potions, weapons, gear, and other items, the professions in Aion are much more than just a filler and never used to counter a lack of content. The ability to stock your character with potions and buffing food will make you a valuable group and legion member, and alts can be supplied by keeping a stack or two in the account section of the warehouse. Additionally, keeping your gathering and crafting skills current provides items of comparable level, as opposed to the crafting offerings of other MMOs. NCSoft is definitely on the right track with this aspect of their newest MMO game.