I pushed crafting in the AO economy hard this last alpha largely because I wanted to make all of the mistakes now, rather than during release. I also wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could warn new players about what happens with crafting in a sandbox MMO: it becomes pointless. Not to my surprise, this was no more true in AO than any other past MMO I have played. If you are a new player to AO and/or the sandbox mmo genre and are reading this review, stay away from crafting. Getting up to tier three is crucial to self-sufficiency. Beyond that is not worth it.
It is tremendously more cost-effective to buy the gear you need in the AH, than it is to spend time and silver crafting up your Albion Online Items. If you are doing it to make a profit, you are making a grave mistake. Why? Because the larger guilds have dedicated crafters who do nothing but craft, and have an endless supply of resources at their disposal. They will always be able to undercut you. This hurts you in getting back your investment in crafting.
To go from tier three to tier four, you have to accumulate 2,400 fame for each weapon and armor set desired. Each craft generates you between 50 and 80 or so fame, and costs roughly 1,000 silver. To make the math simple, let’s say each craft produces 100 fame. It will cost you 24,000 silver to level that tier, which also takes away your time from farming more silver while, as you sit there and gather resources, then sit there and craft the gear. If you buy gold, you can leverage this substantially (this to be discussed later).
Even more to the point, as AO reaches a 500,000 to one million player base, more and more suppliers will inevitably enter the market. By the end of the alpha, most tier three sets were going for 1,000 silver, and tier 4 sets between 5,000 and 10,000 silver depending on weapons chosen.
I do not find that crafting needs any immediate changes at this time. All of the natural changes based of community needs will occur throughout the game. I very much have appreciated the standpoint and how proactive SI has been regarding this. I am also very much impressed by how many tools are within the AO fundamentals to control these metrics (in terms of controlling silver drops, silver sinks, resources, etc.)
The one element that I feel must be changed is the cluster tax system. No zone anywhere, should have a cluster tax that is less than that of a major city. Why? Because it is completely favors large guild crafters who can craft at cost. Other players simply can not compete with that and therefore all of the silver transactions will be funded towards guild crafters to Buy Albion Online Gold. There is no balance in that at all. Guilds and their members will save silver by not being assessed a user tax. Where players and player cities will inevitably be charged a tax somewhere, between the refining stations and crafting stations they use.