Thursday, January 12, 2012

Full Reverse! My Experience with Reverse Engineering

Chewie, how many times do I have to say it? Lock in the damn auxiliary power! Here we are being pulled towards the largest space station in the history of the galaxy and certain doom and you're rubbernecking in the copilot's chair!


It's like Bowdaar 2.0 in here.

Anyways, I want to talk about all of the reverse engineering I've been doing. All told, I've reverse engineered a grand total of 0 items. Zero. Zilch. Not a single one.

You would think this would make me wholly unqualified to talk about reverse engineering, but let me explain.

I don't reverse engineer because I don't think it will be profitable. For me to start reverse engineering an item, it would have to meet the following criteria:

1A. Coveted Premium (Green) Item: That is, if there is demand for the item slot, there will be increased demand for the better versions of said item. For instance, remember the level 15 Cybertech earpieces I love to talk about? Players buy those because they have no earpiece at all. Therefore, they're more likely to shell out a few extra credits for a prototype (blue) or even an artifact (purple) item.


1B. Level Cap Item: There is no twinking in SWTOR,  so players are generally only concerned with getting the "best" gear at level cap. Easier to sell a player on a +5 stat boost when they know they will be keeping it for at least a while.

2. High Net Profit: The schematics granted through reverse engineering are coupled with higher materials costs. For instance, a green level ~15 mod might require two basic Underworld Metals at ~50 credits each, where the purple equivalent uses purple metals at 500+ credits each...when you can find them. It's difficult to pass a 1000% increase in materials costs onto your buyers and maintain profit margin, especially if the benefits are slim. So the question I ask myself is, Can I reliably find the mats I need to craft this?

It's hard enough finding a craftable item that meets those criteria (I do want to try level cap mods/armorings/etc. and will report on it if I do), but then there are other factors dissuading me from reverse engineering.

First, the opportunity cost is prohibitively high. Like, equal to 10 premium and 20 prototype items (a total guess based on a bunch of different guesses from around the net) for just a single artifact schematic. Making up for that drain in resources will take time.

Then, there is an element of randomness that can result in totally useless schematics. No Smuggler worth his spice is going to fork over extra credits for a +defense blue! Or worse, a +shield purple! And NOBODY is going to want level cap +presence purples, considering that stat is completely useless in endgame. This multiplies your opportunity cost. (Note: Mods, Barrels, etc. only gain existing stats rather than gain random ones, making them infinitely more predictable.)

Now, I understand that on high population servers, reverse engineering can open the door to untapped markets. But is it worth it?

So, have any of you forayed into the world of reverse engineering with success? Any selfless souls doing it for the good of their guild? Am I totally wrong on this? Let's hear it!


  1. i treat reverse engineering only as a way to save on mats for further skill levelling via greens.
    greens tend to refund roughly half their original mats cost when RE'd, letting me stretch my skill point gain out a bit further. occasionally i've created the blue version of an item when it's been the most reliable skill point generator and i've been too far away from a trainer to pick up another green schematic

  2. When I started trying to earn Creds with Cypertech I focused on reverse engineering and selling, but quickly learned that it isn't worth it. However it still has its uses.

    It's a good way to save mats while powerleveling a crafting skill (and being lazy). But with a rather unstable market prices of crafted items can vary widely. You can get lucky to find cheap crafted items when people are getting eager to get their stuff sold and doesn't know what it's really worth. I earned a nice amount of Creds by buying blue earpieces for less than 300 Creds and then reverse engineering them and making other items. So if you got some time to spare it is worth looking on the market for cheap items to reverse, like enchanters did in WoW.

    1. That's a great point about REing for cheaper mats, especially if the mats market itself is dry. People tend to dump mats after they graduate to a new tier, but that is an off-and-on buying opportunity.

      And while I haven't "powerleveled" a crew skill in SWTOR per se, I can theoretically see how RE'ing could provide inventory space/extra mats while off adventuring. Still hard to take such a loss on an item, but if the skill points are worth it to you...

      So maybe reverse engineering isn't quite as useless as I wrote!

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