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After spending some time grinding the other day to get my Fishing and Blacksmithing maxed out for the millionth time, I started to really hope for a professions revamp in the expansion. Unfortunately, none seems to be coming. After the overhaul of the 1-60 leveling in Cataclysm, and with the idea of streamlining and normalizing content in Mists of Pandaria, I'd just like to talk about revamping the professions.
Crafting as a whole, in World of Warcraft and other MMOs, seem to be a vestige of older MMOs where crafting was a whole playstyle attempting to emulate a world. World of Warcraft has constantly struggled to make crafting relevant as its own thing, as raids demanded that crafting either fall behind or require raiding, defeating the purpose of crafting being separate. I think it's about time Blizzard takes a long look at their professions and ask how they can truly contribute to their game.
When I started playing Cataclysm, I started leveling my first real alt for the first time in my history in World of Warcraft. I chose Skinning and Leatherworking for this character. I was absolutely drawn into the new questing experience, and have yet to truly "look at my experience bar" (which is something I've never been able to say about an MMO before, including World of Warcraft in the past). However, I consistently noticed that when I went to skin a mob I had just downed, I wouldn't have enough skill. I would consistently level up significantly faster than my professions could keep up. I feel this is a jarring flaw in the otherwise well-paced character advancement.
Another problem that I noticed, but didn't affect me too much as a veteran, is that I felt I had to seek out my professions in the first place. If I wasn't a fairly dedicated, long-term veteran, I probably would have missed professions until much later in my character's life, and I surely wouldn't have known where to go back and make up for falling behind professions.
I want to talk about the Secondary Professions first, because I think they have the most problems. Fishing in particular seems to still barely have a point. As a cheap distraction, it's actually not so bad, but then why do I have to get another 100 skill every expansion? Does Fishing even need to raise its cap?
First Aid seems to be almost completely irrelevant now. It made more sense in the early days of World of Warcraft, when the game still had vestiges of other MMO concepts it has now dropped, with sub-features such as antidotes, but it now seems to be little more than a bandage for missing class mechanics. It's hardly worth being an entire profession available to everyone. Not to mention that, but the need to increase the skill cap seems a little silly here as well. All getting another hundred points does is make sure you have the exact same feature you had at the end of the previous expansion.
Cooking is almost like fishing in that it tries desperately to be relevant each expansion. It got a lot better when feasts and buff foods were added, but it still seems to really force itself to add those new skill points. I loved the Gigantic Feast, but I don't seem to see any equivalent that's relevant to this expansion.
Archaeology isn't something I've tried very much. It sounds like little more than a horrible grind reminiscent of fishing, but one I hadn't already been established in. I can't find it now, but I liked someone else's idea I read to make it more like fishing. Treat digsites like bodies of water, and not force higher level players to continent hop every five minutes just for a handful of skill pints. Personally, I'm not sure why it even has to be a skill at this point. Can't it just be treated like it's always maxed out, and used instead to reward exploration with bits of lore, gimmicky items, and the occasional drop quest or something?
Overall, I'm just not even sure if the Secondary Professions need to have the extra 100 skill points every expansion. It turns the fun, side hobbies into harsh grinds.
These professions make a little more sense to increase every time overall, as they're more directly tied to the leveling process in terms of the gear they produce. However, that's not necessarily a good thing either, or particularly well done.
Most of the earlier, crafted gear is obsolete by the time you can make it. Even the max level stuff, however, rarely lasts long into an expansion's lifespan.
One thing that has bugged me in Cataclysm is how many currencies there are now. My gold is virtually worthless. It's not just a matter of collecting the next most relevant thing, though, like Valor Points. If I want my character to be "complete," I need Valor/Justice Points/Honor/Conquest Points, Chef's Awards, and extra resource bars, and one of those requires me to do dailies. As someone who joined Cataclysm late, it's extremely daunting and drains a lot of the fun out of the game since I'm now forced to do a variety of different tasks, some of which I may not find fun, just to keep up. Besides, is it really necessary?
If you chose one path in this game, adventurer, blacksmith, cook, whatever, then each having their own currency wouldn't be as nasty. In World of Warcraft, where you are all of these things, it turns it into a nasty grind.
Here are some of my ideas to solve the issues I personally see with the profession system as it stands. Keep in mind, some of these suggestions would be mutually exclusive.
Edited by James on 10/25/2011 1:02 PM PDT
Leveling Professions: Agreed.
Secondary Professions: No, fishing needs work but levelling secondaries should be work put in by all alts.
Fishing: I've suggested numerous times over the years that they add in a whack-a-mole type minigame for net fishing, for faster skill ups/catches in exchange for a cooldown. So fishing could be something you do a quick minigame for while waiting for a friend/queue/boat.
First Aid: Secondary features would be nice, even if it's just cosmetic items.
Cooking: No percentage based foods, levelling it would become obsolete.
Custom foods based on ingredient mixes, so you could create your own heal/mana/buff foods would be nice, but over complicated for them to balance.
Archaeology: Permanent digsites, or even just more digs per site would be awesome.
They have said in the past they're considering dailies to make levelling archaeology easier, though nothing more since.
Item breakdown is an old suggestion. nice idea but not that important really.
Junk items just need to be made notjunk. Redo the recipe lists so things are consistent and you have a steady gear progression would be nice (full set of gear every 10-15 levels).
Upgrades every season would be very nice, and has been requested by engineers forever.
Posted this yesterday but it died:
Basically, the design of leveling up crafting seems to be outdated and is an area that would hugely benefit from a revamp. As of now, craftable itens not at max-level have very little impact on the game, if any. Their presence nowadays is only a stepping stone in order to achieve max level (a big one as it is, as leveling a profession requires more than 7k at least in my server).
Basically there are a few problems observed:
-Grindy leveling-up, with the proccess getting longer and grindier as the max-level cap increases
-No value to crafted itens (neither for aesthetics nor for playing)
-Low return (especially due to the above point)
And a few suggestions, gathered and mine:
-Invest in more sets than individual pieces and use the set bonus to streamline the stat value of the gear with available gear at the same level (at least quest gear, as I think it's ok for dungeon gear be better in order to incentivize (neologism?!?) social play.
-Make craftable PVP gear at low-level: I think the PVP crafting gear was a very good idea at 85, why not introduce it at lower levels where people don't have access to honor gear as easily or where it's not advantegeous to buy honor gear as you should be saving honor for the honor max-level sets. It would create a new market, more profitable and at the same time create a niche for professions. This would also be welcomed by twinker, I daresay.
-Make the created pieces more unique, which would create a niche for transmog gear. There is also a suggestion in the other thread for making region-specific gear, which would appeal to this market. This way we could have panda vendors in the main cities selling low-level gear patterns with an asian feel, argent crusader seller in the plaguelands selling crusader patterns, etc. (this could also make rep grinding for older factions something players would like to do)
-Make itens from the same skill tier similarly costed, so that people can choose to make 1 pant, 1 chest, 1 glove, etc, instead of 10 gloves, because they have a lower cost-to-skillup ratio.
-Give a possibility of more than 1 skill-up per item, that would help to increase the speed of profession leveling, or create daily quests like the cooking one which award skill points. With the release of each expansion the skill cap gets farther away, and without a way to decrease this gap, even if not proportional, the cost to entry for professions is going to get very high.
For gathering professions, I think there is less room for improvement, due to their nature, but there are a few suggestions:
-possibility of multiple skillups, or one skill up for each ore,herb of leather you find, not node. So a node with 2 copper would have a 2 skillup chance. This would also help to decrease availability of itens, increasing the incentive to have a gathering profession instead of buying the itens to level crafting professions in the AH
-streamline the profession bonus with the crafting professions (80 crit vs 80 primary stas is not a good comparison rate, making crafting professions a priority for raiders)
-again: crafting quests to help speed up the proccess, maybe with a partner profession transmog worthy recipe (BS for mining, etc) which would help incentivize people taking up a gathering/crafting pair. This would be good for teaching new players how to pair professions as well as incentivize crafting instead of buying mats.
Anyways, I thing there are ground for making professions a target area for development in the next expansion (I'm not expecting for you to change Pandaria so close to release date ), especially since I don't think, as is, that there is room for a new class or race in it (otherwise we would be getting so inflated in class/race options that it would star to be difficult to design then, as well as decreasing Wow's life expectancy, as there are only so many class and races you can design).
TLDR: there is a design opportunity in revamping the low-level professions
Taking a piece of crafted armor or weapon and disenchanting it results in a reagent for the enchanting skill. It would be easy to give leatherworkers, tailors, blacksmiths and alchemists the ability to render an item into leather, cloth, ingot or herbal essence. This ability added to the skills would make leveling the crafting skills a little more even with the gain rates of the gathering skills.
How about giving first aid profession a higher chance at looting cloth? I find cloth drops rarely or not at all (if there is a tailor in my group) and have to buy it in the AH in order to make bandages.
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