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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honing Your Crafts : #1 : The Same Template

A Worgen's Work is never done... ^^

Five Ways to Improve Professions In Game.

#1 : Standardise the Process.

When you look at your Professions window in game, it all looks rather well thought out, doesn't it? The truth's quite a long way from that, of course, because the sheer amount of information you'd need in one window to accurately represent exactly what each of these skills gives you is staggering, hence the large number of add-ons that have developed over the years to assist any erstwhile Crafter to keep abreast of what they are doing. It would probably be easier if every profession followed the same template too: some have specialisations, some don't. Some Primary professions benefit from parts of Secondary professions and vice versa, but there is a lack of consistency. What is needed as the first step in any reorganisation of the professions is some basic rules, that cover all the professions. There are the bones of this already in place, and this is where we begin.


The seven levels of Profession Mastery!

As we stand, there are seven levels of mastery in all 14 professions: Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, Artisan, Master, Grand Master and Illustrious Grand Master. Sadly, this is where the commonality ends in many cases, and my first desire for improvement is to build on the structure that Blizzard already has in place. Let's use it as our foundation and build upon it. For the purposes of this article I'll use Skinning as an example of what could be done, but I have ideas for all professions in this regard, which I'll list in a separate post.

  • Introduce an 'Assessment' Quest that rewards you with the next level of mastery. For instance, to become a Journeyman Skinner you are asked to track down three specific mobs and skin them for a 'superior quality' hide. Let it reward you with an item that is useful for your profession: maybe a storage bag, in this case perhaps a +5 to skill skinning knife. Make levelling more interesting with incentives that don't need to be bought, but can be earned.

  • Give EVERY Profession Specialisations back, even the gathering and secondary ones. Everyone gets a chance to have a base set of abilities but can further specialise down one of three paths. This will allow for consistency across all 14, and help people understand that when you get to (for example L65) it's time to go see your Trainer to begin your Specialisation training. Make them last a couple of levels too, maybe you won't finish your specialisation training until you hit 70, even 75. Don't make them so people have to go into dungeons, use the Game World as your backdrop, but use the incentive to level as the incentive to keep crafting.

  • Don't penalise people for not rolling a specific class: the Worgen skinning racial is great, but why can't all skinners have it? Would it not be better to offer those kind of 'incentives' to those who complete their training in a particular profession? Perhaps (as Blizzard can track the number of beasts you have skinned) it might be a 'bonus' once you'd reached a specific number of items harvested or crafted?

  • Give Professions the ability to become future proof. My skinning bag I earned when I became a Journeyman increases by 4 slots every Mastery I gain. That knife increases skinning by +1 every X levels I grind. The items I started my life with stay with me throughout my journey and retain their usefulness even when I am maxxed.

  • Give everyone an ability like the one Tailors and Jewelcrafters possess: you gather/create more the higher level you become, you have a chance to gather/create a superior quality item from time to time. Ideally the system that is in place with Scribes and Alchemists for a 'daily research' spell is one that could work for all the professions, allowing the Crafter a chance to learn additional patterns/abilities over time once the 'standard' run of abilities is learnt. Perhaps specific spells could be attached to certain zones: for instance, as a Skinner I could go to the Darkmoon Faire and and learn their method of skinning dragons. This would allow a specific item to sometimes drop from dragons when I did.

  • Give those who have excelled in their abilities titles to show for it. Completing my Specialiation in Skinning gives me the title 'Skinner of Birds', telling other people that I am the person to approach if they are looking for special feathers from rare birds to complete their items. Make every specialisation worthwhile to pursue and with tangible rewards that can be used by other Crafters to create items as good as those you would find in a five man dungeon.

Above all else however, if you give a basic ability to one group of crafters, make sure all of them have the same chance. Make it so if you have to explain crafting to someone the same rules apply to every profession, regardless of whether it is primary or secondary. The biggest single issue in my mind with the system is probably what many people consider it's biggest strength, that it's not sterile and homogenised but each system has it's own unique quirks. Although this is makes things interesting, I think it's only to a certain point, and redesigning the system could still retain this if done sympathetically.

I've got a list of what I came up with as potential specialisations for ALL the professions, which I'll post later to give people an idea of where my thinking is coming from. Needless to say I find this to be my biggest single issue, and the only way I can see to remove it is for Blizzard to go back to the drawing board, in much the same way as they will be forced to in order to deal with stat inflation...

4 comments:

Kat said...

The professions need something like this to give them a bit of interest again. I remember reading the WoW guides before I started playing (Wrath) and got really excited about the specialisations only to find they didn't really exist anymore.

Very few of those now exist, and only the alchemy one is truly useful.

At the moment most professions are simply a grind to 500+ so you can make some money from them or get whatever ever bonus you require for raiding. Something has to be done to inject more fun into them. Professions need to carry on even when maxed out (and I don't just mean with raid drop recipes). More quests to create unique items (pets, mounts, cosmetic, not "gear" as then it becomes a necessity for some people).

Blizzard also need to keep up with certain things - the engineering helm and alchemy trinkets for example. Why not give each profession something special like that each tier?

Atm the professions just feel too boring and it would be cool to actually make them mean something.

Kat

TheGrumpyElf said...

Those are some really nice ideas. It would make professions more a part of the game for altaholics like me.

Once I maxed out all professions they no longer seem useful at all. I'll get gathering ones while leveling, drop them when max level if it is a character I do not plan on heading out often with and pick up alchemy on all of them because that is the only one worth having multiples of. Secondary can be anything, which I usually decide on based on how much junk I have on my bank character meaning it would be easiest to level.

I would love to see professions be important decisions for someone like me that is approaching having 15 85s on the same server.

The Godmother said...

The more I think about this, the more impractical it becomes, because to redesign the system properly would take more time than Blizzard is likely to ever want to dedicate to it. The sad thing is that most of the bones are there: if they can give Engineering a decent balance of useful and fun items why they simply can't duplicate that across the board...

I'm in the middle of writing up about three weeks worth of notes on my Grand Redesign. That will give you a better idea of how I'd see a new structure working. It will also show why it's never EVER going to happen ^^

Jonathan said...

More +5 skill point recipes would be ace. One thing that's held me back on levelling Alchemy on my alt rogue is the sheer time it takes, in fact I dinged 525 on Herbalism long before Alchemy just through gathering what I needed to advance. +5 skill point recipes don't appear until far too late in the levelling process.

If Blizz were tinkering and not overhauling, adding daily quests that boost profession levelling across all professions would be my first suggestion, and making more of the lower level crafting a +5 would be my second.