This is the third in a series of posts about what I believe warlords could use. Part 1 - Non raiding gearing options. Part 2 - Intelligent zone design.
What WoD Needs. Part 3: A Profession Update
When cataclysm came out blizzard effectively destroyed the leveling experience completely. Not only by redesigning the old world and ruining the classic feel of it and destroying the leveling time line by effectively bouncing you thru time while leveling instead of continually moving forward but they speed up the leveling process to light speed.
When they decided that destroying the leveling experience in the old world was a better choice of the design team than making new content they also decided to do a half ass job of it. If you can't do an unnecessary job poorly, why do it?
They changed the world but they did not change the professions to match with the new changed world. Meaning that you are leveling at light speed but your professions still level at a snails pace. What is worse is if you happen to be a double gatherer because when they redesigned zones they forgot to redesign where things like mining nodes and herbalism nodes were.
Sure, they made some minor adjustments, but as anyone that has leveled a miner and an herbalist together since cataclysm will tell you there are various zones you will run into where if you were sitting at 120 skill level in both mining and herbalism you would be too high in herbalism to gain skill points because all the herbs were lower and you would be too low in mining so you could not mine anything.
McFly. Hello McFly. Think McFly think. If a character is of the appropriate level to do quests in that area then you can figure what would be the appropriate level their skills should be at that time and the herbs and ore in that area should be around that skill level. Don't you think? The herbs should not be grey so you get no skill points off them and the mining nodes should not require you to need another 60 skill levels before you can mine them.
That is just the tip of the iceberg with the problems of leveling since cataclysm destroyed the entire leveling process. Later on came the cross realm zones. Oh joy, more assholes, more griefers and more competition for quest mobs that sometimes take forever to respawn. Oh, and more competition for my gaterables too, gee thanks blizzard, you are too kind.
So not only was it hard enough to find a node you could pick that would give you a skill up but now you had massively more people than everyone was used to fighting you for those nodes. Worse was, and remains, all those fliers that run around grabbing everything so there is nothing for you leaving you even further behind than you already were thanks to bad zone redesign.
Don't think skinning was fine either just because I did not mention it. It too suffered from the same thing mining and herbing did. You would go from one zone where the animal skins were grey and no longer offering any skill ups to the very next zone where you could not even skin the animals because they were too high even if that zone was the next logical zone of the new, and horrible, leveling design.
Now to the crafting professions and they are even worse. We will start with leather working because in my opinion that one is the biggest culprit out there when it comes to professions that are horrible to level.
Being you level so fast now and keeping up with your skills is hard enough you might often times find yourself spending hours upon hours of skinning mobs that are grey to you, where you are not even getting experience or skill ups, just to get enough leather so you can keep up with your professions as you level. You just need too much leather to level leather working and the speed of leveling means you will never really get a decent amount of stock to work with any longer. The days of spending a week of playing in a zone and killing enough animals to keep up with your leather working are gone, they have been gone for a long time.
In late wrath you could start to tell it was getting a little rough, but doable, to level a crafting profession with your character. But it was not exactly what we would call horrible. Mildly annoying maybe, a little frustrating sometimes, but not horrible. When the changes to the old world came with cataclysm and the speed of leveling got turned up to 11 it was all bets are off. You can no longer level your crafting professions with your character unless you wanted to waste a butt load of time or a butt load of gold buying materials.
And it is not just the leather and not having enough of it, or the herbs and not having enough of them, or the ore and not having enough of it, or the cloth and not having enough of it, it is the other stuff. You are not in a zone very long any more so there is usually no way in hell you will collect materials to get 100s of motes of water so you can make primals to make 1 or 2 pieces for 1 or 2 skill levels.
Many professions have stages where you are stuck with needing what are now very rare materials in large amounts and unless you plan to farm for a long time or spend a lot of gold you can not reasonably get these things meaning you are doing what I do on a lot of my alts now. I wait for the darkmoon fair when I hit those rough points to get a free five skill points and hopefully skip over it. It is either that or try to farm 40 primal waters or buy them for 30 gold a piece off the auction house. Being I am wasting all my time in 3 and 4 hour LFRs with horrible players I do not have the time to go farm all that and being I am cheap I will never pay for some thing on the auction house that I could farm if I wanted to.
Crafting professions might be the easiest to fix with the sped up leveling speed. Just reduce the cost needed to make items. If something needed 8 primal waters, make it 1 now. Lets face it, that is an old item you are making and you will either just vendor it or disenchant it. It is not something you are going to wear, or if you do it is not something you are going to wear long. It is not top of the line gear any longer and it should not require top of the line materials or large quantities of items. It is something you are just making for a skill point. Nothing more, nothing less.
Beside lowering the ridiculous amount of rare materials needed for some items, they need to boost all items that need things like that to 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 point craftings. While they have done so with many they have not done so with all. Try engineering now. There are many times you will be in a range where you need lots and lots of materials, some rarer than others, and everything just gives you 1 skill point. Ouch.
It is not just the rare stuff that needs to be adjusted, it is all stuff. We get less leather, less ore, less cloth, because we are leveling so damn fast. Do we really need 18 pieces of leather to make something for 1 point? Some times we can pass entire zones where that leather can be skinned and only get 18 pieces of leather, total. So we can only make one thing? Really?
Lower things to need 5 or less pieces of leather, bars of metal or bolts of cloth. We might still out pace it with the stupidly fast leveling speed of the game but at least if we are 4 skill points off we only need to go back to get 20 pieces of leather and not go back to get 72 pieces of leather, or 144 ore, or 288 pieces of cloth.
Get real blizzard, lower the requirements to make low level craftable items. There is no reason for them to be expensive like that in this new world or fast level and quickly replaced items. It is not like anyone is making those crafted items while leveling to use because the second they make it to use it the next quest reward they get will be 10 times better than what was just crafted.
Leveling crafting professions by making gear is a means to an end and there is no reason for it to be so intensive any longer being the leveling of your character isn't. This worked when leveling took time. When you would end up killing 500 boars before moving to the next zone and end up with 500 leather in your bag before you move to the next level it worked, you could keep up. But now you can do some quests and never even get one quest that has you kill something that you can skin before you are moving to the next zone.
Now your skinning and your leather working is behind and you are left with the choice of doing old stuff that offers you nothing just to catch up or to continue leveling. Please tell me this is not one of those things you were talking about when you said you like to offer people choices blizzard because that is not a choice, that is cruel.
Mists has done a fair job with adding a few catch up mechanics for a few professions but once again like always blizzard half assed it. Lets take cooking for our first example of how blizzard did a good job and then half assed it because they never think about the future. They design everything as if it is going to be the last thing they ever add to the game.
They made it so you could never even train cooking and once you get to the farm you can power level all the way up to 530. I actually did that with one of my most recently leveled 90s. It was quite nice to be able to ignore cooking and think I can just get to it later. The problem is I now sit at 530 and most likely will never move from 530 unless I do the darkmoon fair to get 5 points. And that is their design flaw.
You need to choose at least one of the "ways" to get your cooking any further. Sure I have done it on many of my characters and could do it on all of them if I want to. But lets be honest, they take a butt load of materials to level and I would rather just sell all those materials and make myself a few grand than level cooking. Even more so if that character is one of those 90s I have that fly solo on a server. The gold means more than leveling up one of the "ways" to 600 to increase my cooking. I'll visit the fair and I will eventually get my cooking to 600. That is "if" I remember to do the fair, which I rarely do lately.
They need to add some more everyday cooking options to level cooking. Ones that are not part of the "ways" that need a million things to level up. Like I said, we can all level cooking fine now if we wanted to because we are playing this expansion for weeks, months and as it looks even years but what happens when someone comes along next expansion that is new, or with an alt, and they get to this part and they level through mists in a matter of 8 hours or less and never get enough materials to level up all the way though one of the "ways"? Are they meant to come back and farm materials on their farm and kill mobs in the world and fish up dozens of polls and get lots of ironpaw tokens just so they can catch up on their cooking? Really blizzard, you are going to make people go through all that crap in old content to level a profession or wait months for the darkmoon fair to catch them up?
Maybe you plan to add something in warlords that gets you from 530 on to keep the catch up going but there is no real reason for that. You could have just added some everyday food options so people could have finished leveling cooking without the need of learning one of the ways if they did not want to. Did you not think what it would be like leveling up cooking once the content was old and people were not spending months on end in it? Stop freaking designing everything as if it is the last thing you will ever add to the game. Think about how it will work for the next expansion too.
This is the biggest problem with professions. Each one seems to always be designed as if this will be the last time you will ever level it and they try to make it last longer to level but once it is old that lasting longer just becomes a roadblock to a character that is speed leveling through that zone or expansion because of their desire to push everyone to the end game.
Designing like that would be fine if they adjusted it once the content was no longer current. Like if they added the everyday cooking options to the catch up trainer on the farm once warlords comes out so people are not caught in the farm forever if they want to play catch up doing one of the ways. But blizzard won't do that.
It would be fine if cloth patterns took 10 bolts each now but once the next expansion comes that will be a road block. It would be okay if they fixed it and made it 2 bolts once the content is old, but they don't. So adjusting the professions once they are old, I would like to see that in warlords for sure.
But wait, there is more on the topic of professions which I would like to see change.
I would like to see the crafting professions become more a part of the gearing process, if people so wished. Each new tier there should be new weapons that can be made, or clothing that can be made, and not just a new set of legs and waist like this tier.
The ideal design would be to do 2 pieces like the legs and the waist at the current raid level, like they are now but also to have other slots that can be made for a few more pieces of gear. Maybe 2 pieces at flex level and 2 pieces at LFR level. All different ones of course. So you could effectively have 6 pieces of gear.
Then trinkets and rings and necks, why not keep them up to date? The starter rings and neck that a jewel crafter could make were useless in every single sense of the world. 450? Are you kidding me? The trinkets were nice as always but once the expansion moved on where are the new trinkets. Where are any useful rings or necks.
Something like the engineer helm is awesome when you hit max level, but why are there not upgrade for it throughout the entire expansion? Make it that each new tier an engineer can upgrade their helm to keep it current. Make it so a scribe can upgrade their darkmoon trinket, even if they can not upgrade the others. Make it so professions that can make items, even more so soulbound ones, are not only useful at the beginning of the expansion but throughout the entire expansion.
Making some weapons, even if they are lower leveled then the current raid would be a bang up catch up mechanic and great for crafters. What is the best ranged weapon a hunter can get? Got me and I have a bunch at 90. Want to know why I do not know what the best weapon that can be made for a hunter is, because it sucked and was not even as good as the one you could get from the scenario that gave you a guaranteed 450 from doing the quest.
What is the best off hand? 476 I believe. But some classes got 502 weapons stuff. Not all, but a few. That is what all classes needed, a 502 crafted weapon. Do you know how much different the LFR would look if only these timeless geared people had a weapon better than the 429 they had from questing or the 450 they had if they were smart enough to do the scenario? Sure they would still be bad, but a player being bad with a 502 weapon will do double what a person doing bad with a 429 weapon would.
I would like to see crafted items be more prevalent, more useful, and more accessible. Accessible is a key. No more needing raid materials to make them. Sure guilds like mine have 100s of spirits in the bank and if someone needs a 553 piece we just crank them out one ASAP. But for someone that does not raid, does not have an enchanter that raids, does not have a huge depth of friends to ask for assistance or a guild that will make it for them like mine, they are screwed because they need to pay an arm and a leg at the auction house for it. If they insist on keeping the materials as raid materials, at least make them also purchasable with valor or justice too. It only seems reasonable.
Speaking of crafting materials lets talk about spirits of harmony. They really need to make things like this tradable or at the very least BoA. My shaman is a healer and as such she did not exactly go out grinding things to get spirits which means as my blacksmith she could not make any gear for my plate wearers and she could not make the 502 weapons which would have been nice for them.
Or how about my hunter, my main and my beloved, the one I spend a lot of time on and do a lot of things with. I've spend, no exaggeration what so ever, over 1000 spirits of harmony on things like golden lotus because I had no other use for them on my hunter. It would have been nice to send some over to my leather worker so he could have crafted me some gear or stuff to sell. Or to my blacksmith so she could have made my plate wearers some gear. Or to my engineer so he could have made me some scopes.
Materials like the spirits of harmony need to be made tradable and I would love to see that happen in warlords or at the absolute least making them bind on account. No more of this soulbound bull shit for things that would have or could have been put to much better use on characters other than the ones that have them.
Mists also added a very nice catch up system for mining and herbalism but once again, as always, they half assed it. You can skip leveling them all the way to pandaria and just pick herbs on the island and mine nodes on the island and get fragments instead of full ore or full herbs. This is a fantastic idea and a great way to smooth out the leveling process but why is it only in one area.
What I would like to see in warlords is that concept extended to skinning as well and throughout the entirety of the game. Everything should be like that. If you are high enough you get the item, if you are not high enough you get a fragment of the item. That way you can play catch up as you level instead of waiting until end game to try and do it.
Don't you think it would be better to catch up as you go then to get to the max and grind it out? I am sure some will see where I am coming from. The catch up mechanic for herbs and ore need to be from the old world on, every herb, every ore and every skin throughout the entire leveling process. That would be great, that would be doing it smart and not half assing it like they did.
So, to summarize, what WoD needs in terms of professions.
1) A more fluid gathering process from zone to zone.
2) A quicker leveling process for crafting professions.
3) Removal or great reductions of old items to need lesser found materials.
4) More multiple skill up craftings for high cost items.
5) Extended catch up mechanics for gathering.
6) More craftable gear.
7) Purchasable raid materials, with valor for example.
8) No bound random drop crafting items.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done with professions and I see no reason why they can not do most if not all of the things I suggested quite easily. Professions can be a much more useful and a much more enjoyable part of the game even more so if we are going to be losing profession bonuses and the only benefit of a profession will be what it can do. It would be nice if it could do more and could be less stressful or annoying to level. I would like to see that addressed in warlords.