Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Don't Let It Bring You Down


I have spent 2 weeks solid in the Timeless Isle, writing about the Timeless Isle and generally just thinking about the Timeless Isle. It is about time I moved on to wider subjects, thankfully the Godmother has provided some inspiration, into the problem with crafting.

What is the problem with crafting? To examine professions it is important to breakdown exactly what we are talking about and trying to compare apples with apples. The following categories are my attempt to make sense of the situation.

Primary Profession

Crafting

  1. Tailor
  2. Blacksmith
  3. Leatherwork
Enhancement

  1. Enchanting
  2. Jewelcraft
  3. Inscription
  4. Alchemy
Fun

  1. Engineering
Gathering

  1. Herbalist
  2. Skinner
  3. Miner
Secondary Profession

  1. First Aid
  2. Cooking
  3. Archaeology
As an Altoholic, one of the driving forces behind having a full stable of Alts is so that I am self sufficient, no need to beg in guild chat for a Glyph, an Enchant, or a Gem. I simply have one of everything with a stockpile of raw materials which is supplied by several other Alts who level with two gathering professions.

During The Burning Crusade, flying and mounts cost an absolute fortune, and the only sensible way to make money was through crafting, and gathering. Most of my spare time was spent farming Knothide Leather, Thick Clefthoof Leather and primals. I would do mining circuits, fishing for motes of water, killing demons who stood in the way of my motes of air and don't forget the mad scramble that was the Elemental Plateau.

Crafting was not something we did by walking into the Auction House and hovering up all the spare stacks of raw materials and then making mass production line in the way that Jewelcrafting and Inscription became, Leatherworking, Tailoring and Blacksmithing were hard core, you farmed for the mats you made the item and then you would wear the item, spare mats could be sold and maybe if lucky you could sell the odd item with the extra obtained from farming. 4000 Gold was not something you would find at the back of a settee, it was earned. According to Wowwiki the cost of all the riding skills (with exalted) is 10843 Gold. Even with 11 characters I can pay that without blinking, never mind that those costs have been dispersed over an 8 year period.

Times were hard during Austerity WoW, but there was a pride in crafting your own gear. I spent hours trawling through the Moneymaking blogs looking for the next big idea, I even spent hours trying to farm Whelps in the hope of getting my own baby whelp, not to keep of course but purely to sell.

Wrath of the Lich King saw a huge upswing in available Gold from Dailies, Inscription and the Saronite shuffle. Money would never again be a problem for those that didn't spend on very expensive mounts and pets. Money is the main issue with crafting, because buying mats is never a problem again, if you can make 2000 Gold per day from selling Glyphs why would you go farming for Leathers.

All professions should carry an equal value and why should Mining have a stamina or strength buff, when the primary reason for mining is to sell the ore and make huge amounts of money. Crafting is so much harder than gathering and should come with a suitable bonus to compensate, not that I am advocating that all Plate Mail wearing melee classes should be Blacksmiths, that would lead to cookie cutting uniformity.

Engineering was never a money maker, and one of my first characters was an engineering/enchanter who had no money and had to borrow constantly from the other characters. Engineering has a horrible crafting system which involves levelling up on rivets, bolts and various forms of explosive. It involves constantly carrying large stocks of these items in order to craft any item. In some respects it would make more sense if instead of 20 rivets, that the raw material of ore or bars would qualify to make the final product. An example of this would be the Mechanical Squirrel Box instead of needing

1x Copper Bar + 1x Copper Modulator + 1x Handful of Copper Bolts + 2x Malachite could use
1x Copper Bar + (1x Copper Bar) + (1x Copper Bar + 2x Copper Bar + 2x Linen Cloth) + 2x Malachite

It would use the actual item first and then use raw material afterwards when the finish part is no longer in stock. When levelling you would have 100's of Copper Modulators and Copper Bolts, but now I would have to go up and down the recipe list to make the constituent parts. It is not much fun, and this is were people have historically made money in the game. Most of the teachings from JMTC and other Gold sites are based on doing things that other people do not want to do, because it limits the time playing fun part of the game.

During WotLK engineers thought they had it made when Blizzard finally gave them a mount which they could sell. The Hog and Chopper were very popular, but due to the cost of the raw materials nobody was willing to give a big tip on top. I have made only two such mounts in the 4 or 5 years since the recipe became available.

Jewlcrafting was a very popular money spinner during WotLK and Cataclysm because the recipes were hidden behind dailies. Anybody wanting all the recipes would have to wait several months to obtain them all. I famously got all the epic cuts from Cataclysm but could not use them until near the end of the expansion due to the low supply of the uncut Epic gems available only from Dragon Soul Normal and Heroic, poor old LFR.

Inscription has often used research to unveil the Glyphs, this lack of supply/competition caused huge prices for the popular and mandatory Glyphs. Scribes have made huge sums of money at various times during the game and by my reckoning there have been 3 Glyphmas periods around expansions and game design. Anybody who was willing to juggle a stock of around 400-450 different Glyphs deserves the fortunes that they made. I would personally spend months leading up to a Glyphmas event, buying inks, milling inks and making a stock of the most popular/highest value Glyphs. It was very rewarding but not very satisfying. The only way to even attempt to handle so many Glyphs involved numerous macros and Addons, hours spend micro managing the settings to save hundreds of hours posting at the right prices.

Tailors have always had an issue with collection of wool and cloth. Leatherworkers and Blacksmiths have always had gathering skills attached to them to maintain a steady supply of raw materials. Cloth is used  for First Aid and as such is available to everybody. This puts extra strain on supply but Tailors have the bag making side of the business to make sure the Gold continues to roll in. Netherweave Bags still make a profit after 3 further expansions.

In theory Blacksmiths should have a good time with the ability to forge weapons, but invariably as with this expansion they are only ever of an introductory nature. Scribes have been able to craft Epic staves and the poor Blacksmith only a iLevel 463 Blue. Ultimately some professions are worth more than others, and in this case Spell Casters are more fortunate than melee class, who are more fortunate than Hunters and Engineers who can only craft a iLevel 450 Rifle.

Ultimately it is very difficult to make the professions all equally valid, but in my opinion the ability to craft an Epic weapon for Blacksmiths, Engineers and Scribes is just plain simple.

Mists of Pandaria expansion has introduced to fast track systems for levelling two profession Blacksmith and Cooking. Cooking was an obvious choice with the emphasis on Chinese food and it is my assumption that many alts do not have the secondary professions. Not wanting to blacklist people from the new content, The Farm and the new Way of cooking skills they created levelling from 1 to zen in a few minutes. The Way system, the Trainer and now the Noodle cart, are now overkill in my opinion and no doubt they will be left to rot next expansion. Blacksmiths apparently had some major obstacles to levelling, but why just single out this profession for some fast track attention. Do we really want people to level up professions quickly? Should the process be as tough as when we did it? Does a scribe want a new kid on the block who can get all the recipes in less than an hour?

Fishing like cooking received some attention, but nowhere near enough. Fishing is still the worst profession to level by a country mile. El wrote this:

"Leveling 1-600 requires about 1800 successful catches. This will take about 7 hours (assuming 4 catches per minute). I strongly advise that you do not attempt this in one continuous sitting - it may damage your health."

This is someone who personifies in game fishing. El and Nat Pagle are the two people mostly closely associated and yet one of them is worried about our health from prolonged exposure to a fishing rod.

The Anglers was nowhere near as successful as the Tillers and 3 quests offering 3 extra skillups per day, when it was probably quicker to just get your rod out every time you encountered a fishing pool.

WoWinsider recently asked if people still used bandages, and when levelling some classes I find it invaluable, Rogues and Warriors might be able to regenerate some health but they still have a reasonable amount of downtime.

Archaeology has proved to be better in MoP than it was in Cataclysm, but for me it lacks any kind of dynamism. It is merely perfunctory and gives some additional XP whilst levelling.

I agree with the Godmother that crafting needs to be overhauled but to be honest I am unsure of its role within the game. The UI does not function as well as it good and the crafting professions do not stay relevant throughout the expansion. The learning process is slow but ultimately it gives some relevancy providing that the materials can be gained by all and not just the raiders. One item per month is a taking "Slow down, take it easy" message to extremes.

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