Posted Thu, May 13, 2010 by Sardu
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Depending on the title, crafting systems in MMOGs can either be equally as complex as standard character advancement mechanics or as simple as pressing a button and calling it a day. World of Warcraft would certainly fall into the latter category, but for all the surface level ease of use crafting in that game still involves a hefty time investment on the part of the player with only a select few trades reaping any kind of rewards for their efforts. In the most recent update on the details surrounding Cataclysm, Blizzard outlined some of the upcoming changes to crafting in the expansion which we’ll take a closer look at today in Loading... Cataclysmic Crafting Changes
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Like nearly all other aspects of the metagame in World of Warcraft, crafting professions have become less about being an individualist pursuit and more about following a set path of uniformity. As much as people may enjoy poking fun at things like vanity pet collections, the sad fact of the matter is that without those types of non-stat enhancing items available the endgame is little more than a critical mass all attempting to become robotic clones of one another. (Sounds suspiciously similar to suburban America, doesn't it?)
But as a core gameplay mechanic crafting has continually fallen into the trap of only being considered to have value if you follow a list of accepted norms for producing the largest benefit for your combat class. Meanwhile, the overall state of crafting in the game boils down to having some professions that create stat-enhancing items absolutely everyone wants or needs, some that seemingly should benefit everyone but don't, and some that are lucky to have a single desirable utility item to sell to other players. As a result, only a select few professions will ever see a return on the countless hours or piles of gold that a player must invest to hit the skill cap.
For example, on my Leatherworker I haven't even bothered getting the last 4 points in the trade to hit the cap, even though the only potentially useful armors that can be created require a max skill level. The reason why it would be pointless is the simple fact that it will take me either weeks to farm all of the mats for a chance at gaining those points, or else an investment of thousands of gold per point on mats purchased in the auction house. In the meantime a player can invest far less time running daily heroic dungeons and obtain gear that would render high-end craftable armors useless. That, plus I learned with The Burning Crusade that those last few points will simply be knocked out in seconds for next to zero cost once the next expansion hits anyway, so there really is no viable reason to invest so heavily before that point for that particular trade.
Needless to say, many aspects of crafting in WoW are in major need of a facelift. While I'd personally just like to see each profession given more items that are worth the mats it takes to create them, I realize that's crazy talk this late into the game. But the folks at Blizzard obviously understand that crafting needs at least some kind of attention in Cataclysm, and have begun revealing some of the details on what's in store.
While a number of the proposed changes are seemingly for the better, a quick scan over the list has me shaking my head in dismay at plenty of others. A notable example here would be the removal of specialties for certain trades such as Blacksmithing or Tailoring. Mind you this is a change that needed to happen years ago, but from the sound of things the switch will also boil down to even more trades that have to spend an insane amount of time rep farming to obtain the handful of patterns that are worth having. I'll pass on that one, thanks.
Another thing that stuck out like a sore thumb is, "New unique material used by nearly all high-level recipes will be created by alchemists on a one-day cooldown." EverQuest II went there at launch and trust me, it's nothing but bad news to allow a single trade to essentially control the market value of items produced by all other trades. Alchemy is one of the few trades that already benefits from producing something that is considered essential at the end-game by all classes, but this will simply insure that my Leatherworker has even less reason to continue on towards the increased skill cap in Cataclysm.
There are plenty of other examples from the list of proposed changes that I could cite here, but I'd love to hear what you have to say. So hop on the nearest tram, zeppelin, griffon, bat, or sparkle pony and head on over to the Loading... forums and let us know what you think about the latest details on crafting in Cataclysm.
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