In talking about professions, a constant refrain I hear is how there isn’t any fun stuff for the professions once you reach the endgame. This is a somewhat difficult problem to unpack, because fun is a pretty subjective thing, but let’s see what we can do. First, let’s address what professions currently do at the endgame.
- Gearcrafting professions make entry-level gear for PVE and PVP, good enough to get a player out of quest greens but not really powerful enough to supplant drops that will come into play early in the expansion cycle. Doing 5-man heroics or doing battlegrounds long enough to start buying Honor gear will typically replace crafted gear very quickly.
- Consumable crafting gets into high gear at the endgame, with enchanters churning out enchants and jewelcrafters producing gems to kit out new gear. Alchemists are making flasks and potions. Cooks are making feasts. The other professions are making the gear enhancements they typically make, in the form of belt buckles, weapon scopes, fur linings, spellthreads, shoulder inscriptions, and the like… every gearcrafting profession has got at least one thing they can make that’s basically required in order to completely kit out a player’s equipment.
- All professions have got their passive exclusive perks that add that expected throughput increase; alchemists get more out of their flasks, blacksmiths get bonus gem sockets, enchanters get ring enchants, etc.
Now in terms of the above, it’s all stuff that has a distinct use to it: for the most part, it’s all aimed at increasing throughput or effectiveness at one’s role, or in the case of PVP gear increasing survivability in a PVP circumstance. Creating useful stuff can be fun if you like doing a significant amount of additional damage because of your investment in kitting out your gear; but the counter here is that players can pretty much do all of that kitting without really paying substantial attention to professions.
When you look at the common complaint that the professions on the whole don’t make anything “fun” then you have to consider what fun things (as in non-throughput-enhancing items) are currently being made and say “huh, either people forgot about these things OR they aren’t fun enough.” So those types of things would include:
- Alchemy: making Darkwater potions, which turn you into a Jinyu and let you swim at high speeds for a short time, or Desecrated Oil, which makes you look like you’ve been Sha-touched, and Potions of Luck, which give you additional treasure boxes off mobs.
- Inscription: Makes Origami items, as well as the Chi-ji and Yu’lon Kite battle pets; coincidentally makes all of the minor glyphs that are fun for individual classes.
- Jewelcrafting: Makes a ton of gem-based panther mounts, and a couple of battle pets.
- Engineering: Has the typical gamut of fun things in the form of mounts, pets, Blingtron, and tinkers like the goblin glider.
- Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring and Enchanting all have exactly zero in the current expansion that isn’t gear or gear enhancements.
- Herbalism, Skinning, and Mining don’t really have fun things in general (aside from the occasional Golden Lotus or Bloated Stomach).
So given what’s already in, what can we add in order to get more fun into the professions? Some suggestions I’ve seen elsewhere, and a few of my own, include the following:
- Blacksmithing, Leatherworking and Tailoring can use rare materials to craft unique armor sets that are strictly cosmetic. Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing all three professions get the ability to craft past Tier Armor lookalikes instead of having that stuff be DMF/BMAH bait.
- Herbalism gets the occasional consumable item, aside from the Life/Water Spirit potion-standins we have in MoP. The Desecrated Oil could have easily been such a consumable gathered by herbalists instead of crafted by alchemists. And while it doesn’t need to be a throughput bonus like Fire Seeds, having a fun thing like Lifegiving Seed was fun AND useful at the same time.
- Mining gets an occasional Petrified item, which could be treated like the Nat Pagle rare fish in MoP, in that it gives you a daily quest that has a reward at the end of it. You could do a Petrified Leaf that would get you random herbs, a Petrified Critter which could get you Archaeology fragments… there’s a lot of ways to flex this.
- Jewelcrafting could get a lot of flashy cosmetic items to play with, from tiaras to blingin’ rings. I’d argue that the model update for all races presents an opportunity to give more cosmetic slots on the model (i.e. being able to pick a color for earrings and other piercings) and Jewelcrafting being able to play into that would give the profession another market to play with.
- Plenty of people have suggested cosmetic enchants, or the ability to replace the appearance of an enchant with a different one. I think if you were going to come up with a method to alter the appearance of your battle pets (give them all halos, or fiery auras, or something along those lines) then that would be an Enchanting product.
What it comes down to is willpower; if Blizzard doesn’t want to revamp the existing professions system and instead just wants to layer in more stuff for people to do with the craft, then finding ways to link professions into other places in the game aside from strictly throughput is a way to do that. That has costs as well (I’ve tried to avoid bringing up bank bloat in this post, but it really bears mentioning when we talk about adding more Stuff to the game) but all told it might help to make the professions more enticing to players who simply want to make things that are cool.
Even so, I agree that the system as is won’t really benefit from just having a bunch of fluff recipes added. There needs to be a more dramatic change… and with that in mind, I’ll give you some homework. The Godmother over at Alternative Chat posted a big thing about a radical rework of the profession systems, and I’m priming a response to it for the next post. Stay tuned. ^_^