Garrisons: Analysis Part One of Many

I really can’t talk enough about how much I love the concept of Garrisons for Warlords of Draenor. A lot of other sites have given the basic overview of how they work, so I’ll let Blizzard cover that while I get into some nitty gritty about it — insofar as gritty examination is possible when it’s clearly still in an early design phase.

Allow me to get that Disclaimer out of the way: EVERYTHING about Warlords of Draenor is in design flux at this point, and the information Blizzard has released, in addition to all of my analysis and speculation below, might end up changing dramatically before the beta AND before the release of the expansion. So take everything with a grain of salt.

All that said, there’s a lot that we don’t know about Garrisons as it stands right now:

  • What do all of the buildings do? For the primary profession buildings, it seems pretty straightforward: park followers who have the appropriate skill there, and they’ll research recipes and craft them. For some of the other buildings, we know what they’ll do either because something showed up in one of the mockup slides or Cory Stockton answered a direct question about them. For some of the buildings though, it’s not clear what they’ll do.
  • How many followers can you assign to each building? What kind of effect is there in having multiple followers at the same task?
  • How many followers are we talking about total? The Barracks adds room for discrete numbers of followers per rank, but that’s specifically for the number of followers you can send on missions simultaneously. This means that having a maxed out Barracks would allow you to dispatch a single raid, but then you’d have two followers left that can quest (because you need more than 2 followers to do anything other than quest, if it’s a mission).
  • There’s also a lot of questions about what mechanisms govern followers. Infirmaries reduce downtime for followers, which implies that followers will need recovery time after going on missions. Upgrading the Garrison from tier to tier improves Travel Speed for Followers, implying that there’s a method to reduce mission time, which the Stables might play into.

There are certainly more questions, but I’ll get into them later. For now, let’s talk specifically about plots and choices.

Building Dynamics

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CLICK MEH SEYMOUR

By the time you get to the last tier (Tier 3, pictured above) your garrison appears to have 14 plots (4 small, 6 medium, and 4 large), but all told there are 24 buildings (neither count including the Town Hall).

  • 11 small buildings (1 each for the primary non-gathering professions, and Archaeology, and the Salvage Yard which doesn’t appear to have a stated purpose.)
  • 7 medium buildings (the rest of the professions show up here, with the Pet Stables, Trading Post, and the Lumber Mill, which also doesn’t have a stated or implied purpose.)
  • 6 large buildings (all of the major follower-affecting buildings are here.)

What this means is that the stated intent of “you’ll be able to cover professions you don’t have, but not enough plots to cover all of them” is definitely in play, since there are 10 small profession buildings (since the Salvage Yard doesn’t appear to be linked to a profession) but you only have 4 small plots to work with. Thus, with small buildings, there are a couple of interesting discrepancies to note:

  • Assuming the Storehouse is for Archaeology, that makes it the only secondary profession (aside from Fishing) to get a small building. Assuming that most players are going to use their four small plots to supplement the professions they don’t have, that puts Archaeology at a disadvantage, since it doesn’t generate gear or consumables, but instead only generates lore objects and vanity items.
  • Not knowing what the Salvage Yard is potentially restricts that choice even further; if it’s something that a player deems mission-critical, then that leaves only three small plots for supplementary professions. (More speculation on the Salvage Yard below.)
  • The Fishing Shack is mentioned as a starting building, but doesn’t appear in any of the mockups. Since Fishing only generates Cooking mats (and the occasional crate), that also puts it at a disadvantage compared to other primary profession buildings.

With medium buildings, there’s less constraint on choices, since you’ll have 6 medium plots but have 7 buildings to choose from. The interesting choice that comes into play is whether to aim for getting complete coverage in gathering professions and hiring followers while also reaping the benefits of the Trading Post and… whatever the Lumber Mill is supposed to do. (More speculation on the Lumber Mill below.)

With large buildings, there’s a greater constraint than with medium, but not as bad as small, since it’s 4 large plots and 6 buildings.

  • Without knowing how many characters you can dispatch on missions without a Barracks, there’s no way to judge how vital the Barracks itself will be.
  • The Academy is valuable in the leveling game while you work on building a team, but once you’ve got a diverse team it has less value. Assuming that we never permanently lose followers and that getting certain skills on followers won’t take an excessive grind, of course.
  • Assuming the Mage Tower provides a caster buff similar to what the Armory offers to melee followers, the Armory still has an advantage since it can also be used to train followers to a higher quality. However, the interesting choice between Mage Tower and Armory will be based on whether you can field a dungeon/raid team that meets the skill requirements of the mission AND hits the role requirements as well. The big question is whether the Mage Tower has a second purpose aside from the caster buff.
  • The Infirmary feels like it’s more valuable in an early game because reducing downtime means more income, but depending on what kind of follower population you can have, you might be able to mitigate the downtime penalty simply by cycling through followers, since you’ve got a max amount you can dispatch even with Barracks.
  • And not knowing what the Stable does makes it impossible to judge its choice value. It could improve travel speeds to reduce overall mission times, or it could just be a display point for our favorite mounts. Could be both.

So overall, even without knowing exactly what the limitations and abilities of certain buildings will be, there’s a decent amount of Interesting Choice to be had about all of the buildings, as well as a lot of replayability (or just making different choices with your alts’ garrisons). I feel, however, like this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Speculation:

Lumber Mill: Historically (as in the RTS games), the Lumber Mill strengthened building durability and was the delivery point for lumber. Since there’s no indication that the Garrisons will be attacked by external forces, and because lumber isn’t a player resource in this game, it’s hard to tell exactly what the Lumber Mill will get used for. It could play into the Garrison Supplies statistic, or it could enhance ranged DPS damage (which the Armory’s melee buff doesn’t explicitly cover). If so, it would be the only medium building to directly affect followers, which plays into the choice dynamics of large buildings.

Salvage Yard: The Salvage Yard uses an Engineering icon, and “Salvage” is the term that’s been used in the past for Engineering players to draw materials or vendor trash out of Mechanical corpses. However, in every slide where we see the Salvage Yard mentioned, there’s another small building (Tinker’s Garage/Engineering Works) that more directly connotes the Engineering profession. So what’s the Salvage Yard for?

  • Salvage Yard might be where you’d take items to be Disenchanted, since the Enchanter’s Tent will probably only research new enchants and apply them to your gear.
  • Building on that, I can imagine missions rewarding non-gear items that could be Salvaged in order to generate garrison supplies or new follower-specific gear.

More To Come:

There’s a lot to talk about with Garrisons, and I’m aiming to do this not only as an analysis of what was delivered at BlizzCon, but also an opportunity to make suggestions about the system and create a dialogue with Blizzard about how it works. All told, if this system is only half as dynamic as what was presented, it’s still going to be a huge selling point for Warlords of Draenor and likely the reason a good number of players come back. ^_^

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Multiple (Crafting) Personalities

This presents a bit of a conundrum.

It’s not exactly a professions problem, even if that’s the the element that starts the discussion, but it’s really a comment about why players choose to play only one character or multiple characters. The problem is that it’s hard to unpack when Dr. Street is the one making the statement and doesn’t really clarify aside from this:

Dr. Street here is asserting that he doesn’t like players using alts strictly as a way to get around the two-profession limit but there are a couple different ways to parse that:

  1. Players should feel compelled to interact with other players in order to gain access to the benefits of other professions. If this is via a guild, or the Auction House, or spamming in trade, that’s all good, because this is an MMO and interacting with other players is really a big component of the game’s draw. So if a player instead tends a big stable of profession alts and becomes 100% self-sufficient, this is flying in the face of the MMO design because it’s a blow to interaction.
  2. Players who feel obligated to level a crafting alt in order to get access to profession stuff are going to burn out, because if they aren’t enjoying playing that character, and are only doing all of the work because they want to get access to specific enchants/gems/consumables without having to rely on other players, it’s going to sour them on the experience of play and it could sour them on the game in general. That’s bad, because more burnout == fewer happy players and ultimately fewer players at all.

From a design perspective, and particularly from his position as Lead Systems Designer, Dr. Street’s job is to try and facilitate the players being happy with the game. So if players are burning out because they feel compelled to roll up a stable of character they resent playing, that’s a problem for him to address. But that butts up against the design of encouraging players to engage with one another, and the sheer momentum of players doing things they don’t like doing in order to give themselves the slightest advantage in gameplay.

It doesn’t feel like an easy problem to solve, but hey…

The initial solution suggest was account-wide professions. This can take a couple theoretical forms, so let’s throw them all out there and see what we get.

  • Two Professions per Battle.net Account: This would infuriate the altoholics who like their present self-sufficiency, which in some cases is likely the lifeblood of guilds that rely on a particularly industrious player for all their consumable needs. But in terms of trying to revive the sense that players need to interact with each other in order to get the perks of professions, having this kind of limit would do the trick.
  • Account-wide Access to Professions: This would ostensibly allow my Herbalist/Alchemist main to queue up Blacksmithing/Inscription tasks without having to log into the alts, and potentially collect recipes/mats for those alts or perhaps gain skill points for those professions while on my main. The theoretical limitation is that each character can still only have a max of two professions, and thus only get two of the direct throughput increases currently offered by each primary profession. While this is more a quality-of-life change, it has a couple of drawbacks:
    • By actively reducing the compulsion to log into alt characters to get them out into the world to gather materials or perform crafting tasks, it reduces the gameplay for the alt, and chips away at the replayability that alts are meant to represent.
    • Taken to an extreme, it begs the question of whether the gathering professions should even be treated as professions anymore, since players will likely want to just gather ore, herbs, and skins on their mains, or if (as I’ve suggested in the past) having those professions would simply allow those characters to gather MORE materials from each node.
    • There are also likely technical limitations in having account-wide professions. Seeing the list of available recipes for offline characters is one thing, but what about seeing cooldowns for cooldown-delimited abilities? Does a single character have to be holding all the crafting materials or can it draw across the inventories of all characters on the account? Keep in mind that we’re in a world where BoA items are still limited by server, so that introduces a whole different layer to the problem.
  • All the professions, all the time: The ad absurdum edge of account-wide professions is players straight up being able to do all of the professions and getting all the perks with no limitations. This creates a circumstance where a player feels compelled to level up all three gathering professions, all four gear-crafting professions, all four enhancement professions, as well as Cooking, in order to get all of the profession perks. This is the kind of min-maxing behavior that’s really become endemic among WoW players, which has contributed to the overwhelming common sensibility that if you’re not fully gemmed, enchanted, hit-capped, reforged to capitalize on your simulation-derived optimal secondary stats, using the optimal talents for the content, and using addons/macros to enhance your rotation/priority, you’re flat-out “doing it wrong and need to L2P.” So if you add “max out twelve professions across four expansions of content” to that list, well… it’s certainly not going to help the burnout problem.

In responses to Dr. Street’s tweet, there’s plenty of other suggestions thrown out: let everyone have a crafting profession slot and two production professions slots; throw out profession bonuses entirely; let characters know all professions but only have two active at a time… the list goes on. I don’t think there’s a simple solution to the problem (as I hope I’ve demonstrated here) but in terms of what practicable solution I like the most?

I’m going to go with account-wide access, with each character still being limited by two primary choices. I’d also argue that herbalism, mining, and skinning ought to be downgraded to secondary professions, freeing up a slot for some characters to get another production/enhancement profession into play. If that means Master of Anatomy, Lifeblood and Toughness get nerfed or removed, then I think that’s ultimately an acceptable trade.

In a dream scenario, well… this blog is filled with all of the ideas I’ve got about turning professions into a much more robust system within the game. So hey, if it’s your first time here, look around. ^_^ There is definitely more to come.

Professions Mk. IV (End of Line Dillinger Remix)

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. ^_^

Professions Mk. II (Whiplash Remix)

What I’m learning from my various attempts at researching what the playerbase wants out of professions are that there are a wide spread of opinions on the matter, and satisfying all of them would constitute some mutually exclusive ideas.

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to continue to collect problems and come up with solutions. One of my earlier problem/solution mixes is back at the beginning of this blog, and even then I recognized that there wasn’t only one solution to the problem, but many.

What I want to present here is a blueprint for answering the following problem:

“Professions are hard to level while leveling XP.”

But to do that, let’s unpack what the leveling game looks like currently.

  • Characters gain experience by killing monsters (with rare monsters granting very high amounts of XP), completing quests, tapping herb/mining nodes, completing objectives in Battlegrounds, completing a dungeon via LFD, collecting Archaeology fragments, and opening chests.
  • From that list, we can determine that the leveling game has three distinct avenues that share some XP-generating methods:
    • Questing involves completing quests, killing monsters (both as part of completing the quest and as obstacles on the way to quest objectives), tapping profession nodes, and opening chests. Rare monsters are an incidental bonus here.
    • Dungeons involve mainly killing monsters and getting the completion XP bonus for using LFD, but includes completing one-time dungeon quests, as well as opening chests and tapping herb/mining nodes if they’re in the instance.
    • Battlegrounds involve completing objectives in the BGs themselves as the primary method. Quests are virtually nonexistent, and monsters/chests/profession nodes aren’t present, but the speed of completing the objectives and winning/losing and then reshuffling to a new team keeps it arguably interesting.

So with that in mind, would it not be viable to have professions act as a leveling process all on their own?

  • Tapping resource nodes is already an XP-generating avenue for Herbalism and Mining. Skinning is also arguably XP-generating, except you get the XP for killing the monster first and then just get the leather afterward. And getting access to the resources is going to involve some incidental monster-killing along the way, at least until flying mounts come into the affair.
  • Crafting an item could be an XP-generating action. I’m certain there’s a formula of “xp per effort” that governs how the designers currently set XP rewards, so if you extended that to crafting, then players would have an incentive to create a piece of gear that they have the materials for, but wouldn’t otherwise craft because it doesn’t replace existing equipment or is unusable for their class/spec.
  • It’s not hard to come up with profession-oriented quests that involve the profession trainer sending the PC somewhere to either collect a rare resource from a dangerous place (“Bring me Dark Iron Ore from Blackrock Mountain!”), perform an action at a particular place (“Go make this thing on the Black Anvil in Blackrock Depths!”), or even just have a delivery quest that takes the PC to a new trainer who in turn has their own quests (“Get ye to the Thorium Brotherhood at Thorium Point!”). Again, you’d have incidental monster-killing or potentially mini-bosses that would provide residual XP in addition to the quest rewards.
  • Having an active scenario-type event, similar to the Noodle Stand Cooking daily that was just introduced in 5.4, would be another way to create an engaging experience for players that isn’t just “gather materials, click make, sell/disenchant”.

Of course, this design has potential drawbacks and a lot of unanswered questions. Add this into the existing matrix of leveling mechanics in the game, and you’ll see low-level mats skyrocket in price as moneyed players buy them out to level up alts. Does crafting only give experience if it still grants a skill-up? Do recipes with more esoteric components grant more XP? Is access to higher levels of the profession gated by completion of the quests, as used to be the case with First Aid?

Is it worth it to create a bunch of additional quests for professions that help in the leveling game when players seem to be angling for more endgame content rather than an excuse to go back to classic/non-current zones?

All that said, I think that if professions were an alternate leveling method, it would endear players to the professions a bit more, such that their usage at endgame would be more valued instead of just a hurdle in the gearing game.

What do you think? Hit me back in the comments and keep in mind, this is one of many possible solutions, not all of which would work well together. ^_^

QUICK MIX: Saturday Night Design Sizzle

What if all of the profession items you had across all the WoW characters on your Battle.Net account were kept in an account-wide space?

Not a bank slot, or void storage, but more like a character stash, as in Diablo 3. Whenever your character taps a mining node, skins a dead mob, gathers herbs, prospects/mills materials, or picks up cloth, it goes into the stash instead of going into your bags.

Pros:

  • Creates a lot of bag/bank space for characters who keep a large stock of mats.
  • Saves you the trouble of having to mail mats around to your crafting alts.
  • Turns profession materials into more of a currency that you trade for gear, which aligns somewhat with the Justice/Valor systems.

Cons:

  • Potentially confusing for new/returning players, especially if the UI isn’t clear.
  • What do you do with profession-specific bags? Do they just become normal bags, like when quivers/soul bags were dropped?
  • Could be screwy from a coding standpoint. Does it work cross-faction? Will it work cross-realm?

I want to write something bigger to address this, but I wanted to throw the core concept out there to see what folks thought of it. So, whatcha think?

Professions as an Introduction to New Game Systems

Something that occurred to me while going over my earlier professions post was the idea that the professions added in expansions (Jewelcrafting, Inscription, and Archaeology) have certain elements in common that differentiate them from the launch professions. It goes something like this:

  • Jewelcrafting was introduced in Burning Crusade as an expansion feature, along with the concept of socketable equipment, which Blizzard had seen put to great effect in Diablo 2. In addition to providing the gems to go into these sockets, Jewelcrafting also took over the empty niche of creating rings.
  • Inscription was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King, along with the glyph pane. While the exact scope of the glyph pane has shifted dramatically with each expansion since, Inscription’s design as the facilitator of the glyph system hasn’t changed.
  • Archaeology was introduced in Cataclysm, and in its original announcement at Blizzcon ’09, Archaeology was linked up with the Path of the Titans system, which would have provided characters with non-class-specific upgrades and new abilities, as a kind of alternative advancement method. When Path of the Titans was scrapped (because of power creep and too much crossover with glyphs), Archaeology was retooled to be a secondary profession, providing Bind-on-Account equipment, pets, mounts, and other frills, in addition to being an avenue for some limited lore delivery.

The patterns in these three professions are interesting, since they more closely align with the formula I outlined before:

Gather Resources –> Refine Resources –> Craft Items –> Get Skill Points –> Unlock New Recipes (repeat)

JC/Insc both have to depend on gathering professions for the Gather stage, but both have a discrete Refinement step, which most of the other professions don’t have. Additionally, the bulk of the items that they generate in Craft are items that are only useful in tandem with the respective game system; most of JC’s items post-300 are gems, while Inscription has very few non-glyph craftables at all.

Archaeology’s process is similar (arguably, the Survey stage is Gather, while getting the fragments is Refine, and Solving is Craft, but both getting fragments and solving artifacts grant skill points), but without a game system to dovetail into, the bulk of the profession is in fun frills and cosmetic items. Still, the pattern is there.

This realization does a couple things for me.

  1. It demonstrates how difficult it is for Blizzard to create new professions, because every profession they’ve added since launch has played into a different new character customization system. This is proven by the existence of Pet Battles in MoP, which most Blues have stated took the place of a new profession because it had similar depth as a timesink, but it’s not really a profession itself since it doesn’t alter the character at all; this is also why everything in the Pet Battles system is account-wide rather than character-specific, as professions are.
  2. It illuminates how broadly dissimilar the launch professions really were to one another; instead of altering the character in one specific way, you had the armor professions that provided armor, consumable professions that provided temporary power enhancements, and enhancement professions that offered permanent enhancements to equipment. However, none of them really held sway over a particular system in the same way that expansion professions did. You get temporary buffs from some of the professions. You got item enhancements from some of them.

So while I know a lot of people have been wondering about a Woodworking profession (something Blizzard lampshaded themselves) or suggested other concepts for professions, I’m starting to think Blizzard’s tapped the well on that one. And one could argue that instead of trying to come up with a new profession (and consequently a new character customization method to act as an expansion feature), Blizzard is better off making the existing professions more diverse and interesting to play.

I might have a few ideas on that, in fact. ^_^

Professions (Top Down Full Frontal Remix)

Existing primary professions follow a pretty specific formula:

Gather Resources –> Refine Resources –> Craft Items –> Get Skill Points –> Unlock New Recipes (repeat)

Obviously, gathering professions (herbalism, mining, skinning) don’t actually get to the crafting part (herbalism doesn’t even really refine the herbs at all) but the formula stays roughly the same. Professions added after launch (Jewelcrafting and Inscription) both added their own refinement step (Prospecting Ore and Milling Herbs), such that they more closely hit all the steps in the formula.

To me, this creates a circumstance where the professions are an afterthought at best, or a hassle at worst, to the leveling character. Crafted gear doesn’t contribute to player power in a meaningful way before hitting the endgame, while consumables (item enhancements, potions/elixirs/flasks) are useful as long as you’ve got the materials to produce them, but if the correlation between profession level and character level gets disrupted, you’re stuck backtracking to try and keep things consistent.

Moreover, it presents a situation where if you want to keep your profession level in line with your character level, your two profession slots are pretty much filled once you make a choice; the gear-producing professions need their corresponding gathering profession in order to be effective. There are exceptions to this: Enchanting has it’s gathering mechanism built in, while Tailoring is predicated on getting cloth from certain kinds of mobs.

So here’s the remix:

  1. All production professions are able to gather their own materials. Blacksmiths and Engineers can mine nodes, Leatherworkers can skin dead mobs, Alchemists and Scribes can gather herbs.
  2. All gathering professions collect more resources per node than production professions do. Additionally, all of them have the ability to refine raw materials into more esoteric materials that can’t be normally gathered (e.g. Miners smelt Steel). The balance is that those esoteric materials won’t be necessary if all you want to do is level up the production professions to max.
  3. To combat the issue of profession level/character level getting out of sync, there’s no skill requirement to mine/herb a node (and if you can kill a mob, you can skin it). If you’ve got higher skill, you draw more resources out of the node (with an upper limit) but stand a greater chance of getting rare materials (e.g. gems from mining nodes, on-use items from herb nodes, Bloated Stomachs from skinning).
  4. Want to convert some of your top-level raw materials down to something your leveling alt can use? Know how the Ink Trader NPCs work? You can do the same thing with ore, cloth, leather, herbs, and dust.

This is part one of a number of changes I’d make to the Professions system. So it’s really more of a remix album. ^_^