This is a Bearwall about professions. I don’t really know why, it just kept growing, so I guess why not. Let’s start the new year off with my first resolution… I’m just gonna roll with it.
As with most players, part of my enjoyment of the game post expansion has been in leveling professions on my main characters. As I’ve pursued profession upgrades, a few thoughts came to mind, and I’d like to share them with you, and also see if anyone would like to share their own impressions with me.
As with most players, I had a lot of characters entering Cataclysm that were level 80 with (previously) max level professions.
This is purely speculation, but I am guessing that one of the more common ways of handling professions across multiple characters, is to initially play your favorite character first, and along the way level that character’s professions as you go, as and how you happen to come across materials. You know, as an accompanyment to the natural playing thing.
Maybe you come across “Miracle Node Spawn Day”, that magic moment when it seems like every time you move an inch in the zone, you see another Ore node or Herb pop up, and you kind of mentally shrug your shoulders and figure Blizzard is trying to tell you something, and go farm while the nodes are a poppin’. But mostly, you’re questing and grabbing stuff as you come across it.
After a while, though, you get excited at leveling your profession, you’ve gathered a passel o’ mats, and you get to leveling… but you come across some mats you sure do wish you had more of. But wait! If my x leveled their profession up, they could make some/transmute some!
This brings in the alternate characters, where you decide to level them just enough to get their profession up to a useable state, and then abandon them again until you’re done having fun on your mains.
It’s just a guess. I know from seeing the first day announcements that lots of people felt it was awesome to powerlevel professions right from the beginning, before moving on to anything else. And I’ve seen lots of Assistant Professors out there, and even a few people advertising making Vial of the Sands on my server, which takes max Archeaology AND having found enough jars to get lucky on the recipe drop.
Amazing diligence in profession leveling.
Oh, and if you’re on Kael’thas-Alliance side, a character named Truth is the one advertising Vial of the Sands the most… for only 3,000 gold, plus you buy and provide the mats.
Maybe it’s just me, but 3k gold ain’t that bad a markup for such a unique item like the Vial of the Sands. Not when I’ve been selling the De-Weaponized Mechanical Companion for 1300 gold, and they sell as fast as I put them up on the AH. At least, they were… I ran out of things to spend gold on, so I stopped making them.
Regardless of how you’ve done it yourself, the fact remains I have a LOT of (previously) max level professions spread amongst my characters, and while playing and checking things out, I find myself thinking about the state of professions… and wondering why things seem so off balance.
There are three classes of professions – the Gathering professions, the Primary Crafting professions, and the Secondary professions.
The Gathering professions are all wonderfully straitforward. Or are they? You get to go out and gather raw materials, right?
The implementation, though, seems odd even here.
Herbalism… you harvest Herbs. Simple, right? The end result is an Herb, plus at max level a chance at Volatile Life. The Herbs are used as is, no further processing needed by the harvester; the end user has the ability to turn it into the form they need, Milling by Inscription and as is by Alchemists.
Mining, you harvest Ore, and a chance at some other Volatiles as well. Right away, it’s a different story than herbs. The end user might want the ore smelted into bars… or might not, if they are a Jewelcrafter looking to prospect for gems. As the Miner, do you put raw ore on the auction house, in case a Jewelcrafter needs it, or do you smelt it first? If you smelt it, then JCs can’t use it, but maybe people without a high enough Smelting skill trying to powerlevel Blacksmithing or Engineering will buy it up.
Skinning then goes the other way. The Skins you harvest from animals often come in the form of scraps… but the Skinner can’t convert them into the useable Leather, the end user with Leatherworking does. In the Wrath cycle, this meant that Skinners had to have a Leatherworker to take scraps and convert them so they could be sold at the Fur Trader in exchange for the most valuable pelts that sell great on the AH.
I mean, we’re not even at crafting professions, and it’s kinda all over the place, isn’t it?
What fascinates me is, Blizzard is helmed by some incredibly careful, thoughtful people. So, I don’t look at this and see it as an inconvenient mistake. I see it as an intentional variety by design… and I try and decipher the underlying intent.
Is it to keep things fresh and different? If so, that’s a good enough reason for me, but I do wonder. I’d love to know.
But about those crafting professions.
Let me give you a humorous example of thinking too damn hard when it comes to crafting.
One early Engineering item you can make, Electrostatic Condenser, is supposed to give your Engineer the chance to get some extra Volatile Air whenever they mine a node, skin a beastie or harvest an herb.
Volatile Air is a major choke point for leveling engineering. So, all excited, I make one and rush out to do a mining sweep.
In real life… not so much. Oh, I’m sure it’s fine for casual Engineering once you are at max level, and you are just gathering as you go, but when you actually want to level fast, the extra Air is just not nearly enough. I spent one afternoon mining for a few hours, slack time on the server getting lots of nodes in Deepholm, and I think I was seeing 2 Volatile Air for about every 15 nodes. You mix that into mining during peak times, and it’s a pretty rough drop rate.
Here’s the funny bit.
The thought occurs to me, “But wait! Maybe the drop rate is better on one of the other gathering professions!”
Ah yes, of such insidious thoughts are painful acts founded.
Immediately, I had to test this theory, which meant taking my Rogue, who, for reasons that seemed perfectly valid at the time, is a max level Engineering/Skinner, and level her to the point that I could skin enough in bulk to test the Volatile Air harvest rate.
About the time I was in Mount Hyjal and jousting against what looked like mounted buzzards, it occured to me that something is off when, in order to level a profession on the character I enjoy playing right now, I’m somehow playing on my Rogue instead in order to skin lots of Volatile Air. I need my head examined.
Cutting it short (ha!), I leveled my Rogues’ Engineering to the point that I could make the Volatile Air harvesting doohicky, and then went to what I found to be my personal favorite fast leather harvest point; Sethria’s Roost, which can be found in Mount Hyjal around coordinates 31/80. The dragonkin are skinnable, are on an INSANELY fast respawn timer, and most players coming through right now are in such a rush to level and blow past the content that they don’t bother hanging around to skin, even if they can.
I leveled my Skinning from nothing to damn near max in one go right there over the course of less than an hour, and what I discovered was, while it FELT like the Volatile Air dropped more in the strange bloated stomach, the truth is it only seemed that way because I skinned a lot more mobs in a short period of time than I was usually finding ore nodes. I was making it up in volume.
So, Volatile Air is a choke point.
So what do I do next? Cassie tells me her main character, an actual max level 525 Alchemist, can do element transmutes, and if she does it in Uldum, she can turn Volatile Life dropped from herbs into Volatile Air, on an almost 1 for 1 basis. Plus the chance to proc some extra random Volatiles!
So we do that for a few days, and she helps feed my Engineer.
But wait! I have a 450 Alchemist… my Enhancement Shaman.
Next thing I know, I’ve herbed enough on my Druid swimming around Vashj’ir that I can easily level my Alchemy on the Shaman to the point that I can park her out at Uldum to make me Air.
But then I look at my Shaman’s Alchemy at 510, and realise that in order to continue leveling Alchemy cheaply, I could do repeat transmutes of blue quality gems, so the next step is to mine ore on my Hunter to send to my Priest to prospect for gems to send to my Alchemist to transmute into blues… and the Dream Emeralds can then be sent to my Hunter to make Gnomish X-Ray Scopes.
Finally, I realize… this needs an intervention. OH MY GOD. Somebody, stop the insanity! All I wanna do is just play my Hunter, where the heck did the Priest come into the picture? What? ACK!
To bring my point around home, you look at how the different professions can feed each other, and it’s just amazing how deep you could get into this if you wanted to. The interconnectivity, the synergy between professions really impresses me even more with how canny Blizzard has been. And each profession works similarly to the others, but is still very different.
They’re not equal, mind you. Some professions, like Blacksmithing , Leatherworking, Enchanting and Tailoring once again have mile long recipe lists you can purchase for expensive mats. Engineering is, what you see is what you get. At least, so far. No surprise new recipes from end game vendors in Twilight Highlands for Engineering!
Then there are the poor Jewelcrafters, who once again end up having to buy their recipes using Tokens obtained from daily quests.. and not having access to that until Twilight Highlands is finally unlocked.
I’d be unhappy for my JC, except I was able to make a pair of some kickass fist weapons for my Enhancement Shaman to use almost right away, so hey, I’m good.
I wonder… why did Jewelcrafting get to be the bitch of the professions? Can anyone explain that one?
Inscription is just as bad at first if you didn’t have it to begin with, but they didn’t add any more Glyphs in Cataclysm. Glyphs don’t get superceded by new expansions. (Wait… an update. Yes, there are a small handful of new Glyphs since 3.0.3, a few through Books of Glyph Mastery, a few from minor research, a few from major. But there’s only, like, 6 or 7 spread across multiple methods of learning. Added for accuracy.) So Inscription is just fine now, making items and books and Darkmoon cards. And Origami Rocks. It’s turned into another “fun” profession.
With how SOME professions only really get started at max level, I think it explains a little bit more why Cataclysm (or the patch right before it) introduced such a massive change in leveling professions; the inclusion of special recipes that can grant MULTIPLE skill points with one crafting.
You know, like this;
I love this change. I really do. It adds so much to the overall strategy of leveling a profession.
Plus, it’s a brilliant move for the overall economy. The items that are linked to bonus skill points are generally very expensive in terms of mats.
In the old pre-Cataclysm days, when given a choice between a dirt cheap piece of vendor trash to level a profession off of, or an item that would be useful to others players but expensive to make in mat costs, most players would go with cheap, dirty and vendored stuff.
With the addition of multiple skill points per crafting on making the ‘good’ stuff, it encourages at least some players to think about leveling by making the good stuff, and then recoup their expenses by selling the crafted items on the Auction House… where other characters might finally see something at their level they’d like to have.
Very nice innovation to encourage a livelier Auction House at lower levels. Bravo! And of course, the need for better mats just encourages a more lively market for such things, right?
There are problems, of course, it’s not perfect. I’m sure everyone has at least one little pet peeve with their favorite profession that they wish would get changed.
I know that for me, my pet peeve is the Goblin Barbecue.
I had imagined that the Goblin Barbecue was going to work like a reuseable hibachi or grill, on a cooldown. You make the item once, and then after that, you’ve got it, but you have to use it at the right time. Kinda like Jeeves.
Unfortunately, what we got was a pretty expensive to make single use food item, with the bonus that everyone in the party can use it, but the downside is that it’s not going to have as good a stat boost as the actual high level Cooking food. So, it’s not going to see much play in raids, and it’s kind of expensive to use in pugs, but just right for 5 man runs with friends. It’s not exactly a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but I sure had higher hopes for a fun item.
Was a hibachi with a one hour cooldown really that overpowered? I’d be happy to have had a much higher initial materials cost up front for a food item for my group that wasn’t quite as good as a max level Cooking recipe, but that I could reuse once an hour. And it would have been just fine with me if, after making the Goblin Barbeque, each use of it required some form of high level meat. Much like the High powered Bolt Gun, in fact.
Of course, the little voice in my head then goes on to say, if you have a barbecue, and you use a type of meat evey time you use it… can you set it up like a Paladin’s Seals and Judgments, so that each type of meat used does a different thing? I mean, something light like Grilled Talapia might give you a Haste buff because it doesn’t fill you up with a heavy feeling, some serious protein like Steak or Ribs could give you a Strength buff, grilled vegetables could give you Intellect or Hit Rating (improved eyesight, dontcha know), and of course… Death Fire Habanero spice-rubbed pork loin stuffed with chiles would give you massive Spellpower boosts. From the flames smoking out your nostrils.
Tanking food? Why, grilling a flank of a big bear’s butt provides the tanking buff. What, you had to ask?
That idea makes me so excited… but what we got was a single use food item. The Goblin Barbecue uses metal bars each time, but is apparently so flimsy it’s disposable.
It makes me a sad Bear. My one pet peeve… I wanted to hold regular cookouts, damnit!
Now, the thought occurs to me that maybe they kinda toned it down so that a cooking item that awesome wouldn’t be given to Engineers only. Maybe there was a teeny bit of “Okay, it’s cute, but max level non-Engineer cooks shouldn’t have to look at Engineers with envy over cooking stuff.”
Well, fair enough, fair enough. My answer to that would have been, “Why not make it like other Engineer and Alchemist items, or Enchanting items?”
Change it to an item that Engineers can make, but remove the Engineering skill level requirement? Just leave a 525 Cooking limitation. Then you could have your group food recipes require a Goblin Barbecue to make, with the addition of your own raw food materials per use. Then anyone could enjoy grilling for their friends, regardless of their crafting or gathering professions.
My one pet peeve aside, as I said… I’m very impressed with the state of professions. The improved multiple skill point system while leveling is, all by itself, a really fun advance. It adds a lot more depth to what used to be a grind.
What are your thoughts? Are you having the same kinda fun… or are you feeling stressed out by something concerning professions?