Been gone a while. Huh. The Community Blog Topic from WoW Insider (by way of commenter Neuromante) brought me back with a great question this week: how to improve WoW professions so they’re actually useful and interesting again. The Mists Cooking revamp was a step in the right direction: complexity without difficulty. It’s time to push that change to other professions.
First, and not really anything but a UI issue, is change the window so it’s inline with the quest log: side-by-side panes, such as how TradeSkillMaster displays. There’s no good reason to keep professions squished into a tiny little window, not when everything else in the game has expanded for better readability. Maybe for crafting professions, the left pane can show a dressing-room in the bottom half, perhaps by lifting a page from MogIt and show only the item in preview rather than the whole outfit someone’s wearing.
Crafting profs themselves need to be built back into a viable “world-flavor” element of the game; as I said back in October, the detail of needing coal to smelt iron into steel was one of the things that got me hooked on the game. Changes over the years such as removing the need for an Alchemy Lab, while addressing a quality-of-life problem, introduced another issue: less immersion. Blacksmiths still need an anvil for most projects. Now we have a portable anvil, thanks to Engineering. The need is still there but we aren’t constrained to go back to town to fulfill it–there’s no reason Alchemy couldn’t have a Mobile Lab, or scribes get a Lapdesk item. Heck, for those worried about bag space, make them spellbook slots rather than actual items.
Gathering profs need work just to make them more interesting in the first place, but I’m not sure what could be done. Perhaps a “disassemble”/”recycle” function could be built into them, similar to disenchanting, or maybe even make the gathering of mats universal like in Guild Wars 2, while recycling gets made part of crafting.
As said, Cooking doesn’t need anything but a Warlords update. Fishing, while the Anglers dailies and Pools of the Day were a step in the right direction, needs further work. (I have no ideas on this one.) First Aid–specializations, such as bandages v. casts v. poultices? Make bandages themselves relevant again for more than the first 15 minutes and 3 achievements of the expansion; give us salves (No-Spore-In?) to also give a slight tertiary stat buff for up to thirty seconds after bandage use.
Archaeology: give us uncommon-drop specialty fragments alongside the normal ones that create Lore items, not just flavor items. These should be returnable to either Explorer’s League/Reclaimers or (preferably) notable lore figures, upon which turnin we get a little bit of history of the character we’re giving it to. Not just major race leaders, either: Tirion, Eitrigg, Saurfang, Uther (well, the Tomb guardian); people that have played a part in the shaping of Azeroth as we know it.
The three major armor/weapon-crafting profs should get transmog gear creation and (finally) self-repairs. This shouldn’t be a way to bypass the goldsink that armor repair is now, (after all, mats have a cost), but perhaps a bit of mitigation is in order. Engineering should get gear that remains relevant through the whole expansion, not just first tier goggles and then “oh, here, have a couple pets and be quiet til next September”. (What? Bitter? noooo, not me… >_>)
Finally, Alchemy, Inscription, Jewelcrafting, and Enchanting, I think, would do well to have specializations (re)introduced, but similarly to how Cooking had it–you can choose to follow one path at the expense of another. For example, in JC you currently have a very small chance to cut a Perfect-level gem, or craft a blue-quality necklace or ring–specialize in Gemcutting, Setting, or Trinkets(?) and increase the chances of a Rare quality craft of that type.