Neocrafting Part 3: Recipes

In this post, I'm going to talk about all the ways we use to collect recipes. This part of crafting has evolved pretty nicely over the last two expansions. There are a lot of things that are much better than what we had back in 2004. But, there's always more we can do, always problem areas that can be improved. Here are my thoughts on things that would make the process of collecting recipes less painful and more fair...

Faction


I like the idea of faction recipes, but sometimes the implementation isn't well thought out. I don't know how many of you had to get Kirin Tor rep to Exalted - but that was a huge pain. Another tough one is Wyrmrest Accord and the main reason with both is lack of dailies. Now I understand that perhaps Blizzard didn't want to make either of those easy to power up. But having just 1 or 2 dailies for a faction is really torturous for those who don't run dungeons enough to make tabard-wearing practical. Don't get me wrong, I like the whole "represent" gig. But if you happen to be a player who doesn't or can't group (hates pugs, plays at off hours, whatever), there is no decent alternative for you. It took me forever to get to Exalted on my rogue because she's an alt. Trust me, when your main is a healer - your alts get no love! What I'm saying here is that if you're going to have a recipe at Exalted, give all players a reasonable way to get there.

It took Krys four and a half months to reach Exalted with KT and she was doing dailies pretty much every day, including the Fishing one when it debuted. So here's what I would do differently with harder factions like Wyrmrest and KT. First: have enough regular quests to reach Honored with any faction which sells recipes. If that's not an option, change the first wave of recipes to unlock at Friendly (or whatever level the quests will cover). Players who reaches the minimum faction level should be able to purchase something, even if it's just for a green or novelty item. Second: Put recipes at the proper level for their rarity. Blue items should not be unlocked higher than Revered IMO. These items just aren't beefy enough to warrant a grind to Exalted. If you're going to put something at Exalted - make it worth it! The Mechano-hog is a GOOD example of an item worth grinding to Exalted. A recipe for Glowing Twilight Opal is not.

I always thought that putting all of the Alchemy flasks at Exalted reps in Burning Crusade was mean, especially when you consider that these items became required raid consumables. Epic trinkets at Exalted are a more reasonable item for that kind of grind. So again, I think it comes down to the value of the item being made and whether it's appropriate to make someone grind faction forever to get it. I could go on and on here, I think there were a lot of inequalities in Lich King. Leatherworkers getting epic leg armor from the trainer while Tailors have to get two different factions to Exalted for a similar item. Blacksmiths getting all of their epic recipes from the trainer while Enchanters had to purchase their best recipes with Dream Shards. I would prefer to see a more even-handed approach to this distribution. Each profession should get a few epic recipes from the trainer, a few from the appropriate trade vendor (shard vendor, fur trader, etc) and a few from factions.

Also, I'd really like to see faction grinds that are shared among alts. I can't tell you how much I hate trying to reach Exalted on multiple toons. In fact, this is the main thing that keeps me from collecting certain Tailoring recipes with alt #5. Once I've gotten to Exalted the first time, I usually cannot bear to do those same dailies on the next toon. Since we're already talking about shared Achievements in Cataclysm, I'd like to see this addressed as well. Maybe we only get a 30 or 50% trickle-down to our alts, but anything that eases the grind would be very welcome. I'd even be willing to pay a Quartermaster for an "Exalted" heirloom token that would auto-magically grant my alt favored status. Kinda like that flying book thing.... hmmm....

Trainers


I don't think I should have to say this but your trainer should at least teach you things that you will only use for yourself and this includes Engineering parts! Items that can be sold for profit are fine to collect from other sources, but stop doing funky things with items that only we can use. I think this was more of a problem in BC (ring enchants on faction vendors, seaforium charges) but I want to go on record that it shouldn't rear it's ugly head again.

After testing Aion, I should also add that I think trainers should actually teach something. I find it weird to have a crafting system where there are trainers, but they don't teach you any recipes. I think it's fine if perhaps trainers just teach you components and maybe you learn larger items from vendors, drops, whatever. But the trainer should at least teach you some basics as a part of their job.

Dungeon Drops


I don't have any major quibbles with the current implementation of dungeon drops, I think the system we have now has helped the frustration factor with overpriced recipes. Personally, I'd be fine if all blue recipes were either BoP dungeon drops or BoP static drops. I'm not sure I see the rationale in letting random players loot my recipe and then charge me hundreds or thousands of gold for it. It has taken a year and the release of epic gems for the rare gem recipes to drop down to a reasonable price level. Jewelcrafters are the only ones who have this recipe liability, let's just bury it and be done. Rare recipes should not be seen by anyone who doesn't have the required tradeskill: Period.

Raid Drops


This is a different situation than dungeon drops, so I'm going to give it separate treatment. Raid drops are often harder to collect and highly desired. I've talked in previous posts about the unfairness of this system. They don't drop often and when they do there's a good chance that the most appropriate recipient it isn't in the group. Personally, I have yet to see a raid recipe end up in the hands of our guild's best crafters. And realistically, it takes guild commitment to bring a raid team together, keep it running, and make it successful. I don't believe it's fair to let one guy reap the rewards from a recipe when the whole guild did the work that unlocked it.

I would like to see all raid recipes converted to guild property. If a raid recipe drops, it goes to the guild bank where it becomes available to any crafter in the guild. When you leave the guild, you lose all of your guild recipes. If we did it this way, any enchanter in the guild could provide guildies with Blade Ward or Blood Draining. Any leatherworker/tailor/blacksmith could craft new armor that the guild unlocks, which would make it easier to get everyone geared up. This would solve two big problems with raid drops. First: the only people who know about the drop are the ones who were in the raid, other guild members may never realize a new item is available or who has it. Second: people play on different schedules and it can be tough to coordinate with the one guy who has the recipe, letting guilds share the recipe would greatly help the coordination problem. A bonus is that this would foster guild loyalty and give players a reason to work hard and stick by their guilds instead of bed-hopping the way they do now.

Quests


In the past, I think I've made it pretty clear that I didn't like the inequities with the token/vendor system in WotLK. Some professions had vendors, some had quests with tokens, and some had nothing. Now perhaps this was an experiment, but I think we can safely say it has worked out. So let's go ahead and equalize the systems across the various professions so that everyone has the same access to recipes. Personally, I think I prefer the token system. Collecting tokens that are used to purchase recipe gives a lot of equality between those with lots of cash and those with none. It also provides a nifty little bottleneck to keep the best recipes from flooding the marketplace in the first week. On the other hand, I understand why players would prefer the shard or fur trader. Those with lots of cash to burn can grab a bunch of recipes and go crazy. I'm more of a hippie in that I prefer a level playing field, but a capitalist would reply that they earned their money and have the right to spend as they see fit. I'm not going to advocate for one to the exclusion of the other since there are reasonable arguments on both sides. But whatever system is used should be applied evenly to all professions.

If we do get daily quests for all professions, I don't know that we truly need five different daily quests for each of them. In order to address the design load, we could probably homogenize the daily quest. I think creating a dozen or so rotating quests and having them all be part of a single crafting quest should work. If I need to catch fish, give me the net. Let's have these quests actually reflect trade abilities too, even if I don't have the relevant skill. If I need to mine ore, lend me a pick. Send me out to collect rare "herbs" in Sholazar Basin. I've seen all of these mechanics in existing quests, so I'm sure they can be used for crafting dailies. Each daily quest could represent a different trade, since we have over a dozen now. When I turn in my crafting quest, I get a crafting token which is accepted by all crafting vendors. Or heck, make one vendor who asks me to choose which profession I'm interested in before the items are displayed. No sense cluttering up cities with 12 vendors when 1 guy can do the job. If the crafting dailies were run this way, not only would players get more variety in the rotation (pool of 12+ quests), but the Devs would actually do less work than it took for the three types of dailies we have now. As an added bonus, this will drive players crazy as they try to prioritize which of their professions should get token-love first. We know you love kicking the ant hill and watching us scramble ;)

Not a high priority, more of a casual observation: I would like to see more quests for novelty recipes. In vanilla WoW more than twenty Cooking recipes were quest based, seems like every time we were sent out to kill a critter and collect it's parts we got a new recipe that used the parts. But in BC we only got three quest recipes for Cooking and in WotLK just two. Primary professions also had a fair number of quests in vanilla WoW, such as various fireworks for Engineers, the imperial plate set for Blacksmiths, etc. It would be great if more quest sources were put back into professions. I know I'm asking a lot here, daily quests for professions and now special quests for tradeskills. But seriously, there are so many quests that hand out cash or redundant green gear. Maybe we could just repurpose a few of those? Instead of cash, let me select a new recipe from a handful of professions. Anytime a quest requires you to kill beasts that drop meat - that quest should give you a Cooking recipe. Regular quests don't have to be all about gear or cash, they could be a source of recipes too. That said, I did like the silly Cooking recipes that were BoP - I've had fun collecting those :)

On a more forward looking note, I'd like to reiterate my thoughts for a more advanced Tradeskill system as it pertains to recipes. Crafters should have the ability to invent recipes that are truly random, preferable through mechanics that allow for user-controlled experimentation. They should have the ability to modify recipes and influence the stats of an item, so we can have more diversity in the marketplace. They should also have the ability to make new designs that allow a custom look, so we can incorporate true artisanship into crafting. These things already exist in various forms in other games, it's time for Blizzard to let tradeskills mature into a true gaming activity and not just a path to beefy gear.

3 comments:

  1. First I think this series you're doing is really great. It's been fun to think about all the options game designers could do and I really hope someone is brave enough to try and find out what works.

    A couple of points about this installment in the series...

    As for drops, I think the current system works out ok but could use some tweaking. You mentioned the extremely high prices of JC pattern drops. I think this is justified considering you can make a boatload of gold with these patterns. (Yes, I'm much more capitalist than hippie.) However, all that Blizzard would have to do to make prices lower is to increase the drop rate. Higher supply = lower price and also a bigger possibility the crafter would go farm the pattern themselves.

    They could also do away with drops altogether and just use tokens to buy patterns. If they made all professions like JC where you can do dailies *or* get tokens with necklaces and titanium dust you could also appease the capitalists and the hippies alike :) Hopefully the new system with guild patterns will fix the BoP raid drop patterns for crafters that don't raid much.

    The quests you're talking about would be awesome. I would love quest chains where my blacksmith could learn how to make better parts for making various items. I'm imagining a system where you could have choices for a different hilt, blade, runes, etc. for weapons that could affect the swing speed, add crit vs. armor pen, and all other sorts of choices. Since they are already adding the ability to change stats on an item, I don't see why something like this couldn't be added to the game. It would also open up a whole new market for selling to min/maxers based on the current flavor of the day :)

    Finally, because I have to make my post even longer, I would love some sort of crafting mini-game that makes crafting more like... crafting! Forget that insane alchemy memory quest, let me actually simulate cutting my gems, or mixing my flasks at various temperatures, or forging a blade out of metal bars. If this could be done in a way where it isn't super tedious I think it could be a really fun system to have. I would love levels of quality from doing better at the crafting game as a way to differentiate and get a reputation as a crafter, but a system where you could use less mats if you did well could work if differing qualities would be too hard to balance or implement.

    Whew... sorry for the massive brain dump, I just read all 3 parts of this series and had to get all my thoughts out!

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  2. i love that idea Rhom, i would love being able to choose different stats for an item AND a different look!

    i also like the thought of making crafting a mini-game. it would be more enjoyable(and sometimes aggrivating) to actually craft items. the one problem i see with this right off is if you are trying to powerlevel, then you are sol lol
    but then again, do mastercraftsmen (and women) achieve master level overnight? or do they have to work upto it?

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  3. Good post in general but you contradict your self. If grinding faction should be easy for players who can't group then so should getting recipes, there BoP dungeon recipes are not good.
    How about token drops which could be traded - and drop in dungeons or as rare gathers / loot?
    i kind of like how titanium powder works alongside the JC daily - though I think it should come from mining / drops rather than prospecting.

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