Weekly World of Warcraft #2

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such. Weekly World of Warcraft is usually updated each Tuesday.

What the Craft?

Crafting professions are often the ignored orphan feature in MMORPGs. The crafting professions in World of Warcraft allow players to create many items that are clearly useful.up to a point. Sadly, this point is discovered fairly early in the crafting process, and often there is little point to even create crafted items in the higher levels.

Choosing professions in World of Warcraft is usually done before a character hits level 10. Undoubtedly, professions that create weapons and armor are useful in getting your lower-leveled characters properly equipped. Yet, the higher your levels, the weaker the created equipment is. Take my main character's profession: Elemental Leatherworking. For those not in the know, leatherworkers branch off into three areas at the higher levels: dragonscale, tribal, and elemental. However, each one of these branches has a distinct lack of patterns that are useful to the everyday player. The few good pieces that can be created are offset by the insanely high material cost. Take, for example, the Stormshroud armor set. In order to craft the full armor set, including the gloves introduced in Patch 1.10, is 44 rugged leather, 12 essences of water, 12 essences of air, 3 cured rugged hides, 3 rune threads, 8 enchanted leather, and 2 Ironweb spider silk. Yes, in order to create a suit of armor that can be worn starting at level 50-54 (depending on the piece), you need to find 12 essences of air and 12 essences of water. Anyone that's ever ground essences knows this is a thankless and obnoxious process.

"But Nick! You can buy them on the Auction House." Yeah, I could, but then I'd be spending roughly 30g per essence. See, the problem with the essences is that they're extremely rare drops. The essences of air only consistently (and I use that word very loosely) drop in Silithus. However, the drop rate as reported by World of Warcraft site Thottbot, is slightly less than 3% from Dust Stormers and roughly 5% from the Whirling Invaders, who only show up on occasion during elemental invasion events. Basically, standard economics are pricing this element extremely high due to the demand exceeding the supply. So suck it up and start farming? Well, that would be an option if it were at all profitable to sell the suit or even wear it yourself. However, by the time you've grinded enough essences to create a suit, you're already at level 60 and working on your tiered gear (0, .5, 1, or 2). Even then, the stats and strength of many crafted suits (across all trades) are exceeded by dropped, non-epic items. Even if you're making stuff to sell, the market is flooded when you're just starting out, and crashes when the average material cost to craft something starts to break 20 gold. People simply aren't going to pay for an underpowered weapon or armor suit that can be exceeded by non-epic random mob drops.

On top of that, crafting is worthless because everyone creates the exact same thing. There is nothing to make my Stormshroud armor better than someone else's, and nothing to make a weaponsmith's sword better than another's. One such solution that has been thrown out is the use of dyes to give certain armors a different color to them. This should have been included from day one, as well as further character customization. There are far too many characters in World of Warcraft that look the same, have the same gear, and chose the same path on the talent tree.

What am I advocating? Give those of us who've maxed out our crafting skill something unique. One such idea would be to allow enchanters to perform an enchantment on the raw materials. For example, each piece of leather in a particular recipe enchanted with a fiery enchant should provide a certain amount of fire resistance. Simply put, forcing high level trade skilled characters to work together can have great results for creating interesting content that can compete with some of the Raid gear that is all but out of reach for casual players (but raid/casual is a different topic for a different column). Even then, if you hit 300/300 in any profession, you should be able to run a quest to get a Master status and create a few unique items. Basically, at the end of the quest chain, you would be given a choice of what features you'd like your specialized item to include as well as the overall design and color scheme of your suit. Actually, that should be something that crafters should have to go through at every transitional phase during their career (meaning every time you have to find a new trainer). If you're going to give people a meaningful reason to continue to play after 60 by introducing content, give crafters an incentive to continue crafting after 300/300.

Another suggestion would be to boost the stats of crafted items. I understand that items with higher stats should be hard to come by, but characters with a maximum trade skill should get some benefit. Make sets like the Stormshroud armor worth paying for. Make the higher end weapons epic quality and worth finding the mats for. Make it so crafters are actually worth something past level 50, because as it stands they aren't.

On this same note, higher-level trade skills desperately need new recipes to use. However, unless these recipes are going to produce an orange or purple quality item, they really shouldn't be as impossible to find as they are. The Stormshroud Gloves, just added in patch 1.10, dros off of the air elemental boss in Silithus (as of now anyway). That's it, a chance for a drop off of a guy that only appears "once every few days or so" during the elemental invasions. Unless you're a farmer or an uber-guild that can swarm the boss once he spawns, this recipe is only going to be yours if you buy them at some insane price in the Auction House. This, combined with the other extremely low drop rates on plans across all professions, is a further slap in the face to crafters. It is almost as if Blizzard is saying, "Congrats on hitting 300/300, too bad you would have made bank choosing herbalism/mining as your professions to sell them to crafting idiots."

While one can easily argue that the factions do have high-leveled recipes available, this brings up an entirely new issue. The faction reputation system is inherently flawed. Not enough mobs give faction reputation points, and some of them (Thorium Brotherhood, I'm looking at you) border on unfeasible. The biggest problem is that reputation bars progress at the same rate as the playable race reputation bars do. Think about it, most people take 60 levels to get to exalted for any of their home factions, and cannot even start dealing with the other ones until the 50s. Sure, it adds content for the post 60 player, but that shouldn't be the only source of crafting recipes at 300/300. Just like there is much more for characters to do at level 60, there should be much more for crafters to do at that level as well.

The simplest solution would be to increase the drop rates for the materials required for crafting, specifically essences. Essences have some of the lowest drop rates in the game and are required for both crafting and enchanting. I'm not demanding a 75% or higher chance to drop, but I would at least like them to drop off of more mobs at roughly the 10-20% range as well as at least some cash dropping off of the air elementals.

However, none of the professions suffer as much as engineering. There is an extremely limited use for engineering created objects. One thing I do not understand are the goggles created by engineers. They can only be worn by the crafter, killing the sale value, and they replace a helmet, killing the practical use. These, if anything, should be used in the same way as scopes are. Scopes can be attached to a ranged weapon to increase stats. In the same way, engineers should be able to attach their goggles and things to helmet and wrist pieces. Why? It improves armor pieces that enchanters cannot enchant while making the engineering class worth playing. As it stands, engineering is a wasted profession.

Crafting should be about creating better armor and weapons, and should be utilized more. There is something inherently wrong with the way Blizzard has essentially crippled the crafting features in the game. There is no incentive to continue to craft, nor is there any reason to buy crafted items if better things can be found from world drops. When quest reward items are better than high-end crafted items, the system does not work. The Burning Crusade expansion promises to introduce a jeweler profession, which creates rings and jewels for socketed items. While this could make for some interesting combinations, it is simply adding onto a broken system.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen two gathering professions to make money in the Auction House.

Connection Issues

Last week was a total pain for anyone playing World of Warcraft. During peak hours from Wednesday until the weekend, players were on the receiving end of hang-ups at the login screen. While the World of Warcraft servers are undoubtedly overloaded, this simply should not happen in a subscription-based game. There is a reason people pay a monthly fee: to get new content and to make sure the servers are stable and up. Seriously, this is 2006, I shouldn't be having the same problems I had trying to dial into America Online in 1996.

Posted: 04/11/2006