Do new tradeskills ever really work?

All that signs are that Blizzard has done a really good job on Archaeology, the new secondary tradeskill which will be introduced in Cataclysm. It combines gathering and collecting, and rewards players with lore and the chance of cool minipets and shinies.  And best of all, it doesn’t create a forced new market to make sure that the new tradeskillers have an eager base of customers.

WoW certainly isn’t the first game to have introduced new tradeskills in expansions. I remember in DaoC when spellcrafting was introduced – it was roughly similar to jewelcrafting/ enchanting in WoW – suddenly everyone needed all their gear spellcrafted if they wanted to stay remotely competitive. The difference in DaoC is that in order to maximise your spellcrafting potential, you needed 100% quality crafted goods to begin with. So the other tradeskills were involved also.

Let’s look at the newer WoW tradeskills and note that they’re actually the best moneymakers. It’s unsurprising, unfair, and badly designed.

Jewelcrafting: Introduced in TBC, alongside sockets on all raid gear to make room for the new crafted gems. It’s arguably redundant in Cataclysm because reforging actually fills the same purpose that JC was originally designed for, and does it better. It allows players to customise their gear for stats they actually want.  All that sockets do now is provide a guaranteed market for jewelcrafters.

Inscription: Introduced in Wrath. Glyphs themselves are fairly interesting, but there was never any need for this to be a tradeskill. Glyphs would have been just as interesting if they were gained via reputation or questing or even just bought direct from trainers.

The tradeskill itself was fundamentally screwed when it became possible to exchange high level inks for any of the lower level ones in Dalaran. At that point there wasn’t even any great interest to be had from speculating on different tiers of herbs. Which might have made a more interesting sub game for herbers. Sure, it was a good move for making sure that all the glyphs could be constantly available. But that’s the selfsame reason why glyphs as a tradeskill is silly. There is no real concept of ‘low level glyphs’ when they’re needed by max level characters.

So the pattern has been to introduce a new mechanic to force players to buy the tat that the new tradeskill produces without any attempt to involve other, existing tradeskills. So naturally the new tradeskills are guaranteed to be crazy profitable. This isn’t the only reason for in game inflation, but it’s crazy to think that it won’t affect the wider economy.

Also, although Blizzard are aiming to make WoW more comprehensible and accessible in Cataclysm, they don’t go out of their way to explain glyphs, enchants, or gems to newer players. They won’t simplify those things even if it might be more sensible to do so (how many choices do you really get when enchanting an item?). At least not yet.

Adding new tradeskills into a game has often also added more complexity. Tale in the Desert is a good example here, although most of their tradeskills are fairly independent. Each new one is an entire new type of minigame, but adds to the complexity of the whole thing. And gives more of an advantage to experienced players who aren’t faced with having to learn all of it at once.

Tradeskills in WoW are overdue for a redesign. They’re not fun, they’re not balanced, and they’re not all that accessible to new players (it’s not easy to understand what some of the tradeskills do, which are the best for different classes/ roles, or which are easiest or more profitable). Perhaps that will be something to tackle in the next expansion …

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14 thoughts on “Do new tradeskills ever really work?

  1. The problem is that all of those bad examples (Enchanting, Jewelcrafting, Inscription) amplify current gear, while Archaeology and the other tradeskills replace other gear. Casters don’t necessarily need tailors nor do physical classes need blacksmiths. You just go to the instance of your choice and pick up a comparable or (more often than not) a better item from a boss. But everyone needs an enchanter, a jewelcrafter and an inscriptor because they can be applied to every character and almost every piece of gear. There is no boss that drops an enchant you could use directly, nor is there any boss that drops the best-in-slot inscription. There is no “interesting choice” to make. Either you become a patron of enchanters, jewelcrafters and inscriptors or you’ll be (justifiably) be called an idiot.

    • And it’s not a coincidence that all of the newer tradeskills were designed so that everyone would need them. (Enchanting is a bit of an anomaly from among the original tradeskills, true. Also everyone needs bags.)

  2. But the bag ‘issue’ is solved in Cataclysm by providing biggest bags straight through vendors, taking the last bastion for the tailor to survive.

    The problem with the tradeskills – in addition to what Hirvox stated – is the fact that they have very little overlapping or need to co-operate. Even though the gathering skills provide materials to them, they do not complement each other in any way, and thus are in away independent from the general play.

    Now that Blizz has finalized the great equalization of the classes, I think they might want to take a new look on the trade skills. Then again, I doubt it, and in the end everything is like in the real world.

    Only rich get richer until the poor figure out how to get their share of the pie.

    C out

  3. Inscripition was particuarly terrible because it became incredibly profitable by virtue of mechanics put in to limit the necessity of another trade skill.

    Between the frost lotus dependence of alchemy for flasks and, due to the one potion per combat cd and lack of decent elxirs, the lack of the use for other herbs, there were huge amounts of absurdly cheap herbs and no throttle on Inscription.

    The make-stuff trade skills were mostly gimped by the lack of a gearing up phase in WotLK. Meaning those hard to craft early purps ended up being pretty useless.

  4. I totally agree. After the Cataclysm, tradeskills (especially the 1-300 levels) will be the last remnant of vanilla WoW, mostly untouched.

    Archaeology is a step in the right direction, where “crafting” is tied to gameplay. The general lack of that is the major fault of almost every existing tradeskill.

    WoW is a game of dragons and magic and quests and guilds and fun, yet crafting is usually a trip to the auction house, followed by a trip to the mailbox, then a trip to the anvil, then finding an item in a list, then pressing a button, then watching a progress bar, then taking a trip back to the auction house. Fun!

  5. You are right, it doesn’t make much sense to get into any professions other than JC and Inscription because virtually ALL of the product of these two are usable and downright necessary for all toons. Try to make your money back in Blacksmithing and you will fail. Tailoring? Bags are nice but that is the only thing. Leatherworking? Skinning and Mining bags, but only one per customer, and armor kits. Engineering? Just buy a motorcycle and be done with it…

    BS and LW would be great if they did more with the specializations… Weaponsmithing making BoP only is retarded. The LW specials were abandoned after BC. Gimping Inscription is a great thing, now i want them to up the viability of the rest! I’m at the point of just making any new toons pure farmers and be done with it because there is no profit in crafting anymore.

  6. Alchemy actually was quite profitable in WotLK, not so much because of potions or flasks (because of Frost Lotus prices), but because of the daily epic gem transmute.

    I agree that the gear-production professions need some help, particularly later in the expansions. Having excellent BoP items is fine, but those are replaced relatively quickly. Blizzard should add new recipes with each major content patch (or whenever they up the gear levels), including some that are BoE so that crafters don’t become all-but-obsolete later in the expansion.

  7. Why didn’t they let players do reforging? Get a blacksmith to change your plate or mail, a leatherworker to re-do your leather or mail items, a tailor to alter your cloth gear, an enchanter to re-do trinkets and rings.

    For that matter, why go to an NPC to repair gear? Want to restore your sword to its shiny newness? Find a blacksmith. Holes in your boots? A leatherworker can fix that. Let crafting professions make “repair kits” that restore 80% durability.

    In the real world, a tailor doesn’t just make new clothes. They alter, repair and design new clothes as well. Limiting the crafting professions to factory work is selling them short.

  8. Is the question just meant in the context of WoW? Because new tradeskills have worked quite well in other games.

    Eve: Tech 2, Tech 3 and Planetary Interaction can all be seen in a sense as new tradeskills that have worked.

    SWG: Shipbuilding was really good. It launched of course in the middle of general doom and gloom about the game but in itself it was good. It of course addressed a new aspect of the game (space combat) that hadn’t existed before. A WoW equivalent might be shipbuilding and the introduction of naval and pirate combat.

    EQ2: The new tradeskills are considered secondary skills. One is like Enchanting, one is like WoW’s Engineering. So anyone can, in addition to their main tradeskill, also be an Engineer or an Enchanter. It seems to have gone pretty well.

      • Planetary interaction works well enough, because it replaced a niche previously held by NPCs: Control tower modules and fuel. Not everyone needs those, but those who do appreciate the possibility of manufacturing required goods closer to home. Or buying them at reduced prices due to competition between players instead of an NPC-run monopoly.

      • Yup, as Hirvox said it took something that was not really developed as a game system at all – players simply purchased space base components and fuels from an NPC vendor – and made it a player manufacturing industry.

        It wasn’t smooth, it’s a huge project, really a whole parallel industrial system, but it’s hit most of the targets they would have wanted. Wide uptake, very brisk market trading including noteworthy market manipulations and the process of farming planets adds occasional targets for pvpers to gank.

        Planetary Interaction will in the future become the main connecting point between Eve and DUST 514, it’s our planetary structures that we will hire console gamers as mercenaries to fight over.

  9. I took up inscription with my new deathknight main as I figured it would make a lot of gold. It did. And it’s hugely flawed.

    You’re basically making hundreds of glyphs to flood the auction house. Lots of small profits make a big one. But it’s not much fun to buy all those herbs, mill them all to pigments, craft all those glyphs and put them all on the AH. It’s a flawed system where 3-5 people will provide all glyphs on a server and all get very rich.

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