How many tradeskills must a man walk down?

Tradeskills are funny things. Although even modern MMOs will have some kind of tradeskill function to let characters make stuff, it isn’t an aspect of the game that was inherited from MUDs or D&D. Nope, tradeskills were pretty much new to the MMO ‘genre.’

In fact, MMO tradeskills are in the same line of descent as Facebook farming games and resource management games like Civilisation. They owe more to board games than to RPGs in terms of inspiration. This is why they usually involve collecting materials, clicking a button, and then watching a green line – that’s pure resource management.

But here’s where the ROLE part of the game comes in – in MMORPGs, you need to decide which tradeskill/s to take on your character. And the original idea was that different people would pick different trades, so players would have to interact with each other to buy and sell. In older games, tradeskills were also rather more optional, and didn’t benefit the trader in any major way other than letting them make stuff to sell. Gathering materials while you wandered around was also a pipedream.

Then auction houses were invented, bored players rolled up tradeskill alts (or even second accounts) and people could do all of this without the tedious player interaction part. In every MMO I know that allows it, many long term players have several alts in order to cover multiple trade skills.

In WoW, Blizzard fussed with the formula by providing character benefits from tradeskills. Even gathering skills might (bizarrely) add character stats or minor abilities. This makes approximately no sense at all, and simply encourages people who don’t like tradeskills to level up tradeskills anyway. I always felt it might have been better to beef up the resource management side of the game and make it more fun for people who like that sort of thing.

But I digress. When a character gets measurable benefits from tradeskills then it makes sense to restrict how many you can take.

But aside from that, why restrict tradeskills? Why not just let someone take all of them? Keen tradeskillers with lots of time will just do the same thing on alts anyway. The answer is because trade skills made up part of your character’s role, so historically players were nudged towards keeping that quite narrow. But these days, games are opening up, characters are becoming more versatile, so maybe it’s time to blow the cap off tradeskills as well.

Would you take more tradeskills on your character if you could? Or do you think that would make you feel forced to take and level ALL of them, just because it would be possible?

21 thoughts on “How many tradeskills must a man walk down?

  1. I like the style of EVE or Fallen Earth where you CAN take all the tradeskills you want, but the cost can be high in time – whether gathering mats or actual crafting time. WOW style tradeskills are boring and almost pointless.

    it also matters where upgrades come from – crafting or rewards.

  2. Certainly a large part of the reason why I leveled 2 alts to 80 after my main was Tradeskills. it might not have been why I rolled them in the first place but it was why I finished the grind. I wanted to make pots of cash from my inscriber (cheers Gevlon) and I got fed up of the rip off AH prices for Flasks and boost potions so my DK took Alchemy.

    I think I would have leveled them anyway as the other 50% of the reason was that so many of my Guildies and indeed my wife had several alts and I got fed up of watching them do daily heroics/raids and generally farming saronite. The versitility of having a tank/healer/dps alt or two is just too handy.

    But I’d certainly have all the tradeskills on one alt so I didnt have to keep mailing stuff around if it wasnt for the PvE advantages given.

  3. Well it depends on what the developer wants to gain with this. Fallen Earth sits with the dilemma that every single character can make everything, no restrictions. So it all sounds great on paper.

    The reality? The economy is dead. There’s no reason to trade or even socially interact on a “trader” level.

    I can see LOTRO specifically limited you even further so you can’t even pick tradeskills “one by one” that are required to go together , you will always have a 3rd one that’s kinda dependent on another character giving you the ingredients or you having to supply it.

    So i’d say if devs are adding crafting as just some time/money sink side activity, sure, open it up. The assumption is, the game’s social/economy interaction is not hinging on the crafting system.

    However if it’s like SWG or Fallen Earth where crafting is pretty much the largest feature of the game, then it might be a little counter-productive to not allow some sort of “specialization” [which implies being restricted to a specific path].

  4. As tradeskills give diret bonusses in WoW, these need to be redesigned (made exclusive?) to work with uncapping. If not, players would be treated to become egg-laying woolmilkporkers to get all bonusses or fall behind. That wouldn’t be fun!

  5. Fallen Earth allows you to pick up every single tradeskill available and only restricts you in the amount you can max out. It plays horribly when you don’t limit yourself to just a few tradeskills. Your bank and inventory start overflowing with mats, you have to stop at every corner to pick a flower or skin a rat or scavenge some metal, and you spend more time making things than playing the game. Or that’s what happened to me.

    A game like WoW simply prevents me from making that mistake and adds some choice to the game. Also, while I have a bazillion tradeskill alts in WoW now, the system did encourage me to trade with others in the first year or so. Which is a good thing.

  6. silvertemplar said it. Ultima Online had the same problem. My specialized crafting alt “Tankred” could create every kind of jewelry, fancy dress, weapon, armor and harvest the resources needed for them.

    The only reason that there still was trade and some kind of economy was that stuff broke and got worse over time or got stolen.

    WoW does have not weapon/armor decay, only the next better weapon makes it obsolete. There are also profession specific crafter-only weapons and upgrades.

    OK, it would not really be too unbalancing if everyone could make all the upgrades for himself. But it would really hurt the auction house game, IMO.

    The career path would be: The char starts out with mining/herbalism and skinning, then turns to smithing and leatherworking while levelling tailoring all along e.g..

    It could be too much. Too much mindless progress bar watching. Rather boring wait for the progress bar than doing anything else.

    Too much crafting for one char? 🙂 Alting is a huge incentive to limit abilities/professions, even if many of these alts become bank and auction house queens. Some might evolve into adventuring alts later.

  7. I wouldn’t mind taking on Blacksmithing and Leatherworking to augment my Mining and JC as a tank. That would net me 60 more stamina from gems and 102 from an enchant for the bracers (62 since I have 40 on there). I don’t think it would be incredibly broken economically, but would allow minmaxers and goblins to truly define themselves even further.

  8. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind…

    Um, I am the type of person that needs to have tradeskills restricted in my mmo, otherwise I will do them all. When I tried out FE, I fell into that trap. At low level, that’s pretty easy to do because recipes don’t take too long, but at higher levels it gets tough bc you recipes take longer. Now that’s still manageable since your toon can craft while you’re off line and you’ll be able to manage you crafting queue with their iPhone app… But still. Gathering took all my time.

    I really like LOTRO’s system. It keeps the economy alive, which is nice, and provides a nice distraction from questing, but I never felt like it was the end-all of the game… Except maybe farming/cooking… But I think they got it right for my liking at least.

  9. I would definitely level all the tradeskills on my main. Just because I love leveling them for some sick, sad reason.

    Perhaps they could make it so you could only have 2 tradeskills while you’re leveling, and once you hit level cap you could have the option of leveling more.

    I could definitely see how the prospect of leveling like… 8 tradeskills while you’re leveling your toon could be a bit ridiculous.

  10. For me it would feel like a huge grind. That is coming from a person who already has nearly all professions spread out over 6 characters in WoW. But I didn’t level them for the professions.. I leveled them for the fun of playing that character at maxlevel and gave them their professions just to ‘complete’ them. So if every character could learn all tradeskills I would still have all my alts and their professions, but I would feel forced to level them a second time to not gimp my main.

  11. “The answer is because trade skills made up part of your character’s role, so historically players were nudged towards keeping that quite narrow.”

    Except that in older MMOs like UO and EQ, there were no restrictions on trade skills at all. Many people in EQ became grand masters in all available trade skills. WoW was one of the first to really restrict players in the hopes of encouraging interaction through interdependence between players. It doesn’t really work though, since the same people who would have just leveled every skill up on one character to be self-sufficient just make alts, as you mentioned.

  12. I don’t want to have to level all the tradeskills so I can min/max my abilities. The extra gem slots for BS, and the slight extra stamina for mining is nice as it is. But having to level ALL of them (or most of them) to maintain parity would just be too much work.

    Also, with the whole gearscore BS going on, I can just see it now in trade: “must have 6,500 GS and be 475 in all tadeskills”. (assuming this would happen post Cata)

    As it is now, having 2 maxxed professions gives you a nice bonus or two, but not THAT huge of a bonus for regular players. But, if you would compare (theorycraft) what you could get with all of them, I’m pretty sure the sum would be significant enough that it would become nearly manadatory for even “hardcasual” raiders.


    • there’s an easy solution to that, though, while still opening up all tradeskills to each character; you only get the ability benefits (extra gem slots, +sta, etc) from the first 2 skills you max or get past a certain level. After that, you get the skill but not the benes from the other skills.

  13. To answer the original question: I’d learn all of them on my “main”. The time saved after getting a new piece of gear alone would be worth it – I mean, you need to log in your bank alt no 1 to send gems to your jewelcrafter, cut them, send them to the main, log in bank alt no 2 to send enchanting mats to the enchanter, log in the scribe to make a scroll, log in enchanter to produce the enchant and send it to your main … GAH. Obviously this could be a lot more organized with suitable stockpiles on the appropriate characters, but all those alts need to make some money as well.

    Obviously the benefits would come in handy – and even if the benefits were removed there are still the passive ones. Back in TBC I found it very useful to have both weaponsmithing and engineering on my warrior, in WotLK it changed to a more general Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting. I fear each current iteration (that has bonuses – even if those are limited to BoManufacture items) will just mean there are two “optimal” tradeskills.

  14. A tangential thought: Allods Online only permits one tradeskill per character for a good chunk of the game (the quest to earn the right to another one is more of a pain than grinding up an alt in some ways). I’ve not spent a lot of time tinkering with the Auction House there, but as a Herbalist (gatherer profession), I don’t usually bother putting my stuff on the market, and I can’t use it. It’s just more vendor trash. That’s not helping the much-vaunted “player economy”.

    If I had at least two skills, one gathering, one production, I’d be far more likely to gather, produce and then sell the produce on the AH. Maybe I’m just weird, though. Point being, artificial constraints to force interdependency on the market isn’t always the right way to go.

    If I could have every tradeskill, like I could in Runes of Magic, I may well find myself being far more involved in the player economy. I know I do in Puzzle Pirates, where I can do any shop job, only limited by my own skill and interest.

    • That decision quite surprised me. If I was running a F2P game, I’d make it possible for people to have lots of tradeskills and then sell loads of ‘tradeskill helping items’ in the item shop!

      • Agreed. It seems an obvious item shop angle; not necessary, but fun. One more reason I think they don’t understand the business model.

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