Monday, August 17, 2015

World of Warcraft: Reducing Tedium Through New Gameplay (Professions Overhaul Part 3)

When I last discussed professions in World of Warcraft a few months ago, I implied that I would offer some suggestions to make them "more fun." This was directly in reference to when I suggested that professions are made more interactive or have different, less tedious interactions. This desire holds true, but over the years I have refined the concept, especially after playing games such as Fantasy Life, which have profession-like systems (or Lives) with gameplay built around them. I concluded it wouldn't be practical to bring concepts from the aforementioned game into World of Warcraft, but I do have a few suggestions that add some (optional) gameplay elements to every profession.

(Spear) Fishing

While Fishing has seen changes every once in a while, its base gameplay of casting and clicking the fishing bobber when it moves has remained the same. What has also remained constant is the complaints about how boring fishing is. While I can't promise that the following suggestion will alleviate that issue entirely, it would make the experience more seamless and interactive beyond a hotkey press and mouse click every 10-20 seconds.

In this new iteration of fishing, one can begin fishing by casting the ability as normal near a pool of water. Doing so would enable a new interface much like with Pet Battling. This interface would have notable elements such as a Stamina bar of 100 to determine how much a player can reel in and allow the player to take specific actions on a new vehicle-like actionbar. Here is how new fishing could work with this interface:
  • Fishing in general involves the player attempting to reel in a fish by "damaging" it while maintaining Stamina. If the fish's "health" reaches zero, it is reeled in, but if Stamina reaches zero, the fish gets away and junk is caught instead. Stamina gradually drains over time (at about 2 Stamina per second) when a fish is hooked.
    • Fish hooked in pools scale to the fishing skill of the player.
    • Failing to catch a fish has a chance of granting fishing skill levels. Successfully catching a fish always grant a skill level, if not multiple.
  • 1 allows the player to cast or recast a line at a targeted location. If a fish is successfully caught, the line is automatically recast. Shortly after (re)casting, a fish will be hooked, which leads to the usage of the next three actions.
  • 2 allows the player to lightly reel in the line, draining 5 Stamina and dealing some "damage" to the fish on a short (0.5 second) cooldown.
    • The "damage" of this ability scales with fishing skill.
    • This ability is easy to spam but can end up draining a lot of Stamina and is generally not that efficient.
  • 3 allows the player to aggressively reel in the line all at once, draining 25 Stamina in the process on a moderate (~5 second) cooldown.
    • This should generally deal more "damage" to the fish compared to the previous ability. "Damage" dealt by this ability scales with fishing skill.
  • 4 allows the player to let loose some line, regenerating 10 or more Stamina on a short (1 second) cooldown.
    • Additional Stamina is generated by this ability based on the fishing skill of the player.
  • An undetermined button at the end of the actionbar allows the player to quit fishing at any time.
This new system utilizes automatic recasting and the ability to cast to specific locations (especially pools) while providing short sequences of ability management in order to successfully catch fish, making the task of fishing less tedious and boring compared to the original iteration. This concept was inspired by the Thrusting Hodir's Spear daily (in addition to the aforementioned) and bears many similarities. However, unlike during Thrusting Hodir's Spear, profession skill can affect performance. The scaling ideally shouldn't be powerful enough to allow players to catch fish near instantaneously, meaning players would need to at least reel a certain amount to catch any fish regardless of skill level (by implementing damage caps on lower level fish, for example). However, this new iteration of fishing should be a little faster overall. Between the increased speed and interactivity, fishing is a profession players may be more interested in picking up.

(Mass) Crafting

When I originally explored the idea of making crafting professions more interactive, I found making minigames for what amounts to a 1-3 second cast time usually was pointless and making the activity rewarding compared to the original option would make cause issues in itself. For example, players would probably do the activity for the reward as opposed to the fun and the rewards, which could consist of bonus items or reduced material costs, would have (probably unintended) implications on the game economy. With these points in mind, I sought to go after the time consumption aspect of crafting professions and quickly settled on finding a way to speed up long periods of crafting (specifically mass crafting) for those who desire it. While time itself is valuable, one can utilize a period of downtime (like when mass crafting) to multitask, making the value more variant than a flat bonus as mentioned above.

While this option can be utilized at any time, the idea is this new type of interactivity should make any crafting activities of 10 seconds or longer (or so) more efficient. When the player opts to utilize this option, they are taken to an interface much like with the new iteration of Fishing with access to four hotkeys. They then automatically begin to craft as usual at a faster pace. Players instructed in a quick-time event fashion to press specific hotkeys at random intervals (probably roughly every 2-3 seconds) to continue the crafting. Success speeds up the process further, while failure slows it down (to a minimum of the vanilla crafting time). This means that over the course of a longer overall crafting time, the time saved is far greater. Such a feature may make crafting professions slightly more attractive for players.

(Streamlined) Gathering

Gathering professions in themselves have a bit more interactivity than crafting professions. However, if one thing became apparent regarding Garrisons that can be utilized in a constructive manner (actually there's probably many), it's considering how monotonous the act of gathering got over time even if it was in a sterile environment with lower levels of immersion. However, Warlords of Draenor did have some concepts that made gathering more attractive to do aside from the fact nodes were condensed inside of the Garrison, which resulted in the following suggestions for (non-fishing) gathering professions.

Gathering in itself would be slightly revamped. Nodes would now have to be gathered multiple times (2-4) for a lesser amount of resources (1-2 of the gathered object per gather, excluding Archaeology which would gather the normal amount of Archaeology Fragments and count as a node gather each time), but each attempt to gather would be far faster in the form of a channel over 1-2 seconds, with resources being gathered every 0.5 seconds. Materials would also be automatically looted, with excess being sent by the Postmaster to prevent players from partially looting nodes that would eventually despawn and allow players to gather with a cluttered inventory. The result of this revamp is gathering is slightly faster and more rewarding but feels far faster, dramatically more rewarding, and generally good to do at any time.

There are other notable benefits of this revamp. For example, skill leveling would be faster since each gathering of a node provides the skill level chance instead of a single gathering of a node. Also, each gather would potentially spawn a random event such as an enemy, though there definitely needs to be more fleshing out in this department since random events are largely reserved for Mists of Pandaria (and onward) Archaeology and all Warlords of Draenor gathering (excluding fishing). In general, the idea of a random event while practicing a gathering profession is to have something occur when gathering from a node to break the monotony of the task periodically.

Ultimately, the revamp might get more players interested in gathering again.


As part of an attempt to overhaul professions, I've suggested a return of more unique, yet statistically insignificant perks in terms of attributes and touched on some ways to re-balance profession productivity so that certain professions are greatly superior in terms of making money. Neither of these topics addressed gameplay directly associated with professions, so it made sense to go in that direction for what will probably be the final professions overhaul article for a while. The suggestions I've made aren't that inspiring and mostly use existing concepts overlaid on even older concepts for ease of implementation. I hope that at some point profession-related gameplay does get glanced over, which is a good possibility in the upcoming expansion of Legion.

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