One takeaway from the shutdown of the Gateway a month ago clearly is that the current professions system has failed. Sure, the Gateway has been heavily botted because it was easy to do so. But the fact that professional botters have moved ingame to automate professions shows the Gateway only offered an easier path and wasn’t the sole reason. At the same time professions are not very fun or useful to players. The market for assets and craftsmen has long plummeted, because nobody needs them. I want to discuss some ideas for the profession system that makes botting less significant and adds more gameplay impact.
Let’s start by talking about the reasons why professions are being botted. The truth is that the system is structured in a way that bots can much more efficiently do tasks than an actual human being. You could even go further and reason it’s a system made to be automated. Leveling is repetitive and the quicker the task, the greater the gain. Additionally everything minus Masterwork can be leveled just using the professions system. A bot doesn’t have to be maintained in any way. It can just run and will eventually hit max level. If you want to prevent botting, the system is going to need a complete overhaul.
Not enough gameplay relevance
Additionally professions don’t feature enough gameplay relevance. Most professions only offer useful tasks at the max level, another reason why leveling feels random and tedious. It’s also mostly unattached to other features. If you think of a professions system you think of going out to the world and gathering resources, but that’s not what you do while leveling. All resources you need to level up are provided by the professions themselves. Nodes do land additional ones, but they are not needed at all. This as already mentioned creates the weird state in which the system can maintain itself and is easy to bot.
Let’s hit the streets
I think it’s relatively easy to make botting much harder. You just need to combine ingame activity with the profession system. So far all you need to do is bring a character to level 10 and you are able to level all professions to 25. With the Gateway you didn’t even need to login once, but even without it the issue still remains. I don’t see a reason why professions should exist in their own microcosm, at least not leveling up.
Any system works where you need outside resources to progress. It could be as complex as unique quest chains to level professions or as simple as dailies. In such a system you would completely shift the XP from the profession tasks to the quests. Or how about getting XP for farming nodes? Isn’t that what professions should be about? It would be pretty cool if you could level professions out in the world if you ask me. Adding more dailies to the players’ routines might not be the best idea, but at least you actually have to invest real game time into developing a profession and not just click time.
Make professions steady companions
Next we need to look at the tasks. I really don’t like that professions don’t accompany a character while leveling. Pretty much all the lower level tasks are crap because it’s much better to just pick up what drops from mobs. Even if professions were adjusted to be a steady companion and deliver slightly better gear for your level than mobs, toons simply grow too fast. Crafted items would be obsolete within hours, probably making the extra effort not viable. I’m not sure there’s a great solution here, but I think you could do a better job of leveling some professions with your character. Taking the quest chain idea from above toons could hit 70 with Leatherworking/Smithing/Tailoring maxed out if they do all of their profession quests as well. What would be the harm?
Tasks need adjustments too
At level 25 the tasks face the same challenges as profession leveling. You don’t want a system in which bots can thrive. A good solution once again would be to tie the best tasks to outside resources. That’s especially important if the devs want to continue their approach of developing professions into the main source of sellable BoE gear. You can’t have situations where the professions themselves provide all resources for the tasks. This would include Unified Elements, which is why I don’t like the new tasks of Sea of Moving Ice that produce the old Elemental Evil Artifact Weapons.
Back in Fury of the Feywild and Shadowmantle Artificing and Weaponsmithing allowed to forge BIS weapons with parts farmed in the dungeons of the modules. It’s a pretty classic example of how tasks could be structured to deliver significant items without being abused. Masterwork works in a similar way because you actually need to farm the nodes, and the resources are not provided by other tasks.
I also think using professions as enhancer is not a bad idea. I didn’t like how they handled Black Ice in Module three, but bringing professions into campaign progress could still work. Let’s say there’s a Voninblod consuming task that turns 10 Ten-Towns Supplies or Reputation into 15. Would you do it? It would be important that these tasks are not part of the normal campaign progression, but a true shortcut.
When talking botting you always end up talking about Leadership. I think professions need everyday viability and players something to show for their effort. Leadership delivers both, but needs no outside maintenance whatsoever. Once at level 25, you just need to log in once or twice per day and never have to touch the corresponding character again.
What you could do is introduce a system of temporary assets and craftsmen for the profession. Think of it as acquiring followers through different tasks you do as adventurer. These followers offer their help for a certain amount of time (48 hours) and are consumed by tasks. I don’t think this should be a full own grind though. Let dailies generate white assets, T1 dungeons and skirmishes green ones, T2 dungeons Adventurers and FBI Heros. Pretty much every activity you do throughout the Sword Coast should net you some assets that can be used for Leadership in the next 48 hours.
Since this is a lot more work for players, the tasks could return more refining points or even rough Astral Diamonds again.
The transmute profession
MMO players love a good transmute and the profession system could contribute to this desire. A transmute profession wouldn’t need to be leveled, but unlocks tasks for different looks as you travel the world. Several low-level bosses in the zones drop unique items with unique looks. On defeating them, they could unlock the looks in the profession. On completing the Sharandar campaign, it unlocks the tasks for the transmutes in the campaign store. This not only creates a database for unique transmutes, but also rewards exploring. You could even go further and tie unique profession transmutes to hidden bosses, titles and achievements.
Granted, a wardrobe that just unlocks all looks and lets players reuse them whenever is much better, but in case the devs want to retain the current approach, such a profession could help a lot. The one downside is that you might need to find another purpose for the Maze Engine daily, which is the main source for transmutes right now.
That’s it folks! I hope you liked reading through my suggestions for a better profession system. In case you have own ideas or general feedback, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or in the corresponding thread on our message board!
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