Should leveling professions while leveling require farming?

| Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Earlier I advocated activities being gold-neutral. Rep grinds would give enough gold to pay for rep items. Kills and quests while leveling would give enough gold to pay for repairs, training, and mounts (excluding epic flying). Profession training would be paid for by vendoring crafted items, or selling it and the gold coming from the buyer vendoring something else; the net effect is that the crafting doesn't create or destroy gold.

Somehow I missed the other, possibly more important, part of the economy: materials.

Should professions require farming to level? I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't require materials, but how should we get those materials? Farming in this case is a non-leveling activity. This doesn't mean it can't be something that gives XP; for skinners that's nearly inevitable. But it's something done with the intent of gathering materials first and leveling second. Leveling might involve stumbling across herbs. Farming might involve stumbling across mobs.

Are professions part of leveling or are they an activity of their own? If they are not part of leveling, then we should have to farm; how much is likely to depend on the mood of the devs the day they place herb spawns and skinning tables. But, if they are part of leveling, then we should, on average, get enough materials to level a crafting profession by a 'normal' leveling pattern; some mix of instances and quests and possibly a mob grind here and there.

Note that everything is on average across the playerbase in a small range of levels. So maybe one player picks up more gold and the other picks up more skins. The idea is that there is vertical independence but possibly horizontal dependence.

Obviously if professions are not leveled while characters are leveling, then the professions will require farming. Again, this is on average; so maybe you don't farm mats but you farm gold and buy from someone who farmed mats, or someone who ran dual gathering professions; meaning that on average you still have a profession leveled while leveling (just not by the same person) and a profession not leveled while leveling (the gatherer), so someone must still farm.


Anonymous said...

In the early Days of WOW was no need to farm while leveling, because one lvlup took so long that you easily picked up the needed number of Herbs, Leather, etc.

But now levelling is so fast, that you can't earn all mats you need for profession leveling.

That just my experience.

Anonymous said...

No, you should not farm while leveling because you should be focusing on level cap. Sure level up your professions, buy materials, while you level is fine since profession items will benefit your leveling experience gains. Even though by doing so will lower your experience per hour, the benefits will enhance your ability to gain levels. Remember, time is experience.

Unknown said...

I guess I have a different approach to Professions for my toons. I try to pick professions that would assist my toon not only at level cap, but during their leveling experience.

When I leveled my Alchemy on my Paladin, I chose to keep it up with my level because then I could use the most helpful potions at that time.

Or when I chose leatherworking & skinning on my Druid. It felt great that I could create gear to wear that I was lacking in.

I guess I dont really understand why people feel that Professions are a bothersome endevor and not something put there to not only help you in end game but to assist you when getting there.

Just my thoughts,

<3 Fuu

Isa said...

I always leveled up my professions as I leveled my characters. I'm not the sort of person who will unlearn a profession to get a new one--at creation, I decide what I want that character to be able to do, and stick with it (with the exception of inscription, as I didn't have any new slots left to level a character when WotLK came out). So naturally I feel like I should be able to level my professions easily alongside my normal questing.

But I don't necessarily reject the idea of having to do a lot of farming to become skilled at a profession, I think decoupling professions from leveling can be a worthy design goal. I guess I would argue that WoW's professions have never been committed to such an idea though.

I also object to anon's assertion that farming was not needed while leveling in the early days of WoW. That was true for gathering professions, and probably some crafting professions, but not all of them. I mean, Blacksmithing is probably the most egregious offender and cherry picking my example, but you had to do a lot of extra work to level it up even back then when XP/hour progress was lower.

Hana said...

I don't think that professions should require farming if you're leveling them as you level. I hate going out of my way to make extra circuits around Thousand Needles to bring my mining up to the nodes in the area I want to quest.

Players should be encouraged to pick up a profession early to save the annoyance of going back and leveling them at 80 (or soon 85). And it's nice being able to make things that you can actually use at the level you would want them.

Chastity said...

I suspect this is one of those things that's pretty much impossible to balance, simply because people have such radically different approaches to leveling. There's no way you'll pick enough herbs to level your alchemy if you level entirely through Battlegrounds, and probably not possible if you take a full on questhelper approach to leveling. It's fairly easy if you meander.

Much as I hate to be the kind of person who says "perhaps the real question..." but perhaps the real question should be "should leveling tradeskills award XP". After all, it's a legitimate activity to perform while leveling, and makes it a more natural part of the leveling process.

Unknown said...

I'm going to have to agree with Chastity on this one.

There are quite a few games that give XP for gathering & crafting (Aion being a good example) Obviously, it's not a viable way to level mind you, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

This would encourage people to level their professions early and keep it near their current level.

Good comments :D

<3 Fuu

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous: My time farming turtles off the coast of Dustwallow disagrees.

@Anonymous: Where are we getting the excess gold to buy the large amount of materials needed to level a profession? Before Outland, leveling is not a very profitable activity. It isn't efficient to buy a profession while leveling; you're pulling in much less gold than you would if you waited until max level, and you're constantly running right past the mats that would level your profession.

But I guess I'll take that as a "leveling professions should be farmed", since someone is farming the mats, even if it's not you.

@Fuubaar: Journey vs. destination; tis a perpetual split. I'm often picked professions which I thought fit my character; most notably my LW shaman and engineering paladin. The paladin was part of a larger concept of immitating someone else.

@Isa: Decoupling professions from leveling; how would that work? Unless professions started out making high-level gear, there will be the link between character level and crafted gear level. Materials could be independant of level, but that might just get confusing or terribly grinding; for example by finding copper and thorium in the same zone, or having 100 copper instead of a thorium ba for crafting. Maybe I'm rambling off a misinterpretation of you.

@Hana: Oh... bad memories... dwarf... herbalism and mining... hurts...

@Chastity: Balance, perhaps not. But Blizzard could imagine an intended or expected manner of leveling which will give sufficient materials. Too many BGs and you might have too farm, no BGs and you might get to visit the AH profitably.

@Fuubaar: Would orange-level crafts give XP? Or lots of profession-based quests? I think the first might only cause people to buy levels. The second would add a lot of flavor and would be quite fun I think. I especially liked the blacksmithing chains, even if the heavy farming wasn't so good.

Isa said...


No, I think you interpreted correctly. I agree that decoupling profession and XP leveling would have to be done through the materials, and that at least in a game like WoW there would always be a link between gear level and character level. And that it could get very grindy. I have to think it would require careful design and management of the player economy as well.

I'm not really in favor of it personally, as I said I liked leveling my professions as I went. I just know there are people out there who would enjoy just being a crafter and not having to XP level at all. So that's why I say it could be a worthy design goal; it just doesn't really work for WoW.

Unknown said...

@ Klep

I could see a mix of professional quests, XP from gathering (herbs, skinning, mining), from crafting (Orange giving a higher XP per craft verse green while Grays give none). It could even go so far as giving more XP if the quality was higher.

I think this would not only give people an insentive to work on their professions earlier, but keep them at it all the way through level cap. This could even make professions a bit more fun too! You don't have to make 25 Belts of the Eagle to get your skillups because you could do a quest instead. I dont know.

Possibilites are endless!

Bri said...

From a game design perspective, there's a few reasons why professions are balanced to always be slightly behind the levelling curve.

Firstly, it's to give you something different to do. It's important to have a few diverse goals and activities in a game. Too many and you feel like you're not making progress with any of them. Too few, and you feel forced into rail-gameplay.

Secondly, it gives you choices on how to get the additional resources you need to keep your crafting on par with your combat level. Do you go farm them yourself, thus satisfying the explorer? Do you make a deal with another player, suitable for the socializer? Do you buy them from the AH, thus learning the AH and providing gameplay for those who enjoy economic activity? This last point, learning the AH, is a big one.

Lastly, it's meant to feel like an achievement when you level your professions, not just something that happens while you're questing. Thus some extra effort is baked-in to provide that.

The issue has been exacerbated by adjustments to the speed of levelling, as some have pointed out. We can't always look at these things with the jaded eye of the experienced WoW player. When these levelling curves were designed, there was a lot more wandering looking for quest mobs, on foot for 40 levels, and therefore more herbs to pick along the way. Think about it .. are you more likely to stop and pick that herb when you're running past on foot, or when you're speeding by on your mount?

Klepsacovic said...

@Isa: We really should start writing down all these great ideas we have for games other than WoW. Maybe they could make something comparable. Oh. Oh hey this is convenient, we get to blame new companies making bad MMOs for not reading our blogs and comments!

@Fuubaar: Quest-based profession leveling would be a fun alternative to the afk crafting. XP for gathering might only encourage even more focus on dual gathering professions for leveling, which just means farming up for the crafting profession later. The crafting profession XP gain could be enough to overcome this, but comparing XP+gold with slightly more XP but no gold, the gathering would seem to win.

@Bri: I think you've converted me. Professions should seem like more than an inevitable process of leveling. I don't think there should be a huge amount of farming (fuck you so very much, blacksmithing), but enough to show that professions aren't weapon skills that effectively follow us through levels.

I was more likely to pick that herb when I was running by in ghost wolf because I was 44 and still couldn't afford riding. Okay I lied, I was a skinner/LW.

Bri said...

"We really should start writing down all these great ideas we have for games other than WoW."

Anytime you or anyone else wants to put together a consortium of bloggers to design an MMO from all of our ideas, I will enthusiastically throw my mouse into the ring.. :)

Kitty said...

I personally don't try to level my professions while I'm leveling because I want to keep it even and not have to farm, as much as I do because the items I get with my professions are useful. That's just me.

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