Simply Inconvenient or Complexly Convenient

| Thursday, June 2, 2011
A new item drops and you win the roll or bid. It is now yours. Also, you are a developer with mad skills and right now, at this very second, you can rewrite the item enhancement system.

Would you rather have one enchant that is hard to get or an enchant, a few gems, reforging, and possibly the same to a few other items?

You may have noticed that I am presenting a false choice. That is intentional. I'm trying to look at two extremes, without all that messy middle ground and picking and choosing individual features. I can do that in other posts.

You may also have noticed that this is essentially comparing the vanilla enchanting system with the current one. Before LK there were no vellum, so when enchanters wanted to sell their services, they had to interact face to face with the customer. This was inconvenient for everyone involved, plus the trade spammers had to deal with people spamming trade looking for enchants or customers. Add lockboxes, UBRS keys, and portals to the mix and it's no wonder we needed a global LFG channel for our spam chat.

Contrast this with the current system in which we can easily get our gems and enchants off the AH and the reforging trainers aren't so far away. The needed materials are not so rare as to be impossible to find, in the rare case that you need a crafter. Whereas essence of air required a flight from Orgrimmar all the way to Silithus. And then there were the shoulder and leg enchants, which rather than being crafted or from a simple if slow rep grind, instead required raids of one sort or another, excluding a generic resist enchant which merely required a simple if slow rep grind, plus a simple if slow mob grind (unless you planned ahead and combined them).
If you somehow missed it, Spinks had a recent post on this.
Am I really the only person who would prefer to be able to just grab a cool drop and be ready to go without being asked to do all the legwork for an extra minor bonus? It’s funny, once I used to find these extra complexities so cool. I think that I’m over it now, or at least I’ve done it over again in enough games that I’d rather just cut to the chase.

Note that when the only deficiency on a new item was an enchant, upgrades were upgrades on the spot, so you could use it right away, even if you were going to eventually go get it enchanted. Now the lack of gems and enchant will make fresh off the boss gear usually worse than existing gear. Also thanks to jewelcrafting, and reinforced by reforging, having the proper caps has become more important than it used to be, mostly because back then we didn't have the option to dramatically change our gear.

You might have assumed that I agree that it is annoying to have to regem, reforge, and reenchant before even considering using a new item.
Don’t forget to regem and reforge all your other gear since now you’re above or below a necessary stat cap.

Here’s what is strange to me: back when we only had to get enchants, it was harder to find enchanters. No scrolls on the AH, so we’d end up in major cities looking for them. Half the time we’d have to go farm some special mat like essences of air or crusader orbs. It was an altogether inconvenient system.

Now it is all very conveniently placed on the AH: gems and enchants, or nearby at the reforging elf. And yet it feels more annoying.

Well you'd be right.

Note that I am not using complex to indicate difficulty, just that it adds more steps and stuff to manage.

So given the false choice of liberty or death, I mean no-scroll enchanting-only or easy but complex gems, reforging, and enchants, which would you prefer?

P.S. I noticed that I never quite explicitly stated that one of the assumptions of the no-scroll enchanting is also that gear wouldn't take us near enough to hit/expertise caps for us to worry about being a bit high or low: we'd just always be low.


Kring said...

The vanilla enchantment system can't work if the item itself doesn't really matter. Back in the good old days an upgrade meant something and you were keeping it for along time because the raids weren't loot showers (40 man for 2 random set pieces instead of 10 man for 1 generic set token.)

Getting a head enchant from Zul'Gurub took way more time then getting a new head from current tiers.

The first step to make enchantments matter again would be to make items matter again.

Caramael said...

Definitely no-scroll enchanting-only.
I think "stats" are stupid and distract from the game. Imo items should just have an abstract power indication (crappy, rusty, shiny, beaming, planet-vaporizing etc.). Enchants should be hard to get and add something "cool". Like some extra damage and a glowing effect (remember the huge popularity of the Minor Beastslayer enchant?), or something like life leech, shooting rainbows, freezing stuff, etc.

Klepsacovic said...

@Kring: On the other hand, if items mattered more, maybe we'd not mind doing so much work to get them integrated into our sets.

@Caramael: Theorycrafters would quickly prove that rusty gear is just a confusing way of saying +2 defense. Though I would like to see enchanting do more interesting stuff, but engineering should be first in line for that! I might be biased.

Anonymous said...

Complexity is in the eye of the beholder. Any system is complex until you get the hang of it.

Gems and scrolls provide two professions with the much needed ability to sell things and therefore make those professions worthwhile.

This was one of the most primary issues with professions when WoW came out, it makes complete sense for them to do this.

Also, with reforging, it allows a ton more gear to be useful instead of just sharded. So you're categorically wrong on reforging being something that makes gear less useful, it makes all gear MORE useful.

Klepsacovic said...

Complexity isn't merely a relative thing. If there are two steps, that is more complex than one step. For this I'm defining steps as the simplest possible actions, so that 2 is always more than 1.

I'm not seeing where I said reforging makes gear less useful. What I am saying is that the high number of needed alterations make gear useless "out of the box" as it were. I like reforging, but I think it is merely covering up the unfortunate results of a system that throws tons of gear at us very quickly, which makes any individual piece rather meaningless, though not useless.

Strawfellow said...

Honestly, I think stuff like that just makes the game more work for players than it does fun.

Sure, you can put it under the guise of "adding more choices" but in reality, every spec and class in WoW has the optimal choice, and if you're not using those you are going to be laughed out of your dungeon/raid group.

Minor tangent here, but this is one of the reasons I stopped raiding in WoW. I wanted to play a game, do cool stuff and get better gear. Then I realized that I needed a spreadhseet to figure out my optimal enchants, gems, reforging, and where I could get upgrades from. And suddenly doing dungeons wasn't fun anymore, because it was work.

I'll take the single enchant system please, where the enchants don't affect stats, they are simply procs or extra abilities. That way, better gear is simply better gear.

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