Archaeology Rant

I have to say, I am a bit upset with the archaeology secondary skill. I commend Blizzard for some of the quality of life changes that they have made to the profession, but they clearly have not gone far enough. On the grand scale of things, I play quite allot more than a casual player. I have much pity for those casual players who attempt to use this profession to gain anything other than random stuff they most likely will never use. I, like many veteran players, have a main toon that I’ve played throughout the years. When achievements were added to the game, I enjoyed many hours of game play building up my achievements on my main toon. I endured the initial phase of archaeology, gallantly chasing after troll dig sites  in order to get the coveted Zin’Rokh, Destroyer of Worlds. A beautiful two-handed sword who’s name matched it artistic prowess. I understood it was a rare find and would take allot of work. So there I was, day after day, submitting myself to the torture of trying to obtain Troll dig sites in order for another chance at this item. Patch after Patch came and went and still no sword. Cataclysm came and went, and I was still unable to obtain the sword I desired from a profession that I now thought had failed to live up to expectations.

In the final days of Cataclysm, I switched archaeology goals and decided to go for the Vial of Sands Recipe. I am an avid recipe collector and maintain many alts in order to supply myself with the various offerings each profession supplies. I was ecstatic to learn about the existence of this recipe. Then immediately discovered the dread surrounding actually obtaining it. Here I was an already accomplished archaeologist on my main toon with a goal that revitalized my interest in the profession. Then I learn that the recipe, unlike ALL the other EPIC quality rare archaeology finds that released with the new profession, is soulbound and NOT account bound. Seriously? Who made that decision and WHY hasn’t it been fixed yet? Still, to this day, this recipe remains soulbound, with no chance of the recipe ever appearing unless the active toon using this dreadful profession is an alchemist of notable skill. Fine, I give in, like we all do. I muster up my sanity and venture out on my alchemist to make it an archaeologist as well, for the off chance that I might get this damned recipe. Skilling up the profession was easy, got to max skill level in no time. Then spent the rest of Cataclysm failing to find, not only the recipe, but hardly ever getting a canoptic jar, which is the randomized item you have to get and then open for yet another randomized chance at the recipe dropping. Now we roll into Pandaria, with many great archaeology changes. The rares this expansion are allot easier to get, I’ve managed to collect them all on both my archaeologists now. I still continue to attempt both the Sword on my main and the Recipe on my alt. I have for the past 10 days, spent hours upon hours trying to get this recipe. I’ve even gotten to the point where I use a Sonic Emitter to focus my dig site spawning to a limited area to optimize my time gathering crates to turn in for a paltry amount of Tol’Vir fragments. I go through hundred a day and only see the canoptic jar 2 or 3 times. Still no damned recipe. This is better than trying to go to Kalimdor and try to farm Tol’Vir dig sites, because crossing the continent back and forth in order to clean up Night Elf and Night Elf dig site to get maybe 1 or 2 Tol’Vir dig sites to show up in an hour is a complete waste of time and effort.

It’s exhausting to try to use the profession for anything what so ever. Who wants to spend countless hours traveling vast distances only to never receive that which you seek. The drop rates of Cataclysm archaeology rares NEEDS to be adjusted. It’s a vastly unrewarding profession with far too little satisfaction. A profession should be designed in a matter that as you approach higher skill levels with it,  it becomes easier to achieve your end goals. Archaeology is profession devoid of depth and relies far too much on RNG to control its results. I have some ideas for improving the profession in its current state, to make it slightly less daunting for those of us that actually have goals with the profession, though I think the profession as a whole needs a rework from the ground up that encompasses resolution for the dysfunctional original dig sites and artifact sets.

Here are some concepts, that I’ve submitted to Blizzard through the suggestion interface in game. Though I doubt they are seriously read or considered despite the claim that “All suggestions are read and considered”.

  1. As you skill-up archaeology you gain a usable skill that scales in accordance to your skill level. This skill called “Mass Collection” for the sake of argument, allows the archaeologist to harvest all the fragmented located in the current dig site in one 10 second cast. This skill is on a 30 minute cooldown to avoid completely obsoleting the survey system. As the player’s skill level becomes more advanced in the profession, it unlocks the ability to use the Mass Collection ability on the various races similar to unlocking new race dig sites. The skill can only be used to harvest the fragments of a race that of the previous tier compared to your skill level. For example, if you have unlocked the Cataclysm level dig site, your Mass Collection ability can be used only on dig sites from Vanilla, Outlands and Wrath of the Lich King. This type of ability gives a scaling diversity that improves collections of previous tier fragments and escalating solves of older digs while preserving the current end game dynamic of the profession. This type of ability also allows the more casual players a chance to use the profession to its potential without having to sacrifice other aspects of the game they enjoy.
  2. Allow race specialization. Once you’ve unlocked a race you can choose to select it as your specialization. This specialization can be changed at will by performing some menial task or quest at your discretion. The purpose of specializing in a race would grant two bonuses. The first would be anytime you collect fragments from any dig site (including ones of your race of focus) you have chance say, 20/25% of gathering additional fragments of your specialized race equal to 1/3 or 1/2 of the fragments you just collected in your survey. This can be attributed to your attuned senses to the race finding connections between other races or just simply have a more keen eye for fragments of the focused race. The second bonus would be your eagerness and expertise with the race of your choice produces a higher chance of a dig site of that race spawning when a new dig site spawns.
  3. Faster travel, dig sites are in static places around the various continents. The archeologists of the world would have over time setup more direct routes to these locations so they can be more appropriately studied. All dig sites should have neutral flight paths which connect directly to each other dig site on the continent. These flight paths do not connect to any of the traditional flight paths, moved in a direct route to their destination dig site, can only be used by players of an appropriate profession skill level and can only be used to move to an active dig site.
  4. Allow fragment trading between players. This would be another avenue for casual players to remedy their lack of time to devote to such a consuming profession. Devote an auction house purely for the buying and selling of fragments and key stones. Players would finally have a means of making money off the profession aside from the half-assed gold value update for pre-pandaria greys.
  5. Give a player a low chance to uncover a partially completely project of the appropriate race when collecting fragments. These items could be unbound and tradable, and when used will change the current project for the intended race to a specific project or even a random new project. This would help players get to those projects the so desperately wish to complete.

In conclusion I have to say over all I am disappointed with the profession. It relies too heavily on RNG to make it a worth while time investment for any serous player. The survey system is clunky at times and the default interface is sorely lacking in appeal and functionality. Take a look at some of the addons the community has made for this profession and you’ll get a better understanding of what your player base wants out of their profession interfaces. I hope that one day my issues with the profession are resolved. I hope that some of my ideas are either used or spark the imagination of the right individual make some of the necessary changes this profession needs. Until then, I damn you Blizzard, I damn you for making such a time consuming process to obtain some of the things in this game that I desire and can’t seem to let go of so I continue to use this clunky, unrewarding, ill-equipped system to try and finally achieve my goals.

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