Moo Tang Clan: random discoveries vs crafted inventions

Sunday, February 10, 2008

random discoveries vs crafted inventions

I'm both liking and disliking the alchemy discovery system in WoW right now. I'm liking it in that it rewards continuing effort at crafting, but disliking how it seems so random. I do like how the discoveries for the major protection cauldrons are tied to making the relevant potions, but all the other recipes are pure chance, and that I'm not excited about. It smacks of a boring grind for a lucky result.

This got me thinking about more directed efforts towards discovery, a way of experimenting. Blizzard could introduce a new "Experimentation" skill, which you get from each trainer at the end of each skill level (apprentice, journeyman, expert, artisan, master).

With this skill the player would select which herbs and other components to combine and then click the button to see if anything happens. Most combinations would result in some kind of [Vile Concoction of X] which gives a debuff or even damage on consumption. Some combinations however, in combination with luck, would be just the right combination resulting in discovering a new recipe which give slightly better results than similar regular potions, or maybe give a combination effect (eg. healing + swiftness).

If the player is close to getting just the right combination, perhaps they would be rewarded with a [Imperfect Healing Potion] or a [Bitter Healing Potion]. The results would be substandard, but the name suggests they are getting close to discovering something interesting. The nature of the substandard result might be lowered efficacy (eg. less healing than what you could get from a different recipe of the same components), or a debuff of some kind (not unlike the Fel Ache debuff you get with Fel Mana potions). It'd be funny to see an [Imperfect Swiftness Potion] which not only gives a +50% speed buff but also a -50% speed debuff, or a [Spoiled Adepts Elixer] which can only be used by warriors.

It would also be interesting to try combining both high level and low level herbs together, which might result in a secondary market for the low level herbs once again, or at least return visits to the old world. Hmm .. high level toons competing with low level toons for low level herbs .. that may be not such a good idea.

The system could even be rolled out such that the combinations necessary actually vary from realm server to realm server. For example: a [Potent Healing Potion] might be made from 2x Golden Sansam, Mountain Silversage, and Silverleaf on the Dath'Remar server, but be made from 2x Golden Sansam, Mountain Silversage, and Peacebloom on the Frostmourne server. Meanwhile, on some other server, it would require 1x Golden Sansam, Mountain Silversage, and 6x Peacebloom.

Differing recipes on a per server basis would have the effect of nullifying the game spoiling effect of online databases, retaining the game element of experimentation and invention, the game mechanic of economic demand for lots of different herbs (with many efforts resulting in a [Vile Concoction]), and the prestige of being one of the few who know how to craft certain rare potions (because no one else has yet figured out how to).

All this could probably be applied to other crafting professions too.

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