Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Fall of Archaeology

A very interesting Cataclysm Press Release came out to the public this week and there are some huge changes to the next expansion. Instead of a full ten levels with new talents at the end and such, a new secondary profession archaeology was supposed to be linked with Path of the Titans, a new way to customize and improve your characters. The whole gist, if you did not know about it beforehand, was that you go dig up some lore artifacts and such all over Azeroth and benefit by getting additional skills to customize your character. But Path of the Titans has been nixed for Cataclysm, which means archaeology is completely optional (Blizzard said so themselves).

And just like that, one of the nifty selling points of Cataclysm is gone. While I appreciate that the new secondary profession will be a nifty way to learn some more lore, it basically comes into the game as the new fishing, which is to say, completely useless. At least cooking and first aid have uses from time to time (cooking moreso than anything). I like fishing as a timewaster, and without any motivation to take on another secondary profession, I'll maybe just ignore it completely. Which is bad because not only did Blizzard plan big things for it, they spent countless hours of development dollars on this profession which will immediately be useless.

To "make up" for this cutting off the new profession at the knees, the announcement also said Inscription will be getting a makeover to some extent because it did not work out as well as planned. It's hard to match the success of Jewelcrafting, it really is. So now there will be medium level glyphs, which sounds profitable for scribes. But then they also announced that once you know a glyph, it will go into a list like a spell list and be reusable after every respec. Just like that, the profitability of Inscription just died a painful death. Sure, new glyphs will be marketable for a couple weeks, but it's just not going to matter anymore if you buy them once and forget about them. As a non-scribe, I'm OK with these changes but feel bad for those who expected more out of the profession and leveled it.

The other major news is also not good, as the guild leveling process stays in the game but without guild talents and guild currency. While this could have caused some serious issues for both my guilds as the largest guilds on each faction of Earthen Ring, I thought it was a brilliant move to add a way to really customize yourself for PvP or raiding or whatever it is you do. It appears between starcraft II and the beginning of diablo III, Azeroth just could not get enough development time for Blizzard to keep all their expectations.

This will certainly worry the Chicken Little mentalities out there who think the sky is falling because Blizzard is moving in more and more ways to monetize WoW (highlighted recently by the $3/month remote auction house going live). However, people must realize that Cataclysm is not dead and the game is not dead because of these changes. It would have been nice to have archaeology better, but you have to focus on the important things and that's developing good PvP and raiding content as well as really sparkling new zones and changes to the base world of Azeroth. That's a massive undertaking, and I hope by cutting these admittedly fringe benefits out of Cataclysm, it means what blizzard does deliver will be outstanding. The game is on the downslide, but that does not mean that blizzard is looking to ruin their reputation with bad product.

So all in all, I'm a bit disappointed in the news, but life goes on. The fanatics over the stupid dance studio are still bickering, but there's more important things in the game than professions and more important things in life than features in a video game. So complain today, but look ahead to tomorrow, when the content hopefully is as good as we've come to expect.

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