For me, one of the most important aspects of any online game is the crafting system (if there is one). There is nothing quite like the feeling of being able to gather up materials and put them together to create some awesome gear. I love to be able to look at something, say ‘I made that’ and then beat someone over the head with it.
What do you mean I cannot make anything useful!
This is why when I started playing World of Warcraft for the first time (back in the days before even the first expansion) it blew my mind. In the offline RPGs I had being playing previously there was maybe a castle to upgrade or bits of a sword to collect, but never had I seen such a crafting tree.
When my first ever character set out in to Azeroth determined to be a tailor I was excited with the possibilities. The cloth I needed seemed to drop often enough that I always seemed to make something level appropriate and useful. Back then there was no dungeon finder and so (for someone who did not know many other players) the great loot from the dungeons was often off-limits.
So when I returned to Azeroth this summer with my panda monk, I looked forward to being decked out in some brilliant home-made leather (at least for a while). However, for a game that has revamped zone and introduced new classes, the structure of the crafting system appears unchanged (at the lower end of the spectrum). In fact, now that the levelling speed has been increased, you often find yourself leaving a zone before you have reached the skinning level required for the mobs in the next one. Also there seems to be a mismatch between the mobs that drop the required leather and the level requirements for the item created. For example Dusky Leather Armor required 10 Heavy Leather and has a level requirement of 30, from wow-professions (an excellent professions guide) I know that the yetis in Feralas are my best source, but these are 5 levels above the required level for the item. So by the time I am capable of taking them down in sufficient numbers the item itself that I set out to make is obsolete.
Then there is the dungeon finder, back in the old days it was hard to get a group together for a dungeon (particularly if you did not have an active guild) and so it was quite hard for players to get the dungeon rewards (which often contained some really good gear). Now that all you need to do is que and wait for a group to form people can run the dungeons repeatedly and quickly, thus they are easily able to get gear which is superior to that which can be crafted. I am not saying the dungeon finder is a bad thing, it has allowed me to experience parts of the game I would not be able to otherwise, but it would be nice to see them make changes to the crafting system to make it feel more relevant earlier on. Maybe there could be more recipes dropping in those earlier dungeons or a special dungeon resource that can be used to craft amazing lower-level gear.
I am by no means saying that the crafting system is bad; once you get out of vanilla and outlands it seems to find its stride again. However I would love to feel that sense of achievement I feel when crafting an item with my max level paladin, when I am crafting something for my mid-level monk. I don’t want to be grinding my crafting skill through to level 70-80 in order for it to become relevant. That said, its time for me to go farm fel scales, see you later (a lot later!).
I am going to outland, I may be some time.