Fixing Archaeology: some thoughts

I enjoy Archaeology – to the point that I levelled 83-85 entirely on digging, and I occasionally get sidetracked by it to get somewhere else. (“Oooh, a digsite in my path, I’ll just dig that one up and then carry on with what I was doing… oh hey, another one spawned nearby… ooooh, I’m just a few fragments short of a complete…” [much later] “Hey, where did the last hour go?”)

It still could use a lot of changes to make it more enjoyable for players. When the only change to the profession mentioned in the 4.0.6 patch notes so far is essentially “We’re not letting you stack up fragments while levelling so you can complete artifacts at higher skill levels and have a higher chance of getting the items you actually want – you’re going to dig up junk and like it!”… yeah. I got angry too.

Gavendo’s post on improving Archaeology has several good ideas on how to make the profession less painful, and some of them overlap with mine (including “get rid of the cooldown on Survey already”). Here’s mine.

Make the survey tool stay put and not disappear until you dig again or move X yards away from it.

This is a fairly big annoyance for me, since I will often be distracted from the game at just the wrong moment and have to re-dig in the same spot just to see which direction the survey tool was pointing.

Add new rare artifacts to the Fossil branch or lower the chance of Fossil digsite spawns.

There are two rares in the Fossil branch (the mount and the pet), and they’re really easy to find so most people will complete both before even hitting the skill cap – and yet whenever you finish up with a digsite in Eastern Kingdoms or Kalimdor, it has roughly a 1 in 4 chance of spawning as a Fossil one. It doesn’t help that most Fossil digsites are large and sprawling, requiring a lot more in-site travel time to pin down where exactly your survey tool is pointing.

And speaking of Fossils –

Make the Fossil fragment container more visible.

This adds to the “oh god, not another one of those” irritation. It’s flat and low to the ground, and as such it can be difficult to find exactly where it is in areas with dense foliage, especially if they’re not very well lit (I have Ungoro so much you have no idea). Make it taller, bigger, sparklier, whatever as long as I don’t have to caaaaaarefully run my mouse over the area around my character’s feet to find the stupid thing. (I’m aware other fragment containers are also quite small, such as Tol’vir and Vrykul – but the areas they’re found in don’t hide them nearly as much as Fossil containers.)

Make common artifacts more useful and/or interesting.

To avoid the “great, more vendor junk” thing. There are several ways to do this:

  • Set up a NPC that will let you trade junk artifacts for keystones. Even a punitive exchange rate would add some value.
  • Make at least some of the clothes and weapons equippable. White BoE would be ideal (the fact that they’re so insanely common would keep them from being too profitable), white BoA the next best thing. Some of us roleplay or enjoy dressing up bank alts – this would give us a reason to keep digging up common after common after common after common.
  • Add some green and/or blue items, equippable and useful, into the mix. Make them less common than the greys, but more common than the epics. Hell, make them have a random suffix similar to world-drop greens – and make the quality random, too. Even a 50% chance of grey / 35% green / 15% blue would be something. Again, BoE would be ideal (availability would keep prices down, and you’d always have the chance of “winning the lottery” and getting a blue item with a fantastic suffix and selling it for a lot, similar to the chances of getting a world-drop blue), BoA the next best thing.

That’s pretty much all I can think of for now. Like I said, I like Archaeology, and I’ll definitely keep digging even if the profession remains as it is – but it could be so much better.

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2 Responses to “Fixing Archaeology: some thoughts”

  1. “Make the survey tool stay put and not disappear until you dig again or move X yards away from it.” — I particularly like this idea, it makes the whole experience seem a bit more real I think. Thumbs up!

    Regarding the fossils, I have the same situation. But with troll dig sites, there are troll dig sites all over eastern kingdoms and somehow all over kalimdor as well and I really don’t want anything troll, ever, at all, nada, zip, non! I dream of fossil dig sites!

    Anyway, point here is that all of the races will eventually be one of those races that you don’t want to dig up for any reason and being forced to dig it up will only annoy you. Which is why I’m hoping for being able to choose more what race you’re going for.

    Cheers,
    Gav

    • True. The unfortunate thing is, I don’t think Blizzard will ever move away from the current model for digsites. They seem to be quite fond of the grindiness of the profession (see also: the incredible amount of nifty items from Tol’vir, when getting Tol’vir digsites to spawn is likely to make you lose the will to live). I would love to be able to choose what to dig up or even just narrow it down a little bit – I just don’t see it happening. :/

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