How to Fix Archeology   17 comments

I’ve spent a fair bit of time this expansion doing nothing but flying around and digging in the dirt.  In fact, there have been entire weekends when I’ll sit down in front of an NCIS marathon on TV and dig for hours on end…every day.  I have dug until I have found myself literally asleep at the keyboard and putting myself to bed.  Every so often I’ll come to my senses and say “fuck this bullshit” and give up on Archeology.  I think of all the time wasted, and all of the fun things I’d rather be doing – like washing my hair.

I’m sure there is someone out there reading that is thinking “if you hate it, why do you even do it”.  Well, I’m glad you asked (even if it was internal!).  I first started doing Archeology because one of our early Best in Slot trinkets, Tyrande’s Favorite Doll, came from the profession.  And as a raider, who wants to be as prepared as possible for content, I felt obligated to go farm the damn thing.  And so I dug and dug and dug.   Lo and behold, my last Night Elf discovery was Tyrande’s damn doll.  I wore that doll up until I got my Shard of Woe, it was that good.  In our early raids (before druids got buffed), I was getting enviable amounts of mana return from that one trinket. 

I suppose I could say it was “worth it” – but the fun factor was pretty much in the red.  Every time I came across a dig site that wasn’t Night Elf I was more frustrated with how I was having to waste my valuable time flying all the way down to Tanaris and Un’goro, only to have to make the five plus minute flight back north for the Night Elf site that would spawn next.  Sure, I made use of things like Jaina’s Locket (fast trip to Tanaris every hour) and Teleport:Moonglade.  But that only made things mildly less tedious.

So why do I still dabble in Archeology?  Well, you see, I’m an avid pet collector.  I have something like 184 of them.  I really enjoy these little critters that join me on all of my adventures and make me giggle from time to time.  And I want to collect them all.  So that means torturing myself with Archeology.  I have the fossil pets, I have the troll pets, I even have the damn dwarf pet (solely from that ONE dwarf dig on Kalimdor…that should tell you how much shit I’ve dug up on that continent).  But one pet still alludes me.

The Crawling Claw.

I have done something like 164 Tol’vir solves and I have yet to see this “find” pop up after a solve.  I’ve got enough ancient Tol’vir masterpieces to curate a museum.  I have enough Scandalous Silk Nightgowns to open an Azshara’s Secret.  I’ve gotten enough gold filled teeth to make a set of dentures for Sen’jin himself.  And yet I still do not have a crawling claw.

And the same frustrations that I felt farming the Doll still plague me…only worse, because I still probably get 10 NE digs to every one Tol’vir dig that I have.  And what makes this even more sad is that they have supposedly changed it so that if you have completed all of the solves for one race you have a greater chance of getting one of the other race’s digs.  I call bullshit on this – just ask me how many times over the past few months the entirety of my Kalimdor digs available are all Night Elf.  And I completed all 7 Night Elf artifacts in the first month of the expansion.

So, I spend countless hours flying north, then south again, then going “well, flying south for ONE Tol’vir dig seems wasteful – I may as well just stay up here and clear all of these worthless digs out”.  Every time yet another Night Elf dig spawns, it’s demoralizing.  Every time I complete a Tol’vir solve and yet another castle of sand pops up I want to stomp through it like Uldum’s version of Godzilla. RAWR!

Since I’ve had a year of wasting my time with Archeology, and since it’s so damn not engaging, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how Archeology could have been great, or how it could still be improved.

How To Improve Archeology

  • *uses best Ghostcrawler Blizzcon voice* Archeology – GONE!  (hah – I crack myself up).
  • Ok, seriously.  Fixing archeology is such a simple fix.  It’s completely mind-boggling that it hasn’t been done yet.  LET PEOPLE SELECT WHAT RACE THEY’D LIKE TO DIG AND ONLY OFFER DIGS OF THAT RACE UNTIL THEY SELECT A DIFFERENT RACE.

I mean, let’s think about this a bit.  In the real world when archeologists are looking for artifacts, they aren’t jet setting to timbuktu every other second.  Rather, they are focused on one area – one dig site (or maybe several in a given area) and they focus their efforts on that one archeological find.  They don’t jump from Egypt to Death Valley to Sibera and start simultaneous excavations at all of those places.

Rather, they spend years researching something.   Then they spend even more years putting together grant requests and acquiring funding for an expedition.  And then they spend additional time just to get approval to dig in the spot that they want to dig from any number of governments and organizations.  You aren’t likely to have an Egyptologist doing a paleontologists work.  Each person studies and specializes.

Now, I’m not saying that archeology in a video game should exactly mirror archeology in the real world, I mean if that were the case nothing would ever get done!  But I do think that they could take a few things from it, like specializations.

Hell, let’s even take that one step further!  I mean, one of my biggest complaints about Archeology is that it doesn’t really engage or immerse the player – what if they added quests to let you specialize your dig efforts?  What if you were required to complete quest X to gain permissions to dig in Uldum, and quest Y to dig up fossils?  And the you got to pick where you wanted to dig!  Imagine the great story line and lore possibilities that could be opened up from a completely dull and mundane task that would rather have people slamming their hands in a door than undertaking.

Look out now!  It might make Archeology *gasp* fun!

So, what about you?  Do you wast…er participate in Archeology?  How would you improve it as a profession?

17 responses to “How to Fix Archeology

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  1. I like the idea of being able to pick which digsites you want a lot. My biggest issue with it, is that I seem to spend more time flying than I do digging and being to limit the type of digsite should help that. I’d also like to the greys have a bit more functionality. For example the Scandalous Silk Nightgown, what if it was a scandalous but still grey item that could be equipped for running around Stormwind or Orgrimmar. It still wouldn’t have stats but at least our bank alts could hang around looking like extras from some 70s horror movie.

  2. I agree with you completely, Beru. Archaeology, as it is implemented right now, is the epitome of bad game design: tedious, boring gameplay where the rewards are simply not worth the time that is required to be invested. Personally, I don’t have the patience to go through the torture that you’ve described just to get some pets or gear that will be out-of-date with the next patch. I commend you for your perseverance, though.

    I love the idea of adding quests to the professions. The one thing that the profession needs is a better story and deeper ties to the lore. The snippets that each artifact give are not really leveraging the true storytelling potential of the profession. I think Blizzard really missed an opportunity to do something really interesting. Instead they gave us another grind from hell. Frankly, I think that anyone who manages to collect all the solves should get the title “The Mad Professor”. :)

    For myself, My own dabblings with the professions fizzled out at about skill-level 60 or so. Just enough to get a feel for the mechanics so that I could write this: http://battlemedic.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-archaeology-and-trials-of-surveying.html

  3. Beginning of Cataclysm, I spent literally six hrs, four times a week working on the Emperors Healing ring and Tyrande trinket. Six weeks later I had both. But six weeks is rediculous for the amount of time I put in weekly. The ring got replaced with T11 ring but Tyrandes Doll just got replaced a month ago with JoD.
    I too, would like to see a change where we could pick and choose dig sites. Also, some upgrade able items for T13 content would be nice. Now it’s pretty much useless for me.

  4. I too have dug for weeks on end in the hope the Claw will reveal itself, but to no avail :( I feel your pain.

    I’d love to be able to choose simply Tolvir digs too :D

  5. After recording the podcast with you yesterday, I am wholly unsurprised to see this post. ;)

    I’ve done my fair share of Archaeology, but haven’t done much of it since June or thereabouts. Once I got the ring for my baby pally, I stopped digging altogether, although the allure of the Professor title occasionally prods me and I consider going digging… and then I think better of it ;)

    I really love your idea about unlocking various race’s dig sites and allowing people to focus on things a bit more. I think the major issue is that Blizzard must have figured “well, they can FLY in Azeroth now, who cares if all the dig sites are in Darkshore or Felwood when they’re in Tanaris or Uldum?”. ;) I also think that they’re relying on the rarity of the specific sites (in the case of the Tol’Vir) in order to delay the ability to get the big-ticket items. Looking at all the Tol’Vir rares, there are 2 entry-level raid weapons, an entry-level raid caster/healer ringm a mount, a pet, the scarab thing and, of course, the recipe for Vial of the Sands. Any of those rares, barring perhaps the scarab thing, were useful or at least desirable, when the expansion started. I think that the rarity of the Tol’Vir spawns were specifically to throttle the acquisition of these things for starting raid content. If it were all that easy to get the staff and ring and sword, or the Vial of the Sands, everyone who could use those staves, rings and swords would have done so and had a leg up on everyone else. And the Vial of the Sands wouldn’t have been as “special” anymore. Or something.

    I think throttling should be in place, to an extent, but remembering how much digging I did just for the ring… there’s a point where too much throttling makes it mind-numbing instead of fun.

  6. Honestly, if it were more like picking flowers, I’d be happier. Just let me fly to the dig site, grab my artifacts and fly away again. Don’t make me cast about playing red light green light. I have the addons, etc, but it still adds an extra layer of wasting time… and not any extra fun.

    (Also, as an utter side note, paleontology is a discipline of geology, not a subsection of archaeology.)

  7. Previous patch I complained silently about them not adding new items to Archaeology. Thinking back, that’s the best decision they ever made. LOL. I can’t stand digging through anymore worthless stuff. I don’t mind some RNG to it, but I had all but one Night Elf rare in a matter of days and weeks after Tyrande’s trinket still eludes me… It does not exist to me anymore. Granted, I stopped bothering ages ago, only came back to finish the achievements and get some more pets out of it. But no. Just… no. Hell, I prefer the glyph making-process more.

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  9. Slide puzzles would make me enjoy arch so much more….

  10. That claw evades me also /sigh. I also am amazed that I have the 20 rares but only 3 usable items – shaman headdress, azshara gown, the Tolvir ring whose name eludes me atm.
    But if I could improve archaeology I would like more usable “fun” things. Like a cool transmog item or silly item of clothing (like clothing that looks like mummy wraps or Lady Azshara’s gown she is going to wear from the new instance which is rather hot), or at least make things like the doll and the ring scale with loot level like an heirloom.

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  12. What pains me the most about archaeology is that it is almost impossible to level it as a profession as you are leveling a character. You may spend all your time in Un’Goro questing, only to have the dig-sites in Ashenvale, Darkshore or Winterspring. Flying to and fro as a lower-level toon is just not practical, not too mention expensive.

    My changes would be the following: Similar to Beru’s specialization idea, I would modify it so new dig sites spawn in the zone you are currently in. In essence you choose your specialization by traveling to the appropriate zone. Beyond that, I’d also modify how the survey process worked by getting rid of the rings in favor of triangulation approach. Drop three survey beacons, and dig where the beams intersect.

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  15. I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY AGREE.

    (Lower-case letters just weren’t strong enough.)

    Honestly, I don’t understand why they went with random digsites, with random fragment drops, with random puzzles. It’s like playing slots, except you have to take a five-minute break between each pull. I can’t count how many times I woke up to find myself fatigue-dead from auto-flying off the world.

    I would LOVE if they would drop the random locations and fragments an surveying. Instead, make each site have a fixed amount of stuff, and make each dig a clue-game – dig here, and get a clue to where the good stuff is. As you learn how the digsites might be arranged, you get better at understanding that “clue X” means “go that way 10 yards”. Each dig has a chance to give you an item (forget fragments – every dig should reward a keystone or artifact). If you solve the clues, you find something good; if not, you end up with junk. Then just make each digsite have a limit / replenishment rate. Exhaust a site, and you don’t find anything until enough time has passed to restore it.

    Aside from making it less random and more skill/effort-based than time-based, that would also have the effect of giving you a definite start and end – just like with everything else in the game. Exhausted all the Tol’vir sites? No sense looking anymore – you won’t find anything. Come back in a few days. Take a break. Relax. Or, go hunt through Dwarf sites for that pet you really want. It’s up to you, but there’s no more addictively abusive “try one more – the NEXT will be what you want. Promise.”

    “Psyche!”

  16. Imagine Indiana Jones searching for the lost Ark, and being told that before he can look for it, he has to go to the frozen north and dig in the mammoth boneyards first:
    Indy – ” But we already found all the lost treasures of the mammoth kings; there is nothing left but bones! It’s pointless looking! I want to look for the Ark!”.
    Prof Ghostcrawler – “Sorrry Doctor, you HAVE to dig up mammoth bones first, and then after that I’m sending you back to Greece to dig at the Dagon temple site again. Yes, I know, all that is left now is broken pottery, but those are my instructions. Once you have done that, I will consider letting you look for the Ark, m’kay?”
    Indy groans.

  17. I did notice that they increased the number of fragments you get from the last patch. I’ve had btwn 7-10 from a pick. So completing an artifact is a little less mundane. I would love to pick which digs I could do instead of having to get rid of all the NE and fossil ones. I’ve been lucky to get a lot of the nifty items from the profession but a few still elude me. Namely the 2 staffs, mainly for transmog purposes, you know me and my outfits :P

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