Insider Trader: Evolution of Fishing

Amanda Miller
A. Miller|04.25.09

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Insider Trader: Evolution of Fishing
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Patch 3.1 brought many welcome changes to the Fishing profession, including a Turtle mount and new Fishing daily quests.

These not only add incentives to go out and fish, they also make doing a little fishing each day easier.

Of course, players can never have enough improvements, and still have many gripes about the way that the profession works.

This week, I will be discussing different perspectives on the activity, as well as the challenges that Blizzard faces when considering which changes to make, and which feedback to tackle.
Why we love to fish

Fishing can be relaxing as well as profitable. I used to love seeking out secluded areas along seldom-visited shores, perhaps in the green hues of Feralas or upon one of the many rocky outcroppings in the Bay of Storms.

Sometimes, our guild would call this "story time." One or two of us might be off fishing, another mindlessly grinding mobs, and we would tell our PuG horror stories, have a friendly debate over one game mechanic or another, and generally chat it up.

Other times, I would take a break to go on a fishing trip with a buddy that I rarely see, who seemed to exist only in the world of fishing and farming.

Combined with a little music, or perhaps a movie, and some choice snacks and drinks, fishing can be a pleasant way to spend one's time. If you've ever found yourself playing Solitaire or Bejeweled while listening to some tunes, you have the ability to enjoy fishing.

Except maybe, we hate to fish
Fishing with an intent to reach a goal, such as hitting a certain skill level or acquiring a certain number of a particular type of fish in time for raiding that night, can cause impatience and frustration.

Many players feel "forced" to level Fishing, perhaps on several characters, because of achievements and titles, Cooking, self-sufficiency, pets, and access to daily quests and their rewards.

Personally, I feel that Blizzard has done a great job at making Fishing entirely optional. After all, many of the achievement and daily rewards are related to Fishing itself, and the fish can easily be bought from other players in order to push through leveling humps in the Cooking profession.

I find it unfortunate that so many players are trying to break in to a world that they can't appreciate. The game is designed to give players a variety of activities that appeal to different types of players. Still, the leveling process can indeed be extremely slow, with one point showing up every 10-12 successful casts!

The future of Fishing: Should Blizzard improve it for the lovers or the haters?
All professions should continue to evolve over time, as does everything else in the game, from PvP to raiding. This is especially true if something seems to be wrong, unfair, or "impossible".

While Blizzard will make changes based upon player feedback, I do not always agree with the solutions that they put in place.

When considering making changes to the Fishing profession, here is the issue as I see it. There are three goals that I think need to be met, and balanced:

1. Fishing must continue to appeal to, and challenge, veteran fishermen and women. The aspects of the activity that are so beloved by this group should not be undermined or watered down for the benefit of another group.

This section of the player base thrives on rare items, profitable pool spawns, activities such as the tournament, and expansive goals such as the Salty title.

2. Players should not feel forced to take up Fishing. While there are some reasons to take up the profession other than for the love of the activity, many of those appeal to a similar group of people. For example, pet collectors might be willing to spend the time fishing, as they might otherwise simply be spending that time farming mobs.

I do not think that any incentives should be added that drive the majority of the population to the profession. The more players who "have" to fish, the more QQ'ing there will be, and subsequent changes will be geared more towards quelling that and appeasing everyone, and will be less about progress.

3. Fishing should be reasonably accessible to newcomers.Every time Blizzard dumbs down a raid encounter because of the masses who cry out that it was too difficult, when in reality, they merely expected to be able to breeze through it, were attempting it with insufficient gear or poorly trained players, they ruin it for the rest of us. How low can Deconstructor (Ulduar) go? Once we're all geared with Ulduar gear, will the encounter cease to hold any interest whatsoever?

There is a similar danger when considering changes to the Fishing profession. If Blizzard made Fishing skill points arrive every 1-3 successful casts, as some are requesting, everyone would become an angler. Fish supplies would increase, with little to no demand left for the goods. The challenging and coveted title of Salty would suddenly become, if not commonplace, less of a mark to indicate true and dedicated fishermen/women.

On the other hand, if Blizzard implements too many Salty-level activities with enticing rewards, then Fishing may seem less accessible, although I think that recent changes have actually made the profession a little more comfortable, and thus more appealing to newcomers. For example, someone with no skill could still fish in Northrend if that is more convenient, or in any major city, including Dalaran.

Changing it up
The forums are full of bright ideas for potential modifications to Fishing, although there are also several suggestions that I think would promote imbalance. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • A 32-slot Fishing bag, much like the other professions bags. If you've ever spent much time fishing, I think that you would understand the benefits of something like this!
  • A more interactive experience. Some of the suggestions include fish that might fight back, and fish that could be handed in to a vendor for various rewards.
  • A fishing boat has been on the suggestion lists for years now. Their implementation would be more difficult than one might think, because Blizzard does not want us traveling the seas. Perhaps if the "boat" was either a living creature or something that needs to be paddled, Blizzard could simply use the same mechanism for the boat as they do for swimmers: fatigue.
I am not on board with lowering the requirements for a skill point to anywhere below 8-10 successful casts, and I think that the trend that Blizzard has been taking recently is a positive one. With the addition of new dailies, a fishable turtle mount, and new reasons to fish in towns as well as in the great outdoors, the profession is more interesting than ever.

The variety of amusing vendor junk that can be fished up is also a plus, and I hope they never stop adding new items. It adds an element of surprise, humor, and gives us all something to link into Guild Chat to "show off".

Where do you fall when it comes to your fishing feelings and habits? What changes would you like to see, and what effect do you think this would have on those who participate?
Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling sub-culture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking, and the methods behind the madness. Check out our analysis of patch 3.1 profession changes, or read through our in-depth analysis of the changes to flasks in 3.1.
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