Blog Azeroth – Previous Shared Topic for the week of January 31st, 2011
Shared Topic Idea: Archaeology

Cataclysm’s new secondary profession, archeology, has gone through a lot of changes since it was first announced — Path of the Titans, we hardly knew you! — but is incredibly popular with players. At least, a lot of them are doing it — there are also a lot of complaints. Still, go to any dig site and you’ll see tons of eager archeologists. What do you think of it? Did Blizzard release it half-baked? Are you happy with its current implementation? What else do you hope to have added to it in future patches?

– Ringo Flinthammer

I’m going back in time today. The topic for this week has to do with guildie behavior which doesn’t really work for me since my guild has about four people in it and I know all of them personally. We aren’t running content together, it is mostly a bank/chat arrangement. Anyway, archaeology interested me, and I wanted to go back a bit and catch it.

I was super excited when archaeology was announced as the new secondary profession for Cataclysm. The idea of running around Azeroth digging up artifacts and piecing together lore like some sort of Indiana Jones sounded awesome. To make it even better, the minigame was reported to involve surveying and triangulating, which has a particular connection to me since I am at university studying civil engineering (which involves surveying, if you didn’t know).

So, lots of hype coming into the expansion. Cataclysm dropped and I got my first chance to plow through some artifacting. I hopped on my mount, sought out a digsite, and dropped down to see what was what. With bated breath I hit the survey skill… Oooh, a little transit appeared, that’s neat. Oh, hey, it disappeared. Well… um… what? Hit it again… oh I see, a light on the thing there, that must mean proximity.

And off I went. Eventually I got the hang of archaeology and rocketed up to max skill. I have been fortunate enough to get a fossilized hatchling pet and Tyrande’s Favorite Doll (my first epic of the expansion!). I have also created myriad other common artifacts that have little lore tidbits attached to them. These have been great, although I have fallen behind on reading the stories.

What hasn’t been so great, is the surveying. Now, as I mentioned, I am a civil engineering student. I have worked as a surveyor and taken classes about the theory of surveying the Earth. The trick to real-life surveying is being careful and being clever. Given a little bit of training, almost anyone could easily map even complex plots using surveying equipment. It might take some time, but they could go around and carefully measure all the angles and distances and so forth. The trick for surveyors and engineers is being clever enough to know which measurements you need and which you can determine using some mathematics.

Unfortunately, surveying in Cataclysm more resembles the layman stumbling around measuring everything instead of the clever engineer making two or three measurements. Each dig site turns into a little breadcrumb ‘quest’ with no reward for thinking carefully.

I brainstormed to try to come up with some alternatives to help make archaeology more interesting and got stuck on one thought. Take surveying and add a consumable item called a surveying flag (or something similar) made by low-level blacksmithing. Each time the surveying skill is used, a flag is used up and a little flag appears on the ground that is more permanent than the current tripod image. The flag shows the same information as the little tripod, but, because it lasts longer, can be used to triangulate the position of the artifact more precisely.

The sites could also make more use of the local ruins or skeletons to help direct artifact hunters to their prize. How this could be done, I haven’t the slightest, but I’m sure something could be done.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam so I’ll wrap by saying that I have enjoyed archaeology so far, but have gotten a little worn out on the surveying bit. Some additions or adjustments to make the minigame more engaging would go a long way toward bringing my attention back to flying around the world gathering up dusty artifacts.

~ by Aliera on February 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “Archaeology”

  1. I’ve noticed they usually use local ruins and skeletons already. In some cases there simply aren’t any, but if you look at for example most dwarf sites on Eastern Kingdoms, you’ll see it too.

    • Yeah, there is some… I just want to see more of it. Maybe have little mounds scattered around the dig site with the three that contain artifacts and a bunch that are empty and can survey anywhere but ‘dig’ only at the mounds. I just want to be able to use my logic to solve the puzzle instead of just surveying over and over again to path my way to the prize.

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