Here's a list of observations about the current tradeskills in Cataclysm - where they've gone, where I think they're going - with suggestions for the next expansion.
All to be considered in a gold-making perspective, of course.
AKA "The worthless tradeskill"
Keep believing that lie.
With the gold I've got coming from this profession, I don't even bother defending Engineering anymore.
Less competition = more gold for me.
There will come a day when everyone will try to level it because it will be the last tradeskill they haven't tried, or because something they want really badly will seem out of their reach and they wonder "why don't I just get one of my alts to level Engineering and I'll provide myself my own gun/mount/scope/repair bot".
There is ALWAYS someone on your server that's leveling Engineering.
Anyways, I would wish for this profession to be more involved with the other tradeskills because I feel like they've finally got a handle on the personal buffs that it can bring a player.
Taking a page from a segment from Moogyver I've heard on the All Things Azeroth podcast, Engineering should be able to bring something to the other tradeskills.
Gathering speed increase
We already have the Bountiful Bags guild buff, so we can't ask for increased results on gathering.
How about a gathering speed increase ?
Not as big as Tauren and and Worgen have (they have it reduced to 0.5s per gather, but of course they would be excluded by this), but let's say a 0.25s reduction on gathering.
Make a Gather-otron that you keep in your bags, and you can make one for Herbalism, Mining and Skinning.
For crating skills, you could make "crafting tables" for each of them.
They would bring the possibility of crafting in bulk for a reduced amount of crafting time.
Ex: Smelt 20 bars in half of the usual time. Craft 5 belt buckles in half of the usual time. Make 40 flasks in half of the time.
Instead of simply nerfing crafting times of certain recipes halfway through the expansion, add that nerf in the game right from the start and let players turn it on or off at their will.
You could make all of these interacting objects that have to be in the player's bags.
Again, have a different one for each profession, to increase variety and create markets on the AH.
The next step would be to add a craftable Trinket buff.
Think a Thingamabob that increases by 10 the highest stat of the trinket, and another that increases by 10 the stat trigger effect of the trinket.
You could only have 1 of those 2 enhancements on a single trinket.
Again, the objective here is to be able to craft items that a majority of players would use, something that has a constant, renewable demand for the Auction House.
Goggles for phased nodes
Next thing would be goggles with the Zapthrottle Mote Extractor's ability to track motes.
But you would be able to see motes, herbs, ores that would be otherwise phased.
Yeah, how about turning that annoying unintended phasing bug into an intended feature ?
The solution of scrolls to the problem of leveling Enchanting was a success.
It's now less of a hassle and much quicker to do, given that finding the appropriate materials to level it can be tedious and take enough time if some of them cannot be found in the Auction House, and even more if someone without any money is trying to level it by disenchanting items from quests and drops.
The difference with all the other crafting skills is that you cannot disenchant the results of your crafting.
You can put them on the AH in the hope of some buyer giving you money.
But unless you are selling some much sought-after enchants for either twinks or high-end players, the chances are very high that the scrolls will come back to you and that the posting fees are killing any chance of profit.
Not a lot of people that are leveling are thinking about enchanting their gear.
They think "it's a waste of my money because my gear will be replaced in the next zone/dungeon/hour and I'd rather save up to buy the mount and riding training that will be available to me soon".
People ask for 2 things when you see them beg for money on Trade: training money and mount/mount training, mostly because they've spent all their gold on buying shiny new gear.
So not only people end up not enchanting their gear, but enchanters are left with a pile of scrolls they almost can't do anything with, and have only a chance of a possibility of getting some money back from their investment, lest they want to compete with the other zillion enchanters who are trying to find a buyer.
So here's a suggestion that would not require a huge re-haul of the whole profession.
Make scrolls a currency for something
Whether it be a quest or a special Enchanting vendor, to make the enchanted scrolls disappear is the issue here.
So why not take the idea of the old Argent Dawn quests ?
Then turn X number of any Y type enchant and you'll get a Mystery Scroll that will make you learn a rare Enchanting recipe.
You would have different tiers of turn-ins to get different tiers of new Enchanting recipes. (Think of the Researches for Scribes)
(Of course, you'd have to tune the numbers to make sure that the X turn-in number is higher than the number of scrolls it would take to make if you were simply leveling Enchanting to max it out.)
Or turn the enchanted scrolls to get some Enchanter's Tokens, giving you access to buy rare Enchanting recipes.
You would have different tiers of recipes available - all BoP - and the higher-level ones would require a crap-ton of tokens.
You wouldn't need to remove the shard currency for most of the high-level recipes.
Or you could change the shards-for-recipes to shards-for-mats and you could throw extra special mats for high-end enchants (the same way that Inscription has those special items that can only be found in an unlocked Twilight Highlands).
Or you can do a mix of both of those ideas, which would be more palatable to players. And don't forget to add a "token dump" or two as a safeguard against stockpiling.
Listen - I really like this tradeskill because it gives a lot of money fast, because shuffling is awesome, because rings and necklaces and special Jewelcrafter-only gems have their place in the game.
A stat shuffle needs to happen
When you've got 6 rare gems and it's common knowledge that people go after 3 of them while the other 3 are nor worth much, you've got a problem.
There are too many gems or you have to make it so the things that make the 3 wanted gets spread to the other 3.
Now I don't know exactly how Blizzard can make that happen.
We know that Resilience will be dealt differently in Mists, so maybe we won't need it as much on gems.
The other possibility is to take a good honest look at the stat combinations on certain cuts and admit that some of them do not need to persist in the game at all.
With the Talent System 2.0, they said they want players to make less "inadvisable" choices on the talents they could choose, so why not apply that same philosophy to gems cuts ?
Green Uncommon Gem Cuts
In another "let's cut the bullshit" subject, do we really need all those green gem cuts ?
I mean I get that some people will go for them as temporary replacements until they get their hands on some rare gems or until they change that green armor piece for a rare or epic armor piece, but isn't this so very minor that we could simply skip that whole step ?
I'm not dead-set on the idea (because I thought of it while writing the previous paragraph), however, I'm of the opinion that we should...
Get rid of Epic Gems
If there was anything I was more convinced throughout this expansion, is that we were fine without Epic gems.
And now that they've finally landed, I'm even more convinced that they only serve as money-makers.
We could do without them altogether.
Unless, of course, a tier stat increase is so big that it would totally justify the addition of Epic gems, just like it happened in Wrath - but that's not the case right now.
Mysterious Fortune Cards: great money-makers, great fun gambling aspect that keeps buyers coming back, awesome optional ability to turn them into Fortune Cookies.
Blackfallow Ink as a currency: this is a great way to make sure it's not only good for Cataclysm items but also helps to access the lower tiers of craftable inks and items. (Expect this to change to a new Ink once we have access to the new Pandaria herbs !)
Certificate of ownership: great item, hunters love it, though it took a while to get players to know it existed. (I bet there's a ton that still don't know it exists).
Relics/Off-hands: worked so much better this expansion, with the addition of craftable items for a wider range of levels, as well as the high-level items that required Twilight Highlands to be unlocked, and the PvP relics.
However, this is about to change.
With the upcoming removal of the Relic/Off-hand slot, we can only wonder what will become of what constitutes a third of the profession.
Will the Techniques change ?
Will they disappear from our professions list when we get the Pandaria Patch ?
What will they replace this with - if at all ?
Speaking of change, it's not a mystery to anyone that with the new Talent System incoming, a majority of glyphs will need to be changed/redesigned.
How will this affect us ?
Will our existing glyphs be automatically changed ?
Will the changed ones be destroyed and we'll have to buy them again ?
Will they reset our entire glyph system ? (They've mentioned a few times not being happy with the Prime/Major/Minor system. We could be hit with a new redesign/philosophy suddenly...)
Yes, even though I said I'd probably never return to selling glyphs, I am stockpiling inks right now.
While we rework things, this will need to be made interesting.
The idea was great and I jumped on the bandwagon from the beginning.
However, two issues occurred:
1- People didn't know this existed until they were leveling their second or third alt, missing the point of using that item as a helpful buff, and
2- the buffs provided were sometimes lackluster, sometimes outright unhelpful (more damage against giants when I'm in Vash'ir ?).
But however Blizzard could rework it, there's 2 changes that need to happen absolutely to make it more interesting right off the bat: they need to reduce the 4-hour cooldown on it (it's a 60 min buff!) to 2 hours (increasing the length of the buff is a bad idea because I'd like to turn this into a prolific market) and they need to lower the level 75 restriction to... let's say level 20.
I could see people getting themselves a few stacks of Journals when they go out leveling.
Another suggestion: Remember how the Transmute Living Elements worked with specific procs happening depending of the region your characters zoned in ?
Do the same thing for the Journal for every zone in the game, so then you'd have an increased chance of getting the damage against Undead buff when you try the Journal in Eastern Plaguelands, or the damage against elementals when you're in Cataclysm zones...
You get the idea.
Cauldrons could work differently - however I do not have any good or viable suggestions to propose for this.
But I think they've been working much better in this expansion than their previous iterations.
Potion of Deepholm had nothing but good intentions, I understand that.
But with all the possible ways to get back to your main city, it was utterly useless.
In the department of Transmutes, Alchemy is a profession that is very very much in demand, from Shadowspirit Diamonds that come in twos, to Pyrium Bars to Truegold.
It's good to see utility and demand from people to a specific tradeskill.
And I want to give a shout-out to the Potion of Treasure Finding, Deepstone Oil, Potion of Illusion for being the most awesome fun things to come out of Alchemy in a looooooooong time, and to the Recipe: Vial of the Sands for being so friggin' elusive that it's totally a goal for me to get on my alchemist (must - get - last - missing - recipe).
A crazy alchemist whose recipes I highly recommend (NSFW language)
Blacksmithing & Tailoring
...are pretty strong in my eyes.
If a "cool" factor was added to them, it would not be hurried out the door, but otherwise they are strong tradeskills, both in the amount of mats needed to craft items, the buffs they bring to the crafters and the things that can be sold.
This one is in the same vein as the previous 3 previous tradeskills.
However, this is the profession that I am expecting more surprises from in the next expansion.
Well, simply put... Monks!
Not a lot, but just enough to fill a few holes, maybe balance the proportions of gear, maybe add a few that are very monk-specific.
We would expect many monks to pick up the Skinning/Leatherworking combo, but until Blizzard confirms the final monk Passives and Pandaren Racials, we never know...
(And consider that people are growing more and more weary of picking up tradeskills on new characters or only powerlevel once they're level capped...)
So Leatherworkers should have a very good business over the course of the next expansion !
Heck, I'd even suggest to start researching leather leveling gear, maybe stockpile a few choice Bind on Equip items already...
So that's basically how I feel about tradeskills in general in Cataclysm.
The craftable PvP gear has obviously been awesome for gold-makers, so I don't feel like discussing it in length would be worth anything, apart from the fact that using it as an entry to dungeons (the subject of very heated discussions) has been a very good for us.
I always expect way too much from professions in general and I end up disappointed in every expansion, even though this expansion has been not bad at all.
I guess I always think that they could be so much more, with recipes hidden in the world everywhere, with crazy effects and mats, and I always wish that they could combine the tradeskills with each other way way way more than they do.
I think it's a part of the game that has so much potential and I'm bored of the normal grinding stuff and the limited avenues of viable gold-making at high-end that completely turn me off.
But if they continue to evolve the same way they went with Cataclysm tradeskills, I think it's looking good for us in Mists of Pandaria!