Tuesday, January 08, 2008
World of Warcraft fishing
I have mixed feeling towards fishing in World of Warcraft. On the one side it is peaceful, relaxing, possibly profitable, and not a bad way to spend some solo time. On the other side the actual fishing "game play" is too simple. I played other single-player RPGs, like Dark Cloud, where fishing was a lot more fun. WoW fishing is extremely simple, and has the dubious distinction of being the first activity ever in WoW for which bots were created. The existence of bots in a MMORPG is a sure indication of a boring activity that doesn't require enough intelligence to perform. Due to this flaw, WoW fishing has a checkered history. It was botted for profit early in the game, then nerfed until it was totally unprofitable and nobody fished any more, and then Blizzard slowly introduced new features to make fishing more attractive again.
You fish in WoW by equipping a fishing pole, putting the fishing skill button on a hotkey, throwing out your line using that hotkey, waiting up to 20 seconds until the bobber moves, and then clicking on it to reel your catch in. Using an addon like Fishing Buddy you can throw out and reel in your catch at the same time with a right mouse button double click. And that's it. You double-click about every 20 seconds and the only "skill" required is moving your mouse pointer over the random location where your bobber landed. Unlike other crafts your chance to earn a skill point does not depend on how difficult a fish you are trying to catch. Thus you could learn fishing in Orgrimmar or Ironforge and skill up fishing to 225 without ever moving a step. Then you'll need to do an easy fishing quest in Duskwallow Marsh to get to 300, and buy a book in Zangarmarsh at 300 to get to 375. But you could still level up to 375 fishing only in that little pond in Orgrimmar or Ironforge and it would go exactly as fast as if you fished in various places, or even faster because you don't have any travel time.
At the start your fishing skill goes up every time you reel in a fish, but later the skill only rises after having found an increasing number of fish. I haven't done the calculation, but read that it takes 15 hours of fishing to get to the maximum skill. Fortunately the fishing timer was shortened from 30 seconds to 20 seconds, and the bobber now always moves at some point of the timer. You can still not reel in a fish, but that is mostly if you are fishing in a zone that is too high compared to your fishing skill. Check this WoW fishing guide for details on which zone you can fish with what skill, or where to find which fish.
So why go fishing if it isn't interesting? As I said, Blizzard made it more interesting after initially nerfing it. One major improvement they added was fishing pool "nodes". You can fish in nearly every spot of water without a node, but the nodes give you more valuable fish, or even containers full of valuables. I once got "rich" from fishing with a level 16 character in Stranglethorn Vale on a brand new server. You can fish level 40ish trade goods and even green magic items from floating wreckages in STV with fishing skill you can get as low as level 10, although it is difficult to find the right spots without getting eaten by level 40ish mobs. The Stranglethorn Fishing Extravanganza fishing event every Sunday at 2 pm is even more profitable at low levels, you get 1 gold 21 silver for every 5 tastyfish you find. Especially on new servers, where you can't make lots of gold by selling low level trade goods like copper to high level players and their twinks, fishing is a very good way to make cash early. Even for higher level players the addition of fishing nodes makes fishing a lot more interesting and dynamic, because it encourages you to move around and search for them.
There is now even a fish tracking skill in the game. You learn it from a book you can find when fishing. Best spot for that is Windshear Crag in Stonetalon Mountains, where the trunks you fish out from wreckages and oil spills have a pretty high chance of dropping the book. The fish tracking skill shows you all fish nodes on your radar, with the unfortunate exception of the tastyfish schools from the STV fishing contest.
Most fish are still worthless to vendors, and worth very little to other players on the auction house. But some fish are valuable. There is a "Goldenscale Vendorfish" you can vendor for 6 gold. Other fish are useful for alchemy, and the deviate fish can be cooked into a meal that transforms you into a pirate or ninja. People pay good money for that. You can even fish motes of water out of pure water nodes in Outland. But the main use for fish is cooking. Blizzard changed cooking that now you get stuck at level 275 if you don't cook any fish, and the next meat recipe is only at 285. Raising cooking in parallel to fishing is much, much easier than cooking meat drops from mobs. At the lower levels cooked fish doesn't give any stats bonuses, while cooked meat does. But at higher levels cooked fish gives some nice bonuses, especially for casters. And as a hunter you can always feed the cooked fish to your cat or bear pet.
So fishing does have some uses now. I already got enough fish with my warrior to raise the cooking skill of my new mage to 300. I'm at just over 300 fishing skill, and I'll continue some more occasionally, just for fun and relaxation, and to make some gold in a peaceful way. I would wish that Blizzard had made fishing a bit more interactive, but it isn't so bad now.