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WoWInsider have a new community blog topic on account wide professions, so I thought I’d throw something out there. I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently, provoked by Alt:ernativeChat posts on professions.

Conclusion at the top, to save people having to read the whole lot.

As far as I am concerned account wide professions only works if the professions possibly at any moment on a single character is limited. This retains the interesting choice and the protects the economy. Being able to drop a profession without losing all progress (or switch it to an alt) would be fantastic, but it would have to maintain a limit on the number of active profession available on a character.

And now for my reasons.

I think that being able to access additional professions on a character is one of those convenience versus gameplay issues. At the moment the choice of a profession has an impact on gameplay. Allowing a player to access all professions might be good for a player but if it have more than a very minor gameplay advantage it would become mandatory for everyone doing progression or compressive content.

    A [good] game is a series of interesting choices

Sid Meier

When faced with having to choose between two things when I would like to do both and wondering why I cannot, I try to remind myself of the above quote. Having everything isn’t fun. There is nothing special about having every profession if that is the norm. But limiting the number of professions that each character can use they become a bit more special.

Of course just limiting for the sake of limiting is a poor design. In this case I think it is important that a game character can’t gather and manufacture everything they might possibly need on their own. This is an MMO, so there needs to be some sort of reliance on other players to get items made. This drives interaction through guilds, trade channels and the AH. It gives people a chance to carve their own niche as traders or specialist crafters.
That doesn’t rule out the option of being a completely self-sufficient individual. Anyone determined enough may do so via alts. Yes it is a bit more work, but I think that if anyone is levelling alts just to have a full range of professions available, they are missing out on the community aspect of this game.

I’m open to having old professions archived, so that items are not unlearnt, but are archived. This is the only way I’d ever consider switching out of the professions that I hold, due to the number of tricky to obtain patterns that I have on them. Even make them account-wide, so that they only need to be learnt once. Profession switches could be limited to one per week to reduce exploitation. Just don’t give individual characters access to more than the current number of professions. More than that would impact trade, require levelling of all professions and reduce the number of interesting decisions that are important when it comes to playing a game.