About two weeks ago Age of Conan introduced a new "token" system for high level gear. Similar in feature to the token systems of most MMO's, Funcom basically took the easy way out. By doing this they also introduced a newer gear grind mechanic that most people are having issues with.
The problem lies in the fact that for a level 80 to matter in PvP or PvE, they must grind raids to get the tokens needed to gear up (or hope they finally get a rare drop). In so many words, if you do not raid, the game ends as there really is not much else to play for. You cannot earn gear in any other manner (supposedly some 6 man dungeons have a rare drop for these "tokens" as well...but imagine a 3-5% drop rate chance per group and for one player to gain the token...after running a near impossible dungeon in elite mode...and you get the idea.)
High level crafting offers no gear that is as satisfying as the raid gear, and thus a part of the game is locked off for those who would like alternate ways to "gear up".
Don't raid? Start anew or quit.
This got me thinking about gear in other styles of game.
Say the single player odysseys. You are guaranteed to find the pieces you need.
Titan Quest, Diablo 2, Sacred, etc...all have that action RPG gear drop random system. Talk about fun trying to find what you need. You are also getting so much of it, that you DO have a choice in what to wear or use.
Dragon Age also had an excellent drop rate on items. But, you could also "purchase" awesome items if you wished...just gather some cash.
Then look at Guild Wars. Thanks to the system being a skill based game, all gear hits a point where it is THE max (attributes have limits on the items and armor), and you only grind for "looks" and not the "stats". Their random system on drops is quite nice also.
Basically, just get out there, play, and you would eventually find some cool piece or weapon. And for armor, you needed to just make it to the next zone. Save up your cash, continue breaking down items for the rare resources, and make the armor you wanted when you finally got to the more difficult areas.
Why can't MMO's go to a random drop system? I have never quite understood this. I know some exist, but not like in single player games...or GW. I sure would love the capability to just craft the piece I wanted and not have to depend on a rare occurrence to happen.
This is why I miss the old system Age of Conan had in place. Why could they not just upgrade the visuals and have kept the "skill" based armor and weapon system? And as for their crafting...why can't they make the items worthwhile?
What is your preference? Do you like the fact you must raid daily or weekly to get the specific piece you want? Or would you rather have a randomizer in there with set attributes for the gear or have the ability to craft what you want?