WoW insider has a breakfast topic up that asks, "How do you feel after spending time with archaeology?"
The archaeology mini-game is... not a game, and not fun. It's less interesting than fishing. It's less interesting than rep grinds. It's less interesting than farming heavy junk boxes in BRD. I feel I can say all that with some authority, because while I have maxed my fishing skill, and done four dozen rep grinds of one sort or another, and I'm currently farming heavy junk boxes... I've done all of those in preference to leveling up archaeology.
Yes. Going for Insane in the Membrane is more fun than archaeology.
So, all in all, I'd say that archaeology is a bust.
Here's the problem, as I see it - the whole archaeology profession is horked, in that there's no reasonable way to level it as you go. Until you have access to a fast mount - and preferably a flying mount - it's painful. Questing in the Blasted Lands? Oh, look, there's a archaeology dig! Three fragments later, it's gone, and while you'll be in the zone for the next hour or two, there's no more archaeology for you to do, period. Unless you want to head off to another zone entirely, one that offers you no benefit other than happening to have the next closest archaeology zone to exploit.
I mean... come on. My main is a mage with a 310% flying mount. I can zoom around Azeroth and Outland like nobody's business, and it's still amazingly tedious to do archaeology.
So... Blizz, here you go. Recommendations for how to make archaeology less of a soul-destroying grind.
Just like we have herb and mining nodes, we should have archaeology "nodes". You can even make them small regions on the map to give the idea of "we're digging in this area". Get rid of the survey skill, and just let us track and find mini-archaeology zones that respawn like other nodes.
In many regions, there should be mobs working in the area of the nodes as well. Think of Ulduman. You mean there's absolutely no archaeology to be done there? No elite mobs roaming about that might have a some interesting archaeology fragments that might be interesting to look at? Mobs in Night Elf ruins should have the opportunity to drop Night Elf fragments, mobs in Dwarven excavations should occasionally cough up Drawrven fragments, and so on.
The whole "OK, you solved that, now you're working on X" thing in archaeology is bogus. I want to be able to pick and choose what I'm interested in. Mobs should have world drops added to them that are archaeology "clues". These would be the equivalent of "This item begins a quest" drops... only they would indicate "This item begins an archaeology project". Make some of them BoP, other bind on use, so they could be traded and sold - the archaeology equivalent of crafting patterns or recipes.
One of the possible drops from archaeology nodes should be clues, along with fragments. Higher level nodes would drop higher level clues, and you'd have to have a certain skill to start various projects from clues. There would be archaeology quest givers scattered around the world that can give you access to well-defined "starter" clues at various levels. All those Explorer's League and Reliquary representatives? Yeah, an archaeologist of the appropriate skill should be able to visit them and see something like "
, I recently came across this fascinating inscription, but I don't have time to pursue it right now... would you like to make a name for yourself?" type of quests.
Let's face it. We're adventurers. While we might pretend to be former shop keepers who found their destiny out in the wilds, or druids dedicated to preserving the balance of nature, or paladins and priests serving the light... there's really only one thing that we all have in common, and that we all manage to do moderately well.
Kill things and loot the bodies.
Seriously. Give us some archaeology quests! Quests that reward clues and fragments instead of gold and greens. Quests that let us play the part of Harrison Jones, and venture into ancient temples crawling with vicious beasts, deadly traps and bloodthirsty foes. Quests that make us start humming "Da da da daaaaa, dum da daaaaa!" as we mow down waves of minions before driving a stake through the Surprisingly Spry Ancient Evil, all so we can pry that precious fragment of parchment from it's withered claws.
Nodes, clues and quests. Get with it, Blizzard. No need to hurry, though. I've still got something like 1100 heavy junk boxes to farm up. You know, since there's nothing more interesting to do at the moment.