One thing i have to say about... if there is something time critical in the game it may be a problem if u have slow/bad connection... resync, resync ... and you have spoiled the mega uber weapon... :-) There is no fun unless u are sitting on teh EL server :] And making this only on client side (no problems when u have bad connection) is a problem too since we have Open Source client.
So, maybe the problem is in other place?
I think there is no point in making manufacture more realistic when we have infinity ore supplys, flowers, etc.
There is no doubt the manu (and other skills too) should be changed becouse of lack of fun. But many ideas in this thread makes another game from EL.
I think Entropy may be angry again :-> becouse in the end EL will morph to EL2 which is under construction by him now :]
In the end... i personally like the idas of
1) Different quality of ingredients (maybe bars made from Nordcarn cave iron will be better than CC ?)
2) Maybe even a history and age of ingredients/products?
3) Monsters shouldn't drop useable things, maybe broken or just some rare ingredients?
4) Manu relays on alchemy and there is big place to change (in the name of more fun).
And there is last idea in my head. We have many different maps, beautifull places but to be honest there is no point to go in every hidden valley or mountain just becouse there is always ONE (well, two? three?) the best place to make/harvest your favourite flower/ore. Every n00b hear that if u want to make FE just go to VoTD, harvest roses on the cementary, snapdragons just after u cross the bridge and then go to CC to get sulphur. So, what are those beatyfull flowers, crystals for in othere places, nobody sees them, nobody goes there. Just a thought...