How to balance crafting and hunting in MMORPGs? Make them both useful. Divide equipment into artificial levels - "basic", "good", "excellent", "rare", "ultrarare", and "ultimate". (Note: equipment level has no bearing on the character level using it, you could have a lv5 ultimate piece of equipment and a lv100 basic piece of equipment. equipment level is "how powerful this is for the person who's expected to be using it.") Crafting requires raw materials one level below the destination equipment level. Ultimate equipment can't be found - you have to find ultrarare raw materials and craft. Note that "ultrarare" is the "search for a week" stage. "Basic" can be bought from any shopkeeper, "good" can be bought at certain shopkeepers or found without much trouble (nobody's going to be crafting anything below "good"). Crafting level affects the character level and the equipment level you can make (how to balance? how to make it so low-level crafters aren't bored, but aren't overpowered? idea: set it up so that a totally twinked lv10 crafter can craft ultimate lv10 equipment, and probably good lv15/lv20 equipment.)
macroing can't be stopped, so roll with it, make it less useful. diminishing exp returns for doing the same thing over and over again consecutively? mimic human learning patterns? force the player to expand their bounds a little? applies only to noncombat characters? choices during construction that need to be player-chosen? just ignore the whole issue, it doesn't hurt anyone?
how to find recurring patterns: run lzw compression on their recent actions!
(sorry for the stream-of-consciousness thread. had to get some of this stuff written down. :P)