In my previous review of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey I mentioned that hunting for forma which is used to create weapons, armour and items is hard. I actually like the idea of hunting for resources and combining them to form swords and items. A good game should allow a good balance of experimentation and discovery keeping the player interested rather than forcing the player to repetitively hunt for items.
What then would I consider an ideal system for hunting and forging? Well here's my list of good things a good forging game should have.
1) Automatic markers and identifiers - Once you've found the monster parts/resources, the game should make it easy to find these resources again through an auto bookmark system or good automapping system. It should not be up to the player to mark the map.
2) Automatic recording receipes or hints - Whenever you find a hint or part of receipe this should automatically be recorded in your receipe
3) Less resources the better - If you require 10 leather hides to make something it means the player have to fight monsters at least 10 times, I think the maximum requirements should be no more than 3 unique items for any receipe.
Proposed resource drop system
Here's a good system which mixes both elements of both random drops and yet allows players a choice of working towards their goals. I'm sure this has been done before by a couple of games although I personally can't recall exactly which games have has done this.
Whenever a player defeats a monster, you will gain item points of that monster. Gain enough item points and you can cash out for an item. Alternatively you can try gambling your currently item points to try and cash out for an item of a higher level.
E.g. A slime monster drops either a "slime item" the rarer "super slime item".
When you a defeat a slime monster you can choose to:
a) Get the Slime item
b) Get +10% chance of getting a super slime item
c) Try gambling for the super slime item.
This means after 10 battles you will definitely get the super slime item so there's a fairly clear target for the 'hard-working' player to aim for but if you're an impatient risk taker you could try gambling your points now to try and get your super slime now. I think this would work well as it reduces the uncertain in what you could get.
You could get more complicated by creating other bonuses and penalities depending on what the player chooses at the end of a battle but hopefully this gives you some idea of how you can mix and match both worlds and still get something quite reasonable and enjoyable. Being the hard working player that I am I would probably choose to constantly using the cash out option.