Gevlon and Tobold both just posted about their problems with WOW. Normally I dismiss most of what Gevlon says as sociopathic nonsense designed to prop up his self esteem but this time I actually liked what he had to say. In both cases these articles talked about their dislike of the raiding game and their dislike of the levelling game and how these two games make no sense together. Whether or not an individual likes either the raiding or levelling game I don't think it can be argued that in their current incarnations they are a very silly and annoying hybridization. If someone likes the raiding game they are looking for a game that requires practice, good reflexes, teamwork and organization to say nothing of substantial time commitment. In order to start this up they have to level up for hours and hours doing things that require no skill, practice, reflexes, teamwork, organization or time commitment. Of course the other side is true too and anyone who loves levelling can hardly be expected to enjoy raiding when they get there.
I remember levelling up various characters and doing so was interesting in the old days. I recall levelling up my rogue and hunter in particular and having to use traps, stealth, and cooldown management to beat pulls with more than one enemy in them. If I pulled too many enemies or missed too many attacks I had to run away so it was always important for me to watch what I was doing. Playing better and being clever *mattered*. Of course there were also levelling abominations like my paladin where I had no abilities that did anything so I just sat there waiting for enemies to die, healed myself and walked to the next one. There were plenty of incredibly stupid things about levelling too, like the lack of quests, quests that sent you all over the world for trivial rewards and elite areas that you couldn't find a group for. Some of the solutions to these issues were done really well in recent years like adding more quests, giving all classes interesting mechanics and flattening the monster levels in each zone but some were disastrous like making all monsters trivial in difficulty or making an entire zone a linear questing experience.
I like the idea of having lots of things to do. I also like the idea of quests and monsters being *hard* and requiring thought and planning to some extent. Even the old quests that sent me all around the world didn't necessarily need to be removed forever, as long as the rewards were increased such that it actually made sense to complete them. If you want me to fly across two continents then I should get a big XP bonus at the end to make it feel like it was worth it. Even the endless complaints about outdoor zones with elite monsters didn't necessarily need to be dealt with by removing all of them but rather just by making them optional. If there were quests to kill elite monsters that required a group but there were also sufficient solo quests that you could avoid the elite ones as necessary then people would have the option to dial up their difficulty for big rewards if they were interested.
In the new levelling scheme there is no feeling of accomplishment at getting to max level. Any monkey that can hit one button and accept quests could be nearly as efficient as I was at getting there. In order to really have fun you need a challenge and there needs to be a difference between how fast a pro and a fool can get things done. Since you can always go back and do easy, underlevel zones there is no risk of people getting stuck but with no challenge at all there is no accomplishment.
I got to thinking about what it would take for me to be interested in resubbing to WOW to level some characters again, and here are my initial thoughts:
1. Nerf heirloom gear by ~30%. Make it good enough that it is better than greens but worse than blues. I say this even though I have pretty much a complete set of heirlooms for all toons.
2. Buff monster health by 60% and damage by 90%. Combined with the heirloom changes this should mean that monsters take roughly twice as long to die and do double their current damage for heirloomed characters.
3. Add in a bunch of dangerous stuff. Wandering patrols of 3 monsters, elites that have 4x the health and 2x the damage of regular monsters and enemies that pull in groups of 2-3 would be a start. Ideally I would like monsters with more dangerous abilities and spells as well as some Elite areas but that would require a lot more work.
These sorts of changes get me kind of excited - I think I might actually resub and play some WOW to tool around on random characters and see all the new Cataclysm levelling content.