Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 18, 2008
Eliminating levels 1 to 60?

Apparently Blizzard has the plan to add 10 more levels to World of Warcraft with every expansion. That is fun for everyone who is stuck at the level cap, which isn't all that unlikely given the long development time for WoW expansions. But it is problematic for anyone starting a new character, be it an alt or a totally new player: the way from 1 to the level cap becomes longer and longer, and everything except the last 10 levels tends to be underpopulated. Blizzard's proposed solution is to speed up the time to level through the lower levels, since patch 2.3 it only takes half the time to level to 60 than before.

Minionman wrote me with a more radical proposal: He wants to eliminate levels 1 to 60 completely, and remodel all the old Azeroth zones into level 60+ zones. Every new character (and not only Deathknights) would start in the normal newbie zone, but at level 60, and the mobs etc. around him would also be level 60. He would then have a large multitude of possible options to level from 60 to 70, using a mix of Azeroth and Outlands zones.

I don't think that the idea is all that good. First of all starting his very first character at level 60 is confusing for a new player. Levels 1 to 60 do serve a purpose of training people how to play their class, by starting with only a few basic options and adding new options over time. Starting with lots of spells and talents is too complicated for a player on his very first MMORPG character.

The other problem is that I'm not even sure that it would solve the underpopulation problem. We would still have the same number of people below the level cap distributed over the same large number of zones. It would be easier to find somebody in your level range, but not necessarily easier to group up with people you meet while adventuring.
Of course you could change that model significantly by giving the new players zero talent points and just the few skills they'd start with at level one. To ear talent points they'd have to quest, and to buy new skills they'd need gold (so you inflate the costs of the skill)....but then you just might as well go play guild wars :P
Levelling is fun if you do it rarely enough. I would rather aim at cutting the time down a bit further, and improving the items more to where each level provides lots of power-up kicks at a relatively high tempo. Its a bit too stretched as it is so you barely notice the benefit of one upgrade.
The amount of work it would take to make such a change would be insane.

Think about all the quests and rewards they would have to change around.

That said how did other older MMO's deal with this similar issue?
Conversely, you could just set max level to 50, and scale everything accordingly. So let's say Bliz added new levels in WotLK, then they could just scale everyone back proportionally so the old 50s would be 40 once more, and so on, and then they'd have their ten more levels. All the previous zones would be scaled appropriately as well.

So, no zone would EVER be obsolete, but you might find STV was only good for three levels instead of thirteen, and it would preserve the challenge of the new levels and keep old content relevant, so you could now raid MC at level 40 if you wanted.

I mean, it's essentially what they are trying to do anyway, and it would solve every problem I can think of.
@lavis -- EQ1 handled it by granting substantial experience bonuses to adventuring in certain older zones, and by revamping some zones to make them more challenging.

That worked for awhile.
elite level 60 Hogger imo
This is not exactly on the same topic, but not far from it. What happens to people that only have the basic WoW at the moment when Wotlk launches? Logically there will be a huge level gap between 60 and 70 without TBC. Do you think TBC content will be "free" with the launch of Wotlk or would everyone have to have it to enjoy any of the higher level content?

I guess there will not be many people in that position, but I can almost bet that there are some. :)
"elite level 60 Hogger imo"

Stitches ftw! ;)
"and everything except the last 10 levels tends to be underpopulated"

I have to disagree here, at least when you look at my server, Moonrunner US. I personally run the census plus mod, and if you look at the results on both factions, they're pretty interesting. There are obviously many people at 70, but then you also see quite a few people with characters between 1-29. A lot of these are twinks of course, but there are still plenty of people leveling up, even with the changes. The main place that seems to be sparse with players is from around 40 to 60.
I would leave 1-60 the way it is now. It takes half as much time as before, but still requires a significant commitment to level up a character to respectable level. I think the problem is that the old level 60 end-game content is completely worthless as it exists today other than for nostalgia. I think it’s important to make that content relevant again to players on the way from 1-70.

I think making the loot tables of the boss drops on Strat, Scholo, Black Rock comparable to the level 58-62 greens in Outland and slightly lowering the amount of XP per kill is a start. My thought here is that moving to those instances at 58-60 is better for you than making the jump to Outland.

Secondly, old raid content needs to be made 5-10 mannable when new raid content is released. I’m not saying the content immediately preceding the top-end progression, but the content one step back from that. AND--- make loot for future instances/raids simply upgrades for pieces earned earlier in the progression. That way, going through the earlier content is required for progression, but since it was made easier, it’s not as huge a burden.

For example-- Set2 is dependent upon you having the piece for Set1. You get the Set1 piece at a vendor/questgiver from a turnin for badges or a loot drop from a boss in raid instance A. Once you have Set1 from A, then you go to raid instance B for a loot drop that will allow the vendor/questgiver to upgrade Set1 to Set2. The caveat is that when you release raid instance C, that you make raid instance A much easier to complete. I would actually tune-it down to a 5-man instance. This allows your laggers to see the content and gear up while still protecting the latest content. This is largely due to the fact that your “C” content is still insulated with tough “B” raid content.
I've been leveling a horde character. And the sad fact is If I were a new player I'd never get to end game. I've run about 7 groups up to 31. 1 of them was close to the recommended level requirements. All of the others were just powered through with some higher level character who had the quests and had never been able to get a group together. NOT FUN AT ALL. I'm finding the game is breaking for me over the grouping issue. The new players either just quit or think that's the way it always was.

I'll never ever level another character again. It's just no fun at all. I thought doing the horde side would refresh the game somehow. It has just illustrated how broken it is.

At this point as much as i've argued against it for 3 years. I'd support a /level command. Hell at this point I'd pay 25 dollars to level my character if I could do it legally. And I'm a cheapskate who mocks gold buyers.
What about limiting new players starting out on a couple of designated 'newbie' servers? Once they get a character to a certain point, say level 50+, they could transfer to any other server and carry on their gameplay from there.
A 50 level "newbie isle"? What if they wanted to play with friends? And what does that give them to look forward to?

Now, one thing I COULD see is a "WoW Classic" server -- would be limited to pre-BC.
I don’t buy into the “newbies” won’t make it to endgame mentality. With the 2.3 leveling changes, it takes half as much time to reach 60 as it once did. A “new” player is going to take about 6 days played. Averaging a modest 2 hours a night, it will only take them 2 and a half months to reach 60 and maybe another 3-4 weeks to hit 70. Call it 3 and a half months for someone averaging 2 hours a night to reach 70. Now consider that all of that 1-70 content is BRAND NEW for the player. Unlike someone who rerolled, its not a boring drawn out process that takes them three and a half months to complete.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the leveling changes is that many of the former group quests are now solable because they got rid of the elites. As I leveled, this was a change that I really welcomed since there were a number of quests I hadn’t completed on previous characters because I outleveled them before I got a group. This was pretty unsatisfying since most of these were chains and I just never saw it all the way to completion. “The Battle of Hillsbrad” is a really good example of this change.

Part of the problem in some cases is that they have a friend who is 70 who keeps telling them “wait until you are 70” and power levels them through more content. It’s hard to stay satisfied with the game you are experiencing when someone is constantly pushing you to 70. They need to experience the game and join a newbie guild that (gag!) will “help each other level.” You know the one that is always spamming trade that they accept all levels and have a tabard!
i'd like to be able to go to my class trainer to level up for a fee. That way i could, for example, play some of the burning steppes content with my 54 mage and then when i'd had enough, go to ironforge and pay to level up. If I didn't have enough gold, I'd do a daily with my main and mail it to my mage.

That said, playing through it right now, I wish the 50-58 leveling pace was about twice what it is.
A couple of points from the guy who came up with this idea:

I wouldn't expect it to help out that much with grouping outside of instances, however, there doesn't really seem to be any good way to help that issue out that doesn't cause a lot of issues in other places, since if each expansion continues to add content, it will spread people out no matter what the level range is, A low level range spreads people out over the same level, a high level range spreads people out by forcing each of them to play in their own individual areas while leveling.

What the lower level range is meant to deal with, in addition to boredom, time to level, etc., is instance groups, where with the LFG system people can look for groups pretty easily in 3 or so instances. Having a lower level range will help out with that, as people will as likely as not be looking to do several instances, and a higher number of people in that level range also looking for instances makes it more likely to find a group for one of them. It may help a bit with other areas, just because people will have friends and guild members, though that is more iffy.

The "levels 1-60 show people how to play their class" doesn't seem as big an issue as described in the blog, since a lot of the skill picked up in leveling isn't that useful in groups or PvP, though it is useful just in general for knowing how a lot of basic skills work. It is a big weakness of the suggestion (As is the work it would take to actually get it done.)
Outside of defending the changes suggested in the post, I wouldn't mind being able to pay a small amount (maybe $10 per character), or being able to start all new characters at a high level, or any other of these suggestions. For me, even "just" 2 months of leveling one character solo with quests, as is likely the fastest way to do it, will get boring and repetitive, just because the same skills will be getting used over and over. the most fun parts of the game can from trying out the different characters, and doing instances, both of which are harder to do the way the current game works.

i think idea to eliminate 1-60 is short sighted.

remember, WOW is incredibly polished and fun MMO from 1-60. ppl who already played WOW for 2 yrs off coz have different perspective. but i prefer BLizzard add more content to 1-60 (new starting area, new race, new 1-60 area) rather than shoving 1-60 out of the picture. remember for a newbie, 1-60 is a learning experience.


i propose an alternate solution :

if someone already leveled to max lvl cap , he can choose to create new alt at more advanced level , like this :

- leveled 1 lv70 , can create 1 alt at lv 40 (horse riding level)
- leveled 2 lv70 , can create 1 alt at lv50, or 2 alt at lv40
- leveled 3 lv70 , can create 1 alt at lv60 or can create 2 alt at lv50, or 3 alt at lv40
- leveled 4 lv70 or more.. so on so on

off coz the new alt should be naked and spell-less/skill-less.. serves you right for skipping all those lowbie zones hehehe
What about this? Leveling
for people who came up with the various "speed up 1-60" ideas: the point of this suggestion was to reduce some of the spreading out issues that come with speeding up 1-60. For reasons of game development time, that seems to be what would end up being done, but it does bring along some issues with it.

The main learning experience between 1-max level will come from fights getting more complex, specializations increasing how powerful certain strategies are, and getting more skills available. The increase in stats from leveling doesn't matter otherwise. (For example, doubling damage, healing, and hit points, while keeping damage reduction, slowing effects, speed, etc. the same will result in the same fight, just with bigger numbers.) It doesn't really matter stat wise what level the fights take place at, if the complexity of fighting , types of gear choices, etc. are increased in the same way from level to level, though the time to get used to those gear choices does effect how long people have to get used to them.

Just playing one character over and over gets quite boring after awhile (at least for me, I'm not probably with some other people as well), which is where the suggestions not based on having a level 80 character come from. (I still might be doing it, using something like a hunter that kills things quickly, if it were introduced, but it would be a less fun option).

Extra areas from 1-60 would be nice, though, as there isn't much zone diversity from around 30 on up. (And horde has a bit less from 20 on up.)
The "levels 1-60 show people how to play their class" doesn't seem as big an issue as described in the blog, since a lot of the skill picked up in leveling isn't that useful in groups or PvP, though it is useful just in general for knowing how a lot of basic skills work. It is a big weakness of the suggestion (As is the work it would take to actually get it done.)

I would submit that the fact that in the current game the skills you learn leveling don't help at endgame are the symptom of the devs shortsightedness, and bad design. If they'd done something like increase the EP gained in instances by removing the grouping penalty from level 1 to 60 then people could have leveled in instances and there would be a big incentive to do so.

Instead they turned the 1 to 60 into a solo game. And if they want to be that lazy they should just start everyone at 60. Not what I call an ideal solution but better than what they have now.
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