Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Rise of the Leet King

I received the following letter from Blizzard today, and I need your help to decide what to answer them:
Dear Blizzard Customer,

We are writing you because you are, or have been in the past, playing World of Warcraft. We also know, thanks to our Warden spy software we installed on your computer, that you have been complaining on some blog, or forum, about World of Warcraft being too easy, and having become even easier during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Well, as you are on to us, and we need your help, we decided to tell you a secret: Making World of Warcraft easier in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion was a deliberate business decision based on our design for our upcoming second MMORPG. That second MMORPG, working title "Rise of the Leet King™", is going to be a very hard MMORPG. That way we'll cover all the MMO market, having one very easy and accessible MMORPG for the mass market and new players, and one very hard and challenging MMORPG for the veteran players.

Unfortunately our design team has run into a problem: We have some ideas, based on our experience as serious Everquest raiders, on how to make a MMORPG really hard. But some of the team say that certain features of Everquest wouldn't be acceptable any more for our Rise of the Leet King MMORPG. Thus we are sending out this survey to all of you who complained about World of Warcraft being too easy, so you can tell us exactly in which way you would like your dream MMORPG to be much harder. We compiled a list of possible options, and would like you to tell us which of these you would like to have in a hard game (multiple mentions possible), or, if you have any idea how to make a MMORPG hard that isn't listed, please tell us that one too. The options are:
  • Slower leveling: Make the time to gain a level or any other reward much slower, so it takes about 2,000 hours to reach the level cap, like in Everquest.
  • Experience loss death penalty: Lose about 10% of a level every time you die, including the option to lose levels, taking you days to recover.
  • Item loss: The possibility to lose items, either through death or from wear and tear.
  • Harder soloing: Making mobs much more powerful, so that soloing an even level mob is likely to end up with your death.
  • Faster reaction times required: A combat system in which you need to press the correct blocking key to mitigate damage in fractions of a second. Repeated failure to do so will end up in your certain death due to that lack of skill. Everquest didn't have that, we came up with that one by ourselves, based on the popularity of fast reaction requirements in raids.
  • No instances, slow respawn times: Every mob and raid boss only exists in one copy per server, and only respawns after several hours. If you want to kill a raid boss, your guild better be there before any other guild.
In expectation of your answer what exactly you want when you complain about World of Warcraft being too easy, yours

I think they sent that letter to me by mistake, I want neither of these options, having already experienced most of them in Everquest. So I'm passing the buck to you: If you have ever been complaining about World of Warcraft being too easy, please tell me, how exactly should "hard" look? If you are a reader, you can answer in the comment section. If you are one of many blogger having complained about World of Warcraft being too easy, how about putting your answer on your blog? Just mention the Rise of the Leet King, so we can find your blog post on Google.
Heh I'll always say that most of these people who complain about the game being too easy would have never lasted during the EQ days.

I definitely want to read the responses to this post.
I'll say that using up all 10 of our guilds attempts at putricide in varying manners of grisly death that Blizzard deffinently knows how to make certain fights have the perfect level of difficulty.

However certain fights (tank and spank and such), regardless of how high the gear checks are, would qualify to me as being too easy.

Even if you require the entire raid to be decked out in full T27 to last more than 5 seconds it doesn't make the raid hard, requiring the raid to coordinate and act together is what makes for a certain amount of skill needed (many will disagree).
Item loss please Tigole, loved that in SWG. Mind you, I made armour.
Not sure this is really a serous Bliz post. I mean, "Rise og the leet king " ?? Im suspecting its some sort of mocking post or something the likes.
LOL, Tobold -- you crack me up!

In general, I think that hitting the level cap is too easy, and doesn't prepare someone for group play. I recommend tests of skill required to advance past every 10 levels. Some would be solo tests, and others could be group play with NPC's or players in preset gear, so no one is carried.
Not sure this is really a serous Bliz post. I mean, "Rise og the leet king " ?? Im suspecting its some sort of mocking post or something the likes.

Maybe I can sell you the new Reality-Check-O-Meter 2010? The new model comes with modules to detect humor, parodies, sarcasm, and irony, sparing you all those embarrasing situations where you just didn't get it.
It should be like TBC.

"In general, I think that hitting the level cap is too easy, and doesn't prepare someone for group play."

This was the case in TBC/early Wrath, but I would argue that it no longer applies. The majority of players now use the Dungeon Finder at some point during their journey to level 80 and I've seen the quality of tanking/healing in the 40-50 range really improve since this was the case.
Haha, almost as funny as the relevations about that you're in fact Gevlon. Just a bit sad to think of that quite a few people probably won't get it.
First of all I would want all raid bosses to be on the level of Kael and good old Naxx40. For people to get to that high standard just adjust Molten Core, BWL and AQ40 to Level 80 as training dungeons offering loot a tiny bit above heroic level.
Experience loss would even be fine in my book, even if I never experienced it firsthand. I'd just drop the "you can also lose levels"-part because that would hurt instances.
Next I would tune normal instances to about the level of difficulty of heroics now and make heroics harder, I think the relative level of difficulty of Magisters Terrace heroic would be fine.
General rule for all instances: Standing in green stuff deals damage equal to 100% of your hitpoints after 3-4 seconds, no more "I won't move, healer can make up for my mistakes". Other than that I'm pretty much satisfied with WoW, no doubt I would get new ideas as soon as those would be realised ;)
"Maybe I can sell you the new Reality-Check-O-Meter 2010?

I guffawed! Playing along, make it harder by introducing perma-death, disabling mail attachments & trade, eliminating non-self buffs, removing the two-primary professions limit while limiting the auction house to raw material trade (need a flask/starter weapon/buff scroll etc? Make it yourself! Relying on people to shore up your weaknesses makes the game too easy!)... I could go on and on and on :-)
Fortunately for Blizzard, TV Tropes has compiled several handy checklists just for this occasion.
While I like the idea of some sort of forced grouping at least once while leveling (guild wars partially did this in their tutorial) I would say that it does not necessarily guarantee the target will learn anything from the experience. Likely they will quickly find a way to over power the event and the proceed to forget anything they might have accidentally learned.
Ah, reading that post made me feel like I was back in the Vanguard beta forum again!

I did read one interesting positive argument in favour of open-world dungeons there, though. By setting them in a place everybody can access simultaneously, they actually promote socialising, as an under-strength group can start off there (clearing trash etc) and then team up with others they meet on the way. With Blizzard's phasing technology, it should even be possible to eliminate the boss-camping problem. Once you've killed him, he ceases to exist *for you* for N days, rather than for everybody.

This may actually be an idea that's worth revisiting, even if not in the "leet" form you described.
Slower leveling: Make the time to gain a level or any other reward much slower, so it takes about 2,000 hours to reach the level cap, like in Everquest.

This is something I absolutely would like, but not in isolation. People think levelling is boring so making it take longer is a bad thing, so lets make it faster. How about making it less boring instead and giving it a point.

First of all make it so that a wider range of levels can group together. Perhaps make a level 80 with poor gear equal in power to a level 74 with decent gear. Then you don't necessarily take only level 80s even on raids. Make it so that getting better gear is something you can do, or getting XP for a level is something you can do, and to some degree both have advantages but you get to choose which.

The point is not just to make levelling slower, but to stop the game being about levelling to level 80 then about acquiring new gear and make it more so you can advance by doing either at any level.

Perhaps I didn't explain that very well, my point is that it's easy to post the suggestions and make them look silly, but they are not meant to be taken in isolation.
I'm a casual gamer. I started playing in the middle of TBC (since 2007). I don't raid, except when my guild scheduled it during the weekends and I have the time.

I enjoy the game as it is, I run heroics and do dailies every day, and still find time to level an alt or two. Now, some people disagree and say these days that WoW is too easy. If someone goes to Blizzard and request that they make another game, a hardcore one, for them to play, I'd say go ahead.

Because for me, the game is fine as it is.
Ah, I didn't know that blizzard was making daoc 2 :)

* Slower leveling: 40 days to level to 50, and leveling from 1-40 took as long as 40-50.
* Experience loss death penalty: Smaller penalty, but it was there.
* Item loss: No, drops were already hard enough to get
* Harder soloing: lv 40 -> 50 had to be done in a full (8man) group. Solo would be stupid.
* Faster reaction times required: There were chains you had to make, like after a block, or even 3-4 different styles in a row
* No instances, slow respawn times: Or, fun too: a quest mob that only spawns at night. (Terrible if you arrive in the morning :( )
I can't decide if this letter is satire or real...

Mind games!
- Permanent death,

- Dungeons are black - no light unless you make it.

-You need to eat and drink every few hours. If you do not log on in time -> perma death.

-You need to sleep every few hours, if you don't teh screen blurrs and you eventually pass out.

- Monster have quintruble criticals, dealing 5x as much damage. In addition 50% of the time these are instantly followed by maga-crushing: 300% damage.

- Hits in your back always kill you instantly.

- If you cannot swim, diving into water kills you.

- Total number of charcters that can be created per account: 3. If all 3 die you need to buy a new account.
Lay down on the coffee Tobold, or just stop mixing exotic stuff in it :P

For the record,

1. Funny !
2. More grind ok, More challenge ok, everything else was exactly what made me leave other games to wow.
I do not want any added grinds into the game I play. The best game design that would cater to my needs would be one that would make it possible that once I mastered a certain aspect of the game I don't have to endlessly repeat it.

Leveling from 20 to 30 is just the same as going from 30 to 40. I admit, there is a change in the scenery, but if I am doing it with an alt it is already old news.

My notion of difficulty in a game is tightly connected to an iteration of new challenges which I have to overcome. Long grinds like rep farming, instance badges, repeated raids which I know the mechanics inside out bring not much to the table.

Therefore arguing that a game is too easy because you can get the things you get faster than another time is completely wrong.

In other words, a game which requires a huge time investment in order to only become competitive is
not a game to my liking.

Simply put, give us a game where you have to put in a good deal of strategic thinking and fine execution to get the whole set of rewards, instead of spending the said time grinding one piece at a time.
Permanent death.

Loosing experience when you die is for wusses. Real men loose their character when they die.

Blizzard knows how to do it, it's in Diablo 2. Now they just need to grow the balls to implement it!
Beeing new to the bloggosphere i suppose i must expect abit of embarrassing situations. About the questions ans suggestions in this post i feel that there is a bit one missing. The huge time gap to be expected from Liche Kind dies until Cataclysm comes. Thes must be a substantial risk for Bliz to loose to many players if they don`t relese some more content in between. What should they do ? Im leaning towards that this time gap might kill wow before Cataclysm comes alive. So then maby Bliz will intoduce a new game. Fall of the Leet King - rofl. Annyways, Im sure Bliz is working hard on this new game to replace/overlap wow as we speak.

Rise of the Leet King????

If I put in the same amount of time into wow as I did into my EQ chanter, I would probably have 20 level 80's all in T10 and have found a way to kill the Lich King before release. The fact that so many people left EQ for WoW says something.
This is hilarious.

I'm going to write up something about this, right now! :D

Hence why I always refer to it as Dark Age of Camp-a-lot (The Game About Riding Horses (TM)).


You should add one more thing to the list:

-Realistic travel times. Travel is way too fast and needs to be slowed down so players can appreciate all the lovely scenery.

At least, that seemed to be the theory in DAoC. Nothing more painful than riding all the way to Lyonesse and then, once you had actually started camping, the Mids or Hibs attacked your relic keep and half your group (including the all-important Cleric) decided they wanted to head north to defend/recapture. ARGH!
@Jb. Wow won't die because there is a period with little new content.

What will happen is that a number of players stop their account for a while...
And come back en masse when the next expansion hits. At which point the circle will repeat itself.

It's only normal to have a smaller user base at the end of every expansion. That doesn't mean that WoW is "dead".
Always attack the healers, ofcourse.
Is it April 1st already?

How about these suggestions?

1.) No mount until you reach level cap.

2.) No corpse dragging. You die next to that Leet mob, then tough.

3.) You have to craft your own armor for the first 20 levels if you want anything with stat bonuses. Spidersilk armor anyone?

4.) Any mob that is grey to you does not drop anything. No more lvl 80 guildees running you through dungeons for Leet gear.
Jokes aside, have we just described DarkFall, or am I missing something?
Downranking Please......

other than that send anyone that wants evercrack back to evercrack. LOL
I have a response on my blog.

I would like to see CC come back into the game.
The very first thing I would do is rage to high heaven that they were (intenionally if inneffectively) using their warden software to spy on your blogging habits. What you say or write is absolutely none of their f'ing business and is an enormous invasion of your privacy.

I can undestand and agree to using such software as a means of catching cheaters in the game but that is absolutely where it must stop. I would not object to being spied on as a test for third party programs or illegal addons or other game altering activities but how in the hell can you justify outright espionage.

I'm sure they found some legal loophole that allows them to do this but man the whole thing just reeks of criminal activity.
So it took me an hour and 15 minutes, but I finally finished my Leet King article. :) I'd HTML link it, but I don't know how....
While funny, there is definitely a market for and interest in harder, more challenging or more complex games. WoW has never been a game that I feel passionate about, as it is very easy, especially in comparison to older or more niche based games. Mind you, that is one of the reasons for its staggering success. As for changing the game, I see no reason for Blizzard to do so. There are some excellent games, produced by smaller developers that are better games for folks who seek more challenge, risk and intensity from their experiences.

I can't say I like the tone of the original post though. The implication that wanting a game to be harder makes you some sort of "Leet" player is actually somewhat insulting. But, meh.
Item loss: The possibility to lose items, either through death or from wear and tear.

That one doesn't necessarily make a game harder -- provided that you make replacing it easier.

I've long argued that the solution to a number of problems is to make gear itself a temporary upgrade -- not a permanent one.

The other benefit of gear that 'breaks' is that it makes other items last longer. Crafting a green replacement is suddenly valuable. Getting that blue drop in a Heroic? Also valuable.

You also wouldn't find the 'top-geared' player trying to blow through a Heroic in his Sunday best if it takes a permanent durability hit. Instead, you'd see them wearing lesser gear when 'farming' things.

It would take a shift in thinking, but it's not necessarily HARDER.
Oh, I can beat ALL of those in your list - EASILY!

Make a "Hardcore" server - Hardcore as in Diablo II Hardcore. If you die, it's permanent! No ghost-walking. Go roll a new character starting at level 1.

Well, maybe to give the rez-classes a function, allow you to be rezzed within a minute, or you die. (to throw you carebears a bone).

For the truly masochistic, we will have Hardcore-PVP servers.

(imagine a game where you hire bodyguards to protect your high-level character!)

Enjoy. :-)

Yes, this is sarcasm. But sick as it sounds, I think there would be a market for this type of game - though I wouldn't play it. I mean, after all Diablo 2 DOES have this hardcore mode, and people DO play it afterall!
I think a good idea would be to randomly reset high level players back to level one. This can be story driven, too. For example, after the reset, the Leet King sends a note to the player, "I noticed you were becoming powerful enough to challenge me. So how do you like this? Not so tough now, eh!"

I think hardcore players would really enjoy putting in another 2,000 hours to get back to level cap. And the beauty is that this could happen again. It's random!
Tie your character's level to your Facebook friend list.
Leet King! Awesome. :)

1. equipment damage or loss would be ok
2. reasonable experience loss would be ok -- ~20% of a level -- this would also encourage group play - although the dungeon finder has really done that now
3. reaction times for mob fights would be ok -- BGs are pretty good traing for that

No way perma death or character loss would cut it. Imagine being in Stranglethorn and some damn lvl 80 decides to whack you just for the hell of it. Too much time invested.
Forget dying to Mobs your own level in order to promote grouping. Just make it so you do not get XP, items, quest drops, quest credit, etc, for any solo kills.

If you want XP & loot from killing Mobs you need to group.

If you want to get kill credit and/or quest items, if you want to actually complete quests, then you need to group.

And if you die before the Mob does, even IF you tagged him, you don't get any loot and you don't get kill credit.

By the way, grouping does not mean you're out fighting Mobs while your buddies are kicking back somewhere with a half-naked Elf dancing on top of a mailbox. That's not grouping. The other members of your party need to be there with you, attacking the Mob or Healing each other, or nobody gets credit for the kill. No loot, no quest items or credit. Nada! Zip! Nothing! Comprende?

And did we mention that this is open world PvP, with no factions? That's right. Anyone can attack you, at any time, and they don't have to flag themselves. So be careful with that AoE Fireball, it's more likely to hurt the others in your party than the Mob you're all fighting. And look out for that other party that's sitting nearby, eating & drinking. They're probably waiting for you to get close to killing the Mob, and be low on health & mana, then they'll swoop in, finish you all off, and kill steal your Mob. Because that can happen in our game, because we're leet and hardcore and uber and stuff, and we like it like that. And if you don't, you're probably better off playing a Care Bear game with the other Care Bears. Maybe Darkfall is more your style.

I totally agree. I didn't even consider it until you said that but I've been chain running dungeons thanks to Dunegon Finder teh past week and I've only had 2 bad experiences.

One group's DK tank just didn't have enough HP and the group broke up after 1 pull and the other was a Hunter who died in another isntance after accepting the group and wouldn't drop group and couldn't find his body.
One easy way to make the game harder is to increase the strength of the trash mobs in instances, therefore requiring CC and focusing certain targets first. Enhance mob AI and healing abilities. If you ignore the mob healers, you wont be able to kill anything without WAY overgearing the content. Allow Caster mobs to drop threat or change targets. The melee mobs can be tanked, but the ranged are more intelligent and will identify weaknesses to exploit. In a sense, I'd like to see a combination of Heroic Magister's Terrace and Faction Champions in the mob trash, or even in solo questing. Just reduce the number of mobs for soloing.
Saw lots of good ideas, but didn't read half.

There is a difference between difficult and frustrating. Slow mobs re-spawns that are under constant camp is frustrating, not difficult. You want to make a mobs hard to farm, make it hard to even reach the mob. Put in him at the bottom of a dungeon or the top of a mountain.

Level loss at death is NEEDED, without it you end up with everyone at cap regardless of skill. The loss of exp should be balanced so that the level you reach reflects a your skill as a player. If you can't get past level 35 then you just aren't good enough to handle a level 40 challenge.

Gear should also be scaled back a bit. In WoW almost all your survivability is gear dependent. Gear should augment you, you shouldn't need it to handle a geared mob half your level.

The difference between levels should be decreases as well. Make it so a lvl 10 mob can be soloed at level 10, duo-ed at 8, 5-maned at five, 1-maned at 3 and full 40 raid at 1. Then removed player limits to dungeons, make the only limit the space players can occupy (taking in account full player/mob collisions) and how small of a slice of the treasure will be.

An equal level of mob should have an equal chance at killing the player, it is up to the player's skill to survive. But combat should not be click her in x seconds of die. With lag and disconnection on the internet as it is today such a battle system would be unrealistic, and unfun. have a slower, more "Simon says" type of combat.

If not that kinda combat, them more tactical. Don't have mobs Just wondering around waiting to be slaughtered, oblivious to their allies dieing a few yards away. Make the mobs smart, have guard formations, reinforcements, a melee parlax with range support. Make the player think about how to attack rather than running, in guns blazing.
As someone who was one of those "elite" raiders in Everquest I can say this... EQ wasn't so much harder as it was punishing.

The gameplay wasn't really any more in depth. The reason EQ seemed harder was because the stakes were higher if you lost.

The few things that were hard about EQ could be just as challenging in WoW. We didn't have raid strat walk throughs, we had to make them up. We had no threat meters or damage meters to tell who was screwing up or being lazy.

EQs gameplay challenge came from the lack of addons. WoW could enjoy the same level of difficulty if they just stoped going to Curse.

Making things take longer to kill or do more damage doesn't increase the difficulty, and thus challenge players skills, it is just inflation.
What I would like are class specific instances that you solo to gain some unique abilities. They could make those difficult.

I don't really want the rest of the game to be difficult.

(And it needs to be said that the battlegrounds and arena play can certainly be challenging because you're playing other players. I have some issues with BGs, but it's not because they are too hard. It's more about class balance in PvP and burst damage.)
Obvious giveaway #1: The statement about Warden.

Obvious giveaway #2: The beginning of the second paragraph (maybe it's just me, but it has a flashing red sign that says "WRITTEN BY TOBOLD").

Good post in any case. :)
I posted some of my own suggestions on my blog:

Anyone who thinks Blizzard needs Warden to know what Tobold is writing needs a serious reality check.
It would be nice to have a WoW that was harder in some ways:

1) Leveling should be slower

2) Mobs should have smarter aggro - if I run into a room and jump in the middle of one pack of mobs with 24 of my friends the other pack shouldn't ignore that

3) Elite mobs should be brought back and should be more prevalent - they should kill you if try to solo them with standard tactics. Think Felguards in Blasted Lands if you tried to kill one at Lvl 60.
It seems I always had more friends and fun in game(daoc) when forced grouping takes place to attain goals. I would be ecstatic if Cataclysm had this!So yeah you hit it on the nose for me with harder soloing. Rock on Chicago, Rock on London , The Rise of the Leet King, it's good stuff !
Good post. My main complaint about LK is the tiered badges. I am not fond of repeating the same content over and over as it drops different flavors of badge. I didn't mind having to raid for gear in BC; the only problem was the extreme jump in gear requirements from heroics to Karazhan.

I dislike the raid heroic modes too. I don't feel like I "won" when I run only normal modes and the people I play with don't care to repeat content over and over. Make the fights one hard level, and give us back the sense of achievement when we finally get a boss down.
While earlier you may have thought World of Warcraft more of a challenge we are sending you this email to inform you that this is about to change with the release of our new expansion, Wrath of the Lith King. We wouldn’t possibly want you to buy an expansion that is very different from the last and from the game in general, so this is a friendly warning of what to expect and not expect.

• Many classes are much easier and require less skill! Instead of having a complex system of seals, Paladins now just have them as simple buffs and just spam away their cooldowns.
• Leveling is now completely linear. There is no more need to annoyances like finding quests that others might consider hidden gems, all quests are right in front of your eyes.
• Instances now mostly need no Crowd Control or active thinking.
• Feeling left out? Well don’t worry because all classes can now do everything. Damage dealers can now use Area damage spells, all tanks are equalised and it doesn’t matter what healers you choose.
• A part from mostly HP and damage changes the first main raid dungeon hasn’t really been changed at all. So now with all the new TBC and WOTLK since its release in late Vanilla, you can easily storm through this huge raid dungeon within the first day of getting twenty or so other level 80 players together.
However, the team is focusing heavy on our new Achievements. Which present you with a shiny gold bar when you do something meaningless for meaningless points, so there are even new ways to grind (or re-grind, since our achievement system won’t remember 90% of your old achievements which you already had without this system) our old and new content.
Some random new developer that has a business degree from Activision.
As it happens, I just cancelled my WoW subscription.

The "why are you leaving" questionnaire was a bit inflexible, but I gave as my main reason for leaving something along the lines of:

"Levelling is too fast. Gameplay is MUCH too fast. Gameplay in general is too simplistic and lacks complexity."

After 6 months playing WoW I think it's a good game, but there are many better ones. Everquest, EQ2, Vanguard, Fallen Earth, FFXI and Allods, just to name the MMOs I am currently playing or have played in the last year, all seem more interesting and involving to me than does WoW. They generally have more intersting Lore, better written quests, slower and more satisfying gameplay and are just more fun.

I did like WoW, and I will be resubbing to have a look at the Cataclysm, but on balance playing WoW longterm is like trying to live on a diet of sliced white bread and Coke. When there are full three-course meals available for the same price or less in other restaurants, why would you want to do that?
Leveling is too fast. And what's a soloer to do once they hit 80? I can only rep grind and PUG so much before it gets old.

Longer level grinding would be awfully nice if the quests told better stories, like we had in the black temple attunement in BC.

But heck, have any of you guys played UO when it started? No real levels, and your gear was gone when PvP ganked you. Here's what I spent hours doing:

Chop wood. Make bows. Sell bows.
Chop wood. Make bows. Sell bows.
Chop wood. Make bows. Sell bows.
Buy gear. Walk to cemetery. Kill a skeleton. Get pkilled. Lose gear.
Chop wood. Make bows. Sell bows.

Alternatively, Buy gear, walk to sewers. Gear three frogs. Make shoes. Get pkilled. Lose gear.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And it was great.
None of these suggestions make the game harder in a meaningful way to me, they simply make it more painful and more grindy.

Here's what I want, flatten the leveling power curve, and make quests available before they are doable by complete noobs.

What I mean by flatten the power curve is to lower the steep steep hit penalty for being lower level than something. Right now, if you have BoA gear, prettty much any mob you can hit 90% of the time is easy, but you go in about 3-4 levels from easy to impossible because at +6-7 levels you almost never hit anything. At best, you can do it, by kiting or self-healing, but it takes forever, and you only get 20% more xp. Also, if you try to level by doing quests with mobs more than 2-3 levels above you, you can't get most of the quests anyway, so you level slower not faster.

I'd like a game where it is feasible to kill mobs 5-10 levels higher than you, just like it currently is to kill players 5-10 levels higher, if they are bad enough at pvp to be like mobs -- and where the xp bonus is commensurate with the extra time it takes, and where all the quests in an area are available from a point where it's *possible* to do them solo (or with the appropriate sized group). In one sense this would make the game "easier" in that it would become possible to do things you cannot do now, although I would also be just fine with retuning so that orange quests are actually quite hard, and yellow not trivial, if you have bad gear and skills, you would need to stick to green quests. The problem with the current setup is that it goes from easy to easy to pretty easy to impossible/painful with no pretty hard to very hard in between.

For endgame, I think having more figghts where you have to be able to CC, Kite, interrupt etc. in order to down them would be a good thing. I do miss that in BC, if you didn't have at least 1-2 good dps who could cc/trap, stay out of fire, follow a kill order, etc. you couldn't generally get through heroics unless everyone was painfully overgeared. So I would like to see heroics tuned better. The original wrath heroics, it is trivial to carry bad DPS even with a tank and healer in blues if they know how to play. In TBC, even for ramps, if you had all blues in a heroic, you better have 5 players who know how to play or you were going to wipe a lot.
Amended Hardcore request

2000 hours to reach the cap, that’s a good start. Why not have a skill based game where use levels up skill and skill level increases have a logarithmic tail-off. It is important to only allow the selection of a limited number of skills, not to allow respec, and to periodically change the power balance of the skills to deal with broken builds. This was AC’s method.

Experience loss death penalty a sounds pretty good: It would be good to add on stat debuff that players could only clear by killing the mob of the type that killed them (you know, to recover their “courage”).

Item loss: How about this for a hilarious twist. In addition to losing items outright when you die, the mobs get to loot you! Whoever kills the mob gets looting rights. If it despawns before it’s killed, the gear is gone.

Harder soloing needs to be amended to say, soloing any mob capable of giving you more than nominal xp is likely to result in death. You could augment this by creating zones with massive linking aggro so that there are only a small number of locations to pull mobs to. This mostly describes FFXI during its early and middle years.

The faster reaction times is nice, perhaps you could include several types of specific counters, kind of a plussed up version of AoC where you have to hit one set of say 5 buttons to determine the direction of the attack and one of 5 buttons to determine the direction of the block.

FFXI bettered your last one. You need days between respawns and the days between respawns need to be according to a conditional numerical sequence. Spawning mobs should require days of collecting expendable components or defeating pre-bosses collecting expendable components. It helps a lot if you have guilds in multiple time zones (like Japan and the US) so that people can fight to pull the spawn time into their time zone. If you include a mechanism by which you can periodically lose claim to the mob you are fighting (allowing anyone else to claim it), then you will have captured the full FFXI Sky boss fight experience.

You forgot the obligatory open world non-consensual PvP with full looting rights. Remember, no cheating by hiding your items away in a bank. Maybe as an added plus up you let the winner scalp(or take some trophy from) the loser and then they can use the scalp/trophy to enter the users character and account name onto a permanent wall of shame sorted by the number of and/or ignominy of the deaths.

This is all good stuff, now if there was only a way to force players to pay you to play the game, or a way to force a producer to fund the development effort.
Why not implement a "circular death" option, whereby the character "inhabits" the body of whatever just killed them and must survive for one game day to be given the option to respawn without xp loss? (Gear loss is another thing entirely - the body remains where it is until it's rezzed or "recovers from its near-death experience" after surviving for a game day. This also solves the problems of other PC's not having "intelligent mob AI", since they would in fact be playing against other people with a vested interest in survival.

Make the dead bodies mobile and the player-possesed mobs could stash the bodies someplace to keep thier gear from being looted, but this adds to the formation of random "treasure rooms" if the other players know this tactic is being used and are actively searching for these hidden spots instead of just running through a dungeon over and over.

As an aside, if a player controlled mob is able to pkill another player's avatar, they get to respawn early - no xp loss. The newly ganked player then spawns as that mob and the cycle starts anew. Make the mobs able to talk to each-other over a party chat and you'd have both soloing and forced grouping happening at the same time. And what's more, it'd be FUN.

At higher levels, players could choose to be "squad leaders" of lower level mobs (for squad-based tactics) or a mob of thier level - this would cater to those who would rather have multiple "pets" to command while in "monster possession mode", each with an xp penalty if they die, or solo as more powerful enemies.

I see people getting purposefully ganked to scout out possible routes as one of the enemy before getting rezzed again, as well as two or more enemy factions trying to off each other because they're both representing players who have been killed and want to loot the bodies of the other players.

Can you imagine entering a map with scores of goblin bodies already littering the floor and flashes of mage-fire lighting the far tunnels, and knowing that none of this is pre-scriptd? It'd be awesome!
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