Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 16, 2011
How to slow down leveling

My wife is a casual World of Warcraft player. She doesn't participate in any form of group content, neither dungeons, nor raids, nor PvP. In consequence there isn't much to do for her in the "endgame" besides daily quests, and thus she has tons of alts and spends most of her time leveling. And since Cataclysm, she isn't all that happy about her leveling speed: It goes too fast.

The problem is a design philosophy of Blizzard, who apparently decided to keep the overall leveling time up to the level cap more or less constant. So every time they add levels on top of the game, they need to make the lower levels faster by the same amount of time. Three expansions after vanilla this has led to downright silly leveling speed under 60. Thus if you are a casual player, and want to play through the quests of a zone, it is kind of annoying if you outlevel the quests before finishing them.

Thus me and my wife worked out how we could slow down her leveling speed to a more pleasurable pace. Now the first point would be to remove heirloom items that give xp bonuses, but my wife hasn't got any of those. The second strategy is deliberately logging off outside of cities and inns, so as to get less rest xp bonus. But ultimately the only thing that really works well is paying 10 gold to stop all xp gain. There is an NPC in the main city's PvP building which allows that. Stop gaining xp, play until the level of the quests and mobs rises higher than yours, then turn on xp gain again for another 10 gold.

This works, but in the end I still think that Blizzard has a design problem here. The needs of the players who think that the game begins at the level cap, and who want to level as fast as possible, clash with the needs of the casual players who want to have fun while questing and leveling. Leveling from 1 to 60 feels like watching a movie in fast forward, not a good speed if you are actually interested in enjoying the content. Sometimes I think it would be better to slow down leveling back to vanilla WoW speed, and simply sell people level 85 characters with BiS blue gear from normal dungeons for $20 if they desire to skip the leveling part.
Or, they could add content at level cap that someone like your wife would enjoy.

The next step after that is to replace all leveling content with level cap content of that kind.

And at that point, we can eliminate levels entirely.
The last few posts circle around a common theme. I think, that the inevitable conclusion here is that the two parts of the game should in fact be two different games. Other solutions are only half-fixes, ways to walk around the problem rather then means of resolving it.
Why charge $20 for the new level 85 character? Once you have unlocked the endgame by leveling to 85 your new characters can have two options. Fresh at level 1, or a 85 character with BiS blue gear (whatever that may mean). That way they can stretch out the 1-85 content a lot more and casuals will keep playing WOW for years to come. As it is now Mrs Tobold and other like her might quit. Also the endgame fans are happy. Many players might resub if they don't have to replay the 1-85 content again.

Adding the $20 is just greed. Something Blizzard/Activision would never do ;)
Oh, I noticed the same this last week. I had been given 7 free days and activated them. I didn't want to return to my former server, so I went to the server I'd been on before that. But with a new character. After playing for what felt like just a few hours, I'm already level 24. I'd not been able to see much of the lower level areas at all.

I think it clearly shows where Blizzard's priorities are: Endgame (that is: raiding and PvP).

You rush through the levels and reach endgame relatively fast (that is, the level you need. Then begins the gear grind ;) ).

And look at the festivals: What's there to do for a level 10 character, for example? Or the brewfest mount. My level 40 UD priest has the brewfest mount because she'd done the riding quest in the first year (and luckily, because she'd gotten it, she was also allowed to buy the epic version). Now, players aren't able to get the low level version anymore. Lots of festival content (non-combat pets, mounts, costumes etc.) can only be obtained after killing a boss. And usually, those bosses don't exist for low level players.

I think it's rather sad and while I will enjoy a few more days in WoW even after the 7 days have run out, I will not return "for good" but rather find other MMOs that fit better to my playstyle.
why cant they build in a level scaling system like the chronomages in EQ2 where you can go back and experience low lvl content and still benefit as if you were doing high lvl stuff.
I agree wholeheartedly with this. I was quite excited at the prospect of leveling a toon through the revamped Azeroth but, as you say, found myself outleveling any zone long before I'd experienced it's story arc. Less than halfway through the Ashenvale zone, about 40% of quests done, and every mob being grey to me just drained me of enthusiasm. Too fast, too easy. Below the level cap there is no danger in the World of Warcraft. And a lack of danger leads to a lack of excitement....

Stopping XP using the NPC in Stormwind is indeed the only option to keep things interesting sadly. Stop XP and keep questing till all mobs are red to you, switch on XP and quest till they are green, switch off XP gain, repeat.

It's a workaround that pretty much breaks immersion totally, but at least it's there I suppose.
There is a group of people that prefers to play within an MMO completely in a solo context. Since I am in that category, I feel, perhaps wrongly, that it is not an insignificant amount of people.

Whether an MMO is built solely for that type of person or whether, like WOW, they try to accommodate both types; it is obvious that the raider/PVP endgame is not the correct way to keep the solo player happy.

In the past, concepts such as solo dungeons and raid content have been discussed as possible solutions. Another possible solution is to repeat levels at harder difficulties with better rewards ala Diablo II.

The 2nd class citizen concept (as many solo players agree) does not work. If an MMO attempts to integrate solo players within its multi-player mix, it must provide equivalent rewards to the solo player.
I don't think this is isolated to the solo only person. When leveling up my druid at the launch of Cata I would often run into this problem, and I wanted to hit max level asap. I wouldn't even make it 1/4 of the way through a zone, while using Dungeon Finder before the zone was to low to enjoy any challenge. By about level 40 I just sat in the city and used the Dungeon Finder because changing zones every 30-60 minutes, having to drop all my quests, find new ones, was just annoying.
The level system has the inherent flaw of separating the level cap players. You can go all the way back to EQ and see that you would never invite a level 1 to a raid, the same way you wouldn't in WoW.

Really the only ways to really get rid of the separation is to either have a purely skill based system (IE; UO) or a more ARPG type gameplay where players are more focused on actual skill rather then levels.

Either way means the idea of the EQ/WoW-clone games, as they are currently known, would have to be severed.
I think an interesting idea for a post would be for you to explain what is so compelling about the slow leveling, basic 5 man dungeon lifestyle. As the game currently stands the only challenge I find inherent in those activities is how long I can do it before I become bored.

I truly enjoy raiding and I understand why some wouldn't. I agree about wishing raiding would be less of a platformer, however I do think it still requires a lot of strategic thinking. Especially as a raid leader, so I remain satisfied.

What I can't understand is why anyone thinks "leveling" is fun. I cannot process it. Why not go play Dragon Age, or Mass Effect. Games where Quests are much more interesting. If you require real people in the world with you SWTOR will be here soon and it seems like there would be no reason to return to WoW's rudimentary quests.
Such a great post! I have played WoW on and off since the beginning, have (well, had before cataclysm) 8 top level characters, experienced some raiding and enjoyed dungeons, but really just got frustrated at the end game.

But then this post reminded me of why I fell in love with this game in the first place. It was the long journey of reaching milestones in the leveling process. I was a bit anal about completing every quest in a zone (so much so that the old tower of anthalaxx quests really messed me up since they went to such high a level). When I got to end game, I joined a raiding guild and had fun, but I never really loved raiding because I felt like it was more about having a schedule that worked for the game than about real enjoyment or skill in the game.

So now, I look at myself and usually I enjoy xpacs for a while after they come out as I level through the new content, and then experience some of the dungeons. But really the leveling is what pulls me back.

I wish that I could go back and experience the feeling of accomplishment of getting to level 40, saving up my money, and getting my mount.
Well, if you consider "leveling" to be "playing WoW", then yes, if it's on fast forward, you might have a problem. If, on the other hand, you consider "playing through questlines" and "seeing the world" to be "playing WoW", then you can do that at your own pace, no matter what the devs do.

And if we're going to split the "world" from the "raiding", let's just go ahead and drop leveling altogether on the "world" game. Sure, it keeps people addicted, but it also makes barriers to people playing together and exploration. I know, it's a radical idea to just play a game because the play itself is fun, rather than being motivated by the Dings and the numbers.
What about an in-game slider somewhere in Options to set XP gained to 100/80/60/40/20 percent of normal gains.
Giving players level-capped toons IMO would kill the game. It would make toons worthless, and worthless toons mean a worthless game. The "R" is about character development, and that's about the only thing left in WoW that is even remotely roleplaying.

I have an idea for another leveling option. If you want to level solo, and enjoy the full story, you can opt in to "epic quest" leveling.

You do not gain any XP at all. Each 2 (or 3) levels would have a long, mostly (but not totally) linear quest chain that is primarily driven by lore and the overarching storyline.

You gain some power along the way with quest rewards, maybe special buffs (potions, scrolls) that are only usable during that chain.

It could be tuned to be a bit more challenging, and less grindy.

When you complete the final quest, you get your levels and training from a major story figure, along with a nice trunk with multiple significant rewards to get you on your way to the next questline.
I made a topic on official forums this on March this year about the same thing

I really miss the epic feeling of leveling in vanilla, when you had to go to all zones and by using ships and slow mounts or was a long but epic journey to the top.
If you're not interested in the endgame content, and levelling is your thing... Just do all the quests as you come across them, without worrying about them beign a low level for you? It's not really hard to play WoW casually.

At the end of the day, Blizzard has to balance the needs of the entire playerbase - which is no easy feat to acomplish.
Leveling speed is not that only thing that would be better if turned back to the way it was in vanilla...
Giving players level-capped toons IMO would kill the game. It would make toons worthless, and worthless toons mean a worthless game. The "R" is about character development, and that's about the only thing left in WoW that is even remotely roleplaying.

How so? A recent 85 toon doesn't even remotely have the blood/sweat/tears/effort poured into it as an epic geared toon. The time it takes to level from 1-85 isn't anywhere near the time most PVEers spend in dungeons, so it's a little silly to think that the time spent levelling gives a toon a large amount of worth.

I'm a part of the "levelling is stupid" crowd, so the more they reduce the effort required to level to max, the better. Blizzard seems to feel the same.
In Age of Conan, you can get a high(ish) level character after you played once to 80. Wasn't the WoW Deathknight the same idea?

In CoX you can get epic character classes by levelling to the max, so you had to start new. But as the epic-classes were more difficult to play than the regular ones, most tried them once and went back to easy-mode.

What I would like to see is something like a Call of Cthulhu system, where your character will go insane and needs to be rerolled when he/she gets too powerful. But then also people complained, that they can't play their beloved character past a certain point.
Why do people act like no MMO has ever eliminated leveling? Has anyone played guild wars?? You did the first 20 levels in about 2 hours and spent the rest of the time actually playing the game....brilliant...
Well, to play devil's advocate, there's nothing to stop people from doing quests they've outleveled, if they're after the quest content/ story. The story remains the same even if it's gray.

Doing green/ gray quests will slow you down as needed.
First off a good topic to post on and I think you have summed how a lot of players feel.
The main culprit in my opinion is that quest reward XP is simply too high. Combine that with the linear nature of questing in Cataclysm and you have the situation we now have.

I think a reduction in quest XP, together with more optional quests (perhaps leading to rewards on a par with the rewards found in instances) would be one solution.

Turning XP off and on is a very clunky solution at best.
As others have mentioned, the actual problem is not having enough (or any) content at the endgame that would be interesting to your wife. Or, perhaps, the problem is that your wife should be playing a different game altogether. I mean, does she enjoy the actual WoW gameplay itself, or does she like that bars fill up and lights flash in comfortable ways? As someone with 8 toons, I enjoy leveling too... but always with an eye towards BGs or other endgame activities.

Keeping the path to the endgame constant in terms of /played is not a design flaw though, as the alternative is allowing people to skip it entirely or bury new players under mounds of content completely unrelated to what they are likely to have been interested in doing. I would support Blizzard simply adding a 2nd option under "Turn XP off" to "Reduce XP gain by X%," but not much else. Cataclysm already feels like 20% of an expansion because of how much time they spent on leveling zones, let alone if they spend even more time chasing non-committed subs.

I really miss the epic feeling of leveling in vanilla, when you had to go to all zones and by using ships and slow mounts or was a long but epic journey to the top.

Err... what? That sort of thing was timesink material programmed into an Excel spreadsheet to make it so that you spent exactly 14.468 hours per level in X level range. You imagined the epicness to zero out the cognitive dissonance. Things like the paladin/warlock mount quests? I can understand that being considered epic. Quests like "we need oozes from Un'Goro and Felwood, then bring them back to Ironforge" or "Get the Scarlet Monestary quest from the south part of Desolace" were asinine timesinks. Or when they switched leveling zones from one continent to the other, making you zip back and forth every 5-10 levels? Nothing epic about that.
Or you could level another character and do the zones you missed.
So taking some of these ideas: a good solution might be to start raiding much earlier after the starter section at say level 10, then have a parallel solo based open world game that takes longer to get to some max level.

Instead of having WoW type levels it might be better to progressively earn new active and passive skills (which are a sort of gear), which would be some of the rewards for earlier dungeons/raids or quests chains (what's the real difference between gearing up when at max level and actual levelling?).

The two different play styles should be easy to cross so that players could level partly in dungeons partly solo, if they so choose.

Finally the barrier and learning curve for dungeons/raids is too high at present so many people are put off trying, because they *will* look stupid when they first do. There need to be practice seesions, perhaps NPC aided partying, mentored dungeons etc. to ease the transition, rather than being immediately dumped in some kind of elitist PUG. This is the idea behind GW2's proposed "story mode" dungeons, I think.
This post means a lot to me personally. I think the leveling part of WoWs PVE have been destroyed not only by the acceleration of pace but also by the imbalance of character power vs challenge. Playing in a worgen leveling trio now through zones we feel immortal. Characters are so much more powerful at a given level than they used to be (we're not using heirlooms, are not twinking them and are avoiding rest bonus as much as possible btw).

The excitement of leveling in the past was that the world had a variety of challenges *in the world* and not just in dungeons and raids. The quests feel more boring and linear, not because they've become less imaginative, but because they're so easy. Anything approaching what used to be a group quest now has a buffed NPC to act as your guardian, it's quite sad really...
First off, I'm not sure why you would turn off XP to slow yourself down. Just quest through the whole story line. Eventually the quests will be gray as will the mobs and you won't get any XP without having to pay for the privilege.

Second, an easy way to solve this problem would be to give out quest XP based on the difference in level of the quest and the character doing the quest. If you do a quest that's at your level you get 100% XP, if it's one level below you, you get 80%, two levels 60%, etc...

Open up all quests so that you can do quests +/- 10 levels apart. This way if you are skilled you could do quests that are +10 and get double XP, level faster and be happy. If you enjoy questing and are not worried about leveling, stick to a zone, finish the story and your XP will drop as you level. As you move from zone to zone you will most likely be doing quests 4-5 levels below you.

I find it frustrating in WoW that most quests aren't unlocked until you are 2-3 levels away. Especially with how easy leveling is now it would be nice to try quests significantly higher than my character and be rewarded appropriately.
Bristal said:
"I have an idea for another leveling option. If you want to level solo, and enjoy the full story, you can opt in to "epic quest" leveling." ...

I rather like that idea, Bristal, as you went on to describe in your comment.
Pretty subjective on what is the 'right' speed.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool