Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leveling Needs Fixing.

With the new notes coming from 4.3 that leveling will be made even faster and the group quests in BC and Wrath are being changed to solo quests it got me thinking about how horrible the leveling part of the game is becoming.

When the world changed and we got the new linear quests I hated the idea.  In practice it was worse then in theory.  Not only does linear questing suck but linear questing is limited in its own and it shows in many ways.

Once upon a time I loved to level and now I dread it because of the horrible, sneeze and you missed leveling, speed and the linear questing.  I try to grin an bear it and get to 58 so I can get to outlands and actually start enjoying questing again.

Once you get to outlands it becomes a game again.  Pick and choose your quests, tons of extras if you want to over level in one area so you can skip another.  While it is still a lot faster than I like it is effective questing by design. 

Elite quests give a reason to look for others to help you and give a sense of community in a way and now they want to remove them.

I can not tell you how often I am traveling through northrend and see someone asking for help on a quest.  I usually stop and give them a hand, being on an 85 of course it is enough and they do not need to look for further help, and sometimes I make a new friend out of it.

Elite quests are good for the community.  That is one key reason to keep them in the game.

I loved elite quests for another reason.  While leveling you can, if you are willing, give yourself a challenge of doing it all alone, looking for help, or waiting until you leveled a little bit and try to come back and administrate an ass kicking later when it will be easier.

Elite quests are one of the exact reasons why linear questing sucks.  Because they are using linear questing and you can not force people into doing group or elite quests they just removed them completely.  There is no challenge leveling in the old world.  Elite quests, quests that took thinking, skill, perseverance, travel, planning, they are all gone in the old world.

There is no longer the long effort of clearing an area before you go after the much larger prey that is the elite.  Doing those quests on your own really became an effort in learning how to play.  Doing those quests with others taught you a little bit about how to work as a team and the value of complementary team mates.  No matter how you did it, elite quests are some of the best quests in the game even if they where as simple as go kill this person and come back to me.

Why are they removing the last remnants of decent questing from the last two places left in the game that actually had any decent questing?

Blizzard seems to have taken the hard line on leveling.  They want you to get to 85 as fast as possible with as little resistance as possible. 

There is one problem with that approach, bad players.  The leveling process used to be a road block for many bad players.  Bad players would get frustrated with it taking forever to level and they would take their time and learn their place in the game.  When they reached max level, be it 60, 70, 80, 85, they would know that they are not raiders.  They are bad players and they know they are bad players.  The top level was their end game.  They would start another new character and do the trek all over again being they beat the game by getting to max level on that character.

That is the problem with fast leveling and blizzard is trying to make the problem even bigger still by streamlining leveling more.  People who worked to level, even a tiny bit, I am not talking super grind, I am talking looking for where to quest instead of being told where to go.  Choosing the most effective quests to level instead of being lead by the hand from one place to another.  Having to deal with elite quests and group quests and choosing how they will handle it.  Those people, the people that earned their level, they became better players.  They are the ones that hit max level and want to raid.  Those are the ones that hit max level and look for more to do.

I think they need to start working in the opposite direction.  Let the first 20 levels move quickly but each level there after should take a day (as in 24 hours played) to level.  Meaning that those last 65 levels would take the average of 65 days, 1560 hours, to get to that point.  Really good players would cut that down some of course, but that would mean people are actually working for their characters to get to max level.

The random dungeon finder would be heaven if leveling was done this way.  There would be no bad players messing things up.

The reason for that?  Bad players would not be capable of putting in the effort and commitment to the game to get to max level.  It would take the forever to level and because of that, their game would be the leveling game leaving the post 85 game to the people that actually put in the effort to level.

Also, if leveling took forever it would teach people that they need to work for things.  No more arguments that everyone wants all their gear and they want it now.  They would have learned they have to earn their way through the game and as such you would need to earn your way to gearing up as well.

Add to the fact that if a bad player was forced to spend 65 days, 1560 hours, (or a lot more because that is a number for the average players) they would become better at their class. 

They will learn their role, their abilities, everything because they had no choice.  They would be spending a lot of time on that character, so much so that they would probably be better than 98% of the current raiders in the game the second they reached 85 because they actually worked their way up and where forced to learn their class.

While it is true that bad players would still find a way to make it to top level the number of bad players at the top level would be so minimal that the odds of you running into one of them would be about the same as getting hit by lightning.

Even the bad players that made it would be a much better class of bad player then the ones we have running around now.

Two weeks ago on a Friday a hunter whispered me asking if I could answer a few questions for him on the class because he is new at it.  I said sure thing of course being I am the type that is always glad to help others.  He asked me a bunch of basic hunter questions and you could tell he never played a hunter before because some of the stuff was really simple things that you should have learned from leveling.

I asked him if this was his first hunter.  He said it was his first character.  That explained a lot.  I spent a good 45 minutes talking to him and he seemed to really understand after I explained everything and made a comment, I'm sorry for wasting so much of your time thank you for helping but I never learned any of this stuff while leveling.

Now came the time for the surprise.  I asked him how long he has been playing.  He said he got the game on Saturday and just hit 85 a few hours ago and was completely lost.

This hunter might be the exception to the rule.  He was inquisitive, he wanted to learn, he seemed to be quick to pick up on things and he surely seems like he will become a great player if he continues on the path he is on but to think that someone that just bought the game could make it to 85 in less then a week with no guild, no heirlooms, no experience, no foreknowledge is just scary. 

I left him with a few sites to look at, EJ, warcrafthuntersunion, and a few other forums I found to be somewhat helpful.  I also told him to come back to me if he had any questions, to try not to post on any of the forums.  I warned him, the people on the forums are not usually friendly and even more brutal to new players.

This is why we have so many bad players at 85.  This hunter will not be one of them.  This hunter is one in a million.  One that stopped to ask some questions from someone. 

Now they say they are making leveling even faster in the other areas?  Now they say they are removing the group quests in those areas?  What the hell is blizzard thinking?

They are heading in the wrong direction.  Leveling needs to be made to be longer, harder.  It needs to allow people to make their own decisions on where to go again instead of hand holding the whole way.  It needs to have group quests.  It needs to have random elites that will stomp you into street pizza if you happen to make the mistake of getting to close to them.  It needs to draw it out so you spend time, real time, with each and every new ability.  It need to make you use all your tools.

Leveling needs to be part of the game again.  Right now all leveling is is a stop gap to max level.  It no longer feels like it is part of the game.  It feels like it is a waste of time that you have to deal with until you get to 85.  Quite honestly, with how leveling is now, they should just start everyone at 85, or at least 80 so they can experience the new content, because leveling is no longer fun.  It is a waste of time.

Blizzard needs to make leveling a part of the game again.  Not a means to an end only.

Making leveling longer, much much longer, would be a good thing for the game.


  1. I cannot agree more with this post. People need to learn how to play and they simply won't do that if they can max level in a couple of days.

    I hope that this will be addressed at Blizzcon with a better streamlining of the entire levelling experience, but part of me thinks they'll just make it easier still...

  2. Have you quested through Hillsbrad as a new Horde player? There is an infamous group quest there that surprises EVERYONE with how brutal it is, and how much the "group" suggestion is absolutely required and not just a friendly suggestion. I'm talking about Yetimus, a huge Yeti that you need to take down, who knocks you back and stomps you and knocks you into hostile's a nightmare. But also, refreshing! It IS possible to solo, but my baby mage doing it at level took me...oh man, it must have been 6-7 tries and ALL of my kiting tricks.

    So there's still SOME group quests out there...but I agree, the phasing element of most new zones makes it a little tough. :\ It's one of the reasons I've always enjoyed the Crucible of Carnage type quests, with how UNphased they were, and with almost zero prerequisites, so that people could always participate no matter how far they were through the zone.

  3. Not sure if we did a good enough job of publicising this, but did you know that we actually wrote a bunch of guides on the Melting Pot aimed at solving the, er, noob problem?

    They're over here at "noob guides".

    Basically, after a few too many dungeon runs with rogues wearing cloth and DKs wielding one one-handeed weapon, we decided to write something that we could send people who really, really don't know what they're doing to.

    They don't seem to have had a great reception - not sure why. But anyway, if they're of any use, there they are.

  4. I think you might be suffering from the confusion of having played WoW at a time when "the game" was leveling. Now "the game" is "the endgame" meaning "raiding the most current dungeon."

    I found that to experience classic / BC WoW, I had to change games. EQ2 feels very much like "Advanced Classic WoW" to me. Cataclysm WoW feels more like playing "Simon Says Online".

    Your mileage may vary.

  5. @ Jonathan, it could be a rose tinted glasses thing but I think it is more of a I like to earn my level type thing.

    I agree, it seems all about raiding now and calling it simon says is perfect. Once everyone figures out where to move, you mastered the fight.

    @ Hugh, people that read blogs are not the people that you see in dungeons that need the help. If the people could find the blogs that means they probably looked into things which means they already know how to play, some at least. The problem is most people don't look. That might be why the reception is not great. The people that need guides are not seeing it.

    @ Rades I know about that one, one of few, very few.

    @ Godmother They will be making it faster and easier.

    Honestly I think they should just let anyone with a 85 of a class start a new 85 of the same class on any server. All leveling is now is a waste of game time. It is not like it is fun or interesting or different. You have to follow the same linear line and it is only going through the motions, even if you auto attacked only you could make it through the old world with few to no issues.

  6. Elite quests give a reason to look for others to help you and give a sense of community in a way and now they want to remove them.

    They might have, at some point in the distant past. But now "elite" quests highlight the fact that those leveling zones are ghost towns. It's great that you helped that random dude in Northrend. For every one of those guys, there are 100 who futilely plead in /1 and then... what? Skip the quest and keep on going.

    By retooling the elite quest, which long-since served its purpose in encouraging grouping back in the day (e.g. when that content was relevant), at least they are allowing (sometimes lore-centric) content that would have otherwise been skipped to be seen by someone not getting carried through it.

    As for your ridiculous leveling timewall suggestion... err, gogo Korean grindfest? Less "rabble" would certainly be polluting your pristine endgame, but good luck actually ever using the LFD tool at all. I would imagine that you could solve the "problem" of bad players by only associating with guildmates, but I can understand how the very thought of plebeians mucking up in the same game could disgust you so.

    The irony is that I would even agree that Blizzard reducing leveling time harms new players, when it seems clear the speed increases are tailored toward alts of veterans. But the misanthropy here is slathered on so thickly, I'm not sure two showers will be enough to wash it off.

  7. I think you are confusing time commitment with challenge. The game doesn't have to last 70 days to max level. It just has to bring some kind of "challenge" in the way of encouraging thinking and cautiousness. Time isn't the factor here in difficulty.
    Look at the first few levels (1-9, without heirlooms). It's increadible fast but still not such a faceroll like 10+.