WoW: The Case Study for Skill Based Systems?

Found this to be interesting:

World of Warcraft lead designer Jeff Kaplan has confirmed in a forum post that Blizzard is “planning on speeding up leveling in the 60-70 range” in next expansion Wrath of the Lich King.

The 60-70 range encompasses all the high-level content from the current expansion, The Burning Crusade. Players leveling Death Knight hero characters in the Lich King beta test had noticed they were making faster progression in Burning Crusade’s Outland.

Kaplan, posting under his famous alias Tigole, said that the team was “still adjusting” the change, and sought feedback from players.

So…what happens to a level based MMO that must: a) keep it’s high level players happy and b) not leave behind new players in vast, empty wastelands of old content?

Blizzard’s answer, for now at least, seems to be to make it easier for newer players to get through said older content by boosting the leveling. Does this cheapen the lower levels in some way? Worse…does it cheapen the low end content? Why make it faster to get to 70? Shouldn’t it just be made more enjoyable? Or, is getting to max level the fun and point of playing WoW in the first place? Why not make it more enjoyable by playing around with the world a bit at the lower levels? It’s been 4 years and World or “War”craft hasn’t changed a bit. I know quite a few who would love to see STV get hit by a meteor. There is so much they can do with Azeroth, but for some reason, they can’t pull the trigger either for technical reasons or for traditional ones.

Hmmm…..you figure WoW’s expansions will have to evolve out of just raising the level cap. I wonder (…out loud as I usually do…) if this whole business of the level cap raising is just justifying the design approaches of games like Eve, Toontown and a whole host of others that use a skill-based system. Something to think about I guess. Though, I’m sure that games like Eve have their own issues with expansions even with a skill based system…though, they’re not as obvious.

…thoughts?

D out.

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