Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ding! Experience Points are Weird

I don't remember where I was when I hit level 60, but I hit level 70 while fighting on some tower in Shadowmoon Valley. I hit level 80 in the middle of Scholazar Basin. I hit level 85 while helping the Earthen Ring in the Twilight Highlands. I hit level 90 while killing bug people in the Dread Wastes. 

While these places are all very different, they have one thing in common: I dropped whatever I was doing, went to go do something else, and questioned when, if ever, I would go back. This is my experience with all of my characters when they reach the level cap, and I wager it's what happens to most everyone else, as well.

And that's weird.

It's weird to have the story flow interrupted by these non-story events that send me away. That tell me I'm done, even though the story isn't over. It seems like it would be more natural and much cooler if these important game moment synced up with important story moments. The main culprit in this is experience point. Every thing you do gives you experience points, as long as it's something that's deemed suitably difficult (the enemy/quest isn't too low of a level).

In some ways the game experience would be improved if leveling were tied to moments instead of a bar filling, but there's far too much that would complicate the matter. What about experience gained through PVP? Is grinding completely purposeless? What about people trying to level as pacifists? What about experience gain bonuses (heirlooms, rested XP, etc)?

Perhaps quests and PVP and killing NPCs can still grant experience and still potentially give you levels, but certain quests that signify major moments will make you character level, regardless of how far away the next level is, as long as your current level is at or below a certain point. Making it so that you will only level up if you're below a certain level will help keep people from manipulating this system to gross effect.

This could make the questing experience more interesting, by making those big moments more impactful. It would seem that it would need to be a rare occurrence, at most once per zone, to try and keep people from exploiting it. A question still remains about what to do with level caps. Would you want to save those for some expansion defining moment? Or would you want them to just occur at some major moment like other levels could? It's a tough question and there are pluses to both sides.

All said, I'm tired of reaching these very important game events during very minor story events. Sometimes they aren't even during any sort of story event at all. It's certainly an interesting idea and a change that I would welcome. What do you think?