Character Level Squish

General Discussion
After watching BlizzCon World of Warcraft Q&A, Ion Hazzikostas (@WatcherDev) replied to a question by a BlizzCon attendee regarding World of Warcraft and its leveling structure.

TL;DR, @WatcherDev acknowledged leveling in World of Warcraft doesn't feel right.

What's Wrong?
Currently as of Battle for Azeroth, leveling in World of Warcraft does not reward you for filling that experience bar up towards the next level like a traditional MMO should. What does this mean? Whenever you level up, you should feel more powerful. Not just because you had that golden aura swirl around you as you dinged, or your character level number is higher, but as a character you should feel stronger, spells should evolve or have noticeably different evolutions as you progress. I think Warlords of Draenor had the right idea on the matter, but poor execution. Whereas, on the other hand Classic had great execution, but a poor idea. (Stay with me!)

Back in Warlords of Draenor, let's say you just leveled up to level 92 as a fire mage. You would have this reward system message stating your Fireball just ranked up with a new perk. I cannot remember the details of it, but let's just say it gave you +10% more critical strike chance to Fireball. Now, this sounds great right? Well, no... not really. This system never reflected any of its level-up perks well other than "Perk" labeled spells in your spellbook (not reflected in spell tooltips). And, that's it for fireball. You had to wait 91 levels to get this perk for fireball. Not very exciting. More of a, "Ugh, finally" reaction to this system.

And in Classic, it was the opposite. Kind of. In Classic, you had this list of spell improvements gated behind levels to a 1:1 ratio. For each level gained, you earned a point to spend on talents or spell improvements. Great experience overall to level up and choose which spell you want to be more powerful, and carry on. However, the way it was structured back then in Classic, you were given spells from all specializations that had the option to be improved upon. Meaning, you could be a Survival Hunter, but put your earned talent points inside the Marksman tree, and not really specialize in being a Survival Hunter. Confusing for a newer player I'm sure. "Cookie Cutter Building" was born.

So let's review;

Warlords of Draenor Leveling Reward System
  • Perks to work forward to, but no small improvements along the way. Usually large rewards for reaching extremely high levels.
  • Classic Leveling Reward System
  • Information given to you in a somewhat linear system (better improvements the farther you got in the talent tree), but random improvements that just seemed like filler substance. And a negative backlash for "building wrong".
  • So here is a napkin proposal to try and fix that, and as well as an opinion on how it would affect the player psychologically.

    The Fix
    First off, we'll need an overall level squish. Bring players down from max level of 120, to 60. The new scaling system that allows players to quest in almost any expansion at almost any level has opened the door for this level squish. It's a perfect time to do it!

    On top of this, let's re-introduce players to the vanilla style point system, with the LIVE talent tier structure (WoD inspired).

    So for each level you gain, you will earn a talent point to spend. These points can be spent on skills such as movement speed increased (2%/4%), damage reduction (2%/4%), or even increasing that Fireball's damage by (2%/4%). Numbers are just placeholders, but they shouldn't be too high, or too low. Otherwise you run into that problem of them feeling underwhelming, or too powerful. So there needs to be a middle ground with the numbers there.

    The structure of this would be like Classic's talent system, combined with the LIVE version of the talent system. Allow players to work their way towards these tiered talents by letting them spend "level points" along the way. Obviously there won't be talents all the way up to 100 anymore. So it will have to look something like a 5/15/25/35/45/55/60 tier system. (Yes, 120 LIVE = level 60. So you would be gaining the last talent at max BFA level).

    But we have to make sure we don't just clutter the path to unlocking these tiered talents with nonsense improvements like Classic had. Make it meaningful for the player's specialization for their level. Then we would have to take a step further back and look at the class/specialization and ask ourselves, "What should a Guardian Druid have at level 14?". (Remember, level 14 with the level squish would probably be equivalent to a level 30 or so player.)

    What this does is it creates this idea for me the player that each level matters. If I have to choose if my next talent point I spend increases my Fireball's damage, or reduces it's cast time, I think that's perfect. We shouldn't combine offensive and defensive spell improvements in the player's choice within a tier block either (roughly explained further down). Ultimately, we will get everything in the end, but as mentioned before, if I have to choose between buffing Fireball by X or Y talent or running 2% faster I would always choose more damage first as a damage dealer. Psychologically, I feel great at this point. If this "tier block" (block of spell improvements before selecting a talent) is themed for movement speed right before the level 30 talent choice, I know what to expect, while having some minor meaningful choices along the way.

    Anywho, I wish I had some visuals to help explain this. I'm sure something like this has been thought up at Blizzard HQ already. Just my 3am early morning, rambling, $0.02.
    I will quit if there is a level squish. I am pretty sure I am not alone.

    I guess the one exception is if 100 is the new max and 101-120 get paragon points or something and that is the new way forward.
    Remove level scaling and I am down for a squish. I just want levels to mean something again.
    11/05/2018 03:10 AMPosted by Handcake
    I will quit if there is a level squish. I am pretty sure I am not alone.

    I guess the one exception is if 100 is the new max and 101-120 get paragon points or something and that is the new way forward.

    They're going to hammer this through after having waves of astroturfing shills post about how wonderful it will be. It's Ion's hot wet dream.
    Don't forget. Just because there will be a level squish, doesn't mean you'll level to max level in 5 hours. It'll be the same amount of experience needed. So each level will last slightly longer.
    Realistically, the level squash would really only change the number you see.
    11/05/2018 03:10 AMPosted by Handcake
    I will quit if there is a level squish. I am pretty sure I am not alone.


    Why exactly?

    My 120 Monk has 29 abilities in his spell book which includes talent selections. That's roughly 1 ability every 4 levels, except that isn't how Blizzard actually has them distributed throughout the leveling process. And quite a good few of those are passives which don't really impact game play while leveling.

    We didn't get any new abilities in BFA. That's 10 levels with nothing but levels for "progress" in a game with level and item level scaled mobs staying the same strength the whole way.

    We get our last talent at level 100 which is 20 levels below cap.

    Blizzard can cut levels in half down to 60 and you'll have an ability roughly every 2 levels and a talent every 10 making characters feel stronger and leveling feel better even while taking the same amount of time as today.

    ~60 hours 1 thru 120 with levels coming in fits and spurts is daunting.

    ~60 hours 1 thru 60 even at a linear pace of a level per hour would feel much better. But it would likely start relatively fast and slow down through the most recent expansions.
    The only problem is that they cut things down so much and didn’t add anything new from 110-120.
    I don’t get why we even leveled from 110 to 120. No new spells or talents. It feels rather pointless.
    I do find the new levels very good for soloing old content faster

    Maybe new talent tree could be added to your neck at max level
    I think 100 is a fair stopping point. After that maybe just have paragon or ilevels.
    They won't squish levels for a long time. A lot of their stuff is hard coded. They'll make a complete mess of things if they do a level squish
    I just don't understand why they didn't choose 3 of the 5 gold artifact traits and make them a talent row at 115 or 120.
    11/05/2018 03:23 AMPosted by Jelybeantoes
    11/05/2018 03:10 AMPosted by Handcake
    I will quit if there is a level squish. I am pretty sure I am not alone.

    I guess the one exception is if 100 is the new max and 101-120 get paragon points or something and that is the new way forward.

    They're going to hammer this through after having waves of astroturfing shills post about how wonderful it will be. It's Ion's hot wet dream.


    That's funny, because the impression I've gotten from Ion's responses the various times the question's been asked is that he is not in favor of a squish. And if this is so -- if he is opposed -- that's great news, absolutely fantastic news, and for once I'm actually fully supportive of one of Ion's positions.

    TL;DR Level Squish BAD

    P.S. This is not to say that leveling doesn't need some TLC; the reward for gaining a level, or for gaining several levels, psychologically needs to be more than watching the level number increase. Remember Draenor perks? But level squishing would be a huge, nasty mess, in multiple ways.
    This will not fix the leveling ,beside down the road you'll get another one anyway.It would only mess it up again.
    Also balancing classes around something you get at almost max level (artifact weapons and azerite) tends to make the player feel far less complete until they get those said items
    11/05/2018 05:10 AMPosted by Bryndle
    I don’t get why we even leveled from 110 to 120. No new spells or talents. It feels rather pointless.


    Because Azerite gear was the advancement system, but with passive abilities built in, meaning no actives to track, unlike the artifact weapon, while some classes Azerite abilities were changed to talents. So if they work on various Azerite abilities it might smooth out that feeling of no new abilities from 100-120, hopefully
    11/05/2018 03:16 AMPosted by Tresska
    Remove level scaling and I am down for a squish. I just want levels to mean something again.


    No, everything but being forced to go hellfire peninsula at level 60 again.
    Like to point out you don't pick your spec until 10 (unless they changed it). So your numbers for major talent points might need to look more like this 10/20/30/40/50/55/60.
    11/05/2018 03:10 AMPosted by Handcake
    I will quit if there is a level squish. I am pretty sure I am not alone.

    I guess the one exception is if 100 is the new max and 101-120 get paragon points or something and that is the new way forward.


    This is irrational. Level has absolutely no bearing on your gameplay experience. With all of the scaling and such in game, it is, in the most literal sense, just a number

    I'll add that I am all for a level squish. Pick a nice round number -- I like 50 or 100, and let's squash our health bars down to an easier number like 10k or even 20k (TBC or Wrath numbers).

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