(Sorry for the massive write up, just got thinking about it and it just came out. I think I'll post this here and perhaps make a new thread about some of my musings for a more focused, uh, critique(?), I guess? Or other people's thoughts, additions, improvements. /shrug Hooray for no sleep mornings.)
If I could totally rework how endgame is run for casuals, it would take a restructuring of the philosophy of endgame; that being how can you make the game more enjoyable, keep the player base continually interested in play, and appeal to a very large base while simultaneously supplying an appropriate level of difficulty for players of all skill levels while challenging and improving them through game play? My proposal:
I would get rid of several things right away. Gear needs to be explained more simply and an item squish is very necessary (old content should still be easy though). The large numbers are difficult for the average player to compute easily/quickly and scares off new players - as does the complicated gear structure. I would also get rid of reforging as this adds an enormous layer of complexity that is unneeded.
All gear should be kept to the base stats: Armor type, Strength, Agility, Intellect, Spirit, and Stamina. Secondary stats would be limited to critical chance, accuracy (replacing hit and expertise - two stats to help hit a mob, really?), defense (bringing it back and getting rid of parry/dodge - or at least the need to put it on gear), and mastery (which would be simplified to increase your "base power"). These secondary stats would be balanced so they wouldn't overpower each other, and stamina could be added as well (possibly spirit too). In terms of DPS - players could choose from spikiest damage (big crits, more misses, weaker normal hits), middle value (few crits, more powerful normal hits, with misses), or smoothest damage (few crits and weak normal hits, but few misses). Healers choose between constant heals and big heals (heals don't miss), or adding more spirit for faster mana regeneration. Tanks could choose between adding mitigation through defense, adding stamina for smoother damage intake, or a dps secondary stat to increase damage or threat. (Threat - which should go back to BC difficulty in my opinion.) Or combinations of all of the above. Whatever the player decides is best for their play style. These stats would be adjusted so while there might be a "best" combination in terms of min/max, it wouldn't be overly so. All gear would only have the base stats - professions would be utilized to add secondary stats to gear. This eliminates the need for reforging as classes would take the same gear regardless of spec, modifying it later to their specific role. Gear can be manipulated in the following ways:
1. Armorers of the appropriate armor type can put sockets on gear. (In my mind 2 max. Perhaps make the second socket more costly time/money. Discussion for another time.)
2. These sockets could be filled by jewelcrafters or engineers with secondary stats. (Doesn't make sense to me to have gem sockets on items like neck, ring, trinket slots as they were usually made by jewelcrafters or engineers in the first place.)
3. Enchanters, Alchemists, and Inscribers would compete for various slots to put enchants, oils, and rune inscriptions - further enhancing the item. (Enchanting being the sole profession for weapons.)
Specs, Talents, and Glyphs:
I like how the current system is set up. Much less of a cookie cutter situation in my opinion. More personal taste for play. Also, I enjoy the flavor of many of the aesthetic glyphs. Would like to see even more though!
Hitting the Cap:
As a player hits the new level cap, and works to get into the first raid, the time between hitting the level cap and getting into the first raid should be filled with more "stuff to do". Currently players get all their gear in their Heroics (grind), do their dailies (ugh, grind), then start in on LFR (Ugh!). I feel as though there should be epic quests (attunements if you'd rather) to follow that will eventually unlock the raid and other parts of the expansion, and immerse the player more in the story, creating a more personal experience as the player personally feels he affects the world and story. I would like to get away from "Heroic Dungeons" (same thing only harder lol) and just have "Dungeons" - being used to: tell the story of a zone (usually the climax of the zone story), get slightly better leveling gear, and focus on fun and cooperation. Instead of Heroics, you could implement "Epic Dungeons" that are longer, unique (no "regular" version), and more difficult than today's Heroic Dungeons. (Think BRD length/difficulty/maze with more modern mechanics, BC level difficulty but not so reliant on cc) In addition to Scenarios (could range from the "easy" beginning ones - to "epic scenarios" which could happen before/after/simultaneously as the "Epic Dungeons".) these "Epic Dungeons" could be used to craft a (hopefully lengthy) story that the player cares about and is motivated into completing, by entering the raiding scene.
If you're a new player or new to the server or unguilded or whatever, your goal upon reaching the level cap is to find a similarly geared progressed group friends/players first, forming a 3 man team, then expanding to a 5 man team, as you progress through the questline's scenarios and epic dungeons. In my opinion a well organized raiding guild would be a group of 3 5-man teams. (With some backups.)
Starting to Raid:
Raiding would be reworked as well, as I would remove both LFR and Heroic Difficulties. In addition I would get rid of 10 and 25 man raiding and replace it with 15 man raiding. I feel this number works well with what I've outlined above as it would be easy to split your "starters" into 3 teams of 5, or 5 teams of 3. The basic group setup would require 2 tanks, 3-4 healers, and the rest dps. (Hooray for Dual Specs) I very much like the idea of a flexible number of players in a raid (7 - 21 or so), and would keep that "Flex" level as a casual friendly raid environment. It would offer slightly better gear than the Epic Dungeons and Scenarios that came before it, or complete the tier for gear, and focus more on learning boss fights and mechanics while simultaneously offering story progression. The difficulty would be easy enough where you could pug a group of appropriately geared players and progress through / learn most boss fights with a few wipes. Maybe even have warnings or alerts when you did something incorrect. (The further into the raid, the more difficult, but still manageable.) Instead of spamming trade chat looking for more to either raid, dungeon, scenario, pvp, or whatever, I think Blizzard needs to incorporate a function similar to OQ, where one can list what they are looking to do, what qualifications they want the applicant to the group to have accomplished, and base scores for gear as a prerequisite.
Progression in Ability:
As the player progresses through the Proving Grounds (I like), the Brawler's Guild (good but needs more balance, possibly split like proving grounds for all three role types - or four as sometimes it is hard to expect the same things from melee/ranged DPS), Scenarios, Epic Dungeons, Epic Scenarios, and Flex Raiding, he will by this time (hopefully) significantly improved his ability to play his class. If his confidence at playing the game improves and his playtime allows it he could make the further jump to a "progressive" guild.
Non Casual Raiding
As someone who has raided every raid in the game when current (with the exceptions of Vanilla Naxx, AQ 40 and Sunwell. Oh Ruby Sanctum too I guess.) I am of the opinion that Ulduar was the epitome of Blizzard's raid design in terms of grandeur, creativity, and enjoyment. I was also a big fan of the fairly non linear route you could take, skipping several "optional" bosses if you wanted to work on things further inside, or at one point picking between four progression bosses to work on. When my guild and I were pushing Hard mode progression on my server, it was a nice reprieve to work on a different boss if you were having a bad night on another one. As previously stated, I would get rid of Heroic Raiding and replace it with "Hard mode" activations reminiscent of Ulduar. These bosses would utilize mechanics in the fight, the boss itself, or the environment to activate the harder version. Additionally, you would be able to activate this mode in Flex Raiding to learn the mechanics, but for no additional reward. The "Hard mode" raiding would of course reward slightly more powerful gear, and in my opinion should be visually different from any other gear available. In fact, I believe that the hard mode gear of the current tier should be recolored and recycled into the next tier's flex raid (or normal raid), so that all would have a chance to get that "look" of gear, while keeping an "elite" feeling to it for a short period of time. With that, I believe I've outlined my ideas for raiding or PvE progression. (The biggest section as its what most players do.)
But Krez, what else can I do?
PvP. I like PvP; I don't have the time to raid very much this expansion, but have thoroughly enjoyed putting more of my effort into pvp. It was always something I feel I neglected playing throughout the game since Vanilla, as either going to raids or raid leading left me little time to do anything else. (Also before dual specs, I was a tank most of the time, and doing other things besides dungeons and raids, was not very efficient.) I've not done many arenas, but have built quite a bit of experience in random bgs and rated bgs. In my experience, the pvp power would continue to be useful in my reformatting of the game. I think pvp gear should be the strongest in pvp, and pve gear should be the strongest in pve. No exceptions. If you do have the highest ranked pvp gear for a tier, I think you should be able to go into a flex raid and be able to do mediocre, to slightly under mediocre dps. Similar conversions the other way as well. I also feel (as a tank most of my wow life) that tanks need to be more viable in pvp outside of flag running or being "tough to kill". They should be able to use their taunts in a way to mitigate damage. (I kind of liked swtors example - when you taunt an opponent it does X% dmg less, unless targeting you.) Or perhaps the "defense" secondary stat could shorten the times on cc. Or they could do more to mitigate damage aimed at their teammates. Something. Focusing on teammates damage mitigation, control, unstoppableness, coupled with lousy damage should make for a more entertaining experience. Everyone should be able to play the spec they like in whatever part of the game they choose to participate in. Healing has always seemed a little overpowered to me. In my opinion, an equally geared dps and healer fighting, the dps should be able to put out more damage than what the healer can heal. Healers should increase the amount of time the dps is active, not turn them into invincible gods. (Or themselves for that matter.)
I'm not sure if the grind for conquest points right now is the best system for pvp gear. I do it, and its not too bad, it just seems like there could be a better one. Like if you load into a bg in a role you designated, you could receive honor/conquest based on total dmg done, healing done, or damage mitigated. I think people who contribute more to the battle ground should be rewarded more as well. If you sit on your mount at blacksmith during an entire AB "defending", do you really deserve as much honor as the guy running from Lumber Mill to Mine each rez trying to create a shifting attack pattern creating openings in the other teams defenses by damaging or healing at those locations?. I would say no.
Professions would fill the same void as the pve side of the game, with the addition of "pvp power" to the secondary stats. You could put it on your pve gear... but it wouldn't do anything (in pve). There would also be a base level of the "pvp power", or resilience or pvp defense or whatever, to the gear itself, so it would remain the best in the pvp areas.
Crafting and Professions
I think crafting can remain about the same as it is, except it should take longer to make one piece. I think crafted gear should be craftable at any level of end game - mats should be collected in the outside world like thorium, ghost iron, and so on, and include hard to get crafting pieces from inside Epic Dungeons and non Flex raids. Perhaps in the Epic Dungeon you'd collect a 1/3 of the piece at a time, while in the raid you get a full piece - there should be an advantage going into the raids to and getting mats. The rare crafting pieces would necessarily be soulbound as it would require the profession to collect the items in the first place. As each subsequent tier of the expansion is released, the pieces would no longer become soulbound and could drop at a higher rate, or become unessary altogether. This could be a method in which characters could play "catch up" as I'm not a fan of Justice/Valor point gear. You're already getting gear going into the raid (I know not *every* time, but if gear differences are kept slight, it should be such a minor upgrade as to not be worth it), why do you need more? Similar to how the professions are balanced now, I'm sure they could be adjusted under my rules to be equal/fair as well. I'm of the opinion you should collaborate inside the economy and find your niche. I like many of you have an army of alts in order to have all the professions; and if you have time to invest in all your alts, go for it. However, having another max level character just to cut your gems so you don't have to interact with the server economy seems to be a negative investment in the community. /shrug But, if you have the time to do it, by all means. One thing I would change additionally is to add the profession Weaponsmith - obviously focusing on building weapons, applying sockets to them, and giving temporary enchantments like oils or sharpening in lieu of enchantment if you so desire. (Enchants would be best though.) There would also be some stock bonuses to having gathering professions as well, balanced out with the crafting professions, but the crafting professions advantages would still be marginally better. I'm undecided if the game would be better if the professions were to divide more like leather working specializing in mail or leather. I think that it could create to much specialization and be harmful to the profession.
Another interesting concept I'd like to see implemented but am unsure of how to go about doing it well with WoW, is to have experience change slightly in professions. Like if I make (green level) Iron Sword, 8 times, maybe on the 6th time, I'm able to add an extra strength point or something, and on all future Iron Sword creations. Or being able to have a crit creation (not dependent on gear) that makes it a more powerful rare (blue) item? Maybe piggybacking off the currently installed "valor upgrade system"? I'm unsure. But becoming skilled at making something sounds like a fun meta game that could exist inside the crafting professions. Smelting or making cloth or whatever could do it too. After 100 silk bolts made, they start costing one silk cloth less, and so on.
I would remove First Aid from the game. It doesn't serve much of purpose in my opinion. I'd rather see restrictions on potions lifted slightly so people could use emergency potions or crystals instead of bandaging. I would like to remove Archeology from the game, as I hate it (lol I found grinding Shendralar rep more exciting) but know a lot of people really enjoy it, so I'd leave it in and probably work more of the Heirloom type gear into that profession as extra incentive beyond vanity items and some (honestly) terrible BoA gear that doesn't scale. With as fast as leveling is now, you'd use it, what? All of an hour at the appropriate level? I think all "Heirloom" gear should scale. I kind of like the place where cooking is at - probably wouldn't change that; I found doing the Master of Ways fairly fun and time consuming - as you had to sort of plan out all the ingredients you needed utilizing your farm if you wanted. Farm was interesting this expansion, don't think I'd keep it though. It was a good experiment. Fishing needs to be reworked somehow. I find it boring, and if I'm watching a show or something on the other screen, I sometimes get focused and don't hear the fish. Needs to be changed to either be faster or more stimulating.
All the Rest
I'm an achievement hunter and very much enjoyed hunting them all down. I was doing it even before the achievements were implemented. When they went live on patch day at the end of BC, I had loremaster for Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor immediately. I think there's many other people who enjoy hunting achievements as well, and if Blizzard implements and OQ type group finder, you could find like minded individuals and hunt down some of the more pesky ones. Heck even OQ doesn't have an achievement grouping channel (to my dismay... although I suppose you could do "quest group", but, still.).
Pet Battles? Oh, right. Believe it or not, I've yet to do one. On my list of things to do after I've done every other possible thing I want to do in game. I played the original pokemon (blue) when it first came out, and I think that might have fried my need to play that after all the time I spent on that thing - on the old school original game boy mind you. Not one of them new fangled 3ds deals. Young whippersnappers and so forth.
Earlier I mentioned going through the "Epic Questline" to unlock the raid and other parts of the expansion. When I wrote that I was specifically thinking of the Timeless Isle and how it was implemented in this expansion. Blizzard is tired of the Valor gear like I am, I think, and added the Timeless gear for folks to catch up with instead of farming Heroics for hours on end. There's quite a bit you can do on the island - however, I'd like to see it more as a reward for those who finish the long questline and finish the raid (either flex or normal/hard). If they choose to level alts as their end game, it would be a place where they could get gear for their toons and skip the questing and go straight into raiding, as they've already completed the questline once, I don't think its necessary to force them to do it again. They could do this every patch - opening up a small area, maybe even instanced, that could serve as a spot to get gear for alts and serve as an efficient place to gather materials for gatherers and other minor rewards. Pvp players of suitable ranking could have access to this space too. So the space could have pvp and pve both. Unless crafted pvp makes more sense for entry level, though I'm not sure it does as pvers aren't forced to buy their starter gear off the AH. Additionally, I also think all your characters should share...
Dailies and Reputation
I'm exalted with just about every possible rep in the game. Once you get one rep to exalted - its a ludicrous timesink to make you have to do it again. I do like the concept of reps though, and think there should multiple ways of gaining it. I think if Blizzard is going to keep putting the reputations into the game, they should a) make them harder to level b) make the rewards more substantive. I got exalted rep after 30 days of dailies, I get a massive bag now! What? Oh, I get a recipe for a bag, that takes weeks to collect the mats for? ... neat... :( There should be dailies, and I know some of you hate them - and they should give the largest rep gains available for the faction - but offered either daily or weekly. You should also be able to get a tabard and earn rep with them while questing and adventuring throughout the game. PvP, Dungeons, Scenarios, Raids, whatever. However, the gains should be very, very, small. But doable to farm "quickly" for someone highly motivated with a lot of time on their hands. Dailies would remain the most efficient way to earn the rep (in terms of time spent on it), perhaps just not the way to max out the rep the fastest.
I think with each new raid patch or pvp or alternating or whatever - there needs to be a continuation of that narrative I talked about before. The story that gets people excited about the game. About seeing how things will turn out. So anytime there is a new raid on the horizon; perhaps several weeks before they drop some Epic Scenarios and 1 Epic Dungeon to set the stage and story for the Raid that is to come. As opposed to, for example Dominance Offensive - which wasn't terrible, but only added some bits to the overall story for the expansion, rather than help to set the stage for the Throne of Thunder. I think if they could have incorporated that it could have been much better. And to just continue the pattern of varying levels of complexity while at the same time garnering the interest of their gamers.
Holy crap I didn't realize how much I wrote, thanks for reading if you did guys.
TLDR; Krez muses on his ideas for changes for the casual community that would benefit them and the community at large. Mostly by simplifying how the gear is set up, and eliminating some unnecessary features that clutter the game and confuse players.