For a long time, as long as the game's been around in fact, KingsIsle has taken pride in the fact that they're a family game. The problem is that they've mainly been entertaining the younger audience. There are many wizards who find little challenge in boss fights anymore, especially with assistance services. While it's absolutely wonderful that others take the time out of their schedule to help others, it ruins part of the experience - that is, taking pride in defeating an enemy on your own or personally building friend relationships and gathering allies to assist you in times of need.
Then there's the guides, OH, the guides! Approximately five seconds after anything is released, there's a guide for it. That means that as tempting as it is to set out on an adventure to solve the puzzle yourself, find the best pet snack, or farm a boss for an item, you'll instead stop by another website for another guide and fly right through the most difficult of quests.
I remember the days before I discovered the Wizard101 community, and spent my time in-game. To find that new item in a shop or stumble upon a hidden trainer - that was the best! Those sort of times are often referred to as "the golden days" of Wizard101.
While we're throwing problems around, there's that older audience breezing through the game and having nothing but a few quick side activities to do.
A Simple Solution
Examples and an Explanation
Now look at the latest updates - 2000 experience pets! Just for another talent? Seems a bit ridiculous, doesn't it? After all, you only had to get 125 for your first talent. Wizards have literally spent all of their 15,000 crowns on Mega Snacks and failing to achieve Mega. What happens in the Live Realm when they don't have that many crowns to spare? Will gardening get them all the way there? Even with Megas, how many hours will it take to train?
Now how about the new crafted spells? Amber, which is only available through select activities, comes in twelves with the new spells. Twelve are needed to craft each one, and by the looks of it, the new crafted spells aren't slowing down. Let's not mention dropped treasure cards (many of which we do not know the drop location), the 60000 gold cost for the recipe, or the fact that there's now nine spells! Going to take a while? You beta-believe it! (Had to throw that in, still waiting on a beta key)
When they introduced rank 15 gardening, they'd begun to step in this direction as well.
In my opinion, this is where the game should have gone a long time ago. I'd like to see an Ultra level for pets - 4000 experience and counting! And I wouldn't necessarily like it because I'm one of the people who has all of the extra time - oh, no, don't make that mistake. Between coding a new site design and blogging, I rarely get in-game any more, save new content times. But this way, those with more time can really shine.
I like to compare it to gear. For a long time, people made use of KingsIsle's mistake - Waterworks gear. Everyone had it, and many still do to this day. Just now are they introducing gear that varies in certain areas, making gear selection difficult and everyone different.
Staying on Track
First, continue pets on to Ultra, Super, and whatever else. Eventually allow them to gain all ten talents. I'd recommend something like 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 3250, 4750, 6500, 8500, 10750. With each update, offer new snacks and new ways to obtain snacks. Make Grub Guardian more effective in training your pet. Add alternate methods of training. Increase experience from feeding a pet an item. Those with real dedication can get a pet with all ten talents, and everyone will have the same opportunity, so it isn't unfair.
Second, continue gardening to somewhere around level 50. Besides harvest rewards, offer other incentives for gardening - energy gear available only at certain gardening levels. Combat gear only available at certain gardening levels. Gardening treasure card and other rewards with level-up. Etc.
Third, and more crafting spells and projects. All wizards to craft many spells, but keep them fairly difficult. One or two spells of each rank for each school would be a good stopping point. Offer more badges for major crafting projects such as houses and spells.
Introduce passive bonuses that can be increased by doing certain training activities. For example, if you didn't want to create all new wizard games for training, then fighting in a duel might award a passive strength bonus. This means that the bonus will never go away despite any gear changes, but rather, be added on to any bonuses you currently have and stay forever. You would need to do nothing to activate these bonuses, other than earn them in the first place. So dueling might increase your passive strength bonus by 0.00001% per hitpoint of damage dealt during a battle. Seems small, but if you go kill Malistaire alone, you're looking at a 0.1% damage increase, and Malistaire can easily be soloed. Fight someone like the Jabberwock just ten times (can be a matter of a few rounds), and you've got a permanent 2.5% damage bonus. This would have to have a cap, say 20% or so, based on the statistic.
Introduce the Tower of Time. Through a tunnel hidden deep in Dragonspyre is a huge tower that is sure to be a popular meeting spot for wizards. Wizards must venture into this gauntlet alone. Inside, Dragonspyre's powerful time crystal (tower requiring completion of the Grand Chasm Past) takes wizards on a journey through many of the bosses (all major and end-world bosses, several minor ones) is a tower level that reflects the world from which the boss is from. Occasionally, you'll enter a time-warp level where you'll fight a brand new cheating boss. Can't say more - this sounds like a new post!
Finally, offer combination badges. Similar to the one earned for defeating 200 Sharks (which is a badge in itself) and 200 crabs (another badge), these would require specific levels or activities to be completed in unison with another activity that may be completely unrelated.
From the Stance of a Pirate
Your Pirate101 story will likely be influenced by some of the choices you make in the beginning of the game. For example, when asked how you were orphaned, you might choose that your parents were eaten by a sky squid - this will probably affect your later game.
In addition, your class and companions will make a big difference in the story. Each one has it's own special background.
There's also been mention that there might be some storyline decisions that mean you miss out on certain bits and get to see certain parts that others miss out on. This, the different companions and how they affect the storyline, as well as your initial decisions and class will make guides increasingly difficult, and I like that! It means that KingsIsle realized the same thing that I did, and they're already setting out to fool those guide-makers! Now can we get some forced-solo battles, too?
For Those Without the Time
If anything, everyone else will motivate you to strive for similar goals. It means more time in-game, and more money for KingsIsle (if you choose to spend crowns on pet, gardening, and crafting aids), so why wouldn't they go for it? And then, even if you don't make Ultra or whatever else, you can feel accomplished when you do reach your goal.