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online RPGs are in a rut right now, directly comparable to 70s american board games to the euro-boardgames of today. If there is one piece of advice I could give to every game developer, it would be to go over to boardgamegeek and see what the word 'game' means, vs dicefests and timesinks. It's the difference between Go and Monopoly, between 'Tigris and Euphrates' and Risk.
Now that I've gone way off topic... pah, my point is that it's a lot of work for little reward to change basic, working game mechanics that have been tried and true since EQ introduced them. If you are going to make radical, sweeping changes, what about
-auction off extreme powers weekly, with a week's durration.
-introduce more NPC action ala auction houses. Pay-for services. Set NPC bounty hunters after people you don't like. Hire goblin laywers and sue a player who ripped you off in-game.
-Build power sets ala magic the gathering card game, instead of talent trees.
If you share XP equally without a party you can then mindless grind monsters that give you a signifant amount of XP. That's a huge difference. Seriously, pick a popular game and try leveling by AE grinding alone and see where it gets you.
Restricting XP from a single source- now you are making decisions for how someone can and can't level up, what about the people who want to grind? What's the number you have to kill before you have to pick some other monster? Am I going ot have to move once an hour, or if I'm a grinder am I going to have to start questing and give up that playstyle?
I don't get what a straight player is. All games have rules, all players are forced to follow them. If a game lets you do something, it is straight and part of the game. That includes using the best method of progressing in a game.
Here's one, how do you deal with this: You have an area effect spell. You find a spot with a good spawn rate. You broadcast on zone chat "AE Farming -coods-" You stand there and spam your spell. Maybe go to sleep for the night, maybe wedge a coin into your keyboard under your fireball macro and watch a movie keeping an eye on the computer screen in case a GM accuses you of macroing.
some other people come along and do the same. AE spells overlap. Maybe someone is at their keyboard and nicely brings some monsters over into the AE. Whatever, some are gonna spawn. Everyone gets 100% xp. Sooner or later you have to move to the next zone and find the next spot to stand.
Bingo, one game change and you completly destroy all leveling content.
If you have problems with kill stealing, you can also increase the spawn rate of monsters- fixed. Breaking the xp/loot system is a much more serious issue, and it will reduce the feeling of accomplishment you get from playing a game.
I'm eager to see what becomes of guild wars 2, but I have to admit, I bought GW1 and played it for one day. When I learned I could just start at level 20 and skip all that leveling stuff, I quit. I'm of the opinion that if you don't like leveling/gold/loot gathering in a game then don't pretend otherwise, leave it out completly!
That is what the mmorpg genera is really missing, and maybe what GW2 could be, a different form of progression/power accumilation.
Blood Music - Greg Bear
A Fire Upon the Deep - Verner Vinge
Singularity - Charles Stross
Dragon's Egg - Robert Forward
Candle - John Barnes
Spin - Robert Wilson
And many more. To compare them to cowboys and smurfs in space is insulting.
Though I'm biased, I want to see the amber series released as a five part movie (I can pass on the second 5 novels, I liked them but they drifted).