### The Five Levels Problems: Introduction

| Friday, April 20, 2012
I kept thinking about how Cataclysm has only five levels.  Was it a good thing?  Bad?  I was leaning towards bad as I kept finding problems and changes that needed to be made to compensate for only having the five levels.  So I decided to really look into it.  I pulled up wowhead and began filtering and running the numbers on the gear between and within expansions to see if I could find something.  I was pretty sure it was there, a problem which would link in to several others.  All of it coming back to the core issue of only having five levels.

Let me assure you, it's a great post.  At least I think so.  I have some good, solid points, some analysis, data to go with it all.

There's one small problem: do absolute changes matter more or less than percentage changes?  50 is more than 25, but 50 more than 200 is less than 25 over 50 (25% vs. 50%).  Absolute terms point in one direction.  Percentage in another.  The argument might be stronger for the percentage, which would seem to go in the opposite direction of my conclusion.  Or does it?

If that made no sense, here's the general idea: there is always inflation between and within expansions: we level up and gear up and before long the gear from the last expansion is obsolete.  Given the goal of the gear reset, Blizzard tries to make it obsolete quickly, so the gear of a previous expansion is pretty much gone by the first new zone.  Then they have to inflate to get rid of that gear too.  The result is that you get some inflation from the start of the expansion to the cap (before instances and raids).  In BC and LK this was 40-50%.  In contrast, in Cataclysm it was around 22%, or roughly half.  Aha!  Half the change for half the levels, a brilliant way to fix inflation and we'd see about the same growth of character power.

However, in absolute terms, Cataclysm was higher, 61 vs. 57, suggesting that Cataclysm was working off the hugely inflated ilevels created by the many tiers and modes of LK.  From this perspective, the half-count of levels weren't any help at all, an accounting trick to paper over the problems created by runaway inflation in LK.  Reducing the leveling gear inflation by reducing the levels would help to reduce the inflation over the expansion as a whole, or give greater room for raid gear inflation.  I've not looked at which of this is the game.

They say there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  I don't know why someone would lump the science of uncertain results with the art of certain falsehood, but maybe that person was just a liar who didn't like pie charts.