I couldn't fall asleep the other night and got bunch of ideas about what would be cool for the next expansion to be like.
There would be 2 new "continents" (instanced separately, like Northrend and Outland are). The size would be made so that it fits the content requirements, so the both "continents" would be maybe as half as big as Northrend is. That would definitely be a refreshing change, cause in last two expansion we only got 1 new continent. The reason i put quotes in "continent" is that I don't really see them as continents - and this is why:
First one would be the the great sea with all it's islands and Maelstrom and stuff, the content could be in great part tropical and have really lot of small islands to make change in how almost all the zones are made mostly solid with only few bodies of water, this would be mostly water with many many islands and different zones such as broken isles and undermine and other places could be connected by flightpaths and ships and it would be cool if it would be possible to use flying mount later of course.
So the main problem with questing with lot of water (and I was also thinking a lot of underwater quests) is that people don't generally like underwater questing and swimming for 2 reasons:
1: you can't eat/drink underwater.
2: it's slower
#1: So the simple answer is to come up with creative workaround. And since we also need an excuse why Maelstrom and surrounding area wasn't accessible before and now it is, here is the idea:
since Maelstrom is basically a storm in a manner of speaking, it could be said that magical storm was raging there for loooong time making the area inaccessible and ships usually avoided the whole area by great distance. So now that for mysterious reason (that we find out through questing there) the storm has finally disappeared, everything is very pretty and tropical and the idea is that whenever you're in water you get something like "crystal clear water" buff or similar, that makes you regenerate at the same rate as eating/drinking when you're not in combat.
#2: And to fix the slow swimming problem water mounts would be the "new" kind of mount introduced to everyone now. I say "new" cause the sea turtle mount is already accessible in wotlk, but now only very few people have it. My suggestion is that in next expansion everyone gets aquatic mount very soon, maybe turtle (of some other color or less cool looking, engineers could build a submarine maybe) for underwater and islands questing.
I was also thinking underwater content could have air bubbles that would give underwater questing a whole new approach (like gungan city from star wars in case you didn't understand what i meant, not necessarily similar to star wars design, we want to be original and make it a lot better! ) or similar to add further diversity (i myself love to be surprised when i see developers added something i did not expect into expansion). So the new main city could be either undermine (goblin underground city) or Mak'aru
("the capital city of the makrura civilization. It is built on the ocean floor directly beneath the Eye in the Maelstrom. Brann Bronzebeard describes it as composed of a seemingly organic material, possibly grown out of coral. ". //wowwiki )
I'd definitely vote for Mak'aru cause I'd definitely like some kind of underwater city more then underground city. Of course that both could and should exist, however one could be the new "main city" like Dalaran is now, while undermine could be the bigger followup to the neutral goblin cities that already exist.
The broken isles zone would be awesome to go explore the lore from Warcraft 3 that happened there (with Maiev chasing Gul'dan) and voiceacts from Warcraft3 could be used in quests in the same way they are used in some wotlk quests that refer to warcraft3.
Makrura would certainly be an interesting new race to get to know, they speak common and are intelligent enough to build a big city and all... , well actually we could also have some intelligent murlocs in the city aswell, that would be a-must :) I loved the ones in wrath with dehta questline.
Some closer islands could also be connected to each other via hanging bridges similar to ones found in stv, just longer.
So i mentioned the second "continent" didn't i :) ? You probably guessed it, it's emerald dream, but I'm pretty sure you'll find my ideas about it pretty original. So players could attune to emerald dream at lvl ~85 or whatever suits content progression. There would be long quest chain or something in which in the end you come in possession of something like small portable dreamcatcher , it could be turned to spell or something for the sake of inventory space of course.
So the idea is to be able to enter emerald dream from anywhere simply by using a spell, and your character goes to sleep and just wakes up in emerald dream. I had a lucid dream once so i have some ideas about this place, cause this essential is a conscious dream now, only that you are in it in the same time with all the other players and npcs and all and it's actually a different reality what is in fact what emerald dream really is.
So i was thinking, in dreams people can fly cause anything is possible, and in lucid dreams people always try to fly (believe me it's awesome ;) so the idea is: at first your character is confused and all, and he/she cant fly or anything, but through quest chains you learn how to get better control over the dream and you are actually able to fly anytime you want without mount. Now this may sound silly or overpowered on first though, but think about it - it would essentially not be any more overpowered then druid flight form is, cause i figured it would of course have the same mechanics, like you cant fly away from combat, and explanation would be "in combat you aren't concentrated or relaxed enough to be able to fly freely".
Ok some of you probably know that a flying character appears swimming in the air in the game, which is stupid looking and of course would be replaced with way more cooler animation - the idly levitating in the air would use the levitate animation from levitate spell (instead of swimming in the air animation clearly). Same way levitate animation looks really cool, so would all other aspects of flying be made to be.
I read on wowwiki that emerald dream is supposed to reflect what Azeroth would have been if not for humans, elves, and other intelligent creatures. But i saw the map file in game files that dates back to wow alpha as far as i know, and blizzard did make very rough 3D sketch of emerald dream and it definitely didn't reflect any of Azeroth zones. So I'm guessing making emerald dream a zone with new original look is a realistic option for blizzard, lore can always be tuned to work in favor of gameplay :)
So then emerald dream would of course be as described on wowwiki:
"Tranquil forests stretch away in every direction, and rolling hills and majestic mountains" - those majestic mountains would be particularly fun part of gameplay because another idea I have is that there is no possible fall damage in the dream, since it is a dream after all.
In emerald dream "Emerald Nightmare" could play really big role in the content for players and possibly new raid dungeons. Clearly, in emerald dream we would also get to meet Malfurion Stormrage, which is another big plus for having this area in expansion.
The player would be able to get to emerald dream from anywhere at all simply by using a spell. In what part of the dreamscape (landscape :) ) would player appear is up for discussion.
Also what happens to player's "real" body is also up for discussion. Although the most simple thing to do is just to make player lay down and disappear from that place same like when player logs off, (usually character gets rested while logged off, obviously implying character has been sleeping in the meantime, so that idea already has basis in current game mechanics and i think it would work well.) (you wouldnt get rested while in dream probably... so that lvling isnt too fast)
Another question remains what to do with all the loot from the dream and if that loot exists outside of the dream. One way is to make it that loot magically comes from the dream, that is not really realistic but what the heck, so weren't the deathknights in pvp at first :P.
Another option would still be to make the emerald dream loot far superior to real-world loot and make it exclusive to the dream. Also to make a dream-inventory of dream-items. Players would be forced to have two gears - one for dream raids and one for real-world raids (Nazjatar could be raid instance). dream-gear could have specific (druidic, or not) look. I personally think it would be fun to gear everyone in leaf-based outfits hehe... , well anyways the dream could have a lot more of 3D world - that i expected from Outland but we just got few eyecandy floating rocks :P. In dream we could have floating rocks all over the place and big pieces making up whole zones. There could be few layers of small zones - well basically the traveling would be a lot more 3D then the 2D dimension it has now. QuestHelper addon would be rendered only half useful cause it can only operate well on 2D map and that would make people read quests a bit more maybe.
One of my favorite parts of wotlk are Grizzly Hills, mostly because of how terrain is made so very steep, and still lush with forest in the same time. The same or similar could be done in the dream, some places could be incredibly steep or something, maybe even make a floating zone rock completely at an angle, since everyone can fly it's no problem, and flight is a must have for questing in dream of course. And I'm not implying whole dream should look like that, I suggest diversity of course and this is just idea for general look guides or maybe just a part of it :).
Well I believe the suggestion i proposed would really be refreshing to the game design and gameplay, and bring something new to make players stick with the game.
My ideas are by no means final or flawless, they are just what they are - ideas, that could be basis for further ideas, and if blizzard reads this and chooses to implement even a single of my ideas into next expansion I'd be happy to have helped and made game more fun for everyone hopefully ;)