Ok first of I'm imagining a world like Everquest.(or maybe WoW)
Current system is 80 odd levels with a load of unused content and also new players with noone to group with because everyone else is at the cap.
Now, my kind of system would still have levels, the only difference being there would only be 20 levels- like Guild Wars. My reasoning for this is because acquiring all your abilities at once would be overwhelming and it would give a level up for a person to learn their class and acquire their abilities so that they begin to incorporate them into their play etc.
From level 20 people progress via an alternate advancement like system(see Everquest) You have in the way of additional bonuses, enhancements to abilities, and also new abilities via this system which you could maybe imagine is like the WoW talent tree. You must earn preceeding advancements before you can acquire later ones. There maybe in the region of 2000 advancement points.
WIth levels not being a divisor and everybody is more or less able to group up following reaching level 20 you now have almost a whole world to group anywhere a group would want(or solo). All the content maybe used and new players aren't alienated from the game as once they've reached that level 20 they can join in the game as well. Or so the ideal is if I'll try explain this next bit and wonder if it creates the same problem.
With this design there would be different ranked dungeons people could play.(which could possibly be needed to be unlocked via advancing via dungeons or keys or something, or maybe just open to everyone) And obviously the more advancement points you got the stronger you will be and more likely to tackle the strongest dungeons.
My question now is this- is this a compelling alternate kind of design for games like Everquest or WoW that puts levels aside concentrating more on openness and freedom for people to group wherever they liked-Deadmines at max level? No problem. Blackburrow, Guk, KC, OS everyone at max level and is plausible content to group in.
You got to imagine the whole world(of Norrath or Azeroth) with basically no levels- but with different mobs of different difficulties that more advancements will have better chances to handle. What shortcomings could this design have with a real application. My thought is that people with more advancements will want to group with similar people with similar number of advancements- therefore perhaps recreating the level divisor problem- but the difference being anyone can group up and gain xp anywhere.