I've been playing the latest iteration of A Tale in the Desert, an MORPG that focuses on crafting and elaborate challenges instead of milling through monsters and NPCs. In the latest telling, the makers have introduced a level system to the game. This system does incorporate some neat features, but there are definite problems with it. The most basic is that the majority of players are far more interested in gaining levels so they can participate in more tests than they are in actually doing the tests themselves. This results in, for instance, lots of sculptures erected for the initiation to the Path of Art & Music that are utter crap but are still voted "interesting" by others who also take the view that it's just about getting the pass. The chariot stops are so littered with boring if not actively ugly pieces that the game ends up lagging terribly whenever you run into town. There's a reason why I settled on the frontier.
The other obvious problem is the fact that the various tests are wildly imbalanced in terms of the amount of work that's necessary, but they still result in the same rewards. Some tests require full weeks of work to prepare and that effort still doesn't guarantee a pass. In contrast, some of the other tests seem to be virtual gimmes. This was best illustrated when I was running through Seven Lakes last week and someone posted to the regional chat looking for "someone of the female persuasion to introduce himself to for the Test of Marriage principles." I hadn't started the test yet, so I asked what he meant...
"In order to pass principles, you have to 'introduce' yourself to a potential mate."
"Alright, just so I'm clear on this, you gain a level for the equivalent of going up to someone in a bar and saying, How you doin'?"