This will probably by my last attempt to actually save what's left of quake.
I first wrote this as a single huge "Wall of Text" which as a term I might want to copyright ;ppp
But then thought I'd needed to make some subdivisions because it got too large.... You can still read it as if it's a single post though.
In my eyes the biggest, and possibly only, asset of quake is that it allows the players to fully utilize whatever skills they have
The sheer responsiveness of the game with the insanely natural weapons (which each have distinct features) and the maps allow for this. And these aspects of the game are non-existent in other games where you are much much more limited by the game itself.
This is what leads to 10 - 0 games when one player is even slightly better than the other and 30 - 0 games when theres an large skill gap. But it also means that whenever the skillgap is small games are very close and intense and can switch around due to some good/bad decisions.
---- prelude (what is balance / gameplay) ----
Now before I start there is 1 thing that people should truelly understand about gameplay / balance.
And that is that balance simply means which skill can influence the game by how much. And gameplay comes out of how that balance is achieved.
--- examples ---
Examples on game balance:
before I give the examples let's assume that Toxjq's LG > Rapha's and that Rapha's level control/item timing > Toxjq's.
If you would reduce the LG dmg Toxjq can gain less advantage from his aim and thus he will lose more games against Rapha.
If you would increase LG dmg even more then obviously the other way goes and Toxjq will win more games against Rapha.
If you make items more important for instance by multiplying their benefit by 1.5, this will obviously favor Rapha and thus he will win more games vs Toxjq.
Again the other way around also holds.
Example3 (level design):
If you have an LG at an easy accessible place this will obviously favor Toxjq. If however it's on a small platform surrounded by lava that would favor Rapha.
Example4: (sound design):
If you'd be able to hear jumps throughout the entire map and thus know where any 'fast moving opponent is' the overall gamespeed will be much slower, even if you do not alter any movement/weapon balance.
Similarly if you'd remove jumpsounds from the game theres less penalty in moving fast and thus the gamespeed will increase.
It is difficult to say who this would most favor though ;)
----- end of examples ----
So all these things come into play when you talk about gameplay / balance.
However in the given examples both players can fully utilize their skills!
Rapha can time everything to the second and Toxjq is free to aim... There are no limitations* as there are in other games. (see below)
As a conclusion you can say that "Rapha will win games against Toxjq IF he managed to gain a larger advantage out of item plays than Toxjq can get out of his dmg output.
The complexity here is that Toxjq can only aim that well because of how he moves around and possitions himself on the map and Rapha's control is due to the same aspect but different choices (which is due to their relation with the balance of the game).
--- end of prelude ---
---- part 1 (on the proposed changes
Now unlike most people I don't think that "the changes will destroy the game" and "the game will be unbalanced" but they will heavily influence the gameplay. But it's not like the game will suddenly not be balanced or that it's no fun anymore. Actually when I try to imagine how it would play, it's not all that crappy for a game.
However!!! What bothers me is that it limits some options for players to utilize their skill. For instance limiting movement speed to 2x base movement. This obviously restricts people who are good at movement.
It also reduces the need for good movement and thus the games will be "closer on default" but the best player will still win... unless(!!) the losing player actually has godlike movement but can't use it in order to gain a large enough advantage.
This same change will also heavily favor people with somewhat decent aim. As a model moving at 2x base speed is not all that difficult to hit (at least not with the current base speed).
Drawing 'timers' at items which indicate passing seconds also heavily reduces the options to actually make people misstime. It's really hard to even make people misstime items by 3 seconds or more (at high skill levels). Now you're forcing people to delay it by 5 seconds. Although when it does work you could put them into more of a problematic situation... but limits so many options that it's almost never worth it for a player to try and leave items up and trick the opponent.
Timing stuff "to the second" becomes ultra retardedly easy as you just have to stand there when the "pie is complete" so theres no skill needed except for knowing in which 5 seconds the item spawns... which even fairly bad timing players can probably do.
Pretty much giving people infinite ammo by reducing ammo respawn times further reduces the need to actually have ammo control. Which already was reduced significantly from Q3 -> QL.
I'm not sure about if loadout means that you can only carry 2 weapons at once... I believe that it does... which would be extremely limiting.... You can't even rocketjump if you're carying an LG / Rail if that's the case.... On the other hand it does present you with multiple problems which you might have to solve which can lead to a more complex gameplay...
Lastly: The most retarded thing you can possibly do is to make gameplay different between paying costumers and the free to play players.
This will obviously lead to a lot of friction..... It will basically split the scene in 2.
There is 1 small + point to this though which is that all "new players" will in general be on different servers than all "oldschool players".
However this won't be long because online cups should be open to everyone (not just to paying costumers) and there will be 'free cups' regardless of any effort to stop that. And because the largest audience is there... the largest prizes will go there... so the best players will go there.
So to be short: Quake is utilizing your skills to own the opponent. Stopping players from doing that... would mean that it's not quake anymore.
--- end of part 1----
--- part 2 (what should be fixed) ----
The REAL problem quake has is that players hate to get owned in a way that they don't see how not to get owned.
The matchmaking in QL is non-existent and therefor new players are continuously being owned rather than having close matches against eachother and then slowly improving towards the better end of the spectrum (if they put in effort... if they don't put in effort then they should remain having fun games against other new players). And in that lies a big issue for quake.... Because as time has progresses it's obvious that if some "noobs get better while others don't" that eventually there will by some guys left who just loose all matches, unless they play eachother.
In Q3 there was a huge influx of new players all at once who all were crap at FPS games (because it was very new at the time). They all had a blast for a long time but eventually a skill gap emerged. This was somewhat solved in Q3 due to the fortunate release of OSP which obtained all "trying" players while all "new players" played VQ3. Although this was fortunate for new players in Q3 it was unfortunate for the game on the whole. As seperate communities began to arrise which had little in common.
Then QL came around and quite a few players already were pro from Q3 but there also was a huge influx of new players. Half of these new players probably dropped out due to the waiting queue to get into the game... but the other half had a fairly good time and start in QL. But because theres already a heavily skilled community playing it, and there was no restriction on joining servers obviously fairly soon all servers were dominated by oldschool players who reduced the fun for new players as they got destroyed. Which lead to another exodus of players from quake.
Now there may be another mass influx of players to QL....
Do you really want them to struggle against the limitations of the game? Or do you want them to experience the gameplay that allows them to finaly see who is the better FPS-player?
----- some examples of limitations of players in other games and the lack of limitation in Quake ----
CS has a 'random spread' and virtually no movement skills required also there are no items at all so you don't need any timing.
UT has one of the worst input systems in the history of mankind as it's a huge struggle to even get your mouse to do what you want. Also their movement is extremely fixed (imo).
In quake however we even have mods like Defrag and now Race which focus purely on a single aspect. Next to that we have Instagib that also focusses completely on a single aspect. Both of these are not "mastered" in a way that any person can do it perfectly. So even the core elements in QL are without any real skill ceiling.
--- ending remarks ---
I think that's about it..... Ofcourse I could go into more depth about why each individual balance change will influence the gameplay in a certain way... but that would give rise to the debate if that balance change would be for the better or for the worse. Which is a very difficult point to anwer.
Imo any change that "removes things you can be good at" is a bad change. But "reducing/increasing how important it is to be good at one thing is up for debate". (For instance reducing LG from 7 to 6 may be a good thing for a lot of players... But there is a way to reduce LG importance without altering the damage output... but I've already said everything about that in previous posts... So please don't bring netcode up as a reply to this post :D)
So do you want QL to remain what I see as Quake..... Or do you want to turn it into a game like CS / UT