So let's talk about things done right, first. The skill system in Wizardry 6-8 is actually really good. Skills getting better through practice, plus being able to assign bonus points on level up is just really good, and the variety of skills is something that I love. Taking it further, the sheer number of races and classes that are available makes me want to play and keep playing. That's not to mention that 6 and 7 have really neat class changing mechanics that can help you really develop your skills and spells.
But then there's Wizardry 8. In 6 and 7, when you gain level you gain a random assortment of stats and some skill points you can assign to skills yourself. If your stats are high enough to qualify the minimum needed to become another class, you can then change classes to that, which will reset your level to 1 and set your stats down to the base stats for that class. Your skills and spell picks remain unchanged, however, and you will retain whatever spell levels you've already earned. In 8, though, changing classes is a little different. Yes, you need to have the minimum stats for the class you want to change to, but when you do, you retain your stats, skills, and spells. Yes, you are returned to level 1, as well, however, it retains what level you achieved in your previous class and will require you to get the experience needed to get to the next level that would be up next if you hadn't class changed, but using the experience table for the new class. Worse yet, you can never return to the class you changed out of.
Leveling is a little different, as well. Every level you get in 8 gives you 6 stats points and 9 skill points to distribute, and you can allot a maximum of three of either to any one stat/skill per level. Also, spellcasting classes get a spell pick (if any are available). All this adds up to class changing in 8 being a monumentally bad idea.
So how would I fix it?
I've given this some thought, and I think I do like the idea of the game recording your progress in the different classes, but I still think that resetting the experience to 0 is the better solution. But doing this without any kind of penalty would make it too overpowered. To counterbalance it, take the current stats and skills, subtract the base stats and skills, and then multiply the result by 0.75. Then add back in the base stats and skills (base racial stats, but not going below the minimum needed for the class, and base skills for the new class). Keep spells and spell levels. Basically a hybrid of the current system and that of the previous games. Also, being able to return to classes that you changed from, but starting from the level/experience that you left off at.
Oh, and there's an issue with the fact that even if you spend time as a Bard/Gadgeteer, you can't actually use instruments/gadgets after you change out of your class, despite having the Music and Engineering skills. This is a consequence of them not being listed for anything other than their classes. If I were to change things, I'd also make them usable by anyone so long as they have the skill and saved level from the appropriate class, and though perhaps not being able to place points in Music/Engineering at level up, still being able to train the skills with use...
But I get the feeling that it will take a lot to fix all of this. I'm pretty sure the class change mechanics are hard coded, meaning someone would need to decompile the exe and find how it works, then recode it and form a patch for it. I don't think this game has the following needed to do that, though. There isn't anyone out there that would consider this a worthwhile endeavor. Which is unfortunate, as Wizardry 8 could really use the help.
Of course, this doesn't even touch on the other massive problem with Wizardry 8: enemies scale to your level. If you level too fast, you might find that you start running into really strong enemies way too fast, and run into things you can't actually deal with. I don't mind this kind of scaling too much, but there needs to be limits that I'm not sure I've run in to yet. For example: I was just playing earlier, walking along the Arnika-Trynton Road and going a little off road to see if I could find hidden items. What do I see on the road, though, but a group of 7 Juggernauts (basically upgraded Piercer Modais), with some Crimson Poppies and a group of Seekers as well. What worse is that I tried to wait them out and let them pass so I could get around them, and instead here comes this Hoggar out of nowhere, not ambushing me but just being a nuisance. And that wouldn't be so bad if I could kill it before the other monsters approached (nearly did, but the damn thing got blinded while already paralyzed and after coming out of paralysis decided to run away when I probably could have killed it that round). I wound up reloading and trying to find a way to slip between the Hoggar and big group of strong enemies.
To be frank, it's ridiculous that you can run into such big groups of monsters that are that much stronger than you, and I'm not even playing on Expert! It's just Normal! And yeah, I could pull it down to Novice, but that's ridiculous, too. There's really no reason for it. Unfortunately, Mad God's Cosmic Forge tool doesn't have any patches for 8 the way it has for 6 and 7.
Really, it's kind of depressing how badly made Wizardry 8 wound up being. There was a decade between 7 and 8, and it really shows with how disconnected 8 is from where 6 and 7 were going. I'm actually really doubtful that 8 was where the designers were going when they were first fleshing out the story for 6 and 7...
Anyways, I think that's enough out of me for right now. Maybe I'll revisit this at a later time...