Syl has written a nice post about how developers tend to cut out everything fun as games mature. Her post is aimed at World of Warcraft and I agree in spirit. It's just that I would really like to know why. Why do developers do this?
Look, if the developers had found some inconveniences unfun, why did they ever put them into the game in the first place? Here's a part of the explanation: Developer Burnout.
Developing a game is like a love relationship: In the beginning you are in awe. What you especially like are the small inconveniences. They give your significant other a soul, character. But, as you know, with time, well. Well, these inconveniences really start to annoy you. Why does she always forget her keys? That's stupid! Wouldn't it be fun if we didn't need keys?
This process also applies to players, of course. In the beginning they love the ten-minutes travel to the capital, but eventually they think it's a time sink and a grind. For developers, however, this is much worse.
As players we have the advantage that we can cut back on playing and even take breaks. That's impossible for a developer. You need to work on the game at least 40 hours a week (probably more), and you need to play it, too. As a consequence developers burn out much faster than the players. Breaks are often impossible.
When a developer has to level a new character for the 20th time he really, really hates leveling. It has to be faster! Much faster! Much, much faster! In fact, the game would probably be better if it could be skipped, but the players would moan and complain. Stupid players: Don't they see that leveling a new character isn't fun?