WoW does what Blizzard does best -- take a game style, iterate on it internally (and, later, externally), and produce a supremely polished version. The influence of other games in the genre is clear.
One very clear thing they picked up from UO was minimizing custom or one-off content. For instance, UO experimented with GM-run events (a lot of coordination, and uneven execution across shards), and with one-time questlines (once one guy does it, that's it, it's gone). They are very expensive, development-wise, and so few get to see them that Blizzard has always resisted calls to try to do similar things.
(However, they've ended betas with staff-run apocalyptic encounters, with human-controlled raid bosses trashing capital cities. That's not on the live servers, though
They've also done little events in the weeks before each expansion, like the portal opening before BC and the zombie plague and scourge invasion before Wrath. Data-mining of achievements and objects in the patch currently on the test realms indicates they'll do a "reclaim Gnomeregan" and "reclaim the Echo Isles" event before Cataclysm. Level your orc/strolls now if you want to kill Zalazane, I bet he's gone in Cataclysm
The issue with the Green Hills of Stranglethorn is several-fold. First, it's five quests: one for each of the four parts, and then a final turn-in once you have made the four parts. Second, each batch of pages only drops from certain levels of creatures, it's a random drop, and there's some overlap. However, the end result is that you end up with a lot of, oh, Page 7, and no Page 24. Third, if you are level-appropriate (and not being fed by a higher-level character), you probably have a mix of 8 and 10 slot bags at this point in the game -- probably no more than 56 inventory slots (and more likely around 46) for all your quest items, gear, random vendor trash drops, crafting supplies, potions, food, etc. If you were a hunter at launch, knock a bag off for your ammo. Up to 15 of these slots were consumed by these pages -- and odds are, you wouldn't be able to complete ANY of the subquests (receiving the corresponding chapter -- you need all four chapters to do the last step) until you had done most of the zone because of the way the pages are spread around the loot tables.
In other words, between 1/3 and 1/2 of your inventory space would be devoted to this one stupid quest line
. And because they're not even quest items, they continue to show up and clutter your inventory after you're done! And they vend for so little, and they're just an inventory management nightmare to auction...
It's so ridiculous that I have characters missing out on the Hemet Nesingwary achievement because they've completed the hunting questlines (Stranglethorn, Nagrand, Sholazar), but not that ridiculous book.
Regarding the "Go do step A at location X", "go do step B at location X", "go do step C at location X": These quests are clearly intended to keep re-using the same area, peeling back the story. Since there's no personal GM running the game for you, it was the only way to iterate on a story in a single area (e.g. Kurzen's Compound). You could go the "farm A, farm B, farm C" route like the Defias in Westfall (or the plague cauldrons in Western Plaguelands), but not every story can be told like that.
Phasing will go a long way toward alleviating that, and that's certainly a quest approach that is more CRPG than P&PRPG. I, for one, would be a lot more flexible in running the story-driven bits.
Oh, and night_druid: the camp is one downhill jump from Rebel Camp (which is a flight path now), so it's not any better for Horde. Frankly, I gave up on PVP server leveling in the early 30s, between my experiences in Ashenvale and STV. And that was on a server with a relatively balanced population. I have a friend on one of the legendarily unbalanced servers, on the minority faction, and she says everything's a nightmare there. I'll stick with PVE and the occasional battleground
As for the Horde headhunters -- try the four elite Outriders in southern Barrens -- that patrol a big length of the road and some nearby troughs, right through multiple quest areas. OUCH. The only wandering bad NPC that has jumped me more times are the Sons of Arugal in Silverpine. (I hear Mor'Ladim was a real pain, but even before his nerfing I managed to dodge him. I was always cautious in a cemetery overrun by undead
Big Mac: The token systems they've been using for the level cap instance farming gear (badges at 70 and emblems at 80) are sort of like that. Even if you don't raid, you can get raid-level gear by running the harder versions of the instances over and over -- but the current tier is only available 2 emblems (of frost) per day, and it takes up to two months to farm enough for a single piece of gear. The previous tier can be farmed (emblems of conquest) as fast as you can stomach it.