Even though the following wall of text is most of what I want to say on this blog, I'll deem this 'The Preamble' just in case I take it further and actually talk about the specific things needed to be done in an MMORPG to actually satisfy the acronym. And trust me, I've got a load of ideas.
But the following is simply my take on MMORPGs, and where they need to go in a hurry.
And I did copy/paste this from my original area of posting on a random thread. I did this because of the obscene amount of time I spent writing this and not wanting to let it all go down the drain.
Alright developer's and level-minded players, let's get some things straight about MMORPGs and what we should really be getting out of them. First of all, MMORPGs are supposed to be extensions of PnP RPGs, where the world community is expanded by having REAL people creating it instead of just the DM controlled NPCs. Second, leveling simply isn't fulfilling for a WORLD. It's a limited and unrealistic mechanic that needs to be heavily changed or completely discarded. Moving on.
Give me a game where there is next to no physical/mental advancement (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence etc.). Why, as a full grown male/female of my species, should I not be as strong as a fellow being who is also full grown? Instead, the emphasis should be on your social advancement. What have you achieved in the world? Who have you helped? Are you the knight in shining armor type with good standing with the fair Kingdoms? Or are you the lone assassin, making your living as a hitman for the Secret Sewer Society, known to only but a few? Did you start the SSS? Do you run a Kingdom? Are you the King? Did you assist in slaying the dragon that attacked Alkaramon? Did you live in the city Grindor that was decimated by people you thought were your friends? Or were you one of the betrayers?
Give me a game without a grind. Because a grind implies an emphasis on physical/mental advancement (we'll call it leveling from now on). Do away with leveling and instead let me exist as a contributing, living being, dammit. Don't lead me along; let me do the leading. Do I want to run around with good friends and rid the lands around our home city of an unexplained uprising of undead? Do I want to learn a crafting trade and set-up shop in town? Do I want to make enough money to move to a better, more extravagant city? Do I want to make money by helping out my King? Or by becoming a master craftsman of blades? Do i want to take my money, buy some materials, and build a house in the woods? Do i want to start my own town? How about a secret organization? Or maybe just a Guild? Do I want to build up an army of trusted people? Do I want to declare war on an opposing faction? Do I want to heavily tax my people? Then, by the face of my father, let me!
Give me a game with NO NPCs (or limited use by PLAYERS). The idea behind a Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game is to take table-top games one step further and create a world where other people are the NPCs. If Devs would grasp that ONE single concept, we wouldn't have so many junky games out now! NPCs are the downfall of MMOs. We level by the means employed by that MMO (whether it be PvE, PvP, or crafting) simply to please our NPC lords and buy gear from our NPC merchants. How is that exciting? Where is the accomplishment in that? What have you done that makes all of your friends say 'Hey, that guy has accomplished a lot. He's really made a name for himself in this WORLD'.
Give me a game without instancing. Zones, i can deal with. But gee whiz, I'm in this world to be in this world so let me be in it! And if your game mechanics don't work well without instancing, then start over! Make the game an ever expanding world instead! Don't even label it a 'game'. Call it a persistent world. Don't make it necessary to repeat the same content over and over for the so called 'character advancement' of your game. That's not contributing! that's not an accomplishment! A real accomplishment is discovering the lost ruins of an ancient town, mentioned only in the oldest history books. Finding an old man who's really a master of swordplay and having him teach you a skill nobody else has learned yet. Teaching that skill to more friends. Building and then running your own City. Then joining with other cities and starting a Kingdom. Defending your Kingdom against a wave of evil insectoids pouring from an unknown mountain dungeon. Being the few people who enter that dungeon and finally stem the threat. Then having your name written into a history book and placed in the library of the city you saved. These are real accomplishments!
Give me a game with solid mechanics. Take the best from other MMOs when it comes to controls. Have it make sense. I want to play a game that I don't feel like I'm fighting with to actually control. The more difficult to handle, the less immersion there is. If it doesn't feel smooth then I stop noticing the world and start noticing the game. Forget graphics. As long as the look and feel works together, I don't care whether the game is 2D, 3D, or just bunch of black and white pixels. If it makes me feel a part of the world then graphics won't matter!
Give me a game that doesn't cater to lazy people. That doesn't mean exclude people who don't have much time to play. But make the things to do, regardless of how long they take, difficult to do. It shouldn't be only a couple of days before I can build my own house. I need to help out my town to make money. Become popular, even, and make more money. Or maybe I like to craft, so I set-up a business and start to make money. But then our town is attacked by a group of wild Orcs and everything is destroyed. We retreat to the nearest city, and start anew. But it's still fun! Why? Because of the variables. The PEOPLE. Everybody's different in this city. It faces different problems. It has different Guilds and Organizations. I meet new friends. I start up shop again but this time head out for success. I have to gather friends and spend a week building my house in a nice secluded area. We have a blast! Chatting, enjoying the FUN mechanics that make-up the crafting system, and contributing to a house that looks beautiful once it's complete. That's real advancement. All my hard work paid off, and I couldn't feel any better.
Give me a game that is FUN. Each mechanic should be designed for long-lasting enjoyment. Not for the first 40 levels and then some end-game mechanic that doesn't ever actually progress. Tetris is a great example. It doesn't get boring, because the mechanics are sound and there is lot's of variety. in an ever growing world with a lot of people and solid mechanics, there would be plenty of variety! Make every game mechanic as fun as possible: Combat, Crafting, Trading, Building, etc. If the things I do pay off in true accomplishments AND are fun while I do them, what could be better?
Give me a game that doesn't feel like a game. Give me a game that feels like a world that I can truly become a part of.
That's all folks. I'm glad I got that out.