I've been around these forums for a while, checking people's impressions about upcoming MMOs...the hype, the hate, and everything in between those two.
Most of the times I've noticed a trend to ignore what they have enjoyed in their previous MMORPGs, they claim to look for something innovative, they claim that they are tired of the same old, but are they?
Now, let's put an example: During years, people have stated some hatred against killing monsters exclusively in order to level up, nowadays, we take for granted that no game is going to offer that in a serious project, so now, players complain about games with quests. You heard it, people think that questing has been overdone already, even though 1 year ago it was perfectly cool (I doubt you could see people complaining about AoC's way of leveling).
People claim that tutorial areas are boring, and, at the same time, they claim first impressions are quite important for a gamer. As you might notice, these statements lack something: Empathy.
Try to place someone who has just started playing MMOs in a mid game area, he will be completely lost and probably close his client frustrated because there was no tutorial, for us, old school gamers, tutorial areas are a hassle, for companies, it's their only chance to hook those newbies who have just joined the market, the tutorial areas should indeed last only a bit, but stating that first impressions are important in such a genre is nonsense, specially considering that out of a month, the tutorial area will only last so much.
Then we get the eternal debate about engame activities, to me, a good endgame is the one that doesn't have you jumping around rocks for hours waiting for something to happen, the endgame is what you'll be playing most of the time (unless the game is a huge leveling time sink) so when I look forward for a game, I look forward to its endgame, I try to document myself as well as I can in order to play it with my mind, for that, you need to know everything about the game, every small detail, in order to picture how it would be like, but most of the players ignore that, they just want to find a feature they liked before or something they havent ever seen to just end up dissapointed because the game design, and the package of features isn't compact.
Im bolding that word because many people in these forums seem to forget that, while green might be an awesome color by itself, it doesn't mix well with pink. That metaphor is there simply to illustrate my point, you might be looking forward to seeing that green, but you also have to consider pink as part of the mix, you might like one, but you might not like the combination of those.
This was, to me, represented perfectly in warhammer online, Im an avid PvPer, been like this for years already and my guild is oriented towards that part of the game, so, I should love warhammer online, shouldn't I? Well, guess what, I don't, and not because the terrible lag people have been reporting for months, but because the game places you against random people most of the time and because the dependance of a good enemy in order to improve your joy is part of the game's design. So, I found myself jumping around rocks waiting for the next scenario to pop up or waiting for a skirmish to start, and bored to tears with that.
Then we also have the wow clones comments, how does a game get under this label? Simple, level through quests and you'll be playing a wow clone. This, obviously, is a shallow term used by ignorant people who know nothing about game design, im sorry if I sound blunt, but hey, it's my blog! ;D
Thing is, in order to get a wow clone, it must be similar in everything. Game's design is a very unstable group of atoms, as soon as you change a bit of it, you get something completely different, the taste during the first hours might be similar, but after reaching the endgame, you won't feel like you have played the same game at all, its a completely new experience.
What I want to say here as conclussion, is that games are made out of a lot of features, just like basket teams are made out of individuals, looking at the whole picture is the way to go while analyzing a game's features and the way it might end up playing.