GM driven events used to be a major part of MMOs; from as early as Ultima Online up to very early World of Warcraft, immersive roleplaying events hosted by game admin used to be a staple of the roleplaying experience. Except, for some reason, MMORPG’s lost the “RP” in recent years.
Consider the Matrix Online, which tried to put together elaborate events for players to roleplay their parts as Neo, Morpheus, Niobe, etc. But it was too incredibly expensive for the dev team to keep up with - making sure everything went smoothly across servers and dealing with griefers became too much.
MUDs are a pretty good alternative to MMOs if you’re looking for an engaging experience. The very first MUD I played, which is no longer alive, had 20 players and was set in 16th century Paris, and it had a fantastic 1v1 duelling system. Parrying, lunging and slashing at your opponent was all rendered through text, but the intensity was there.
Created in 1996 with a large population still today, Achaea is popular for its GM events that are driven by player-choices. One of the most recent events in Achaea involved undead dragons coming down from the skies and destroying the entire City of Light, sinking it into the ocean. All of the players inside had to flee for their lives, and now live as refugees in a monastery. The staff is building them a new city, but they asked the players for design ideas. Talk about player appreciation!
Dynamic events where players can impact the game’s history were such an integral part of early MMOs, I’m glad that MUDs have continued to keep them alive where modern games have forgotten them.