Currently I believe the MMO Market lacks Sci-Fi genre based MMO's, which is why I've been so hopeful in the past for MMO's such as Tabula Rasa, and the Engine Revisions for Anarchy Online. I'm also a sucker for the space simulator type genre MMO, among my all time favorite just to see my taste would have to be Earth & Beyond, of course EVE Online is a well thought out and beautiful game, it takes the simulator too far for my taste, upcoming games such as Black Prophecy and Jumpgate Evolution are giving me hope that maybe an Earth & Beyond type of game could be revisited.
I believe the MMO Market lacks Sci-Fi genre based MMO's, which is why I've been so hopeful in the past for MMO's such as Tabula Rasa, and the Engine Revisions for "Anarchy Online". I'm also a sucker for the space simulator type genre MMO, among my all time favorite just to see my taste would have to be Earth & Beyond, of course EVE Online is a well thought out and beautiful game, it takes the simulator too far for my taste, upcoming games such as Black Prophecy and Jumpgate Evolution are giving me hope that maybe an Earth & Beyond type of game could be revisited.
Outside the context of Space, on the ground the MMO aspects I've enjoyed thus far from my gaming history have been the skill/attribute system put in place by Anarchy Online and the attack/combat system of World of Warcraft. As much as I have a love/hate relationship for World of Warcraft and no longer play it, the combat system was technically flawless and dummy certified at the same time. Another neat feature I've found rather interesting lately is the trait system brought forth by "Lord of the Rings Online", where a player via using certain attacks and performing certain tasks outside the context of quests/missions gains an extra attack or attribute that can be added on top of the current level system set in place. I have also been a long time MMOFPS fan of the game Planetside which I only recently began playing again to see the recent changes to the game, but the idea of a game like the "Battlefield" franchise meets the MMO world always has had my attention from the start.
Another thing I have found interesting is that level caps can bring a morale boost to a gamer and the quickness of gaining levels. My first MMO which was Anarchy Online had a level cap at the time of 200, where gaining levels on a daily basis was easy so to say, you actually saw progress happen daily where compared to games such World of Warcraft or Dark Age of Camelot you were restricted to confined lower amounts of lowers from 40-60, and while progress was still seen, it was not as noticeable. A player seeing progress is key to keeping the player entertained, as they will want to see even more progress and push themselves harder, which in turn hopefully lets them see the "Better" content meant for the high level players.
Which brings me to my next point, content has always been and always will be a arguable discussion for any MMO out there. World of Warcraft seems to have the nail dead on with plenty of content but has had a major development team and funding to support fast rapid deployment compared to other MMO's on the market which players tend to forget. However, an issue I consistently see reoccurring in "Next Gen" MMO's is that they promise the implementation of a certain aspect never seen before. Where they maybe believe it is new, it truly has been seen before in older MMO's that have had time to evolve. And many players become irate by this. Perhaps true new concept should be brought forth sorely combining the Pro's of current MMO's through partnerships or agreements to use of copyrighted materials so that the new "next gen" MMO's can actually cater to the hunger of the current gamer seeking something new.
Gamers don't want something new, they want something different, a change of scenery from the everyday game they already play on a daily/weekly basis. Developers should not be afraid to approach current major MMO companies for approval of implementing aspects of the other companies uniqueness into their own MMO to combine it all together to create a truly equilibrate gaming experience that gamers can feel yet at home to but also relaxed in knowing it's truly different because it's combining their favorite aspects.
All points I've made aside, the perfect MMO for me would have to be a combination of MMO's I've already played, so I will just lay it out flat with some underlining based pointing.
Ground + Space based Sci-Fi game play combined:
There's still many franchises out there catering to be perfect for this if a developer is too afraid to approach this without enough of a budget. I loved Earth & Beyond, Anarchy Online, World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies and Planetside... All of which were truly different. Let's combine them and create a mega MMO that everyone could cater too.
Skill Boxes With Attribute Point Spending Progression System:
Pre-Combat Upgrade expansion Star Wars Galaxies, was among my favorite all time games ever, the skill box system was flawless and perfect for true diversity from other players. The attribute and skill point system created for Anarchy Online was also flawless in terms of creating a true unique "Twinkable" character to separate yourself from other players in terms of "Matched" presence. If skill boxes combined with skill point spending could be used to progress your character, no player would EVER be the same, leave classes away from games and start something new. let the skill boxes and skill points decide what path or what kind of combat / social aspects you want to enjoy.
Seamless Open World Zones:
Instancing and Zoning is always a sore spot for a gamer, while a lot of us enjoyed Guild Wars, many of us felt alone in our instances. And while seamless open worlds such Dark & Light, World of Warcraft, World War II Online and Star Wars Galaxies are amazing. They cause a lot of problems when a computer server goes down and unloads a complete zone of players. Where as games such Anarchy Online had continuous yet large seamless "Zones" which were non-changing but also smaller compared to the other Major MMO's, it created a fail safe in case of server hardware failure. So if a computer server goes down, other zones could still be up and running and less players would be affected.
Graphics and Sound:
Graphics and Sound is what the developer has for themselves to decide to surprise us, we all love eye candy, but we all love our budget computers as well, a well developed MMO will allow full diversity in graphical/sound settings to adjust and cater to their systems so they can play the game without sacrificing too much eye candy for more frames per second.
Player Versus Player:
Don't create a game around PVP, instead try something revolutionary. Stick with the whole 3rd person MMORPG concept for the PVE aspect and "raiding" aspect content of the game. But create a second game within the game for the blood thirsty kill crazed players. Lets try a MMOFPS within a MMORPG, lets create a Planetside style World of Warcraft Battleground. Where when you queue into the PVP zone you turn into 1st Person style combat with your RPG character, creating a true "Twitch Combat" feel. And equalizing the level balance but off setting the differences with armor/weapons obtained and the skill point/skill box system diversity. This would be truly revolutionary and would be something I would pay a lot of money for to see.
I'm tired of seeing World of Warcraft being centered for what future games should consider in what a "Raid" truly is, what ever happened the the massive Everquest, Asherons Call and Anarchy Online 100-150 populated raids? That's what a true gaming experience could be. People see if that many people are involved, less game items can be given out, not true. Cater the boss's/content to drop the item amount to a percentile based on the total amount of people involved in the zones/instance, and use the Warhammer Online based of roll system to dictate how many items truly drop. It's possible, just don't be afraid to step outside the box.