Concepts. They start out in the mind of the creator, little baby ideas blossoming quickly as he/she scribbles down their thoughts, adding onto their creation. Little does this creator know that what he/she has just created is a God among the development process. This God can make or break even the most ambitious of MMOs like nothing. This God decides how you will make your game. This God looks hella cool when you write it out on paper.
Because these concepts hold the make-up of the game itself, these ideas are the pillars that every MMO sits on. Concepts include things like setting, how combat plays out, etc., etc. along with some major theme. These ideas can be great, sure, but more often than not they spell defeat for an MMO; no matter how ambitious it is. Let me sift through my pile of discarded MMO boxes for an example of this. Ah! Perfect! Auto Assault.
Auto Assault was a game that I was extremely excited about when it launched. I even went out of my way to get the collectors edition (which came with a headset, by the way) and happily created an account. This game was going to be awesome. I mean it had some awesome things going for it. Who doesn't want to play a game where you drive around in kick-ass car while shooting things in a post-apocalyptic setting with tens of thousands of other people? Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. The controls were lacking at best, the PVP was non-existent, the battle system was weird, and the directions in everything from quests to directions were so vague that they were impossible to figure out. Because of this, those tens of thousands of players I mentioned before turned out to be about a couple of thousand, max. In fact, the only thing that this game got right was the world you roamed in. This is because the team focused primarily on this part of the game.
The team working for NCsoft wanted so hard to get the game world right and make everything look so pretty that they left everything else for after they finished with that. The major theme in this project took control and made sure that it got first dibs with everything. Unfortunately, this is true for a lot of games. Because of this major flaw with the game, so many other little ones occurred. The game servers shut down...I think...8 months after launch, or something similar to that. Auto Assault is no more, but we can still learn from it.
Concepts are meant to be flexible by nature. You need to be willing to change an idea in order to better the game. Ideas sometimes have to be discarded because they simply won't work with the title. Most of the time though, only a simple bending in the idea you created is required to take your game above and beyond. A game is not a cool idea or something that makes sense, but rather a group effeort of all these ideas to cooperate with one another and make a game that's different AND fun.
All developers and anyone working on an MMO just needs to take as much time as they can and focus on all aspects of the game instead of ensuring it's defeat with marketing the game on the cool idea they thought of. Concepts are vital to making games and should be treated with more respect.