One thing I loved about playing with my old bands is that we just showed up and played. We plugged in, turned up and played. Some nights we were brilliant, some nights we were just too loud and played too loosely.
But we always showed up on time, plugged in and played.
We didn't let the audience watch us go "check...chhhhheckkkk...shhsstt...shhhsthhtt...cheeecckkk.." for 20 minutes, or let them watch us set up guitar pedals for 45. We knew they wanted to see music, not setting up. Give them some music, even if it's loosely played. They came out here to hear us, not see us. That was the idea behind being punk, and I do not mean mohawks and pins in our nose. I mean the attitude, and I don't mean "snarky." I mean the idea that no matter what, you gave the audience (sometimes tiny, sometimes huge) what they came to hear, which was music. Loud rock music.
It is the same for your MMO. If you are making an MMO, or have made one, or want to make one, don't make me watch you go "checckkk...ccchhheecckk.." for 25 minutes. Don't get mad if your silly in-ear monitors don't work. Let us experience your art, or we will walk away.
In other words, so you say you have really nice textures? Awesome, will my PC load them?
You have amazing spell effects? Wicked, but I can't afford that card that supports DX10.
Shadows? Realistic shadows? Neat, but your quest is busted.
The one thing I love about what I call the "pocket world movement" is that it concentrates on actually reducing the size of the games on your hard-drive. Flash games, games that run using not-so-modern-yet-perfectly-good engines. The world of Facebook gaming and "casual" gaming (as though a 56 year old woman playing for 6 hours a night is casual) is actually showing us the light, the way out of the bloated drum-solo prog-rock era and into the "let me experience your art without much hassle" punk rock era of indie games, games that would run on a pencil, and games that are accessible both to all skill levels and to all physical abilities.
On my Netbook, right now, rests access to around 10 or so MMO's. Many of them are made from Flash, or are embedded in a browser, and a few are your "standard" MMO made with a few gigs of code. But I can carry them around, I can play them from where-ever I want, and they feel as much like a virtual world as any other that was made with 15 gigs of textures.
Drop the load a bit, future designers. Quit bogging us down with high-res textures that players might just grow used to anyway. Just concentrate on the experience, not the graphics. Think of an impression, a dream. When you recall a favorite dream, you cannot remember the details, you can only remember the impression that the dream made on you. Faces, clothing, all those don't really matter because the dream made you feel a certain way so strongly. That's why these (essentially) Facebook MUD's are doing so well right now: they create an impression, make it easy to run and keep it accessible to all.
Personally, when I hear about a new MMO and all I hear about is what revolutionary engine it uses and not enough about what it is about, I am very skeptical. I don't care how fantastic looking it is, I only care about how fantastic feeling I am while playing it.