Let me preface this by saying that I believe this ideas are all my own, though certain aspects of them are probably seen in other games. I certainly haven't played every MMORPG out there, though I have played the big American ones.
1. It will be a role-playing game
I think that the game mechanics in the majority of popular online RPG's today tend to detract from role playing. I don't necessarily mean the 'Well met. How art thou?' roleplaying, but I do mean interacting as your character to other characters and playing a role in an adventuring group. An emphasis will be placed on encouraging interaction with the context of the game world in mind. The auction houses and mail boxes are two common conventions that will be shown the door.
2. Character Creation will be fun and meaningful
I disagree with the basic premise that users won't know enough about the game to make a character that's fun to play if they're allowed to choose stats and or powers for themselves when they 'roll up' their character. If they can do that, it's more a flaw of game design and balance, than of anything else. Sure if you make a warrior type character and max his intelligence and wisdom at the expense of strength and fortitude he may have difficulty functioning as you may expect, but if you choose a little more intelligence or quickness instead of maxing out your brawn then you'll be able to do some things than the walking brick houses can't.
3. Character Statistics will be meaningful
When you choose to put points into one statistic over another, there will be consequences. This ties into #2, of course. In the character generation system, if your more wise your brow will furrow more. If you're stronger you'll be more muscular and if you're more dexterous that muscle will be leaner. It won't just be cosmetic differences, however. There won't be gear for the most part that gives you increased wisdom and hit points. Conversely, there will be a difference between 15 and 16 mental strength. The higher the ability score, the easier it will be for you to perform actions, or those actions will be more powerful, or more easily repeated. This will apply to 'crafting' and adventuring aspects of the game, whether you're aiming a gun or hammering out a shield.
4. No leveling
This applies to adventuring and crafting. In both realms of endeavor the only idea goal will be to explore and conquer for their own sake. To adventure to some areas and defeat some foes you'll need to be equipped with good gear, but you'll start at level 1 and remain there for the life of your character. Likewise the crafting system will be based on steps, where you will have to have completed one task before you can do a more difficult one, but you won't need to make 16 short bronze swords before you have the skill to make one long bronze sword.
5. Separation between crafting and adventuring
All the crafting skills won't necessarily be to support adventuring. Some will but some will there just because they're cool. Being an artist or a historian will be just as rewarding as an engineer or beast trainer. All of the crafting game will be represented by mini-games which will, in an entertaining fashion, try to replicate what the real life crafter would have to go through.
6. The end of Groundhog Day
The end of undying deities will arrive. Players will start young, mature, grow old and retire. There won't be permanent death, but each resurrection or certain game situations will have a chance of causing your character to age. Some of this aging process will be physically evident as the character's skin and posture change, and some of it will be reflected in statistical changes, as you grow older and wiser you also grow weaker, slower and less hearty. Eventually the player will not have the physical requisites to adventure any more, though they can retire to a life of crafting or trading, and maybe get together with his old cronies for one last ride into t he sunset.
7. The end of Groundhog Day Part 2
The world will age and change itself. After a month, each of the servers will be different, depending primarily on how the players use and are manipulated by the existing factions in the game. When a new server is launched, it will be in a pristine condition and a large enough, determined group of individuals can set it's history on a course completely different from an older server they played on. Monsters will respawn, of course, but they may mutate so that one strategy that the previous adventurers were using may no longer be workable. For example, monsters that are susceptible to sword blows will gradually grow immunity to that type of attack. They may become more or less sociable or more intelligent as they evolve.
8. Player guilds will be part of larger game organizations
Players will be allowed to and encouraged to form guilds or cells, but each of these will be subservient to a game-wide organization. The cells will then be given objectives to further that organization\s cause and will be rewarded or punished based on their ability to meet these objectives. The guilds and individual player actions will tie closely in with number 7.
9. GM Interaction
The Players will actually get service for their monthly fee. Expect GM's to take over the role of NPC's on a regular basis. GM's will also drop in on adventuring groups to add a little spice to a dungeon or adventuring area they are working through.
10. Realistic Combat Effects
If a player throws a grenade or a fireball next to you, it won't just selectively hit the targets that she wanted it to, it will hit you. This will apply to shooting a gun, swinging a sword or using an AOE healing power.