(There are important elements to an MMO that current games studios are just ignoring. Will they ignore them forever?)
Is there such a thing as a perfect MMO? Aren't people and gamers different themselves and don't we all have different tastes? How can one game appeal to all of us? How can the MMO make a comeback especially after having so many failures these past couple years and having the successful ones slowly crumble?
So yes it may just be wishful thinking but after having played a number of MMOs I think there are features that would appeal to a mass audience that are simply being neglected right now. You see some of these features in games here and there but never all in one place.
Finally after much frustration I want to go through the main elements of an MMO that should come together to create a great gaming experience.
Why are they playing this MMO? What is at the heart and the soul of an MMO? It's persistence. Persistence is what makes MMOs stand out differently than any other game. An MMO is there to persist or continue living on, long after you log off. Things happen while you're away and the game keeps your character ready whenever you want to come back to it.
Persistence is why having land is so important. Virtual land, the ability to battle for it, and the ability to have a map that shows who owns what and praises the guilds that own it, is at the heart of why people want to play and MMO.
After creating such a powerful character, you should use the character to some tangible end. Sure monsters and quests are fun and dandy but the end game has always been and will always be PVP. A way a game can address this so that non-PVPers are happy is they can have land where PVP is impossible and players not wanting to PVP can simply live there. Other players can venture forth and claim land for themselves. Having done so, they must defend it, or lose it.
Land, it's the most valuable resource in our modern world yet it's simply absent in most MMOS. There is high potential for land as a means to make money for the game and for the players to enjoy. Imagine building nice homes, collecting taxes, and coming home to a nice and warm cottage by the ocean; prime real estate other players would die for.
Games like Second Life show that people will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for virtual land. The demand is there. MMO makers NEED to fulfill this demand and create persistent maps that can be conquered and controlled. Powerful Diplomacy actions need to be present as well to emulate the real world, and alliance systems need to be put in place.
Land that you fight for and control needs to be in nearly every MMO. What guild doesn't want their own guild hall taken after a successful war?
Every item should be up for sale at whatever a player wants to sell it for. Items should deteriorate and be repairable so as to stop items from being horded and incentivize players to keep getting the items they need to progress forward.
Scamming should be monitored by the Game and there should be a zero tolerance policy for such acts. The Economy needs to be fairly regulated so that scammers don't take hold of it and ruin the game experience for others.
A rich and diverse economy is what should be at the heart of every MMO as well, so that these virtual items can be properly traded and people who need them can get them by trading, currency, or working. This way a players time can become currency.
New land should always be added to the map. This new land would cause tension and give the game a fresh taste as people venture out and try to claim it for their own. This new land should be both in easy to obtain areas and hard to obtain areas, this way the whole player base gets excited; not just the top players.
The best land should be inaccessible except by permission. This way players that may want to see a beautiful town or city may only be able to do so if they are part of a certain guild, have explicit permission, or view that land on a test server. This would make that land even more valuable and exploration even more fun.
People should be both rewarded and punished for exploration. Those that are the strongest or the smartest can created groups where the costs are lowered and the benefits are easier to obtain.
The story should be immersive. Currently the player base takes little part in the lore of the game. Imagine that the Devs of the game make an event where a person of special interest is placed in a heavily guarded fort. They create the backstory of the game, create a beautiful world, narrative, and mythos, and then the PLAYERS drive the story forward with in game events.
A camera records this fortress and whoever successfully saves the person of interest becomes part of the games lore forever. The game is shaped by you, your guild, and your choices. In this way, you feel more immersed in the game, and your time seems better used as now you've been placed in the annals of history.
These events don't have to be very often but even once a month or once every three months would be huge and they could be open to anyone in game willing to take up the challenge, helping to push the narrative of the game forward. Why can't games have a narrative that keeps going, keeps being written? Currently wrestling does this by hiring Hollywood writers to create ongoing plots. Why not have the same writers create interactive plots in MMOs?
Building and creativity is what made Minecraft, Sims, and other games so popular. MMOs don't have to allow you to destroy the terrain, but they should allow you to make a house into a home, with various items, and various ways of crafting them.
In this way, you can make unique beds, customize the colors, or shrink their size as they see fit. See games like Sims 2 and Sims 3 to get an idea of the customization I'm talking about. This game should also allow you to craft weapons and items that aren't spawned or gotten by destroying monsters.
Crafting would also label the crafter on the item and thereby raise recognition of the best creators in the land. Since items would degrade as well, crafting could be a job of its own, that one would need to train to fully perfect.
Creativity and the ability to express one's self needs to be part of the MMO in some way.
No Developer or GM interference
If you work for the game, you can't benefit from it in any way. Every game that has their Developers or Game masters openly playing it, and profiting from it, has lead to corruption. Every single game.
If you have a GM account, you only use it from 9-5 to fix issues in the game. When you get home, if you play the game, you play on another account.
The Devs and the creators play on separate accounts. The Business NEVER EVER conflicts with personal gaming lives. This leads to corruption, tyranny, and unbalanced characters because greed is a part of the human condition and humans should not constantly bombard themselves with greed.
Take yourself out of the equation, never mix the business with pleasure, and enjoy your game on a personal account. There are so many horror stories games could have avoided and so many tyrannical GM's and Devs that simply would not exist if this ONE rule were followed.
So imagine your house in this game, imagine being rich beyond your wildest dreams, crafting the best weapons in the land, and leader of the most powerful and prestigious guild on the server.
That would be a sense of real accomplishment, to use your power for good or evil as you choose, and to enter the history and lore of the game by taking part in in-game events.
Land would be up for the taking, and you would always need to be vigilant to guard your home, hiring security when needed. As new land came in, your home may be exposed to new people, which would require you to build new trust with them or build new alliances. Possibly it may lead to wars.
An ever diverse game, with a strong economy, strong player base, and true immersion is the goal of every MMO. It's time for MMOs to implement these changes, make their games more immersive/interactive, and give us the game we've always wanted.