The one feature that would really pique my interest would be a non-static world. Blizzard have made a few half-heated attempts at this, such as the changing availability of places like Halaa in Nagrand, but it would be nice to see a game where most of the world changed like this. Now this needn't be achieved by direct PvP, but could be through more indirect forms of competition such as races to collect tokens. That way, the replay value of the game would be enhanced, as different quests could be unlocked each time you go through a zone.
@Sven I'd be really happy even with a half-assed effort to make it seem like you mattered. In WoW, every NPC you ever did a quest for should have a dialog option afterward that lets you talk to them and has them thank you for what you did or otherwise reminisce about it. Right now you finish a quest hub and it goes dead -- a bunch of NPCs that generally won't talk to you even though you saved them from various problems.
Making every starter zone massively phased the way the death knight one is would, of course, be totally great. Right now if you go through low-level content you're really time-traveling -- the quests in the low level zones very much take place "before" the events of the expansions, but you have to fill that in yourself. A phased leveling experience would be great. Just add an interface to let people who have finished a phase jump back to help friends and you'd have a wonderful experience that feels vastly more interactive with the world but still works in an MMO setting.
"I'd be really happy even with a half-assed effort to make it seem like you mattered. In WoW, every NPC you ever did a quest for should have a dialog option afterward that lets you talk to them and has them thank you for what you did or otherwise reminisce about it. Right now you finish a quest hub and it goes dead -- a bunch of NPCs that generally won't talk to you even though you saved them from various problems."
Stuff like this just shows how difficult it is to make an MMO with broad appeal. I don't even read the quest text most of the time. I would never use the option suggested above. I'm not saying it's not worthwhile, but it's development effort that I would never appreciate.
The best example of a non-static world I've played was Shadowbane. Player-made cities you could fight over and destroy made each server unique. I would love something like that in WoW.
I'd agree that player-made cities and PvP could achieve some of this, but I'd ideally like to see more ingenuity. Not all player vs player competition needs to be direct PvP. Indirect PvP (e.g. where a settlement changes allegiance depending on how many dailies each side does for them) could be interesting too. Of course on a PvP server, this would have a double effect: you could choose to do the quests yourself or stop the enemy doing theirs.
I noticed a Tobold posting was stolen by this site, too. Didn't recognize any others but then I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the thief's website.
My absolute nightmare right now is a site that steals various blog posts from me and other blogs, and then puts "tobold" (with a small t) as author. Apparently the site found that tobold is a frequent search term for MMO searches and is now abusing it. Grrrrr, identity theft.
Yea...makes me wonder about this identity thing. I have really built up my openedge1 persona complete with a killer avatar... But, I also have had several blog posts repeated on other sites like it was their post. The name has not appeared yet, but it may in due time. How weird we see such a thing.
That way, the replay value of the game would be enhanced, as different quests could be unlocked each time you go through a zone.
I would love to see something like phasing taken to a higher level of function, or something like the Halaa example used as a pacing mechanism for content absorbtion.
The issue I see in all of this - is how much more content/activities can developers reasonably be expected to create, as part of the original design process of the game, before we get to the point where everything becomes a watered down mess of peripherial activities with no depth or direction?
The answer is a change in paradigm and I'm not sure there is a market large enough for the next phase in MMORPGs yet. I see a ton of people suggesting the exact same things. People want to have a tangible effect on the game world. The way to do this isn't to make multiple static copies of the game in different states, the answer is to actually make an RPG where quests are dynamically creatable by players, but the actual content of the quests is procedurally generated to be somewhat unique and non-exploitable.
This is hard, if not impossible, to do if you use the current (IMO broken) model of MMORPGs.