Lol, I'm a she actually. No worries, I'm used to the assumption that gamedev members are male until proven otherwise; there are probably other female posters I mistakenly assume are male.
Don't worry about sunandshadow, surely likes games, but socializing certainly isn't his thing lol. Yet he posts here quite often... I think he craves social interaction! Sunandshadow, you just need the right MMO!
I like a little socialization - at a comfortable distance and times of my choosing. Like a messageboard or global chat channel built into a game where I can choose to participate only when the topic is relevant to my interest. Games that allow a player to be involved at a mild level in several interest-based guilds are great, especially if they also allow diceless roleplaying within a private forum or chat channel belonging to that guild. A global marketplace or other trading system within a game can also be a pleasant limited form of social interaction. I love games that let you admire/explore something another user has built/collected and leave a comment. I even occasionally enjoy a PvP arena system that will automatch me with an opponent (I'm much more likely to be interested if it is a turn-based sort of combat like tactical combat or a deck building card game). I just hate the in-my-face way many MMOs want to make basic activities within the game impossible or severely disadvantageous to not do in a group or as a social networking activity.
If an MMO wants me to play it a long time, the features it needs to have are solo achievements, minigames, collection and features for showing one's collections to others, sim gameplay such as crop growing and pet monster capturing and breeding, crafting customization such as being able to manufacture dyes and use them to recolor clothing or get tattooed, or building sculptures or quests/interactive stories for other players to admire. That is the kind of end-game (and mid-game) content I would love to see in an MMO. I think it's funny (in a pathetic way) that a lot of that is done better by the less serious game websites like NeoPets and Gaia Online than by real MMOs.
BTW I'm not arguing that a lot of MMO players are all about the socialization - I know they are. I know people who live for 40-man raids or team pvp or PUGging dungeons. I just feel like that demographic gets all the design attention. XP
Apologies none the less.
I was about to say, then I finished reading your post so you beat me to it; What if there were certain "mundane" activities, aka non-combat/immediate attention not required, that you could play offline through a browser on your mobile/home PC that updated portions of the MMO world.
Example: Use a separate program accessible through any web browser/app store/whatever(not up to date on all available options) that allows you partake in activities that affect you within your MMORPG desktop/laptop .exe game. For example; Your virtual "yard" in the game would be something that you maintain using this external program. You could actually play these mini-games outside of the actual game world to progress within the MMORPG world, but due to the easier and more consistent access via less system requirements to partake in and the more casual nature of the specific mini-game potentials, it can take longer than the average game as it would be a casual game experience from the start. The garden that you grow outside of the game could be updated within the game to show what you have been growing in your garden. -Bolded for emphasis-