step outside of the box with me for a moment, and lets observe and deconstruct what you are doing...
now, we look back, and we see you frantically trying to figure out what your targeting audience wants, constantly asking yourself and others: "what do they want?" "what is a popular feature?"
okay, this is a viable line of attack, but is there another way you can go about this?
here's my contention.... players dont really know what they want, and they cant be counted on to provide you with new features (other than wild, out of this world speculations that are completely unrealistic for the most part)
so, asking players what they want isnt constructive, or not very constructive.
contention#2: players know what sucks.... i.e. players know what they DONT like about past titles.
contention#3: players are somewhat forgiving. as long as the game is fun, they will overlook one or two minor things that they dont like.
these two things are much more helpful than contention #1 is. (there are exceptions to all of these contentions, of course, but we are dealing with the gaming community en mass here, so we generalize)
so, the real question you should ask of players is "what *didnt* you like about game X?" and then "was it forgivable?"
from this sort of data, you know what to exclude from your game. unforgivable sins should be removed entirely (or at least, seemingly removed entirely), forvigable sins are allowed, but you should TRY to eliminate them.
make sure that these sins are as specific as you can get them.
here's an example of what i think is a sin, and it is a forgivable one that i myself have been guilty of.
take for example potions. in some games, like diablo, you wind up quaffing hundreds of them through the course of the game.
there are three types of potion in diablo... healing, mana, and rejuve.
now, in the REAL world, potions correspond to medicines, and here is what is commonly known about medicines:
A: some people are allergic to some medicines.(i personally am allergic to penicillin)
B: most medicines have side effects(at least, the strong ones do)
C: many medicines are addictive
D: the more you take of a medicine, the less effective it is(tolerance)
now, bring this into diablo-world. nobody is ever allergic to any type of potion. there are no side effects. they are not addictive, and you dont develop a tolerance. as far as i've seen, NONE of these have ever been incorporated into a CRPG.
since we cant make the game unplayable, we must cover all of the functions that the potions do and have them available to the player. so, we come up with the following combinations:
#1: the character has no allergy
#2: the character is allergic to mana potions
#3: the character is allergic to health potions
#4: the character is allergic to rejuve potions
#5: the character is allergic to both health and mana potions
this list is roughly from most common to least common (for the mage, switch #2 and #3)
these allergies could have several different effects on the character... they may have NO effect(essentially an immunity). they may have a detrimental effect.
for the elixers of dex, str, etc, you can give random possibilities of immunity/allergy.
but anyway, i've gotten on a tangent.
my point is... you can think about a problem one way and never arrive at a solution, but if you change the way you look at it, you might come to a solution rather quickly.
here's my two bits. (it used to be two cents, but inflation, ya know?)