I'm tired of MMO's. They are supposed to be super social games, but I find myself "soloing" for the most part and not giving a flip about anyone else out there. This got me thinking: no player in-game is special. They all get the same content. They all beat the same bosses and the outcome is the same for every story. I can do that in a single player game and feel like my character is the only one that matters. No so for an MMO.
So this got me thinking... (no, this isn't a rant) what can be done to change this feeling of not being special in a game world full of "heroes"? My answer: deal with the overpopulation of heroes. Limit their numbers to something reasonable. Also: make situations the players deal with have real consequences. Events should resolve for better or for worse and stay that way until the hero does something about it. If there's a Lich in a cave nearby and your character kills it, then the guy 5 minutes behind you can't kill it again for his quest because it's already dead!
How can this be executed? Well... I'm thinking that the first thing that needs changed is the meaning of the first "M" in MMO. Make it Moderate Multiplayer Online. Limit the number of players to anything from 1 to 100 depending on the size of in-game real estate and make the quests "complete-able" only once per server. I know I'm being unreasonable now, but I think it's the future of cooperative gaming. I point to RDR, GTA V, and Farcry 3 as examples of ModMO experiences where everyone is having fun. Granted, they add the final piece of the puzzle: randomly generated quests. Then it doesn't matter if the quests are lost forever if botched. We'll make more! And cities, outposts, and zones can be continuously conquered by opposing factions to extend gameplay.
Servers can be rented by the players on them. Some prepaid predetermined amount divided over the number of intended players (character creation would have to happen in advance of server creation) would fund the creation of a new server for a fixed amount of time (which can be extended at any point with more $$$). Interestingly enough, this would also deal with the overseas gold-farming industry as each server would be a closed economy. That is, unless you wanted a gold-farmer on your server and hired one as an extra player...
So here's the elevator pitch for the game I have neither the time or resources to make: WoW-like servers with very small numbers of players and instances that are closed when beaten making a real server timeline of significant events leading to a final climatic battle after which players can compete amongst themselves to maintain control of the game world map's resources for their own purposes.
I suppose once it's all over on a server, the character can be transferred to a new server with a higher difficulty setting. I don't know, I'm just rambling now. It's just that playing with complete strangers all the time sucks.
Thanks for listening...