Everquest has 400,000 players but it is by no means a perfect system. Why did they invest so much into creating that game? Ultima Online had 200,000 players, that why.
And this is how capitalism does not necessarily lead to good products. If you let your design be purely influenced by money, then yes, the best thing to do is look at what is already succesful, add a little to it, and publish the game.
Remember Sergey Bubka (Oekraine)? He was pretty much the best pole vaulter by far (is he still? You don't get to see a lot of non-Americans performing sports on American television...). Whenever he would set a new record, he would get money. Some quick thinking made him realize that he should just level the bar as slowly as possible, because that would gain him the most amount of money.
I call it "Newbie Ambition."
I suffered from Newbie Ambition, but I think I've surpassed that stage by now. In fact, at one point my co-conspirator had to actually tell me to expand my mind a little and not limit myself to too basic a concept. There's simply too big a difference between 'millions of people, thousands of builings, hundreds of weapons' and 'PvP instead of PvE and permanent death instead of quasi death' to make the comparison you're making.
Still, the first line of your 'translation' pretty much sums it all up.
We want to know if we can create a game where we want thousands of people to play.
That's all. We want to know. We want to find out. Personally, we think it's possible. As this is not our dayjob (yet?), we're not risking anything in our attempt to find out if others agree.
[edited by - Silvermyst on September 4, 2002 3:53:59 PM]