I posted this several months ago on a message board I belong to as part of a thread about what an MMORPG would look like if I had the reigns. If I had total creative control, what would be the end result? Of the ten things I posted, I still think this is the most important, and I am shocked that nobody has really tried it yet:
2) Player customization of their characters is one of, if not the most, important feature of the game. Players should be able to create characters whose background and capabilities are completely independent. In other words, if a player likes playing a front line fighter, but their character concept is a wizard in robes using advanced magic for armor and hand to hand combat, they should have that capability.
I later went on in the same post to say this:
NWN did this [with equipment] so well, wherein the “crafting” system was in part simply a graphics change. Just as game role does not have to equal lore play, item stats do not have to equal item graphics.
Now CoX has a version of this, but its still not quite as far as I would go (I’d strip out artificial “hate” mechanics for tanking, but thats a discussion for another time). In Cox, its entirely possible to have a tank archetype that looks nothing like a tank. A robed fire mage is just as good at tanking as a mutated hulking ex convict, if that’s the role the player wants to play. Why is this something that no other MMO has really picked up and run with? I had thought AoC might take a tentative step towards this with their lich class, before they axed it. The thought of having a lich – normally thought of as a casting archetype – as a frontliner was amazing. So I’m still a little sore about them scrapping the glass when it came out.
The interesting thing is that party mechanics in MMO’s are pretty much the same across the board. You have a heavily armored, moderately armed anvil, and a highly armed, minimally armored hammer, with a little bit of tactical battlefield overwatch.
I’m desperately waiting for someone to break that paradigm, to offer up a new set of archetypes and thus a new way of grouping/party play in MMOs.
Anyway, that’s all for now. If you have any ideas on what class I should play in WAR, I’m taking suggestions in 3…2…1…