There's that certain game everyone talks about in some form or fashion and too often every other game is referred to as a clone. Honestly, I have yet see a clone so don't know what people are talking about sometimes. If questing and killing mobs makes it a clone, well okay I guess they're all clones.
So what exactly do they have that the others don't? Obviously, it's not one thing but the combination together that works:
1. Low-end graphics - This is huge yet few take it seriously. An extremely large population buy their systems already put together and keep them for years without upgrading individual components. Even three years after release, people still complain about their computers not being able to handle one of those other games. Yes there are serious gamers who upgrade frequently so there is a niche for them. But if you're seeking to hit the million mark, this is the first priority.
Low-end does not mean ugly. There are certain MMO's that look quite beautiful and can run on older systems.
2. Non-forced PVP integrated with PVE - Only one other game comes to mind that had something similar, the difference being you had to travel to certain zones to engage. In this one, however, you might see the enemy player attacking the guards in town. You can go your merry PVE way or choose to attack them. I've seen many players who never wanted to PVP change their minds when they see their town attacked and the excitement of other players around them running around in the fray. But it's not forced on you. The choice is yours.
Past PVP MMO's have not been overly successful. I have no intention of ever participating in PVP, but obviously its existence in this particular MMO has worked to its advantage because it was accommodating to both types of players and even some in between.
3. Variety of Terrain/NPC's - Most MMO's have their rolling hills, snowy areas, and deserts. But the selection in this one was more than I'd ever seen anywhere - deliciously spooky zones, prehistoric dinosaur jungle, and autumn-colored forests, just to name a few. And mobs are extremely varied and appropriate to their setting. Odds are when you see a skeleton, it is not standing in some pretty field, but somewhere dark and ominous. Also, you don't just kill higher level versions of the same mobs over and over.
4. Sense of Humor - I have laughed from quests and npc's in this MMO more than I ever had. Seriousness has its place too, but mixing in the fun stuff is important. I seriously wondered if they hired some joke writers for some of this stuff.
5. Ease of Play - Leveling was for the most part stress-free and enjoyable. You didn't have to look up quests to figure them out. You didn't even have to figure out what zones to level in as you would eventually be led there. And of course you could solo most everything. Many consider this hand-holding but for folks who are stressed all day, this offers a sweet release.
I've played a large assortment of MMO's and haven't seen most of the above in any of them. So there are no clones as of yet.
So why am I not playing it? Because it's missing some things. I'm not the typical player I guess. I'm part of that "mom factor" group. To get me to play, I'd like to see:
1. Housing - Has to be available to everyone, with even new players able to afford something small. And if we can decorate our yards too as one MMO was able to accomplish, even better.
2. Crafting - I'm not huge on crafting but it's something extra to do when I don't feel like adventuring. So if I'm going to be doing it, I want it to be somewhat interactive and useful such as the current game I'm playing or the one I revisited a few posts down.
3. Better Communities - In smaller MMO's it's not as big a problem but when you start reaching the proportions of this game, I just refuse to deal with it and leave. It's not a simple matter of turning off chat channels. I like helping people and want to be able to hear if someone has a question. I want to be part of a community, not exclude myself from it.
The only way around this that I can see is offering Roleplay-Enforced Servers. By this I don't mean forcing people to roleplay. What I mean is keeping chat clean and restricted to game related chat in general channels.
My tolerance for dealing with rude players grows smaller as I get older. I don't want myself or my family exposed to it. This is a big determining factor in my sticking with a game. Everyone has their bad days and sometimes things slip. What I'm talking about here is those that get their jollies belittling people on a continued basis. Rather than silence them, most of the mature community turns off chat, while others view the offender as cool and join in.
The community in the game under discussion is horrendous and the absolute worst experience I have gone through. Restricted servers is the only way I can see around this and I would bet they'd become pretty popular. And I'm not talking implied restrictions. This needs to be enforced.
4. Casual End Game Content - Raiding has its purpose for other players but not me. Give me something to do, something to work towards. I want nice items too, and if I have to do some solo quests building faction or accumulating some special gems that allow me to purchase one nice armor upgrade after two months of play, then I will have something to work towards for a couple years. At the least, add instanced dungeons that can be done with two people with a chance of something nice to drop somewhere in there.
Forcing full groups on me to get things accomplished is the equivalent of raiding. I don't have lengthy sessions available to me for waiting around to fill up that perfect group. I want to log in and play. If I'm able to do this for 59 levels, I expect to be able to do it at 60.
These are just minimal things I expect in an MMO to keep me playing. Of course there are other things that I'd love to have as well such as being able to set up a shop in your home, attractive armor, having an entertainer class, etc. But that would just be icing on the cake. Currently, I'm still waiting for my cake.