If you people will indulge me in sharing some more or less concrete ideas, for getting some common sense feedback, I hope you will find it interesting although the things I have in mind probably would be overly ambitious due to the size and complexity of the game I can imagine.
Keywords: Persistent world, sandbox, fantasy, MMORPG, single realm.
Having played Eve online for a long time, I have come to realize that creating and running a MMO game is probably quite challenging, with customer support, future development, stability and performance problems, security issues and player shenanigans exploiting everything that can be exploited.
I am not sure what this thread will come to, but I have dabbled in game design issues from time to time for fun and hope that this will be interesting and that I might learn a thing or two.
I had in mind to write about a variety of issues in no particular order and hope that people, if they have the time and interest, can offer some comments on primarily technical issues and not so much being opinionated about whether or not an idea is deemed good or not as such. Any opinions are of course welcome, it is just that nay-sayer in my experience rarely provide interesting and compelling arguments against any particular idea.
1.0 World size
Disregarding any particular problems with having a massive multiplayer game to serve thousands of players, I am fascinated by the idea of having a persistent landscape spanning kilometers of landscape for people to travel through.
An island with a diameter of 500km would be the size of bottom half of Norway, or a little larger than Iceland. A player walking at a speed of 5km/hour would spend about 48 hours walking across the island in the game. Riding a horse would be an obvious advantage for such distances, and flying mounts even more so.
1.01 (Development) Developing a landscape the size of Iceland would seem really laborious, however I imagine that it would be doable with some preplanning. Else I imagine that a procedural model and placement of objects ought to lighten the work load.
1.02 (Amount of players) With a given size of the world, one can imagine that a place will become overcrowded with thousands players, leading to a practical limit of how many subscribers the game could end up with. Comparing a number with Iceland, I imagine that 50.000 online players and even more subscribers like with Eve, would create a healthy profit from subscription and maybe some sensible microtransaction ideas.
1.03 (Hardware limitation) I guess it is fair to wonder if maybe a 500 x 500km area might lead to unforseen practical problems, when thinking of the installer size for the game.
1.04 (Updates and outdated design) It seem obvious that one ought to have plans to deal with future development and not leave such challenges to coincidences.
1.05 (Game lifetime) Hm, what to do with future development, if one imagined a game to stick around for more than 10 years. Seem like a good idea to have such a problem worked out, without inferring some kind of feature freeze along the way, based on some freak 10 year plan leaving no room for improvisations and improvements.
I want to add some further ideas (more concrete) with time and I hope this thread is not found inappropriate, given the (for me) rather unrealistic prospect of actually designing a MMO game.