Here’s a list of what I consider the most important MMORPG content elements.
5. Well Designed Character Advancement: Whether it’s skills-based or level-based, character advancement must be balanced and timely. Players will not stick around if it takes days to get their first few levels or skills, and if the game is too hard to advance in, they will switch to an easier game.
4. Constantly Expanding Content: In-game content must expand as the game ages and grows. Whether this is through expansion packs or in-game patches, there needs to be a growing amount of experiences, or old players will get bored and leave. World of Warcraft did an excellent job of this, releasing many high-level dungeons for the first two years, and finally releasing an extensive and amazing expansion pack.
3. PVP/Hall of Fame System: Some sort of direct PVP or rankings system should be present so that you can see how your character ranks against others. I’ve seen quality PVP systems that award ranks (like warlord/commander/private) based on your activity and success in PVP, and I think it is a good reward for making characters that are strong against others, and/or having skill playing your character.
2. Quality Crafting System: Some sort of player crafting that makes unique items tagged with the creating player’s name. This is a failing of World of Warcraft, as the crafting system isn’t nearly complex enough for my tastes. Star Wars Galaxies and Final Fantasy XI are more along the lines of quality crafting systems.
1. Strong Community: While not technically an MMORPG game element, it is a vital component to a successful MMORPG. Games without community interaction usually fall apart, and/or don’t keep players for very long. With the release of the NGE, Star Wars Galaxies lost a good portion of it’s player base and community, and it has scarred the game ever since. Without a strong community to pay for and play the game, the game will not last long.
Well that’s my short list. If you agree or disagree drop a comment, I’m interested in seeing what you think is vital to an MMORPG.