I was looking at the upcoming expansion, Warlord of Draenor, for World of Warcraft and noticed something very interesting. The Garrison system is something that very well could get me back into the game. Just looking at the basics of it, it seems to be a combination of the Duty Officer system of STO and player housing from msot other MMOs, with the added benefit that your followers gain levels. This is very exciting for me, and while I am soured on most of WoW, I really think I could return solely for this piece of gameplay.
I've been tinkering around with some time on how to have a system like the Garrison system work in a game. The main problem I see is making it balanced relative the rest of the world. It has a huge opportunity for interactions in the rest of the game, but you can't let the gameplay in the Garrison replace other gameplay. I should still need other players to make truly epic weapons, but my blacksmith should be useful to me. Maybe make some synergy where if you have a high level blacksmith follower, and you also are a blacksmith, you can make something that someone without that combination cannot. In this way, the absolute best items are still limited and require player interaction.
I love the fact that the followers will grow in level and power based on what they do, rather than the player gaining levels. This makes them much more "real" in my opinion. The major downfall to the Doff system in STO is that your Duty Officers remain the way they are. Sure, they can get injured and killed, but they don't become better at what they do, which is depressing. Poor Ensign Weatherby will always be an ensign, no matter how many times he goes on a dangerous mission worthy of a chestful of medals.
I will be watching this, and really hope it doesn't get cut or reduced to a novelty by the time the expansion is released.