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Top 5 ideas

1. Platform not just a game

Crysis is the demo showing Crytek's CryEngine - in the same way, this MMORPG is a demo showing a licensable MMO engine

2. Start at level 50

Forget the "tutorial" grind from level 1 to max level
Start the game at level 1
Can go anywhere, fight anything, accept any quest. Literally, "Where do you want to go?"

3. Unique player experience

Every player quest is different
There is no point to recipe websites that show how to do every quest

4. Time invested matters

What you do at level 1 is meaningful at level 50
Base on time spent, not current level

5. Scorecards for people near you

Not one master leaderboard

6. Hard mode

Separate casual from active gamers with "hard" mode, just like Diablo 2 and Shaiya
Same game, same content, twice the difficulty and no turning back

7. YouTube license

Every YouTube channel that creates commentary over gameplay is licensed to show ads (unlike Blizzard's games)

Other top ideas

One world

One server. Gamers can chat and play with any other player (unlike World of Warcraft)

Live Stream

Every game is streamed live through our site as it is played

Community integration

Every aspect of the game is available online, even checking your character status and giving orders (like GuildWars 2)

Shared experience

Easily find players of your level to adventure with
eg: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm newbie zones are empty - if there was a website or notification service when someone wanted to start a new character, more people would play!

Dress up

Every piece of clothing you pick up has some unique look
Players will keep it if they like how it looks!


Can get into vehicles for a variety of fun
eg: Get into mechanized scarecrow (like Westfall in WoW) and beat up the harder mechanized ones you couldn't on your own!

Multiple benefit

Fighting for experience and skill gain
Questing for rewards
Mining, skinning, herbalism gathering
Find random crafting recipes


Multiple opponents
Always something you can do (drink a potion, time your stuns)
If you die, game suggests what you missed


Bosses with unexpected mechanics
eg: Hogger, get him to 50%, his minions spawn! Must decide whether to fight them or keep focus on Hogger

Community tools

Ventrilo server, forum, your own guild website, everything currently done by others

Connecting strangers

Team based
There is solo play, like Night Time in Tortage in AoC, but players must team up to progress through the game

Real-world experience

By playing the game, you get real-world knowledge and skills that you can use outside the game

Other top ideas


Look up!
Look closely around you, notice things


Occassionally see named opponents (named crocodile) that are significantly harder to defeat


Some drops start quests!


Time spent resting in town (not adventuring) or logged out increases bonus to experience when fighting

Talent trees

Customize your character with talent trees (see WoW Cataclysm)


Can choose to throw your weapon or shield (even if it is not a thrown weapon like a throwing axe) but must go pick it up!

Useful to knock out fleeing enemies (but may miss and need to train the skill so it doesn't miss too often)

Skip ahead

Can skip ahead to any area (no level requirements for obtaining quests)
Useful for experienced players to skip the easy content designed for newer players

Record cool events

Always have the "camera" rolling to capture cool or unexpected events
eg: in beast camp on Daenari starting zone, a shaman was replaying a major battle between a glowing white wolf beast and one of their heroes (hollograms in the air)

Money sinks

Many money sinks (always poor)


Expensive and useful boosts that disappear on use
Best saved for when they are really needed!
"The cost of raiding" is the price of access keys and consumables

Random luck

Treasure chests are in some well-guarded camps with random good loot (mostly expensive consumables, like health potions)
Some mines are tin (not copper), and even more rare is silver
Some clams you open give a lustrous pearl instead of clam meat
Random luck!

Preview cool things

Game puts you into future areas of the game to show you what cool stuff is coming!

Take a griffin ride over enemy territory and see all the baddies that you cannot defeat (yet)

Feel powerful

What defeated you before, you can now defeat (with an equipment upgrade)

Always poor

Must choose wisely how to spend money
Always more to buy than you can afford (must save up!)

Play as a monster

Can play as the things players fight


Regularly offer competitions
Tournaments like PvP, jousting
Contests like beauty contests (dress up with your best gear) judged by players and our staff


Buy your own house and build up material wealth over time
Fill your house with better furniture, decoration

Earn your status

No shortcuts
All players earn their status
There is little benefit to having high-level friends


Large army, try to pick off stragglers, may get lucky, probably get killed before getting lucky

Central town

Get to know your home town well, it will be your home for a long time


Talk to veteran game producers like Dave Georgeson, EQ2 senior producer, about your ideas


Be able to do something you couldn't do before
eg Gain dual-wield, gain increased armor strength (from cloth to medium at level 10 Burglar in LOTRO)


Rich copper deposit (vs just Copped deposit) (LOTRO)

Get things you can't use yet
eg: Medium leather, but need to become a Journeyman Forrester before you can make something with it (LOTRO)

See what is coming
eg: You can buy your house at Level 15

Collect a lot of crafting material while adventuring
Bring back to town to make lots of cool stuff

Camps of bandits
Some have stronger groups (like a Captain's camp)
Must think how to defeat the group (mez the tank, fight the archer)
Remember the rings in EverQuest 1 camps and the Blackwold camps in LOTRO

Need to defeat chieftains, tough boss opponents
Recommended to prepare with healing potions (save them for the boss fight)


All resources you gather from combat can be used to craft items
Players must by a skinning knife to get fur off animals, a pick to mine ore, and so on

Hand shake and heart races
In EverQuest, when I am about to die, my hands shake and my heart races, n
ot in LOTRO

All actions have permanent effects, even outside the game
eg: if you level to 10, you get some real outside-game currency

Actions matter
Guards say, "I am running out of arrows". If you don't help them get more, they cannot help you when you run to them with tough opponents on your back

Spies lurking
Enemies will hide in the bush and ambush you

It is about the story
Every MMO has the same game mechanics, but the stories are unique

Some opponents are in the air and cannot be hit with melee weapons (need bow and arrow)

No magic
The game starts with no magic (and no magic items)
Player actions bring magic into the world

Everything is meaningful
Every item dropped it useful in some way

Gorgeous views from the expensive houses
Cheapest one still has a view (EverQuest 2 in New Halas)
Place your trophies in your house, and furniture, rugs, chandeliers (eq2)

To maintain your house, must pay an upkeep fee
Other fees keep players coming back into the game to "pay their rent"

Always another way
If you are defeated, there is always another tactic you could have tried that may have worked
Avoid repeating the same strategy endlessly (like in EverQuest 2 combat)

! Bridge games
Let players across servers meet, co-op on quests and compete in pvp
Do the same across games (eg EQ2 and WoW)

! Matchmarker
Connecting strangers
I am a veteran MMO player and entrepreneur in real life looking to chat and group with like-minded entrepreneur gamers

! Meaning outside game
What you accomplish has meaning outside the game
Points you earn can be applied to other games or can "cash out"

In any order
Not forced to follow the quest line by the game designers
Can run around and do any adventure in any order

Achievement competition
Record all statistics, like number of kills of monster $x
See how others are near you (only two more kills to move ahead of player $y)

Upgrades must be found
Like EQ2, must find spellbooks that give improved based spells sold from merchants

No obsolete
Items do not become obsolete
The game does not start at level 50
Everything you do from the first moment matters in the end-game

What you cannot do
Give players quests that will defeat them
eg: Orcs are attacking, can you defend us? Yes! ... dead Try a better weapon. Try this strategy. and so on

No "starting over"
After playing MMOs, starting a new one is boring
I have to do everything a new player who has never played an MMO does
It is like going from Kindergarten again
Recognize player experience and let them jump in as they want
eg First time sign-in do a dragon run

Use and do everything
You want to shoot a bow? here. Use a shield? sure. Cast a fireball? here is how
Limiting players by class restrictions is just frustrating
In real life, if I want to do X I can. I will suck at it, but I can improve

No grind
Defeating hundreds of the same opponents mindlessly over and over is not fun

Feel like a hero
As a structure, the MMO has lost the ability to make a player feel like a hero
Everybody around you is doing the same thing you are doing
The boss you just killed respawns 10 minutes later
"The game doesn't care that I am there"

Say what you mean
See quest text that means what it says
"We are being attacked by Centaurs (but they are just grazing over there), go kill 10 of them." 
The Centaurs should really should be attacking

Player decisions matter
If you save a village, the people remember you
If you don't, the village is gone

Unique player experience
The problem with MMOs is you repeat the same quests and solve the same problems that everyone before you already did
The goal is for every player to feel he is solving unique challenges that benefit the game world, building upon what players did before him

No levels
All content is available at the start
Skill, gear, teamwork determine whether players can survive, not an arbitrary level

More needs
Defeating bosses for better loot gets old and tired
Manufacture need in other ways, create desire for more than just gear and money
eg: (NPC) I know a secret no one else has discovered yet

Reasons for players to tell their friends and link back to game
eg: iEvony program, WoW refer-a-friend and get triple exp while adventuring together

World's knowledge
Combine the world's knowledge ( with the game
Players use it to discover information if it is better than Google for answering questions

World's best application test-bed
Gamers are great beta testers - why limit them to only testing your game?
Offer to industry your audience to test their speech recognition (like Google 411), natural language and other advanced machine-learning technologies that need a lot of use testing and feedback
My game
Every MMO plays the same for everybody, there is no individual story
Why would I play WoW knowing everything I do has been done by millions of people before me?
Create an individual sense of accomplishment, a reason to play for me

Expansions do not obsolete items
WoW Cataclysm makes all epic gear worse than green drops from new expansion zones
All time spent obtaining Tier 10 purple gear is useless
Expansions should not do this

Personal achievement
The goal is personal achievement
The player feels a sense of accomplishment, not compared against the top players who have 8 hours a day, but compared against players who spend a similar amount of time

Help pair up players based on similar time and interests
I can jump into the game and get matched with a player or a guild for the short-term (night) or long term (if I keep signing in)

Short-term goals
Short, relevant tasks, immediate feedback and reinforcement, and enough difficulty to be challenging with enough supports to be successful. It even adapts the difficulty of the challenges to the speed with which a user completes them.

When I imagine doing level 1-50 quests again with no purpose except to reach end-game to "start" playing, I stop
Need something meaningful than repeating what everyone else has already done a million times before and after me
eg: Find what players really want (I want to work and depend on my team members to survive in almost impossible situations by fantastic teamwork and the occasional heroic sacrifice to let everyone else live)

Five minute game
Can create a character and finish the game in five minutes
Items obtained can be saved for the real game

New server has no magic items
Everything is white (vs green, blue, purple, red)
Players and computer-controlled players (the opposing side) work at crafting magical weapons - these are the only magic in the game

See what you can't have
PvE opponents can knockback everybody surrounding them (like priest.of.mitra in age.of.conan) but players cannot
! Players can befriend the NPC race, gain their trust and eventually learn these skills

Engaging and rich, Wheel of Time-like story (like Age of Conan in Tortage)

Little bit at a time
Game is designed to give a little bit of different experiences at a time, instead of a lot of one kind of experience every day
eg: Solitaire is a quick game, play once, leave it, then feel excited to play again tomorrow
eg: Get tired of Age of Conan after a few hours, but tomorrow start thinking about it and want to play more

Allow others to create and monetize content in this world
Leverage the time of others, like wikis do, to create more and better game content

Connecting strangers
Help match all these people with one common interest (the game) with their other common interests
Extend to dating websites, career sites, friend sites, and so on

Learn real-world skills and facts
People spend all this time playing, help them get something tangible out of it

For all player levels
Your character will do everything for you if you don't know how to (eg: fight)
Age of Conan is a great game, but Xiao Yu could not figure out how to fight!

Many different ways to play the same class with skill tree specialization
Can re-spec with minimal cost (let players experiment without fear of choosing the "wrong" skills)
Explore how all MMOs do skill trees (Allods apparently has a novel idea)

Voice activated
Can command your character verbally (attack, run away, run faster)

Training outside game
Facebook apps and web pages will simulate in-game actions
eg Train combat outside the game

All difficult, all possible
Every opponent is difficult, at every level
Level 14 is not trivial when you are level 17, and level 20 is not impossible (like in age of conan)

Feel a real sense of accomplishment

Get scared, laugh, be sad - experience real emotions

Edge of your skill
Always a balance between almost too hard and too hard

Short-term goals
Players know what to do next (quests) but don't know what is coming (mystery)

More like The Sims
Add elements that simulate real life

You know when you complete a quest, level up, or accomplish anything rewarding
Age of Conan does not even have a "quest completed" sound effect - Aion has a great one

Players want that armor, that item in auction, that property for their house in the city

Feel special
Every player has unique real-life abilities - discover them and let the player achieve something special or unique in the game

Report realtime progress
See how you are doing compared to everyone else in realtime with clear graphs showing historical data

I can't wait to see what happens next!

Create problems players care to solve

Relate events to you, create parallels to real life
The more something reminds you of events in your life, the more interested you will be in the game (eg: I've always wanted to open my own restaurant, and I can in this game!)

Can start and finish something meaningful in 15 minutes 
Allow players to hop in for their "quick fix" and hop out

Everything can be affected
All doors can be opened, all beds can be slept in, all barrels can be broken

Maximize reuse of existing content
Night time in Tortage (age of conan)
Starting again as a different class (most MMOs)

The most rare, sought after and difficult to amass attribute in the game (not experience points or level)

Your NPC mentor
Everything you do can be through your guide
If you return to town after a long dungeon crawl, he will tell you who to talk to for your rewards (even for quests you did not know you completed)
Ask your guide anything and he can help

Sell in-game items as real items (eg: Talking Murlock from Blizzard)
All cartoons sell as real items (eg: Transformers)

Behavioral targeting
Learn everything about the player and give him a better experience
The Wheel of Time was your favorite fantasy series? Add WoT-like elements and references to his game
! Also good for advertising, creating offers that will more likely appeal to him

Match players
Based on play style, play time, and personal interests, send two players on a quest where they cannot help but bump into each other

Predict actions
Discover what gets players to do certain tasks (quest, craft, dance in a bar like star wars galaxies)
Use this to create meaningful experiences and solve real-world problems (like esp game, now google image labeler game)


Get right into the game as a ghost
No one can see you or hear you
Can hear characters speak, can see character details, can see other player ghosts exploring the same, cannot chat
Goal: Learn how to move around the world

Must pick a character to embody
Can ask game to pick for you - will auto-move to characters and always show two choices, "How about these two?"
User can specify gender and say taller or shorter, more beautiful or ugly, and so on (like a holodeck)  
Can change appearance and choose a class later
Each character has unique talents that affect the points required to gain certain skills (some are better climbers, some better swordsmen) that can be deduced by reading their life history 
This means there is no "best" skill tree, but the best for you, since the requirements for obtaining each skill differ for every player

Main Ideas

Mist (time-limited) weapons, armor, and even some new titles (aion)

Every situation is different
Each combat needs different skills (if one comes, then others join later vs all come at once, remember the.princess.bridge andre.the.giant said fighting gangs needs different moves than fighting one)

Pros and Cons
Every action has some pros and some cons
Great players will know which to pick when in specific situations, and unexpected situations
eg Flame does small damage at first but more over time, but hits multiple opponents - use it, and keep it on to maximize output, or switch to another skill when something changes

Exciting combat
Cannot stand still, must move around while fighting

Clever script
The quests in Tortage have generally excellent script and voice actors (age of conan)
I will kill Askia. Ha! What you intend and what actually happens are two different things. If I am in a good mood, I will carve on your tombstone "Siuan, who meant to kill Askia"
The cryer just inside Tortage promoting the Red Hand is awesome (age of conan)

Interesting story
The villagers are disappearing, and I know why! First you must get me a gnawed bone from the south of White Sand Island. (get bone) See those gnaw marks, he was eaten by men
Don't talk to Sakumbe, talk to one of his slaves
His slave gives you a necklace of human teeth, take that to Sakumbe and see if he lies with that proof
Interesting! (age of conan)

Some quests are impossible, but can pick off stragglers and get good items or start other hidden quests
eg: defeat the army marching past (some old PC game), but can attack a few stragglers and get battle plans

Drunken NPCs barf (sometimes on you)
Uncouth people pee (off a dock, in the trees, wherever it is convenient)
Dogs pee and poo too

Reputation matters
If you are a thief (attack guards, steal) some NPCs won't talk to you anymore (and others that didn't talk to you now will, like the thieve's guild)
If you have high reputation, some merchants will sell you special items no one with lower reputation can buy
Encourages players to build reputation with merchants

Broken bones
If you fall a distance, you will move very slowly for 10 seconds (broken bones) (age of conan)

Time everything
You got to level 10 in 1 hour, a personal best!
You leveled from 5 to 6 in 5 minutes, the fastest of anybody in the last week!

Quest text is important
Say interesting things so players want to read (like a good book)

Grinding is fun
Make hunting enjoyable, rewarding and challenging

Item sets
eg +3% to out-of-combat movement speed boots and pants (age of conan)

Money sinks
Increase bank size
Move to a bigger house
Buy a compass (necessary in places where it is dark)
Underwater breathing aparatus (for underwater dungeons)
Maps to show all important areas (like transport points) (age of conan)

Environment matters
Grass that obscures you vision of loot drops and resources that can be gathered (must look directly down with camera) (age of conan)
Running uphill takes more stamina that flat or downhill, but running downhill increases the chance of tripping and falling, rolling down
Desert and lava dungeons use up water much faster (hot!)

Personal bests
Measure everything (like in baseball)
eg: You ran from Blacksmith to Bank in 4.3 seconds, a personal best!
Compare against everyone else (50 other people ran it faster, and the next best was 4.28 seconds)

No straight lines
Need to constantly change direction, even in town
eg: Dodge people (they take up space like in age of conan), take shortcuts, jump on barrels to leap further (like everquest to escape mobs)
eg: Jump from high and glide (aion)

Constant combat
When in dangerous zones, there is no rest
Constantly moving, running away, sprinting for short distance, diving for cover and hiding, pulling to safer areas as patrols wander near

Gathering in dangerous areas
Always looking over your shoulder while exposed and picking

Effects that can occur at any time, like Furious Inspiration
! Player must react and not mindlessly repeat the same keystrokes

Adult content
For legal adults, create adult content like bars with liquor and brothels with women (like eyes.wide.shut)

No repetition
Character can auto-move to any place in town
While running, can look at inventory or skills or any of the micro-management to optimize

Cut scenes like a tv show
Right now, video sequences are a nuisance
They should be as exciting as a good tv show, like 24.s08e15, where players can't wait to see the next episode
Like the single-player Final Fantasy games

What is the secret of time? The secret of time is that you always have more time than you need.

Motivations to play
Gear that looks good on you
Can preview how items look on you, motivates players to earn enough cash or points to get them

More than what you are told
Quests tell you a few things
There are many more for players to discover (like secrets in Doom levels) including hidden quests (like random drops that start quests) and secret places for the observant (remember the one stone you had to click in Eye of the Beholder?)

Bonus reward
If you do a quest better than expected, or faster or somehow impress the quest giver, you get a bonus
eg: a timed quest that you do faster than 90% of those before you gives a bonus, even faster than 50% of those before you gives a bonus

Reward perfection
Quests can be completed better (quicker, less resources used, less damage taken, fewer deaths, found more than minimum number of items, more survivors left, and so on)
! Bonus reward based on above-and-beyond performance

Find a key, don't know what it opens - later find a locked chest on an island, opened only with that key (age of conan)

Interesting quests
Rescue someone's daughter - when you find her deep in an enemy keep, you need to get a guard's uniform so you can escort her out (age of conan)
Find a dead wife's spirit - in a poisonous swamp that constantly drains your health! (age of conan)
Defeat army - defeat the army marching past (some old PC game), impossible but can attack a few stragglers and get battle plans to start a hidden quest
Gambling - have to roll a 6 to win, may need to try 10 times or more if you are unlucky (age of conan)
Defend the villagers - opponents come rushing in and you have to get the enemies on you so they don't attack the defenseless villagers (age of conan)
Debate - Need to debate to the philosophy spoken by the Priest of Set, a thought-to-be-evil God, and listen to the crowd if you are doing well (age of conan)
Get Melanor's Star - Need to climb up a building, like rock-climbing need to get the right holds before you run out of strength
Speedy Delivery - Need to find the west gate in 1 minute to catch the caravan before it leaves and give a message
Merchant that sells connections - I'm sorry, but you are neither worthy enough or rich enough to interest my clients or me, come back when you are
Sells secrets - Would you like to buy a secret for $x? I cannot tell you any more, but that I will tell this only once and then to no one else
Save the town - We are surrounded by wolves and orcs, savage beasts preventing travel and supplies from reach us - help! (need to clear a path for caravans)

Mini games
Many mini-games, like trivia, gambling, jousting, rock climbing, chess, card games, and so on

All the great literary classics, even foreign ones, ready for reading

Player can take notes as he goes, to record what he learns!

Anchor yourself at one town
Do all the quests you care about (cannot do all of them simply because doing some makes others of the opposing faction cancel their quests)
Like a chapter in a book, what you do is written and recorded for posterity
Can move on to a fresh start if want a change
Some difficult-to-reach towns will have only experienced players

Many ways to accomplish the same goal
eg: Dungeons have multiple entrances, some that don't put you in the middle of a battlefield (plane of fear, everquest)

Equipment matters
Heavy armor means you cannot swim and lose stamina when running very quickly

Quests you care about
Avoid running into a new area and just accepting everything with an ! above his head (age of conan)
Quests should be carefully chosen and have consequences

Always something to do
Want to dungeon crawl? Go here
Want a quick mission? Try this
Want a mini game, like capture the flag? Here
Want to craft? Build this
Want to join a guild? These are recruiting
Want to PvP? Challenge someone in the arena or just enter the free-for-all king-of-the-ring
... and so on

Know what you cannot do
Every player has a long list of what he cannot do
eg: Griffon defeated me in Freelands, one day I will come back and return the favor (everquest)

Quest without knowing
Quests do not have to be obtained to get credit for them
If you explore a dungeon and do something that has a quest, just go back to town, get the quest and the reward

Selling is fun
Players take care what to sell and what to keep for their other classes or as trophies
Selling to particular merchants builds reputation - knowing what they need and filling it gives bonus reputation

All weapons and armor are useful
Factors include DPS, the material, length, speed of attack, special abilities possible with only that weapon type (or that specific weapon), latent talents
Some opponents cannot be hurt by some weapons (eg: bows are useless against skeletons)
Players are motivated to collect different weapons (and armor) for different times
eg Hand-to-hand arena competitions and boxing!
eg Duels with NPCs without weapons (will lose if your hand-to-hand skill is untrained)

Can try any section of the game again under the same circumstance
eg: Can I lead the girl to safety through all those Black Ones?
The simulation grants experience exactly as if you were playing the game, but not items

Multi-class helps new classes
Items you find while playing your first class will help save time playing your second class

Instead of just completing quests, players want to explore
Reward with hidden items, hidden quests, bonus experience for clearing an area, and other surprises

No simple solution
Avoid just running away from enemies far enough for them to run back - too easy to escape death (age of conan)

Wheel of Time
If you catch the attention of one of the Forsaken, pray for a swift death

Feel proud of your time spent with highlights of your hard-earned achievements
Videos of your close and epic fights
Best $x of the day (eg highest fall and survive, highest fall)

Game starts at level 1, not level 50
Every MMO needs 1 month of hard-core play to reach max level before the game really starts
Everything up to that point is a leveling treadmill of worthless copper and obsolete items
End-game is where you make all your money and get all your gear
In this MMO, end-game starts at level 1

No inflation
MMOs keep inflating the cost of everything, making the time you spend before end-game just one long tutorial
The effort to earn money at level 1 is similar to the effort at level 50

Always challenging
Opponents adapt to players' ability
A good player will find it challenging, but will be better rewarded with money (not items)

All content available
At level 1, all content is available
Some cannot be completed without teamwork, some needs specialized gear to have a reasonable chance, but all can be attempted

All skills available
At level 1, all skills are accessible
Some need a lot of practice, some need specialized weapons or armor to be effective, but all can be learned and practiced

No camping
Encourage players to keep moving around, exploring new areas and fighting different opponents

3rd party monetization
Create an affiliate model where people and companies can create new content and receive a revenue share based on its popularity
The game itemizes each area and ensure it passes quality requirements

2-player focus
A duo is the most effective player combination in the game
Everyone will have excellent reasons to match up with one other player
eg: I just entered Verteron Citadel from training island; who wants to do all the quests from the beginning with me?

Every action affects your reputation
Another "level up" independent from experience points

No matter your equipment or skills, if you run out of stamina, you are dead (age of conan)
Used for sprinting away from a fight and combo moves that do better damage than normal swings

Environment matters
Bodies take up space (if surrounded, cannot just run through your opponents)

Some quests need you to defeat opponents quickly
No time for anything else, just efficient battle and minimal rest (aoc leading girl out of evil one's lair, kept failing at it)

You look exactly like you want to look
Items give you cool improvements that you can customize

Near death
Frequently bring the player close to death
Players get excited when their character is about to die, the heart rate rises, fingers shake, the body sweats

Motivation to start again
Good reasons to start again with another class (like Aion's L30 armor set but you need 5 classes to reach L30)
Each restart takes less time than the last and introduces new experiences and quests to keep it fresh
Always a random chance to get something great

Improve many things
Not just your armor, weapon and accessories
Backpack and bank space
House size, location and decorations
Reputation, military rank and political status
NPC guild level
Player guild level
... and so on

All elite gear is attainable by everyone
Every player is given an attainable path to any item he sets his eyes on
eg: I want a glowing sword, here is one way to get one
Too often we see this amazing gear and feel it is impossible to get or that we need to join an elite guild, so we just give up playing the game

Difficult positions
Throw the player into the most challenging environments given his skill and experience level
eg: A Quantum Leap-like quest that transports you to random areas, like underwater and you have to swim up, but which way? (like in Age of Conan intro video when you got shipwrecked after creating your character) - survive long enough to teleport to the next area, like in the sky free-falling and need to aim to fall into the deep part of a lake or into trees that break your fall (Rocky-style)

While picking up regular ques items, ground shakes, you think "What was that" but continue picking, then get attacked from behind, turn around and see a winged demon hitting you! (age of conan, first gathering quest)

Need to climb some surfaces and allocate skill points for the harder ones (like age of conan)

Amazing soundtrack with so much music players won't hear the same score twice
There is enough free music produced since Mozart's time (no copyright), we just need to categorize and play at the right time

Several training islands
Like Aion, the first training island (Poeta), then the second (Verteron), before starting the game (Eltnen) then really starting the game (Abyss)

Unexpected events
Cyclops are attacking the Bremen Outpost!

Adventure focus
It is all about the adventure, some short and some long (like Dungeons & Dragons and DDO)
The goal is to create a Wheel of Time-like novel story line, avoid grinding and repetition

It is all about what you cannot do
Players will die a lot as they discover how to overcome challenges
eg: Tursin Garrison in Aion, with the Tursin Chief at the end (has a fantastic aoe cone effect that hits everybody for 80%-ish health)

Collect sets of items, and copies of items and sets
eg: socketed with evasion vs. physical critical hit (when soloing vs grouping vs pvp)

Character creation
Fly as a spirit around town, looking for a person to inhabit
Read his life story, looking for hints for latent talents
After making your choice, can pay to change his appearance to your liking
Can define your class as you play
Every skill is available, but expertise builds over time
Can switch out skills - expert skills you had before take very little time to recover to 90% of previous levels
Can test other character abilities in arena where criminals can be inhabited (maybe even allow criminals to escape)
Criminals can be players who used bots or had their accounts banned for other reasons

Daily quests
Short quests from a few minutes to 10s of minutes, like Star Wars Galaxies

Timed events
See those drakes over there? You have three minutes to kill as many as you can. Go. (no time to prepare)

Random drops can give you something you've never seen before when you restart as another class (eg: broken axe handle, starts the famous Axe quest on Aion  newbie island)
Collect the best items for milestone levels so when you play another class, can reuse to level up faster

Intense combat
Exactly like the Aion assassin at L16-19 tanking in Tursin Garrison

Adventure report
See your story, from the moment you started playing to the moment you stopped
eg: On 2010.03.06 you started at L15, reached L16 in 30 minutes (top 20% of all players). You completed all the Dukaki mine quests and gained the title Bottled Lightning, a 3% speed boost! Then you did all the Krall campaign quests, completing the 50 Krall Marks in under 1 hour (top 5% of all players). Your largest exp kill was 15,000 when duoing with Nandir an equal-level L18 Chanter. You ended your 4 hour session defeating Ziloota the Sear where you almost died, down to 10% health (your closest call was down to 2 health! - click to see replay)

Urge to play
I had a website and toolbar to finish, but I had a stronger urge to play: I knew I had some cool weapons waiting for me at L19 (two wind daggers) and armor at L17-18.

Cycles of what comes next
Know what you are going to get soon - a quest, entry to cool zone X, an item, and so on. Cycle these so there is always something new, but not just replacing the one before (eg: avoid obsoleting gear every few levels).

Always poor
Never have enough money to buy everything you need
eg: Skills cost a lot of money - can never afford them all when you qualify in level

Encourage players to check market often to find deals and buy/sell

It is all about item upgrades
Every item is a little different (like Diablo) with named items varying only slightly (but enough for hard-core players to care)
See what you can do with your new item (plays back close fights and shows, if nothing else had changed, you could have won)
The fun is in being able to survive in areas you could not before, because of your gear upgrade (eg: rare blue drops off big bosses)
There is no "best" item
eg: Notice an abnormally large basilisk Snaggletooth in the desert and hits very fast, hard to keep heals going, and drops a blue shield!

No walkthrus
Every quest is unique, like items
The goal is to prevent people posting recipe walkthrus that cheapen the experience for players who figured it out on their own
Every player should have to go through a similar pain, shortened only by player intelligence and observation skills

Encourage players to join a guild (this is what makes the game fun)
Voice chat (integrated Ventrilo?)

Match players
Help players find like-minded players with similar play times, interests and experience levels (can also choose to invite newer players and teach them)

Multiple characters
Encourage having multiple characters, with different looks and purpose (mage, assassin, templar, cleric)
eg: Each can sell 8 items, and in different markets

Real-world knowledge
Players learn useful info and skills about the real world while playing (without decreasing the fun)

Value player's time
The time you invest is never wasted (eg: never have to restart because you made a bad choice in skill point assignment)
No one-way choices, always can undo back as far as possible

No waste
What you collect at the beginning is relevant at the end-game
Nothing goes obsolete, money is as valuable

Encourage connecting strangers
eg: Long boat rides

Encourage breaks from the game
eg: Long trips

Variety of gameplay
eg: Take caravan back to town safely, while traveling organize your loot, getting it ready for sale, storage or crafting

eg: Defeat a Dukaki Cook, he says "Who cooks dinner now?..." after he dies

Avoid players grouping out of necessity, then leaving as soon as the task is done
Meaningful teamwork without time commitments
Create new friends, but not on a business schedule (be online at 5:00pm PST for a 5 hour raid)
There is always someone online with like mind, better to help match people who happen to share the same schedule that day

Huge trains of opponents
eg: Dukaki Runner or Tursin Flag Bearer yells "enemy intrusion" and sounds the alarm (aion)

Always something new
As you play the game, always learn something new you didn't know before
eg: If I don't press forward while flying, I will catch up-drafts! (aion)

Grinding is okay if I know I am completing a quest
eg: get Naia's Necklace, Naia's Bracelet, Naia's Ring from Cooks, Brawlers or Smackers (rare drop)

You never know what is going to happen next (drop next, who you will meet next, and so on)

Intelligent combat
Use your environment to your advantage (trees, high ground)
Intelligent opponents do the same to players

Large fights
Think Braveheart

No leveling treadmill
Game does not start at level 50, it starts at level 1
Can visit any zone and enjoy any content at level 1 (like Oblivion)

Environment matters
Jump off cliffs and glide to run faster (aion)
Use trees and rocks to impede your opponent
Get squished by an elevator platform (you will only do it once!) (artisan's hall in sancton in aion)

Intelligent opponents
Creatures think and use the environment and their skills creatively, like players
They learn from players tactics (the same strategy will not work twice)

Story and content is king
Grinding is not the goal
The ding you leveled up is not the most rewarding sound
Exploring new areas with completing quests that tickle the imagination is the goal

Steady upgrade
Save money, spend money on item upgrades
See the before-and-after
eg: If I have this better chest armor, I will take x% less damage
The close fight vs $x would have been won if you had this armor (video replay showing both scenarios, allowing player to carefully analyze)

Reward players who look around (as you run past a doorway, turn camera with left-mouse button to see inside, something may catch your eye)
eg: a fight that you can help break up, a new quest (arrow over NPC head)

Not repetition

Die well and die often
Glorious deaths!
Minimal death penalty

No certainty
No patterns that allow farming
The same action or strategy will not work the second time

Real-world events
If there are olympics in the real world, there are olympics in the game

Learn things you didn't know you could do before (eg: jump off the bird, but may die if fall too far)

No best $x
No best weapon, best armor, until level $x
Every item has random stats that make it slightly difference (diablo)
Tools and NPCs exist to improve items (harder steel, better grip, ...)
Experience using an item over time improves its effectiveness (familiarity)

2-player teams are the norm, soloing is uncommon
The game can be soloed but advanced is fastest with a party of two
A dungeon requires more, but only 4 to a party

Cool quests
Only at night (eg ghosts in Aion where birds are during the day, lady that gives quest during the day, must defeat her at night)

As you play, build up real value in your character
Feel that every action has some measurable value
Show what it is worth if someone were to buy it (maybe in virtual currency, which has an exchange rate for real currency)
Allow players to easily form guilds with guild-specific features like banks, better crafting stations, and item donation to raise the guild's rank (rom)
Make new friends that share common play-styles and play-times

Skill - jump over a hole, miss and fall down (rom in gnoll dugout area, guy shooting at you from the balcony)
Surprise - Scouts attack (they run around a lot in rom) and tower arches (rom and aion)
Bosses in newbie areas - need to defeat later for pieces of end-game armor quest
Hard opponents - Challenge players with really difficult to defeat opponents (much higher level than the area)
eg: rom in Dragonfang Ice Plain, the L31 elite defenders that keep rushing the cave, can try to take one on!
Sense of urgency
Daily reasons to enter the game (wheel of fortune in evony, daily quests in rom, daily gift in farmville)
Challenge (avoid get 15 of these like in rom)
Delays (skill cool-down, travel time between cities, travel speed (get a permanent mount in rom))
Remove annoyances with real money
It is more okay if I know how many others died that way (eg, 50 other players died by that blackmane defender just outside the safety of the camp in rom)
Single on-going story feels like one adventure, avoid completely fresh stories in new zones feels like Oh, again? (rom)
Can take any quest at any time
Titles are cool, a nice reward and sense of accomplishment. Knowing how many others also got the title helps!
Find items you cannot use yet (cool cloak that needs level 30)
Play with your environment, jump along rocks, over fences, do acrobatics while running
Guild quests! Your guild castle has a bulletin board with level-appropriate quests that increase the guild's rank (rom)
Efficiency: Reward efficiency, penalize waste (wasting mana, wasting health, inefficient choice of attack skills for that opponent, ...)
Real-life: given information to destroy what you think are evil people, but really your side's propaganda is lies
Later get to hear their side of the story and can choose to switch! This is the second faction in the game.

Main idea
Make grinding fun with quests, "I can't wait to see what will drop next" feeling
Show that you cannot do $x (defeat a boss, survive in a dungeon, complete a quest, survive the fall off a cliff to enter a new region, break into the plane of fear, and so on)
Emotion: Make you think you are going to die (heart races, like when I tried fighting the gnoll boss after upgrading my equipment)
Players feel real emotions (fear of dying, vertigo from falling like in rom jumping off a cliff from the Marl Outpost to the town below)
Everything in moderation (we enjoy chocolate, but not all day, so no grinding or camping but variety)
Save money, upgrade your gear, do things you could not before
Your looks improve (cooler colors, clothing, house decorations, ...)
Give quests (solo and group) to guide player to gain experience, money and items so you can do $x
As you get better gear and rare items and skills, you can do harder things
Rinse and repeat
No class remorse - avoid players having to start all over again in a different class with minimal benefit from previous time investment
No class balancing - it isn't about making every class equivalent, it is about making every class unique and different to appeal to different play styles
Free to play with virtual currency diamonds to increase backpack size, 50% bonus exp per hour potions, cool-looking permanent mount (rom)
Short-term goals (quests)
Gears (every level is like a new gear that takes more experience points than the previous, same with item upgrades)
eg: 10 gnoll necklaces for daily quest in rom, you feel like you are making progress farming necklaces even though it is still farming
eg: need 5 ore, but only one in 3 ore piles have the right stuff
Multiple currencies (abyss points in aion, phirius token coin in rom)
Unique names for all items (so google can find them in community sites)

Main idea
No inflation (exp required to next level, cost of next equipment upgrade, mana to cast next spell) to avoid making accomplishments at earlier levels useless (like earning money or getting rare gear)
Fewer kills, longer fights, less repetition (more strategy, unexpected situations, thinking quickly)
Can access all content at level 1 (not wait to level 50 to start the game)
All skills are available at level 1 (not wait to level x to get the good skills)
No levelling treadmill (find another way to keep players coming back)
Slow and steady improvement, keep moving forward (I need to upgrade my chest next, to do that I need to hunt these, then I can survive in this area)
"No one hits you are hard as life. It is not about how hard you can hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward"
Runes of Magic is fun when you get an item upgrade from the auction shop (spend all your money on a cool new weapon)

Daily quests
A limited number of daily quests that give good reward
Turn in bear paws, gnoll rings, etc. for good exp bonus, 10 times a day

Everything is useful
Some skills only useful for bosses (eg super warrior defense in rom)

Rare items in hard-to-get places
Dungeons have rare minerals needed to create exotic items, like a magical musical instrument (rom)

Death Penalty
Large hit on item durability (costs to repair)

Wandering archers are your bane!

Clear out a camp of $x

Cool quests
Three brothers, three different solutions to the problem: Joseph's Strategy, Kelvin's Strategy, Barrett's Strategy (rom)
Defeat medium-difficulty things for the boss to come right after (when you are hurt)
A researcher came bloodied to my door. I could not treat his wounds, but before he died he told me he hid his research at the bottom of $x lake. I am being watched, so I must ask for your help. Beware, you will be seen going for the papers and be ready to defend yourself! ("Altars in the Lake" rom)
Throw a burning potion on your opponent, defeat him, and take his burnt skin! (rom)
15 ice dwarf corpses

You are naked, except for some underwear, and broke
Get some money to buy some clothes, otherwise your health will constantly decrease and your stats will have penalties from being cold
Earn everything
Nothing is given to you, by the game or other players
Every player must go through the same trials
Accomplishments now have meaning and are not degraded when you discover Johnny's mom bought him that awesome blue sword

Variety of gear
Different weapons for different opponents
eg Undead work best with blunt objects (nothing to cut through for a sword, and it dulls faster)
Motivate players to keep the best sets of gears, including leather armor (for hot areas), cloth, chain and plate

Special items
Guild rune (rom)

30 minute double exp potion
Use regular potions effectively during combat (would die without)
Temporary effects (2 minute 50% bonus to attack, rarely off random corpses, rom)
! Becomes more important at higher levels to be efficient (not rely on potions, which get expensive)
eg Using mana recover skill (and spending talent points in it) (rom)

Little pleasures
Charge at opponent! (rom)

Separate good players from great with how you balance
5 minute buffs (players will forget to recast)

Special officer's medal from harder-to-defeat Cyclops Officers (vs berserkers and engineers) (rom)
Rescue prisoners (give them transport rune to get out) (rom)

Show what you cannot do
You cannot cross this gate until level 15, for your own protection

Find pieces of a treasure map from boss enemies, bring to town to help piece it together (rom)

After a long quest, be given a choice of several great items (but can pick only one)

NPCs can be hidden and jump out at you (ambush!), like lurkers (rom)
Some opponents drop better loot than others (eg robbers)

For later
Collect cool gear for your other classes and for use later, in lieu of an auction house

Setup a chain of "when I hit level $x, I can use item $y and do $z"

Looks matter
Armor looks really cool on men and really sexy on women (aion, rom)

All items you gain at the beginning will last through to end-game
No throwing away hard-earned gear (like the class-specific armor sets in Everquest that I chose to skip with no ill effect)

Constantly need to replenish consumables, like food and water (water goes especially quickly in the desert (everquest))

Inventory is always limited
Quests give items needed to complete the quest, like food to deliver, or a collection item to get $x of monster $y (rom)

Jump off a cliff to escape the enemies on your ass, falling down down into a lake

All Skills
Motivated to get skills in all weapons if warrior

Steady increase
Items drop once in a while that upgrade your gear (new axe, new shield)

Good players will manage in realtime their consumables, like drinking potions and stacking effects (runes of magic)
Can choose to not do any of this and let computer manage it (not as effective, but far simpler)

Always choice between hard and normal quests
Collect five wolf tails (hard)
Collect five rabbit ears (easy)

Gift bag every level (what will be in the next gift bag?) (rom)

Four sets of armor for three different character classes

Being able to defeat opponents characters your level typically cannot

Every fight is a challenge
If you get too good, you know where to go to push it
Tough guys wandering dungeons and outdoors that can kill you, have to be observant and watch your back
Camps of enemies that need team effort to defeat (everquest)

Town runs to empty out loot
Join in groups, but split off to do solo work, come back when a tough enemy comes nearby or a camp of enemies is discovered

Easy to change weighting of stats, difficulty of missions, ...
Can create servers specific to player experience and can graduate players to harder servers as they prove their ability

Earn your wings and fly (aion)

Get lucky
Can attack a high-level and win, and get items much beyond what you should be able to get
Maybe steal from a dangerous area

Test your skills and different character classes against opponents in the arena!
Go up in arena level (won the 1vs1, 1vs2, 1vs3, but lost 1vs4)

Window mode
Can play game while working on dual-monitor

Always be thinking
The game has many things to consider while doing every action

Short-term goals
Daily quests (swg, rom)

Casual friendly
Can hop in for 60 seconds and do something meaningful
Does not require hard-core gaming to do well

In Any Order
Can do quests before you know they are quests
eg: defeat an orc, find quest items (you don't know they are, yet), discover in next town run

Quests can come from random drops (right-click on an old parchment, get a new unexpected quest)
Monster books! (runes of magic)

Haunting and beautiful music
People should leave the game in the background just to listen to the music

It is cool to discover new lands (everquest)
Special quests will send you to exotic places
eg: Secret Mission: Go to the east of Tagena and find the $x to get back the $y lost by $z (runes of magic)

What you cannot do
Be constantly reminded what can kill you right now
eg: see a level 47 in newbie land (runes of magic)
eg: see a griffon or tough crocodile among the normals (everquest)

Special effects can appear above a corpse, walk over it, get a 2 minute buff (runes of magic)

At certain levels, you qualify for special quests (aion, runes of magic)
eg: You reached Level 18! Go to the Adventurer's Guild in Varanas. The guild's leader, Daris, has an important task for you.
eg: You've raeched Level 28! After completing your current quest, please look for Audy, a researcher of the Eye of Wisdom. You'll find him in the lobby of the Tavern "The Distillery". He is seeking powerful adventurers to help him with some task.

No repetition
Every combat is unique and non-repetitive
Travel long distances only once (afterwards, autopilot is an option)

No friend advantage
You earn everything, there is no advantage to having high level friends
No player-driven economy and no auction house to get stuff for just money

Special drops and quest rewards are guild-specific items (runes of magic)

Teach your character, he will learn like a baby learns, making mistakes from time to time until he gets it

Do something, earn a title above your character's head (rom)
Collect all titles in an area for a special reward (rom)

Do somethings, get achievements checked off a long long list

No downtime
Always something useful to do
eg: read strategy guides written by other players on our wiki!

No waste
Every action is meaningful
Every quest is meaningful, and if skipped, skips content further in the game
Every item is relevant (what you don't need can be sold or melted down to something useful)
Every attribute is important (runes of magic)

Avoid starting the game at L50
What you do at level 1 is just as important as what you do at level 50
The money you earn at level 1 is just as valuable and almost as plentiful as at level 50
The items you gain do not become obsolete (typically, players ignore all gear until end-game)

Simple quests, get 10 wolf ears (rom)
Quest series (rom)

Always a normal path and a hard path

Solo and Group
Always solo content and group content
Solo content gets you up in level (earn your status) to do interesting group content 

Find a merchant and sell only to him, he gives better prices and items to his best customers
Join an NPC guild (thieves, paladins, ...) and level up there as well as your character and your player guild (gothic)

Coins (rom)
20 jade crystals for 1 ancient key (rom)
Abyss points (aion)

Multi-class (rom, ff11)

Item attribute bonuses (prince of qin, rom)


Always something that can kill you
Tough crab that easily beats you
Go back periodically to see if you can win yet

Casual friendly
Can jump in for 5 minutes for your quick fix and do something meaningful

Avoid the grind
Aion just got old repeating the same type of quest over and over again just in a desert, or a cave, or a forest
Combat also got old and repetitive, need excitement, the thrill of brushes with death, multiple opponents, every fight is different

Pickup Kobold backpacks you have to right-cilck to open to see what's inside!
WoW did the same with those gifts you used a machine to make in a dungeon with merchants deep inside!

Elite areas
Inside regular area, entrances to elite areas (WoW dungeon with merchants inside, Kobold cave in RoM)

Cool looking gear
Play dress-up

eg: 3 minutes too kill as many drakes as you can (Aion)
eg: 20% bonus exp for 1 hour

Notice as you fly things you wouldn't see unless you went there on foot

Money sinks
Special spell that costs 500,000 gold (you only have half that when you can use it)

Steady increase
Heal a lot, get better at healing

Achievements and collections
Titles in Aion
eg: Krall Hunter (you defeated many Krall) Flight Time +1, Physical Crit +2 (Aion)
Achievements in World of Warcraft
Coins in Aion

Hard-earned loot
Sense of great satisfaction getting that blue shield from the boss
See your stats compared to all others on the server (you just became top 10% block with that shield)

See your growth over time
Where you are strongest, where others surpassed you, where you came back, ...

If I had that gear on, what would I get (can use all gear you own, or ever owned)

Store your trophies and memories in your home
Invite friends over for tea

You never know who you will meet tonight, and from where in the world (rappelz)
Find party members
Work together with random people, but with shared quest needs
Good LFG (looking for group) and find people for your group tool

Dredgion battleship
When it comes, we take cover (it has no known weaknesses)

Currencies and points
Abyss points in Aion

You cannot receive any more quests

Realm vs Realm
Fortresses must be captured from the opposing faction in Aion

2-3 man ideal group size

New skills every 2-3 levels

That rock is actually an enemy! (aion)
What is an Asmodian Kisk? (happened to target it by tabbing around in the Ruberein Wastes)

No time-wasting
Harvesting is fine if you have something to do while harvesting, like organize your inventory

Items you cannot use yet
Just one more level!

Real-world knowledge
Create tests in-game (as necessary quest steps) so players must learn something to pass

Cool combat effects

Items every class needs
Can play every class
Look at that cool sword, my cleric can't use it, but I 

Always poor
Money sinks
Expand carrying capacity (cube in aion)

Fly through six rings to complete the Abyss quest
The sixth ring is hard to find!

Junk recycle
Three manastones you don't need, chance for a new manastone you may need (aion)

Real-world themes

Temporary effects
Sprint for 10 seconds

Cool tricks
Jump to get just slightly ahead of your opponent (everquest)

Deliver the wedding ring to the groom or the bride? (aion)

Runes of Magic

L27 Knight / L21 Rogue

2H Sword

Blackmane Archer
+117 124
+84 Charge
+80 81 Blind stab
+124 133 Holy Strike
+179 190 Holy Strike critical hit
+580 606 Punishment
+178 Threaten
+134 143 Shadowstab
-95 120 Ranged shot