An interesting series of articles discussing MMOGs at GameSpy.
Several questions occur to me:
1. Can MMOGs achieve mass appeal? It seems to me the big barrier is the monthly fee aspect. I know that if a game is great, non-gamers will buy and play it as well (Myth anyone?), but that darn monthly fee turns people off. Is paying to add content (buyer initiated) the way to go? I don’t know.
2. Can a SF themed (non-Star Wars, non-Star Trek) MMOG be successful? Again, I think this depends on the ability of the designers to build an engaging game. The initial learning curve must be shallow and casual gamers must feel they can achieve something when they play and, I think the biggest thing, the game must allow those who don’t play all the time to feel like they are an integral part of the world. Oh, and time sinks suck. Designers need to find a way around forcing players to spend time in game before achieving something. A completely leveless game? I don’t know if that’s possible.