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Is a Fun MMORPG truly possible?

This is a concept that I’ve had casually floating around my head for a long time, and I finally decided to ask other people for their opinions on it. I’m hoping to get genuine ideas from both the critics and the supporters of MMOs, in a lengthy discussion. I must note that I dislike MMORPGs, though I have played them at length in the hope that my opinion would change. So, here’s the question:

Is it possible to make a game that is massively multiplayer, co-op story-based, that lasts for months or even years, and that is as fun as any single-player game on the market?

Personally, I never had fun simply telling my character to do things and then watching them happen. I’ve always needed more action than that. That’s why I always preferred games like the original Fable over any MMORPG. Regardless, I’ve thought about this in detail and my conclusion is always that extreme fun and long-term gameplay in a co-op story style of design simply isn’t possible since the game elements that make it last for a long time take away from the fun (like grinding, automatic abilities, leveling, and boring stories). Grinding becomes an excuse to make the player invest extra time, automatic abilities aren’t fun due to simply watching a character animation yet are used as a simple way to add many unlockables, and leveling separates players from each other instead of uniting friends yet is always a feature of MMORPGs since it gives extra meaning to time spent in-game.

So, is there an answer to all of this? Do you have the genius solutions and would like to share? Are MMORPGs perfect already and would you like to tell me so? Can you think of more problems with MMORPGs than I have mentioned? Please tell me your lengthy responses below. I am eager to read them.

Some people like that type of game–clearly since people are paying for it.
But what’s important to note and what people don’t seem to get is that MMORPG does not need to be a WoW clone, everyone thinks of the same game mechanics when the definition is very broad and there’s a lot you can do with it.

For this type of thing though, what you want isn’t likely to happen–the issue is with how much work it takes to make the content, not all of the content can be crafted at the same level so they will have a limited amount of high quality content and then have some easy-to-create content that can extend playtime much further. It’s the same issue with open-world games, it takes too much time to make high quality content.

Also, people won’t play it–it’s a sad fact but few people finish single-player games and of the content in games there’s a vast amount that people don’t experience. It’s kind of weird because people demand more content and then don’t care to experience it but it still has to be there so that the game gets sales.

Yes.

You need to get everybody on the server to roleplay their characters, ban anybody who fails to do that, and have DM team running stories 24h/day.

Then you get highly immersive environment that can be superior to many single-player titles. This kind of thing works, because by doing that you’ll have human-level AI behind every npc in the game.

That’s pretty much the only way.

Also, at the moment it is an empty niche on the market. The only two games that ever managed to fill that niche were Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2.

You don’t need roleplay to have player created stories, even people who play purely to win have stories to tell about crazy matches or sandbox game encounters where the most unbelievable chain of events occurred. Granted that’s different kinds of stories that can’t replace each other, just saying roleplay stories aren’t the only kind.

As for fun, take gameplay people repeat over and over for hundreds of hours without story or progression incentives and build an MMORPG around that gameplay. It will still be fun despite being in an MMORPG as long as you make sure all the added stuff doesn’t get in the way of or alter the core gameplay too much.