- Static worlds: Player actions have very little impact on the world. Kill something and it respawns moments later.
- Everyone is a hero: Everyone follows the same quests and story lines.
- NPC and monster AI: It's laughable at best. Aggro bubbles? Seriously...
- Balance: How do you make completely different classes equal in strength?
- Grind: These will always exist but the disguises need some work.
- Economy: When you get 10 silver for killing the same rat that respawns every 20 seconds, you know the economy will have issues.
- Static worlds: Simple, make the world dynamic... case closed! Lol, I wish it were that easy. As soon as '13 year old brat' learns how to impact the world in such a way that it ruins the gaming experience of thousands of others, game over. There are many ideas floating around on how a dynamic world should work, but as yet I don't think there is a right one. Essentially the world needs to react to player actions and handle them accordingly. For every player action there needs to be an equal and opposite server reaction in order to maintain a dynamic equilibrium. This brings me to the 'world without a player' scenario, where the world is ever changing on its own. Players should only ever speed up or slow down this process. The AI technology required to do this is available today. The problem lies with cost effectively developing the AI required for a living world into a game. You need an AI eco-system, that balances its self out based on player interaction. Slowly software frameworks will emerge, but I can't see it become mainstream for 10-15 years+.
- Everyone is a hero: In MMORPG 2.0, this simply isn't going to happen. You will have a few legendary game changing heroes, a lot of champions and a tonne of community heroes. It's not a bad thing, as motstandet excellently points out:
"Give players the tools to influence the world and some place where they can show off. But make sure there are small pockets of communities. A hero doesn't have to be the one to throw the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom or the one to free everyone from the Matrix. He just has to be the one people tell stories about."
So the only thing blocking this from happening is problem number 1: static worlds. Fix that and everyone can follow their own story to heroism.
- NPC and Monster AI: I've seen CS college graduates build NPCs with better AI than you see in MMOs. I have no idea why this is the case. If I had to guess, I would say that developing AI is hard thus costs money. If they can get away with adding an aggro bubble to a monster with a trigger to attack, then they will. There is nothing stopping NPC and monster AI from improving except the game budget.
- Balance: This unfortunately is a problem that will only slightly improve with time. Balancing a game requires constant analysis of in-game activity via logging. The balancing process can be sped up with better tools and analyzing techniques, but essentially it will always be a problem.
- Grind: Grind is a product of repetitively executing the same activity over and over. The solution to reducing grind also lies in having a dynamic world. If you give the player a different experience each time, the grind with be less prevalent. There will always be a grind, the trick is to disguise it through variety.
- Economy: How can a virtual world get the economy right, when the real world can't? The solution lies with getting a balance of currency generated with currency destroyed. It's hard but not impossible. I often get the feeling that this area doesn't receive the attention it deserves. There is nothing stopping games from having better economies now except neglect.