Maybe developers should stop trying to create worlds, and just focus on cities. MMO worlds are diffused, with little to none of the richness that makes an actual world. Look at your starting city-it’s just a collection of buildings you can’t enter designed to fulfill basic functions like selling, buying, and character management. Chances are though it’s not much more than that, it’s not a livable one.
Because of the huge scope of the world, you cant introduce things to make an area feel real. Have you ever noticed you rarely see children in an MMO, or schools? You don’t see carts or caravans, or true markets-not just empty quadrangles with stalls. People are sparse and functional, their only worth being their gameplay purpose. Is it any wonder people find them boring?
Maybe rather than try and continually add content and tack on new play experiences, more focus should be made on limiting and making rich the actual world people exist in. Once the world is set, then you can change elements and have meaningful change, not just addition. So much of the experience is abstract and bloodless compared to real life. Perhaps limiting the world might make it richer, and escaping design to force play might encourage it.