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Do you guys remember Age of Empires?
You'd develop your area based on the resources you gathered? I think they could make it into a really good MMORPG:
A few players get together and place one house each. After X number of player houses they get a towncenter. After X number of players they get a blacksmith. So on and so on until they have built a major city.
Players can't be crafters - they need to attract trade NPCs to the town to craft for them and can upgrade those crafters by collecting plans and selling them or donating them to the trade NPCs. A village elder (elected by the town players) should be placed in charge of each crafter and decide what specific items the crafter should sell. A player can request a special item made if that player has the materials on them.
Players are the ones that gather the materials by placing mines, quarries, lumbermills, farms, and ranches. You need to gather resources in order to build your buildings and keep the crafter NPCs happily crafting or they will leave your town. Plans, patterns, schematics and basic materials can be sold between players but crafted items are all soul bound.
One building a town can have is a castle. Once this is in place it means the town is willing to engage in PvP conflicts - players can take control of another player's town and must protect their own town. A town can retake their own castle, pay a tribute, and/or take over the castle of the town that controls their castle.
What this game does is make community projects that each player can take part in. It makes things personal without making it selfish. It creates a place for almost every type of gamer. Solo players can work towards the community goal without grouping. Casual players can make the best of the time they have to play in and still benefit the town. PvPers get meaningful PvP. Achievers have a world to conquer. They can all mix together and benefit each other on a larger scale.
"The liberties and resulting economic prosperity that YOU take for granted were granted by those "dead guys"