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What Affects immersion the most? Game engine limitations.
1. Naming. I am saddened if your imagination fails you and you really want to be known as Leegolas, Buttpwnr, Dedpool or Bigblawlzorz. I will like the game better if you cannot.
2. Blind invites to guilds and groups. If you are blindly mass inviting people to join your guild or group, and you cant even be bothered to ask first what does that say about your leadership abilities?
3. Inane, stupid, "I am on stage" zone chat. God, if I ever made a MMO there would be NO zone wide chat. There must be a way around the constant stream of BS in most /zone and /world chats, aside from a 1000 name ignore list.
featuers ie the amount,type and quality of features that makes it a living world.player run economy
free placement and customization of houses [custimation as detailed as sims but different method]
no forced quests and no story
dynamic quests that change depending on the situation eg day 1 city has been invaded by rats, go kill the rats. day 2, the rats ate all the grain, grain needs to be imported but orcs have been raiding the caravans, protect the caravans. day 3 the orcs have gotten annoying, gather a group and destroy their stronghold. day 4 nothing happening in city. no quests. a player can start and stop anywhere in this quest chain. once a quest is done, it cant be redone by any player unless a similar situation pops up. the situations are random.
skill system with large number of skills
racial differences eg language, attributes, etc.
large game world
and any stuff of that nature. to me the world itself is immersion
Overcrowding is something I can find quite immersion breaking. I remember the one and only time I went to the Isle of Quel'Danas in WoW. There were literally hundreds of people rushing around doing their dailies. No interaction, no danger and as soon as any mob was unfortunate enough to spawn it was set upon by half a dozen players. There was no sense that the zone existed for any other purpose than as a cash cow for players to farm. A little part of my MMO soul died that day.
Instanced vs. non-instanced dungeons is an interesting one. I know a lot of people find loading screens quite immersion breaking but for me it is far worse if you enter a supposedly dangerous dungeon and find there are already dozens of people there waiting to jump on any boss as soon as he spawns.