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Interesting article in March 06 issue of Computer Gaming World. In it Ralph Koster states...
"Classes and levels are legacies from pen and paper gaming that dont entirely suit the sort of things that MMO's can do. We have assumptions about MMO's; we usually think of them as basically large scale RPG's. Thats not really all they are or can be, they offer much more than that. As long as we keep using systems that proceed from different assumptions, its going to be harder to get different types of gameplay."
SWG's Dickenson states...
"While freedom is great for hardcore players, it can put most other players into unfun states which isnt a good place to be. Perhaps we shouldnt be distinuishing between virtual worlds and traditionalist RPG's after all, but rather hardcore players and casual players."
Later on the article compares SWG's recent changes to equivalent to a sex-change operation that left its existing players in a state of livid shock.
Dickenson then goes on to state...
"Hardcore gamers will always be the core of any MMO's audience, but the more the game does to provide easy-to-understand gameplay and fun rewarding adventures to a broader market the better off we all are."
To summarize, Dickenson feels the future of MMO's is making games for the casual player. That means simplistic dumbed down systems for the casual player.
The article's author states he wishes for a combination of WoW's accessiblity, the depth of EVE, the fluid character development of UO, and PVP structures of Shadowbane.