It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
Too many companies out there were simply cloning WOW. That's a stupid, but simple approach. And yet even Bioware couldn't even get their clone right.
The Blizzard model for WOW was to take the good things in previous MMOs and discard the rest. Then add top notch art direction and game design. Too many developers of clones only look at the big things in WOW, and forget about the small things that go into attracting and keeping players.
Arena Net looked at WOW and other MMOs and said what can we do to improve on them?
1) A custom designed engine, which any new MMO developer should do anyway. SWTOR used an existing one that's still clunky.
2) Make it less cartoony, but still highly stylized art direction. This game is more of how LOTRO should have designed assets, if they didn't have such horrible art direction and an utter lack of imagination. I'll assume Turbine artists are capable of much more than just grey and brown indoor environments.
3) Remove quest hubs with tons of questgivers. Also remove quest logs which invariably get full. You never have to talk to a quest giver to get quests. They just appear on screen when you are in the area. This is a major plus.
4) Improved Dynamic events and chains of events. ANet certainly didn't invent them, but they sure made a lot of them enjoyable and engrossing
5) Remove the gear grind. Considering how few people are hardcore raiders in any given MMO, this was a no brainer.
6) Non gear based PVP. As a former competitive FPS player, I never understood why gear should impact PVP.
7) No more filling bank slots with crafting mats. This was pure win. I have no idea if other games have done it before.
8) Amazing ambience. The music is great and they put so much detail into the world. Lots of interesting NPC conversations, background noises and little critters running around or flying. This is one major area where SWTOR fell completely flat. With their budget, I can only assume that they just weren't competent designers.
9) Focus on a strong sense of community. No more fighting for gathering nodes or tagging mobs. You can all share in them. Everyone gets their own drops so no fighting over who "needs" an item. Anyone can rez a downed player. I always say thanks when people res e and I always do it for them whenever possible.
10) World PVP generally means ganking. Good riddance to that.
Future MMO developers should pay close attention to GW2 and everything, big and small, that works and doesn't work.
It remains to be seen if the lack of endgame raiding and no real gear grind progression will impact the games longevity.