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When I say Runescape I mean pre GE runescape, because the free-trade update sent it back into the stone ages, no, putting free-trade back didn't fix it either.
Runescape was pretty low quality, I'll admit. The graphics, sound and combat were below par due to the engine, but it did stuff much better than most MMOs, and we need to break from the WoW model NOW, NOW. It does not work as an MMO.
I'll start with the world. The way it was set up was radial more than linear. This actually encouraged people to go to the lower level zones, since there was actually stuff going on in them. While you may have outlevelled zones, they weren't restricted to low level players. While lumbridge was considered a newbie zone, it wasn't only populated by newbies.
Next, REAL resources. No mana, actual resources. This kept the economy moving. People who wanted to range/mage would need to buy runes/arrows. That means people who only combat still effected the economy (even so with potions). It made the economy more alive.
Next, real skills. Like I said above, there was a large market with arrows/runes. Why? Real skills. It actually took time to level them and they were actually used to make money. They weren't just a side thing, people actually made accounts just to level the skills. I'm not advocating grind, but make skills more than a side thing.
That's it, runescape's quests are better, but implementation would be hard really.