I do believe MMORPGs went backwards in their evolution since Ultima Online. Progression of skill makes much more sense and is much more realistic than vertical progression of levels and gear. There is a definite limit to how much better equipment can give a person an advantage in the real world. Forcing players to choose what their specializations are is much more interesting and challenging in my opinion. Add to that the possibility of losing stats upon death, stats which must then be regained with difficulty by earning more experience. And a limit to how many times a character can die based on a Constitution stat. But being forced to start a new character is not such a problem in a game that is not about vertical progression of levels and gear. It would be about the experience of trying to survive in a dangerous fantasy world. Helping your community/faction/alliance to survive grow and flourish while other neutral or enemy communities or factions are trying to do the same thing. Even the possibility of having all characters on an account be in the same family line or community, so that new characters on the account might gain some benefit from what the previous character did, even if they died permanently or were forced to retire doing to them be too old or weak to continue exploring/adventuring/working/fighting in a hostile world.