I'll start with some explanations so you can understand the question. You don't have to agree with these explanations, but for the purpose of this topic please try to understand them so that your responses make sense.
To be multiplayer, the players need to be able to interact synchronously, which means they interact with each other at the same time. PvP, raids, sparring, racing etc are all multiplayer features. Something like an auction house isn't, because players interact with it separately from each other: they are not playing together, hence not multiplayer.
To be massively multiplayer, the number of players involved needs to be "massively" bigger than than average multiplayer online games, i.e. massively bigger than 128.
For the purposes of this thread, please also assume that the tech (networking, processing and graphics) is able to handle it. I know most engines currently cannot handle it, but they'll get there eventually and CSE are attempting it right now with the unchained engine.
Like I said, I don't need / want you to agree with these assertions of mine, I'm just laying them out there so that this thread can make some sort of sense and that we're all talking about the same thing. I'm day dreaming about large scale features, and want to know what large scale features you may have dreamt up!
So, what massively multiplayer features (i.e. gameplay involving more than 128 players) would you like to see? What do you think the challenges would be to making such a feature fun?
I'll start with a few ideas:
1) Battlefield 500+
Really simple: take the battlefield games, but increase the number of players to massively multiplayer numbers. Map sizes would need to be increased, but you could have 500 v 500 matches and have some really large scale fights. If the engine could handle it, it'd be great to "recreate" some actual battles. Like, imagine the D-Day landings, if the numbers could get there, we could actually recreate it.
One of the things that'd need to happen to make this more interesting, and not just a zerg, would be better in-game communications and organising abilities, perhaps using something similar to what actual militaries use. Squads could only communicate internally, but a squad leader could communicate with their commander. I think there would also need to be some mechanics so that someone, a commander, could actually issue orders to squads. So, if the commander wanted a squad to assault a bunker, they could set that as the objective for the squad (and the objective would appear onscreen for that squad) and could also set the respawn point for that squad.
2) Fantasy Battlefield
Basically, the same as the above suggestion, just with a fantasy theme. I'd prefer deep, tab-target style combat mechanic, but as this is a match-based game and not part of an RPG, I can handle action combat. I've been playing WAR RoR recently and really enjoying the scenarios in that game, so this suggestion is basically the same thing, just with more players.
I'd like to see better player collision, and following from that something like squad formations, in order to prevent this becoming a zerg. So, a squad leader could set a formation (line, square, wedge etc) and the squad members can choose to join that formation or not. If they join, they lose control of individual movement, but gain bonuses in other areas (better defences and protection against cc).
Not sure what I'd do for comms in such a game. In a battlefield game, it makes sense to make voice comms that can reach everyone, but in a fantasy game it kinda seems immersion breaking. Maybe there could be specific roles for commander and messenger runners so that commands can be issued? Like, the messenger is the only one who can ride a mount or something.
3) Epic Destruction Derby / Mad Max
Looking for some epicly mad, large scale vehicular carnage! Take a long course (min 10 minutes), add 200 players and let them go mad!
Main thing that I'd change, compared to most racing games, would be making the courses really open world. Nothing but a long start line, wide open world and some checkpoints / chokepoints along the way.
Or, just a really big bowl for everyone to go nuts in :-) I think this would end up being a little like a battle royale, but with cars.
4) Large Scale Raids
Rather than competitive (like the above examples), this would be a co-operative feature. Take an army of players and let them assault something big, like a castle. There would need to be multiple objectives that meant all those players weren't in the same place - maybe 40 assault the front gate, whilst 160 scale the walls. Once over the walls, those 160 split up, some secure the barracks, some secure the stables, others head to help with the gate.
Again, the key to making this fun is communications / planning. Maybe the raid leader can setup a plan in advance of the raid starting, so that once everyone is in the raid, their group is automatically given a spawn point and objectives based on the leader's plan. Nobody wants to stand around at the start of such a large raid and listen to one person give instructions to hundreds of others. It just wouldn't work. So, best to give the leader the tools they need in advance to make things go smoothly. Would also need to rethink how bosses work. If you make the bosses cool, so that everyone wants to fight, then you'll end up with a zerg. If you stick with tanks, then having a boss tanked by one person, but with 159 others attacking, it'd just seem real weird. So, in a large scale PvE encounter, I feel like a "boss" should be a final counter attack by the enemy, a wave of 200 enemies with some mini-bosses thrown in.
Over to you guys. I'm particularly interested to hear any ideas about large scale crafting or roleplaying as these are things I don't really participate in often and so haven't spent much time thinking about. With crafting, the best I can imagine would be something like building a castle, but needing lots of players to do it. Maybe you need 10 people to work a hoist together to lift some of the bigger stones? Roleplaying, I love reading about things like Weatherstock in LotRO, but I'd like to hear what sort of mechanics the game could provide to make those things better.