I haven't done a ton of research to see if something like this currently exists, so if there is something already, point me in that direction.
I have been thinking about the entertaining games I have played lately, be it single player FPS, RPGs, MOBAs, MMOs, even mobile phone games, and trying to find out what I found appealing about them and what I think would make an interesting combination if done well.
I know over the past few years there has been an emphasis for open world freedom, etc, which I completely understand, but I wanted to take a different route from the open world aspect but try to leave as much community and freedom as possible. I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea, but it may appeal to some, so if you can bear with me for a minute and read, let me know what you think. I personally have zero ability to create something like this, it is purely an idea.
To refrain from writing an epic novel, I will try to briefly describe what I mean. Think Vindictus meets Skyrim meets old school Dungeon Crawlers/D&D meets Mount & Blade, I know some of you have already written me off, but I think it could be niche.
For starters, the point of view would be first person Skyrim/Oblivion or a very minimal distance 3rd person such as Vindictus. I lean heavily on 1st person as I feel it increases immersion, but who knows, maybe I don't know what I'm talking talking about. One of my most memorable moments from Oblivion was bringing up my shield to block and arrow and hearing the resounding THUD and taking no damage, the same with Mount and Blade. I fell in love immediately.
Essentially, there would be a hub where everyone could hang out, but not a normal hub. I'm talking about a large overland area, complete with an area big enough to build huge cities, with rolling hills, forests, etc. Maybe a gigantic valley with all of this spacious room - enough room to essentially handle all players at once if need be, including their own houses(castles?), farms, etc. Think mideval setting, like Skyrims open world map, with enough room to handle 5k to 10k (or more?) players and multiple cities, even guild cities - literally a city/castle belonging to each guild/clan or even cities that have no allegiance scattered throughout an open world the size of Skyrim. All of these cities, houses, castles, would be built there by the players. No man-made constructs exists when the server would launch. It would be an open landscape with wildlife. Think if each city in Skyrim belonged to a different clan or to no one at all for those who didn't want to join a certain faction or if someone just wanted to build a house out in the middle of the forest by themselves.
The wildlife would repopulate by themselves, but the more an area is "farmed" the slower it grows, giving emphasis to explore and spread out. Lets not forget actual farms that the players could build to reap their own harvests.
Each city could wage war on another city to obtain its resources, or other benefits. I haven't really figured out what the benefits would be, but I am sure there is plenty that could be brainstormed. If you didn't belong to a city or a faction/guild, then you were exempt from these fights. I personally hate the idea of forced pvp, so for those like me who want the cottage built next to a water fall and run my own small blacksmithing company and avoid all the conflict, so be it. On the other hand, I understand the appeal in pvp and warfare and I wouldn't want to leave it out completely. Think Mount and Blade castle seiging, just... you know... Skyrim or Vindictus like combat, yes, spells/magic too.
Anyways, in addition to warfare, this overland area is where trade happens, socializing, commerce, hunting, fishing, and professions such as gathering, building, crafting, pet/mount breeding, etc. This would be a skills based game, the more you did something, the better your character got at it. I would have a lot of passive skills that are obtained from doing mundane things, such as increased stamina the more you ran, increased speed at which you climb walls (yes, a throw back to Daggerfall and D&D), increased air capacity the more you swam, increased resistances to cold effects the more time you spent in higher altitudes, etc. The list could go on.
This overland area is the freedom I would give to players. In what I personally equate to as a living breathing world, without Terraforming. I do not like the idea of terraforming personally. If you find an area you want to build a castle in, then you best figure out how to build it without having to remove a mountain. Use the terrain to your advantage.
The next aspect of this game would be the underground sublevels. Think the Underdark from D&D, essentially an endless catacomb of dungeons, crawling with monsters, etc. It would be dark in most places. You would need to bring torches, lanterns, light spells or effects.
This underground area is where the rest of the adventuring comes in, and if I still have things my way, this is where the most powerful crafting items come from. I would not have any complete items drop from monsters/dragons/demons/whatever. There would be no Short Sword of Lightning Bolts +2 that drops from the goblin. Most of the goods you find from the upperlevel easier dungeons would be crafting items from the overland areas with chances at rare crafting materials, but the further down you travel the more likely you are to stumble across rare ores, or crafting items that can only be obtained below, such as Mummy Wrappings that could be used to craft clothing or padding for armor, or that Dragon you slay drops scales which are used to craft dragon scale armor or shields, etc.
Some expeditions would take serious preparation, such as food, water, sharpening stones, etc. I would have weight limits, food and water requirements (Think Everquest), item durability and wear and tear. You would not just need the proper players with good use of combat skills, but also players with professions to help continue the trek into the depths.
There would be no classes. It would be entirely skill based. You want to have that plate wearing mage? Go for it. Just remember that plate armor increases cast time and limits your ability to run as fast as others, etc. Would I let someone become a master of everything? I am not sure. I think, initially, I would see how it plays out. I am leaning towards yes, but skills that are not used within a certain time frame would actually start to lose points over time. You wouldn't completely lose the skill, but it would degrade to maybe 50% if you never used the skills ever again. Not completely lost, but enough that you are not the master of fishing anymore if you stopped fishing a few months ago.
I haven't really figured out if I want the dungeons to be randomly generated for solo players, groups, raid forces, etc, or to have a completely "open world" underground like there would be up top, (without the ability to craft buildings and such), but with multiple entrances and having it insanely expansive.
Anyways... what do you all think? It would be a huge undertaking for any company to try and tackle, but I think it could be... AMAZING.