Keen’s ArcheAge post today reiterates one of the ‘core values’ I think any virtual world must have; at no point should I be ‘done’ with an area. I think the whole concept of moving through zones is distinctively ‘not virtual world’ (saying its themepark might be accurate, though perhaps too limiting), and it also just bothers me on a number of levels.
First, anytime you have a setup where you progress through things, you inherit the problem of player separation and motivation. Once you ‘finish’ an area, returning to help someone else out is a pain or at best a waste.
Adding to the above, anytime you ‘finish’ content you are done with it, and now need the devs to make more. Regardless of the size of the development team, ultimately that’s not sustainable, and if the overall goal is to keep playing an MMO ‘forever’, that’s not going to work out.
What’s really interesting about the genre right now is newer games are mixing concepts together from previous titles. What puts me off heavily from ArcheAge is that while it has some ‘sandbox features’, that 1-50 linear zone setup is a killer for me.