The thing is though, if you haven't played every single MMORPG in existence, this is different and innovative. Sure, it may copy styles from other MMORPGs that are out there, but to those of us that don't play WoW or GW2 or (insert mmorpg of choice here), this is going to be a good Final Fantasy MMORPG with good MMORPG mechanics.
Sadly, I feel like this is the business philosophy of most MMOs today. Don't do anything especially new. Just slap some better graphics on the same game and attract the people who have no real discerning tastes when it comes to MMOs because they're new to the genre.
I don't know about the "solutions" being ignored. That sounds a bit weird to do, especially for the professionals.
I really doubt that any solution doesn't come with it's own faults and flaws, nor that the current design with their problems are not without their upsides, too. Any new idea should be a hard sell, and I'm sure an able designer can point out the definite flaws in each of them.
It's not a defeatist attitude, but sadly realistic. For a single person it's really hard to take everything into account in MMO game design, and even if the idea gets implemented, the playerbase will ruthlessly pinpoint and abuse every mistake the designer(s) overlooked.
Edited, Dec 6th 2012 7:51pm by Hyanmen
That's the problem. Solutions are ignored because most designers can't see past two changes. Nearly any time you change a mechanic, you have to change at least one other thing, if not every other thing. Most people are bad at making games for that very reason. They have an idea, and then they notice that some problems emerge. Rather than figure out what the solutions to those
problems are, they write it off as too risky, too much work, or just unfeasible.
I'm working on a project right now that's roughly the scope of an MMO (design-wise, not nearly as bad development-wise); I know how difficult it is. It's difficult to maintain perspective at times. Impossible, arguably, for the human brain to simulate the complexities of such a game system. I can change this, but then what about this? Did I forget something? Which design tradeoffs do you make? And despite the creative infusion that comes with having a team, the process is just that much harder when you have to evaluate lots of ideas. The simplest ones can start to look the most appealing, even if they're not particularly good. A great idea comes across the table... but will the players "get it?" Will they be able to capitalize on the possibilities that this creates for them?
The zenith of game design is when the game you create allows the player to do exactly what they wanted to do, even things they didn't know they wanted to do. It's impossible to please everyone to 100% satisfaction. But here's the thing about MMOs (oh lawd, here I go): there ARE simple solutions that are ignored. And the solution that is most commonly ignored is to just let players make their choice. Most design elements exist on a spectrum. They don't have to be fixed into one location. In many types of games, you have to fix them anyway because that's all you can realistically do. But MMOs are different. They have monstrous budgets, and they have the development power to deliver "the spectrum." Not just A or Z, but everything in between.
And that was my gripe before. Most designers sit around trying to figure out, "Is K, or U better for this mechanic?" They don't stop to think, "How can I give players a choice between K and U? Maybe even N?" In most cases, this does not result in twice the design or development load. It results in having a default mode and then an exception. Or it's just variations on an iteration. Figuring out how to utilize existing template design patterns to make one set of code do lots of different things is exactly what good designers are supposed to do.
This "listening to fans with no education in game design" business always seemed a bit strange to me. Sort of like commissioning a painting and then standing over the artists' shoulder telling her to "put a tree there" or "don't use so much red". But times change. Fans are waaaay more savvy than we used to be (ty internet), and several someones at SE arrived late to that particular party.
Not to mention there really isn't a robust requirement (often no requirement at all) in most game designer preparation programs to develop a theoretical understanding of "fun." Game design schools focus on the design process or the development process. They don't teach you how to design fun games, just how to operate in the workplace as a contributing team member. The average game designer's knowledge of good game design is the same as yours: "I like these features in these games; don't like those features in those games."