In a fun little discussion with a friend today we designed the best-selling MMORPG in history that will make you rage-quit real life. And we did it in just a few hours! It has a 100% player-run economy, of course.
Part of it was also this crazy idea:
Items have three different qualities: effectiveness, durability, appearance.
A better appearance is translated by the game into a modified 3D-model for the item.
The crafter uses a pattern to make a weapon. For example, an "iron long sword". An "iron long sword" has some base effectiveness, base durability and base appearance, but the crafter can improve these qualities by using more resources.
For example, he can decide that he wants to make a really sharp iron long sword. Thus, he adds some points to effectiveness. These added points will make the crafting process require more ressources. How much more, is determined by his skill compared to the skill the pattern requires.
The name of the sword is always "Iron longsword". However, he can chose to sign the sword. His signature always includes his name and a few additional letters. For example, he can chose to add the letters "Calamad" to the signature; or "Your mother". Depending on his age, you can guess which letters he chooses.
He can also not sign the sword at all, of course.
Now, here comes the trick about this system: Only the crafter knows the qualities of the sword! His customers have no idea! They only know that it is an "iron long sword", and his signature, if he added one.
I'd love to hear your opinions as to what kind of game would evolve out of this.