In the last ten days there were two kinds of posts. The one kind said that there should be a MMO like Skyrim. The other said that this wouldn't work. I agree with both.
Consequently, instead of describing how Skyrim can be transformed into a MMO, I will outline what the genuine desire for a “MMO like Skyrim” means.
Players like a fantasy world which takes itself seriously.
There is a constant desire among developers to make fun of the lore they create. This is quite understandable considering that the developers work on these games for many, many years. They are often burned out the moment the games are released. But the players are not.
You can compare this with a politician who tells the audience how broken politics are. This strategy always succeeds at getting applause. But it just never succeeds at winning elections (and rightfully so!). Players will laugh if a fantasy MMO makes fun of itself but ultimately they will always buy the one that takes itself seriously (if available).
Players like reasonably scaled graphics. The “fiery doomsday sword of man-slaying” with 13 skulls dancing around its tip is inferior to the beautiful 'semi-realistic' design - less is more. You will marvel at the consequences of transmogrification, Blizzard!
Logical thinking is not as important as to keep the player's mind busy with emotions. This is a sad thing to say, I think. But it's simply true. The time when games for the mass market required you to think are gone. The internet had its part in that.
If you like Skyrim then for many reasons but certainly not because you need to be smart to play it. This fits nicely into Blizzard's current philosophy to make every choice about style. In this case Skyrim extrapolates a development WoW goes through!
Over seven million players are willing to learn ridiculous controls to play a PC game on a console. Some even learn the controls once this PC game is ported back to the PC platform. Ergo: there is no reason to implement click-to-move controls into WoW. It's ok to teach players how to play the game. It's ok to make them learn to play their char the right way.
There is no need for steering with arrow keys instead of the mouse. This isn't blogged about very often but it is a main reason why players perform so differently in WoW. The many different ways to control a char make balancing very difficult and among other things causes the leveling/endgame rift.
Narratives which are scattered all over the world are superior to one singular story. Blizzard already acknowledged this with MoP when they announced to make a 180 degree turnaround back to vanilla WoW. Exploration rules! The world can never be too large.
Procedurally-generated content is inferior as of yet. The money should instead flow into tools that allow professional content creators to create content (like dungeons) more efficiently. Following this route long enough will eventually lead to completely procedurally-generated content, anyway.
Theorycrafters will always exist. But you don't need to cater to them. Hiding numbers can work.
The mass market loves housing!
Annoying pop-up achievements, silly pets and exotic mounts are unnecessary. Thank god!
Rethink character power progression! I'll go into this in a future post.
Minimaps are not mandatory.