However, when it comes to execution, I don't even think the game needs to be the latest and greatest as far as graphics go. An indie studio will never match the multi-tens of millions spent by studios on graphical assets, voiceovers, etc. By contrast, people still play MUD's even today, and those are just text. Why? Because some of them are executed well. I don't think good execution relies too heavily on eye-popping graphics. As long as the UI is good, the toolset is good, and the EULA is workable, it will be great.
Bioware's NWN really shot itself in the foot with its EULA which forbade making money from a player-made server, btw.
Commercially-run servers by the big game houses need to make money to stay around.... lots of it, enough to please stock holders. Consequently, that precipitates a certain kind of atmosphere in the game: one of level treadmills and content micropayments. For the most part, these aspects are contrary to roleplaying and immersion, IMHO.
Do not get me wrong. I play DDO currently as my game of choice and I love nothing more sometimes than to jump in and kill shit so I can get XP. The fact is probably a huge majority of gamers are the same in that regard. However, there is a smaller subset that likes the character development and roleplaying aspects of a server. These are likely the evolutionary descendants of MUSH players from the 90's, and they are still around. The problem is they can never find a home online with a commercial game server. When we made the Avlis PW over a decade ago, this was our target demographic, and arguably it was and still is one of the most successful NWN PW's ever.
I think that Shards will be good for this niche as well. Obviously people will make mostly hack'n slay servers running Monty Hall scenarios, but there will be rich platform material for folks like us that want to create a real live functional fantasy world. Definitely looking out for this.
For the people that HAVE gotten results, all you get for the money is a point on a Google map. If you are a pure-bred ethnic whatever, that point means something. If you are the child of a parent from Fiji and an aborigonal Australian, the point on your map will be halfway between those locations: useless information. Considering that a lot of us are children of parents from quite different locations these days, the odds of you getting a point on your map that means anything are not high.
If they don't get back to me by this coming Tuesday (2 business days), I'm charging it back via PayPal.
What a bunch of crap.
Better to rage against the system that created the imbalances in opportunity than to go after the character of those people.