I think you are missing the whole "Interacting with humans" dynamic.
You can have a brilliantly scripted game, but it will always be just that, a scripted game.
Humans add an element of unpredictability that will keep you on your toes.
After you master the "game", you start to learn what really makes the game tick, the variability of human interaction.
I think that human interaction is what the original article is referring to, and what elevates an MMORPG above a standard RPG.
This is obviously debatable, but I assure you that leadership of a robot (NPC) squad bears very little resemblance leading 4 or 5 humans into the fray.