I don't really understand what would make you compare SoI&F with (now cancelled, RIP!) DNF.
GRRM has been publishing SoI&F books on very steady intervals (a Game of Thrones '96, a Clash of Kings '98, a Storm of Swords '00 and a Feast for Crows '05), with the new book being announced to come out this year.
The only similiary I could think of is that people have very high expectations of SoI&F, something I think DNF also had 'till the turn of the millenium or so.
In any case, SoI&F is no unicorn we fantasy book nerds chase after, it's quite real and not vaporware.
Cyanide studio (http://www.cyanide-studio.com/) has previously published mostly sports games, although they currently got a Blood Bowl esque RTS -game in develoment along with a cartoonty MMO called "Dungeon Party".
I'm personally bit wary of this SoI&F game they've announced, as their track record of games doesn't really fit in too well with what I'd hope from a SoI&F game. I think something like A Sharp's King of Dragon Pass could well enhance the Soi&F exprience far better.
Still, I guess Cyanide has displayed ability to jump genres with their new productions, so pretty much anything is possible from the SoI&F game?
With many MMO's (WoW coming first to mind obviously) having their playerbase divided into realms/shards to cope with the load, a lot of players never come in contact with oneanother. Selecting two or more advisors (for different factions that might or might not be able to communicate) from large amount of reals could quickly produce unreasonably large amount of elected folks.
Using WoW as an example, I'm rarely confident that the MMO developers already listen to the community concerns by keeping an eye on moderated and intelligent conversation, such that happens on Elitist Jerks forums (http://elitistjerks.com/forums.php) for example.
In a way, the most respected and popular discussion forums are elected to represent community as it is. The votes are simply count as "page views" and "posts".
Coding is easy; All you do is sit staring at a terminal until the drops of blood form on your forehead.