Granted on the rock scissors paper comment, there is usually an achilllies heel type weakenss that a clever foe can exploit, but while skill CAN trump stats, the way these games are designed is so they dont. Think WoW or Eve and how often does a level 50 beat a level 70 or a tech I a tech II?
With regard to playing the market that comes back to the time vs skill. I'm going to guess this is based around Eve because that has the deepest market I know. But again, to compete in any real terms with an experienced player is almost impossible if they have spent a few months 'investing' points in skills to help them playing the market. A new player can only buy and sell in their local station, an excperienced one from an adjacent sector, a new player can only put on five orders, an old one god knows how many. A new player pays 1% tax, because an older one has clicked 'train' he has to pay 0.5% tax.
It is all these arbitrary ceilings and barriers that ruin games like MMO's. Let the player be the barrier and not some bullshit counter to drip feed me false reward.
If your game is fun players will keep coming back, look at counterstrike, even though its old, people still play it because its fun. new player against an old typically means the old wins due to knowledge of game mechanics, wit and personal experience. But that old player, armed with skill and grit can still pull off a lucky headshot because.
With regards to guildwars, its one i've thought about giving a try and very well might once summer is nearing an end and the nights are getting cold and dark again.
The problem is that everytime a game is made with the first three letters above, the last three always seem to be RPG and this is always the problem. I am a gamer who spends a lot of time and money on gaming. I have a young family so going out socialising isnt a real possibility like it was 10 or even 5 years ago. I've tried WoW and i've tried Eve, whilst both seem initially interesting they fall foul (to me) in one key area - gameplay. In short there isnt really that much.
All of these MMO(rpg's) seem to make their money and selling point around what's round the corner. You might have a Thorax or a +5 shield now, but in one more month you could have a Deimos and a +9 shield AND a new hammer! Its also this point that raises my next.
Alot of these MMO's have painted themselves into a corner with regard to creating a level playing field between established players and new players. You could have two players of equal skill squaring off but because one has been feeding his habit for a few months or even years longer they win in the random number generator fight that occurs.
I am hoping that the new jumpgate game chages this a bit with its reliance on player piloting skill for combat if the read-ups are to be believed but in the meantime I rely on games like Left4Dead to provide my social gaming fix. The number of hours I have got in on it are absurd. Its a class based game, with a social setting - especially if you play vs mode and best of all you dont get your ass handed to you by someone Jonesing bad for a fix from a 3 year habit, getting the kill simply because the developer is giving them an I win button for their money.
To me games are about skill with a little bit of luck and that is what alot of these MMO's with their endless levelling seem to forget, I have money and am willing to give it to a developer who can figure that out.
In a five year period we can get one superb programming language. Only we can't control when the five year period will begin.