So I often reminisce about my old days playing Ultima Online because I believe it had the most fun collection of gameplay elements out of any game before it or since.
However, I was wondering if a game like that could ever really survive in today's lowest common denominator marketplace. I think WOW has kind of "ruined" a lot of gamers and spoiled them with features and easiness of play that you don't find in old games like UO.
For example, when you want to buy something, what do you do? You simply goto the auction house search for the item, get a list of all of them available for sale and buy the cheapest one. The prices are set competing with each other because every player at every auctionhouse in the world sees the same list with same prices. In Ultima Online, you had to find a player's place of business (yeah, they had real houses that existed in the game world, not that instanced garbage new MMOs use) and then prices would vary GREATLY depending on quality of craftsmanship, materials the armor/weapons were made out of, and also availability. For instance if you were lucky enough to own a shop right off a mainhighway right outside of town, you could charge a fortune and sell massive amounts of gear to people and people would pay it just for conveinence. But if you owned a shop out in the woods somewhere, you might only have a few local buyers and you wouldn't get as much for your wares. You'd have to advertise in town and put runes up everywhere for people to teleport there to see what kind of items you had available. Huge variety item mall stores would pop up and become popular.
Travel was another big thing. You didn't just have 100+ mounts hiding in your back pocket. if you wanted a mount, you either had to tame a horse or buy one and if you got killed or dismounted, your horse could be killed and you'd have to get a new one. There was also a lot of travel involved back then, where it took time to get from one place to another, not all this "queue popped -> instant teleport there" crap or meeting stones that just pull you in.
Also character advancement was entirely character skill/stat based and not gearbased. A brand new character could equip the same gear as a player that had played for years, and could even trade gear and such. The whole concept of "soulbound" gear is ridiculous. In UO you could pass down gear you had owned and worn many times to your alts or friends. You could pass a friend your sword to use if you had an extra one and his broke. But at the same time, gear didn't matter that much. There was no "greens, blues, purples" nonsense where each kind outclassed the other. The gear just came in quality ranges that depended on the skill of the craftsman. Magic items were almost nonexistent, they were EXTREMELY rare and hard to get and when you died, someone could just go up to your corpse and take all your belongings, including your magic weapons if you decided to use them.
It was a true playerbased economy where every item in the game you could obtain could be player crafted and the best items in the game were made by master craftsmen. And unlike WOW, where the materials are all level-based like copper for low level crap, then tin, then bronze, then iron, then mithril, etc it wasn't like that. All metals had their own unique properties and still had the same strengths and weaknesses and uses despite your character's wealth or experience playing. A character could focus entirely on trade skills without having to do any combat at all if they desired. You have to fly around hunting for metal deposits to get ore in WOW and tracking them on your minimap to find them... Whereas in UO, you just had to hit an actual mine and start digging anywhere and everywhere until you had as much ore as you could carry, then drag it to the forge to smelt into ingots, then go back into the mine again for more. There were no stupid "rare" materials to craft to create artificial rarity and value like there is in WOW. No frost orbs or chaos orbs that drop off final bosses, no super rare materials that make no sense what-so-ever being involved in the creation of such an item and only placed there to create an artificial economic need for such otherwise pointless items. In UO when you made something, you only needed what it would actually take to craft it. When you made armor, you just needed metal and skill.
I'm not sure this new generation of MMO gamer could deal with it. Everyone is so used to instant gratification and being better than other players just because they have a higher number next to their name, or because the name of your equipment is written in a different color. Having to return to a type of game you risked losing any possessions you carried with you when you went into battle, risking losing your mount you were riding and having to replace it, having to travel and fight your way to places instead of flying over them on auto-fly mode while afk or just being instantly summoned there by meeting stones...
It upsets me, because most players enjoy this excessively easy style of gameplay with a bad crafting system that is based off your level and the level of the content you're doing and where your character can get better just because they get some supposedly epic loot which increases your stats. All new MMOs follow this whole WOW forumla now because it's so successful, and new MMOs based on things that actually take player skill instead of just time investment never seem to make it to the shelves. I think eve online is about as close to UO as any game on the market right now, but despite it's supposed freedoms and open-ended play, eve online is still sadly a time-based game where skills only advance over time with no way to increase it.
Want to buy new, upgraded graphics and engine Ultima Online. An open ended world that has real places, including real player housing, and not just instances everywhere. A world where there are no "quests" to hold your hands and direct you on how to spend your time and you can make that choice yourself. One can only dream.