I was reading Ysh's most recent post, just one of a long line that has been causing this to boil over for me.
I was thinking about giving a long lecture on persistence in MMOs, the three approaches to persistence there are, how most current games (and all the really popular ones) have almost no trace of them. But I'm trying to be positive, and I know that would devolve into a diatribe.
I've been mentally toying with the possibility of a DMO lately, a multiplayer/cooperative experience designed to be consumed by relatively small, 6-24 player, groups. The worlds would be dynamic, so new groups could enter semi-randomized worlds and make completely different choices. Of course the point would be to keep them on the small side and instead expand variety. Strong networking tools and drop in/drop out functionality would be key.
A few ideas for magic systems, one would be to have a system based on ancient words which the player must learn to spell and basically speak in. Of course you can take the easy road out with players being able to simply learn it then cast it at the touch of a button, but mics could be taken advantage of for voice activation. The basic point more simply being having the language have correct syntax so that the player builds the spells effects, size, duration, targeting and so forth by simply saying it right. Of course the longer the sentence the longer the cast.
Another, which I had a few months ago but actually showed up in Fable II, is for players to gain levels in spells individually, but as they gain more, and more powerful spells the power of all their spells increases.
These two ideas were to be the basis of a non-combat magic system, where the players would be effecting weather, creating illusions, summoning familiars, or traveling faster most of the time. The ideal, of course, would be that of very powerful and knowledgeable magi being able to perform veritable miracles within the game world. Growing forests overnight, teleporting massive groups across vast distances, summoning towering familiars that function as buildings in their own right, illusory powers to create and maintain an entire scene indefinitely, or even some mix of powers, like an illusory gypsy caravan where it's always raining that teleports outside a new town every five minutes, and lasts for about an hour.
I have the same problem in WAR as I have in WoW, and really in most MMOs I play. I do not feel like a badass/hero, hell the longer I play the more pussified I feel. I have no problem with solidarity, I ran missions, mined and ratted in EVE without ever doing PvP for a long time... but I knew I had the chance to set myself apart, to become part of the living thriving shared history of EVE. WoW has no history, no future, and WAR feels very much the same, it'll be basically forever locked in time at the exact moment of opening, until a new expansion allows you to start somewhere else. Perhaps it's just me, but I find that, more than any PvE wierdness, to be simply depressing.