One of the secrets of EVE’s success as a PvP-centric MMO is that most of the sheep are safely in the pen. Sure, some folks engage in daring raids in high-security space, but it is mostly safe, and the vast majority of the playerbase is there. Those massive 0.0 empires are funded (probably in-game, certainly out-of-game) by the safe sectors.
SynCaine discusses more or less what the undead horde in Horizons was supposed to look like, in contrast to the more moderate Guild Wars 2 plan of hyper-evolved public quests. One can imagine the potential hell of server divergence if you actually let the game run wild like that; some developers would be happy to see such big differences across servers, expansions could not be planned linearly, some players would love it, some players would claim to love it while flocking to the safest server… I kind of like the idea that what server you play on really means something, but SynCaine circles back around to the problem with having meaningful consequences: it is not safe:
I agree that most WoW-type players don’t actually WANT dynamic content as defined above, which is more than likely the reason its not more common. In a way, what GW2 is trying to do is make those type of players believe the content is dynamic, while still ‘safe’ enough so their individual nightly plans don’t get too disrupted.
Well, yes. I really do want to be able to log on for an hour twice a week and have fun. Well, perhaps not me personally, since I am insanely obsessive like the rest of you, but as a developer you do not want a game that alienates people who will give you a full monthly fee for minimal access (in favor of the guy who plays 40 hours a week and complains on the forums another 20). I do not want to come back from a month away and find myself unable to escape from the undead-infested city that was safe when I logged off. I do want some safe, formulaic options that are available at all times, and if I re-join in an unsafe area, I want a button to get me somewhere stable without forcing me to spend a whole night doing it. Because you or I may be excited about checking the progress of the war every night before logging in, but with my work schedule, I want to be able to play when I want to play. You can tell me to go play something else for a night if I need that safe option, but if you tell me that very often, I am taking my subscription dollars with me.
So we cannot turn the whole world over to the risk of undead hordes without narrowing our little MMO niche. Instead, we keep some completely safe, static areas. We should have this even to the level cap, to keep those long-term casual players who are happy to run their daily heroics. But I agree, we could go a lot further with letting events play out in the wilds.
PS: Is that the core plan for GW2 PvE: “public quests plus a deed log, go!”? That sounds better than most, actually.