We will adopt a next-generation engine, similar to or beyond the capabilities of the Doom 3 engine. Current candidates are: Sylphis (my favorite), very nice physics and lighting, has a great "feel", Ca3DE, seems very developer-friendly although lacks some graphical features (these could presumably be added later at my discretion), Cipher, a more mainstream engine, not free, kinda iffy on this one, and the AMP II engine, also iffy, nice editor though.
We will employ a propietary massively multiplayer server architecture, with powerful machines functioning as hubs while allowing less expensive servers to share the data processing/transfer duties. The only server technology that is comparable is that of Guild Wars, but this is a very, very distant comparison as our world will be nearly 100% persistent with few transitions between "levels" or "zones".
One of my goals in the development of this project is to not only create a truly enjoyable, immersive, and atmospheric experience for online gamers, but to break new ground in the process both technically and in gameplay terms. You can expect this game, at the least, to be like nothing you've ever seen, heard, or played.
Atmosphere is going to be a huge focus during development. I believe that atmosphere is one of the most important ingredients in creating a great game.
This project will not be a realism game, but instead most likely fantasy with elements of steampunk science fiction.
Both first and third person modes will be available.
Combat will be an active turn-based system, with the possibility to interrupt turns with something we call Breaks, caused when a player becomes enraged or desperate. Further, combat will be a combination of action and tactics, requiring both quick reflexes and intelligent usage of special attacks.
Skills or Special Abilities will be available to players in one shape or another. One system that is already in concept is called Runification, which can be compared to something like the Final Fantasy 7 materia. Some weapons may not be as powerful as others in terms of raw strength, but may open more rune slots for the player to place augmentation runes -- in turn becoming much stronger. Item and skill balance will be very key to creating a strong player.
There will be a strong emphasis on Player vs. Player (PvP) play, with Player vs. Environment (PvE) second. This will be a competitive game above all things, although the adventurer in me will definately create an excellent mission/quest system. There will be both cooperative and PvP missions. Free hunting, adventuring, item gathering (treasure hunting), and other common role-playing will be encouraged through design. Guild/Party play will also play a very large role.
Bi-Daily random events and items are planned. Some will not be announced, leaving only the most informed players with the ability to discover them. Information selling and trading will be a large part of the game world, as NPC's will often carry more information than they let on, and some are more well-informed in some things than in others.
There will be AI-driven Monsters, Beasts, and Humanoids. Players will have to be careful though, as some will possess sentient intelligence!
Obviously this will be a lengthy project, i expect the time needed to create our first playable internal alpha to be 1 year, with the estimated total completion time being anywhere from 2 to 3 years. This is no small endeavor.
The list will be kept up to date until a more substantial design document can be produced.