Imagine... a Naruto MMORPG! If they gave Kishimoto-sensei creative control over the major elements, and then had a dedicated staff with fresh ideas for the genre create it, it would be nothing short of awesome. Just think of the potential in creating your own ninja in any country, then living out his career as a ninja, from training and missions as a Genin, to the Chuunin exam, to special missions for one's country, making a contract with summoning animals, becoming ANBU (or equivalent special forces) and Jounin, to even becoming the Kage of your village! Focus on fun factor: I think, if the creators were able to learn from past and present MMORPGs (i.e. City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, FFXI, etc.) about what worked and what didn't, what's fun and what's not, it could be an incredible game, because it would have a vast, all-encompassing world already set up for it by Kishimoto-sensei. This would be the game where the creators could finally discard all the traditional unnecessary elements (i.e. time sinks like farming, crafting, monster camping) and focus entirely on fun factor. It would be one of the only MMORPGs out there that didn't feel like a job you had to pay money to do. Instead of determining how powerful you are by how much of your social life you've sacrificed to get the best possible gear and the most money, they could make it so your power would be determined by how good you are as a player. Fighting and character abilities: Think of the possibilities for the fighting system; they could even break down tradition here and build something new from the ground up. You could move around like any other game, and then, when a fight breaks out, switch to an alternate view and control your character like a fighting game! With simplified controls, this would be possible on a PC with a mouse and keyboard, and still easier on a console like PS2 or NGC. When I played FFXI, I was a Monk, because I liked martial arts. Looking back though, I can't say it felt like martial arts at all when my sole involvement was to point and click and then watch the monster die. I know other classes are more involved, but even as an example it's indicative of the lack of fun in the old way of MMORPG combat. Instead of magic, MP, and items, there would be jutsu, chakra, and dougu (tools). In the beginning of the game, you could select what type of ninja your character would be (i.e. taijutsu specialist, beast mimicry, puppeteer, etc.), from whatever clan and country, and your basic abilities and traits. Maybe under certain circumstances, random people could have bloodline limits or sealed monsters. However, this would all be balanced out; someone with Sharingan or whatever couldn't totally trump anyone he met; the player behind him would still have to be skilled (as opposed to other games, where any twinked noob can be uber). At the same time, the various jutsu and abilities would still have their relative strengths and weaknesses; i.e. a taijutsu user would have trouble with a long range fighter, or an illusionist could be strong against someone with good ninjutsu but weak perception ability. Also, there could be certain conditions between characters that could affect fighting, like rivalries (Kakashi/Guy) improving a character's ability to fight in order to outdo or defeat someone, or friendship (Shikamaru/Chouji) improving the ability to fight as a team or in defense of one another. Gaining experience and missions: To gain experience, instead of going outside the city gates and killing a bunch of rabites for hours on end, you would do missions and quests. You'd become stronger and learn faster by doing tougher, higher-rank missions (perhaps even with your own cell in a player clan type organization in your country), but if it's too hard, you would gain a lot less from failing, and you couldn't have an uber player just spoon-feed you through it. Between missions you could train to improve your attributes and skill with jutsu to increase your probability of success. In the beginning, to get started there might be the typical D rank missions like finding cats and babysitting and the like, but as your character grows stronger, you'd get escort and protection and assassination type stuff. Controlled PVP could even come into play here; you could get a mission to assassinate a foreign official and end up facing off with another player whose mission is to protect that same official! Also, like I said before, how powerful your character is should depend in large part on your skill as a player. Equipment and gear could be mostly universal or class dependent(shuriken/kunai, pills, puppets/animals, hitai-ate and armor), and given that, other parts of the status quo for MMORPGs could be chipped away at. If your skill determined your character's abilities, and equipment were more or less universal except for token special items, then things like money could be rendered pointless, since if there's no +1 Green Jumpsuit of Ass-kicking to buy, then there would be no need to kill 1,000 rabbits to get the 1,000,000 zenii you needed to buy it. Organic, player driven gameplay: If anyone else read this article, you can remind me who wrote it, but I remember in a recent GameInformer, someone in the MMORPG industry lamented that MMORPGs in general weren't more organic; for example, that whenever Orcs invaded a town, it was because certain conditions laid down in a few lines of code were met and thus a preset number of enemies attacked in a predetermined way until they were all killed or their win condition was met. He thought, that in the future, a band of Orcs might invade a town not because it was preset to occur at a certain time, but because they learned there was something they wanted in that town and independently set out to acquire it by force. A Naruto MMORPG would present a unique opportunity for such an organic world, not through overly complex code, but through having player characters in as many positions in the nations and in the world as possible. Certainly, there would be some automation to set the ball rolling, and certain limits set to keep the game fun and to prevent any nation from being totally destroyed, but once a player is put into the world of Naruto, what they do, and consequently what the nations do, is up to them. Success in missions and in battle would determine the world balance of power; heroic players could fight for their nation, selfish players could focus on acquiring power for themselves. Even things like becoming a Kage or sannin-level ninja, establishing independent hidden villages and recruiting other shinobi like Orochimaru, becoming a mercenary like Zabuza, or forming organizations like Akatsuki to pursue world domination could be possible. Also, because you're playing with other people and not just the computer like a single-player RPG, your success hinges on other players as well as on your ability. For example, if someone were to be probationarily declared Hokage, then turned out to be bad for the job, the players in Konoha could decide to have them removed. If someone tried to take control of a village's government like Zabuza, they could be defeated by people loyal to Mizukage, or they could recruit other shinobi to defend them. Conclusion: This is about all I can think of right now about the potential for a Naruto MMORPG. I'm sorry if it's a bit much to read, that's why I've broken it down some. While I'm afraid such a game may never be made, since a license like Naruto lends itself more to cheap cash-in fighting/side-scroller games ala TOMY's GBA releases, I still think it would have great potential to revolutionize the genre and attact people who aren't even fans of MMORPGs or Naruto. I invite your comments, questions, and ideas.