You always hear people talking about this or that Intellectual Property (aka IP) that should be turned into an MMO. I would like to put forth my selection.
Currently I am re-reading the series called The Death Gate Cycle written by Marget Weis and Tracy Hickman, the authors of the Dragonlance books as well as other series. While some of their work has questionable value (i.e. complete crap.... I'm looking at you Darksword trilogy and Star of the Guardians series) this seven book series is one of their best efforts.
The best thing about the series is the universe it takes place in. During a war between two demigod-like races, one side sundered the world (a post apocalytic Earth no less) into four world based on the four base elements (Air, Fire, Earth, and Water) along with a fifth prision world for their enemies. Then things start to go wrong.
The worlds the author's created are very vibrant and unique.
- The world of air has three layers of floating continents where water is the most precious resource and wars are fought over it between the Elves on magic-mechanical air ships and humans on tamed dragons.
- The world of fire is a Dyson sphere surrounding four minature suns, and the people of that world never know nightfall. The constant light has allowed plant life to grow to miles high and only the Dwarves have ever seen the fabled ground.
- The world of stone is a dying world of caverns and molten lava seas, where Necromancy is practiced and the dead outnumber the living.
- The world of water is literally a big ball of water, frozen everywhere except where a sun exists. The people live in submerged continents and follow the sun around its orbit through the water world or be caught in the ice to freeze and die.
The prison world, the Labrynth, is a world diveded into sections by gates and the prisioners must pass through gates on a journey that can take generations. Each section filled with monsters that attempt to find and kill the prisioners. At the end of the Labrynth is the Nexus, a peaceful city originally intended for the rehabilitated prisoners and not the few survivors.
All of the worlds are accessed by a Deathgate (hence the name of the trilogy).
Is that not the perfect setting for a high fantasy MMO? Think of the possibilities in each world for unique enviroments and foes? Exploration? Unique skills and magics?