What really got to me though was that it didn't have a highlight, checkmark, or some other way to easily tell which quests were completed and which weren't. I spent a lot of time scanning through the text of all my quests to see which ones to turn in, and I'd often miss one, which made me do a lot of backtracking to towns I thought I was done with. Since questing is one of the most common activities in the game, I think it should be one of the easiest actions to perform.
My friend listened to all these criticisms patiently, and then said, "Yeah, but DAOC was the first game to even have a quest journal! They invented it!"
I thought about this for a minute, and tried to figure out if he was actually right. Then I decided that while this was an interesting piece of history, it made no difference whatsoever. Even if I'd known that information when I was still playing the game, there's no way that could have helped me be less frustrated with the feature.
Live games require constant improvement
DAOC is almost 8 years old now, which is an impressively ripe old age for any videogame. But it costs the same amount of money per month that brand new games do, and is therefore a direct competitor of all those new games.
Innovation is a beautiful thing, don't get me wrong. When a game comes out with a cool new feature, it tends to get major points and earn them customers, as well it should. But once a competitor takes your great idea and improves it slightly, players can't be expected to know or care who came up with the idea originally. Game features are held to a standard of excellence which is generally getting higher and higher over time, as new games make small innovations.
Luckily, as long as your game was a good one to begin with, the amount of small improvements you can make over time is almost limitless. EVE online does a great job of relentlessly making improvements to their game. If any scifi game is going to take away marketshare from EVE, it's not going to be because its devs got complacent and let their game get crusty.
Of course, it should go without saying that the word "improvement" is a subjective one, and not all changes will be viewed positively by players. Successful changes to a game make players feel as though the game's been distilled into a more ideal version of itself, not that it's been changed into something else entirely. Players should be left thinking "how did we ever live without this?"
As designers, we need to make sure that our games improve over time, because players ultimately only care about whose game is the best, right now. This is a good thing for all of us, because it means that an upstart game really does have a chance to take players away from the presiding juggernauts. All you have to do is make a better game. It may not be easy, but at least it's fair.