I've been reading around and I came across some good insightful articles I thought I'd point you folks to. Here they are:
Syncaine's insightful article on impact pvp and why its a niche worth considering now but not for the mainstream. I personally really liked his comparison between gambling and impact pvp. I truly think you have to like the thrill of gambling to like impact pvp. You have to want to have the chance to win or lose it all. It has to thrill, not chill you.
Next was the article on Gamasutra by turbine about console MMO design. An insightful read.
And then there was the article about Final Fantasy Online and building MMO's where the player base is speaking different languages and giving you feedback. They also had some interesting insight about that boss who took 16 hours to kill fiasco that they had earlier (Pandemonium I believe was his name)
Lastly Blizzard pompously told Gamasutra their secret that "won't help any of their competitors" (bogus if you ask me) is "endless iteration". In other words they take forever to make sure their games come out right before they release them and the endless iterations are them actually play testing the product until it's polished. Could anyone with a big budget and ... wait for it... proper management and discipline (ouch) pull this off? Of course. So of course this secret COULD help their competitors, but Blizzard is really saying here that it won't because they feel their competitors are either too budget constrained or two messily managed and disciplined to handle such a high and holy order of game development. I can't wait till someone comes along and kicks their butt. "Pride precedeth the fall" after all. How long that will take though, who knows, they might take a while like the Roman Empire did.
Last but not least, Tobold doles out wisdom in his wonderful article "Grouping Kills You" which has wisdom rarely seen in dev board rooms for MMO's. Basically, if you get killed more grouping than you do soloing, and if failure in a group rewards you with nothing... why are we raiding with losers again? Why don't we just hop guilds and get free rides until we have all the phat lewts and then quit the game after posturing for a while. (I don't think like this but I went through plenty of guildies who did) Fortunately, some players are on MMO's to make actual friends and have actual fun and actual adventures, but for those who just want to do what it takes to get their treasure, the climb to the top is obvious: exploit others and to heck with your reputation, you can just transfer servers! This isn't as true in some games where there is a one server architecture and gear is fleeting, like Darkfall or EVE Online but it holds true for the majority of places.
I personally think grouping should be encouraged from lvl 6, just like crafting and everything else once you've got your skills figured out. Or rather without the second hour of gaming if you are wise and have no levels in your game. BUT soloers need to have "something to do" that is meaningful, though and challenging... in fact I think you could have both give good rewards and just let people pick what they'd like to do. Some content could be easier with a group and still give good rewards but doable solo, I can see that.