Telwyn is discussing action combat in MMOs, looking for the happy medium between too much and too little action. Everybody would like to have combat which is challenging and interesting, without becoming either frustrating or boring. The problem is that with different people playing the game differently well, there is no such thing as an optimum. If we take the above mentioned median player and design combat in a way that it is challenging for him, it will be frustrating for a good part of the 50% of players who is worse than him, and boringly trivial for a good part of the 50% of players better than him.
Now in principle role-playing games do have an answer to that problem: They can offer opponents of different levels, with different rewards. So the best players can go after higher level mobs, while the worst players stick to “green” difficulty quests. Unfortunately in practice MMORPGs never handled that well. Harder combat takes more time, and the rewards never really scaled well in any MMORPG. Thus even for a good player trying to maximize rewards per hour, “farming” mobs just under his level is better than going for a challenge.
How many percent of players do you believe are worse at playing MMORPGs than you are? Now imagine your dream game with a difficulty level tuned exactly to your liking. And all those players you believe are worse than you won’t be able to play, because combat is too hard for them. The game fails to get a sufficient number of subscribers and is closed down after a while. Obviously not an ideal situation. Which is why I think that adding action combat to a MMORPG as a feature is inherently harmful. Either it keeps people from playing, or it is tuned down enough to allow everybody to succeed, in which case even the average player considers it as a kind of boring button-mashing exercise. I have a hard time imagining a system which works for everybody.