I happened upon this article over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
I never played the game, and I’m not sure I’d care to make time to do so now, but it sounds like the NPC AI has shades of what we’re asking for in MMO design. They live lives and react to player actions, rather than sit around with glowing punctuation over their head, or waiting to respawn.
Yes, a single player game has more latitude to do this (the Elder Scrolls games flirt with this as well), but there really isn’t any good technological reason that this couldn’t be addressed in MMO design. Even a simple daily routine for NPCs would be a step beyond the stiflingly static MMO worlds of today’s mainstream. Little things like that can lend greatly to the feeling that a world is alive, rather than a stage.