Procedurally-generated content sounds like the magic bullet for the perfect MMO. Why spend hundreds of man-hours building encounters players will blast through when you could use that time to craft nifty algorithms to do the work for you? Unsurprisingly, it's something World of Warcraft developer Blizzard has considered.
According to Cory Stockton, WoW's lead content designer, procedural content is "totally something we've talked about". Speaking to Nathan Grayson over at RPS, Stockton believes that in the case of Blizzard's MMO, its implementation should act as a "supplement".
So, rather than leaving it completely in the hands of algorithms to create raid dungeons, environments and enemies, you'd have bosses with (intelligently) randomised powers to add some variety to encounters. That way, there's a compromise between delivering handcrafted, quality content, while extending its longevity.
User-created content is also a possibility, but not one the company has discussed in any great detail, with Stockton citing Blizzard's StarCraft and Warcraft franchises as examples of the good work it's done in the past in this area:
"Procedural is the only thing we’ve really talked about, and I feel like that has to be the next step. We have to be able to make that kind of content, and then offer up the tools. But obviously Blizzard has a very strong history of [user-created content]. I mean, things like the StarCraft II editor are all about that. So I think that would be a natural step."
Despite shedding subscriber numbers over the last few years, Blizzard has yet to be put under any serious pressure in the MMO arena. So, yes, you can't really blame it for taking its time with this stuff, especially if the money continues to roll in.
Blizz On World Of Warcraft's Procedural Future, Warcraft IV [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]