Now, I know generated towns and NPCs have been suggested before. Heres my take on it all.
You know about infdev? Lots of serious suggestions have been made concerning spawning houses (and possibly larger constructs) at random with the terrain. Thus, NPCs could be spawned with these, already programmed to do whatever it is they do, as fluff for the house. I'll take knights. Let's also take said house, and spawn a knight in front of the door, blocking the doorway. The knight is hostile immediately to mobs. Attacking said knight or destroying part of the house makes him angry at you, and you just forgot that he is basically you, without spastic camera flailing, and a full set of iron armor and weaponry. Now you're fighting an armor-clad zombie with a big, sharp stick. Challenge? I think so! Now inside of this house there could be a chest or some other thing containing useful things. Or perhaps a pre-built base, complete with workbenches, furnaces filled to the brim with smelted ores, and possibly some paintings.
Here, we have introduced a faintly RPG-esque feature to minecraft. The world is littered with these random occurances, although few and far between. This would leave minecraft with its free-play, make whatever you want style, and give the user choices. All those things inside the house? You could make easily, with a little bit of work. But you chose to fight him. You were skilled enough at lefting and righting and holding the left mouse button that you killed him. Now you don't have to go through all the trouble of getting set up. Now you have fully pre-smelt ingots which you could advance quickly with.
Not enough for you? Don't worry, we can expand the concept to something larger if needed. Much, much larger. A town. This town, pre-built with walls and houses surrounded by said walls, would contain knights as said above. Along with random, pointless other fluff, along with the set of consequences and rewards. Now remember how Notch said that minecraft could generate a world covering eight times the surface of the Earth? Doing that means that towns could be separated, with extremely large distances between them. Wilderness now gets its name. Towns will draw people, because they're towns. They're rare.People are drawn to these sorts of things.
Multiplayer infdev is finally here. Let's say I search for hours, and discover this amazing town. It has a waterfall, huge walls, active NPCs, and I dub it Eztuztonia. I tell everyone. I send everyone the coordinates. (Or landmarks, whatever :tongue.gif:) People start swarming in, this becomes a chat hub, a trading place (Possibly, I'm not completely sure if it'd be possible, my ideas on trade are shifting... Perhaps) simply because everyone knows where it is, and it's different, easy to find now. The huge tracts of land around it give people space and resources to add onto the town. Soon it becomes a city, perhaps a metropolis. And guess what, you can leave any time!
Someone else discovers a new town. They call it Sandville. The same thing happens. Now we have two major POI, Eztuztonia and Sandville. Obviously there'll be no such thing as war. People spread out away from the cities. Eztuztonia has about as many people going to it normally as Sandville. Then, someone maps or builds a road connecting the towns. Now people probably get lost a lot less. The road also becomes thick with buildings, although it's length prevents it from becoming as thickly populated as the towns. Now we have towns and villages. New players join, and see how amazing this has become. They go and explore, finding new cities, or hubs. And the Minecraft world expands with all glory to the Mighty Notch hypnotoad.
This concept takes a few things: Functional Multiplayer Infdev, NPCs, Building Generation, Huge Servers (As in, one run by Notch for the whole community, maybe a few lesser ones), and a fairly complex AI for the NPCs (Optional)
Now take this idea, let your hearts run wild, and post your thoughts below. I don't care if they're critical; if you find something wrong with it post your best fix. I don't like pointless criticism, at all.
He has already said yes to towns, and this is how i imagine it will be exactly, except you left out that perhaps another town is found near Sandville and Eztuztonia, they establish trade with the cities but the people living in the new town are running low on resources and they decide to have a war against Eztuztonia of the other towns, getting loot and bringing it back, Sandville might not want to intervene because suddenly there are 2 towns fighting eztuztonia and it doesent want its innocent citizens killed so it sits bye or join its ect ect.
Multiplayer would be so much fun and varied.. i cant wait :tongue.gif:
YOU MY FRIEND.... are pretty smart, I don't know about the war thing
(Notch Is Way Busy And I Don't Think He Wants To Spend That Much Programming Time)
Trade... lets Face it, NPCs are not the brightest Crayons in the Toolbox (Yes I Know That Makes NO SENSE) But Player-Player Trade, 2 thumbs up