So, I have been playing this game for a few days now. While I think this game has some serious potential, one of the largest drawbacks in the current Alpha is the lack of players. One of the selling points of the game is to promote and establish co-operation between players on a small world with limited resources. The problem currently, IMHO, is that there are certain systems in place that dont promote the active playing of the game over the passive waiting of the game. The problem, so far, is the Skill system. There are two fundamental problems with the Skill system.
The skill system really doesnt encourage players to actually be playing the game but managing a simple eating mechanic and logging out. Balance Diet, Maximize Daily Skill gain, log out and wait for skill points. Being logged out means no active playing. Its much more difficult to co-operate and co-ordinate with players not playing the game. In a game that is supposed to be about co-operation, this strangles gameplay immensely. A good point to reference is that it seems most servers have 50-60 "citizens" but always between 0-3 actual players at any given point. If you want to encourage players to be online, you need ways in which they can gain skills at the same pace that you wish skills to advance, but within the game. You want to encourage people to be actively, not passively playing the game. That gives greater chances for people to start talking and co-ordinating.
The second problem is "Jack-Of-All-Trades". On one server I have been playing on, within 18-20 hours I was a Carpenter, Farmer and slowly working toward early Smithing. The problem with being able to go very route is that it doesnt encourage me to find someone who woodworks and ask them to make me a door or find someone who farms for food. It doesnt encourage economy. Its a safety system designed so inactive servers can sort of thrive. I am not sure if there are mechanics that make it harder to go multi-routes but you need ways to stop people from becoming, well, skill gods. Possibly a system where Skill costs increase in other paths as you invest down one. Ive been reading the forums and these small group, jack of all trades situations pop up in a few conversations.