Character progression? In an MMO? You're joking right? Character progression is a part of RPG, but again can not be done in an MMO because there are other players playing that game other than you, meaning the game can not change based on decisions you make. Most MMOs have a worse story that the one present in STO. Everquest and Everquest 2? No story. WoW? Terrible story in the two expansions. EVE? Free-for-all, no story. WAR? Generic story.
Need I go on?
First, to the OP:
"Silly Corkscrew Flight Pattern Alpha" is the best thing ever.
Second, to this post.
The storyline and the value inherent is not based off of a value system that resides solely between your ears.
I really enjoyed the storyline in WoW and no... I won't go back to it. 5 years was enough. But that just speaks to individuals. I feel that the storyline in STO was pretty formulaic and boring. But having Leonard Nimoy talk to me was just about as awesome as anything else I can imagine... except maybe Silly Corkscrew Flight Pattern Alpha.
Anyway... they CAN and DO have something called Phased area's with MMO's. It is when they take a single area, lets say an entire sector. When a player makes an impact it changes something fundamental about that area and everything changes (i.e. a planet is destroyed or something invades). Now to that player that sector is completely different and to incoming players it is not. Those two players cannot interact with one another but they share the same space. Once the new, incoming player completes the quest line he/she too will be experiencing the completely changed universe.
I am not suggesting that linear game changes like that are completely revolutionary but you would be shocked at how much of a psychological impact it makes to know that you are playing some sort of role in the universe.
I would suggest though, that I might be holding Cryptic to a standard they cannot meet.