NOTE:Many of the suggestion that i am about to give you may have seen in another games, other you havent. I dont suggest them, because i want you to make EL like the game X, but because they are proven successful over the years. I KNOW that this game is developed only by 1 person with a little help from fans, but want to give my full opinion. I also apoligize for my bad english
First of all, i'd like to say that im fairly new player ( playing for almost 2 weeks now ), but I used to play the game before, but only for a while and I'm going to give suggestions based on my brief experiance. I've play a lot of other online games and I can see what you have, what you need, also I got good observation on what people are looking for in a game. This post will be separated in different parts, coverint the different aspects of the game.
Introduction: Eternal Lands is a sandbox type of a mmorpg (for those who dosnt know, sandbox game is a type of mmorpg, where you have freedom of your activities, in other words non-linear). Those type of games arent very popular, but the ones that uses this pattern are very good and respected games. Just to name few: EVE Online, Ultima online, Ryzom, Old Star Wars: Galaxies, Runescape, Darkfall, Wurm online. EL is very addicting, a lot of nice and original features and great potential of being really great game. Once again, I know that it is developed only by one person and everything is slow, but if he focus on the right things to adjust and develop, you wont regret.
GRAPHICS: Hands down, the first thing most of the people notice every time they stumble on a game, is the appearance of the game. While to many it is important, to me it isnt. I can have a blast in a game with 2d sticks, as long as it offers good gameplay.
Now lets talk about the EL's graphics: the graphics and the animations aren't the best and there isnt even animations for a lot of activities( harving, magic , mixing etc ), as i said i personally don't care, but that turns off a lot of people. When i try to offer the game to someone hes like "LOLOLOL dude are you mad that game has graphics from the 90s" and I'm like "ya ya but you can do a lot of stuff.." hes already "gimme a break it looks like pacman on steroids, im going back to WOW or <insert random shiny game here>". A graphics is something to consider, but definitely not the most important. A good improovement would be just polishing the graphics, adding new animations and improving the current ones.
SOUND: Again, something that i personally don't care, unless its connected directly with the game (for example Counter-Strike). Then again, the music and the sounds are pretty nice and fresh.
GAMEPLAY: This is where Eternal Lands shines. There arent much games that offer the diversity of EL. I love that i can harvest, fight, make potions, armors, land mines, rings, summon monsters, do quests, participate in events, instances and invasions. The progress in the game is slow, which is good, but i think its just too slow. People don't want to waste their lives on playing a game. Considering somewhat faster advancing will be good.
If I personally was keen on mixing stuff and harvesting, I would be okay, but I like the PVP/PK part. What I don't like is that, if you want to be successful PKer, you need to spend years to improve your skills and then again always will be someone who will be just better than you skillLevel-wise. That's just not right if you want to attract new players. Thats also a thing which would turn them off.
I like the idea of the PK server, but separating such a small project into two just isnt right. There can't be two servers in existance. Making two servers with different purposes just isnt the right thing to do, it is like separating the real world - one part only with criminals and the other only with peaceful people. The PK server will always be filled with players that like mainly to PVP/PK and this is where it fails and i will tell you why. The magic of the PK is in the unknown, being killed while harvesting or training, ganking little group of players who try to do some RP or have some guild event or just for the sake of it. The fear if someone might gank you while you harvest, counting the steps to the storage, to the safe place, the fear that group of player killers might just pop and kill you and take your boss and loot. Thats the magic of the PK and the full looting game. Eternal lands somewhat has this element, but not entirely. Most of the activities can be done, without even going into PK areas. Most of the ores are gathered in safe areas, where there is no form of danger. There is no actual "risk vs. reward".
While suggesting this to be changed might be much, i can just suggest different aproachest to the "problem". Make different territories/places that people can conquer and fight for. Make it so everyone with decent skill in Attack, Defence, Ranging, Magic can participate, something like the PK arenas . Some vets will say "no, thats not fair i've played for years to be so imba" which will drive new players away, but at the same time the very same vets say "man pk is dead, there is no pk" - there can't be flow of new players when the game does not allow it. An example of such territory can be mine - guilds fight for a mine and after controlling it they recieve bonus to harvesting and access to some rare ore. Players can use the benefits for certain amount of time and after that it will be available again for capturing by other guild.
A good suggestion about the PK server would be something like free trial. Give the new players chance to try out the full pvp server and then, if they like it, they can pay and play. Some time ago when i saw the PK server and when it was still active i really wanted to try it, but those 5 bucks stoped me from doing it. I wouldnt give money for something that i havent tested. Think about it.
Those are the things that come to my mind at the moment. Ofcourse there is a lot of little ones, but i think those are the ones that need the most attention. If you check here you can read what are people looking for. I hope i can get some feedback from the devs and the players.