I agree, that "Usefull" NPC are a no go, since it torpeds the concept of the game.
However... NPCs that are only for show, would be nice... at least now in Your Own, it appears to be rather lonely sometimes... So an NPC as waiter in a Tavern, a young helper in the smith and so on, would be nice. It would liven up the world.
Same goes for a shop. Perhaps the player who finishes certain buildings is able to "contract" an NPC for show. I do see some potential in this, but as I said: NO towards USEFULL NPCs.
Perhaps that is something for later Patches or addons. At least, if you could also interact with them to a degree:
- The Waiter in a Tavern could sell you drinks, which have to be crafted by players and the money would either become the property of the one who finished the building/ contracted the NPC, or send to the guild (with a lose of a certain amount, since the NPC would be needed to be "payed"). This concept is also adaptable for other jobs with special buildings, or a new building called "shop".
- The young helper in the Smithe could tell you, which materials are still needed in the inventory of the smith for certain things to craft.
- You could also "marry" an NPC, which would require you to get your own house, and so on. Perhaps even children are thinkable and a family would certainly require a lot of attention from the Player, providing a lot more entertainment in the long run.
- Certain NPCs would also seem required for a castle, like a Herold.
If that is nessecary in a MMO Version is a question the Beta would have to answer... but at least for the private maps it would be GREAT!