The basic way to keep track of relationships in massively multiplayer online games are lists: friend list, ignore list, guild list.
It would be nice to have other options for managing (and developing) relationships, and if these relationships would reflect on the gameplay.
Could the massively multiplayer aspect be emphasized without resorting to meaningless zerg-fests where only numbers matter?
There are plenty of relationship management services online which offer a full array of services to help keep track and develop communities.
Their biggest problem is that you would have to drag your acquaintances online to sign up with the particular service you are using. MMOGs wouldn't have this problem, because all players are already online and playing the game.
Imagine if you could map your in-game relationships several tiers deep (to see who the friends of your friends are). Imagine if you could assign a trust ranking to the people in your friends list, from 0.0 to 1.0.
It would make for an interesting graph, and I think it could also be quite useful.
Let's see some of the possible uses:
1. Fun. It would be interesting just to see such a graph. It could be used to make new friends, and I believe guildmasters could find it easier to organize their guilds.
2. Group inter-guild communication. It there would be a group tell command based on the trust rating, it could be easier to organize groups or notify people of events.
3. Factions. Player run factions could be an alternative to guild structure or an enhancement. It could also be more heavily incorporated into gameplay and positively emphasize the massively multiplayer aspect.
I believe there are great possibilities and I would like to see such options implemented in MMOGs.