no, you failed the argument, your an idiot if you think a quality game design is measured in its popularity, sometimes, whats good isnt what sells, only whats cheap and requires least investment, todays corporation is a testament to this, terrible sensational boy/girl bands that die out in 3 years (sort of like MMOS) fast food restaurants, there was a period in music history where people copied a style of music to its breaking point just because it was hip at the time.
I've never so much touched exalted and I'm 20, games like I've described often collapsed because they didn't live up to their own self generated hype or because of internal pressures that forced the game design to its knees, thats fable and spore respectively.
and no, I've played a good 20 MMORPGs half from korea the other half american, granted while I've played WoW, most of my experiments with different games where before this generation of WoWcloned modern MMORPGs, but since my research hasn't shown any significant changes i don't really give a fuck, especially when people hype up their changes without offering demos like age of conan.
This type of setting could sell very well to a large crowd actually, but even with 30k you could still easily turn a profit since your blowing the funding out of proportion for what is essentially easy database work and the fact that MMORPGs roll in the money continuously as long as you can maintain the server at an effective and affordable rate,
by the way, in case you haven't noticed, MMORPGs are player magnets no matter how terrible they are. i don't think if i went through with a project like this i would be hurting for a player base.