While it's always possible he'll surprise me some day I pretty much see Ryan Dancey as being the virtual destroyer of PnP RPGs and D&D/Alternity in paticular. I had some dealings with him via the RPGA network forums (when I was a member) back during the transition from 2E to 3E. This is incidently the guy who pretty much murdered Planescape after making promises that it would continue to survive as it's own setting if "Torment" hit certain sales records, which it did easily because of that, people were watching it, and it went "gold" before it was even released. Don't like where D&D went, or the fate of a lot of the classic campaign settings, material, and other changes... that's the guy that was in the middle of it all and pretty much directly responsible. Needless to say I didn't back his project.
As far as people's criticisms of what's going on with Pathfinder online, that's pretty much what I'd expect with him involved in the project, especially in a position where he's acting as the "face".
That said, I myself don't see much of the point of using an RPG rules system as the selling point for an MMO if your going to violate it. I've criticized "Neverwinter" which I am so far pretty fond of for the same thing, but at least in the case of "Neverwinter" it has the Forgotten Realms setting behind it still, which is the big reason I was interested in it. I suppose at the end of the day most fans of "Pathfinder Online" will be fans of the world of the Pathfinder RPG setting.
I'll also say that my previous experiences aside, for all I know they will somehow hit this one out of the ball park, I am just not holding my breath. I don't advise anyone get psyched for this, if it winds up being good, enjoy it, but I'd definatly wait a while on it and see what the feeback is a couple of months after release rather than running right in to be part of the first wave. Right now I personally prefer to pretend it doesn't exist, and probably will continue to do so, unless I hear some really great things about it from sources I trust.
When it comes to the "WoW-factor" understand that WoW is extremely dated by this point and even Blizzard seems ready to change their MMO focus away from it with the upcoming "Project Titan". The problem isn't so much a matter of being able to do what WoW does as well, or better, but in the amount of content most MMOs launch with in comparison to it, as well as few MMOs putting much effort at all into figuring out how they are going to maintain a constant endgame population. WoW got around that at the beginning because you really didn't have much in the way of competition, but nowadays you have games like WoW with robust endgame experiences that can keep players entertained with tons of varied content for months or years. Most MMOs launch with one raid, or maybe some "hard modes" for normal instances and then wonder why people leave after a couple of months. Sure, WoW didn't have any of that stuff when it launched, but it's a differant world since WoW launched. That and the idea of trying to bring casual gamers into MMOs is also counter productive, the casual market is fickle, and you want dedication. If you proudly proclaim, and deliver on, an experience where just anyone can get top end level gear no matter what their play style is... including casual, you rapidly wind up with everyone maxxing out and moving on, and the serious gamers who would be your backbone are going to be the first ones to gear up, burn out, and move on to another game where they have something to work on.
The point here being that for all my criticisms of Pathfinder, and to be fair a lot of other MMOs, including ones I'm not predisposed to dislike, They typically don't fail for playing too much like WoW, or even looking like it, OR conversely from being too differant from it (as many marketing execs doubtlessly fear) they fail because of long term planning. You need to come up with something that is going to movitate some guy who has hit the top level with his favorite PC to keep playing (and thus paying subscription OR being involved enough to be tempted by microtransactions), you have to make it both time consuming AND entertaining.
When it comes to Pathfinder's magic system, I doubt Ryan and company will read this (or this far) or care if they did, but I'd warn them about nerfing magic too far. A lot of other MMOs have done exactly that and it's created endless problems. Your typical dedicated caster with no melee skill, little or no armor, and intense magical power tends to run into a problem in games where they are ultra-squishy, but for "game balance" reasons everyone can do as much damage as they can, and their CCs are something that people can squirm out of relatively easily because being locked down for an entire PVP fight or whatever "isn't fun" for the victim. In that enviroment you typically wind up with more versatile, less squishy,
characters getting the DPS roles in raids, and casters becoming virtual walking victims in PVP against opponents that know what they are doing. For example in an enviroment where a warrior can break CC with an abillity of item, automatically "charge" or "intercept" into melee range, and hit like a truck on little or no other characters while having heavy armor and bucketloads of hit points, it's not really "balanced". Mentally people get this image of mages and stuff decimating everyone with magic before they can react, but it rarely if ever works out that way, and to be fair if you make it so mages are made out of tissue paper and die if you sneeze on them, by definition they should be blowing apart other characters like tissue paper
when they get their first attack.
While things could have changed, I point this out because I was a VERY dedicated mage player in WoW in paticular (since people mention it) and while things were okay in the beginning, before I left they created a situation where pretty much all DPS characters were relatively on par for their damage output to ensure nobody got screwed out of a raid slot. A ranged DPS druid, or elemental shaman, could do as much damage as a mage could given equal skill, gear, and proper builds. The problem being that a mage could only DPS, and was forced to run around in cloth, with pretty craptastic numbers of hit points. Even if it wasn't plate those other characters could wear armor better than cloth (leather, chain) and still had their other abillities even when specced as DPS, even if they weren't as powerful as they would have been with a dedicated spec. For example a Shaman or Druid could still heal, throw out a battle rez, drop support totems, or say shift into a more durable form for some extra survivability to take a couple of hits while a tank regained aggro in a pinch. Mages pretty much had none of that, and what's more in later dungeons their CCs became useless (where pretty much nothing was a humanoid or regular beast that could be polymorphed) and spellstealing and such was only really needed in one fight created right afer they introduced the abillity, and otherwise not required for much else of anything ever again.
The point I'm making here is that the logic that "well, we need to cap magic damage or they will dominate everything" really isn't going to work if your dealing with the traditional "robe and staff" wizard, and your usual crowd of adventurers (the guys from WoW are actually pretty typical representitives of their concept throughout gaming and themselves have PnP analogies they descended from). If your going to expect that guy to run around in a bathrobe and use a whole "kill him before he can cast" methodology to combat, you had best make the spells damn powerful when he gets them off. Otherwise why bother? Grab the guy who can DPS just as well and give you an extra battle rez (or whatever else might apply in Pathfinder).
Also disclaimer, I got burned out on WoW and retired a while ago when my guild (as I knew it) more or less collapsed. I am not up to date on all the changes and how well they might have addressed class issues. For all I know Mages have it a little better now.