Hey Syn - thanks for the kind words.
Everything you suggested is possible in theory - well - side from your first suggestion of displaying all the players on the game world. And I think with time many of your ideas will make it in-game - as it goes along the lines of things we`ve already planed.
With the trade-routes - we are considering this feature for both NPC towns and player alied towns - down the road. But only trade routes with NPC towns could show a moving caravan unit shown on the world map.
With building placement - we already have the Orc race able to build almost anywhere on the map, but we won`t be able to change this for Men and Elves at this point.
Magic...I can say this is the feature we all like to see in-game as soon as possible, but with our busy schedule polishing other game elements - my best hope is for August.
And as for making towns seem busy - I really like the idea, and it was suggested couple of time before! Since it`s really easy to integrate we might give it a try in one of the upcoming patches - however it`ll only feature random unselectable peasants/workers walking around the town without any fancy animations or purpose - sort of like it is when you visit NPC towns.