The Daily Grind: What could MMOs do with offline characters?

    
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Maybe it’s my active imagination, but I like to believe that my characters are relieved when I log out of games, because then they can go home for some much-deserved rest and relaxation. Perhaps they take up hobbies or go on dates or start internet petitions about how forcing avatars to engage in non-stop combat is a particularly cruel existence.

Seriously, do you ever come up with notions of what your character does while you’re offline? Some MMOs like Age of Wushu or Project Gorgon put those characters to work in an automated fashion, but for the most part they vanish from the world and our attention. Do you have any good ideas as to what MMOs could do with characters when their players are offline?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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DPandaren
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DPandaren

I don’t know. But I love what FFXIV does with the retainers and what Age of Wushu does with it’s players.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

Tethyss I’m not sure about your description of Eve.  Your character/ship technically are stationary while you are offline. Auto-pilot only happens if you’re online. You can be AFK during the process but it may increase the chance that someone blow up your ship depends on certain factors.

While I’m not sure if skill training in Eve counts as “significant”, but it happens both when you are on or offline.

Darth Fez
Guest
Darth Fez

For my tastes it would require some form of player and/or guild housing, so characters could opt to have their characters just hang out or do something in the guild hall, base, etc. It would go a long way toward making such a place look lived in and useful beyond “now where was that damned crafting station again?”
Some kind of general use thing could be interesting, but I’m envisioning dozens, if not hundreds, of offline PCs wandering about and cluttering up the place. There would definitely need to be a limit in place for how many such characters are displayed.

Sarigar
Guest
Sarigar

I’ve always liked the idea of loading screens for games that show my active character engaged in an activity in the zone I’m going into, or showing a comical or “downtime” situation, like relaxing by a fire, arguing with a merchant, in a barfight, etc.

Ekphrasis
Guest
Ekphrasis

I’d like to see my character(s) become an NPC and perform tasks / missions while ‘offline’ – if you walk past my house, my avatar is tending the garden, or it’s running missions, or it’s available as a support companion for hire by my friends / etc. and can earn me some coin on the side until I log back in… it’s make the world feel more alive.
If someone sees my avatar and sends me a tell, it bounces to my mobile device and I can chat / see / temporarily take control of my avatar. etc. 
There is so much that could be done…

curtlikesmeat
Guest
curtlikesmeat

MonsoonGibby I was hoping Garrisons would include this when they first announced them, before it became apparent they were faction specific.

curtlikesmeat
Guest
curtlikesmeat

Line with more hugs I agree with the hanging around properties. If it’s a game where there is non-instanced housing I’d like to see them in their ‘casual’ clothes, sweeping the porch, doing some gardening or whatever activities you set them to do. I don’t mind the idea of them going out questing but the risk / reward part would need to be carefully balanced.

Tethyss
Guest
Tethyss

Player characters should not do anything significant when they’re offline.  Partly why I shy away from games that have auto-pilot type systems, e.g. Eve, Neverwinter, Ikariam.
But now that I reflect on it, WoW’s rested XP system technically falls into this category.   So I’ll have to think on this some more.

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf

PurpleCopper

Akami
Guest
Akami

I loved Age of Wushu’s system where players walked around performing tasks while logged out.   They earned minor amounts of money while logged out, but other players could actually kidnap the offline PC and sell them into slavery. (which flagged them for PvP)  While “sold for slavery” PC characters stopped earning money, but the second a character logged back into the game they were free to do what they wished, although they might be in a strange location.

Aside from the whole moral aspects of the slavery aside… having a ton of offline PC’s in game wondering around doing menial cores (sweeping, tending bar etc) made the game world seem much more alive.