The Daily Grind: How do you feel about offline play in MMORPGs?


I spend a… lot of time in Star Wars Galaxies on the SWG Legends rogue server. I poke fun at myself for this, but I love it and enjoy it and now that I have it back there’s no way I’m letting it go. But for every hour I spend logged in, there are dozens more I spend logged out – and yet I’m still playing. I don’t mean that I’m running some AFK macro or engaging in shenanigans; I mean that my harvesters are harvesting resources for me, my factories are crafting items for me, my vendors are selling stuff for me. Setting up and running that whole production line is super important for a merchant, maybe even more than the crafting part itself.

Of course, SWG is hardly alone in having offline gameplay. Every MMO with an auction hall offers a sliver of it. Other games have factories, minions, housing decay, maintenance, even kidnapping and jailtime! It’s sort of weird to think about, but the most “virtual world” of the sandboxy MMOs tend to have more of this, not less, since the world goes on whether you’re in it or not.

How do you feel about offline play in MMORPGs? Does it bother you that some gameplay takes place when you’re not there? Or do you think all game activity should take place only when you’re present in real time?

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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Wow, so nice !


If it is an extra option, great, if it is an extra task, no great.

Rheem Octuris

I honestly don’t like it. It feels like an artificial timesink meant to gate players.

Robert Mann

It depends. There are good and bad elements and designs for offline time with regard to games.

Where those hit will be different for each person. I personally like the idea of being able to set basic routines and activities up, but at the same time I detest the idea of having to leave a game running while I am away. What I don’t particularly want is for automation to take over the aspects of play that are fun for different people.

In this way, part of what I disliked about SWG rather than liked was that every part of the chain was largely automated, and left a lot of things pretty well off the table for players to do. It’s similar to my dislike of the AH. I don’t want to spend time at a faceless NPC or building shopping, and I certainly don’t want to be told I cannot afford things because they are priced for those who spend hours playing that way. I also would love to have the options open for players who want to run a store, would like to be a travelling merchant, would like to deliver mail, want to be known for a unique reason with crafting, etc.

So I find there’s a fine balancing point with “Doing something instead of standing still like the average NPC in town”, doing something productive while you are away, and the personally dreaded “Well, there went everything but combat, a rather poor managerial simulator to set things up, and the support for people who aim merely to accumulate more in game currency than they will ever spend… AGAIN.” The first two are good things to me. The second is ubiquitous, and that is the entire problem (I don’t wish other people no games for THEIR fun, but I do want games that cater to those who are not entertained by that stuff, or that stuff alone).

Robert Mann

P.S. This is where I ask how an actual offline mode is different from most MMOs, once one has turned off the global chat and treats the random passerby like a bot. Because for the most part they aren’t different. Which is part of where my tastes and desires above come into being…


I’m not bothered at all by offline persistence and I embrace automation. It’s something I’ve always wanted and have tinkered with for decades.

I want to build things, and then I want to populate those things with actors, and I want all of that to be integral to the economy and production dynamics.

The ideal is to be a self-employed content provider, a stakeholder in the game world.


Sounds to me like you should be a developer as opposed to a consumer.


I’m a big fan of offline play I like the time management aspects of it. One of my favorite parts of LiF was creating different macros for skill grinding or herb harvesting that wouldn’t end up killing me.


I wish some things in BDO *would* continue while I’m offline. As long as the game closes these things down when the user isn’t logged in for a certain period of time(let’s say 6-12 hrs in the case of BDO) it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

BDO is a very specific example though but also a case where offline mechanics would be useful, imo.


Feels great if managed well.

The primary reason I’d keep my BDO account going is solely because I want workers to be generating resources for me. Due to in game mechanics (no trading, limited worker production, etc) this is pretty balanced/managed good. Active play is also rewarded with vastly more resources than any worker can bring in as well.

However I can easily see where a game could get the system work and it end up being terrible.

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I am supportive of some activities continuing when offline because:
1. It adds to persistence. MMOs works continue when the player logs out.
2. It boosts resources generation for time poor casual players.

However, I dislike the chore of having to manage your offline empire rather than actually play and don’t get me started stupid afk games where the resource generation only continues while you are online so everyone goes afk instead of logging out.


Is there really such a thing as offline play in an MMO?

Someone could always be logged into the server at anytime, it just means that someone could be playing the game while you’re offline.

But, if they could mess with my stuff when I’m not logged in, that’d be a very good reason for me to never play the game.

I also don’t see much point in AFK mechanics. That’s just the game playing itself.