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?