In almost every game I play, I try to apply some section of the Immersion Rules, a set of guidelines I made a few years ago that dictate how I interact with the world and other players. It's not a rigid set, though, and I am always bending it to a particular game or style. Lately I've been determined to assign my characters, in all my games, some sort of job to make money with. It could be an adventurer, a collector, or in the case of Mabinogi, a trader. This week I wanted to show you how I do it, so that you might find some inspiration to assign your own character a task or two!
For my part, I love traveling and exploring more than anything. Combat is a side event, something that my character would rather not do. There are quite a few games that allow you to play without really ever needing to kill anything. Games like Ryzom, Free Realms, EverQuest II, WURM Online and others will give you plenty of choices as to how to make your living. And remember: if your character cannot make money since the chosen job doesn't pay well, there is always bartering
In Mabinogi I had to decide what item I wanted to sell, or what I wanted to specialize in. I noticed that making clothes is very popular, and that clothing items start with basic materials. If you wanted silk thread, you had to have cobwebs. Cobwebs fall off of spiders automatically, but most spider populations either do not produce cobwebs fast enough or are killed off while you are gathering. So, I went off into the wilds to find a secluded population.
Once I discovered my spiders, I marked the route on the map. Soon enough, I had memorized the location and how to get there, but it's fun to have the map to show to people or to mark as you continue to explore new areas. I had to find a location that was within an hour's travel, since my mount in-game would disappear after that amount of time. Sure enough, I found my perfect spot about 15 minutes away. I needed to take a boat to get there and only had enough time to fill up my backpack full of cobwebs, but I made it back in time with almost about a quarter of an hour left on my mount.
To explain a bit further, the idea is to work within the restrictions of the game: the day/night cycle, the hunger meter or the length of time before the mount disappears. These restrictions work as would real life obstacles and help to recreate, in a small way, reality. For example, I took a break when nightfall hit and built a campfire to rest for a while. The fun part is coming up with the reasons that the game restrictions exist, and a good game like Mabinogi seems to have been developed with this kind of immersive play in mind.
After I successfully complete one of my routes, I set up shop and sell the cobwebs. After one hour of traveling and gathering and a few more tending my shop, I make about 60-80 thousand gold. Granted, I could make more like one million in that time if I sold other items or played differently, which I have done in the past, but I would not have as much fun.
To me, almost any game can be played in this way, being that even the basic social nature of these games allows for it. Trading is fun because it gives your character a foundation to build a story on, pulls you into areas of the world you might not normally visit, and introduces you to new people. Try it out. Give your character a job to do. Place some rules on how you play and see what happens. Remember to be realistic about what you will tolerate, and above all have fun with it. Try to keep in mind that, like life, an MMORPG provides many more opportunities than we think if we just take a minute to notice.