What do MMO characters do when you log off? Are they just frozen where they are, incapable of doing anything? Do they disappear into another dimension? Am I really thinking coherently?
One thing that most MMOs don’t do is persist your character when you’re not playing. Why can’t your character be productive even when you’re not? “What kind of activities could a character do without your direct input?”, is the most important question to ask when considering this.
I mentioned training to raise stats in the last post – this is one possibility. What about research for preparing for a mission? If the mission system requires a number of hours or data gathering and preparation before a mission this could be a possibility. If the player is actively playing this preparation could be lessened so the player isn’t just sitting around twiddling his thumbs, similar to crafting systems in most MMOs (which I really don’t like but I understand). If the player doesn’t have time to complete this before logging off, this is something that could be handled by the game, especially since most crafting is simple button mashing anyway. As missions get more complex this could be handy.
Another mini-game/crafting system might be establishing contacts. Possibly related to or a pre-requisite to mission research, players may have to find and maintain contacts in order to complete missions. Again, this might be simple a button-mashing type of activity if the player is online, but something else that might be handled even when the player isn’t playing.
What do you think? Can MMOs provide a way for the character to be productive even when the player isn’t playing? Is it worthwhile to examine the possibility?