From what I have seen most of the Non-Combat Classes in Sandbox MMOs are just a form of crafting and grinding without much interesting gameplay to it.You just click some buttons and resources.
Raph Koster wrote a whole book just because in Star Wars Galaxies non-combat professions kinda sucked and weren't fun. So it would be interesting to think about what could be done.
I think what is essential is a Hybrid Player and NPC driven Economy. Mostly to give the opportunity of players in those roles the agency to interact with NPCs as Players tend to not be as consistent when they appear leading to AFK and Botting situations. In other words make it consistent gameplay through NPC simulation.
This could lead to an interesting "Service" Sector and management gameplay.
Maybe some type of mini-games for the various jobs.
NPC "Demand" is also helpful to the economy as a way to consume Products that Players don't usually want. The NPC Population having their own resource requirements can also serve as tech tree to slowly develop over time.
Of course Players would also come and facilitate Roleplay as well as other benefits.
Like for example a Tavern where Food and the various games and interactions with other players can provide Buffs that are in effect after they leave the tavern.
They can also work as an organizing systems for missions and parties where the tables represent the various parties with their own chat system while they play table games.
Like in Space Station 13 the City can also be part of the Gameplay with various Periodic Dangers and Events as well as Antagonists that are permitted in limited numbers to infiltrate and have a license to greif. So the Non-Combat Professions aren't just in their own little world doing their own little thing and can be affected by the wider happenings in the city and have a basic Survival goal.
There can be also a Mafia/Werewolf style Roles for the leadership and authority of the city with their own relationships and that want to undermine each other whenever possible.
For something like Trade, while Players should be able to teleport everywhere a player inventory should be limited and there should be proper logistics through carts and caravans for transporting goods in high volumes. Player Mobility should be higher with good escape options as well as have scouting and patrols and Tower Defense fortifications which can lead to a cat and mouse between patrols and would be raiders finding the right time to attack. Patrols could be NPC controlled by paying the right resources and authority or player controlled parties. The raiders would also require the proper logistics to transport and have similar weakness.
What fortifications are built along the ways and how many patrols are sent or not depends on what the players in that city leadership position as well as mechant player funding.
Another interesting thing would be if we had something like a Sculptor class that could create customizable creations everywhere in the world that depending on the resources invested and skill it could have a permanent area effect buff as well as possibly change the environment. The sculpture could be destroyed so it is dependent on other people for its security. It could also be prayed to the Gods by players to strength its effects as well as increase its health. In essence it would be a player vote for how much they like it as well as a vote to desecrate it could destroy it.
What ideas do you have for classes,roles and their own gameplay? Things like painting, literature, music,dance the can be given interesting effects and be made fun? How would you mix it with NPC simulation? How would it affect players?
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