The Obulus Frontier Garden is one of the rewards you get from doing the extensive crafting questline in EQ2's Kunark Ascending expansion. It's not the final reward, just a stage along the way, but it's a very useful and welcome one indeed.
Every day the owner of this rather unprepossessing green plant gets to harvest a rare material from its waxy leaves. As I understand it, the rare can be any of those required for the current highest-level recipes, all of which, in this expansion, derive from the same source, the Shadeweave Plant.
As it happens I don't have a maxed-out Jewelcrafter capable of taking advantage of this daily bounty but so long as the Nodule is selling on the broker for almost 8,000 Platinum a pop then I'm not too concerned about that. If needs be I can sell my Luclinite and buy the Shadowstone Ore my weaponsmith uses with the proceeds, although I'd be the loser on that deal, what with Shadowstone trading at a heavy premium over Luclinite.
But this isn't intended as a commentary on the vagaries of the Norrathian economy. It's a response to something Telwyn at GamingSF posted recently. Most MMORPGs I've played have had some form of gathering and as Telwyn observes gathering is ideal for when you want something relaxing and "not too mentally taxing".
In many games there's really not much more to gathering than sidling up to an obvious lump of rock
or a glowing shrub and clicking. GW2 follows that exact model. Throw in a pleasing animation and a couple of sound effects and it's surprising how calming it can be.
ArenaNet, relying heavily as they do on their cash shop to keep food on the table and trainers on the kids' feet, gussy their gathering offer up with a variety of flash-bang-wallop harvesting tools. I have never wasted my money on any of them but I have often shared the
We share nodes because GW2 enjoys non-competetive gathering. Every player gets to harvest every node. Vanguard, which had an excellent Gathering offer, went a stage further with a group gathering system that allowed players to combine their efforts for higher yields and a greater chance at rares. Vanguard also had a separate paper doll for harvesting clothes and tools, encouraging players to dress their Rakis and Goblins up like little peasants to till the land. Then, Vanguard had separate paper dolls for crafting, diplomacy and adventuring, too. It was a dressing up game par excellence.
EQ2 has a range of gathering tools and accoutrements of its own, as well as some Alternative Advancement (AA) skills. Mostly, they speed up the rate at which the gathering bar moves and increase the amount of materials you receive. Once you've become habituated to gathering with such advantages the basic skills of a fresh character seem sluggish in the extreme.
EQ2 also has something a lot rarer in the gathering sphere than mere tools and skills. As mentioned earlier it has gathering quests. It may be that other MMOs have them - I'm certain many have the odd few scattered around and, of course, plenty of regular quests require you to gather things along the way - but I struggle to think of any other MMO that has something that could, albeit not entirely without a little irony, be described to as a "Gathering Epic".
That, though, is how many players refer to the very lengthy sequence of quests offered by the exceptionally annoying brat Qho Augren. If you take him on at the earliest opportunity, this questline will span most of your leveling game, taking you from five to ninety-five as well as into frequent fantasies of child-murder.
|I'm sorry, Mrs Augren, I haven't seen little Qho anywhere...|
Personally I never found him that annoying. I've done the entire sequence once and most of it three or four times. It's a great way to pass a wet Sunday afternoon in March. It's not, by any means, the only gathering quest EQ2 has to offer either although I still think there could be more.
In fact, I think there could be a whole MMO based primarily around Gathering. Particularly if the developers were to roll in Gathering's sister activity, Collecting. Imagine an MMO set in a detailed virtual world, where instead of killing monsters, fighting demons or slaying dragons your character set out to acquire rare specimens, funding herself along the way by gathering more common yet saleable stock for various merchants and powers.
The entire panoply and arsenal of MMO tropes and devices could easily be adapted to such a milieu. Gear, items, skills, quests, storylines... There could even be a modicum of combat - gathering, after all, frequently includes skinning and butchering. Combat just wouldn't be the focus - more like a secondary skill...
...perhaps a little like Gathering is today. And then some bright developer would come up with the idea of adding Combat Gear. And skills. And some quests, too, because the minority of players who like combat pay their Sub or their Premium Membership too, don't they?
I see where this is going. Oh, well. I'd play it anyway.