So, my previous post might have seemed like a mere light hearted skit, spoof or humorous vignette, but actually it’s a deep treatise that works on two levels. *At least* two levels. Probably three or four. Maybe ten. Ahh!
It’s a parable, see, like the Vineyard Owner, only in this case illustrating that us bloggers may opine away and come up with all sorts of amazing ideas that we’re convinced will transform the entire MMOG genre, but would actually be pretty tedious in practise. Ahh! OK, that’s hardly a revelation, but still. Always worth bearing in mind.
The third level it works at (“Ahh!”, “No, not ‘ahh‘, stop saying ‘ahh‘“) is that there *might* be the nub of a not-entirely-insane idea somewhere in there for some sort of player-based transportation system. EVE is the main inspiration (“inspiration” in the sense of “it already does exactly that so I’m just ripping the idea off them really”); unless I’m more vastly mistaken than a man who thinks Hillaire Belloc is still alive, it doesn’t have a “mailbox”. You’re a miner, digging away, extracting ore from asteroids, and you want to take that ore to your corporation’s manufacturing base so they can turn it into ships and guns and socks and sugar n’ stuff… no popping it in the post, you have to physically take it there. Out in high security space that might be easy enough, set the autopilot and put your feet up for a while, but in the wild and lawless regions of 0.0, your big ol‘ freighter is a sitting duck. You’ll want a convoy, with escorts, and there’s wolfpacks out there… (Note: I’m extrapolating here from a brief dalliance with EVE’s free trial and watching Das Boot and The Cruel Sea several times, it might be nothing like that). It’s not a great leap to a fantasy setting; player characters getting hired to work as caravan guards is a good old staple of the genre. Course, you couldn’t just tack transport of raw materials straight on to an existing game, or you’d just add extra tedium and difficulty in an area that already needs some improvement, but if you could somehow work it in to an overhaul of that…
And if it’s a really stupid idea, then obviously I don’t mean it literally. It’s a metaphor. Ahhhhhhhh!
Eve does have a form of Courier system much as you describe, but it’s not very high profile, so easily missed.
It isn’t hugely used by the general public, mostly because you can always earn more in the time it would take, than players are willing to pay to have their stuff lugged across the galaxy, just by doing missions, or playing the market and moving your own cargo.
I did keep an eye on the thing and try to pick up any cargo that would fit and was going my way, but the few entries I did see were either far too big to fit in a combat ship and/or way too far to travel as a kind of half-favour.
I think the system does see use within Corporations. You can set these courier jobs up with ‘My Corp’ access only, or even for a specific player to haul.
Even so, I’d rather be out shooting stuff – more fun, and definitely pays more than most people are personally willing to put up as a fee. Plus the collateral needed to take these jobs is quite steep: 3 million isk depost, for a 150k isk job? If you have the 3 million, you probably don’t need the 150k, but there does need *something* to stop people just running off with your box of sprockets.
EVE is all about the ISK though. Perhaps something similar in LotR would have people doing these same sorts of haulage work, purely for the journey of it all – any excuse for a good long walk, sort of thing?