Rethinking hobbies

May 15, 2009

It’s no surprise that sometimes me & Spinks settle down to chat about some of our favourite MMO chestnuts (so to speak). This time, I actually asked her to take a look at something that I was considering and add her suggestions/comments, and we got to do a proper ol’ brainstorm, sibling-style.

The topic I was considering started at crafting, and then kind of veered off to hobbies and generalist abilities (oft-called secondaries in World of Warcraft if I’m not mistaken). Some of the problems of terminology come with the MMO disparities. In WoW fishing is a secondary, in LotRO a hobby, and in other games probably a craft. Spinks suggested I try and break down what I had, but I’m still having some trouble with that, so here’s a few suggestions we’d like to see in games. Some could be full-on trade/craft skills, some could be hobbies, some skills any class could buy, secondary abilities… some may appear in games already, I hope they do!

  • Taxidermy – let us, the player characters, make trophies for housing and/or clothing. I love the trophies in LotRO, everyone’s keen on trophies in WAR. It’s a nice customisation option which can be kept controlled and can be done. This is probably a full-on crafting skill, producing fluff items that never need to have stats but would always be desirable to sell to other players as decorative items.
  • Hunting – why should a hunter be the only class that can track beasts? Is that really a core skill. In Conan, surely anyone used to wandering the wilderness could pick up some basic tracking skills. More of a secondary here, because it should be open to every class in some way – could be seen as an extension to quest guides (or ‘red blobs’ as I call them)
  • Sailing/Swimming – would it really hurt a game to let players sail or swim a little faster if they chose to train in this ‘hobby’ over other ones? I know player-crafted boats are in Vanguard, and in DAoC you could even have a guild boat. But even in a game where you’d have to hire a boat, you could be a sailor and let it go a little faster. All games have some aspect of swimming, so a swimming skill may not be quite as useless as we once thought it was in DAoC (for everyone who didn’t play, you could up your swimming skill, but it was often cited as the most useless skill to up by players!)
  • Gardening – for games with housing, why not let us take on some landscape design projects. Also could involve collecting plants and specimens from around the world and to grow and combine them. Could work as a more tricky version of herbalism too, kind of mixing what WoW and WAR do with herbalism and cultivation, but also having a decorative side (also for floral wreaths and daisy chains for character decoration)
  • Horse-training – this one fits in the realm of either hobby or craft, depending on resale values of mounts that could be customised, either with tackle, or speed, or colour variations. If we can buy mounts, why can’t we have player-trained ones who have other skills. Maybe they can do dressage, maybe they can jump higher or run a little faster. Instead of making a better horse/mount a reward, let us buy them from other players who take the time to train them in some bizarre mini-game.
  • Farrier – taking on some of the traditional skills of the blacksmith, allow players to make things for their mounts (or to sell to other players for theirs). Horseshoes that increase speed, or add stability over certain terrains.
  • Animal husbandry – probably the one I’d want most. Games have farmers, I want to have a chicken farm, or stock cows in my off-time. I’m sure games exist that have this in them (not least Tale in the Desert), especially on the farming side to provide ingredients for cooks. As a hobby though, let me BE a crazy cat lady in game and sell cosmetic pets to my peers. Maybe I have to catch the cats, breed them, whatever… allow me to do this and I might enjoy crafting and hobbies more.
  • Falconry – a kind of mix between animal husbandry and hunting, let us have hunting birds that aren’t necessarily useful in combat but that can hunt and track and bring back food. Big training aspect to this (and I’m already dreaming of sending my falcon to loot a corpse)
  • First aid – WoW has this with bandaging. I think all games should have something similar. The first one I’ve included that I KNOW exists out there, but I feel strongly about it!
  • Brewing/Vintner – LotRO has brewing to some extent, WAR should have had it. Let us produce the crops and make the drinks. Ok, there may be problems with the under-age market, but really… wine and beer! It’s then up to the game whether these have any properties, but LotRO has shown that just giving players a drunk effect is a decent bit of fluff. Funnily enough tobacco in LotRO seems to have died more of a death, fluffwise.
  • Music – Again, LotRO has this to some extent, the ability to teach and learn instruments, form bands and play music. Definitely a hobby, as it’s hard to imagine a way to make money out of it (unless you form a skimpily-dressed girlband of course. Mindboggle)
  • Languages – Once destined for World of Warcraft, and included in EQ if I’m not mistaken (as well as DAoC somewhat), the ability to learn languages of other races/peoples – assumes a diverse culture in-game, certain this will be in SW:TOR too.
  • Cartography – Now here’s an idea for explorers. Some kind of hobbyist explorations coupled with the crafting ability to put it down on paper and teach people certain maps. I’d buy a map to an instance in-game, and off another player. It’s a bit fluff-like, but I’d put it in just because of my own love of exploration (when I have a chance)
  • Calligraphy – definitely a hobby – make in-game mails look prettier!

I know I’ll get comments telling me which games have what, and I’d welcome them. I love to think some of these have been well-implemented, and I hope, in the future, that MMOs will have the depth to give us a full in-game experience of hobbies, crafts, abilities etc.

Thanks once again to Spinks for many of the above ideas! Go read her blog!



  1. Some great ideas there. It’s a shame that the calls for such additions in MMORPGs are usually drowned out by the calls for more and more end-game content. LotRO does pretty well on the fluff front, but it’s been a while since anything substantial was introduced.

    It’s not until you play an MMO that is light on fluff that you realise how much it enriches the experience, even if it’s just something other people get excited about, it’s nice to know that a wider variety of tastes than your own are being catered to.

  2. I’m not sure if it’s in any of the other games I’ve not played, but how about carpentry/woodworking and the complimentary lumberjack?

    For “own your own house” games you’d be able to find rare timbers and make beautiful interiors and furniture. For other games you could make shields, bows, staves, arrows and the like.

    Lumberjack would obviously be a collection skill allowing you to cut down trees (properly, anyone who says this shouldn’t be a “skill” hasn’t tried in in real life) and find rare “fine” trees to make items with bonus’s.

    I know it’s a commonly requested one on WoW but I’ve not really looked to see if it’s on the others.

    • LotRO has woodworking for bows/staves/instruments and furniture.

      Vanguard has lumberjacking and I think you need the equiv of woodworking there to make boats. I’m guessing EQ has most things.

      Have to say from my time in Vanguard that cutting down trees is the most fun thing ever!!

      • Tree surgeon would be a great skill too …

  3. Housebuilding.

    Only time I’ve come across this one was in Horizons. Players would buy plots of land and place pre-designed structures, they could then price up each unit required to build the structure. It was then up to the skilled craftsmen in wood, metal or stone (can’t remember there titles)if they wanted to take the job or not.

    Give me a game that utilises a similar system but also has customer support and working PvE/PvP then Im sold 🙂

  4. Some really great ideas here.
    I really like your Falconry concept. It’d be bringing pets to other classes (but you’d really have to earn them). No combat help at all, but can loot corpses from afar and sit on your shoulder/arm looking awesome.
    Turbine? Pls? 😉

    • I’d LOVE a pet that could retrieve corpse loot!

  5. […] you like lists?  I do!  How about a list of possible hobbies in MMOs?  Or superpowers that aren’t *that* […]

  6. […] reading Arbitrary’s post on new hobbies for LotRO really got these feelings stirred up again. Funnily enough, the embers began churning based on my old love of Super Nintendo fishing games […]

  7. These are really good ideas. Hopefully we get o see them implemented soon.


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