This addictive game has taught me something about entrepeneurship.
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The other day, I got fed up with the fact that my intermediate-level smuggler/TIE pilot had such a hard time finding items that worked well for him at his level of achievement. This is particularly hard for characters around 10th to 20th level, if they're combatants. So, I decided to explore another aspect of the game over which I'd glossed before.
For the same server on which my abovementioned character, Yeng Darkslaer, lives (Chilastra), I created another.
He's not a mule for switching items. He's a sentient being with his own purpose. My Mon Calamari Trader/Engineer/Crafter Ockvar Ololoth is going to be a master builder of armor, tools and droids.
Today, I started working with him intensely in order to begin learning how to actually do these things, and I have been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the detail in which Galaxies depicts the life of someone who crafts things from raw materials.
The crafter must use tools to survey terrain to find minerals. He or she must use tools to draw water and other substances from the land, and perhaps draw materials of different kinds from animals. All of this is possible with Galaxies' immensely detailed living environment. My character had to create glasses, tea, meat jerky. He therefore had to hunt (a challenging experience for a noncombatant character), survey soil for gemstone deposits, and draw water from the hopper of his moisture vaporator (yes he's on Tatooine). He then had to use a crafting tool to assemble the ingredients correctly after splitting several resources into correct amounts and in some cases creating other contributive products first. The process does become ambiguous with the use of the crafting devices, but the use of machinery has a certain educational intricacy that at least helps one to understand the complexities of material characteristics, quantities and finished product quality. All of these things are accounted for in the processes of the Crafter characters' work. My spiced tea, for example, had certain positive health effects, but wasn't always the same quality for each effort depending on my materials. When I used rill (Tatooine lizard) meat - when my kills produced meat instead of bone or skin or nothing - it was inferior to the meat I'd bought onboard the training station at Ord Mantell.
By the way, you absolutely must go through the training process with your first Trader character, which can have one of four different specialities unlike other characters, or you're going to be completely lost when he or she gets on the ground in Mos Eisley. Learning to use the Crafter tool, and there are several distinct kinds, as well as various survey tools, is very difficult without training. I had to make this character twice. However it was more than worth it; this is the most fascinating and educational experience I've ever had in an electronic roleplaying game, or any RPG for that matter.
Using the short beginning quest at the beginning of the life of your Trader character is important, too, because it helps him or her to learn to use the survey tools. Your character has already manufactured tools at the station, and now gets to use them. My engineer had made a mineral survey tool, and now was using it to scan the terrain outside Mos Eisley and Bestine for glass gemstone to use to make tea glasses with his crafting tool. It showed where there were various places to find the substance with different probabilities of mining it. I managed to get enough samples with effort, which took time, and then was able to use the materials to craft my items. I found this to be realistic and interesting, involving me completely in the process of making things that other characters can use.
As a result, even in the fantasy gameworld of Star Wars Galaxies, I'm immensely proud of the tea, glasses and meat jerky my character has made, as well as the tools he has constructed. For young people curious enough to explore the Trader character type, it will be powerfully educational and rewarding in both the fantasy world and the real world.
Finally, while the character may have a hard time with money at the beginning if you don't start right off with that beginning quest, the player can always direct his or her alter ego to an Explorer Mission Terminal to get paid quests to simply find or locate or survey different situations for some unseen client, safely, and get paid. I pooled enough capital this way to get things I needed in order to get the materials necessary for my job. This is another point of realism not to be missed in the part of the Galaxies experience.
I expect to be supremely proud of the droids my character will eventually manufacture, even though at present they only function as 'pets' in the game world.