Games like Perpetuum -- and I suspect EVE Online -- have some nice pacing that allows me to go semi-AFK while I work on homework, articles or whatever. I can find safe places with large ore deposits, lay down a large container, and mine for 30 minutes at a time or longer. I'm still visiting the world of Taborea on weekends, and I make quick pit-stops during the week to check up on my fellow guild members, but I realized during my last visit that there are some nice ways for the returning college student to get in some game time and get his or her school-work done.
If you find your having trouble balancing work, school and life with RoM, you might find some satisfaction in the long term pet, guild, crafting, and skill-building goals.
Games like EVE and Perpetuum have slower, zen-like activities that yield satisfactory results, because -- I think -- they help fulfill greater long-term goals. RoM has some nice features for when you need or want to slow down but still progress without feeling like you're just slowing down everyday activities.
I've been training my pet in mining to aid my carpentry profession, and it's an activity that definitely is not quick. The in-game tools cost a pretty penny, and I need a lot of them to get anywhere, but for endgame with lots of disposable gold or using the cash-shop tools, stocking up is quick and easy. I get satisfaction out of knowing that I can place a stack of 999 tools in my pet's interface, hit start, and let him go. Pet crafting is also nice for its ability to double-up with other activities. My pet can craft for long periods at a time without the need to even have the pet interface open. Basically I can do other things while my pet crafts. If I wanted to, I could gather resources while my pet made resources.
Being short on time or needing to frequently go AFK for sometimes large periods of time are just right for harvesting in the castle. The 99 tools I get when I first start harvesting will last a while and are great when I'm writing a report or doing homework at my desk. Sometimes I'll save up stacks of the 99 tools by clicking on a field to get them and then just leaving. After a few days' worth of tools, I'll have enough for the lucky nights I can leave my character AFK-mining while I sleep. If I happen to be trying to raise my crafting skill during the same time period, I'll open all the unknown ore I've collected and sort out what I can use and donate the rest to the guild. Whether I save some for myself or donate it all, I'm working toward raising the guild's level and getting that shiny stone castle or more guild buildings.
There are 41 encyclopedias fit for different character-levels and many different skills. Whether I'm interested in weapons, unarmed combat, or crafting skills, I can find something to study in my house while I'm cooking supper or walking the dog. I didn't even know that there was an encyclopedia to gain TP points until I recently looked. The only complaint I have is that they cost 29 and 49 diamonds and last 30 days. I'm not a master of game balancing, but they just feel slightly expensive for the payoff, especially compared to other items in the same price range. I'm not denouncing them altogether. I do use them.
Grow your garden
Plants are a little tougher for me to work with. To this day, I still only have a level 3 green thumb. I'm always forgetting to check my plants. If I can work on the times of day I plant, I could time it better to find a batch of materials waiting to be harvested after school instead of finding a dead twig staring me in the face. Being able to have multiple plants also means that I can increase my rewards without increasing my work-time.
Crafting in large numbers
Recipes take a lot of materials, and as such I could save large quantities for crafting. All the materials needed for just one blue recipe are enough to add a lot of crafting time to the clock. I just need to make sure I have the bag space before hitting start and going AFK. An important tip I sometimes forget is that refining resources one step yields extra points when donating to the guild. A few days' worth of harvesting in the guild castle will also give me plenty of resources that need refining.
I'm not much for being efficient as a means to make my MMO-time more fun, but I know a lot of players have fun that way. All of these activities can be taken advantage of whether or not you have lots of free time. Pets can craft while you're doing anything else, encyclopedias can be read while you're waiting for pick-up-groups, materials can be harvested while you're doing homework, and plants can grow while you're asleep or at school.
It's also more than taking any themepark-based feature and making it fit your time. I think these activities work well because they are more time-intensive. Harvesting in the guild castle feels a lot like mining ore in Perpetuum. Planting really feels worthwhile, even when RoM is turned off. Everything is connected to a number scale, so I know I'm building toward a stronger character, a better guild castle, or an ability to make more gold. Without these longer activities, pacing would feel off.
Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or an in-depth look at the Rogue/Priest combo, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.