As my business boomed I started to develop better relationships with the crafters and other business folk. Most of them seemed to like what I was doing and started using me for deliveries! “Can you deliver X to a guy in Mos Espa for Y$. I’ll tip you half now and half later” “Sure!”. Unfortunately not EVERYONE was so receptive. One day I was buying up some very low marked goods from a vendor on Theed that I occasionally stopped by. (by now I was doing so well that I could clean out a cheap vendor to stock my own) I always thought it was odd that a vendor in such a prime location was so full of cheap stuff! One day I found out why.
Out of the blue I got a LONG game mail message telling me to stop what I was doing because it was affecting someones business. When I tried to contact the person they didn’t exist...I assumed it was a competitor or RPer so I brushed it off. Then one day when I was in the shop on Theed I ran into the shop’s merchant. I recognized his name because he owned MILES of buildings around Theed including every prime location! He asked me a bunch of questions and seemed entertained by how naive I was. Keep in mind I had absolutely no concept of things like gold farming or even forums at this time. I played this game and did little on the net beyond it.
Eventually he said “Ok, you aren’t what I thought you were. You seem a bit lost. Someone will contact you to explain some things about the game.” I was like “WTF, I’m not confused! I’m having a blast! But whatever”...”Ok. thanks!” I knew this guy was a big businessman in game, maybe he wanted to utilize my services? /facepalm I was so so naive back then (ok maybe I still am lol).
A few days later I ran into a random player, dressed poorly, with a bland looking character and a foreign sounding name (even by Star Wars standards). He wanted me to talk to him out of game to which I was like HELL NO thats weird. Then he was like “wait!”, 5 minutes later he would talk again and ask me to contact him out of game again. We kept at that for a few turns until I told him to talk now or I was leaving because I was bored with the waiting (by now I was thinking he was probably talking to someone, getting orders on what to say, then repeating them to me.)
Eventually he said “fine”. He began to explain some things to me in good, but not perfect english (sound familiar?). He was very elusive about it and he NEVER ONCE mentioned the merchant from Theed. When I asked if the merchant had sent him he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about but as naive as I was, he was as equally obvious.
Basically what he explained (but tried not to explain) was the cheap stuff in the vendors was used to bait in marks that “needed help” with the game. Then they were approached with gold buying and character leveling services. My jaw was on the floor. I never even thought such a thing was possible! The very idea of paying cash to be wealthy in a game seemed crazy, not to mention cash in SWG was pretty easy to get if you were semi motivated (group up, solo Rancor missions, repeat or make dancer, dress skimpy, say hun).
Without realizing it I was removing the bait and as a result his or their or whatevers gold selling business IRL was being affected! I felt dazed, is this for real? In my head I was thinking “I’m playing within the rules of the game, go to hell!” but considering he was running a business based on the game I figured he had more to lose, and might be someone I shouldn’t make angry lol. Alpha nerds are scary! Besides that I really didn’t NEED his stuff. I had plenty of other places to buy from, places with merchants that I had good relationships with, and I never really liked leaving Tatooine anyway.
IMO that was a lot of time and drama just to be told “don’t clear out my vendors” but it made for some fantastic emergent content (although at the time I didn’t view it that way). I danced with the devil in the pale moon light and got exposed to a whole different seedy world of MMO stuff that I thought existed. I came out wiser (ok maybe not), more cautious (a little), and slightly in awe of the whole thing (awe=wtf just happened?). Most importantly it supported my assumption that I based my character’s profession on, people will do anything for convenience.
So there you have it, the most fun I ever had in an MMO was playing a delivery driver that got to wear cool clothes and build an art gallery! Unfortunately it was all too good to last. Dark things were on the horizon and the usefulness of my profession was about to be wiped away within one patch. You somehow trudged through the other parts, don’t give up on me now, please join me next time for the sad conclusion of a day in the life in SWG.