Many games have a similar feature and it is always good value despite its familiarity. SOTA is working hard on player recruitment and retention and has its own log in incentive scheme: the recent requirement to actually log in to get your rewards for example, so it is clearly a direction. What I envisage for SOTA is something very very simple, at least initially: - Players get 1 (either random or selected) gatherer buddy for free, a miner, woodsman, herbalist, hunter maybe on achieving level (80?)... - Further Gatherer's can be purchased for Crowns (income for Port) - Gatherer/Harvesters are sent out on a (24?) hour cycle and return with limited amounts of materials depending on their skill level. - The Gatherer's skill level increases with the experience gained on each trip and as they level up they are able to gather more and different (rarer) materials. - Elaborations of this over time could be that gatherers acquire skill points and access the same or similar (simplified) harvesting skill trees as players, or potions to enhance gathering in some way could be purchased for Crowns (income for Port). As we all know such game devices always tempt you to log back in to obtain your harvests, gain the npc experience and send them out again. Often as a result you stay in the game, do other things and get sucked it. Balancing this should be easy, its just a question of tweaking how much material the system allows you to gather. The interface could be extremely simple: A static screen with an image of a generic gatherer and a 'send' or 'receive' button and a level progress indicator bar would suffice initially.