If I want a relaxing, not too mentally taxing, gaming session then I’ll often pick a game/character and just go gather. Usually in the back of my mind I’ll have a given crafting profession I want to work on, so choosing who to gather on and what to gather isn’t that hard.
Gathering materials out in the world can be a pleasurable enough activity. I logged in yesterday to do some more woodworker leveling in Everquest 2, but he recently hit level 60 with that tradeskill. As with many MMORPGs crafting materials are tiered by level, matching the adventuring level for that zone – so every time you hit a multiple of 10, you’re looking at needing a completely new set of materials.
So I took him off to a few different level 60-70 zones to gather more wood, roots and other materials. Flying around zones to look for nodes is enjoyable in itself as I get to explore zones that I haven’t played through (I leveled this character to 54, but have played insta-dinged characters from 90+ since).
Gathering in EQ2 can get out of hand, more so than most MMORPGs, since the game has such a variety of gathering node types (7 or more?) and any character can gather all the types (if you practice the relevant skills). The fact that I have numerous alt characters with different professions also means, in theory, that I will need everything some day. Usually I do focus on more immediate needs for whatever crafting writ (repeatable quest) my character has.
It seems common enough in MMORPGs that you do not gather enough materials while out adventuring to level your character’s crafting class (or skill). So to make up for the shortfall some dedicated gathering expeditions is par for the course, or a lot of auction house trading. This is true in my experience across the games that I’ve played: World of Warcraft, LOTRO, Rift, EQ2, SWTOR etc. I have fond, if distant memories, of riding around zones in earlier WoW days to gather ore for my blacksmithing profession…