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Oh man, this, definitely this. When writing my previous post I was thinking of how interesting it might be to see NPCs competing with the player for resources. Not everyday, that could get annoying, but maybe once or twice a week they go out to collect or chop wood, stone, plants, even fish and fight monsters. I'd argue that they shouldn't be allowed to do that on property the player owns, but everywhere else is free game. So you could chose to try to get to those nodes first on those days, or let them if you want to make it a bit trickier for yourself, let them actively compete with you. 

It'd be cool to see all of this with a friendship & rivalry system. So you could be friendly rivals/competition, or unfriendly. If the devs like the idea of loyalty that I suggested (I think in my previous post here) then putting all of those together would be really interesting. Like, "I know we're rivals and maybe not the best of friends, but you came through for me when we needed your help" and so on.