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Game economy in MMO's


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#41 Drethon   Members   -  Reputation: 212

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:12 AM

My latest thoughts on economy is go with something similar to EVE. For a sword and board, or RPG based around a single fighting player as opposed to ship based like EVE, the game can be based around skills as opposed to equipment. From here, pure cash drops can be pulled and instead only equipment drops.

In the main economy, equipment sales can be controlled as an NPC merchant can only produce so many of something at a time and will only purchase so many of something at a time. After that all equipment found in drops can be used by players to craft items, metals can be melted down and woods can be carved into other items.

I believe at this point equipment can be made fairly inexpensive and prevent inflation as there is no influx of cash into the economy... though I'm no economist.
- My $0.02

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#42 lyDASHsBOK   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:34 AM

dude this tread is nice!

#43 Fournicolas   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 05:33 AM

Quote:
Original post by Drethon

In the main economy, equipment sales can be controlled as an NPC merchant can only produce so many of something at a time and will only purchase so many of something at a time. After that all equipment found in drops can be used by players to craft items, metals can be melted down and woods can be carved into other items.

I believe at this point equipment can be made fairly inexpensive and prevent inflation as there is no influx of cash into the economy... though I'm no economist.



Interesting thought. Can you track equipment as an acccumulation of separate elements, all potentially downsizeable?

I mean, so far, we have more or less agreed that a no-gold-drop system would be probably better than all preexisting MMO economic models, because it would require an active participation of crafters to economy, and would limit Uber-Items to CRAFTED Uber-Items. It would require to have the mobs lootable in all kinds of manners, thus emphasizing the importance of skills in this respect: Skinning, Butchering, Trophy Recuperation, Tendon Recuperation, Leather Tanning and so on and so forth.

As you grow better in a particular skill, you are allowed to try and perform more difficult tasks, and previously accessible tasks faster, and/or with better results.

Which means that you are entitled to have all sorts of crafting components, in all sizes. Which brings me back to my first question: Can you use a BIG crafting component and modify it to make a smaller crafting component? Can you use a Long Handle, and transform it into a Short Handle? Can you cut a Long Strand of CatGut into Thin Strands of CatGut? Can you tailor three Mail Bonnets from a single Large Mailshirt?

In other words can we make recuperation possible in a MMO?

#44 Drethon   Members   -  Reputation: 212

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 06:09 AM

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Which means that you are entitled to have all sorts of crafting components, in all sizes. Which brings me back to my first question: Can you use a BIG crafting component and modify it to make a smaller crafting component? Can you use a Long Handle, and transform it into a Short Handle? Can you cut a Long Strand of CatGut into Thin Strands of CatGut? Can you tailor three Mail Bonnets from a single Large Mailshirt?

In other words can we make recuperation possible in a MMO?


My theorized approach for all the items in the world is they all inherit from a item base class. This base class (among other things) would have an item's weigh, size and material. If the items is built from components, the material would instead be a list of item components, each with their own weight, mass and material. From here, ever item can be melted (if possible for the material type) to a lump of matter of the same weight and mass, or broken down into componenets (see sword blade and hilt) which can then be melted down.

Breaking large items into smaller items would also be fairly easy. Say you have a sword hilt with a size of 1000 cm^3 made out of wood. If you want to make a dagger hilt, the game would check that the dagger hilt is 250 cm^3 and can be made out of wood. After crafting a smaller hilt you now have a dagger hilt, a 500 cm^3 lump of wood and 250 cm^3 of sawdust (possibly useable elsewhere... flameable?). With increased skill in crafting the waste material can be lessened.

I can see all this as being extremely CPU and memory intensive but my plans for a game is text based so I can flesh out more advanced functionality without wasting my time (just my opinion) on producing uber graphics. I also have ideas about load sharing multiple computers (a number of masters with a bunch of reassignable slaves) to even the memory and CPU load (but will my local network be able to handle this? hmm...).
- My $0.02

#45 Drethon   Members   -  Reputation: 212

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 06:12 AM

Oh, and given that my MMORPG I'm working on is Sci/Fi based with a number of opponents being robots, this idead of componenet contruction works quite well. Though as Fournicolas mentioned this could work with critter parts (See Gemstone IV's allowing you to make arrows with golem bones and arrow fletchings with critter feathers) or dropped equipment.
- My $0.02

#46 Drethon   Members   -  Reputation: 212

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 07:06 AM

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You'll absolutely have to deal with the fact that players use their wallet as a score counter. The longer they play and the tougher they get, the bigger they expect that number to become. They demand that they accrue wealth and assets as a visible manifestation of their superiority to newbies.


(moving slightly off topic)

An option I was looking at for this (sorry to post kinda late, fell behind and read from the bottom up...) is status with NPCs. Part of what I want with the game I'm workin on is to use it as an AI research test bed. The friendly NPCs in the game will outnumber the PCs so that the players can get a feel of all the players being "heros" while the world is still populated with "normal" people.

Using this the player would get status with all the NPCs. If the player kills an enemy, they gain status with the friendly faction and loose with the enemy faction. Based on their status with a faction, they can begin commanding NPC characters.

If the player is friendly with military factions, they gain military ranks. If the player is friendly with the merchant factions, they can hire merchant/trader/miners at lower costs. If the player is friendly with criminals, the criminal NPCs will assist with a heist at a lower cost. Etc...

I really want to try to make a game where cash is far less importiant than skills/stratigy/actions.
- My $0.02

#47 makeshiftwings   Members   -  Reputation: 394

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:58 AM

I'll second Talroth's advice. EVE has the best economy in an MMO I've seen, and I've played quite a few MMO's. I highly reccommend that anyone really interested in MMO economy download the free EVE trial and check out how it works. Here are some of the reasons that I think EVE's is a step in the right direction, away from the more common economic model of WoW or EQ:

- There is a galaxy-wide "market" system, where you can place Buy Orders and Sell Orders from various stations. The Sell Orders are somewhat similar to WoW's auction house, but the Buy Orders really take things to another level, since it allows player traders to put in orders for whatever they want and other players to sell the items at that price without having to go meet that player face-to-face. Where in other games you would sell your loot to an NPC and the loot would disappear and be replaced with new spawned gold (inflation), in EVE, it's actually almost always a real trade between players. There are a few NPC buyers, but only for specific items and not enough to make a big impact.

- In addition to most items being craftable, most items can also be broken back down into raw materials. That means that there's a floor price on most items, where no matter what happens to the economy, the average price of an item will never drop below what you could get for it by breaking it down and selling its raw materials.

- Most items need large amounts of different "level" materials. This means that there is an incentive for high-level players to buy things from low-level players. In WoW, for example, all high-level crafted armors just require high-level metals. In EVE, the equivalent item would require the same high-level metals, but also a million copper bars: probably more than you'd want to go harvest yourself, but few enough that you're willing to go buy them from someone else.

There are a lot of other things that contribute to the economic balance in the game, but really I would suggest taking a look at it yourself. It will help open your mind to ideas besides just "my personal gripe with WoW." ;)

#48 _winterdyne_   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:13 PM

I seriously think taking the component makeup of items for a game economy can go too far, as can units of measurement. It's easier for players to keep track of arbitary units of particular materials or components, and you can use 'rounding errors' or wastage to provide a money sink to counteract resource generators (like gold mines).

I'll use an example from Bloodspear. This mechanism is probably going to be abstracted and placed in Primogen (our code library) so we can reuse it elsewhere. Each resource type has an arbitrary unit - sacks of ore, ingots of metal, bolts of cloth etc.

Say we want to make (from scratch) a bejewelled, gilt, balanced steel longsword. Several key steps come into play.
First the absolute raw resources:
one small wooden log (for the handle) - umm, woodcutters. Axes. Trees.
one ingot and one sheet of gold leaf - mined elsewhere as nuggets, and smelted (smithy skill) into ingots, from which a jeweller can make gold leaf. Better smithy skill allows less nuggets to be consumed in making an ingot.
three steel ingots - mined as iron ore (measured in bags), and smelted into ingots by using additional coal (mined and measured in bags).
a small leather skin - gathered by hunters and tanned by a tailor (yes, I know it should be a tanner, whole different skill, but tanning is not exactly a fun crafting career, so leatherwork and tailoring are all lumped into one)
a large gem of fine or better quality - mined as an uncut gem (various types) and cut by a jeweller.

The player wanting the sword (possibly the blacksmith himself) gathers the required resources for the sword part - the steel, the gold, the wood and the leather. The blacksmith uses two steel ingots to create a steel longsword blade, one to create a crossguard. Various designs are available. The gold ingot is used to create a gold pommel. The wood and leather is used (not by a carpenter - this is one occasion where the smith uses it) to create a comfortable handle (yes, I know the binding of the handle is usually last - this makes it easier to assemble for a player). The smith can then assemble the components into a product. At this point the weapon is usable.

The stats of the weapon are dependent on a number of things - first the quality of the components used - everything has a quality rating from 0 to 1, and the quality of a component is the average of the resources that were put into it.

Crafters can attempt (by making their skill check more difficult) to increase the quality of a product by 20%, or to reduce the quality (making the skill check easier). Good crafters can therefore use lower quality materials for stock items (giving a niche to low-level miners etc). At no point can the quality of a product exceed 1.

The overall quality of a product acts as a multiplier to its stats, but the components used in it can also alter its behaviour:

A default longsword at top quality does 20-30 points of damage and takes half a second for a standard attack, and costs 5 fatigue points per attack. (These aren't 'real' figures, just approximates).

The gold pommel counts as a 'heavy pommel' and shaves 20% off fatigue cost per attack, and makes the weapon a 'balanced' weapon. It has a corresponding penalty in weight for the item. The pommel is also exposed as a target point for mounting a single gem.

The wood and leather handle is a standard handle - it has no effect on the stats of the item, other than affecting its overall quality.

So after the blacksmith's done, we have a balanced longsword of uncertain quality - the average of the components provides this. Overall quality is applied last.

The player can then take their sword to a jeweller, and have them mount a gem in the pommel and or gild the item with gold leaf. This turns the sword into a bejewelled, gilt sword. The quality of the gem, and the quality of the mounting and gilding work are taken into consideration in determining the overall quality of the sword.

But why do all the extras when you have a functional weapon? Well, in Bloodspear appearances matter - the apparent worth of your appearance is taken into account for a number of interactions with NPCs, and it is a means of showing off to other players. You can take it as read that exotic materials like gold have a much higher rarity and worth than base materials like iron. Decoration of good quality can also have an effect on the usability of the weapon.

#49 Edtharan   Members   -  Reputation: 606

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 05:45 PM

_winterdyne_ your system sounds like a well though out system and would give a lot of control over the power of a weapon to the crafter. What about haivn the crafter's skill haveing some effect on the quality of the item. This might be as one component in the overal quality or a restriction to, either the overall quality or the quality of the components used in the item.

#50 _winterdyne_   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by _winterdyne_
Crafters can attempt (by making their skill check more difficult) to increase the quality of a product by 20%, or to reduce the quality (making the skill check easier). Good crafters can therefore use lower quality materials for stock items (giving a niche to low-level miners etc). At no point can the quality of a product exceed 1.


Different products also have different skill check difficulties - and the skill system also has support for critical success and failure - so a badly failed mining check could break a pickaxe or at least damage it more than standard use (that rock's just too hard, and item decay is essential for the economy) and so on.

It's not granting power to the crafter that I particularly like about it - it's allowing players to develop their own style of play, even within the bounds of a certain skill - one player with swordsmanship might favour blade-heavy, harder-hitting weapons, whilst another might go for bonuses to parry. Perhaps they just want to look wealthy in order to get ahead in society. Plus, the requirement for many different types of crafter (and the fact the game's skill based so you can mix crafting and combat) should make the overall dynamic of the game a little more lively.

Actually - this is a point that should probably be highlighted - SWG removing combat ability from crafters was one of the stupidest (most stupid?) things I've seen - If you have a class based system, everybody should be able to access *most* content, or all of a sudden you end up with no crafters. Trying to counteract this by removing item decay is even more stupid, as it just forces more crafters out, turning the game into a Diablo 2 loot economy.
You can have some limits based on character type (or skill), but cutting such a large portion of the game out completely is dumb. Flexibility is the zen of player happiness. It is however a complete sod to try and balance.


#51 Edtharan   Members   -  Reputation: 606

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:52 PM

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Different products also have different skill check difficulties - and the skill system also has support for critical success and failure - so a badly failed mining check could break a pickaxe or at least damage it more than standard use (that rock's just too hard, and item decay is essential for the economy) and so on.

What if you had the durability of an item based on the crafter's skill, so the better the crafter the longer the item would last. This way the abilities of an item is more indipendant from the skill, however the better the crafter the longer the item will last.

#52 _winterdyne_   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 11:46 PM

Various stats on crafted items (including food products) can be altered by the choice of components that go into it. Generally this is through 'adjective' attachments to item (for durability 'sturdy', 'flimsy', 'solid') which are a set, easily understood bonus on top of the very variable quality. Examining the item provides a description of the quality -

'It's a good quality sword, somewhat better than yours. It looks sturdy.'.

'It's a reasonable quality ale. It smells potent.' You get the idea.

Most adjectives have a disadvantage - a 'sturdy' sword might weigh more, be more tiring to use, but it's going to last a while - good if you fight a lot, and don't head back to town to get things repaired, and are strong and fit enough to use it without getting knackered.

It has to be said, that the economic model might not want to pay too much attention to item quality - poor quality merchandise has lower stats (and should), making it less efficient for an NPC mechanism to use, comparted to better quality merchandise (perhaps at slightly greater cost). The advantage of being able to balance quality against cost provide player crafters with a stronger niche - the NPC mechanisms are too stupid to compete effectively. Given that the NPC's continue to trade more-or-less 24/7 (limited only by ingame time, if used), players need every advantage they can get. It may be necessary to cap skill limits on NPC crafters (meaning they can't create 'high level' gear).




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