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Removing NPC economy.


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#21 Aeramor   Members   -  Reputation: 1078

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:52 AM

Anyone remember Asheron's Call 2? .. no, of course not. They tried this. It didn't work.

Buying and selling goods takes time, is monotonous, and requires having goods worth buying and selling. It's why player economies in games are all focused around the "better items" and not rat fur #6billionand4. Even if every item is useful in some way, some will inevitably be less useful than others and will become the grey 'garbage' items, kind of unavoidable. Sure, even in wow you could sell your grey total crap items, but who would care or want to buy them? Also it's been shown that having too many valuable items makes them seem worthless and having no items at all, while possibly a break from the grindhouse games of yesteryear, will inevitably have issues keeping players interested (and isn't really what you were going for anyway). In short, I would love to see it happen but I just don't really see it working that well.


-Aeramor

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#22 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:02 PM



Being able to initiate high risk, high payout business maneuvers is exciting. Being able to make long term plans is exciting. Being able to actually affect the market is exciting.

These options will unfortunately be limited to a few people who can afford to do so...just like in real life.


In real life, you can set up businesses with other people, work for businesses, take loans, use derivatives, all kinds of stuff; you aren't limited to simply buying and selling physical goods with whatever coin you have in your pocket.

I'd like to see a MMO try giving players the power to define binding economic contracts via scripts, so they are automatically enforced by the engine after players have activated them.

A simple example would be a loan agreement that needs to be activated both by Joe and Bob because it contains some actions only one of them can give permission for:
Prerequisite - Joe must have X creds. Execution - X creds are transferred from Joe to Bob at time of signing. After 5 days, if Bob has 1.1*X creds, that amount is transferred from Bob to Joe; else contract-enforcer nanomachines permakill Bob.

Such a scripting system might also let players setup joint money or asset-holding accounts with asymmetrical rights, to conditionally place some actions behind locks so they need the permission of several people, or launch scripts from account event hooks, like auto-forwarding a certain ratio of creds incoming to an account to another account. These things would pave the way towards larger player-ran companies, with sufficient transparency to be agreeable to investors but also suitably restricted to minimize damage from insiders.

Edited by Stroppy Katamari, 09 January 2013 - 12:12 PM.


#23 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 01:37 PM

Buying and selling goods takes time, is monotonous, and requires having goods worth buying and selling. It's why player economies in games are all focused around the "better items" and not rat fur #6billionand4

 

If it took 10k rat fur to make the better item, then they would be all about rat fur. That doesn't devalue rat fur though, it keeps it's value depending on how many rats are in the world and how long it takes to "harvest" the fur and what it's used to make. It's all about supply and demand. The problem most MMO's have is they make the demand for certain resources obsolete the higher level you go. If they didn't do that and combine that with pulling currency out of thin air (the more you kill the more money you make from out of nowhere) and things get out of hand fast on these items.

 

If you need a light feather to craft the Epic Sword of Kickass and the higher level you are the more money you make from killing things, then the light feather will cost lots more because people know you need it to craft that sweet sword AND that you have the money to spend, so the price is much higher (and out of the reach of beginners), than if the money situation wasn't so easy to come by. If it was close to a zero sum game with rare injections of currency then money wouldn't be so meaningless and prices wouldn't go all crazy. Enter the real world. Money gets passed around and stays in circulation, with "rare" injections from the government. 



#24 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1640

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:03 PM

Wouldnt that lending thing then become: Joe lends to Bob, Bob buys some fancy Item, Bob gives fancy item to Bob2, Bob gets deleted, Bob continues happily as Bob2?rolleyes.gif

Though overall I think going without NPC for directly buying/selling to would be possible. But I think there needs to be a suitable replacement, like a very easy and for the players low maintenance auction house, that works like a real stock exchange. That means standardized items, all stackable as much as you want, anonymous bid and ask market orders, limit orders, stoploss orders, stopbuy orders, all splittable automatically and automatically executed and fullfilled, preferably with orders from other people hidden from the players and just some cummulated bid and ask numbers shown. Then hope people just drop anything crap or not into the market, easing it with as low amount of typing as possible(2 or 3 clicks should be enough if one isnt interested in customizing the order), so that people dont just let crap loot laying on the ground because it would take more time than normal npc sale which is not available.
Also you would need to be extremely careful to not make any monopolization of items possible, for example no boss monsters or conquerable areas that are camped by a few players giving others no chance of obtaining their drops.
Then anything needed by anyone should also be worthwhile for crafting, as in not too many or too rare ingredients, no huge amount of clicking while crafting (let them craft whole stacks easily with a time bar maybe), as otherwise noone would bother doing it.
Careful balancing would then be needed that anything be it adventuring, colleting materials, crafting, rare hunting, ... got a comparable useful return in gold per time spent, so not all people are just trying to do the same high reward thing.

Edited by wintertime, 09 January 2013 - 02:04 PM.


#25 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 965

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:06 PM


But lets say WoW required that you eat a balanced diet to perform at your max. Anything but a proper diet and you would start being docked efficiency in damage and armor. This gives people an incentive to get food. Now let's say this means you have to eat meats, veggies, fruits, grains, dairy, and even sweets!  That's 6 different kinds of food that you need in a decent amount of quantity. You couldn't possibly gather all that yourself to be efficient. So now if you give people a way to grow these resources but it requires a decent amount of time and care to do so, then these resources just became valuable and the AH will have a thriving market for them of people selling to other people.
 


This is the same as in real life. But in real life, the food industry is tough - most of the cooks are low paid and it is not easy for anyone to make significant profit by making it food and selling it.

You can argue that some chefs open their own restaurants and make big profits. But there are so few of them, compared to the vast majority of the cooks and chefs who are earning low wages. Also, because the food industry is a competitive capitalistic market, top chefs have to spend many years and put in a lot of effort to rise above the rest.

 

If you want to make significant profits in the food industry, 3 hours of gathering ingredients from the supermarket and baking it into a cake isn't going to do that for you.

 

We need to figure out why your game's economy will reach an equilibrium different from what is happening in real life.



#26 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 965

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:13 PM


In real life, you can set up businesses with other people, work for businesses, take loans, use derivatives, all kinds of stuff; you aren't limited to simply buying and selling physical goods with whatever coin you have in your pocket.


In real life, setting up a business is extremely risky. Google for "90% of businesses fails" and see for yourself.

Also, it is not that easy to set up a business in the first place. Certainly not as simple as "just take out a loan" when it comes to raising capital. Just look at this forum, so many "ideas guy" with no money to start their own game development team.

Most people are stuck working as employees.



#27 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

If you want to make significant profits in the food industry, 3 hours of gathering ingredients from the supermarket and baking it into a cake isn't going to do that for you

 

Game time != real world time. The reasons I think not having NPC's for an economy is possible is because we get to adjust all sorts of different variables to see what works. We get to play with population size by how many we let on a server, game time, supply, & demand. We can change all of these to see how things play out to "simulate" the real world at game time speed.

 

Your example of a restaurant is fine, but markets would be the main choice for people to get food, like it is in the real world. Restaurants would be a luxury like it is in the real world. In game restaurants could have instant prep time so the perk in game is that there is no prep. You go from 0 to full in no time, but you'd pay for that luxury. If you're busy cutting trees down and your hunger bar is low, you can prep and cook your own food which will take x time or you could go to a near restaurant and buy food that is instant, but costs more than if you prep/cooked it yourself. There is a trade-off with time and money. 



#28 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1502

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:49 PM

I think the key to making this system work is to simply make the economy a smaller part of the game. Focus on a skill based action game with very few collectible resources that make a decent (useful) variety of weapons and gear. This gear wears out over time and needs repaired or replaced, thus enters a nice shallow engaging, player created and player driven economy. If the players want to expand that economy, they will always find a way (diablo 2 and ebay is a good example of this) thus a developer can focus on DLC expansions on these community driven designs.

 

Here is another suggestion, create in game systems to allow players to decide on how to handle theft and fraud. Allow players to earn the authority to, for example exile a player from a city (city guards upkeep this authority) or force them to fight in an arena (bigger draw backs to arena death) or even get right into the gears of the game and strip players of hard earned skills and items. Bounties, coops, elections, drafts, etc. Plenty of systems of power earning, enforcing and power distribution exist, giving players the chance to incite change within a game is what really makes an economy fun. Economy is the distribution of power not things that drives peoples. Enabling players to empower themselves based on the opinions of other players, I think, is the key to this system. I mean how incredible would it be if players of an MMO discovered a better way to govern and socially organize?

 

Democrats, republican and the WOWicans, it would only be a matter of time if we give players the tools to play at socially organizing.


Edited by Mratthew, 09 January 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#29 Greatak   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:33 PM

Removing the NPC economy has several (possibly undesirable) effects:

 

1) You lose control of the economy. It is now subject to chaos and market forces.

 

As others have pointed out, it can be hard to balance such an economy or fix issues. Also, there are much research on the unpredictability of the economy, even by PhD economists. E.g. www.nytimes.com/2007/04/15/magazine/15wwlnidealab.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

You don't lose control. You need to use different control mechanisms. You get all the tools of real governments, which in some cases are great at controlling markets. But you also get complete control over the world. Iron is too expensive? You can arbitrarily make more mines.

 

Solely operating on bartering is messy. There's a reason why the world doesn't work this way. Depending on the game, you could have lots of people who just aren't online at any given time. Some sort of 'NPC-run' shop which just services player transactions, while providing no materials would be extremely useful, I'd think, in keeping a large market going when you don't have tons of people online at any given moment.


Edited by Greatak, 09 January 2013 - 04:38 PM.


#30 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

A while back I tried creating a thread, although I did very poorly at the time, to explain a co-operative economy where NPCs do not buy or sell anything. Players would harvest/collect resources from the world to craft with. Players could then trade/sell to other players, or donate it to their "realm", realm being the NPC faction they are affiliated with. Upon donating players would earn contribution points. There would be an initial contribution point reward and as the item gets donated more and more, the contribution reward would eventually go down, but never to zero. Overtime this level would regenerate if goods cease to be donated. Donating goods would always return at least some contribution points. Contribution points can also be earned by other means than purely donating goods.

 

After a period of time passes contribution points are totaled and weighed against each other to determine how much a player receives for their contribution points. The more wealth a realm has the larger the pool of currency to be divided is. The more contribution points you earned in that period the larger the percentage you may acquire. Everyone, as long as they earned contribution points, will earn some currency. This is how realm currency enters the game, not through hunting/questing.

 

Players would have to determine how much they value inventory/storage space versus the player market available for the item or whether or not they wish to donate the goods to their realm's NPC government. Contribution points can be veiled from the player and be a background operation to prevent players trying to manipulate the contribution system if it is required.

 

At work, so that is all for now.



#31 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:49 PM

In my game the shops will be owned and built by players. For example a player can make a market where other players can put up their goods to sell, and other players can buy. It would function like WoW AH but they won't be auctions and just straight sales. Your goods sit at this marketplace for 24 to 48 hours or until sold. When your items are sold the market gets x % which was defined by the owner player. The goods instantly go to the buyer, the money instantly goes to the seller minus the market fee.

This allows players to make money off their goods when not being online. It also lets the owners of the building to make money. Getting the materials to build a market will not be easy. Multiple players building markets will create competition and ensure the % cut is reasonable. Traveling is slow with no ports so it'll require many of these building to service players.

Extend this idea to every building like lumber mill, bakery, potter, where you bring materials to and the buildings automatically make the final product for you and the building charges a fee to make money for the owner.

When the game first starts there is no buildings owned by npc's, and so things start out primitive and some things simply can't be made. As soon as players start making buildings it starts opening up more things to be made creating a form of server progress. That's what I'm doing anyway. I think it'll work.

#32 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1640

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:44 AM

I think many people will get tired of re-re-re-putting their items into that market every 24 or 48 hours soon. Also for buyers it will get more and more tiresome to find the needed goods and do price comparisons the more markets are opened. So some people will put things at outrageous prices just to scam people tired of looking everywhere. Fair sellers will more and more just let cheap stuff rot in their storage than trying and not succeeding to sell it at prices slightly below those other overpriced sellers which are still overpriced. That is pretty much the problem I saw in Ragnarok Online.

Thats why I would favour a single automatically run auction house with bid and ask orders.



#33 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:18 AM

My entire game is about building the world up with resources so this is part of doing that. If you're making money then there is nothing boring about putting up your goods on the marketplace to get money to get other goods to make what you want to make. If 24-48 isn't long enough then 3-5 days could be available as well.

 

In WoW if someone puts "unfair" prices then nobody will buy it and it'll just sit there. The name of the game is undercutting other like products so people buy yours instead of your competitors. That's what competition does.

 

Nobody will let their goods rot (and they will degrade over time) because it'll then be worthless and unusable. Just like in the real world the closer to expiration date of something the cheaper it gets just to get it out of your inventory and get some money for it. This would be the same way.

 

In your run of the mill RPG MMO's normally dealing with AH or marketplace is a secondary distraction from killing, quests, etc. In my game it's sort of the entire point to it all. It's how you get money to get other things you want/need to better your character's wants/needs and the game world as a whole.

 

Like anything else the community will drive everything and weed out the unfairness only if resource selling/buying/making is the main point of the game. If it's a side thing like in most RPG MMO's then the community generally doesn't care because they just want to get the next best gear and do the next best dungeon. That's not the game I'm making though. I think if that's the MMO someone is making doing all this stuff without NPC's becomes harder because people will be focused on other things.



#34 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 965

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:23 AM


Game time != real world time. The reasons I think not having NPC's for an economy is possible is because we get to adjust all sorts of different variables to see what works. We get to play with population size by how many we let on a server, game time, supply, & demand. We can change all of these to see how things play out to "simulate" the real world at game time speed.
 
Your example of a restaurant is fine, but markets would be the main choice for people to get food, like it is in the real world. Restaurants would be a luxury like it is in the real world. In game restaurants could have instant prep time so the perk in game is that there is no prep. You go from 0 to full in no time, but you'd pay for that luxury. If you're busy cutting trees down and your hunger bar is low, you can prep and cook your own food which will take x time or you could go to a near restaurant and buy food that is instant, but costs more than if you prep/cooked it yourself. There is a trade-off with time and money. 
 

Regardless of what the "game time" is, I will NOT pay significant amount for something that takes 5 minutes of real world time to collect in game.

#35 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:54 AM

You can only gather resources on the property that you own. If you don't have enough to buy plots of land that have gold mines on them, then you don't have a choice but to buy the gold from the person who owns the land who mined it and is selling it. In my game you can't just gather any old resource, just like in the real world you can't just go cutting down trees on land you don't own. This ownership of land to gather the resources on the land is really what forces collaboration (just like in the real world). You won't have the money, right away, to go buying up plots of land. The starting money is still up in the air but it'll be around enough to buy a 6x6 tiled plot of land. All land starts out being owned by the "government", and all money paid to the goverment will be put back into the world in interesting ways (random treasure chests in unpopulated areas for example).

 

If a person wants to go explore for plots that have gold on them that's fine, but if they are far away from where people start to build their towns then you'll have a hard time with transportation and getting other goods. There is no teleporting and at least to start with only walking to get around so travels are slow and risky. Even if you do buy a plot of and with gold on it, it won't have other materials you need so you'll have to buy those from others. This is what creates the dependency between players and out of this will come active markets. By the time you have enough money to go buy that plot with gold, someone else most likely would have bought it and is selling it.

 

Add that on to the fact that your needs simply won't allow you to be able to meet them all to the max yourself. It just won't be possible so you will need to rely on others which means buying things at a marketplace.


Edited by rpiller, 10 January 2013 - 09:05 AM.


#36 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4642

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

Allow players to earn the authority to, for example exile a player from a city [..] or force them to fight in an arena

Good idea, but that will be an "official means" of harrassing and oppressing individuals or groups, and for gaining power in a feedback loop. Which is just what it will be used for.

 

Say I'm the leader of the biggest guild in the region. The second biggest guild is competing with us, but the 3rd-5th biggest guilds are trying hard to make friends (just because we're the biggest).

So I'm placing myself as El Supremo in Capital City.

Now, as it happens, the iron and silver mines close to Capital City are the best in the world, so what do I do? I ban everyone not in my guild from accessing it. Or even better... off with ye head, says I. In fact, I shall have all traitors who do not bow to El Supremo executed.

Now I have all the iron and all the silver, and everyone in my way is being killed by NPCs. And now, the entire world!!!
 

[...] strip players of hard earned skills and items.

What if I have the power to do that and someone keylogs me and hijacks my account? They'll strip 25,000 people off their earnings over night, which is probably the end of the game. Nobody will ever pay one cent to play that game again.
 

elections [...] power distribution

Those are antipodal things. You must not assume that democracy works. It does not work in real life, so why should it work in a game.

Look at how Mr. Bush or Mr. Putin were elected. They both demonstrably cheated (one with dead people voting, the other with groups of people making tours all over the country and voting 50-100 times in different towns). So what? Nobody cares. Everybody knew they cheated. It was in the news for a couple of days, and... so what? They were still the "legitimate" leaders of their countries for the entire term afterwards.

 

It's not any different from King by the Grace of God, you only believe it is. Nobody cares what you think. Nobody cares if you agree. Nobody cares if you die in a dirty trench with your intestines spilt on the ground only because some fucker who got elected as president decided that you must go to war in a country that you've never heard of, for a reason that nobody understands.

 

The only things that has changed during the 800 years since the crusades are that back then it was "for the will of God" and today it is "for Freedom and God", and "president" has twice as many letters as "king". More words, but still the same shit.


Now imagine a game where you can just create 100 or 200 accounts that vote for you. Or where you can press people into voting you because you tell them you'll otherwise seek them out every time they enter a PvP area? Or where you can just buy people's votes (people who don't really care, it's only a game, right) by giving out free items?

This just won't work as long as there are people with a serious striving for power (and there will always be). Don't assume that people will not just create 100 accounts to be "king".



#37 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

I would just have player hired NPC merchants. They could charge money % of the value players placed on the goods they are selling or a baseline merchant fee. If you don't pay the fee, poof they go, taking your goods as their fee. If you want your goods back, you can go to the NPC merchant hiring area and pay the owed fee for the return of your goods. There would be an interest rate so it couldn't be used as infinite storage.



#38 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 657

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:59 AM

Don't assume that people will not just create 100 accounts to be "king".

 

The problem for them being if it's a democracy they can only be "king" for, say, a month or so. Then they can not be "king" again for say 6 months or something like that. If someone wanted to create 100 accounts for a paid MMO to get elected then it's a win for us developers as it's money in our pockets smile.png. You also only give the "king" limited rights to minimize the damage they can do in a short amount of time. There will be people who want to be "king" because they can do more stuff than normal players. Even if the more stuff isn't all that intense it's still something more and there will always be someone who wants to be special.

 

 

 

I would just have player hired NPC merchants. They could charge money % of the value players placed on the goods they are selling or a baseline merchant fee. If you don't pay the fee, poof they go, taking your goods as their fee. If you want your goods back, you can go to the NPC merchant hiring area and pay the owed fee for the return of your goods. There would be an interest rate so it couldn't be used as infinite storage.

 

You can do this with people as well with contracts. No need for NPC's. I can give contracts out that says 1 contract can chop down 5 trees on my land. I get the wood and the person doing the chopping gets x currency per wood qty. These contracts can be in a classified area on some newspaper and anyone can accept. The money is taken out and set aside when I make up the contract to ensure I have the funds. When the player accepts they are given permission to chop on my land 5 trees and all wood gained doesn't go to them but goes to me. No need for NPC's and now we have an employee/employer situation happening. If someone likes your work and you are reliable they can make specific contracts for individuals.

 

Interestingly enough this creates a need for a newspaper building, which requires paper from a papermill which requires wood to be turned into paper. To make it so you have towns you can have each newspaper building have a certain radius where people can purchase that paper to see what that town has for jobs, goods, anything.

 


 


Edited by rpiller, 10 January 2013 - 10:06 AM.


#39 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:36 AM


In real life, you can set up businesses with other people, work for businesses, take loans, use derivatives, all kinds of stuff; you aren't limited to simply buying and selling physical goods with whatever coin you have in your pocket.


In real life, setting up a business is extremely risky. Google for "90% of businesses fails" and see for yourself.
Yes, real world is risky and a lot of work. That's exactly why I might like to play an entrepreneur in a game, where equivalents of many real-world risks and encumbrances do not exist (and, of course, I face no real-world risk).
Also, it is not that easy to set up a business in the first place. Certainly not as simple as "just take out a loan" when it comes to raising capital. Just look at this forum, so many "ideas guy" with no money to start their own game development team. Most people are stuck working as employees.
Not everyone is interested in the specifics involved in running a business, which is a kind of work in itself. Many, including me IRL, are not "stuck working as employees" but prefer it to entrepreneurship. In a game with a rich player-ran economy, a player with an eye for the market might find a position in a player-ran investment bank, and become able to do interesting stuff that requires more capital than any individual player has.

Edited by Stroppy Katamari, 11 January 2013 - 04:36 AM.





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