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Would a trade system work?


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#1 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 670

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:08 PM

Do you think a system designed around a trade house would work in an MMO instead of money/gold? By this I mean if certain automations were done for the player, would players accept a trading system as the only option to get other resources the need? If so what kind of automation could you think would help such a system?

 

Let's say I'm a farmer and I have lots of beef. More than I can eat. I need some iron to repair my tools though and I'm not a miner so I don't have any iron and mining it would take too long. So I go down to the trade post and I put up on an automated system that says 5xbeef for 2xiron. Then let's say along comes a miner who is hungry. What's the best way to hook these people up and then once found easily allow for negotiation.

 

Would automation (no matter how advanced) still make this a huge pain? I don't see this very often in games. Using gold seems to be the norm since it mimics our real life. However, in a virtual world we don't have all the real world issues like physics... So you would think that some level of automation in virtual trading would make this an attractive option as brings communities together and removes gold farmers and all the other issues related to currency.

 

Any ideas around what kind of automation you can think of to make a trading system as easy as money?



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#2 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 06:00 PM

If one guy is selling something easily divisible, such as rice, they can come to an arrangement. I'll give you 300 pounds of rice for that pig. But if things are not so easily divisible, we run into problems. For example, I have horses and you have cows; are they equally valuable? Could I give you 1 1/2 horses for a cow?

 

This divisibility is a major advantage of money, perhaps even why it was invented. But if your system includes at least one resource that is valuable to almost everyone and is highly divisible, then you can probably skip implementation of coins or money. Maybe I don't eat rice, so I have no direct need of rice. But I'm aware that everyone around me does eat rice. So I'm willing to accept rice in trade for my horse, because I can then use that rice to trade for something I want -- such as the previously mentioned cow.

 

The main problem I see with economic systems is the way value is attributed to the various items that are up for exchange. For a system to be truly a free and open market, it has to be the actual merit of the product that determines it's exchange rate. How much trouble, time and resources are required to get something, versus how much benefit it offers a given player. This might seem obvious, but it's worth stating in black and white: Something that is difficult or time-consuming to get is worth less. That is a cost, and expense to the player, and so that item is not as valuable as something that is easier or less time-consuming. Whereas something that offers improvements to the player's abilities is worth more to that player.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 28 August 2013 - 06:10 PM.

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#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4860

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 06:09 PM

NeoPets either has or used to have a barter lot system that ran alongside their monetary system.  The way it worked (as best I remember) is, the player selected items they actually had and committed them to be a trade lot for 1 day or 3 days or a week.  To go with this, they wrote a verbal description of what they wanted in exchange.  People who wanted to trade could separately search either the lots that were being offered, or the verbal descriptions of what was wanted.  Then if there was a barter lot you wanted, you put together a lot that you were offering in exchange, and committed to it.  The first player was notified of the offer and could look at it, then either accept it or reject it, or leave it there to see of they got a better offer before the time on their own lot ran out.  It was quite common to PM people to ask them if such and such offer would be ok, or if they could split a lot in half or double it, or whether they would prefer item A or item B in exchange.


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#4 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 815

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 06:44 PM

I think this system could work in an mmo. It is more cumbersome than using money, but that could be part of the charm of the game. I think AngleWyrm touched on one of the difficulties the system could face; dealing in things that are not easily divisible. In our modern world, facing something like trading a chicken for a cow where both sides could agree that an even trade isn't fair, throwing some money in with the offer can seal the deal. No doubt these kinds of issues popped up in civilizations before standardized currencies were used though, perhaps you could research how those situations came to be resolved.

 

I will stand by my saying this will be more cumbersome than a single, universal currency (money, gold, gil, dolla dolla bills y'all) but I think automation would go a very long way towards making it easier to cope with. Like maybe your "trading post" system would have an 'offering' and 'requesting' side. In the offering side, the user could put what item(s) they are offering as a complete unit (2xchickens, 5xeggs, 2xbags_of_flour) and on the requesting side, the user could put together several selections they would take in exchange for it. So I might be willing to accept (1xcow) OR (1xbull, 2xgallons_of_milk) OR (1xmedium_quality_broad_sword) OR (so on and so on for as many of those as I was willing to sit there and enter (or some amount of options in line with a technical restriction you put in place)).

 

In that system, another player could come and search with his 'willing-to-trade' items (maybe an option you can toggle on all of your items) which could be 1xcow and 5xgallons_of_milk, for example. That would return me offers that people have made that I could meet the 'requests' of. So that earlier trade would show up as someone offering (2xchickens, 5xeggs, 2xbags_of_flour) for my (1xcow).

 

Listing out all of the things you would be willing to accept sounds like it would get pretty tedious. Maybe some sort of counter offer system could be devised? So then I could list a minimal number of specific things I'm requesting but then people could suggest other things they'd be willing to give me for my offer. Maybe you'd have to limit how often people could make counter offers (suggestions) so somebody doesn't spend hours suggesting (1xegg) for things that clearly no one is going to trade for just (1xegg). Definitely some subtleties to work out in that kind of system.

 

I don't think these system tweaks do anything to deter gold farmers. "Gold farmers" would just as readily become meat farmers or iron farmers or hay farmers if that is what had value.



#5 rpiller   Members   -  Reputation: 670

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 06:52 PM

@Angle I do wonder if players would come up with some kind of common item as currency (rice in your example). Your example of needing a horse and a cow are good examples, but I guess I wouldn't see those 2 people being able to barter just those 2 items or maybe a horse and a cow are equal to those people if they both need the other bad enough? On one hand I feel like a barter system can solve some problems and make getting resources you need more interesting. On the other hand I fear it would consume most of the gameplay, which for sure isn't what I want.

 

@sun In NeoPets did this bartering end up taking a lot of time and take away from other gameplay?

 

@J I was thinking that it would just be more work than the gold farmers would want to deal with. It's not as clean as gold and so maybe there would be less desire to do the "gold farming" thing. Just a guess though. There is no central thing of value anymore and everything is equally valuable (for the most part). If the players just agreed that rice was the most common need and easy to make by most, then that would encourage "gold farmers" to make rice I guess.

 

I agree that making bundled trades can help mask any imbalances in the trade. Sure a horse is more valuable then a cow alone, but a cow and 3 chickens can = a horse. However this, as you have shown, complicates matters :) This is the main part where I think automation can really help, but the details of how it's implements would make or break it.

 

If I was a player and I needed 10 iron the first thing I'd want to do is just type iron in a search box to bring up every trade that has iron in it. Maybe an option that only shows acceptable trade items that I have in my inventory to get exact matches? Then I decide if it's doable or not? Like you said listing everything you'd accept would be a pain. Maybe as a player putting something on the trading post I list things I WON'T accept? This should be a shorter list you'd think. It would automatically select the same things I'm putting up on the trading block as that wouldn't make sense to accept the same things I'm putting up to trade.

 

Someone makes an offer and it automatically shows me no matter where I am. I can Accept/Decline/Decline w/reply where I can say why. Would we get a ton of silly offers to weed through from someone just being stupid? : / Lots to think about with this system.


Edited by rpiller, 28 August 2013 - 07:06 PM.


#6 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1651

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:17 AM

There is another problem besides items being not divisible.

If for example someone plays a blacksmith and needs coal/iron and sells swords, but the miners searching/finding iron/coal dont need swords but mules for transportation, but people selling mules need to feed those and farmers selling food need fertilizer and people selling fertilizer need bags and people making bags need leather and people finding leather from monsters need a sword? And there can easily be many other such cyles, which could easily be fulfilled by everyone trading for money, but get near impossible to solve with only bartering between 2 people allowed, when everyone would shy away from accepting something they dont immediately need and they dont have experience in how good it would resell and no connections to other people needing it.

I guess people would then try to resolve it by slowly finding some easily convertible and divisible item like gems needed for upgrading, but that can have sideeffects like people hoarding those like they would with money and people needing it for its intended purpose suffer from it being less available or only when they by luck have something a hoarder badly needs at that moment.

People would also get tired of very slowly selling something and think they'll just keep it for later(in reality hoard it forever), reducing overall availability which in turn makes it easier for other people to have a near monopoly and only sell at ridiculously high prices, which leads to even less trading, which can lead to inflation.

 

If you want to help with trading in such a system you would need to make it very easy for lazy people. Repeatedly putting together different sets of items you want to get rid of every few hours/days can get really annoying.

The easiest solution for people would probably be to just have two sets of items in their storage account, things to keep and things to sell.

Then when someone needs something he types the name and how many of it into a search, if there is any account which contains that inside the 'for sale' set he can move a few things from his 'for sale' set into an offer box, everyone else which 'for sale' set contains it gets a message next time they are online, the first that clicks accept gets the trade. Then maybe allow counteroffers with showing the 2 boxes with offered and wanted item and 2 boxes with all other items in these 2 peoples 'for sale' sets and allowing to drag and drop stuff around and click counteroffer which in turn notifies the first person who can accept or decline.

The problem is then people would maybe feel spammed by all those offerings and reofferings while they maybe just want to kill some monsters at that time.


Edited by wintertime, 29 August 2013 - 09:21 AM.


#7 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:44 AM

On the other hand I fear it would consume most of the gameplay, which for sure isn't what I want.

 

And there can easily be many other such cyles, which could easily be fulfilled by everyone trading for money, but get near impossible to solve with only bartering between 2 people allowed, when everyone would shy away from accepting something they dont immediately need and they dont have experience in how good it would resell and no connections to other people needing it.
 
These two together remind me of a problem with the Diablo-3 auction house; it seems convoluted, finding the currently traded price for things, and searching for things is made difficult, as if revealing those values to the players would be bad for business. The player isn't informed what things have sold for, only the (often outlandish) asking price of proposed trades. Whereas to me it seems that sooner is better, as far as figuring out what things have been trading for.
 
Eve online gives trade history graphs for the various things on offer, so the player can get a feel for the current value of an item, and thus arrive more quickly to making competent offers.

Edited by AngleWyrm, 29 August 2013 - 09:46 AM.

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#8 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1175

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:47 AM

Didn't see it mentioned, but Path of Exile has a no gold trade system, and is an mmo (with instanced combat areas, but still an mmo).

The way it works there (from the stuff I've seen), is that when you 'sell' items to a trader you get scroll and/or stone fragments. Enough of these (10 i think) automatically make a stone or scroll. The stones/scrolls are also used to 'buy' items. Trading between players is also possible and it just comes down to bargaining.

 

The key why that works though, I think, is that the stones/scrolls are one time use items that are quite commonly used in game (such as identifying items, or augmenting items) - and thus gives them value without flooding the market with them.



#9 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4860

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 12:35 PM

@Angle I do wonder if players would come up with some kind of common item as currency (rice in your example). Your example of needing a horse and a cow are good examples, but I guess I wouldn't see those 2 people being able to barter just those 2 items or maybe a horse and a cow are equal to those people if they both need the other bad enough? On one hand I feel like a barter system can solve some problems and make getting resources you need more interesting. On the other hand I fear it would consume most of the gameplay, which for sure isn't what I want.
 
@sun In NeoPets did this bartering end up taking a lot of time and take away from other gameplay?

Players tend to come up with not one, but half a dozen common items usable as currency. A Tale In the Desert is another game I think of in terms of bartering, because that game did not have money of any kind, nor did it have a searchable automated barter system If you wanted to trade, you said so on the trade channel, worked out the details in PM, then it could take quite a bit of time and effort for the two players to physically get together to trade because of the difficulties of travel and transporting bulky items in a limited inventory. The main effect of this high time cost was to discourage people from trading with anyone but their neighbors. But there were several standard currencies that emerged - bricks, flax and linen were the three things everyone needed thousands of and got tired of making, so they were a medium-value currency. Firewood was a low value currency because it was gathered, not made - everyone needed firewood, and even the newbiest player could gather it almost as fast as a high level player. It was pretty common for a newbie to trade 1000 firewood for a tool they had no ability to make on their own.

NeoPets on the other hand is a social gaming site. For social gaming sites in general, such as GaiaOnline, Flight Rising, and many others, playing the marketplace and trading is considered to be a legit part of the gameplay. So it's kind of a mis-targeted question if you ask whether people spend time on that instead of other gameplay, because they're _supposed_ to. I earned half the money I have in Flight Rising by making use of the conversion rate between in-game currency and cash-shop currency. I LOVE games where cash shop currency can be sold directly to other players for in-game currency. Buy low, sell high, pretend you are on Wall Street! Will you make a killing or lose your shirt if you buy up all of one kind of item to temporarily force their price up and try to resell yours at the higher price? biggrin.png And on Flight Rising, one of the main things people are trading are dragons, each being pretty much unique, and therefore even if you're selling for pure in-game currency you need to negotiate what it's worth. People do dragon flipping too - buy one that they think is underpriced and immediately try to resell it for more.

The easiest solution for people would probably be to just have two sets of items in their storage account, things to keep and things to sell.
Then when someone needs something he types the name and how many of it into a search, if there is any account which contains that inside the 'for sale' set he can move a few things from his 'for sale' set into an offer box, everyone else which 'for sale' set contains it gets a message next time they are online, the first that clicks accept gets the trade. Then maybe allow counteroffers with showing the 2 boxes with offered and wanted item and 2 boxes with all other items in these 2 peoples 'for sale' sets and allowing to drag and drop stuff around and click counteroffer which in turn notifies the first person who can accept or decline.
The problem is then people would maybe feel spammed by all those offerings and reofferings while they maybe just want to kill some monsters at that time.

I quite like this idea. Just don't make the offerings and reofferings notifications or messages and you will solve the spam problem. Instead make there be a passive part of the GUI where it displays the fluctuating number of relevant offers and reoffers, and the player has to actively click that to see a list of all the currently available ones they can respond to (or make new ones). Also, don't make the ability to list offers limited to what's currently in the player's inventory.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#10 Valkrysa   Members   -  Reputation: 106

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:12 PM

This is quite an interesting topic, enough so that after probably two years of lurking its made me register for an account.

It's clear there are a number of different directions this could go with trade between players but I wonder how this would work with trade between players and NPC's or even NPC's with other NPC's.

In my game (still working on the infrastructure and networking) NPC's act very much the same as players do and can do the same thing players do. With built in gold in the game you can always have the NPC's use the default price attributed to items.

However if you remove gold and focus on bartering then when a player wants to buy a pig from an NPC the NPC would need to somehow decide how much they valued what you were offering relative to what you wanted. With a basic system of needs this is no problem but once you get past basic needs to [this would be useful to have, not a need but we need the NPC to still know its a good trade] things would become much more complicated.

I suppose you could still give thing an innate relative value to each other and let the NPC's make non-essential trades based on innate values.

Innate values being perhaps something like an atomic value of the item; Chair is crafted by 4 Cedar Logs and a Cedar Log is worth 10 atomic value so the NPC would see a chair as having an innate value of 40 and try to trade around that.

Hmmm, I'm going to be thinking about this one for the rest of the night; thank you for posting the topic~


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#11 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 10:46 PM

It's clear there are a number of different directions this could go with trade between players but I wonder how this would work with trade between players and NPC's or even NPC's with other NPC's.

...

With built in gold in the game you can always have the NPC's use the default price attributed to items

...Chair is crafted by 4 Cedar Logs and a Cedar Log is worth 10 atomic value so the NPC would see a chair as having an innate value of 40 and try to trade around that.

What is the purpose of a trade? What if I have a chair that costs 4 Ceder Logs, and someone else has a table that costs 4 Ceder Logs to assemble? So far, there is no reason to exchange. But what if I've invested 50 Cedar Logs to make a Chair Factory, where it only costs 3 Cedar Logs to make a chair?

 

If I make enough chairs, the cost that I've paid out eventually comes to less than 4 logs/chair, approaching 3 logs/chair. So if I traded those chairs for tables, I would be getting the equivalent of free Cedar logs. Now all I got to do is find someone who specializes in making cost-effective tables. Until we use up the Cedar logs, or the rate at which Cedar logs are currently being produced. Then someone can come along with a plan to increase Cedar log production...

 

If the price for a thing is cheap in one place, but more expensive in another, then barter and trade is a mechanism that moves things around until a balance is reached. A sort of financial pressure which causes value to flow and settle.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 31 August 2013 - 01:56 PM.

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#12 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1525

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 11:19 PM

Limit the game's number of core resources, alloys and alchemy, tools, items (weapons, etc), craft locations and services. Make all items basic items (upon crafting all stats are default) and use missions and challenges to add additional stats to tradables (to make them rare and worth trading). Create a mission builder that allows players to request services in exchange for tradables. For example if a player needs an Ice Sword to slay a fire dragon a smith could trade a special sword to the player(that will become the ice sword) in exchange for completing a frozen blade quest where the player would gain a frozen dragon tooth tool for the smith to turn X amount of swords into ice swords. If the trade post system always has NPCs making offers on player's needs and posting needs as well then the economy won't become stale. The quality of the game will directly correlate to the number of meaningful missions you are able to get into the game. Most importantly is to keep a paper rock scissors structure otherwise you will get trapped by linear leveling and players will quickly find the "end of the game". For example, paper that has all the possible stacked stats the game has to offer should at best draw against scissors but never win against it otherwise player's won't have a reason to go looking for scissors and the economy will go stale. 

 

I would create 3 levels of services. Tactical services (engage target, access location, access item), Operational services (engage team, protect character, produce item) and Strategic services (engage dungeon, protect characters, produce items). The different levels of services enable higher level tradables to align with higher level services. 

 

Let me know if this idea makes sense. It's inspired by the new Star Citizen game in production and its economy structure



#13 BarefootPhilosopher   Members   -  Reputation: 245

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 01:08 AM

"Would automation (no matter how advanced) still make this a huge pain? I don't see this very often in games. Using gold seems to be the norm since it mimics our real life. However, in a virtual world we don't have all the real world issues like physics... So you would think that some level of automation in virtual trading would make this an attractive option as brings communities together and removes gold farmers and all the other issues related to currency."

 

I hope you don't think I'm being patronizing, but the idea that money's value has to be derived with reference to a commodity is a common misconception. Even the period where the Gold Standard held sway was very brief and gold comprised only a portion of money being employed in the world economy. Like today a great proportion of economic transactions were facilitated by credit contracts mediated by banks and other financial institutions. 

 

Political economy and video games are both particular interests of mine and your topic provides a great opportunity to contribute to a discussion that relates to both of them. I have a idiosyncratic perspective on political economy that isn't shared by the majority of orthodox economists, but many are beginning to swing in the same general direction due to recent developments in economic history scholarship.

 

The suggestions of the commentators of on this thread all appear to be premised on the basis of a barter economy. According to the revelations from the hithero mentioned scholarship, after two centuries of investigation by anthropologists and sociologists, no one has been able to find an society where its members conducted economic transactions based on barter.

 

"The problem, as Caroline Humphrey (an anthropology professor at Cambridge) observed, is that “no example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money; all available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing”.

http://www.duej.co.uk/wordpress/op-ed-economic-myth-no-1-before-money-people-bartered/

 

Its totally understandable why its so hard for people in the modern age to conceive of economic relations that differ to the impersonal, distanced ones that so pervasively define how we relate to one another today. 

 

The nature of money has always been and continues today derives from social relations between people and manifested in a complex array of cultural practices based upon trust, obligation, gifts, debts, credit, and even love. The majority of people prior to the modern age lived in communities where they know each other and could easily assess whether people were trustworthy or duplicitous, reliable or capricious, stingy or generous. It was only when societies reached a scale and level of complexity where former tight social bonds between people loosened that formalized economic relationships such as debt/credit contracts became necessary.

 

"All people, urban as well as rural, tend to lend each other things. They do this even when the benefits to such helpful behavior are not immediately apparent. In small communities, people lend their tools and their time to each other. While they may expect reciprocity in the future, they do not explicitly write a contract to formalize it. Such co-operation is a form of insurance. You help out when you can afford to do so, and you call upon your neighbors when you find yourself in need.

When people started living in large communities like Uruk, they began to live with strangers as well as friends. It may have been possible to know everyone in a large farming village, but not in a vast city such as Uruk. What were once implicit agreements among neighbors now became explicit, contractual agreements among strangers. When everyone had the same profession and skills, neighborly help could always be repaid in kind. But when people developed different professions it must have been difficult to maintain neighborly reciprocity. Urban societies still needed cooperation, but limits to familiarity with fellow inhabitants, and difficulty with quantifying the units of such cooperation meant that people required more formal ways to insure a return on their helpful efforts."

http://viking.som.yale.edu/will/finciv/chapter1.htm#steps

 

One of the core features of the nature of money is its use as a unit of measure. Units of measure is a definite magnitude of a physical quantity that is arbitrarily decided upon and standardized with the agreement of a community. Units of measure like the mina and shekel evolved out of counting systems used by Neolithic communities of the Near East and codified by the governments of Mesopotamia. They were both units to measure quantities of physical commodities like grain and livestock and abstract values used in accounting. In ancient times, intermediary materials like silver were only used when trading across vast distances needed to import goods needed by the Sumerian temples, because the materials weren't available in their own territories. 

 

What level of technology is there in your game? Is it a primitiive economy that relies on handcrafted products, one in which artisans employ technology like small scale foundries or spinning wheels to produce their goods, or is there a possibility for players to utilized powered machinery to mass produce them? I'm not a MMO player myself so I'm not aware whether that's even a consideration in MMOs crafting systems. Sorry but I can't help think about virtual economies in real world terms. For me a tradehouse, bourse, or exchange only makes sense to me in terms of an economy that allows large scale production and distribution. To me an economy that is premised on small scale, primitive production and distribution would be better served by relying solely on NPC or player managed market stalls or traveling merchants who the player can conduct trade with. Or even allow players who know each other to lend goods/commodities to each other whether with the expectation of return or not. It should be up to them.

 

If the transactions must be formalized why not invent your own currency without any reference to Gold? I mean its legally allowed in real life, why not in a game? Various individuals and organizations minted private token currencies in medieval-early modern Europe, which were used by people without access to the scarce commodity moneys issued by the State until very recent times. You could even implement a full fledged player managed finance system where they can run their own banks and issue credit and debt. The MUD Shattered World has successfully done so for going on 10 years and the developers have managed to curtail excessive monetary gyrations by acting as the central financial authority, just like the world's Central Banks.

 

"Money enters the economy by players loaning money to purchase items, usually property. These loans are typically secured against the property in question and the bank owner determines interest rate and risk; of course the banks themselves are also tradable commodities. An important aspect of the economy is that wizards participate as if they were players if they want to offer coins as a reward or buy items already existing in game (this also restricts unlimited item creation)".

http://www.shattered.org/economy_print.html

 

I've also heard that CCP's Eve Online features a fully functioning player run financial system. 

 

Hopefully I've managed to provide some valuable food for thought for anyone willing to read my voluminous post.


Edited by BarefootPhilosopher, 01 September 2013 - 01:14 AM.


#14 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4860

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 01:50 AM

@BarefootPhilosopher The lack of historical pure-barter societies doesn't necessarily preclude a primarily-barter game economy.  Ok, before money society had a gift-obligation or gift-authority system. A "wealthy" person in a pre-money society who distributed that wealth wouldn't have as many future needs, nor would the gift-receivers have enough future resources, to pay back the gifts with other gifts, so instead it would turn into a situation where the wealthy person or family discouraged or punished disobedience by withholding gifts, the same way a government punishes disobedience to laws by withholding freedoms and protections.  So a pre-money wealthy person accrued government-like authority, i.e. became nobility.  BUT, the thing is that this kind of gift-debt system can't happen in a game where players have no way to force each other to pay their debts in any form.  In a tribe or small village the wealthy person was the center of a clique and the clique members were often willing to beat up or kill anyone who displease the wealthy person, because this kind of violent demonstration of loyalty might earn the clique member more favor and gifts from the wealthy person.  In a game it is usually impossible for people to bully each other into doing something.  Also, there often isn't much in the way of service or obedience a debtor could give to a person who is wealthy within a game.  So, this historical system, while fascinating, isn't something we're going to see in games, unless and until they get a heck of a lot more real.

 

On the other hand, bartering does exist as a thing people do in the absence of money.  Children who don't carry wallets trade things with each other all the time.  Co-workers too, in a situation where it would be socially inappropriate for one to give the other money, trade favors.  It's interesting to people who are used to a money-based economy because the strategy of making a profit by a series of barters is different from the strategy of making a profit by a series of purchases and sales.  Perfectly good material for creating a different-from-modern-life atmosphere within a game.


Edited by sunandshadow, 01 September 2013 - 01:51 AM.

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I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#15 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:00 PM

The notion that money was initially a system of measurement seems like a sound theory to me; a generalized measurement that doesn't require any attribution of wealth on it's own.

 

"All people, urban as well as rural, tend to lend each other things. They do this even when the benefits to such helpful behavior are not immediately apparent. In small communities, people lend their tools and their time to each other. While they may expect reciprocity in the future, they do not explicitly write a contract to formalize it.

That's an interesting idea, but I can also propose that money evolved from finding ways to get other people to help you:

 

So little Joey comes over to Gramma Hilary and says "I'm hungry, give me one of your many chickens."

Gramma Hilary says to Joey "Take these buckets to the river and bring me some fresh water, then you can have a chicken."

Joey replies "There's too many buckets, I'll be going back and forth to the river for a long time, but I'm hungry now."

Gramma Hilary says "Tell ya what, you make two trips to the river, and I'll have a chicken all cooked up and ready by the time you're done."

 

This is barter and trade, a direct exchange without an intermediate currency. And it seems likely to me that these trades existed before money.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 02 September 2013 - 04:16 PM.

--"I'm not at home right now, but" = lights on, but no ones home

#16 BarefootPhilosopher   Members   -  Reputation: 245

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 04:03 AM

@BarefootPhilosopher The lack of historical pure-barter societies doesn't necessarily preclude a primarily-barter game economy.  Ok, before money society had a gift-obligation or gift-authority system.

 

 

No it doesn't, but I think it would be a shame to reduce the full richness of human experience to social relations based purely on acquisitive, profiteering. 

 

 

A "wealthy" person in a pre-money society who distributed that wealth wouldn't have as many future needs, nor would the gift-receivers have enough future resources, to pay back the gifts with other gifts, so instead it would turn into a situation where the wealthy person or family discouraged or punished disobedience by withholding gifts, the same way a government punishes disobedience to laws by withholding freedoms and protections.  So a pre-money wealthy person accrued government-like authority, i.e. became nobility.  BUT, the thing is that this kind of gift-debt system can't happen in a game where players have no way to force each other to pay their debts in any form.  In a tribe or small village the wealthy person was the center of a clique and the clique members were often willing to beat up or kill anyone who displease the wealthy person, because this kind of violent demonstration of loyalty might earn the clique member more favor and gifts from the wealthy person.  In a game it is usually impossible for people to bully each other into doing something.  Also, there often isn't much in the way of service or obedience a debtor could give to a person who is wealthy within a game.  So, this historical system, while fascinating, isn't something we're going to see in games, unless and until they get a heck of a lot more real.

 

 

 

I think you'd find that the reality of pre-industrial societies is a bit more nuanced than what you state above. No society would be able to function without the constant risk of upheaval and collapse and no leader would survive long if his rule was based purely on fear, threats, and violence. 

 

 

On the other hand, bartering does exist as a thing people do in the absence of money.  Children who don't carry wallets trade things with each other all the time.  Co-workers too, in a situation where it would be socially inappropriate for one to give the other money, trade favors.  It's interesting to people who are used to a money-based economy because the strategy of making a profit by a series of barters is different from the strategy of making a profit by a series of purchases and sales.  Perfectly good material for creating a different-from-modern-life atmosphere within a game.

 

 

 

That's partly because people in our society find it difficult to relate to one another on any other basis after 200 or more years of social conditioning. The conception of homo economicus has become so deeply embedded in the fabric of our culture. In saying that people still lend each other tools and other goods when their close friends have need of them and offer assistance when they need an extra helping hand. It just isn't practiced quite so often as it used to. In fact people feel guilty expecting a return for doing a "good" deed for their neighbour. Reciprocity has become an almost dirty word. Much to the detriment of our communities social fabric.

 

I just think that trade and wealthy building for its own sake to be incredibly boring and pointless in games and that incorporating pre-industrial forms of exchange and associated webs of social relations into a virtual economic system would open up tremendous new  novel gameplay possibilities.



#17 BarefootPhilosopher   Members   -  Reputation: 245

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 04:17 AM

That's an interesting idea, but I can also propose that money evolved from finding ways to get other people to help you:

 

So little Joey comes over to Gramma Hilary and says "I'm hungry, give me one of your many chickens."

Gramma Hilary says to Joey "Take these buckets to the river and bring me some fresh water, then you can have a chicken."

Joey replies "There's too many buckets, I'll be going back and forth to the river for a long time, but I'm hungry now."

Gramma Hilary says "Tell ya what, you make two trips to the river, and I'll have a chicken all cooked up and ready by the time you're done."

.

This is barter and trade, a direct exchange without an intermediate currency. And it seems likely to me that these trades existed before money

 

 

Well I base my understanding of economic relations on real world practice by my people, the New Zealand Maori, not on some hypothetical scenario. Perhaps it may at times transpired as you speculate, but many studies by both historical and contemporary anthropologists found that it in pre-industrial societies it was often poor manners to demand reciprocation immediately and instead pretend that providing for other's needs is a gift, though it was implicitly acknowledge that the return would be in excess of that provided by the giver at some later date. It was a way to build relationships and bring people together. 

 

"Utu generally meant compensation, but had two dimensions, one where a beneficiary was expected to reciprocate, and the other where a victim of some 
wrong exacted revenge from the wrongdoer. Dr Dame Joan Metge recently described the utu or reciprocal giving in Maori transactions in these terms: 
The operation of utu involves several important rules. First, the return should never match what has been received exactly but should ideally include an 
increment in value, placing the recipient under obligation to make a further return. Secondly, the return should not be made immediately (though a small 
acknowledgement is in order) but should be delayed until an appropriate occasion, months, years and even a generation later. Thirdly, the return 
should preferably be different from what has been received in at least some respects: one kind of goods may be reciprocated by another kind, goods by 
services, services by a spouse...."
 
In reality barter did often take place in the pre-industrial world but generally took place between two societies, whose members had only distant or no relations with each other. Less cost if the parties to the trade or barter deal were aggrieved by its perceived fairness.


#18 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3601

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 05:00 AM

It won't work, at least not as you visualised it, since humans (as history has proven) need some form of uniform currency (be it mussels, shiny stones, small furs of a specific animal). If you make such system then players will simply use one good (probably the cheapest one, since it's the most convenient) as a currency.

 

The thing is, they NEED (if a word "need" is a very strong word :D) some way to compare things. They need to know how much beef is worth compared to iron.

 

Note that the "currency" here is not needed to be present physically or even exchange hands. It just could be an imaginary currency, just something to apprise goods. For example in Fallout series the "caps" were used as an evaluator. You were given information how much caps the good was worth but during exchange you rarely used caps since these were quite scarce and just used goods to goods trade.


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#19 PandaDragonThing   Members   -  Reputation: 311

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:58 AM

There's lots of reasons why money is preferred by people. Many have been addressed by previous people, and the tidbit about people utilizing the cheapest and most numerous item as a currency is true.

That actually may be a cool little design about the game. Let the people choose the "currency" such as the wastelanders in Fallout used caps as a store of value.



#20 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1175

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:26 AM


Let the people choose the "currency" such as the wastelanders in Fallout used caps as a store of value.

 

This actually reminds me of what happened in Guild Wars. Guild Wars had gold (only, no silver/copper), and you were limited to carrying 100k gold on any one character (bank stored way more I think).

 

The thing is, some items that were being traded started becoming more valuable than the 100k gold limit on a character. Since no one wants to do a trade in multiple parts, because of how insecure that is, people started using a very rare crafting item that was dropped in a specific area as currency replacement - the item was Glob of Ectoplasm.

 

Globs had variable price, even at NPC traders (the prices varied there based on supply/demand), but even so, people took to using them as substitute for large transactions of currency, since the supply of ectoplasm was always strictly limited (it was hard to farm), and also since it was a consumable, valuable item - so that the market wouldn't be overrun with it as a supply.

 

I'm pretty sure that mmo economics is a field of its own, since it can become incredibly complex.. but having a rare, limited in supply item could just lead to people using it as currency naturally (kind of what happened with gold in real life I suppose)






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