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spoonpoop

Need advice for basic economic model

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Am programming a game based in an artificial world with basic economics; this is made up of different towns which produce a certain amount of resources, and consume a certain amount. Also there are traders, who ferry resources from towns which have a surplus to towns which do not, in order to make a profit. Can anyone recommend any articles out there that might help to to develop this system into a smoother, more complicated economy before I start to dump players into it? cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum

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I would suggest you to check a book on microeconomics and macroeceonomics under the headings:
- offer and demand
- utility
- labor and unemployment
- technology

This would help you to develop a more complex system. I do not know the simulated time length of your game. If you wish the players to play on relatively long simulated time length (simulating years instead of weeks), you will need to provide economic trends to orient your models (look into economic cycles: Juglar and Kondratiev cycles).

Hope that helps.
Ghostly yours,
Red.

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Also, you might want to check out Agent technology. You might have to tweak your agents somewhat to be able to generate a stable economic environment (it ''aint always so).

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One piece of advice I can think of... Try and make your economy a closed system. Don''t just generate money supply out of thin air... Don''t have stores that have an infinite supply of goods. That will certainly lead to an unbalanced economy. This was one of the big problems with the Ultima Online "economy." Note the quotes.

For an example of this, there are some good German strategy games... there is one called Dreammaker (translation) about making movies. The cool thing is that there is a set amount of money in the supply, and when you win something in an auction, the money is split out to the other players. It works the same way in the game Don, which is a German card game.

So anyway, make your economy a closed loop and it allows for some somewhat complicated interactions. This is what allows someone to "corner the market" in real life. When one person (or a group) controls all of the supply for a necessary commodity, that have immense economic power. The goal of your game economy should be to simulate real-world interaction like this, if you really want the economy to be a part of the game.

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It really matters on how complex you want to make it to program. The more complex, the more realistic.

Everyone has to eat though, so the first thing you have to do is calculate how much food costs. Everything else will go from there and it will become rather cyclical.

You''ll have to work in some level of inflation where resources are created (particularly food), but once you find out how much food costs, you can figure out anything. You want to find out how much wood costs initially? How much does it cost to feed the people who chop it?

Food really should be the basis for your monetary unit, that makes it easiest. Maybe make it where a loaf of bread or a jug of milk (call it a quart) costs 1 silver coin. Say that is enough to feed (nourish) someone for a day, 2 silver coins. Now you know how much it costs to have someone work for a day... 2 silver coins at the very least (they still have to live somewhere), probably closer to 3.

So then you assign everyone a skill rating for their abilities. The master blacksmith isn''t going to cost you 3 silver coins per day, he''s going to cost you something closer to a gold coin per day, not counting the fact that he''s probably got a couple of apprentice smiths that he''s got to feed and clothe, so call it 1 gold, 8 silver per day (the apprentices are still skilled labor and the smith will still charge as such).

Now you have to account for transportation. The food in the mountains is going to be more expensive because it has to be brought in by wagon, so those iron miners are going to cost more food, but the iron will cost less where they live, since it won''t have to be brought far.

The easiest way to do this is with a large-ish map and give everything a source and source cost. As you get further from the source, the cost increases, particularly if the object is perishable (fruits, fresh fish, etc...). So you set a distance inflation rate. The more common and sturdy the item will have a lower distance inflation rate than rare and easily damaged goods. So to calculate the total cost (basic cost + 3sp/day/person transporters + merchant) * distance inflation rate. Remember, that 3sp per day actually goes up the further you go from the food source when you purchase the food (very important, since a foods merchant will have purchased the food in a low cost location, but be selling in a higher cost area) and adjust the cost of a laborer or transport accordingly.

This is obviously just a starting point and you will probably have to build in safet measures so that someone doesn''t just become a master fisherman and have a friend who becomes a master smoker and another guy who just runs from the fishing community to another town with smoked fish (long life, but will still have a relatively high distance inflation) to sell. There will be times when the town won''t want any more smoked fish. Deflation from oversupply can always occur. Inflation from undersupply will also occur, so if someone doesn''t bring something to an area the price will go up (but the demand will actually lower, so a community will only pay say 1000 silvers total on fish, but it may be on 200 fish one month and on 1000 fish during the more popular fish season).

OK, this post is long enough now... I''d better stop before I go overboard with my socio-economic tirades and the implications of how this system (the standard supply and demand system) will eventually automatically create an upper and lower class.

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I believe feudal Japan had an economic system based on the amount of rice that would keep a man alive (and decently nourished) for a year. I''ve also heard that in Japan today, there does not exist enough money in the entire world to buy downtown Tokyo.

Looking at our modern world, a realistic economic system does not have to be balanced.

Korvan

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Indeed, the rice-payment was called koku.

I''m toying with a game very similar to this (still in basic design stages). However, mine would be smaller, something like a lower lord''s village, etc. Of course, the grander principles could be applied to a full-scale world. Which I may do instead. I dunno.

However, this idea is very underused and could easily be used to great effect, when done well, of course.

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Actually, the idea that the world''s economic system is zero-sum is a frequent argument of many countries with democratically elected legislatures. However, wether you believe it or not, wealth is a relative thing. 10 dollars in america would get you a bigmac, a drink, some cookies, and a bunch of fries, while that sum, converted into some nuetral currency, brought over to afganistan, and converted to it''s native currency, you suddenly have a lot more purchasing power than you did in America. In a simulated world, a potion granting 50HP recovered would be worth much much more at the bottom of the cave of infinte pain, than it would outside a clinic that recovered HP for free.

What would be in your best interest would be to have active controls over the gameworld. For example, the realworld price of gold and silver and copper fluctuates based on availiability, demands, and a bunch of other things. So, instead of just sending GMs out to enforce the rules of the game, have somebody keep an eye on trading aspects.

Another thing, taxation is a bad idea. Try having different tax laws in different areas of the gameworld and you''ll notice everybody will stay in the area of lowest taxation. If you want to reclaim and spread the wealth, give the richer characters reasons to depart with their monies. Many a realworld revolution have occured over taxation, and having annoying tax laws with in a game will discourage playing of the game, which leads to less money in your own pocket.


-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Actually I''m planning on a taxation system in my game. Most players would never be bothered by it, but if you want to own land, you pay. Just ask people over in Britain, where it''s not very financially feasable to actually own land. Not even the lords own the castles they live in commonly... though Gordon Sumner (Sting) does.

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