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bishop_pass

Testbed elements: Money

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Choose an arbitrary amount: one million. Ok, upon entry into the game, each player has one million MU (monetary units). This money is on deposit with one of the many computer controlled banking institutions. These banking institutions offer poor service and high fees. Each banking institution has a unique identifying number. Each account number with each institution is a unique number. A player may have as many accounts as he wishes. The game enforces unique institution numbers and unique account numbers. This cannot be fiddled by players. These game controlled banking institutions charge monthly fees, and per transaction fees which are a percentage of the size of transaction. These fees are high. Theoretically, these game controlled institutions invest money through various channels, but this invested money is generally not available to players. Also, upon entry into the game, each player creates a name for himself and is assigned a universal ID number. To transfer money from one player to another, (say, from player A to player B), player A needs needs the account number and institution number where player B keeps his account. Presumably, player A gets this information from player B through communication. The reason for the high fee structure of the game controlled banking institutions is to encourage players to develop their own banks. Doing so requires money expenditure up front, not making it easy to do so. Likewise, advertising is necessary to attract business (from other players). The incentive for players to use player controlled banks is to get around the high fee structure of the game controlled banks. The incentive for players to develop their own banking instititions is to generate revenue (from fees) and to have money to invest (or lend). When a player deposits money into a player controlled bank, the money literally goes into control of the player who operates the bank. The player who controls the bank may freeze any account, freeze all accounts, or only make a selective amount of money available to the player who has the money on deposit. All fees are set by the player who controls the bank. Any player controlled bank is automatically (by the game) assigned a unique institution code as is done for the game controlled banks. Any account for a player is assigned a unique account number (within that bank). Players who operate banks are given an interface to toggle features of player''s accounts. Player operated banks are automatically wired into the game controlled banking network, facilitating transfer of funds from one account to another account. Players who have accounts can do this at will without requiring maintenance from the owner of a bank. However, these account transactions may not operate if the owner of the bank has frozen that feature for that player. Players who own banks (and players who don''t own banks) may transfer money from one player to another for the purpose of payment, whether that payment is for a rental fee, paying a bill, buying something, lending money, etc. The game does not care. All money which is on deposit with a particular player owned bank is available to the owner of that bank. The owner of the bank has what is called a ''master account'' number (unique from other accounts with that bank) to allow the owner of the bank to send and receive money just like any other player does. If a ''run'' on the bank is made, and the owner of the bank does not have all available funds (because a large portion of the money is invested or lent out) then naturally that money won''t be available, and repercussions will follow. It is entirely possible that any player may create a business to rate banks, based on auditing. It is also entirely possible that other players may choose to insure the funds of banks. What has just been described is the ability for money to be transfered between players throough an unalterable game mechanism, without causing interference to monetary policy, or who controls it.

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Example:

Player A owns First Miner''s Bank. First Miner''s Bank has an institutional code, say 0333.

Player B, C and D have money on deposit in First Miner''s Bank, like this:

Player B: 1,000,000 Account #1
Player C: 2,000,000 Account #2
Player D: 5,000,000 Account #3

Player A (who owns the bank) has a ''master account'' with First Miner''s Bank which looks like this:

Player A: 8,000,000 Account #0

If player C deposits another 1,000,000 into his #2 account, then the following changes are made:

Player C''s #2 account value rises by 1,000,000.
Player A''s #0 account value rises by 1,000,000.

Now, player A can do with the money in account #0 things just like player C can do with his money in account #2.

Let''s say player A lends out half of the money in account #0. If players B, C and D all request to transfer their money out of their accounts at nearly the same time, then some accounts will come up short. This constitutes a ''run'' on the bank.

Note that player A''s account #0 is a special account. Do not confuse it with any number of other regular accounts he may have with other institutions.

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And so when a player wishes to pay someone, they are presented with the following:

Enter your banking institution code:
Enter your account #:

Enter the recipient''s institution code:
Enter the recipient''s account #:

Enter the amount you wish to pay:

Presumably, the player can create ''shortcuts'' for their account info, and ''bookmarks'' for common business partner''s accounts.

Likewise, scheduled automatic payments could also be setup for routine scheduled payments.

Obviously, some type of security measure (password) would be necessary to prevent other players from tapping into your account. Although it seems reasonable that maybe that sort of thing should be breakable.

Since the game keeps data (and enforces uniqueness, and is responsible for assigning codes) on each institution and the accounts of each institution, transfer of money is a straightforward process.

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Now, I''m not disagreeing with anything, ...but why do banks have to be a necessity. Can''t a player just carry a certain amount of cash on him? And if it''s too much he needs to carry a suitcase, otherwise he can have a big box underneath his bed, of course someone who flashes a lot of cash around will be inviting robbers and stuff, but it will also allow untraceable transactions which is a risk a player might one to take. In that case the main purpose of banks will be for protection of cash, and maybe loans and stuff.
The banks could then issue cheque books or credit cards which will work in the way you described.

What do you think?

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what would prevent the "player banker" from taking the cash and leaving town?

I would never trust someone "in game" with my money, unless i can be 110% certain i can retrieve my money, no matter what.

Thats why "computer operated" banks, are such a succes.

And if this would happen in a game, were players pay a monthly fee to play. A bank that goes bankrupt..... You will loose customers, people will quit your game.

Banks should be a sure thing, an institute i can trust!

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quote:
Original post by Belni
what would prevent the "player banker" from taking the cash and leaving town?

And just where is he going to go? There would be a record of this. Who is he going to establish relations with in the future?
quote:
Original post by Belni
I would never trust someone "in game" with my money, unless i can be 110% certain i can retrieve my money, no matter what.

Then use the game controlled banks, and their really high fees.
quote:
Original post by Belni
And if this would happen in a game, were players pay a monthly fee to play. A bank that goes bankrupt..... You will loose customers, people will quit your game.

Maybe. Bad decisions made by players are not the game''s responsibility.
quote:
Original post by Belni
Banks should be a sure thing, an institute i can trust!

Why?

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You may not be able to trust a bank but you can split your money and put it into perhaps 4 different banks to avoid disaster plus keep some cash around.

Banks will be vital because they will allow quick transactions. You want to buy that factory? You are not going to carry $3mil in cash to the owner of the bank who lives 3 starsytems away, are you? Especially if there are pirates looming around and a trip like that might take (RealTime) a week or so.

Also, the governments should be able to put laws and safeguards into place much like in the real world and anybody who wants to run a bank >has to< have a proven record in the game (perhaps running a business). I marked has to like that because that would be a restriction put in place by the governments not the game. If a government doesn''t look after banks and the like and then something happens its their economy (and main income flow) that goes down the drain

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I think this is a great idea.

If I was a player however, I wouldn''t like to have others control my wealth, so I''d try to transform my spare cash in other resources. High storage prices might counter this strategy.

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Why would I want to run a bank? Unless the game is a banking sim, why would I want to take time out of my busy starship freighter schedule to worry about investing people''s money?

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quote:
Original post by tj963
Why would I want to run a bank? Unless the game is a banking sim, why would I want to take time out of my busy starship freighter schedule to worry about investing people''s money?

If the idea of running your own bank isn''t appealing to you, please let me keep all of your money for you so that I may use it.

More importantly, the game provides automated transactions. You don''t have to manually look after these transactions. But you do have their money to invest. If that doesn''t appeal to you, then don''t run a bank.

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You don't mention any mechanism making it implausible for every player to start their own bank just to hold their own money (no risk, no fees). Would it be correct to assume that starting and running a bank costs something?

Edit: Sorry for being a total idiot

[edited by - Ecthelion on November 6, 2002 12:51:45 PM]

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass The reason for the high fee structure of the game controlled banking institutions is to encourage players to develop their own banks. Doing so requires money expenditure up front, not making it easy to do so. Likewise, advertising is necessary to attract business (from other players).


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Since this is about money, what are money good for?

Are they simply a trading token to facilitate resource exchange between players or are they a resource as well? I''d prefer the latter variant, with money being obtained in many ways from the game world (taxes, leisure ships and facilities, etc.) and spent in many ways (building, researching, recruiting spies, training troops etc.). All these uses for money are hard-coded, and as such guarantee a stable value for money.

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quote:
Original post by Diodor
Are they simply a trading token to facilitate resource exchange between players or are they a resource as well?

I really don''t understand the difference. Money (in the real world) was developed for the former, and as a result, is the latter.

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quote:
Original post by thelurch
Now, I''m not disagreeing with anything, ...but why do banks have to be a necessity . Can''t a player just carry a certain amount of cash on him?

Absolutely. Some players may wish to engage in transactions they would rather not have be traceable to them (paying an assassin, for example). You can withdraw cash from your account, or convert money into other forms like real estate, "gold" or anything that player consensus has deemed valuable.

Great idea/refinement.

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
Obviously, some type of security measure (password) would be necessary to prevent other players from tapping into your account. Although it seems reasonable that maybe that sort of thing should be breakable.

Banks should at the least attempt to authenticate withdrawals, though they may only record the entity that makes a deposit (otherwise an adversary could be framed for financial misappropriation waaaay too easily!)

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quote:

Original post by bishop_pass

I really don''t understand the difference. Money (in the real world) was developed for the former, and as a result, is the latter.



Actually, money started out as resources the likes of precious metals, gems, etc. Money used to have intrisic value. Until a few years ago paper money used to have a gold reserve to back them up.

The difference is quite simple. In the first case, money can be exchanged between players for resources. In the second case the game offers uses for money as a direct resource.

In the first case the only use for money is to find a player willing to trade. The value of money can vary a lot, depending on many factors including the trust the players put in money. Problems like inflation or deflation can appear. Creating and destroying money may be tough to balance.

In the second case, money can be used to alter the game world regardless of other players. The value of money is largely determined by the uses the game offers for money.

quote:

Original post by thelurch

Now, I''m not disagreeing with anything, ...but why do banks have to be a necessity . Can''t a player just carry a certain amount of cash on him?



I like the idea that banks are a necessity. This creates a direct incentive for players to cooperate. Putting money in a bank can not sound so very bad if you think of the repercusions the banker player will suffer if he steals the money, and the constant surveillance he''s under by the depositing players.

That being said, as a player, I''d probably try not to simply give away the bulk of my wealth to another player. Investing in other resources, spending the money as I get them, are valid solutions. If these strategies are widely applied, the banks may lose much of their relevance. This can be balanced if the game mechanics offer great incentives to store large quantities of money. Recruiting of mercenaries for instance. Not investing in a military force can be a very good economic decision (see Japan). If the game allows recruiting of mercenaries, having a large bank account would offer a certain military security as well.

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quote:
Original post by Diodor
Actually, money started out as resources the likes of precious metals, gems, etc.

Nope. Ever hear of people using cowrie shells as money?

Money is a form of legal tender. It is important that the supply of money be limited, so that it represents actual value (otherwise anyone can "create" money out of thin air), which is why only one institution typically prints money and controls its circulation in a nation, and why forgery is such a big deal.

quote:
Money used to have intrisic value. Until a few years ago paper money used to have a gold reserve to back them up.

The "intrinsic value" of money always has been, and always will be, the demand of the people for it.

quote:
The difference is quite simple. In the first case, money can be exchanged between players for resources. In the second case the game offers uses for money as a direct resource.

What does that mean, "direct resource"? What can you do with money? You can give it to someone in return for goods and services - Oops! That''s the first case. Hmm, Lessee... Can''t think of anything else.

quote:
In the second case, money can be used to alter the game world regardless of other players. The value of money is largely determined by the uses the game offers for money.

Somehow, I get the strange feeling that you think players and the game world will operate on different economic principles. Why is that? Why would the game treat money differently than players?

quote:
That being said, as a player, I''d probably try not to simply give away the bulk of my wealth to another player. Investing in other resources...

Like what? Generally, people invest in financial institions like the stock exchange, banks, etc. Or did you mean purchasing some resources as a means of retaining value (like people buy and store gold)? What if demand falls? Whatever the resources you decide to invest in, you will be giving yout money to either another single player or to the economy as a collective. With a bank you might be able to expect interest on your deposit, but with a resource purchase you only profit if demand for the resource has risen, pulling price along with it.

Banks are also useful as creditors. If a player wants to embark on some large-scale enterprise which requires capital beyond his/her means, a bank is a candidate for obtaining the required money (subject to terms of loan agreement).

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How about a system where it is possible to create own currencies?
Then it would be largely up to the players if they want to link the currency to a resource, like a gold reserve, or not.
A certain stability at the initial stages of the game can be achieved by having AI players that puts some trust in the starting currencies.

On the other hand, if money is a resource, the game will be simpler, which is often a virtue in games with a strong social aspect.

I also think there should be an option to keep cash, and not use banks. If there is no such option, there is still nothing that prevents a player from creating a bank of her own to use as a "wallet".

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quote:

Original post by Oluseyi

The "intrinsic value" of money always has been, and always will be, the demand of the people for it.



I don''t think you can assume that the players want money.

quote:

Somehow, I get the strange feeling that you think players and the game world will operate on different economic principles. Why is that? Why would the game treat money differently than players?



I got the same feeling from the first post in this thread: "Theoretically, these game controlled institutions invest money through various channels, but this invested money is generally not available to players."

quote:

What does that mean, "direct resource"? What can you do with money? You can give it to someone in return for goods and services - Oops! That''s the first case. Hmm, Lessee... Can''t think of anything else.



Well, how about
1 unit steel + 3 units energy + 5 monetary units -> 1 unit kitchen sink
1000 population units at 10% taxes -> 100 monetary units per month?

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quote:
Original post by Diodor

I''d prefer the latter variant, with money being obtained in many ways from the game world (taxes, leisure ships and facilities, etc.) and spent in many ways (building, researching, recruiting spies, training troops etc.). All these uses for money are hard-coded, and as such guarantee a stable value for money.


This is the exact reason why it shouldn''t be, as you put it, ''hard coded''. It is important that the value of every single resource in the game be determined ONLY by the players demand for it.

At the beginning of the game arbitrary prices and demands are set up by the NPCs. But as players come into it, since thyy are going to be the main movers of the economy, everything goes into flux. Stuff that was originally held as extremely precious may become useless and vioce versa.

This allows events to affect the value of resources. E.g. If there is a drought food soon becomes an expensive resource (unless the government has stored some away for such a case), or if every Toilet paper making factory, except one, is destroyed, Toilet paper can become more precious than gold!
It is important that NPCs be able to detect these changes as well as players so that they can react accordingly to. Since they are the major consumers.

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quote:
It is important that NPCs be able to detect these changes...

Bishop, how much influence will NPCs have in your world? The player run bank idea makes me think that you would prefer to let players take over as many NPC tasks as possible. Is it your intent to make NPCs fade out?

I think the proposed bank idea and implementation are appealing. Simple and quick. My account, my pin, your account, the transfer, done.

I see many, many possible things that can be done from that starting point. Will I get a receipt of the transfer (which I can use to prove that the transfer was made)? Will the other person get a receipt (to prove to the authorities that I indeed did pay him to have someone assassinated and that his trap to catch me had worked)? Will other people be able to break into the database and see what and to who I transfered? Will other people try to hack into my account and transfer money to their own accounts? Will I be able to hire skilled hackers to trace illegal entries back to the source? Will I have to carefully manage my account in order to keep my friends happy while keeping my secret alliances hidden?
quote:
What has just been described is the ability for money to be transfered between players throough an unalterable game mechanism, without causing interference to monetary policy, or who controls it.

Unalterable, simple, logical but deep. If every game element can be summed up in such a good way and be given a good implementation, then I think online gaming is ready to do without NPCs while providing a richer, much richer player run virtual world. It will give ''roles'' to be played. Let''s consider the role of banker realized.

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Perhaps there can be a forum for trading money (integrated into a stock market maybe?). Depending on how an economy is doing will affect the worth of its currency (although each country/bank could set its own exchange rates). This only works if each nation has its own currency rather than one universal currency. I''m not sure if this much complexity is desireable though. It would be interesting but perhaps too confusing.

If a single currency is set then its value could be controlled by a central bank that takes various factors into account (although is a central bank desireable?). It could even be measured against the value of gold or a similar precious hard resource in the game.

Just some ideas.

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