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trapdoor

Game economy in MMO's

51 posts in this topic

I tried looking up how game Economy works. I'm thinking in a MMO sense. If someone has a few links on where to get info or knows the basics of how the Economy works, that would be nice. I would like to see an MMO where very very few people have a lot of gold in the end, so much that they don't even use any of it any more. But again, that the majority of people, even a minority of people don't live in virtual poverty. Money has to go somewhere and come from somewhere. Having items in the world cannot be infinite as the market would get saturated with too many. Asside from this, I'm still unsure what makes a good economy or what a good market / auction looks like.
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Well first I'd separate the ideas of good economy and MMOs. It's rare you see the two go hand-in-hand.

MMO economics are typically a balancing act of time, money pools and money sinks. Ideally, players should gain and expend a roughly equal amount of money or items in a given time. Assuming your paying missions are 'creating' money (the usual method) this gives a zero inflation rate, as no 'new money' is entering the system.

It's unusual to have a fixed amount of money in the system - this would rely on tracking the money through several NPC chains to produce a viable model. It's only really the Elite style trading games that attempt to do this.

It's sad to say, but the economic system of an MMO is often a 'rush job', tacked on top of various 'interesting' things to develop (like crafting recipes).

For Primogen, we're designing a flexible economic structure which is based on a flexible 'money pot' - there is a set amount of money in the system and we can add more or remove it, and it is tracked from its starting positions. There's a whole set of AI functions required to run the simulation which takes raw products and turns them into usable items of set quality (allowing us to have the system sometimes select quality over quantity, and also allowing us to give player crafters a niche). It works a bit like an abstract version of the Settlers.

Whilst this gives us a *functional* economy it's pretty experimental in terms of MMO grounds - there's a hell of a lot of NPCs that'll be wandering around. It should make a Primogen game world look busy (nice), but it may cause problems on low spec clients / connections and servers (bad!).

A good economy is one that's fun to play in! If you're having crafter players, they need a niche and an opportunity to make as much money and xp as a combat player. A combat player needs to be able to replace / repair their equipment and save a bit. Item design actually has a massive impact on game economies (actually terranova.blogs.com is probably a good place to look around now I think of it). Removing item decay (damage when you die / use it) from Starwars Galaxies made life suddenly very difficult for the crafting community, and all of a sudden many of the player cities became ghost towns. Nobody had to shop for kit any more. Further reducing the effect of item stats in combat made the choice of weapon pretty much irrelevant - again, shafting the crafters.

Having too much usable / high level loot is dangerous to your economy. If the best items to use are loot items, nobody will bother crafting in the end. At any potential stage in the development of your economy your money sinks (paying for stuff) should be in play. If all people do is loot for money and kit, and never spend the money (other than perhaps to buy stuff they can't be bothered looting) you're left with hyper-inflation in a money-generating system, and a stalled economy otherwise.








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For long-term stability of the economy, you need to take money (and items) out of the system at roughly the same rate as you add them. If you're having a standard MMO model where rabbits drop gold coins and goblins drop swords and gold coins, then every battle is adding wealth to the system, and you need to have money/item sinks to compensate (NPC shops, item decay/loss, penalties for death, taxes on sales).
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OOH! OOH! OOH! My favorite topic!

Ok, Rule number 1. Throw out everything you know about real world economics. This is important since there are so many differences that trying to apply the normal rules of economics most often does not work.

Rule number 2. Put back in any economic principal based on psychology. People still act like people in game or not.

The single biggest problem that MMO economies have is inflation. Now I can't say to have solved the problem of every more Uber gear, but as far as in game currency goes, that aspect of inflation can be controlled. But you have to learn to think a little differently. The idea of encouraging players to take money out is the dominant line of thought Bob Janova and _winterdyne_ booth demonstrate this point.
Quote:

You need to take money (and items) out of the system at roughly the same rate as you add them. -Bob Janova

MMO economics are typically a balancing act of time, money pools and money sinks. -_winterdyne_


This line of thinking, to me is completely wrong (nothing personal guys) because it depends on players voluntarily putting money into something that removes it from the game. The problem is that people will not voluntarily do this unless it gets them something better; it is in the player's nature to hoard things unless they have to get rid of something, and many times they will get rid of it by trade with another player, which really removes nothing from the system. Simply put you can not count on players to just throw their wealth into a hole in the ground because the developer thinks that they should.

So what's the alternative? First you need to know that MMO money is Fiat Money. There are four major causes of inflation in the real world; Discovery of precious metals, Debasement (mixing precious metals with cheap ones), Supply disruption, and Printing of money. The first three are unlikely to happen in an MMO, but the last one Printing of Money happens frequently. If in the game every time you kill a rat, you get a couple of pieces of copper or whatever, the game is often just creating money out of nothing. The cumulative effect of millions and millions of dead rats will cause problems. So clearly this creation of money must be controlled in.

_winterdyne_ mentioned the idea of a fixed money supply as a possible solution. I don't really like this since it tends to benefit the already wealthy players, and new players will have a harder time escaping in game poverty.

Instead I prefer the Reward Restriction method. In an MMO you have an opportunity that real world economists would drool over. You can track every single transaction in the world and know exactly what the economy is doing at any given time. Because of this you can calculate exactly what the rate of inflation is in the game for a given time period. With this information in hand, you can then adjust the rewards players receive in game, If inflation is occurring, you reduce the amount of the rewards. If deflation is happening, you can increase the rewards.

Basically this is the inverse of the 'money sink' solution. Instead of trying to match the rate money moves out to the rate money moves in, you match the rate money moves in to the rate money moves out. Once this is working, you can get things to move faster by having plenty of reasons for money to move out. Consumables are the best way to do this. Healers need bandages and medicine. Archers need arrows. Blacksmiths need Coal for their fires, Bullets cost money, whatever is appropriate for the setting. You have got to nickel-and-dime the players to death.

It is absolutely critical that you control money going in, since the task of controlling money going out is impossible because money going out depends on the voluntary behavior of players.
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Quote:
Original post by zangetsu
OOH! OOH! OOH! My favorite topic!

Yay! I like this one too. I have a feeling it might get interesting, well, as interesting as economics gets...
Quote:
... Basically this is the inverse of the 'money sink' solution. Instead of trying to match the rate money moves out to the rate money moves in, you match the rate money moves in to the rate money moves out. Once this is working, you can get things to move faster by having plenty of reasons for money to move out. Consumables are the best way to do this. Healers need bandages and medicine. Archers need arrows. Blacksmiths need Coal for their fires, Bullets cost money, whatever is appropriate for the setting. You have got to nickel-and-dime the players to death.

It is absolutely critical that you control money going in, since the task of controlling money going out is impossible because money going out depends on the voluntary behavior of players.


True - but the cost of required consumables (bullets etc) can be altered as well. This is actually a fairly good control point (since there are things that everybody needs). However you can't (as touched on) rely on 'work' money sinks, there always has to be something interesting to do with your cash.

Yes, the fixed money supply is a feature that can overbalance the economy if there isn't fixing of pricing. Put the price limitations (min and max) in place and you have a mechanism to force a certain level of stability in the economy. Of course, this disallows a true 'free market' except in the case of items not covered by the price limitation - ie unique or special items. If the game is designed in such a way that unique or special items aren't essential (they're just nice) the game remains playable to all.

There's a similar problem with reward restriction - assume a new player is receiving lower rewards for quests (because the economy is inflated) - how do you control upkeep and maintenance (consumables) costs in check so that everybody can afford what they need? Again price fixing is a really useful tool for stabilising the economy. You can't simply evaluate how much money someone has because there's nothing to stop them from muling it, and keeping their 'working' character broke all the time.
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One of my visions is to have base weapons and consumables which are free to all. Any better items would then be subject to these unfixed prices.

Take bullets. You have rough bullets and smooth bullets. Smooth being the better. The rough ones are a fixed price and useful, but the better, more sought after smooth bullets price goes up and down. Sometimes if the market is deflated enough, the price of smooth bullets will be less than rough bullets. This may ensure that new players will always at least be able to afford the cheapest items as they are fixed. If they want better items, they will have to be subject to inflation or deflation.
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One other hue factor that has influenced a few of the more major MMOs s the real world trade of in-game currency. Games like Ultima Online, World of WarCraft, and Final Fantasy XI all suffer from this. Item prices are ridiculously high. Especially in the case of FFXI.

In FFXI something as simple as a Leather Vest(Level 7, 7 Defense) will end up costing newer players 5,000gil. The problem there is at an armor shop it only costs 625gil. People run bots that will sit at the armor shop and buy it out whenever there is a restock. It gets even worse when you look at the price of the Leather Vest +1. Same level, two more defense. It can cost up to 20,000gil.

Crafting is even worse. People have it in their head that the cost of crafting items should equal the cost of the item that they make. It costs a alot of gil to even start up. Would be crafters have to wait till they have 5 or 6 months of playing under their belt before they can afford to get anywhere with the crafting.

When I began playing this simply wasn't the case. The prices started to sky rocket when certain Linkshells(think Guilds) were founded. These Linkshells manage to have every character on 24/7(ala they have three or four people per character working in shifts). They have groups that constantly camp Natorious Monsters that drop the most sought after items. These items often end up costing players tens of millions.
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That's an interesting point regarding the shift-work to buy stuff out of the shops when they're restocked. I'd regard this as exploiting, definitely, and it's one of the reasons NOT to have quests as money-generators. Without access to infinite money, this sort of tactic is much more limited, perhaps to only one line of products, even from a fairly large number of players.

Definitely worth bearing in mind though. Again, having a fixed amount of money in play, and not having money-generators makes trading in it for real world money difficult - as wealth is accrued it is harder to obtain more, and it can't be done consistently and continuously.

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Original post by trapdoor
One of my visions is to have base weapons and consumables which are free to all. Any better items would then be subject to these unfixed prices.


Right, there needs to be a way for players to play even when they are destitute, but thats more of a mechanics issue then economics.

Quote:
Original post by _winterdyne_
how do you control upkeep and maintenance (consumables) costs in check so that everybody can afford what they need? Again price fixing is a really useful tool for stabilising the economy.


This is something of an aside, but here is what you do. Each time a player buys or sells anything, where there is a single item (or multiples of the same item), you can record in a database that player 1 accepts that item X is worth N. Then you can take all the transactions for item X and calculate what the world as a whole thinks Item X is worth. you can then instruct NPC merchants to use this price (maybe adjusted slightly). The causes merchant prices to move into line with Player to Player purchases. Nothing makes me crazier than NPC's paying 1 gold for something you can easily sell to other players for 100 times that amount (anyone remeber Crushbone Belts in Everquest?)

The other part of this is that NPC merchant prices need to react to supply and demand. You can create a demand rating for every object. Each time the item is bought, you can increase its demand rating up to a hard limit of %100. Each time a player sells an item to a merchant you can reduce the rating to a lower limit of 0% (worthless). This rating slowly decays over time. THen you can muliply this rating by the price. So an item that a Merchant just can't sell will slowly become cheaper until someone thinks the price is reasonable.

There are probably flaws in this stuff, but to me it is very important to get the NPC merchants prices to change over time, and to be honest its kind of hard to come up with the mechanics to do it. The other trouble is what happens when players know too much about the system? could they try to manipulate it?
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Quote:
Original post by _winterdyne_
That's an interesting point regarding the shift-work to buy stuff out of the shops when they're restocked. I'd regard this as exploiting, definitely, and it's one of the reasons NOT to have quests as money-generators. Without access to infinite money, this sort of tactic is much more limited, perhaps to only one line of products, even from a fairly large number of players.

Definitely worth bearing in mind though. Again, having a fixed amount of money in play, and not having money-generators makes trading in it for real world money difficult - as wealth is accrued it is harder to obtain more, and it can't be done consistently and continuously.


With merchants reacting to demand, the price scalpers would have to pay the merchant would rise to match, preventing this sort of thing. Then once scalpers relized they can't make so much money doing this, they would back off, and demand would decrease pushing the price back down. (This is definitely scalping, the same thing happens with concert tickets. some asshole waits until the ticket office opens and buys out the front 4 rows, then sells them at 4x face value. In most places this is a crime.)

Reward restriction based on inflation fights this too. Quests that generate wealth have their reward reduced because abused quests create inflation, driving down the reward. eventually it stops being worth it....

Perhaps thought now that I think about it reward restriction shouldn't be global... perhaps the actions that generate wealth should be the first to suffer? kind of like instead of a flat %5 reduction accross the board, have a ceiling that lowers and affects the best rewards first. This would be good for new players as low level stuff would be largely uneffected, and high level players would be gradually slowed allowing new players to catch up.

Say for example the cieling started at 10,000. Then inflation is occuring so the cieling lowers to 8,000. The quest that used to be worh 9,000 is now pushed down to 8,000, and the high level players have to deal with that. The quest 1,000 quest that lower players would perform is unaffected.
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I don't think any source-and-sink MMO economy actually works, long-term -- they all get "MUDflation," possibly as a natural result of players leveling up.

If you really want a working economy, you have to open the economy up to fair exchange with the outside world (i e, real US dollars). That'll balance the game economy better than anything else! You'll also have a good indicator of how well you're keeping inflation in check, in the player-established gold-to-dollars exchange rate.

Real virtual world economy nuts go to places like the Terra Nova discussion forum/blog.
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Quote:
Original post by trapdoor
I tried looking up how game Economy works. I'm thinking in a MMO sense. If someone has a few links on where to get info or knows the basics of how the Economy works, that would be nice. I would like to see an MMO where very very few people have a lot of gold in the end, so much that they don't even use any of it any more. But again, that the majority of people, even a minority of people don't live in virtual poverty. Money has to go somewhere and come from somewhere. Having items in the world cannot be infinite as the market would get saturated with too many.

Asside from this, I'm still unsure what makes a good economy or what a good market / auction looks like.


1. define the ceiling prices
You have to define the ceiling prices of either the finished goods or the raw material/semi-products. For example,in Lineage II the ceiling of items are defined by the NPC shop prices. The ceiling prices are carefully worked out by evaluating the pattern of money gain in game. Since lineage2 lacks money sinks, the prices of items grow exponentially as char leveling up.

The ceiling prices give player market a reference or framework for the economy to roll on, as prices of key items are already defined by npc shopes, while players are unable to sell those items with higher prices (unless there are geographical factors).

A crafter has the option to purchase raw materials from npc shops (once he decides that finish goods are profitable even the raw materials are from shops, or the game lacks raw materials), or to purchase from other players or to gather the raw materials by themselves. Anyway, the shop prices set the items' highest prices for either the raw materials, or semi-finished goods or finished goods. These shop prices are carefully designed, calculated according to money gain pattern.

Now, if you want a fully player driven market, you only set the prices for raw mats and semi-products and leave the finished good prices undefined (defined by players themselves).

2. define money gain pattern
This can be truly complicated. And the good or bad of a game economy will rely on this.

Money gains are usually from mob drops, selling of raw mats, semi-products, finished goods, properties, rares, from mini-grind treadmills (such as farming).

You can tell that when main money gain is from mobs while items are unbreakable (or almost unbreakable), players will yell that the economy is bad. Yet the more important point is that they'll keep playing. So a game bad economy can still be a good/fun game, such as UO.

So in order just to make the economy "good", you can reduce the money from mob drops and make the player gears breakable (money sink).

3. customer satisfaction
The problem is, it's difficult to maintain players' satisfaction once mob drops are reduced and items are breakable. So the key point becomes you are going to define an economy where mob drops are reduced, items are breakable while fun is still reserved.

One of the main goals is to make crafting fun. The second is to make the money sinks unnoticable to players, ultimately player majority should be hanging in a status that they are not rich, but they are satisfactory.

4. magic combination
To work out a magic relationship between char development path and item demands, subsequently money demands. A magic relationship between what classes can farm what kinds of raw materials, can craft what kinds of semi-products and what kinds finished goods. And carefully work out the inter-class dependences while reserving customer satisfactions.

For example, you can find a niche for soloers. Soloers are expected to be less communicative with others. They may like pvp and/or soloable classes with high DD. So soloers may best fit for classes like rogues, assasins, warriors, dual-wielders and etc. So they can be assigned the job of raw mat. gathering. They are expected to spend more time on doing rinse-repeat grinding and rinse-repeat raw mat. gathering.

So the main money gain for classes like rogues, assasins...etc. is to sell raw mats. This is a result of the time frame calculation of various types of players, the more the players are in grouping, the better they are the crafters of complicated items which requires the purchasing of cheap materials from other players. Of course, you dont need to tell the players that this is so, you just silently include this factor into your design.

Thou the main class income is defined, there are still side imcomes. Say, even for the soloers, they can craft certain items unique to their classes. For instance, warriors and dual wielders can craft gaunlets, rogues and assassins can craft leather boots. While other classes will not be able to produce gaunlets and boots as efficient and as good as the soloers.

Say, tanks are expected to be the social type players, so you can make them blacksmiths (main income) to craft complicated weapons and armors (but not gaunlets and boots).

5. define the item components
Items such as armours and weapons are made up of a mass-production stopper, raw mats and semi-products can be self-gathered, rat mats/semi-products must rely on other classes.

The stopper is the raw mats exclusively or almost exclusively sold by npcs, alternatively as rare mob drops. For example, if a sword can be sold to npc shops with a price of 100 golds, made 80 gold as the stopper. Which means, the player who makes such a sword need to by 80 gold of raw mats from npcs shops, 10 golds from self-gathered raw mats and self-made semi-goods (the making of semi-products follows exactly this same rule), another 7~15 golds for purchasing raw mat/semi-goods from other players.

The 80 gold acts as a stopper for mass-production and thus a stabilizer for defining the price of the final products. Say, if usually a lvl50 player has 1000 gold as flowing cash, he can make 50 such swords (20 gold each) without the stopper (in the hope that several of them are high quality swords). While with the stopper, they can only craft 10 swords (100gold each) with less chance of getting a uber one, then they have to wait for the products to sell in order to get the cash back. This prolongs the crafting cycle and avoids too much uber items flooding the market.

The next is to carefully define how the players can gain money (and lose money) on crafting. Yet it's fun even when they lose money on it once and for awhile.

For example, armours such as platemails are expected to breat at a rate abit less than swords, as the frequency of hitting mobs must be less than being hit by the mobs. So crafters will lose abit in crafting platemails when selling to npcs, they lose money on it till a high quality one is made and sold to the player market. Say the lowest cost of making a platmail 160 gold, it sells to npc at 150gold. But once a high quality one is made, it can be sold to the player market at 300~20000up golds depending on how uber the gear is after the process of crafting, enhancing and customizing.

6. The social aspect
Simple, if it's group friendly game, average players will have less time on crafting as grouping is fun. On the other hand, in a less group friendly or forced grouping game, players may pay more attention on the fun of crafting.

You have to evaluate the time the various types of players may involved in crafting to establish the crafting formula correctly for the possibility/chances of producing the uber items.

As a rule of thumb, hardcore players will most likely take up the line of play style of high damage output and pvp classes. First, no matter how they are detered by the game mechanics, they will still be the richest group of players, so you need to sink more money from them. Second, as they are gaunlet and boot crafters, thus gaunlet and boot crafting will be designed to be much less profitable, raw mat gather will guarrantee their survival (and rich if they are willing to invest time on it) thou.

Since they dont rely on crafting to make money while they may craft gaunlets and boots occationally especially requested by other players, they make them to make friends. Gaunlets and boots are thus relatively less breakable in order to avoid the creating of high demands in the player market.

As they need STR, str is thus the most expensive stats in the game. For example, a +10str sword is worth 100gold, a +14str sword may cost 800gold while a +17str sword may cost 2000up gold. That is, the damage output efficiency may go in a linear way (pve/pvp damage design), yet the str price may go exponentially (rate of uber gear production). Even so, the hardcore players will demand the most uber gear set with +17str.

STR thus sinks the money from the richest group of players, ususally, they are hardcore players with tons of time, and alone.


...........there are more, but i am tired of typing. This is actually the design of my current game. Where the economy is good, with not much inflation, crafting is truly fun. Player majority are not rich but it's not a burden to survive. Players are quite willing to spend money and feel happy to remain "poor".

[Edited by - Hawkins8 on May 25, 2006 1:24:37 AM]
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7. items and fun of crafting
Various gear sets may be designed for various purposes by different classes. Say, players may need a gear set for general mob grinding, one for pvp, 1 for gvg, one for 1vsMany hunting, 1 for group hunting, 1 for crafting...etc. This may be resulted if you can design a game where different skills/skill sets are used in handling different situations. This is easier to achieve in a turn-based combat system.

There are normal items, items which are enhancable by crafters, items which can be further customized by users after the crafter enhancement, trainable items after enhancement and customization...etc.


[Edited by - Hawkins8 on May 25, 2006 2:22:50 AM]
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It's unusual to have a fixed amount of money in the system - this would rely on tracking the money through several NPC chains to produce a viable model.

Not nessesarily. If you just keep track of the amount that is in the world (ie how much has been droped) and how much is spent/goes into money sinks (ie goe to vendors and such). Then you can track the money in your game world quite easily without having toi track every single "copper piece" (you could do this for any item that your world spawns - and usually do anyway).

This also would allow you to change the amount being dropped. If there is too much money in the world then you can just cut back on the amount dropped (say the chance that money will drop). This allow you to control the amount of money (or other objects) in the game and so control inflation. If there is too much money then the value of an individual coin drops, where as if too little money is in the world then the value of that coin rises.

A good way to see the strength of an economy is the amount of money flow. In a good economy there is a lot of money flowing where as in a bad one the money becomes stagnent and ther is little flow.

Try to add methods that encourage players to spend money, either between them selves or in money sinks.
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This line of thinking [sinking money], to me is completely wrong (nothing personal guys) because it depends on players voluntarily putting money into something that removes it from the game.


Things like item decay and taxes on public market sales also take money out of the game, and aren't voluntary as such. The bottom line is that if you add more money than you take out (assuming a constant number of active players, which a successful MMO will have) your economy will inflate and new players will find themselves at a disadvantage. By that I mean that a player joining today will find it easier than a player joining next year. Eventually this will cause new players to be priced out of decent items and make them stop playing.

The trick is to (a) reduce the universal value of drops (i.e. bunnies don't drop gold coins which can be used anywhere; maybe they drop bunny pelts that are only useful for low-level items), and (b) make the sinks so they take plenty of money away without the players thinking their money is being thrown away.

Keeping a fixed amount of money in the world (or a fixed amount per player) is simple to do – just keep track of inputs and outputs and adjust NPC prices and item drops to keep them the same. I don't think under a typical item-drop regime this is really practical, though, as it is unstable (higher drops cause more people to buy things and increase the output, causing higher drops ... runaway inflation of cashflow and prices, causing all the money to end up in a few players' hands; alternatively, drops and prices drop to near zero and you have no economy).

Fixing the price of certain items and not others will cause the 'unfixed' items to inflate (under usual MMO conditions) and the fixed ones (usually newbie items) not to, leaving you with a situation again where new players are priced out of decent items, becoming frustrated and leaving.
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I have only had a scan over what others have said, but this is a favourite of mine too so I have one technical method that perhaps has not been mentioned. Incidentally this also has a big influence over your server architecture and database shenanigans dadada..

The token system.

This is essentially a way of creating a real-world economy which has very little guidance from players or admins, yet theoretically works and saves you lots of processing power. Long story short, every item in the world is worth one token, each gold coin too. Once your server has started up, it's just a matter of logging the movement of these tokens rather than their actual identities. Add some pixy dust, and a squirt of special sauce and you have yourself a magical bean factory filled with love piggies.

I didn't say it was sensible. But it's a possibility and it amuses me.
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I think a good goal should be to limit the amount of 'gold' a player usually sees. A better feeling when you are starting is to start out giving new players copper pennies. 20 pennies to the mark, 10 marks to the crown, and 50 crowns to the bar. Make things a little more 'fun' if you have different nations in your game, and give each a slightly different weight. Kingdom A might make lighter copper pennies than kingdom B, but their silvers are heavier, meaning more copper crowns to the silver penny.

Keep base prices down low, and have all the 'best' items in the game user crafted (requiring skills that take some time to work on). Set the game up in such a way that older players are going to want to spend money, don't give them much reason to hoard too much. Being able to buy estates/castles and have to pay upkeeps and for guards or something similar (hireable heros that follow them)

Avoid having things like single "Spwan point of Uber baddy that drops this great stuff". This leads to people camping them and hoarding the drops. Idealy what you want is a slightly open landscape, where spwans are random, so if you are hunting bears, you can't keep going to the same spot day after day, you have to actually go look for them. Not only is this a little more fun and stops things seeming the EXACT same each time you do it, but it also makes it tens of times harder for people that would make a script to gather the drops.

Keep the gains in money low, and the spending needs low as well.
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Of course, if you want to have a player oriented economy in any MMO, you need to have ALL OBJECTS CRAFTED!!! And you also need to have ALL THE MONEY MINTED!! which means that there is NO GOLD DROP anywhere in teh world, no single spider is going to have five coins in her trousers pockets, no rat is running jingling from coins. But you have to have skills at gathering raw materials. A badly sawed jaw, or trophy doesn't have the same shock resistance than a perfectly done job. And you get more meat from the same carcass if you are a good butcher tan if you are a bad one.

WHich drives me to my second point. You have to have a sink, somewhere, preferably one which cannot be escaped. If you want, you can make this food and beverage. In most MMOs, this is merely the sugar coating, because you can so easily skip it and never worry about your character having to eat or drink. And if you don't want your character to have to sleep at all, you should also have to buy those super power pills which enable your character to remain awake for days on end. But you should have to pay heavily for it, and also in terms of game time spent sleeping again after that.

Third point, if every item is crafted, you should have item decay, because it's all there is to it. You keep coming back to the crafters.

Fourth point, have the mobs have a sense of danger, so that you actually go HUNTING? and not ducksitting where they spawn. If the mobs actually sense danger in an encounter with you, they'll flee, and usually faster than you can catch them up. Which means that you should have the higher level folks CRAVE for something only the lower levels can get access to, as well as the other way around, just for the sake of having the money moving around, and not sitting in someone's pockets. Let's say only the lower levels, maybe only the first level, can hide their power long enough to be able to catch a fairy, or a gnome, or an imp, well, a magical creature which blood is used to enchant weapons and armors, and that said magical creatures will flee if they sense any magical creature blood in a huge radius around them? WHich means that, once you have yourself a magical weapon or armor, or anything, you have to rely on lower levels to provide you with magical creatures you cannot have access to.

Fifth point. If you're a crafter, you have to come into play with some sort of richness, because if you don't, then you're stuck. But here, we sort of hit a wall. What limits the ability of a power gamer to create a crafter character, buying at high price some unusable item from some alternate character, then deleting the crafter, and repeating the process? What limits the game from creating an infinite quantity of money? Well, maybe you could start with limiting the amount of money created PER ACCOUNT. I don't mind having large amounts of money around the world, as long as it can be divided between every character roughly evenly. This way, if you want to create an infinite number of crafters from the same account, it means that you will have to suffer from MANY goldless crafters, in the beginning. AND any other character doesn't come to the game with ANY money in his pocketsz. You should work to get anything, just like in Project Entropia's Olden Days...
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This is pretty close to the way Bloodspear's economy works.

We have an event-driven spawning and mob movement system (eg wolves are attracted by deer, which lowers the deer population in that area, forcing the wolves elsewhere). So no particular spawn points (for general creatures) to camp.

Also implemented are regional events (such as a dragon taking up residence). The location for such a lair is chosen from a large number of possibles, making camping difficult. Regardless, spawns are rigged NEVER to occur in visual range of players. Dragons etc only keep what they take (although there is a certain amount of 'ancient treasure' in the world).

Currency is based on a single common denominator (the Copper Piece), of which each currency is a multiple. (Eg a crown in one kingdom is 5CP, a guilder in another might be 15CP). Kingdoms are the top level geographical division for economy, and have a min and max tax rate, min and max value for raw resources, exchange rate control and the ability to mint coins from raw resources. Metalworkers can melt down coins for less raw resources than it took to make them (so you could make a gold candlestick from 300 gold coins, but why would you want to? - Other kingdoms might do this just to stimie the amount of currency in circulation). Under kingdoms are baronies, which have tighter tax control (between the min and max rates), tighter min and max buy / sell prices for resources. Under baronies are manors, which have a precise tax rate, but no further controls. Under manors are the individual traders - these have precise control of their buy and sell rates (within the limits set by their manor), which they will adapt according to supply and demand to make the best profit.

I have to point out that the economy for Bloodspear is also a mechanic in the top level kingdom-vs-kingdom (PvP) game.

NPCs can be bossed around by the heads of Manors by orders to various Guilds. Say a manor lord needs swords for his retinue- he'd put out an order to the blacksmith's guild, which forward the order to appropriate blacksmiths in the area. They purchase their goods from the miner's guild etc. etc.

Different social structures can be placed together to limit the pricing range - perhaps the blacksmith's guild takes a cut, paying less for the swords than they're selling them for. At each key point there's a player (more correctly a number of players) in control, attempting to fulfil a higher order.

It's basically an operating version of the feudal system, with a few tweaks to allow player competition for the ranking spots, and to prevent (massive) abuse from occuring.

We don't have uber items. Even the top level items confer only a partial advantage. We do have a *very* flexible crafting system, allowing a crafter to modify the item they're creating by adding traits which affect the stats of the item (and the difficulty of the task!). For example, 'heavy' is a trait that can be applied to all weapons. They do more damage, take slightly more materials to make, but weigh more. 'sharp' is applied to edged and piercing weapons, they inflict no more damage but pierce soft armour. We also allow negative traits (for badly failed crafting, or those attempting to make more difficult items) - these decrease the skill required to make the item - 'shoddy', 'fragile', 'weak' etc, all with appropriate stat effects. Although nobody is going to want a negative-traited item, needs must where the devil drives, and if you need a sword, you need a sword. It goes without saying that negative-traited items sell for a lot less than decent ones of the same type.

For some purposes (mostly enchanting) certain traits may be required ('fine quality or better'), meaning that top quality crafters are always going to be required.

In terms of starting characters off, the gameflow for Bloodspear involves a tutorial stage geared around a chosen background profession 'apprenticeship'. The quests given teach about relevant skills, provide some resources, money and a feel for the world. After completing their apprenticeship they're on their own.
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Quote:
Original post by Fournicolas
Of course, if you want to have a player oriented economy in any MMO, you need to have ALL OBJECTS CRAFTED!!! And you also need to have ALL THE MONEY MINTED!! which means that there is NO GOLD DROP anywhere in teh world, no single spider is going to have five coins in her trousers pockets, no rat is running jingling from coins. But you have to have skills at gathering raw materials. A badly sawed jaw, or trophy doesn't have the same shock resistance than a perfectly done job. And you get more meat from the same carcass if you are a good butcher tan if you are a bad one.


If all items are crafted, you are forcing players to be crafters since that will be the best way to get money and other items you cant craft. So, a non-crafter player will remain poor, looting low quality raw materials for selling to those who can transform them into more expensive elaborated products. But theres another and larger problem, if gold cannot be dropped, how can a player get it?. If all items are crafted you cant sell to NPC traders, who usually "create" money.

Quote:
Original post by Fournicolas
Fourth point, have the mobs have a sense of danger, so that you actually go HUNTING? and not ducksitting where they spawn. If the mobs actually sense danger in an encounter with you, they'll flee, and usually faster than you can catch them up. Which means that you should have the higher level folks CRAVE for something only the lower levels can get access to, as well as the other way around, just for the sake of having the money moving around, and not sitting in someone's pockets. Let's say only the lower levels, maybe only the first level, can hide their power long enough to be able to catch a fairy, or a gnome, or an imp, well, a magical creature which blood is used to enchant weapons and armors, and that said magical creatures will flee if they sense any magical creature blood in a huge radius around them? WHich means that, once you have yourself a magical weapon or armor, or anything, you have to rely on lower levels to provide you with magical creatures you cannot have access to.


Good point. Mob absurd stupidity is also another common problem in most MMO. But in any case higher level players should get a credible opportunity to catch them, to allow loot raw materials, and not depend on lower level players to get those mats.
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The goal is PRECISELY that most players remain poor. If everyone remains poor alike, then the expensive items remain expensive, but not out of reach from everyone. And the money doesn't come from nowhere. You have to work to get it, like gather materials for the crafters with the money.

On the whole, I think some people are getting wrong right from the premises. Money is merely a convenient way to accelerate the bartering. "I'll give you five rabbit skins, and you make two pairs of gloves from them, one for you, and one for me? what do you say?" This kind of things has happened since two people were able to get in conctact. Money as minted coins only appeared rather late in History, and only as a way to make commerce easier. You could bring a coin weighing an ounce of silver from point A to point B, it would still weigh an ounce at arrival, and still have the approximate same value.

Here and now, in any MMO, you are playing some adventurer. The main occupation of any adventurer is to, well, have adventures in the wild. He doesn't produce goods, and certainly has close to no chance at all to become rich by wandering around idly. Hunting isn't the same thing as butchering, or hide gathering, or even trophies cutting. And each of these things is necessary for a community. If you want to act solo, then be prepared to starve for a while, and be equipped more or less like a caveman. Only those who can rely on others to get something they are not ready to do for themselves can go further than the cavemen.

And this is precisely what this system is aiming at: creating forced interaction. You cannot get anything better than a caveman's spear or wooden stick without gowing to find someone who can equip you with something else, and bartering it. You want a metallic weapon? Find yourself some metal, five days worth of food, THAT much coal, two rabbit skins, and we have a deal. Or maybe, if you already have had access to some other barter, and already have earned some gold for yourself, you can buy it fair and square, because the gold you will give will go round and buy the smith some food, some coal and metal ore, and possibly some more rabbit skins than what you would have given. It's commerce to you.
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I think you should probably read 'no gold drop' as 'no gold spawning'. Of course there's nothing to stop a troll nicking all your cash when it kills you. UO used to have a system where mobs would occasionally loot a player corpse. I think it's a good idea - and it's fun to go hunting for the particular orc that looted you to get your stuff back.
Of course, a clever mob will be *using* your +4 broadsword when you see it next...

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Interesting point.

If you were to hunt "intelligent" mobs, and you died, the intelligent mobs would loot your body in the same manner you would loot theirs if you killed them. But as YOU can decide which weapon is the best to keep from dying, how could you implement this sort of behaviour in the mob's attitude? How can you get a troll to use your Broadsword +4 instead of his Bigger Club? And as a secondary question, would you gain more XP if you killed a troll using a +4 broadsword instead of one swinging half a pine?

By the way, I think you can probably find a way to uncover that thread, somewhere in the "AI FORUM" of Gamedev. It's about a simulation of natural cycle. There is something related to moving spawning points, and emergent behavior patterns there.
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We're getting slightly off topic with the concept of intelligent mobs' weapon selection. The main point is that items are kept circulating to keep the economy ticking, and (in the case of reactive spawning / population tracking) that supply fluctuates. Without fluctuations in supply against demand, prices remain fixed and trade stagnates. If mithril is comparitively plentiful at one time, and adamantium at another (assuming they're both similar materials) you get fairly realistic trends in armour fashion (since all of a sudden one material or the other becomes much easier to maintain / replace bits of. Edit: This obviously relies that there is a correlation in decay for armour with its use - i.e. if it gets hit a lot, it gets ruined quickly.

In order to give starting players an easy foot on the ladder, and to give experienced players a niche, NPC crafter / vendors are capped at fairly low levels of skill for the most part, and don't make stuff to order, just to fill set stocks. As the game progresses, many NPC vendors come under player control (via the Guilds).
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