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Game economy in MMO's

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Different products also have different skill check difficulties - and the skill system also has support for critical success and failure - so a badly failed mining check could break a pickaxe or at least damage it more than standard use (that rock's just too hard, and item decay is essential for the economy) and so on.

What if you had the durability of an item based on the crafter's skill, so the better the crafter the longer the item would last. This way the abilities of an item is more indipendant from the skill, however the better the crafter the longer the item will last.

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Various stats on crafted items (including food products) can be altered by the choice of components that go into it. Generally this is through 'adjective' attachments to item (for durability 'sturdy', 'flimsy', 'solid') which are a set, easily understood bonus on top of the very variable quality. Examining the item provides a description of the quality -

'It's a good quality sword, somewhat better than yours. It looks sturdy.'.

'It's a reasonable quality ale. It smells potent.' You get the idea.

Most adjectives have a disadvantage - a 'sturdy' sword might weigh more, be more tiring to use, but it's going to last a while - good if you fight a lot, and don't head back to town to get things repaired, and are strong and fit enough to use it without getting knackered.

It has to be said, that the economic model might not want to pay too much attention to item quality - poor quality merchandise has lower stats (and should), making it less efficient for an NPC mechanism to use, comparted to better quality merchandise (perhaps at slightly greater cost). The advantage of being able to balance quality against cost provide player crafters with a stronger niche - the NPC mechanisms are too stupid to compete effectively. Given that the NPC's continue to trade more-or-less 24/7 (limited only by ingame time, if used), players need every advantage they can get. It may be necessary to cap skill limits on NPC crafters (meaning they can't create 'high level' gear).

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