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AngleWyrm

Monster Drops & Game Economy

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Something that has been eating at me for a while: Monster Drops create wealth out of thin air. The in-game world economy self-dilutes with every monster kill / monster spawn. The value of a good sword goes down because there are more of them over time; pretty soon everyone has that +5 Flaming Sword of Death. On one side, there's argument that says this is the nature of leveling, that the original stuff is worth less. It might even be said that this is economic levelling up. But on the other side, after some time everyone playing the game currently posesses all the best equipment: Then what? 50000 people with maxed out geer. "Hey, want a +5 Flaming Sword of Death?" "Nah, I've got two of them cluttering up my stash already." I think it has to do with the way monster drops are implemented: They 'generate' stuff from an unlimited collection of duplicates. So here's the suggestion: An alternate form of monster drop generation that puts a cap on all things, making the economy a closed system. And it would be easy to both implement and tweak: For every treasure item that can be rolled on a monster drop, have also a current/max counter that shows how many are in the universe, and how many are allowed. It would be at most two integers added to a treasure class. The terms common/uncommon/rare could have worldwide counts associated with them: Common->100 in the the game universe, Rare->10 worldwide, Unique->1. It could also be implemented by having a list of treasure. If there's only supposed to be two +5 Flaming Swords of Death, add exactly two of them to the list. Fill the list(s) with the entire world economy of all possible treasure drops, then just shuffle the list one time. Any time a monster drop is called for, pull the first item off the list. To get stuff back into the pool of monster drops, it could be taken from shopkeepers, or any time stuff vanishes. [Edited by - AngleWyrm on May 24, 2008 4:30:14 AM]

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What you're talking about is inflation, it's not only related with monster drops but with every value creating process in a game. It's not a new problem, several developers already tried tackling it, CCP Games tried implementing a closed economy with Eve Online, but ultimately failed. To my knowledge there is no "solution", every game that has an economy has to deal, to some degree, with inflation.

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Every time a player stops playing, items are lost from the world.
Every time items are sold to an NPC they are lost from the world (in many games).
Every time a player creates a new character, there's an increase in demand for an item.
Every time a new player joins, there's an increase in demand.

So there's more at work here than just people finding better loot. Having a limited number of items is a bad solution, IMO. Why should I not be able to get the sword just because I started playing later than the two people who did get it? I want to have fun - it's a game, darn it - not wait around for someone to finally sell of their sword, only to have it snagged by someone else before me.

Edit: And I can only assume that we're talking about an MMO here, right?

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Yes, and just found a good article on Eve Online's economy system, which also says that the main problem was "the closed economy was eventually dismantled, because it couldn't accommodate new players cleanly or easily, and favored established characters a bit too much"

On the ownership of limited items thing we just have differing views, and variety is good: Both systems would be fun. I happen to like that if I want that great sword, I'm gonna have to go take it from the guy who currently has it (and is likely to be a tough guy). Having great stuff then becomes a sort of proof of greatness. Might even be that any player holding a unique item for say a month gets it renamed to their character.

From easy-fix to hard-fix:

The selling to NPCs is an easy fix: just add the item back into available pool for random drops. This also works for anything that disappears, like arrows that might break, or potions/scrolls that get used up.

Abandoned characters: Someone with a bunch of game assets that quits playing, but still has those assets. Sort of like the abandoned castle, isn't it? And isn't this really what looting the castle is all about -- A bunch of young adventurers taking on the castle of the undead litch? Near as I can figure, this would be a situation where the abandoned character becomes an NPC boss vs the current players. For a really unusual rule, if the player doesn't play their character for a week, they become undead!

The new character/new account that increases demand is an interesting problem. Is it the same thing as overpopulation and starving? An arbitrary birth package of increased world resources doesn't work, because that would just promote spamming new characters.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on May 24, 2008 5:42:54 AM]

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For a really unusual rule, if the player doesn't play their character for a week, they become undead!

This is very bad. Never change a player's character unless they choose (within the game) to make it so. If a character dies during an adventure (with a permadeath rule), then that is still the player's choice (as they chose to go on the adventure). But if they are logged off, then they are not makeing choices, so you should not change their character.

Sometimes things happen in real life that means a player can't log on for a while. Should a player be punished for shuch a thing, even if it completely out of control (they might get hit by a bus)? Should a player be punished for that?

You might have an Idle Account policy, but this should be a couple of months after the payment period is up (that is if the player has payed up for 3 months, but then doesn't use the account for 2 of those months - maybe due to an injury - their account would still be active).

However, an interesting iade is to allow players to make their own Boss. They can spend as a wager an amount (in items and money) to create a Boss and Mobs. These will then exist in the world and any player who cna defeat them gains the amount wagered. However, any players attempting the Boss would have to wager items themselves and if they fail, these are added to the "Pot". After a period of time (set when the Boss is created), the original player can collect their "winnings" and the Boss is removed from the game.

This way, a player who is going Inactive for a while, can set up a boss and maybe gain some reward from it, and it returns the items to the game world.

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Original post by AngleWyrm
Abandoned characters: Someone with a bunch of game assets that quits playing, but still has those assets. Sort of like the abandoned castle, isn't it? And isn't this really what looting the castle is all about -- A bunch of young adventurers taking on the castle of the undead litch? Near as I can figure, this would be a situation where the abandoned character becomes an NPC boss vs the current players. For a really unusual rule, if the player doesn't play their character for a week, they become undead!
Actually that's a great idea, except for the objections brought up by Edtharan. People would HATE you for losing their character because they went on vacation or were in hospital for 2 weeks. If this happened only once or twice in history, your forums would be full of abuse for months.
Actually, it is even uncertain that you could manage to sell any significant numbers of such a game in the first place, if this was a publicly known feature (no matter how cool the idea is).
There would have to be some way of "parking" your character for holidays as the very least thing.

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Good points: Have a safe haven for parked characters not currently in play. If the player's account has become past due, only then is it fair to suggest neglect. After neglect becomes closed account, then it is no longer a player character, and their stuff is forfeit back into the game.

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Abandoned characters: Someone with a bunch of game assets that quits playing, but still has those assets. Sort of like the abandoned castle, isn't it? And isn't this really what looting the castle is all about -- A bunch of young adventurers taking on the castle of the undead litch? Near as I can figure, this would be a situation where the abandoned character becomes an NPC boss vs the current players.


This seems like a neat idea, if you don't play for a week or so, your character goes out to "stretch his legs" without you. Heh

I think implementing such a mechanic would depend on a number of factors and how you designed the game. If the game was a Roguelike with a high death turn-over players may not mind too much if their character walks out potentially getting killed at the end of the week (since they may die a couple times a day/week anyway).

Quote:
Sometimes things happen in real life that means a player can't log on for a while. Should a player be punished for shuch a thing, even if it completely out of control (they might get hit by a bus)? Should a player be punished for that?


I have a counter question to this: Is it fair to the rest of the people playing that they're denied access to valuable/limited game assets? If Jimmy takes a book from the library and gets hit by a truck, then nobody should be allowed to read it? As tragic as Jimmy's situation is publicly owned assets shouldn't be horded by individuals (IE: the book should be returned for others to enjoy).

The problem of course is that most MMO's favor heavy time investments by players, upwards of months of continuous grinding to collect some items. In such instances the return rate should be equivalent to the rate of acquisition. Either that or make simply having had the item a reward in itself (I once owned X extremely hard-nearly impossible to get item).

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If you're punishing a player for not playing, then you have to ask yourself - is this a good idea? Not really.

If you need to punish players for not playing, then you have to ask yourself - is this the player's fault, or have I completely screwed up the gameplay mechanics here?

It could ONLY work without making it very niche if it was on an 'easy come, easy go' basis, whereby you could go from all to nothing or nothing to all in a short (measured in single figure hours of gameplay) time period.

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