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LoirNoir

Finding the Best Economic System--Any tips?

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LoirNoir    100
I had always assumed that economy in an MMO was a... minor portion of the game itself, but after reading an essay on the economics of UO and what happened to their carefully tested system, I realized that it was MUCH more than that. UO established a sort of mix-market system that failed six months after release. So i started to try an design a system (with minimal knowledge of economics) that would work. Now... what I would like to suggest is a system where items don't have set prices. A system where vendors won't buy or sell items so that all worth is created directly by the players. A true system of supply and demand. Would this be feasible? Why/why not? Do you have any suggestions?

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kseh    3840
From what I've read and heard about economies in MMOs, they seem to all be based on this idea that infinite money and resources (drops) can somehow be managed to avoid runaway conditions. Though it might not apply well to an adventure game sort of thing, I'd like to see what'd happen if say... you cut down a tree and that tree is gone. Everybody cuts down a tree and the forest is gone. Now, wood is at a premium because there are no forests near by. This, I think, is the beginnings of a true system of supply and demand.

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way2lazy2care    790
Quote:
Original post by kseh
From what I've read and heard about economies in MMOs, they seem to all be based on this idea that infinite money and resources (drops) can somehow be managed to avoid runaway conditions. Though it might not apply well to an adventure game sort of thing, I'd like to see what'd happen if say... you cut down a tree and that tree is gone. Everybody cuts down a tree and the forest is gone. Now, wood is at a premium because there are no forests near by. This, I think, is the beginnings of a true system of supply and demand.

you would get one jerk who would cut down the whole forest and have a monopoly on wood.

Horizons had a decent economic system if I remember correctly.

The problem is that most games don't have enough sinks and too many sources...

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JasRonq    156
What do vendors do if they don't buy or sell items?

How are items created or destroyed?

What about raw materials for crafting?

Is there a finite total of items and crafting materials?

If there isn't then how do you keep from slowly driving down prices with additionally created or spawned items?


What if all items had durability and eventually became unrepairable junk. New crafting material spawned at a set rate (controlled by GMs to balance the destruction of items) and all items had to be crafted from materials available. The prices are then based purely on the supply and demand and the supply is based on the demand and the material availability.

In that system vendors are unnecessary and if added in must obey the same rules so they don't screw the balance.

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ishpeck    154
One of the most important things to remember with MMO economies is that you need to have replenishing resources so that more players can enjoy the game. But you also need a way to constantly bleed those resources back out of the game or you'll deal with hyperinflation.

This is true for all arbitrary economic environments. In the United States, money is dictated arbitrarily by a central bank setting key interest rates. Money enters the economy by lowering interest rates and is bled out by raising them. In this manner, one may theoretically keep the balance of value behind dollars in the world. (I don't believe it works but that's another topic entirely)

As a game designer, you have a job very much like a central banker: You are trying to find the proper method of trickling resources into a world and then out in a manner that will maintain playability.

My solutions (like my economic theories) are always more radical than most. One of my least radical solutions is to ensure the only way you can restore HP is by paying for the service from some healer/wizard/doctor type NPC. So doing would guarantee that money leave the world at a rate commensurate to its introduction. But when I suggest these sorts of solutions, I'm laughed at as the Hayekian loon that I am.

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Orymus    156
Quote:
Original post by way2lazy2care
Quote:
Original post by kseh
From what I've read and heard about economies in MMOs, they seem to all be based on this idea that infinite money and resources (drops) can somehow be managed to avoid runaway conditions. Though it might not apply well to an adventure game sort of thing, I'd like to see what'd happen if say... you cut down a tree and that tree is gone. Everybody cuts down a tree and the forest is gone. Now, wood is at a premium because there are no forests near by. This, I think, is the beginnings of a true system of supply and demand.

you would get one jerk who would cut down the whole forest and have a monopoly on wood.

Horizons had a decent economic system if I remember correctly.

The problem is that most games don't have enough sinks and too many sources...


I like the idea of monopoly. It actually improves gameplay imo. IT makes it that much harder to acquire a said resource and shifts gameplay experience in that regard. Imagine a guild forming up just to try and liberate that said resource? another guild, a form of mafia, attempting to maintain control over it and rule through the use of it?

I still think dynamic supply/demand economic systems have only just started to work.

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KulSeran    3267
Quote:

origional post by LoirNoir
A system where vendors won't buy or sell items so that all worth is created directly by the players. A true system of supply and demand. Would this be feasible? Why/why not?

EVE online has one of the most touted economies of all the MMOs. It follows several features that other MMOs don't. It has almost true supply and demand. Almost all items are made by players (or can be made by players, even though they are also loot drops). But it still has a sources and sinks, and vendor prices (not a closed economy). But everything that you buy and sell is auctioned in a market that uses real world stock-market style trading with all transactions taking place as buy and sell orders.

EVE, like most MMOs has infinite resources in the world. This is good. It provides new players resources. If you have a "closed" economy, then new players will end up not being able to get much wealth, since the old players have it all.

EVE, like most MMOs thus has to have sinks. This is in the form of:
taxes on everything you do (buy, sell, repair, build, research, etc.).
resources can be destroyed, and are gone forever. "dying" means losing your ship and all the resources/money that went into that ship. This keeps the economy from inflating (inflating: ie having something "worthless" like bread cost 100,000$ because 1$ means so little)

EVE, has player crafting that means something to the economy. Since you have to really focus your time in training one thing at a time in EVE, only a small subset of the people are one of either gatherer, fighter, or crafter. Crafters supply the world with ships, high end items, and expendables(ammo). Fighters supply the world with money, and sink crafter items through fighting. Gatherers bring in resources (not money, but building resources) for the crafters to make things out of. Fighters also bring in the super-rare drops that tend to be better than crafted goods, but the rarity drives up their price. Since so many of the items are crafted, there is supply and demand to drive the costs around. When the dev team introduces new resources like Tech Level 2 and Level 3 items, it takes a while for the crafters to build enough of them to supply the demanding public. So, the initial costs of those new items is really high, and it slowly falls over the months as the supply chain grows.

EVEs items don't teleport, so there is economic pressure due to location of resources, money, and goods. This is unlike WoW's bank and auction house that "teleport" items, allowing you access anywhere in the world. Since item A only drops in Caldari space, it will fetch a higher price the further from the source you take it. Since EVE is heavy into PvP action, it is particularly risky to move items between some areas (taking items from "high sec" space to "0.0" space risks you getting all the goods blown up). This brings an associated price hike for sales in different "dangerous" areas. It also makes an economy of shipping items. People don't want to train the "industrial transports" to move crap around, or they just don't want to waste hours moving stuff. So, people who are willing to move stuff can get payed to do so for the lazy people. And people willing to figure out the market of what sells good where, can buy low, carry it someplace else and sell high.

EVE has some set prices. Originally, NPCs bought resources (minerals) for a set price. Now they only buy trade goods at set prices. NPCs still sell semi-rare items for set prices (quest Loyalty Points + money), and common items like skill training books at set prices. NPCs also set the "insurance" cost of your ships (insuring wastes X isk to insure you get Y% of the ships worth back if you get it destroyed. The resources are still lost, but the money isn't). This all works together to set a minimum price on some goods, like minerals, so the economy doesn't deflate. (deflating: ie. items like bread are given away free, because there are so many of them they aren't worth spending money on).

To really mix things up, EVE has a few very rare items (faction ships and modules) that fetch high prices on the market. But one step up from that it has 100% unique items that will only ever be spawned once, and due to EVE's economy "sink"s, can be lost forever. These items are like trading cards, or a gold-standard. They change ownership, and fetch huge prices on the market, but will never be "taken out of the box" as it where. Though several of these unique items have been lost throughout the game's history, and there are a few known collectors, at least one of whom has attempted to own one of every item in the game, including the unique items.

Quote:

origional post by Orymus
I like the idea of monopoly. It actually improves gameplay imo. IT makes it that much harder to acquire a said resource and shifts gameplay experience in that regard. Imagine a guild forming up just to try and liberate that said resource? another guild, a form of mafia, attempting to maintain control over it and rule through the use of it?

Again, EVE to some extent has this do to the location based economic presures. Wars are fought on the server by people wishing to liberate some resource hot spot, or specific rare/super-rare resource or item drop spots. Teratory in the game has value dictated by the resources and items that can drop in that area. Holding those areas then becomes pressure for different Corporations(guilds) who want to hold onto that source of profit. Battles are also commonly fought on good shipping lanes between people trying to keep the area clear for trade goods and people looking to blow up and loot traders going through.

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To find the best economic system, you will need responses from many users. To do so, you need to set up an mmorpg game with only the economic element and have it in ALPHA condition because you are testing out the economic model. You will have your fan-base determine for themselves what is a good economic system because they are more willing to improve an economic system then a single person. If the collaboration of every player's consent is to have the economic system design in a way, then you have reach the best possible economic system based on the fan-based. Since the economic system is determined by the fan-based, they will have no rights to complain problems they set up for themselves. Then it goes towards the majority versus minority ruling. Will you favor majority, minority, or absolute consensus. With absolute consensus, it will only take one player to get rid of an element in the economic system, but with majority system you will be favoring the norm. The norm are known to have a bias towards what they already experienced.

You can design a true system of supply and demand. In this world, we still do not know the true limit to the resources because most of our resources recycle within the biosphere over time. In essence, a condition similar to the biosphere is needed. Resources join the living, but must return to the dead. Resources must increase with an increase in amount of players, but it should be a diminishing return system. The diminishing return is to maintain competition.

Players are motivated into investing in items that will give them a better return value back ( such as better equipment ) because they will be able to loot faster. This effect needs to be minimized or else the older player will have an ever increasing advantage.

In the end, the economy is controlled by the players at the top of the "endgame" that is, the original players that reach the level cap, and have the most wealth by that time. The amount of players reaching the top wealth will diminish in proportion to the player-base as the numbers of players increase.

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badjim    100
I think your free market system can work. One tricky factor is currency. If there is a limited amount of currency, the first players in the game will hoard it all and never spend it. But unlimited currency tends to cause inflation.

I think the issue with most MMOs is that you accumulate gold whether you really care or not. It drops with monsters that you would have killed anyway, is given for quests and you may as well sell those 10,000 shirts you made for crafting XP. If gold was only created when players specifically tried to create it, by panning or mining, there would be far less need for gold sinks and you could possibly get away with none at all.

As for the infinite accumulation of resources, I don't think that's a problem. At least, it doesn't need a solution that involves destroying peoples' stuff. The game may start to feel dull when you have lots of everything, but the content team should add rare items to the game for you to work for. As long as there is something shiny and expensive you don't have, your stash will never seem like too much.

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sunandshadow    7426
Personally I'd start by asking "What do you want your economy to _do_?" The economy is there for the players' entertainment, just like everything else.

- If you want the players to sell their drops or crafts to each other, you should have a global marketplace. If you don't want them selling to each other, you shouldn't.

- If you want people to craft, monsters should not drop good gear; if you don't want to have crafting monsters should drop an abundant supply of gear. If you want people to speculate and play the market, don't have selling fees or taxes.

- If you want to discourage people from trying to sell en masse or buy anything they aren't going to use, do have selling fees/taxes.

- If you want to encourage people to craft for themselves but not for others, either make crafting require a bind-on-pickup resource, or do not allow crafted items to be sold.

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LoirNoir    100
Here are a few of my requirements:
1. Crafting should be a must
2. I don't want any "useless" items.
3. I'd rather not have an auction house but "Vendor stalls".


-->EDIT: I just though I should add, this is not for a full-blown MMO, but an economy/world simulation.

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sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by LoirNoir
Here are a few of my requirements:
1. Crafting should be a must
2. I don't want any "useless" items.
3. I'd rather not have an auction house but "Vendor stalls".


-->EDIT: I just though I should add, this is not for a full-blown MMO, but an economy/world simulation.


Personally I hate vendor stalls because they're incredibly inconvenient. And I say that as a person who loves crafting. The only thing that would make player shops convenient is if there was a search engine that searched all the player shops for a desired item and listed which shops has it the cheapest - I think NeoPets does something like that.

Anyway here's a follow-up question - what types of items do you want your players to be crafting? Does the game have a lot of appearance customization, such that people might be crafting dyes or clothing? Does the game allow the player to build buildings or large tools like looms and blacksmith shops? Do you want gathering resources or growing/breeding plants/animals for resources to be an important part of the game? Do you want players to craft (and need to regularly use) hp or mp potions? Do you want players to be able to craft gear or be _required_ to craft gear? Do you want gear to be recraftable to improve it by addig spells or gems or something? Do you want pets or mounts to be 'craftable' somehow?

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TyrianFin    122
Some ideas for resource sinks:
Actual prices may vary due to wars and other events :)
All topics can be seen as gameplay elements, to make game more living place.

1. Caravans
Distance to resource increases cost.
Delivery of items takes some time.
Caravans can be robbed.

2. Limited information
Not all information is available. (Distance & Guild membership)
Some info might be bogus.
Information costs money.

3. Multi currency economy
Price of money is not constant.
If one currency has hyperinflation, players can switch to other currencies.
If one citys currency becomes unstabel, then it`s exchange rate drops.
Not all currencies can be used in all transactions (limited by law or seller)

4. Storage costs (10 000 tons of grain takes lot of space)
Pay of guards on guarded storege house.
Upkeep of storage building.
Storages can be damaged (fire, water, cold etc...)

5. Insurance costs
80% of losts due accidents are covered, for 10% cost of goods.
One more reason for guilds to exist.

6. Nobody can create monopoly of common resources.
Try to monopolise water/air, and you have lot`s of criminals & rebels.
Give players ways to rob others & give players ways to protect assets.
(at some pont hireing more guards becomes more costly than having some assets robbed)

7. Be mean!
Some player comes whining: "I have bean robbed, I`s unfair!!!".
Time to send King`s tax collectors to that players shop.
Or create bogus message on thieves guild.
Or create mystic bad publicity campaing on product of that shop.
etc...
Why this works.
It might be not so much fun for player, but most of players don`t want to "lose"
in game where there is no gameover, but instead try harder.
Some loosers take insults badly and start to bug other players, but if player killing & reputation info & warrants are part of game, it will stop shortly.
(And if you wan`t to play role of azzhole, then it`s possible, but don`t expect that you will make lot`s of friends!) (Hay, look it`s that *** idiot, let`s beat him for fun! (and guards did not come to help))

/Tyrian

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