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Player owned economy

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I've been reading this development blog for Pirates of the Burning Sea regarding their economy - http://www.burningsea.com/pages/page.php?pageKey=news/article&article_id=10253 - and it just seems too good to be true. It seems MMOs tend to suffer from massive inflation and any goods statically priced at an NPC shop will soon become too easily available with low level characters able to afford the best items. But if the entire economy and every item and resource is sold by another player, then inflation will happen, but everything scales accordingly. Am I missing anything here? Or does this economic system work really well, as well as providing additional game play for people who want to operate as merchants? The only considerations would be how to get the economy started on a new server - I guess you'd need to artificially create some initial resources and buy/sell orders? Having NPC shops would be a nice feature in my game, and I'd see these working if the NPC buys them from the local market (after they've been listed a while to allow players to snap up bargains), and then applies a markup (at a fixed percentage of the price they'd paid - and maybe a modifier for the item's rarity). This way the NPC shop prices scale with inflation, and someone looking for magical reagants can go to the magic shop and find everything they need in one place, aware that they're paying a small premium for the convenience. It'd also be great to have player-owned shops in my game world, but I can't see why these would exist when anyone could got to an Auction House or Local Market and buy the goods directly. How could player owned shops be made to work with this economy? Thanks for any thoughts.

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Look at EVE online. They have a fully player owned economy.
All the resources and money are harvested by the players of the game.
All the trade is done on a buy/sell order market place.
In the beginning (and at most patches) the designers placed NPC buy and sell orders on the market to seed it with important goods that don't have a working player base yet. After some time, they stop refreshing the infinite NPC orders, and let them all expire. This leaves only the player orders.

You can buy or sell things just about anywhere, but you have to get to the physical location to pick up the items. So this means there is economy in moving items from harvest locations to manufacture locations to sale locations. Entire player corporations revolve around transporting items between trade hubs. Large corporations often have their own internal shipment managers who make more dangerous trips from high to low security spaces.

EVE handles the "NPC shop" in two ways. One, there are NPC sellers for specific items like skill books, so everyone can always find training for their characters. Two, there are NPC sellers who trade loyalty points (earned through running missions) for special "faction" items that are better than normal drops and producable goods.

The two base movers for prices in the game right now are the reward amounts of ISK and LP from missions, and the payout for insurance on your ship when you lose it. Everything else gets driven by the players.

From a really really quick skim of the article you linked, it sounds like they are taking aspects of EVE Online's economy and trying them out in Pirates.

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thanks for the reply, I've not played EVE, but found a couple of articles discussing the economy in detail so that's a great help.

I'm still unsure how to implement player owned shops - I think diversity would be the key, but I imagine there would be too many players offering very similar selections of goods to differentiate them. Possibly restricting Auction Houses to the larger cities allows player run shops to exist in smaller towns and villages due to convenience of location?

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The easiest ways to "stop" inflation is to:

Have a barter economy. Though only in the sense that players can actually use everything. For instance you can have a few convenient items that are small and useful for the most common tasks in your game(crafting, magic, counter death penalty, min/maxing gear, or similar).

Have floating cash drains. Basically have limited resources that players compete over. For instance each city only has 5 to 30 shop/house/guild locations, to have such locations you have to be the highest bidder in auction for the month.

Keep money rewards "flat". One of the most obvious reasons for inflation is people rerolling characters AND bringing income from higher level characters. Essentially this means the weeny newbie income has to compete with the income of buffy the min/max character income(at weeny newbie levels).

Adjust total income per day to be somewhat logarithmic. Essentially making your first bit of income is 5 times easier than making your last bit of income. This means that you as the developer can easily estimate the average income of the whole player base, it also means that the most disruptive form of player(on all the time) has a smaller effect. WoW dailies are an example of this.

Upkeep. Everything needs upkeep and a noticeable form of it. As a matter of fact having peek min/maxxed gear/attacks/similar should require more upkeep than they can pay back while in use(or in use for more than an hour or two with logarithmic income). However it should be perfectly possible to make income "no matter what" by playing in a reduced form.

Use a "real" cash economy. Essentially if you want "gold" in game you buy it from the developers or trade with other players.

No "A" spots, professions, or tasks. Essentially you can't have areas that gives the character "everything" in one go. Want to level your character the fastest possible, you won't be making very much cash(maybe even losing depending on mechanics).

________________

You probably couldn't use all of these in the same game but taking a few together can go a long way.


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Players are going to go by priority.
Supply and demand.
Although, having any economy at all is going to leave you highly susceptible to gold farmers.
Letting them own an economy is like saying you hate making money.

I think a mix between the Grand Exchange of Runescape and a taxation on earnings when selling will change the flows of economy whilst removing the need for player owned shops.
Having item for item listings based around item listing prices and open ended offers will remove the need for monetary assets.
They'll also allow players to spend less time merching and more time playing.
Players will control the flow of items and the game will have base values input.
Supply and demand will inflate or deflate individual prices.

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Quote:
Original post by Cpt Mothballs
They'll also allow players to spend less time merching and more time playing.

But isn't there gameplay in being a merchant? It seems like some players in EVE enjoy playing this role, and I'd like offer as many alternatives to repeatedly killing things as possible.

Those players who aren't interested in being merchants can then rely on those who are to deliver their goods to wherever they need them.

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My point is, giving freedom of cashflow is like signing away your game to the will of gold farmers.
It's not like merching still wouldn't be viable, the idea is pretty flexible.
But it's just less important and necessary.

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Free flow of cash is not the same as giving away your game to gold farmers.

Having a player advancement that takes forever is a great environment for gold farmers. Anything that is a shortcut becomes much more attractive. In Runescape you literally learn/grow slower than a you do in real life(You can buff your body in less time, you can learn math faster than you can learn magic in Runescape, even basic things like learning to cook happen faster here than in Runescape).

_________________

If you want to get rid of gold farmers you just need to make your game highly interactive(gold farmers will babysit a handful of computers), add in randomness/dynamic-ness that makes game play less predictable, don't allow high level characters to "weeny" their way through low level areas, add in PvP areas that you "have" to travel through, reduce the incentive for short cutting advancement, and force your players to have a more than competent level of English.

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Quote:

Quote:

Original post by Cpt Mothballs
They'll also allow players to spend less time merching and more time playing.


But isn't there gameplay in being a merchant? It seems like some players in EVE enjoy playing this role, and I'd like offer as many alternatives to repeatedly killing things as possible.

Those players who aren't interested in being merchants can then rely on those who are to deliver their goods to wherever they need them.

EVE has a very large role for merchants.
*There is the boring but constant need (constant, but smaller income) merchant, who moves goods from hi-sec to hi-sec so everyone can have access to items that only drop in some locations.
*There is the boring corporate merchants, who move goods from hi-sec to null-sec or null-sec to null-sec. They charge premium prices for corp members to waste their time, and set prices to move corp goods like fuel around.
*There are the merchants who pull the buy low, sell high trading. They will look for any place where they can sell a good at insane markup, and do so. They will look for existing buy and sell orders across regions, and fill them. They will look for lucrative player contracts and transport them.
*There are merchants who are stupid rich, who day trade in Jita. They'll buy up anything that is at a stupid low price and resell it. They'll buy up anything that is less than mineral value, and get it recycled and sell the minerals. They'll watch daily tends and adjust prices depending on the day of the week.

Quote:

Free flow of cash is not the same as giving away your game to gold farmers.

I agree. What gives the game to the gold farmer is having high level goods that are of value to low level players. The low level players don't have the in game money for the goods, so they either farm it with their high level character, or buy it with real money from a gold farmer.

Combine that with the thought that:
Quote:

Having a player advancement that takes forever is a great environment for gold farmers. Anything that is a shortcut becomes much more attractive.

I think the key there is the notion of "shortcut". EVE's advancement takes forever, but all the farming in the world can't shortcut it.

Part of why they can't shortcut it in EVE is that training takes time, not experience. With an experience system like WoW, you can use farming to make a more optimal path to get the most XP/min, or to get enough reagents to quickly train up a trade skill.
In WoW, I could buy my 5000 silk and 15000 runecloth(tailor training), my armor, my enchants, etc, and have a level 80 to play with my friends and be done with the costs. The allure of farming in WoW is that one person farming can earn real cash for helping get people to level 80 so they can raid with their buddies.

EVE trades the experience grind for a money grind. Everyone money grinds. Everyone loses money by losing ships. All of a sudden money flow is part of everyone's life, and while many are willing to buy credits, the costs continue with continued gameplay.

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Yes EvE's Real time advancement system is innovative in how it's used.
With relatively casual play you can keep your ship up to date with non-peak components and have some great fun with it.
The real time advancement also allowed them to expand their market base into the web empire building market(as a matter of fact the game is rather intuitive to that market base).
Also allows for A LOT of market reasonable-i-ness, you don't need to grind out basic stuff in crafting/combat/whatever then sell it at whatever price to make up for losses(only need to make/sell what you know can be absorbed).
The mechanic of one account one training "thread" also handles quite a few problems that arise from alternate characters.
The real time advancement also encourages the player base to keep subbing even if they won't play "much".

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