[MUD-Dev] Nation of shopkeepers

Brandon Van Every vanevery at blarg.net
Sat Aug 2 11:10:45 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> From: Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>
> That is possible. Competition is what could spark the interest for the
> players who don't want to go out and kill. Requirement here is that e-
> conomy is sufficiently complex that going out and just collect food is
> not an option for players.  Just as they should have to do some -work-
> to get money. The big danger here is that this work slips into the re-
> alm of tedious.  It should either be difficult to accomplish. The horde
> of a dragon should be hard to get at and it should mean something. And
> killing something to sell its equipment for some quick cash should not
> work for very long (if it is at all possible).  If this whole thing is
> not properly balanced and heading to an equilibrium then the game will
> quickly fall apart and nobody will have much fun out of it.

Tedium comes from positing that "everyone must accumulate wealth/resources
to be successful."  Mathematically speaking, if the goal is wealth then
you're creating a mono-axial system of game interaction.  Call it the
"money" axis.  Everyone is struggling to move towards the positive end of
the axis, and there aren't any orthogonal axes to pursue instead.  Consider
whether the other mathematical axes of your game are really orthogonal to
the money axis.  Do you always have to "save up" to get power in the game? 
Then all of your axes are equivalent and could be projected into the
"money" axis, they are not orthogonal.  The whole system is expanding in
the positive direction, you could create wealth scenarios from 0 to
infinity, the volume of your goal space is merely an infinite ray.  The
only possible "satisfaction" of this system is for one to generate a wealth
number so large, that it exceeds the cost of all forms of interaction in
the system.  At this point you run into the classic yuppie dilemma: "I have
everything.  Now what??!?"  My Dad has the joke that once you have
everything, you can always upgrade.  :-)  But really, it's the same old
same old.

In a mathematical, systemic sense, I can think of 3 ways to break this
deadlock of tedium:

1) make other axes that are truly orthogonal.  I'll leave other people to
give an example of this, it would make for interesting discussion.

2) Map the axes in 2 directions.  Why is always having "more" money the
goal?  One could concoct scenarios where having "more" money is good for
some things, but "less" money is good for others.  Then the player becomes
caught in the tradeoff of whether to have more or less money at any given
time.  The system becomes a dynamic balance between the forces of "more" or
"less" money, rather than ever-expanding gaseous vacuum towards more money.

3) Make distinct points or regions of the axis qualitatively significant. 
In this view it isn't important to have "more" or "less" money, but rather
to have "the right amount of money" within some tolerance value.  This
destroys the notion of accumulation.  If you've got the right amount of
money, then there's no incentive to accumulate.  Unless you want to "hop"
to a different "island" of money, so as to experience a different "quality"
in the universe.  Which isn't really about accumulation, since you're only
going to hop a known, finite distance to another island.  Although if you
wanted to make it more challenging, you wouldn't tell anyone where the
islands are.  Then the game becomes a matter of iterative research, with
people wondering "hmm, I'm hanging out pretty good at 26, but I wonder what
happens if I move to 63?"  One could metaphorize this to "tuning the
channel on a radio."

In general, what I'm developing here is a mathematical notion of ECOLOGY,
rather than ECONOMY.  Economy is boring.  It's based on the ever-expanding
gas cloud known as The Almighty Dollar.  Most of us have to play this game
in real life, which is why we don't necessarily want to do it when we're

Brandon J. Van Every  <vanevery at blarg.net>      DEC Commodity Graphics
http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery                  Windows NT Alpha  OpenGL
The anvil upon which you hammer another's words is as hard or as soft
as you care to make it.  Wherein lies insight?

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