[MUD-Dev] Character maintinence - expenditure of resources

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Mon May 4 14:41:39 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Mon, 4 May 1998, Koster, Raph wrote:
> We ended up doing both. One problem that muds with "rent" have faced 
> for a long time is that players can grow to hate ongoing expenditures 
> or costs associated with "maintenance" of their characters. A classic 
> example is "having to eat" or 'having to rest." Now, these are 
> expenditures of either resources or time, and can be very valuable and 
> interesting strategic elements in gameplay. They are also boring. 
> (Paying bills is boring. Nonetheless that's where most of my salary 
> goes). There's basically two approaches you can take to making keeping 
> money more difficult. Have it be taken away, either passively (the 
> players gives it away for some reason, ideally one tied to 
> maintenance) or actively (the money is stolen by thieves). The one is 
> potentially tedious (or alternatively, potentially an interesting game 
> of resource management) and the other is "not fair!" (or 
> alternatively, an exciting battle against brigands).

Although we've chatted about this before over the years, I'd like to take
this moment to start an official Thread(tm).  Generally we talk about what
the "best" way to try to keep player resources (for purposes of general
discussion, resources == money) in balance. Some of these include:

 - Rent, usually based on the "value" of each object the character owns.
 - Object wear and tea: swords get dull, armor gets singed or bent or
   broken, magic items run out of juice.
 - Resources required for specific actions: requiring certain ingredients
   to perform magic, purchasing training for the character's skills, etc.
 - Taxes: city taxes or guild dues.
 - Thieves in heavily populated areas lightening fat player purses.
 - Maintaining resource lists: limiting the amount of money that is
   "generated" based on how much is currently in existence.

One thing that doesn't seem to get a lot of attention is which of these
things are actually enjoyable to the player - or at least, not
specifically unenjoyable.  Sometimes it's a matter of degree - rent is a
good way to make people pick and choose which items to keep, but at a
certain point when you have to log on when you don't really feel like
playing just to "make rent" it gets pretty un-fun.  Object damage is the
same thing; many muds I've played keep money in balance by requiring that
anyone wearing good equipment have to dish out large amounts of cash after
every fight to keep it in good shape.  Thieves are a pretty good one I
think; Arctic relies heavily on this for redistribution of wealth.  A rich
high-level player dashes through Kendermore on her way to a high-level
zone, not bothering to bank her cash first.  Two dozen quick fingered
kender NPCs filch a bit of cash as she runs by.  Later on a low-to-mid
level player comes through to fight the kenders and finds a virtual
goldmine (well, except for the fact that Arctic doesn't use gold).

I think players probably always prefer the feeling of getting something
for their money.  Repairing equipment or paying rent is paying to keep
something you already have, and so is more likely to become an annoyance
to players.  Spending it on new goods is always better; supplies like
potions or scrolls, helpful spells from the town healer NPC, paying for
training (either gaining player levels, or purchasing specific skill
training), etc.  AnotherMUD managed to keep money fairly valuable the
entire time it was online - players purchased replacement body parts for a
HUGE amount of cash + some exp which gave them stat bonuses.  This really
made it worthwhile for players to seek out cash wherever they could.
There were no maintinence costs (rent, eq repair, or otherwise) at all.

One good thing about mantinence costs, however, is that they tend to keep
the money flowing.  I like the idea of maintaining some sort of global
value for how much money is in the game world and limiting how much new
money is created based on that, but it seems to me that in a very short
time you will have several very, very rich players and the rest will be as
poor as dirt.  Ideally a good economy keeps the money moving, even for the
richest players; that is, a rich player is someone who can constantly get
more money, rather than someone who has heaps of treasure stashed away



MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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