[MUD-Dev] Re:(fwd) Re: Multiple currencies

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Tue Jun 9 14:09:20 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Fri, 5 Jun 1998 16:39:15 -0500 
Michael Willey<Michael.Willey at abnamro.com> wrote:

> Author: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com> 

>> On Wed, 3 Jun 1998 18:00:13 -0500 Michael Willey
>> <Michael.Willey at abnamro.com> wrote:

>>> That seems to create the illusion of a 'real' economy, which for
>>> our purposes is as good as having the real thing.

>> It is not actually a player currency -- there are no values
>> created, maintained, and manipulated by players.  Instead the
>> system maintains >and manipulates token values, and allows players
>> to intercept some of those machinations.  This is a faucet->drain
>> economy where tokens magically appear at in-game production sites,
>> wander thru various mechanisms in the game world, and then
>> magically disappear later in some token-consumer.  Which is of
>> course how nearly all "economies" in current MUDs work.

> Absolutely true.  

Secondary note:  Terribly easy to pick holes.  Terribly hard to
actually do something effective.

> Our goal never has been to simulate a complete and closed world in
> any aspect, but to run a game.  

Are the two necessarily different?

> Here's a question: What collective feature of these examples engages
> the player imagination and inspires this status game?  

Good question.  First thoughts:

  This is not a simple question with a simple answer.  Such objects or
systems operate and happen by a confluence of factors.  There are no
single things which makes a good story, or a popular song.  There are
many things which are required in some proportion for them however.

  Translation: I don't think that there is a recipe which can be
followed blindly which will result in a currency-type object.

The following is mostly me just wandering about hitting things and
listening to what noises they fail to make;

  There appear to be two basic item types:  singular or (near-)unique
items, and generally (if limited) available items.  The two are
different in that the former (unique) items are prizes, and can
quickly come to carry extra significances and values due to their
uniqueness and specific histories.  Habitat's Egg seems to fall into
this category.  Legend's strings would seem to fall into the limited
availability category.

  Unique objects are much easier to analyse and observe that limited
objects.  Obvious really.  Unique objects accumulate lore, myths,
stories etc.  Limited, don't.  cf Mayor of Yew.

  Unique objects are status symbols.  Limited objects are currencies.
Both only have value when they move.  Possession alone is boring.  Its
the gaining of possession that is interesting and attractive to
others.  Some forms of status don't seem to quite fit here (cf Mayor
of Yew), but I'm not content that the same rule doesn't also apply to

  Difficulty in gaining possession seems to be critical, especially if
that accomplishment involves the cooperation (knowingly or
unknowingly) of others (the more the better).  This seems to define a
context of social value and shared value sets.  The Mayor of Yew fits
here as well.  The difficult doesn't have to be huge, just
proportional to the value of the token gained.

  The DIKU player who manages to amass huge wealth in GP's is not
recognised in the same manner as the fellow who gets a nifty new
feature added to the guild hall, or who gains the Egg and throws an
Egg Party.

  Particularly gaining possession thru an activity that involved many
other players, possibly competitively, possibly in mutual cooperation, 
seems to add significant value.  "Yeah, me and all me mates got
together and stormed the castle.  I managed to knock out the King and
stole his crown.  See!"  Again, a defining social context seems to be
key.  Bubba got the crown and gained status with the other raiders,
but surely gained little (notoriety) with the King's followers.
Rephrase this into a UOL scenario with Lord British for a more
interesting wash.  The Mayor of Yew is another case of this.

  Equally, solo-accomplishments seem to be a negative (such as the
above DIKU wealth).  Mass-phenomena (affects many people/players)
seems to be a positive.

  Unique and limited items must be notable.  Habitat's egg was
physically HUGE.  It occupied a significant portion of the player's
screeen IIRC.  Translation: you couldn't miss it.  Legend's strings
promised the creation of unique objects.  Lambert's guild enhancements
("mobile farming" ha!) created unique guild features.  The Mayor of
Yew has a tag on his name that can be clearly seen by all.

  Non-noticable (ie more or less invisible or virtual) items never
seem to make the grade.  The exception seems to be potential items (eg 
Legend's strings).  The promise of existance, as long as that promise
is well visible, is enough.

  Possession of the object requiring accomplishing a task or problem
that all players (IC or OOC (cf Legen's Trivial Pursuit games)) share
and understand, __and__ (at some level) want to solve/accomplish
themselves seems important ((friendly) competition).  Climbing Everest
is utterly ignorable if you have no idea of how really *neat* and
appealing the idea (if not the actual act) might be.  Habitat's Egg
signified social status and accomplishment, the Mayor of Yew is
obvious, Legend's strings ditto, etc.

  The item must function as a part of the game world.  This doesn't
necessarily mean that it must serve a useful function, just that
mechanically the object must be manipulatable in manners consistent
with the rest of the game world.  Mimimally it *MUST* be exchangeable.
You must be able to give and recveive the item.  This is required by
the above comments of the only realy value occuring when the item
moves, not when it is merely possessed.  Stationary items, are rank
badges, and lose value, and thus currency (in the sense of "current
time") rapidly.  People forget.  Motion of the object reminds them.

  For limited items, the ability of the objects to translate to power
or ability seems to be useful, but also quickly debases the objects to
another item in the GoP arena.  In Legend's case the customised items
(the end-product of strings) seem to have almost no value, while the
unused strings are highly valued.  Player currencies often seem to
involve values outside of the base game mechanics (cf PK and the
effect on the other player OOC), and almost always seem to involve
social/political skills (cf earlier comments on social context) which
is not surprising given that only groups can define a currency, and
groups require social contexts.

> I could just as easily see an attempt at creating a player currency
> flop spectacularly.  What does it take for a simple perpetual prop
> to become a player currency, and how can we incorporate these ideas
> into our own MUDs?

Player mass seems to be critical.  A lot of things are only possible
with large player bodies.  A lot of things seem also to be much easier 
with large player bodies.  I've been noticing behaviours and values on 
the various UOL player sites that are utterly dependant on the fact
that thousands of players are on any given shard.

Player cooperation also seems to be critical.  Ditto.

Whoops!  Got another bog to fix.  

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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