Learning about MUDs (was: Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, V ol 1 #301 - 15 msgs)

McQuaid McQuaid
Mon Apr 2 11:50:43 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Brian 'Psychochild' Green wrote:

> Every high profile, commercial online RPG has had its economy
> broken. Yet we are shocked, *shocked* I say, to learn that players
> come up with their own currency when this happens, whether it is
> Dark Angel Feathers in Meridian 59, the "rares" in UO, the
> trade-only economy for high end items in EQ, or the Sturdy Iron Keys
> in AC.  Even though a paper written before these games were even
> started says that this would happen.

Honestly, we weren't shocked at all, and knew it would happen.  It's
been happening in MUDs with good economies for years -- I'm not sure
why you say the economy on EQ is broken (I don't play the other two
enough to know if there economy is working or not).

Could you define broken?  IMHO, EQ's economy works because prices are
derived constantly from supply and demand, fluctuating accordingly.
And, as intended, it's a player driven economy, where the players get
together and buy/sell/trade all the time.  When I log on and listen to
the /auction channel and see stuff being bought/sold/traded all the
time, I don't feel the economy is broken.  When I log on and see
people spend hours and hours, days and days, to obtain items, I
definitely don't think the economy is broken.  And when this time
invested translates into value when that item is bought, sold, or
traded, I don't see the economy as broken.

Now, as for high-end items being traded and not sold... when this
occurs, this means that currency (in this case, platinum) isn't as
useful at the high end as it could be.  That's all money is: a tool
for people to use to make transactions when someone else has an item
they need, but they don't have an item that person wants.  Ideally,
it's an economic universal adaptor (forgive me for the butchered Way
of the Gun paraphrase :)

In the real world, there are still very high-end items that are only
traded for (items that are typically labeled 'priceless').  In EQ,
were only the very highest-end items traded for, I'd be fine with it.
And there are still many rare items being bought and sold for
literally 10s of thousands of platinum.  That said, I'm not totally
happy with platinum's value at the high-end, and that's why we've put
in various money sinks recently (coffins for corpse retrievals, other
costly spell components, etc.)

I don't think, however, that some high-end items being traded as
opposed to sold makes an MMOG economy broken.

What's my definition of broken?  When you log into a MUD and as a
newbie, and you are outfitted with some of the best items in the game
just because you are there.  Or, worse yet you see them lying on the
ground, or at an 'altar'.  Or when you log on and see nothing being
bought/sold/traded.  Or when you see strict level limits on items such
that all trickle down economics fail.  Or when you see such heavy
handed item deterioration that it's more profitable to destroy or
'sacrifice' an item when it's becoming tarnished than to sell/trade
it.  Or an attempt at a completely closed economic system like UO
attempted early on.  In other words, broken = economic failure.
Broken != a working economy that would use some improvement and

Anyway, sorry for going on and on, or for taking the thread on another
tangent (not that that ever happens here :), but assertions that EQ's
economy is 'broken' are one of those that set me off :)


Brad McQuaid
Vice President, Premium Games
Verant Interactive/Sony Online Entertainment
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