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

Derek Licciardi kressilac at home.com
Tue Apr 3 00:08:21 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

<EdNote: Please do not quote the entire message when replying; it
makes the moderator grumpy.  I trimmed it this time>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> McQuaid, Brad
> Sent: Monday, April 02, 2001 2:51 PM
> To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu'
> Subject: RE: Learning about MUDs (was: Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest,
> Vol 1 #301 - 15 msgs)

> 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.


I would agree with you that EQ has an economy that is working as
intended(as publicly demonstrated by your company).  The thought that
was being mentioned here is that it is impossible to recreate a
realistic economy in a MUD/MMOG.  In some way the economy will be
broken and it is not a surprise to many on this list that it occurs.
The only difference now is that it has become a 'vogue' topic for
gaming magazines and such that are just catching up to the online
world of MUDs and MMOGs.  When I first heard about the closed end
system in UO, my initial reaction was that it would break and
degenerate into less than what they desired.  While on paper, the
closed end economy is a wonderful idea, it simply couldn't work in
practice.  The only, thing I really wanted to see from UO was how long
it could be maintained.  Unfortunately an early gold bug that allowed
gold duplication, destroyed the economy and any attempts at fixing it
shy of a player wipe would just be a bad bandage over a gaping wound.
We missed the opportunity as a group to really see if a closed end
system could work, hence the opportunity to improve upon it and
possibly change the 'It won't work.' way of thinking.

As for EQ, the economic ability of players varies dramatically from
level group to level group.  Personally, I would have preferred to see
more interaction from the NPCs in the economy.  The dynamics of
handling additional content creation have effected EQ, just like every
other MUD that plays like an EQ.  Tradeskills in all of the commercial
MMOGs out there encourage experience based tradeskill advancement,
versus demand based tradeskill advancement.  The result of this
(hordes of worthless items used to advance tradeskills) corrupted UO
to a larger extent than EQ, but the effect is the same.  It alters the
availability of money and screws with the balance in the economy
adding an element to the economy that is not demand driven.  In the
end EQ does suffer some of the same problems as other level/class
based MUDs.  Typically, it is moderately difficult to start your
character due to resources, then you character grows and can handle
itself resource-wise until at some point the level system becomes
significantly more expensive to maintain.(level 25 or so in EQ) Lastly
the use of money and its value at the high end of the game is
diminsihed as players find other things to trade and the availability
of money increases.(level 40+ in EQ) In this regard I do think EQ has
a broken economy.  As a tool for commerce, the real world depends
heavily on currency and not on bartering.  In fact, a slight change in
a currency's value can cause recessions and turnarounds in short
order.  When playing in an MMOG where the currency is not critical to
the players of all levels and abilities, the feeling is not natural,
therefore detracting from the immersive experience.  In this regard,
yes EQ has a broken economy.  About the only person I can think of
that doesn't have a need for money in the real world is the president
(though he has a staff that needs it).  In EQ high level players do
not 'need' money.  In UO the result is the same.  In AC, ditto.  In
countless MUDs, ditto.

How to fix it is an exercise that quickly degenerates into the type of
economic beliefs one holds.  I am not sure how to fix the problem, but
within the confines of this list are many attempts to address the
issue on varying scales.  Personally, I think this is the most
important subsystem that is placed into a MMOG.(Character Advancement
and NPC AI come in a close second) I would be very interested in a
healthy discussion about the effects of an economy and how in the
future we can prevent some of the things that are not ideal in today's

Derek Licciardi
Elysian Productions Inc.

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