[MUD-Dev] Broken Economies (was RE: Learning about MUDs)

geoffrey at yorku.ca geoffrey at yorku.ca
Tue Apr 3 12:55:12 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Derek Licciardi wrote:

> The thought that
> was being mentioned here is that it is impossible to recreate a
> realistic economy in a MUD/MMOG.

I think a more appropriate phrasing would be to state that no one has
managed to replicate the contemporary, N.American version of an
economy.

An 'economy' is not a specific system, but simply a term used to
describe *any* system under which economic transactions occur.  The
barter system is just as valid an economy as any other.  A world in
which only two people ever trade swords while everyone else is
self-sufficient still has a functioning economic system - just not a
very active one.

In fact, it is completely erroneous to state that it is possible for
an economy to be broken.  It is, however, possible to state that an
economic system is not performing as desired - but then you enter the
realm of subjective opinion.

> 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.

<snip>

> 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.

Actually, if my memories of Econ 101 serve, closed economies don't
even work on paper.  Hoarding screws it up.  An economy must
continually expand (more trade and/or more production from
discovered/stolen/divinely conceived resources) in order to maintain
even the status quo level of resource distribution.

Timothy Dang could probably expand on this more...

> As a tool for commerce, the real world depends heavily on currency
> and not on bartering.

Again, if my memories of first year hold true, currency was introduced
to overcome the physical impedement of having to lug 400 odd head of
swine across the Mediterranean to buy a boat.  A wealthy land
owner/aristocrat would issue a promissory note stating that the pigs
did indeed exist, and that anyone coming to him with that note would
be entitled to claim them.

The physical barrier to hauling around a lot of goods doesn't really
exist in most MUDs, so there is no real reason to carry around pieces
of paper or metal that represent the ownership of certain goods, when
you can just carry around the goods themselves.

> 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.

Again - that's pretty subjective.

Cheers,

G.
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