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

Jim S dlur at chartermi.net
Tue Apr 3 18:51:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


<EdNote: Second and third level attributions fixed>

[Brian 'Psychochild' Green wrote:]
> Brad McQuaid wrote:
>> Brian Green wrote:

> Nice to see you posting on the list again, Brad.  I'll try to be
> nicer this time around. :)
  
[SNIP]

>>> Every high profile, commercial online RPG has had its economy
>>> broken.
 
>> Honestly, we weren't shocked at all, and knew it would happen.
 
> This is the first time I've read this from a developer. :) I've read
> several papers (admittedly not by EQ developers) where developers
> have stated that they were shocked by this phenomenon.

I think in part(and of course I can't speak for Brad) the reason he
may not have been overly suprised at the turn of events which created
the economy that now exists on Everquest relates directly to his(and
my) earlier days of playing text based MUDs, Sojourn in particular.
I've never personally played Everquest because of my abhorance for
graphics and my love of text, but by word of mouth a lot of parallels
can be drawn between it and many of the Diku derrivitave MUDs out
there.  I'm beginning to see the early signs of this type of economy
developing on the MUD I co-run.  Drawing from my past experiences as a
player on Sojourn I wasn't at all supprised when Exile's similar
system evolved into an entirely player-player economy.  Very few items
are sold to NPCs.  Quite a few are bought from NPCs although these
tend to be only temporary use items which just act as a drain on the
currency economy such as potions, scrolls, and food.

[SNIP]

>> 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.)
 
> Which helps demonstrates my point that the standard currency,
> platinum, has become too common.  As platinum is taken out of the
> game (hopefully about as fast as it enters the game), then the value
> falls more in line with expectations.  Broken doesn't mean
> irreparable.
  
A couple of good currency drains along with a tweaking of the rate at
which the currency enters the game should resolve a lot of this.  One
thing does bother me with this whole economic theory, or perhaps it's
just something which is currently missing from the debate.  In every
real world economy that I've been a part of the poor stay poor and the
rich get richer.  I think in a lot of ways this carries over to the
virtual worlds of MUDs and MMOGs.  A person just starting out stays
relatively poor and at that point currency does generally mean
something.  I know from my experiences as a player that when I was
just starting out I'd generally scrimp and save every last copper
piece.  As a player advances in the game and becomes 'higher level'
currency becomes more abundant.  The ratio of low level players to
high level players is pretty high, just as the ratio of poor and
middle class to rich people is in the real world.  In a MMOG the vast
majority of currency in the game is generally hoarded by those of high
level.  If you consider those players to be the rich folks in the
world it's no wonder they don't value a 'dollar'.  Most well-to-do
folks would think nothing of spending $30,000 for a car or a few
hundred thousand for a house.  Also a large portion of a well-off
person's value is generally held not in liquid assets, but in
properties such as land, houses, cars, and tradeable stocks.  Hmmm,
looks to me as though the rich people in our world trade property
(stocks, bonds, futures, and commodities such as gold and silver) in
much the same way that high level players on MMOGs trade rare and
no-drop items, except that in the real world the commodities are not
being traded because they are 'needed' but with the hope the they will
make the trader more rich.  Actually though I've seen this happen
several times with players who would only engage in player-player
trading so that they could eventually get better items so that they
could trade for even better items, and so on.

Jim Sykora
Co-Owner & Head Areas - ExileMUD
www.exile.ca
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