[MUD-Dev] Curtailing the 'Super-Rich Effect'

Lynx lynx at bestweb.net
Tue Apr 10 01:21:53 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Some excellent points, most of which I'm fighting with right now in an 
effort to develop a working economic plan for my MUD. Here are some generic 
thoughts on them.

At 06:27 PM 4/9/01 +0000, you wrote:

> (if you like, we can call it the 'Gates Effect' :)

Heh. :)

> I've noticed that in virtually all MUDs, the higher-level players
> have such ridiculous amounts of money - actually, that should be
> 'assets' - that they can give medium-level equipment away.  Most
> people don't seem to care a great deal about this, but it has always
> bothered me, for a few reasons:
 
> 1) I'm a realist and I like to see an /appearance/ of reality -
> although yeah, 'real' reality is impossible - in MUDs.
 
> 2) Rich players tend to give good stuff away to new players.  It's
> nice to have help starting up, but then I /like/ the long, slow
> climb as opposed to the 'here's-some-plus-one-plate
> and-a-broadsword-don't-mention-it' approach.
 
> 3) I think that many aspects of a game should be challenging, in
> order to provide new challenges and enhance replayability.  You
> can't become a super-mega-grand-master in 2 weeks of play (if you
> want a life/job/school career), why should you be able to become
> super-rich quick?

Precisely, I find this objectionable as well. It also means that all
that newbie equipment and in some cases even newbie areas are
worthless. No one uses them as soon as that high level fellow aids
them.

> The reason for super-richness is pretty well documented: once you
> have money, it gets you more money. If you have a thousand gold and
> make 10 trade runs at 15% profit, you make about three thousand
> gold. Do the same with a million gold and you make three million
> gold. This and related phenomenon make wealth-gaining basically an
> exponential growth process (in both VR and RL worlds.)
 
> On the other hand, there are few super-rich in RL, certainly fewer
> per capita than in MUDs. I would guess that the reason is simple
> enough: RL, it costs a lot to be rich.
 
> Think about it. Rich people have to guard their wealth. They have to
> hire staff to clean their mansions and take care of minor affairs.
> As a general rule, they have to be generous and give money to this
> and that foundation for sick puppy dogs. They have to throw
> elaborate parties to maintain the impression of being rich. Hell, in
> many societies, all the costs of being rich have driven the rich
> into debt and poverty (Victorian europe, Tokugawa Japan are two
> examples I can think of... but in Tokugawa Japan, the samurai could
> always kill the moneylenders. (More often they just unilaterally
> declared their debts to be gone.))
 
> On the other hand, in most MUDs, there are no living expenses to
> speak of, and they certainly don't go up when you're rich.

The problem there is that MUD living expenses generally take one of
two forms:

1) Taxes. If flat rate, players that *don't* money farm are slammed
hard, whereas those that do are still richer...it's just now instead
of being 1000 gold to 10,000, it's 100 to 1000. Still unpleasant. %
based taxes, on the other hand, hit everyone equally, however if you
have 10000 gold, you still have more after the taxes than the person
with 1000 gold; in effect, you just amass wealth x% slower.

2) Equipment Repair and/or Rent. While the former isn't bad, the
latter really bothers me, simply because it requires time before
you're able to type 'quit'. Equipment repair, too, results in
messes. Most high level players money farm in lower level areas. All
they need to do is sheath that sword of ultimate slaying and grab a
sword of lesser slaying from that dragon in the area of their level,
and they can money harvest, then junk the sword when they're done.

> So how can we curtail the super-rich effect? (Do we want to?)  Any
> thoughts?

Yes, we do. :)

I think the only way to curtail it is to, as you said, have money cost
money. Sure you can buy that clan house...but the guard wants to be
paid....and as long as you spent the extra gold to give him a good set
of equipment, be careful if he gets mad. :)

The problem, though, is always that it just stems the rate at which
inflation occurs. I think the only way to really stop it is to fix the
ratio of gold:players in the economy...the problem there, though, is
how to keep the money circulating and a viable medium of exchange.

Player run shops, while the general solution, bother me....mainly due
to the impersonalization, as mentioned in another recent message on
this list.

~Lynx

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