[DESIGN] Re: Economic & Currency Solutions (was RE: [Mud-Dev] Broken currencies)

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Tue Apr 10 21:11:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Sun 08 Apr, Derek Licciardi wrote:
> Marian Griffith
> > In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Thu 05 Apr, Derek Licciardi wrote:

Appologies for the lengthy quote

>>> Using that value when you spawn a monster, it is possible to
>>> determine just how much money the mob can 'request' from the game
>>> treasury.  If there is not enough in the treasury, the mob only
>>> gets what it can.  Keep in mind that spawning of monsters should
>>> in some way also increase the available gold in the game treasury.
>>> The thought here is that mobs use currency in their own everyday
>>> lives before being beat upon by players.  The use of money tends
>>> to make more money available as a whole.

>> What will happen if you do this is either nothing changes. The
>> amount of money in the gameworld climbs extremely fast.  Or the
>> monters very soon cease to carry any gold at all because the
>> players have looted every last bit of the available money, and are
>> sitting on it.  The best thing to do in a mud is not to implement
>> money at all, and let the players work out their currency, as they
>> will anyway. You can not have money before you have trade.  Money
>> basically allows you to trade with somebody who either has what you
>> want, or wants what you have, without the reverse necessarily being
>> true.  Mud gold is a poor way to do this, mostly because once you
>> get past the newbie stages of the game there is not enough
>> worthwile to purchase.  Those who have the things that -you- want,
>> will want to have things in return that are useful to -them-, which
>> you can not obtain.  I.e. you would like to have the sword of
>> slaying, but the player who has it only wants to give it up for
>> something better, like the sword of ultimate doom.  If you could
>> deliver that you obviously would not need the sword of slaying in
>> the first place.

>> So trade only happens at the highest level, and only if there is
>> suf- ficient distinction between pieces of equipment that
>> exchanging them is worthwile. If there is an ultimate collection
>> then players are go- ing to want that and nothing else.  If you
>> have a lot of class or job specific equipment, preferably of a type
>> that only those not of that class or job can easily obtain then,
>> yes, you will see trade. Other- wise the only type of trade you are
>> going to see is "aid". One player helps another player to fight a
>> particularly difficult or dangerous monsters, in exchange for some
>> piece of equipment. That is trade also but not of a type that
>> requires gold or mud currency.

> Not sure that I agree with you entirely.  You have reduced the
> dynamics of trade, currency and economy to a single dimension system
> where everything revolves around items.

To a large extent this is accurate. All trade is about the exchange
of goods. The only thing money allows is to delay the barter. Or it
makes it possible for two people to trade when one of them does not
have something the other desires  (or not in the quantity necessary
to trade fairly). Trading money for money is a fairly new invention
and muds are far too small  to develop that kind of economy regard-

> Players need money in a game for various reasons as designed by the
> developers of the game.  I believe someone brought up the true
> reason why players trade items instead of money in the later stages
> of their game lives.  The primary reason for this is a function of
> inflation.  If a player sells an item for gold and inflation keeps
> rising at the rates we see in most muds, then the gold they hold
> today won't be worth as much when they want to buy something to
> replace what was sold.  Since items are more inflation proof,
> rampant inflation tends to lead to items being used as the basis for
> trade due to their increased financial stability.

No. Inflation occurs if the the prices rise.  This is a natural pro-
cess and not much of a problem. In fact zero, or negative inflaction
can be quite damaging to an economy, much like hyper inflation.  One
other type of inflation,  and the one that pertains to muds, is when
the volume of money grows (much) quicker than the production.  Money
represents a certain amount of unspecified goods that can be obtain-
ed with it.  If the amount of money grows quickly, but the amount of
goods does not, then obviously money is going to be worth less.  (It
is more complicated than that, but this is the principle).  In a mud
the influx of money happens from killing monsters.  The stronger the
monster is  the more money it introduces into the game.  This is the
faucet. Usually there are some things that the players can spend the
money on, the drains. However, the rule that strong monsters yield a
lot of money means  that high level players  can gather huge amounts
of money.  This limits the drains that are possible.  Utility goods,
like food,  are out because making them a serious drain would starve
the low level players. This leaves very few possible drains. Especi-
ally because the other part of economy,  goods,  are introduced into
the game through the same faucet.  Monsters produce equipment, which
is the only real 'good' in the game that is worth having from a game
play point of view. Traditionally 'rent' served as the biggest drain
in muds, but these were impopular. Other purchases are of little use
because they generally are limited. You can not buy skills or levels
or stats indefinitely.

For low level players mud money has utility, because they need it to
purchase food,  and perhaps, basic equipment.  At higher levels they
can get all the money they want for their normal purchases and there
tends to be no serious, and permanent, drain of money out of the ga-
me.  Even purchase of equipment is not an option because the utility
value of those means that players will generally only barter for an-
other piece of equipment.

> The availability of money only adds to the inflation trend much in the
> same way as it does in the real world.  If the feds print money like
> the Mexicans did in the 90s, then we would see the dollar plummet in
> value much in the same way as the peso declined then.

True, but then in a typical mud the money presses are running over-
time with all the monsters being killed and dropping gold and loot.
Note that with equipment you will also see inflation. As better and
more equipment becomes available it trickles down to low level pla-
yers, until they run around with equipment that a year ago was only
in the possession of the highest level and most dedicated players.
This then leads to another type of inflation: that of monsters, and
the net result is that for players with previous characters or with
connections the game gets too easy. They have a sword of slaying to
use against monsters designed to hold their own against  at most  a
blunt fork.

> Given even these two variables we can see that the system has to be
> more dynamic(there are many more variables).  The more dynamic you
> make the system, the larger the requirement is for being able to
> administer that system and keep it operating in a healthy manner.  My
> suggestion about using some sort of index to monitor the health of the
> world would need to be implemented along with the appropriate tools to
> adjust the rate of money creation as needed to correct the economy.
> From that standpoint, the index is nothing more than a mud
> administrators tool and an overal guage on the health of the economy.

The best solution is to scrap the idea that monsters must drop gold
and equipment.  If you want a sword  you must buy one  from another
player. If you want gold you must make a sword and sell it :)

Players are not going to appreciate it, but it will result in a real
economy in your game,  especially if you also introduce  destruction
of worn out equipment.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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