[MUD-Dev] [STORY] Story and population size

Vincent Archer archer at frmug.org
Wed Dec 5 14:17:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

According to Christopher Kohnert:

> Let me begin by qualifying and saying that I am neither an EQ
> player nor any sort of economist. However, I really have a bit of
> a problem with people claiming that simply increasing the number
> of players somehow magically solves some of the problems in
> today's

Increasing populations doesn't solve basic/intrinsic problems, it
just makes the system less sensible to local variations.

Example follows, including a digression on DAoC economy. I'll try to
be relatively brief; if people are interested, I'll post a more
detailed discussion on DAoC economy, and see what Dave has to add to
my guesses and feelings.

I had an analysys up for DAoC's economy, in which I attempted to
guess at which population for crafting were viable. Or rather, how
many non-crafters does it take to have a crafter be economically

The first obstacle, of course, was the definition of "economically
viable". I had to define this as having a repeat business (i.e. the
same people, as they level and need new equipment, go to the same
crafter for their new needs). This is only partially true, owing to
the "government subsidies to starting businesses" (aka "consignment
tasks"), up to skill 650.

This is tied to the DAoC mechanisms: every 5 levels, the players
outgrow their current equipment, and have to acquire the next "tier"
of equipment which require 100 more skill to make from the part of
the crafter.

So, for a "sustainable business", a crafter needs to gain 100 skill
points while its average customer gains 5 levels.

There are many factors that affect this, but I ended up with a
reasonable population of about 150 players funding one armorcrafter.

Here's where population matters:

  The problem is when your population at a level tier is about
  200-300 people, then you probably have 2 crafters tops. The
  "market" becomes very chaotic then. If you're not playing at the
  right times, you can't buy from the crafter, since you can't meet
  him at all. A crafter leaving for two weeks holiday litterally
  starves his customers. A crafter dropping out leaves the players
  without recourse and equipment (until a new crafter rises out of
  the ranks).

That's where larger systems might help: a difference of behaviour is
smoothed out on larger numbers. If one crafter drops out, the slack
is easily taken by the other, "relatively numerous" entrepreneurs

> going to be exceptions. If, again, for example, the economic
> system was perfectly modelled (ignoring the monumental task that
> is), then I should think that it would be independent of the
> number of

It is, to a certain measure. As coupling between economical actor
tightens (i.e., one economical actor behaviour has influence over
another actor), you have chaotic effects arising easily. One player
"abnormal" behaviour can cause ripples over all the system.

> Hurrah for 100k+ players online, that will be extremely cool. But
> I hardly think it simply solves problems in and of itself. I
> should think it would introduce newer, possibly harder, ones.

Another, quite distinct, problem, is the content reuse. Specially
for designed content.

Creating a "city" that hosts 500 players simultaneously costs a lot
more than creating a smaller city that hosts 50 players and is
replicated across 10 servers.

But that's not in-game economics anymore at that point :)

	Vincent Archer			Email:	archer at frmug.org

All men are mortal.  Socrates was mortal.  Therefore, all men are Socrates.
							(Woody Allen)
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