[MUD-Dev] Economic Growth (Was: [STORY] Story and population size)

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com
Wed Dec 5 15:48:35 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Derek Licciardi [mailto:kressilac at home.com]
> IMO the first aspect of the game that should see a dramatic
> improvement is the economy.  I believe it will be easier to manage
> an economy given 50,000 or 100,000 plus players.  Today's games
> are fragmented populations that do not have statistically large
> enough numbers to sustain the proper buyer/seller relationship.  I
> use EQ as an example where you can walk into Eastern Commonlands
> anytime and hear a pile of seller and buyers with very few items
> actually being sold.(based on the numerous repeat sell auctions
> and repeat buy auctions by a single person in five minutes) By
> increasing the number of players you increase the chance that the
> economic transaction will take place and the flow of goods to and
> from buyers and sellers will not stop.  that being said I think
> this whole idea of improving the economic flow in these games will
> bring with it increased problems from the admin side that we have
> never seen.

Interestingly, people used to lambaste the EQ economy for being too
slack, and coinage having no value. Well now its broken in a
different way, the over-application of money sinks combined with
item immortality has led to an item rich, but very illiquid
economy. Rather than evolving from barter to cash, they've forced it
the other way which I think most would agree is a retrograde step.

Part of the problem is the massive disjoint between what a player
will pay for an item and what an npc will pay, getting to the point
where many people opt out of the economy because they don't want to
sit spamming a zone with 'want to sell' messages for hours on end,
but don't feel they get sufficient value from the npc.

The next evolution in economies will require server based
categorisation and valuation of all items. We need the npcs to
compete in the economy on the same terms as the players, for this to
work, they need to know supply+demand+value. Now I know this may
seem difficult, but the trick is to set everything up in feedback
loops so that errors are corrected not perpetuated. It doesn't
matter if one npc buys a set of swords for the wrong value - players
do that to. We just need to ensure that the npcs don't repeatedly
make the same mistake. In this example, npc supply of swords has
gone up, mean bid price goes down.

The server has so many advantages over players in profiling prices,
that I really don't see how hard it can be. The server knows the
introduction rate of items, it knows what players are selling and at
what price (ok, so that needs an integrated trade system not unlike
the hired shop assistant type npcs in some games), it know what npc
vendors are selling and at what price.  It knows what level range
people tend to equip/have the item at. It knows the average wealth
of players at given levels. I'm just trying to illustrate the wealth
of information available that can be used to setup the kind of self
correcting system I espouse.

In fact it would be easy to make this kind of system too damned
efficient, the perfect market. Of course profit in a market is
predicated upon imperfection in the flow of information, so one
could introduce errors on purpose. Perhaps the npc you are selling
to has a poor appraisal skill so offers too much for a gem, perhaps
he has a very high appraisal skill but a low honesty and offers too
little. These kind of simple rules can all interact and become
greater than the some of their parts.

I'd love to work on this kind of thing :)


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