[MUD-Dev] Economy (was Re: [MUD-Dev] [STORY] Story and population size)

Jeff Cole jeffcontact at mindspring.com
Mon Dec 10 22:12:37 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> From: Dave Rickey
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeff Cole <jeff.cole at mindspring.com>
> From: "Dave Rickey" <daver at mythicentertainment.com>

> Something about your emails keeps my email client (Outlook Express
> 4.72) from quoting them properly.  It's a pain inserting all those
> ">" indentations by hand.  >

Hmmm ... dunno ... is this any better?

>>> Unfortunately, it is not, it's because this is not a real world
>>> I'm dealing with.

>> Huh?  How is it not the "real world."  It is absolutely real.
>> You have people bargaining for things that are of value to them.

> It's not real in the sense that no realistic limitations on raw
> materials or labor exist, barring my simulating them there is an
> infinite supply of both.

It's a design decision.  I would argue that in DAoC, it's much more
an issue of the skills system as a whole.  At the moment, raising
skills requires overproduction.  Combine that with a levelling curve
far steeper than that of the crafters and you've got further issues.

I don't disagree that you might have quite a problem balancing
supply and demand.  My contention is that it is a result of design
rather than the "real-ness" of MMO*'s.

>>> Setting up a buyer-seller in the real world has a whole host of
>>> overhead costs, and is complex enough that we have a special
>>> term for it: Business Model.

>> The transaction costs (overhead) of almost every transaction that
>> you make in the real world, Dave, are completely internalized
>> within the transaction itself.  How many of those transactions
>> actually involve bargaining?  I imagine that the majority of your
>> daily economic interactions are really nothing more than the DAoC
>> analog of purchasing from an NPC vendor.  Sure, there might be
>> some social interaction with the clerk/agent, but this
>> interaction does not go to the essence of the transaction.

> The essence of the transaction in an economic sense, but I am not
> creating an economic simulator.  I am creating an adjunct to a
> loot-and-level game.  The social interaction is far from an
> accidental byproduct of the process, it's the *purpose*.
> Otherwise, why bother?

> My objection to a vendor system is that personal interaction and
> the resulting community-building flies straight out the window.
> The players are back to doing business with NPC's.  In an economic
> sense it is a player-to-player transaction, in a gameplay sense
> it's just another NPC merchant, with a less predictable inventory.

But it need not be either/or; they are not mutually exclusive by
definition (though perhaps they are in a given implementation).

>> You have artificially increased the transaction costs associated
>> by making it more difficult (and inconvenient) for buyers/sellers
>> to find each other: it is precisely because these transaction
>> costs are internalized.  It is a result of the rather limited
>> (hardly evolutionary) interaction mechanics of DAoC.

> I have increased nothing.  I have let the transaction costs find
> their natural equilibrium, given the rules of the game world.

Sure you have.  Perhaps the highest cost you force crafters to
internalize is tedium and inconvenience.

I would say that, by far, the largest socialization that arises from
the DAoC tradeskill system is crafters socializing.  Crafters have
nothing to do but socialize.  And that has absolutely nothing to do
with the final transaction/interaction with the customer.

This is not unlike socializing with you group out EXPing.

>>> In a game, any tools we create to assist creating those channels
>>> pre-empt any "natural" business models that might emerge.

>> How so?  Give an example.  I would argue just the opposite: that
>> the tools you create to allow the economy (i.e. "business model")
>> to become more natural.

> Most of the truly successful tradesmen have become so by
> cultivating their market, making items for lower-level players at
> cost in order to educate them to the advantages of crafted
> equipment.

Any markup that a craftsman of any significant skill (the next
higher material?) above that which the lower player wants/needs
could reasonably expect from said player is insignificant to the

> These players then come back to them later.  Vendor systems would
> commodify the equipment and eliminate the social interaction.  >

The vast majority of the social interaction (see above) would hardly
be affected.

>> Take Tailoring.  You had to inextricably tie it to Armorcrafting
>> just to make it valuable.  That is a kluge.

> Yep.  One that *works*.

Sure it works ... ok.  Too bad tailoring wasn't designed to be
valuable within the scope of the game.

>> Such macroscopic solutions to microscopic, or fundamental,
>> problems run roughshod over the system.  Even in the real world,
>> artificially imposed barriers to market serve a function other
>> than making an economy more "natural."

> I have certain advantages that Congress lacks.  I'm not limited by
> anything, not even the laws of physics.  Congress would be
> hard-pressed to repeal the Law of Gravity.  DAoC trades violate
> Conservation of Mass routinely.

Red herring.

> And if I wanted to create a simulation of modern mass-production
> consumerism, all that would be fine.

Hey, no worries, here.  It's your adjunct to a loot-and-level game
and you're free to "adjunct-itify" to your heart's content.

My main point was that the nasty Catch-22 was one of your (the royal
"your") own creation.

Yrs Affcty,
Jeff Cole

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