[MUD-Dev] Managing MUD economy

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Dec 14 13:13:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Jeff Freeman writes:
>> From: Vladimir Prelovac

>> But the second question still remains unsolved. The cost of level
>> 30 item compared to cost of level 5 item. We do not want newbies
>> to be able to buy it very easily, yet we do not want it to be too
>> costly so if you sell thousands of various items you gain
>> enourmous quantites of money.

> This is a problem that scaling enconomies (or whatever the proper
> term is: Economies in which low level people deal in pennies while
> high-level people deal in Unobtanium Nuggets) will always face.
> It has a huge impact as the MUD matures.  People that start on
> Launch Day go through the steps the designer envisioned: Saving
> their pennies, leveling-up, saving their nickels, leveling-up,
> saving their dimes, leveling-up...  People that start much later
> just get handed a chunk of money by an oldbie which utterly
> eliminates their need for cash for weeks, if not months: A trivial
> sum for the oldbie player, a mere platinum piece, say, and the
> newbie won't ever need to loot-n-sell until he's no longer a
> newbie any more.  Makes one wondered why the newbies were forced
> to suffer through selling rat whiskers for pennies in the first
> place: The gameplay doesn't seem to be harmed (and strikes me as
> being better, to be honest), when the playerbase finally does away
> with the designers' grand vision of impoverished newbies.

>   Questions that spring to mind are: Is it really necessary that
>   the economy scale that way in the first place?

> Also, perhaps a different approach to the economic model than the
> hoard-n-spend d&d-ish thing: An economy based more on cash-flow.
> I'm thinking of a situation in which don't really benefit from
> finding a big chunk of money, and can't just outright buy much
> that is worthwhile.  The object would be to increase your income,
> so that you could afford the things that allow you to make more
> money, which you need in order to maintain that standard of
> living.

We live in a capitalist society, so we think in terms of working for
money so that we can get the things that we want.  In a world
designed for entertainment, I'm surprised that we continue to
present this model.  That is, those people who want to pursue money
should have a form of entertainment that revolves around having
money.  For example, I can start a business, compete with others,
manage inventory and business contacts, deal with profit margins,
investments and so on.  That is a form of entertainment relating to
money.

But for those who are interested in combat, let them worry about
combat and the entertainment that relates to it.  For example, help
to clear the lord's land of baddies and you get favors from the lord
that permit you to obtain the items that you need.  The lord's
blacksmiths will repair your armor at no cost of gold, you have your
pick from the lord's weapon inventory, etc.  A few coins are also
handed your way.  Do enough for one lord and you're granted the
right to have your own lands and run your own little fiefdom.  Of
course, that smacks of money management again, so the more advanced
favors from the lord might be to command some number of the lord's
military might in the continued defense of the lord's holdings.

Note the difference between this and being given money by the lord
as a bounty for what you have killed for him.  The money is
exchangeable for any good and any service.  Further, the money can
be given to anyone for the ability to obtain those same goods and
services.  Favors granted by lords and ladies, guards, peasants and
tavern owners are all very limited types of currency.  It changes
the game experience.  If I kill every baddie on the lord's land, I
primarily get the lord's 'currency' of his favor.

This is still presenting barriers to entertainment, of course.  I
must kill the lord's enemies before I get favor and I must get favor
before I get better armor, or get to lead troops, etc.  The goal is
to avoid making the barriers unentertaining to those who are
interested in the more 'advanced' forms of entertainment.  If I have
to kill stuff before I can travel, then I have a true barrier.
There is no natural relationship between killing things and
traveling.  On the other hand, if I must first develop mapmaking
skills and orienteering skills (in an entertaining way), then I have
a reasonable barrier.  The odds of the barriers being entertaining
are greater when the baby steps naturally lead into and relate to
the giant steps.

In the spirit of 'multiple currencies', I'd like to see the currency
of many different game experiences be non-exchangeable.  If you have
gold, that is an achievement that is obtained only by being someone
who works in gold.  If you have favor, that is an achievement that
is obtained only by being someone who works in favor.  And so on.

But don't use classic currency as a barrier to entry for all forms
of entertainment in a game world.

JB

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