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

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Mon Dec 17 13:06:38 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

From: "Bobby Martin" <bobbymartin at hotmail.com>
>> From: Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com

>> Now I realise this is starting to sound more like civilisation 3
>> than a mud, but thats the point. Muds suck at this type of thing
>> and until this changes that will continue. None of these ideas
>> are intrinsically complicated, however they will interact and
>> exhibit more complex behaviour. The only risk is if one forgets
>> to model an essential mechanism ;) (what have I missed lol?)

> In fact we plan to support everything you list here except
> multiple currencies.  Farming, mining, and making every item
> useful for something other than funny looking currency is already
> partially implemented.  We should have notes up soon (in less than
> a month, that's soon on our development schedule :) on the
> customer web site about what we plan to support with regards to
> crafting, mining, farming, etc.  

I wouldn't dream of contradicting our lead server developer :), but
I'd like to point out the fact that our design will allow the
potential for something very much like multiple currencies, even
though the game doesn't support them directly.

We plan to allow individuals or communities/guilds the ability to
*sign* a document, rendering its contents immutable.  We've only had
initial discussions on this mechanic and haven't hashed out
implementation (although the possibility of having the
signature/insignia linked to a "reputation" was discussed), but I
think the implications can be far-reaching.  Given the right
economic environment (and yes, we realize that this part of the
equation is non-trivial), there is nothing to prevent the following
use of this ability.

  The "Wood Trading Corporation of Cosm" (a player-owned "guild")
  builds a large storage facility in Trebizond and another in
  Timbuktu.  It stocks each facility with a good amount of wood.  It
  then announces that it will issue wood certificates.  These are
  simply pieces of velum or parchment on which the corporation has
  inscribed, for example, "1,000 wood units payable to the bearer of
  this certificate," and then signed with the guild name/insignia.
  The WTCC commits itself to pay out 1,000 wood units to anyone who
  presents this sort of certificate at one of their "branches."

  Bubba wants to build a house on a recently purchased lot near
  Trebizond.  He owns a lumber mill near Timbuktu.  It would cost
  Bubba quite a bit to put together a caravan and hire the
  mercanaries he'd need to ensure his wood could be safely
  transported from Timbuktu to Trebizond.  Instead, Bubba goes to
  the WTCC.  The WTCC tells Bubba that it will issue him a 1,000
  unit wood certificate if Bubba gives them 1,200 units of wood.
  The extra 200 units are a transaction fee that the WTCC charges
  its customers for its services.  This is much less than it would
  cost Bubba to transport the wood himself.  This is possible since
  the WTCC often has transactions that come the other way, obviating
  the need to transport wood at all.  And even in those cases where
  the wood supply at each branch needs to be rebalanced, the WTCC
  can have long term contracts in place for caravan drivers and

  Bubba returns to Trebizond (via "Ye Olde Dragon Airlines?") with
  his wood certificate.  However, he notices that Buffy has errected
  a stone house right next to his empty lot.  The stone house is
  magnificent!  Bubba decides that a wood house just will not do, so
  he takes his wood certificate to the "Guild of Trebizond Stone
  Masons."  How many units of stone can he get for the wood
  certificate?  This may depend on a number of factors.

    - What is the difference in utility?  Is stone more durable?  Is
    it less expensive to maintain?

    - Are stone houses the latest rage?  Is there currently higher
    demand for stone or wood?

    - Is there a difference in supply?  Is there a shortage of stone
    in the area?  Wood?

    - How reputable is the WTCC.  Do they issue more wood
    certificates than they have wood to back them up?  - How
    inconvenient is it to "cash out" the certificate?  Is a WTCC
    branch nearby?

  Bubba is only able to get 500 stone for the 1,000 wood
  certificate.  He will need another 500 stone to build his house.
  The GoTSM agrees to go ahead and give Bubba the extra 500 stone.
  They do this because Bubba signs a scroll which says something to
  the effect, "I agree to pay the GoTSM 600 stone (or equivalent
  resources based on the GoTSM exchange rates at the time of
  repayment) on or before [date six months in the future].  The
  GoTSM will hold the deed to my lot (hot link to lot information?) 
  as collateral on this loan."

I don't know whether the wood certificates in this example qualify
for some official definition of currency or not.  Neither do I know
whether or not this is what Dan had in mind for multiple currencies.
But it seems to me that this type of mechanic could allow for some
very interesting economic pursuits.  We are designing with these
interesting pursuits in mind, even if we don't plan to have multiple
"official" currencies.

Paul "Phinehas" Schwanz
Cosm Development Team
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