[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Mon Apr 21 23:08:34 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Thu 17 Apr, Dave Rickey wrote:

> Nuts.  Economies are about the conversion of one type of value
> into another.

Sorry, but no, this is not true.  Economy is created by scarcity.
What you describe is production. While it can (and generale will)
have a place in an economy, it is not the same.
Technically,  economy emerges  when people have to choose between
different commodities based on their own limited resources.  They
must decide how much each commodity is worth to them, and if they
wish to sacrifice (trade) their own resources for them.

> In MMO's, there are only two fundamental types of value: Time, and
> Power.  Under the right circumstances, there is also Rarity, but
> that's a sideshow (by the very nature of involving items whose
> difficulty of acquisition (Time) exceeds their effectiveness
> (Power)), not the main economy.

Not really. Power is the measure of value that most player apply,
but it needs not be the only one.  In the time I still frequently
played muds  I tended to chose equipment  for their fashion value
(to me), not for their in-game power.
Time, on the other hand, can be a resource for the player, in the
sense  that players may decide  whether or not to spend it on ac-
quiring something else. Usually, players tend to express this ab-
stract resource in some form of currency.  This may be some coin,
or some rare piece of equipment, but in either case it is the ba-
sic coin of the transactions  and a certain market value develops
for different important (and rare) pieces of equipment.

> Players squabbling over how many millions of gold a pile of horse
> dung is worth is a sign of a *broken* economy, not economic forces
> at work.

Actually,  this is economy at work.  These players are bartering.
The fact that the game suffers immense inflation  makes no diffe-
rence to that.  The monetary system may be lacking somewhat,  but
that has no bearing on the economic system itself.

> Exclusive control of a source of vital resources by a small group
> is another (that group has power far exceeding their time
> investment, others cannot have that much power regardless of how
> much time they invest).

I fail to see  how that is a sign of broken economy.  It simply is
a monopoly. It may be undesirable from a designer's point of view,
but that is something else entirely.  The correct reaction for the
designer would be to allow innovation, or in other words find ways
around the blockade,  or to create other ways  to achieve the same
end as the resource. If there are multiple paths it becomes harder
for one group  to claim the resource.  If the effect that resource
is used for can be achieved in new ways previously not designed in
the game (i.e. if it is truly dynamic and driven by player innova-
tion) then no group can block the effect, only the most convenient
way to achieve it.

E.g.  "black oil" is needed to create a certain fire spell.  There
are only so many places  where this substance can be found  on the
surface. If a guild blocks access to them all then the game desig-
ners can create more of those places  until it becomes impractical
to block them  for any single guild.  Or they can allow players to
mimic the natural process (in the game world that is)  that led to
the creation of the stuff.  This may require other ingredients and
perhaps  some specialised equipment and/or magic,  but it would be
possible for a player  to create small amounts of this "black oil"
without requiring access to the mines. The process would likely be
uneconomical  compared to the simple harvesting  the guild can do,
but it would be possible to circumvent the monopoly,  and for some
players who can  (for whatever reason)  not deal with the guild it
would be economic to pay the higher price.


Marian
--
Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey


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