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

Dave Rickey mahrinskel at brokentoys.org
Mon Apr 28 15:17:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

From: "Ben Hoyt" <Ben.Hoyt at SilverPlatterSoftware.com>
> From: Dave Rickey

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

> I know more than one economist who would take issue with your
> definition of economics, Dave.  Economies are about efficiency.
> Economic efficiency is called pareto optimality and is created
> when the person who values something the most possesses that
> thing.  Damion's point is well-taken, that the more people you
> have, the more efficient things get (though more importantly, the
> more access to information people have the more efficient things
> get).  However, just because the only things that YOU value in a
> game might be those that allow you to save time or increase your
> power doesn't mean that they are objectively the only things worth
> valuing.  > You say only time and power have value in MMOs.what
> about influence?  Information?  Aesthetics?  Why do players in
> Camelot pay for dyes, cloaks, and hats?

Nuts again.  I'm going by observation of what players actually do:
Invest time to increase their control.  Display of wealth (dyes,
horse dung, whatever) is another way of excercising control.

>> 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.

> Why?  There must be some reason why the value it.  It is the
> perceived value that matters.  Players in a virtual world
> squabbling over how many millions of gold a pile of horse dung is
> worth is no more a sign of a "broken" economy than people in the
> real world squabbling over how many dollars a Picasso or an
> ancient Greek pot are worth.  All are relatively useless things to
> which people ascribe value because of "status," rarity,
> aesthetics, emotional attachment, etc.  As a person trained in
> economics I can see no surer sign that a game has created a
> thriving economy than the fact that players have both the means
> and the interest with which to squabble over such a thing.  After
> all, the single most fundamental necessity for an economic system
> is "scarcity," the condition in which not all people can have as
> much of a certain thing as the want for free.sounds like that pile
> of dung must be pretty scarce..

It is.  But what is the point in owning a $15,000 couch, a $250,000
car, or a million-dollar painting?  To demonstrate that you can,
that you have so much power that you can expend it purely for the
purpose of display.

>> 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).

> Exclusive control of a "source of vital resources by a small
> group" (known in economics as a monopoly or an oligopoly) does not
> equate to a "broken" economy, but it DOES equate to an inefficient
> economy.  A surer sign of a "broken" economy is a condition that
> exists in MANY MMOGs today, in which certain objects are only
> usable by people of certain classes.  This artifice is used to
> create the disparity in value that will encourage people to trade
> (i.e.: as a Paladin I have no use for a wand and your wizard no
> use for a sword...let's trade).  If your economy were truly robust
> you wouldn't need to limit an item's usability to a certain class,
> I would simply value it less than members of that class and so be
> more inclined to trade it to them for something I value more.

Hey, if it had been up to me, such items would never have existed.
The restrictions were a product of the quest system undermining the
core Time --> Power exchange rate.


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