[MUD-Dev] Economic model (long)

Jester jester at futuremmorpg.org
Wed Feb 25 06:31:54 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

Brian wrote:

> I'm working as the economic designer for a mud me and a group of
> people are putting together.

I have also recently (over the last year) been working on the
economics for a very player driven market. All the below are my
views and opinions only, and economies are very specific to
implementations any way so take what you like & ignore the rest :)

> The first thing I wanted to do was avoid the pitfall of
> hyperinflation.

This is by far the hardest thing to avoid, the very act of new
characters joining the world (presuming they don't start naked or
with equipment or zero value) will have a trickle effect of
introducing items that previously didn't exist into your world (that
appears from your description to have semi-fixed resources).

Also with some systems a character's progression can tip the balance
towards H.I. As a character's ability to kill 'low' level creatures
more quickly and with less rest between kills increases, their
potential for harvesting resources (furs, teeth, bones etc.)
increases. You have to ensure that the reward curve for loot or
resources is appropriate to the 'level' of the character otherwise
you will get mid level characters (farming) wiping out the newbie
hunting grounds because it earns them more in the same amount of
time and with less risk than hunting creatures more suited to their

This not only adds to the problem of H.I. but if you have finite
resources it may mean that new players entering your world have
nothing to hunt!

> a lot of players *could* hunt a local species into extinction


> as gold (and by gold I mean any resource minted into coinage) goes
> through fluxuations in availability (one gold vein used up, a
> month real time before anyone else finds a good new one) the
> amount of coin and its value (buying power) would fluxuate as
> well.

I think this is a nice idea, but IHMO I think it is adding
unnecessary complexity. If the value of coinage is going to
fluctuate over time it is going to be VERY hard to establish a
baseline for vendors to buy and sell goods.

Also this mechanism relies on the fact that your players DO find a
new gold vein (within the timeframe you need to prevent the economy
from screwing up). Also whoever does find this nice new sparkly
source of wealth would be foolish in the extreme to openly mint it,
as doing do would decrease it's value if the demand was high. Far
better to mine most of the ore out, sling it into a vault and mint
it in very small amounts over time thus keeping the value high and
amassing a fortune.

A player or small group could with these sorts of financial
resources completely monopolise gold (or other coin based metals)
and if they minted all their collected gold ore at once could
cripple your entire economy in one fell swoop. You may want to
reconsider giving your players this much influence over your economy

> The idea I got was to make it less of a coinage based system, and
> more of a trade based system.

Trade based systems also have their use but can suffer from other
problems, if you are allowing individual shop owners to set
conversion / trade rates you may well get arbitrage within the same
town and this could lead to glutting of one particular shop with a
resource that because of its high volume will be devalued.

You also have the problem of finding someone to trade with; who has
something you want, who wants something you have, at a rate that
both of you consider fair :)

> Coinage still has its uses, it's the base value on which all other
> items are compared;

If the value of coinage fluctuates AND an item's value fluctuates
with natural supply and demand through trade then you are going to
have huge problems establishing any kind of base rate for anything.

> I hope to keep each separate town/village/city/kingdom economy
> just that, separate.

Once again I think you are making life difficult for yourself,
having a distinct economy for each village is going to make it much
harder to control without obvious intervention and you run the risk
of localised hyperinflation that could bankrupt small areas creating
financial ghost towns. Having a national and 'regional' economies
should suffice to make interesting and rewarding arbitrage for
players who enjoy that type of challenge.

I hope I have been of some help, and there are other very important
things I haven't even mentioned like sinks and I could add pages
more advice on this topic but the other list members probably
wouldn't thank me for it :)

So if you'd like me to go into any more depth drop me an email
direct: jester at futuremmorpg.org and I'll be glad to help steer you
past all the pitfalls I stumbled into first time round ;)

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