[MUD-Dev] Economic model..

Brian Thyer brian at thyer.net
Wed Feb 25 14:40:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

On Wednesday, February 18, 2004 4:52 PM, Matt wrote:

> Firstly, if you add natural capital (trees etc.) at a constant
> rate you will add value to the world at the same constant rate and
> cause hyper inflation as everyone will have large amounts of stone
> and resources.  We went with item decay to fix this; iron is used
> for weapons that wear out over time.  The problem is to introduce
> resources at an interesting rate requires items to decay extremely
> fast, we've got around this by making it arduous to mine certain
> resources, you have to use your sword a lot to get in there and
> get the ore.

> You seem to have noticed this is a problem but you don't say what
> you've done to correct it.

I didn't want to get into the full details in my e-mail, rather just
a basic overview.  Obviously adding resources to the world at a
constant rate can cause inflation.  It's like any mud where you can
pick up X amount of gold off the rat in the front yard.  There
amount of gold is limited to the amount a single rat can drop and
the number of rats you can kill in a day.

What we're looking at is regeneration of resources at a certain
rate.  Meaning that they'll regenerate to the point they were at
originally.  The way this works around the inflation problem (I'm
hoping) is that it limits the rate at which players can obtain the
resource.  The maximum they can get it for a long term period is
it's daily rate of regeneration, which won't be exceptionally high.

Then, like you mentioned, we have things like decay and difficulty
of getting to the mine.  Items will have decay on them, use and wear
decay though, not sitting in the closet decay.  They can
repair/upkeep items to an extent, but at the end of the day entropy
will win it's battle.  And of course, mine's aren't at the edge of
the field that surrounds a town.  You have to travel down the long
old overgrown Quarry road to the mine, fighting off bandits and
other wild creatures.  Eventually it'll become safe and the journey
will be easy and a breeze, but by that time the mine will be so
spent that there won't be much left for you to do.  Risk vs reward.

> Another problem is not having money, I assume your per town
> exchange rates are set by players (as you say players will be
> helping run the places).  Without money players will have no idea
> how much things are worth, this has led to extreme hoarding by
> some players in our world.  Having a set exchange rate per town is
> a good idea as it will give the players something to start from as
> it seems players have difficulty embracing bartering.

My biggest concern right now is players feeling lost operating on
something that's not currency.  Having to learn a trade/barter
system and keeping track of exchange rates.  There will probably be
some kind of simple tutorial to get you started at the beginning of
the game, but the best teacher works at the school of hard knocks.
One thing I want to do is have a simple buy/sell interface so when a
new player goes into a vendor's interface they can clearly see their
wealth.  Perhaps a window showing each item and it's worth in
different columns to that particular vendor.  Something simple and
not overwhelming.  Obviously, this will take a good deal of not only
work, but testing =)

> If players are expected to alter them in response to in game
> events (forest fires etc.) they wont do it right, running an
> economy is hard and players with the time to invest in a world
> generally haven't done economics degrees.  Playing a ruler like
> this is fun, but when the ruling player make a mistake the entire
> game experience of all players (and characters) suffers, and then
> they inevitably get assassinated.  So be prepared to take over
> control, potentially forever.  You mentioned their being a few
> cases where the players will cause recessions through bad
> behavior, I believe the only way to fix these is intervention.
> You have the power to shut down mines, create new mines, start Orc
> wars etc. and this should be enough to ward off anything serious,
> as long as your economy is stable enough that it doesn't need to
> be done often.

Another concern of mine.  The only solution I've seen so far is, as
you've said, be prepared to take control.  This again is a wait and
see thing.  One thing I've considered is something akin to what
Shadowbane used to do to keep players in touch with the war going on
with their server; the herald.  Only instead it'll be some kind of
Economic Times.  I'd send it, in game, to each ruler to let them
know the status of things.  Fire here, mine depleted there, etc,
etc.  Maybe even ask rulers to pay to be a part of it..if they want
that kind of help.  Just an idea though...still have a lot of
thought to be done in this area.

I do have every intention of using GM events to help push things the
way I want though.  Something akin to an Orc War, as mentioned.

> Distances between hamlets has caused problems, our world is skewed
> so each hamlet needs something only the others provide, so trade
> is essential to make anything beyond simple food.  We've relaxed
> this recently, and made travel slightly easier, as it was just too
> hard to organise a group to travel to another hamlet and get back
> together.  The journey down was suitably epic but after logging
> off the night the players would all log on at different times
> leaving one player stuck in the wrong hamlet for days.  If you're
> going to make travel hard this kind of location tracking is
> important.

One thing I'd like to have is the ability to trade between towns.
They establish a treaty where town 1 agrees to trade x amount of
it's resource for y amount of town 2's different resource.  Then
NPCs are sent in carvans back and forth.  Players can then join the
caravans as a safer way to cross between the towns and maybe earn a
little coin on the side.

> When you say you want to keep each Town economy separate what
> exactly do you mean?  If there's any movement between them at all
> their economies won't be separate.

You're right, of course.  I don't think I spoke very well here....as
going back and rereading it I'm not exactly sure what I meant.  What
I'm trying to say here, I think, is I don't want players
transporting large quantities of resources from town to town on
their own.  Obviously it will happen, but it should be a risk.  If a
player tries it and succeeds, then they get to reap the benefits of
selling goods in a town for either a cheaper rate than the locals
(thus out selling them) or a higher rate than their home (if the new
town doesn't have access to that resource).  My vision for the
economy is large scale trade being done on a Government level,
rather than an individual level.

- Brian
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