[MUD-Dev] The Economic Model - as a Game

Matt Chatterley zen31329 at zen.co.uk
Tue Mar 9 10:21:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


Greetings to you all!

I've been absent from this list for quite some time, but I'm back,
and somewhat fortuitously, there was already a thread running on
Economic Modelling.

I am currently toying with the idea of developing a web-based game
(initially, with a view to possibly including an application based
client later), and, being a long time mudder, have laid out some of
my initial design around what I consider to be 'mud like' tenets
(e.g. the social aspects which for me are so fundamental within
muds).

However, my main concern is that I wish to base the game around
something which I find fascinating - economy and business (the
'entrepreneurial spirit').

The setting is likely to be Science Fiction, where each player has
established their own trading outpost out among the stars. Players
will buy and sell goods (either ad-hoc, or via long term
arrangements). These can be bought from / sold to both NPCs (who
will roam the night in their private trading vessels), or from
Player (or NPC) outposts. Each outpost will maintain a fleet of
'delivery' vehicles, which are used to distribute sold goods to the
recipient.

Planets within the star systems modeled will act as producers and
consumers, each planet producing and consuming a limited number of
items (probably 2-3 per planet, depending on the size of the
population) - these may change over time, but will be relatively
steady. Supply and demand may alter by planet, over time.

Goods fall into several categories which currently include 'Natural
Resource / Raw Material', 'Food Stuffs', 'Machinery', 'Technology'
and so forth.  There will be an initially small pool of items within
each category, some of which can be processed to produce goods of
another category (this processing is to be a third function of the
'Planets' - many of them will buy in two or more unprocessed items,
and use them to produce a processed item).

The goal of the game? To make money, and expand your outpost - to
become the financial hub of the star system you are in, and
beyond. By arranging supply deals with other outposts and planets,
players can try to establish monopolies on certain goods (within
their area), and even try to convince others to raise 'sanctions'
against traders they wish to put out of business.

I know it sounds a little ragged - that's because the original scope
was far larger, and I had included things such as the maintenance of
troops for attack and defence, a complicated system of
communications equipment (whereby you could spend money on more
expensive gear to access more channels, further away), and even
more. I've just chopped all of this out, because the real focus of
the game for me is the bit above - trade - and I want to get that
right before I risk putting anything else into the mix.

The game will be fundamentally turn based, using the concept of
Man-Hours (or alternatively Women-Hours, if you prefer). For each
employee, per turn, you will gain a number of hours (this will be
slightly configurable depending on the shift-length you
enforce). Some of this time will be consumed by maintenance tasks,
depending upon the nature of your stock, size of your outpost,
ongoing deals, etc, but ultimately you will have a pool of hours to
spend each turn (a turn will probably be a real life half hour or
hour).

These hours can be spend on further maintenance (or implementing
upgrades to the outpost), negotiating (or re-negotiating) deals, and
making the actual 'basic trades' which will be your bread and
butter. Originally I had created categories for the hours, based on
the assigned skill of each employee (e.g.  diplomat, technician),
but again, I am considering scrapping this idea.

Why am I burbling this here? Because I respect the opinions of the
list readers, and I don't know what to do! Is simplicity beauty, or,
in a game which potentially could have SO MUCH detail, is over
simplification more of a danger?

I guess I'm trying to find a big enough net to catch some fun
somewhere above.

Regards,

Matt.
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