[MUD-Dev] Blog about GDC implies changes to MMORPG population

Barry Kearns barrykearns at qwest.net
Fri Jun 10 10:28:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Jaycen Rigger wrote:

> Basic UO supports the idea that you can sell your mass produced
> junk to NPC vendors for gold, but this in turn leads to MUDflation
> (whatever coinage your world supports).

Errr..  isn't that almost the exact opposite of MUDflation?

I've always understood the primary thrust of the term to mean the
glut of powerful objects outrunning the (typical) increase in total
coinage.  This tends to lead to extremely powerful objects being
available for startlingly LOW prices on player marketplaces, and
that tends to lead (in turn) to having many quest rewards treated as
"no longer worth it".

An increase in coinage over the time is simple inflation of money
supply.  If the number of items being introduced and retained were
stable, this would lead to an inflationary effect when purchasing
items on marketplaces: prices would spiral out-of-hand upward.  We
saw this take obvious effect in Earth and Beyond, where I personally
noted a 1000% increase in purchase prices over a nine-month period.

The EA/Westwood folks lacked sufficient currency sinks, and currency
production was remarkably easy through the mechanic of selling
looted items and resources to vendors.

MUDflation, on the other hand, tends to lead to drastically falling
prices.  It's a largely deflationary effect if the item supply
excessively outruns the money supply.  The root cause of MUDflation
isn't people selling mass-produced junk to vendors (as I understand
the term)... instead, it's the FAILURE to sell mass-dropping or
mass-produced items to vendors (and instead hoarding or passing of
them along to lower-level characters).

As others have mentioned, this sounds like you're describing a basic
source-sink model for both items and currency, and that model is
highly common in today's MMO offerings.  It sounds like you're
simply proposing setting a really high currency sink via taxes, in
hopes that people will sell off their stuff in order to keep from
going broke.  IOW, a high currency sink driving an item sink.

If the "tax" idea is actually voluntary instead of mandatory, how is
it any different from any other high-end currency sink (where
players voluntarily remove currency from circulation in exchange for
some other perceived benefit, like faster travel via a horse)?
Don't people sell off unneeded crap today to finance their favorite
currency-sink purchases?

I'm confused as to why you would want to call that a "tax"... if
it's mandatory instead of voluntary, and you're going to throw some
benefit towards the player when they are force to comply, how do you
handle players who simply haven't earned enough because they've
spent their currency over time on things they find more desirable or
useful, like consumables?  Does the tax serve as a kind of gating
mechanism?

In our current project, we prevent excessive amounts of items from
accumulating by making storage space scarce, and minimizing the
benefits of excessive twinking.  Weeding through your storage space
and only keeping prime items becomes a natural mechanism for pulling
excess items out of the economic mix.  We're not producing something
that is fundamentally item-centric, though.  Items are easy to find,
easy to replace, and naturally easy/rewarding to get rid of.

As to the perceived lack of feedback loops, many successful MMO
economies very closely track player aggregate behaviors, and
implement changes designed specifically to deal with imbalances that
arise due to those behaviors.  SWG dealt specifically with a
currency-dupe (as I recall) by tweaking things to get a net
deflationary effect on currency to bleed off the excess that had
penetrated beyond their retrieval efforts.  I would be frankly
surprised if such monitoring for other economic aspects (common
resources, for instance) isn't already in place in most major
titles.

Barry Kearns
barrykearns at qwest.net
http://vektor.blogs.com
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