[MUD-Dev] DGN: MMOG Game Economies

William Leader leader at k2wrpg.org
Fri Nov 4 02:16:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

John Buehler wrote:

> It would be an interesting experiment to see how economies adjust
> to actions traditionally performed by developers that changes the
> worth of various items and services to the players; new objects
> and skills supplanting or competing with existing objects and
> skills.  Introduce houses, and suddenly snakes are dropping 100
> gold pieces.  Why?  A huge base of value has been introduce into
> the ecoonomy.  Logic would dictate that money would have to be
> injected in order to maintain a status quo.

The way I see it the change wouldn't be so drastic. To start with,
if you are a developer that is going to add some new feature to the
game you would already have and idea of what similar things are
priced at, so by setting the introductory price of the new item to
something sane, then the effect should be minimal even if the new
item is widely prefered over the old. For example lets say you have
a weapon that has a defense bonus, and with an expansion you add a
weapon with similar properties only it has an offense bonus, the
initial price of the new item is set to equal the price of the old
item. As the game progresses, players find that they prefer the new
item so its price increases, meanwhile the price of the alternative
item decreases. Since all of these item prices are averaged to
measure price changes, the net effect is minimal.

But lets consider the idea of adding something huge like a house,
that has no existing equivelent. Lets also say that the initial
price for something like this is out of reach of most players. To
buy a house they start saving lots and lots of cash. In doing so
they are now willing to spend less on other items so their prices go
down. Over a few cycles while players are saving the index goes
down, and snakes could start dropping vastly larger amounts of cash
than before, but only if all the average prices start dropping
wildly. which I don't expect them to drop so fast. It takes a
certain amount of time before people consider determining new prices
for things. But lets say that after a sudden change there was a
hiccup in the economy while things swing back and forth a little
while until they come back to normal. Is that so bad? Real
ecconomies have speculation 'bubbles' and 'market corrections' and
all sorts of events all the time. So long as a base line is
maintained whats the harm is having economic events?

> This suggests to me that the introduction of goods and services
> (value) should be done gradually so as not to mess up the balance
> of the economy.  I wonder if it also suggests that items of
> massive value should accumulate their value only slowly.  That is,
> palaces must be built over some period of time.  If palaces are a
> single step purchase, then the buyer would have to hoard all the
> money up front and suddenly dispense it all at once.  It would be
> difficult to manage an index for low-volume and high-value items
> like that.  If the value of a palace is derived from the
> construction materials and labor involved, and the materials and
> labor were purchased over a period of time, then no index need be
> constructed for palaces.  Only for the various raw materials and
> labor.

You right in that low volume high value transactions would tend to
have weird effects on the index. This is something that came up in
my conversations with my Econ proffessor. Thow out outliers See:
http://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/eda/section3/eda35h.htm. This
is one of those needed details to make it work. Without this step a
clever group of players who had an insight as to how the system
works could game the system (A real concern with an open source
project.) For example if players new that how much money they got
was related to the trasactions they make for everyday items, then
the could take a few dozen different items and pass them around
between eachother a few hundred times, for $1 each time. (Or they
could also pass around some objects for insanely large amounts of
money too just to mess with things.) This would cause the price
index to incorrectly move, causing money drops to change accordingly
and generally starting to make a mess of things. So these numbers
would have to be filtered out.

> Again, I wonder how the instantaneous adjustments, changes and
> enhancements that developers make to their virtual worlds would
> cause such a balanced economy to react.  I wonder too if those
> relying on the seeming stability of an economy would be
> particularly burned by sudden changes by developers.

Sure some people will get burned, and others will profit, but then
how is this any different from real world economics?

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