[MUD-Dev] DGN: MMOG Game Economies

Jaycen Rigger jaycen.rigger at sbcglobal.net
Thu Nov 24 19:00:05 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


"Christopher D. Chapman" <chris at chapmanholdings.com> wrote:

> i just don't think i'm being very clear, so you'll have to excuse
> my fits and spurts of thoughts as i try to effectively communicate
> what is in my head.

That's how I feel every time I post here.  *shrugs* It is what it
is.

> inflation is a function of average player wealth.

Kind of.

> commodities must have relatively non-scaling prices.  (isn't that
> part of the definition of commodity?)

from encarta:

  com·mod·i·ty [ kə móddətee ] (plural com·mod·i·ties)

  noun Definitions: 1. traded item: an item that is bought and sold,
  especially an unprocessed material

  2. useful thing: something that people value or find useful
  [15th century. < Latin commodus (see commode)]


You know, it's funny that the root of commodity is commode.  I find
them extremely valuable and useful.

By the capitalist definition, a commodity can certainly have a
scaling value.  In fact, you hope it does.  In a MMORPG, it's SO
much simpler not to have it scale.

> successful mmo game economies != real world economies.

True, but I've never seen a successful MMO game economy.  Not to say
there isn't one out there.

> i put that 'successful' in there because you can model mmo game
> economies after real ones, but they will never be successful.  no
> one wants to play in a game they have very, very little chance of
> winning or that is more about maintenance than new achievement.

So true.

> that's the reason people play games -- to escape the drudgery of
> the real world where they are a nobody and enter a world where
> they can (relatively) easily become a somebody.  there is a small
> modicum of skill involved in being successful in a game, but
> nothing even remotely close to the scale of skill and luck it
> takes in the real world to win.

Not exactly true.  See, on the face of it, I think many people agree
with your first sentance.  I'd say those people are wrong.

There are a lot of reasons people play games.  To cut it short, if
becoming the most powerful wizard on a server takes an excruciating
amount of skill, time and effort, I'll do it until I feel like I'm
not making progress.  Even if that progress is slow, it's worth it
to me.

Even if that progress is slow, it's worth it to me.

I thought that was worth saying twice.  I'm always bewildered by the
number of players willing to slave away mining or crafting stuff on
a server.  You know why?  Because it's damned boring!.....to me.

I've noticed most people who do that kind of game play get off
hanging out and chatting in-game.  Some like to do it while speaking
"dwarven".  Some do it to pretend they're drunk (often while sipping
beer at their PC).  Some do it so they can pick up and spread
rumors.

Other players call that grinding.  I'd tell those players to find a
different kind of character to play, because if it's not fun, you're
an idiot to keep paying for it.

> what we can draw from that is that, in an mmo, average player
> wealth increases enormously. it has to or it wouldn't be fun.

Again, fun is in the eye of the beholder.  Accumulation of wealth
really isn't why I play, though I do like having a status symbol for
which I am recognized in game.  If gaining that symbol is through
gaining wealth, then that's what I go for.

> 'wealth', i don't necessarily mean cash on hand.  i am talking
> about earning potential a.k.a. 'power.'  and, player power in
> mmo's increase on an exponential scale -- at least until they hit
> some arbitrary level cap.  i know this is on an exponential scale
> because a level 5 player is not half as powerful as a level 10
> player.

You're marrying wealth and power, and trying to work towards social
engineering.  Social engineering is of course, what this is all
about.

It's not necessary to worry about power, because you should find
that wealth sinks are also power sinks.  If they aren't, then you've
done something wrong.

> for example, take the average net worth of everyone (monetary
> value of all of everyone's possessions / number of players) with
> more than 5 hours invested in the game and store that total.  wait
> one month, repeat.  there is going to be a massive, massive gain
> there.  keep in mind this should apply only to successful games.
> you can always just keep nickel and diming your players to death
> with different fees they have to pay based on power/property/tax
> brackets, etc. -- but then, you are risking alienating your
> players.  for proud, chest-pounding proof check out this marvelous
> recreation of a boring real world economy by the folks over at
> star wars galaxies.

I wish I knew something about this.  Has anyone written about what
they have there, now?  I think a governmental system that rewards
players with services for their tax moneys would be a great system.

I tried that link, but it lead to a page that didn't have any actual
information on it.

> then, compare the number of money sinks to the player base between
> swg and wow.

Wish I could.

> in wow, i would bet that the vast majority of the money coming out
> of the system is coming from the training costs and not all of
> their flat, regressive style 'taxes.'  i don't think they nickel
> and dime the player nearly as much as swg does.

"Training costs" are an ugly fix.  How obvious can it get to
players?  It also leads to unpleasant questions like "why not just
lower the amount given for x behavior...?"

> what more proof do you need than the terribly disproportionate
> subscription base?  successful mmo's (will) have a couple vanity
> money sinks and a scaling (proportionally related to player power)
> 'cost of doing business' type model.  whether that's paying cash
> to spend xp or putting level requirements on every single item
> while keeping the cost the same (for example, a level 50 only
> sword costs the exact same as a level 1 only sword -- you just
> have to be level 50 to get it.), both of which rake the dual
> currency of xp and gold out of the equation.

I guess I'm wondering what players get for paying taxes in-game
under these systems?  That their in-game lives are not made hell by
annoying tax collectors?  Is there a reward for being part of that
system?  Is it possible not to participate without becoming a
criminal under this system?

> no matter what, there is an equilibrium that needs to be reached
> between annoying players by forcing them to spend money and
> enticing them to place their money in something where they feel it
> is well spent.  the players are in your game not voluntarily, but
> they actually pay to play it.  the least we can do is offer them
> some in game value for their gold and not just forcefully leech it
> out of them.

Agreed.  Forcing a player to spend in-game gold on something is bad
news.  They should be able to opt out of the system, but the rewards
for opting in should "seem" to be worth the cost.
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