[MUD-Dev] Economic model..

Matt mkm25 at cantab.net
Wed Feb 18 22:52:19 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 14:11:35 -0600, Brian Thyer <brian at thyer.net> wrote:

> At any rate, any thoughts/feedback/ideas would be helpful.  As you
> can tell, it's very much a player run, player driven economy.
> Players mine the resources (or hire NPCs to mine for them),
> players craft the items (and the coinage.through the player and
> NPC run towns), and players set the prices and exchange rates for
> goods and resources.  One thing that some of you may be thinking
> of (which I forgot to mention) is arbitrage.  Arbitrage is where
> you buy an item in one market for a price, and turn around and
> sell the item in a different market for a higher price.  This is,
> obviously, possible.  However, it is currently in the plans to
> restrict travel.  Not to restrict where players can go, but rather
> by the speed and safety by which they can get there.  Making it
> unsafe to carry large quantities of merchandise/resources across
> distances without many armed guards, or simply by making it a
> hassle to the average player to transport items from place to
> place on a regular basis, I hope to keep each separate
> town/village/city/kingdom economy just that, separate.

We are in the process of attempting something very similar in a NWN
PW, we're still in beta but we've been running for several months
now.  Our world has an almost entirely player driven economy (bar
newbie survival gear available for high prices), and difficult
journeys between hamlets, each hamlet has a speciality resource and
the capacity to manufacture goods.  Here are my thoughts on your
system and comparisons with our system.

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.

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.

You seem to know what you're doing more than us (we avoided npc
merchants with calculated prices as we thought it was too much work
to get the numbers right) so you might manage this, I'm sure you
know if you get those calculated numbers wrong there’s no hope of
an economy.  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.

Communication is another key point, we run a heavy RP MUD and so OOC
communication about needs of hamlets isn't allowed.  This has
obviously led to extreme problems with trade; at least they seem
obvious in hindsight...

You probably won’t encounter this as severely as us, but being
able to communicate prices is important.  An instantly updating
price list of all hamlets would just lead to mass arbitrage though,
whoever makes the run to the other town first gets the gold.  I
think it would be best to allow players to advertise all prices in a
hamlet in one place in that hamlet, to facilitate quick and easy
trade and keep the hamlets completely separate as you say.

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.

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.  And if there isn't, why are
they on the same server?  Someone carrying gold in his pocket from
one town to another and buying domething affects the economy, I'm
not clear on your expected player numbers but if it happens
regularly the economies will be drasticly altered.  I really think
you have to take this into account.

Also I wonder if you've got enough players, ours is split into three
hamlets and with 45 players at peak it just about works.  Keeping
the hamlets separate feels like running three servers at times.

I've spent more time talking about ours than discussing yours, but I
hope I've given you something to think about.  Don’t take my
authoritarian tone seriously, we’ve been running for months,
we’re still in beta, and I have next to no experience in this
area.  Take the advice for what it’s worth and no more :)


MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list