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MMO economics - Death by taxes, fees, and other levies

    • 1723 posts
    May 28, 2020 7:39 AM PDT

    Cross-posted from Pantheon Crafters

    I've talked about money sinks in game economies before, and we've even had a few Crafter's Roundtables about them in the past.  We tend to look at these things in a vacuum, but the truth is that they're all interrelated.  For example, consider a 5% listing fee, every time you list an item in an auction house.  That sounds reasonable, right?  But what if the maximum amount of time you can list an item for is only six hours?  Are you really sure that the item is going to sell within that time?

    Most MMO economies end up suffering from severe over- or under-supply situations simply based on how items enter the game (feast or famine).  It is very difficult to actually balance supply with demand when your supply comes from a static drop rate, or even worse when that supply comes from a leveling requirement on the game's crafters.  As a result of that, prices will often end up exorbitantly high due to undersupply, or extremely low due to oversupply.  This is one reason why when I talk about getting the game economy right for Pantheon, I tend to talk about itemization, viability, and scarcity first before I start talking about things like money sinks.

    Money sinks are important to keep an economy functioning.  There need to be mechanisms to pull currency out of the game because prices will always adjust to the amount of currency in circulation.  Expensive items will always be expensive, and cheap items will always be cheap, but as players acquire more and more currency the distance between "cheap" and "expensive" gets a lot bigger. This, in turn, creates a situation where newer players are at a severe purchasing disadvantage.  To use a real-world example, they're still making minimum wage, but everything they need or want to buy from other players costs too much. Unlike the real world, they don't have to stick around and try to put up with this in a game.

    Most games try to set up multiple money sinks and limiters on their economy, which is generally a good idea since there's never a single solution that's going to work for every situation. But those games often don't consider how these things interact with each other, and the result is that they make pre-existing economic problems worse.

    Consider the following example which is typical of many games:

    - The game requires crafters to purchase a component from an NPC vendor for every item they make, with a cost of approximately 1/5 of the item's base value.

    - The game also requires crafters to pay a listing fee to sell those items, again with a cost of approximately 1/5 of the item's base value.

    - When the item sells, the game deducts a transaction tax of 10% from the total amount of the sale.

    - Sales listings are only available for a maximum of 3 days.

    - Players can only have 20 items listed at a time.

    This seems reasonable, right?  Players can still potentially make a profit on their items this way if everything goes right.  But what happens when items take longer than 3 days to sell?  What happens when the sale price is very close to the base value of the item because of oversupply?

    What happens when crafters are required to grind out those cheap items in bulk order to advance?  And what happens if those crafters are new players who are essentially still on the game's minimum wage as far as their adventuring income?  Now there's an in-game paywall in front of any new player who wants to be a crafter, and they're still being required to push through that paywall in order to advance.

    It is important for Pantheon to have some money sinks present to try and keep the amount of currency in circulation from running wild.  The game will also need some limitations to help keep people with far more time to spend from flooding markets, whether it's with loot or crafted items.  However, if we want a functional crafting sphere within the game, those money sinks can not all be implemented in ways that severely hamper people trying to craft and sell their items.  The sinks need to be spread out so that they apply directly to adventurers whether those adventurers are participating in the game economy or not.  More importantly, the game needs a strong mechanism to help balance supply and demand and ensure that items maintain a reasonable value relative to other items.  This could be as simple as reducing the drop rate or increasing salvage yields if there are too many copies of an item in circulation and doing the opposite if there are too few.  Failing to do these things can potentially result in a scenario where players give up on crafting (and possibly the game) due to what is essentially death by taxes.


    This post was edited by Nephele at May 28, 2020 7:39 AM PDT
    • 647 posts
    May 28, 2020 12:47 PM PDT

    A fee can indeed be fix. I like your examples @Nephele . I would add: * allow different fees for listing items for different durations. And again with a 3 option ending: 1) item is sold, 2) item is not sold and is returned to the character, 3) item is not sold and player accepts a cash return. 

    1) Or you're placing items on the broker you're aware that items that are not sold after X time, items are cashed in automatically. Unless chosen otherwise, but this second option requires more cash investment to keep the sale going.

    2) I think the feeling of earning more and a bigger cashflow is very addictive in games and in real life. It's a matter of really thinking hard and long about a design. I would like to say that playing a game gives you options. You can design pathways that can be accepted by people if they want to play this game. Obviously you're trying to avoid overkill designs that push away people. In the real world, you can't enforce this to people this directly. (Governements, CEO, etc do this much more subtle and people accept it!)

    3) Or it's the available broker space that is scaling up with the character. Let's say access to broker is linked to the highest level of that character. This means if 10 is your max level, you'll have access to broker (-items) of level 10. A level 30 character no longer has access to items in lower tiers, but is lifted onto the platform of level 30 items and relevant pricings. This might be too restrictive for some. (Again, I think you can get away with it within the context of a game and players willing to play this game.) But at least beginning players will be absorbed into the correct priceranges in due time.

    4) What if the design is such that if X amount of the same items hit the auction market, it triggers an interest by npcs. 

    5) Or Similar to how players are locked out of their homes until they cough up more upkeep. Consider this deposit option as a Ease of Life feature.

    6) You could play with the design, where you have X amount of broker slots for free. 

    None of the above suggested excludes the others.  (For a more elaborate reply see https://www.pantheoncrafters.com/threads/mmo-economics-death-by-taxes-fees-and-other-costs-and-levies.326/)


    This post was edited by Barin999 at May 28, 2020 12:48 PM PDT
    • 2027 posts
    May 29, 2020 8:48 AM PDT

    Nephele said:

    Consider the following example which is typical of many games:

    - The game requires crafters to purchase a component from an NPC vendor for every item they make, with a cost of approximately 1/5 of the item's base value.

    - The game also requires crafters to pay a listing fee to sell those items, again with a cost of approximately 1/5 of the item's base value.

    - When the item sells, the game deducts a transaction tax of 10% from the total amount of the sale.

    - Sales listings are only available for a maximum of 3 days.

    - Players can only have 20 items listed at a time.

    Nephele,

    What if, instead, we remove players from the actual manufacturing of items and move that to a 'guild' of NPCs that you must hire to make the items?  The player expends time, effort and money obtaining, developing, improving, reverse engineering recipies/blueprints for items but then turns over the manufacturing to the local NPCs?  They give you a cost quote that includes all the materials (both player provided and NPC provided) and the time needed to produce the number of items requested. You pay the fee, you hand over materials you are providing and the NPCs get to work. After the time allotted passes, you go and get your items.

    So an example:

    You want to make 1hs swords.  So you go around and find that a blacksmith in Thronefast is selling a blueprint for a 1hs sword for 5 gold.  You buy it.  The blueprint says that you need 5 metal ingots, 3 strips of leather, 2 sharpening stones, 10 lumps of coal coke.  But you do not want to make some ordinary sword, you want something a bit better.  So you decide to research metals to learn their properties, their strengths and weaknesses.  You either purhcase or otherwise obtain some different metals and 'work' them in a forge.  You aren't producing an item, per say, but just learning about the metals. The longer you work with them the more about them is revealed.  Eventually you learn all you can about the metals you have.  So now you know that by combining different metals you can alter the stats of the final item.  You decide on a particular blend and you go to the blacksmith guild master and put in your order for 10 swords.  You just happen to have 20 steel ingots and a few leather strips, collected from previous adventures. The guildmaster says that for the swords you want, you need 5 bronze ingots and 8 more leather strips in addition to your 20 steel ingots. He's willing to provide them for a cost and to charge you to make the swords, which will be finished in 4 in-game days.  You accept, handing over your materials and enough money to cover the rest of the order. You're now free to run off and do whatever you want.  4 game days later you return and your order is finished and you're handed 10 swords with the exact stats you wanted because of the blend of materials used.

     

    • 1723 posts
    May 29, 2020 10:00 AM PDT

    Vandraad said:

     

    Nephele,

    What if, instead, we remove players from the actual manufacturing of items and move that to a 'guild' of NPCs that you must hire to make the items?  The player expends time, effort and money obtaining, developing, improving, reverse engineering recipies/blueprints for items but then turns over the manufacturing to the local NPCs?  They give you a cost quote that includes all the materials (both player provided and NPC provided) and the time needed to produce the number of items requested. You pay the fee, you hand over materials you are providing and the NPCs get to work. After the time allotted passes, you go and get your items.

    So an example:

    You want to make 1hs swords.  So you go around and find that a blacksmith in Thronefast is selling a blueprint for a 1hs sword for 5 gold.  You buy it.  The blueprint says that you need 5 metal ingots, 3 strips of leather, 2 sharpening stones, 10 lumps of coal coke.  But you do not want to make some ordinary sword, you want something a bit better.  So you decide to research metals to learn their properties, their strengths and weaknesses.  You either purhcase or otherwise obtain some different metals and 'work' them in a forge.  You aren't producing an item, per say, but just learning about the metals. The longer you work with them the more about them is revealed.  Eventually you learn all you can about the metals you have.  So now you know that by combining different metals you can alter the stats of the final item.  You decide on a particular blend and you go to the blacksmith guild master and put in your order for 10 swords.  You just happen to have 20 steel ingots and a few leather strips, collected from previous adventures. The guildmaster says that for the swords you want, you need 5 bronze ingots and 8 more leather strips in addition to your 20 steel ingots. He's willing to provide them for a cost and to charge you to make the swords, which will be finished in 4 in-game days.  You accept, handing over your materials and enough money to cover the rest of the order. You're now free to run off and do whatever you want.  4 game days later you return and your order is finished and you're handed 10 swords with the exact stats you wanted because of the blend of materials used.

     

    It's definitely a different take than what many players would be used to.  Some games have sort of done this (SWTOR and BDO might be closest, although there are definite similarities to how EVE industry works).  I think the biggest challenge that Pantheon would have with such a system would be that placing an order with an NPC crafting guild doesn't feel the same to players as pounding out that metal on the forge or whatever themselves.  Just like how there's a class fantasy where you expect your warrior to be charging into battle, rather than playing the general and sending in NPC troops, there's a similar sort of class fantasy for crafting that a lot of people need to have in order to really connect with the system (in a fantasy setting).

    I will note that it's setting-dependant.  If Pantheon were a sci-fi setting, something along these lines would probably stick better with a lot of players.  In a fantasy setting, we think of the craftsperson as a single individual doing something with a set of tools.  In a more modern or sci-fi setting, we think of multiple people working together to create complex items (electronics, etc).  Of course, this is also just my opinion too based on how I *think* people connect with what they're doing when they're crafting :)

    That being said, something like this *does* sort of fit in a fantasy setting if we're talking about large constructions - for example, building a ship, or a building, or a wagon or a catapult.  Although I think that players might want to be able to try to join forces and do that themselves as well.

    Leaving that all aside, I'm not sure that it would really work much better when it comes to supply/demand issues and how money sinks interact with those issues?  Were you thinking that maybe the NPC time to create and material requirements could be adjusted dynamically based on how many swords are currently up for sale in the game, or something?


    This post was edited by Nephele at May 29, 2020 10:01 AM PDT
    • 2027 posts
    May 29, 2020 10:06 AM PDT

    Nephele said:

    I will note that it's setting-dependant.  If Pantheon were a sci-fi setting, something along these lines would probably stick better with a lot of players.  In a fantasy setting, we think of the craftsperson as a single individual doing something with a set of tools. 

    There are many real world examples throughout history of crafting guilds controlling all product of a given commodity.  If you wanted bread, you had to go to the guild sanctioned baker.  You couldn't just start to learn baking on your own then try to open your own shop to sell baked goods.

    • 1723 posts
    May 29, 2020 10:25 AM PDT

    Vandraad said:

     

    There are many real world examples throughout history of crafting guilds controlling all product of a given commodity.  If you wanted bread, you had to go to the guild sanctioned baker.  You couldn't just start to learn baking on your own then try to open your own shop to sell baked goods.

    You're not wrong, but I don't think that's how the majority people think of craftspeople in a typical high fantasy setting :)

    • 1225 posts
    May 29, 2020 10:33 AM PDT

    Nephele said:

    Vandraad said:

     

    There are many real world examples throughout history of crafting guilds controlling all product of a given commodity.  If you wanted bread, you had to go to the guild sanctioned baker.  You couldn't just start to learn baking on your own then try to open your own shop to sell baked goods.

    You're not wrong, but I don't think that's how the majority people think of craftspeople in a typical high fantasy setting :)

    Hate to say it but if VR decides to go with a 1 recipe to 1 output ratio what is really the difference between a faction that you build up by donating supplies to and then ordering specific goods an a "crafting profession" that you sacrific a ton of materials to grind up with no added value in order to make a few specific objects you actually want.

    It is totally different if the crafting system involves actual item design and configuration like SWG and DAoC did, but an Everquest or WoW crafting system . . . I think I would rather have an NPC group.  It would be much simpler to implement and I wouldn't be disappointed that the system retained no value after the first expansion.

    • 647 posts
    May 30, 2020 4:27 AM PDT

    Trasak said:

    Hate to say it but if VR decides to go with a 1 recipe to 1 output ratio what is really the difference between a faction that you build up by donating supplies to and then ordering specific goods an a "crafting profession" that you sacrific a ton of materials to grind up with no added value in order to make a few specific objects you actually want.

    It is totally different if the crafting system involves actual item design and configuration like SWG and DAoC did, but an Everquest or WoW crafting system . . . I think I would rather have an NPC group.  It would be much simpler to implement and I wouldn't be disappointed that the system retained no value after the first expansion.

    Wouldn't you be missing out on the actual Crafting experience itself? The donation system could very well work, but what does that make you then? A quester? The delivery guy? Does it fortify a feeling of prestige because you managed to deliver goods to a group of npc's?  

    There is still skill involved. A crafting skill...? A craft can be studied in books and blueprints. You can gather resources and your gathering, investigation, salvaging, experimentation skills might advance. But, I believe, that becoming skilled in a craft is by doing the actual work yourself. 

    Side note: I learned a lot about animals, I learned a lot about cooking. I know how and where to get my goods. But if I didn't pick up the knife and starting cutting in the meat, I would have never become a skilled butcher. There is something to be said about being proud about something you've produced with your own hands.     


    This post was edited by Barin999 at May 30, 2020 4:35 AM PDT
    • 2027 posts
    June 1, 2020 3:30 PM PDT

    Barin999 said:

    Wouldn't you be missing out on the actual Crafting experience itself?

    What exactly is 'the experience'?  You either click 1 button repeatedly ala EQ1 or you play some whack-a-mole game ala EQ2 where you end up with piles of crap nobody wants and vendor will only buy for a pittance.  Or you have EVE Online where you rent a manufacturing line, click a button then go off and do dozens or hundreds of other things while your ship, guns, etc are built.  So please, explain 'the experience' and what about it you find so fascinating because I just don't get it.  Tradeskills have, for me, only ever been a means to an end, begrudgingly engaged in.

    • 661 posts
    June 1, 2020 4:05 PM PDT

    I actually quite enjoyed the crafting in EQ1...but not for the system itself I guess.  It was difficult, it took a ton of time, it was a lot of buying materials and re-selling prodcuts to vendors, etc.  There was also some guess and check, plenty of failure, and good old fassioned sitting around.

    So, what DID I like about it?  I liked that most players were not willing to put in the time. I liked being the best at something.  I liked being sought after by top guilds to craft items for their guild members.  I liked being able to set my own prices and negotiate with people because what I offered was so rare (there were only 1 or 2 other players on the server that could make what I could make).  

    Can we still achieve the things I DID like about crafting in this game without including the things that most people DON'T like?  I guess that would be the end goal, but I don't have any great ideas about how to accomplish them.  Any idea I have to make it more fun, easier, less risky, etc, will end up flooding the market with supply.  

    Any game I played after EQ that included crafting I started out being excited about but then realized I was nothing special when I did reach max level.  There was no demand for my product because everyone else was able to get to max crafting level easily too.  So, I don't have a great answer, but I get that it's kind of a problem.

    • 2027 posts
    June 1, 2020 4:49 PM PDT

    Ranarius said:

    I liked that most players were not willing to put in the time. I liked being the best at something. 

    Now this is something that really sparks my interest, thank you for admitting it. I think that, like everything else in the game, it should require a significant amount of dedication to climb to the top.  It should be something that few achieve quickly but that more will achieve eventually and even more will give up halfway.

    Ranarius said:

    I liked being able to set my own prices and negotiate with people because what I offered was so rare (there were only 1 or 2 other players on the server that could make what I could make). 

    And this point right here is where I find many crafters admitting their true desires related to crafting...being incredibly rich.  You want people to pay you for your services and many, not saying you are one of those, will make demands that nobody should be able to master all tradeskills and that crafted items be better than anything else. Because you want to feel important, desire, wanted..and rich.

    And I'm here saying that because I know this is true of many crafters, it makes it all the more important to me to deny you my coin. That I will do all it takes to be wholly self sufficient, going so far as to have mulitple accounts and to engage in market PvP when necessary to keep the prices low.  Just to piss people off.  :)

    • 661 posts
    June 1, 2020 5:16 PM PDT

    I have no doubt that you are right in many cases (crafters jacking up prices just because they can)...but I actually wasn't one of those.  What I did have to do quite often though was explain to people what the real cost was of getting my skill as high as it was and how much materials actually cost.  Once we had an understanding of all that we were able to come up with prices that both parties were comfortable with.  I certainly did not get rich off of it, but I did make enough money to continue my craft.

    In the long run though, won't supply and demand naturally find the right prices?  People like you will take a stand and say "no, I'm not paying that much" which will force the prices down to something more reasonable.  

     

    Edit:  The feeling important, being desired, feeling wanted...those definitely were true though.  That's probably the only experience I have of being the best of anything in a game that I've played over the years.  I've been able to get to the 90% percentile in other games (WoW arenas, League of Legends, Hearthstone, etc) but never THE best.  So that was cool for me for sure.


    This post was edited by Ranarius at June 1, 2020 5:20 PM PDT
    • 647 posts
    June 1, 2020 10:04 PM PDT

    Vandraad said:

    What exactly is 'the experience'?  You either click 1 button repeatedly ala EQ1 or you play some whack-a-mole game ala EQ2... where you end up with piles of crap nobody wants and vendor will only buy for a pittance....  Or you have EVE Online where you rent a manufacturing line, click a button then go off and do dozens or hundreds of other things while your ship, guns, etc are built....  

    Have you ever constructed something in real life from start to finish with your own hands? That sense of gratification as you experience progress by your own doing, being proud of what you've made. Nowadays, computer programming/gaming has advanced so much, that there is such a broad potential to make crafting fun, engaging, immersive, challenging and rewarding. I would not want to shuff this under the carpet without really considering the possibilities here.

    How do you define this experience. For me, you can translate that to killing a raidboss. You've engaged into a game mechanic for a longer duration than normal. You find it challenging and want to be succesful at the end of it. Dry enough for ye? ;)   Crafting for me is, feeling and noticing the build up of items, products that you've made or that you've obtained by other social means. (I don't see why npc's should offer crafting fuel for that matter, let gatherers and adventurers supply me with that!) A sensation of figuring things out and trying to master it.    Some might find this utterly mindkilling, then again, you're hitting your keyboard just the same for a tank and spank mob, it's the same 1-2-3 or a -b-c keys you're hitting in reality in front of your computer screen. (Really derailing here) (each their fancy i guess?)

    An fun crafting experience for me (don't get hung up on words here): It's a moment in my playsession where I can concentrate on a game mechanic that stimulates me to think ahead and respond appropriately within a certain time frame. Where not every outcome garantees complete succes. Where my actions and reactions are displayed in the end product. (which is something less tangible when you kill a mob. Other then the fact it's dead, you don't see your specific impact on that endresult) Where during the process of crafting, my skills matter and the choices of my abilities during this process are impactful by direct means. Where the choice of my materials, define what the outcome is that I want to aim for (again something that is not that easy to facilitate in a combat setting, other then I want that mob dead, there aren't many other outcomes you can aim for). With some crafting designs, you actually can have that experience. 

    With adventuring you're doing the same your hitting buttons and you're actually wacking -not a mole but another creature of VR's imagination- ...So I'll leave that argument at that. 

    To continue on for a bit. Going off the OP topic here, sorry for that.

    I get that many have forgotten about it or even not experienced it at all. The social experience of crafting. Many games do not offer or stimulate this aspect of crafting and leave it all up to the player itself to really stick their head out the door and tag players to socially engage with. My finest social experience as a crafter? When I was in a guild who focussed on crafting. Guildmembers came together in cities or at craftstations and crafted together, side by side. (everyone one of them adorned with the guildcolours, manifactured by the members themselves) Each their own trade, continuously trading goods to each other. Not for coin, but just because they loved their craft and were kind towards other players to give resources or components. This not only within the guild environment itself. At times, there were crafters who stood at a public place and broadcasted free give aways to passers by.  This to me is fine example social stimulation in an MMORPG by use of the crafting sphere. This for me, showed at least several gaming moments where I can be social as a crafter, without mere profit or other personal advancement in mind.

    There are many players who're locked into this quest at the start of their game. A massive undertaking where they want to reach as high as possible and become as rich as possible. Be that through which ever method they prefer. Crafting might be one of many methods amongst it.

    I'm not in it for the money, but rather for the promise that it stimulates to engage with the community, becoming a familiar citizen of terminus. Well known and respected, sure. Heck, if that was the reputation of any player, who wouldn't find that enjoyable. Not all players start to craft or the game for that matter, with that in mind. 

    Personally, the crafting process itself doesn't have to be a solo experience by design at all. But that's another discussion entirely. Just touching on this to note that, it can be an engaging social mechanic in a mmorpg. A way to socially interact with other people that like to play the same online game. That too is part of the crafting experience.

    And like Ranarius mentioned. To become good and masterful in your craft. To define what that means is another topic. But the crafting experience here, is that you can actually sense your improvement by how you tackle challenges/recipes/techniques/abilities with a continious ease. Or with an ease that meets the challenge provided. 


    This post was edited by Barin999 at June 1, 2020 10:15 PM PDT
    • 647 posts
    June 1, 2020 10:28 PM PDT

    Vandraad said:

    Barin999 said:

    Wouldn't you be missing out on the actual Crafting experience itself?

    What exactly is 'the experience'?

    Some very short example of possible crafting experiences, other then 1 click options. I will not go into detail or specifics in the example, for sake of keeping it short. With enough imagination, you can construct an underlying mechanic that has different coatings (read craft professions).

    Scribe: Have you ever tried to write your signature in a paint document? What if the crafting process of a scribe was about calligraphy and the road to writing; not by hitting your keys but by the how fluent and precise you can aim your mousecursor? 

    Woodworker: Imagine a log of a tree you need to cut into precise pieces, not by merely placing it into a designated box but by picking up a saw and doing the motion yourself. 

    Sculptor: Chipping off rocks or screwing together furniture by taking into consideration; effect of your impact, the amount of pressure you're using. You might destroy a product because you screwed it together too tightly.

    Smith: Reaching that desired heat in your oven, striking the metal at the precise location with enough strength and at the precise time so you don't break or bent it too severely.

    Alchemist: Trying to form glass vials by blowing in sufficient air and spinning the glass to shape your vial. Without bursting apart.

    Provisioner: Processing raw products by different methods at your choice, to fill a stew that needs the correct heating or added ingredient at the correct time. 

    Outfitter: Working the hides to get a strong leather patch, cutting out or sowing together pieces by different stitches/techniques.

    ...

    If not that, have a look at some crafting games that the web can showcase you. Approach it with an open mind and there is a lot of potential without an overwhelming timeinvestement of the devs. (the more the merrier ofc)

     


    This post was edited by Barin999 at June 1, 2020 10:31 PM PDT
    • 1723 posts
    June 2, 2020 2:21 PM PDT

    Regarding the crafting "experience":

    I think it's true that people are attracted to crafting for different reasons.  For some people, it's a means to be more self-sufficient.  For others, it's about trying to make money by providing something to other players.  For some, it's just having another activity to do or another puzzle to solve.  And for others still, they might do it to help out other players in their guild or circle of friends, without really any sort of other motive than that.

    I don't think any of those reasons are invalid.  If someone wants to try and build a commercial empire through crafting, they should have the opportunity to do so.  Granted, there will need to be some limitations to try and ensure that *everyone* has the same level of opportunity, but otherwise, go for it.  Likewise, if someone wants to just make items for themselves and their friends, that's totally cool too, and we should be supporting those players as well.

    However, I think there's a difference between the motive and the method.

     

    @Vandraad - you're correct that in many MMORPGs, crafting historically has boiled down to either clicking a button repeatedly, managing a spreadsheet, or playing some kind of "whack-a-mole".  However, that is not all games.  Several games out there, both single-player and MMORPG, have managed to make the *act* of crafting an interesting and engaging form of gameplay.

    Consider:  What makes a combat system "good" in an MMO?  Is it having more (and more meaningful) buttons to push other than just swinging your weapon randomly?  Is it having unexpected things occur that you have to respond to?  Is it having different abilities for different classes so that fighting as a wizard feels very different than fighting as a warrior?  Is it having a level of challenge so that you really have to think about what you're doing to win, and there's a non-trivial chance of failure?  Is it having the system set up so that the outcome isn't predetermined by simple math, but depends on you correctly utilizing the tools you have, with a little luck as well?

    Stop and think about that for a moment.  You might feel more or less strongly about some of those aspects but I'm willing to bet that most of them are probably things that you would say are important for Pantheon's adventuring combat.

    Why should crafting be any different?  Especially when the building blocks are already potentially there, in terms of the skills, abilities, masteries, and other things that make up combat classes?  Just as spellcasters have spells that they use in combat, crafters might have techniques that they use when crafting.  Just as adventurers are constantly working to improve their gear, so too might a crafter or gatherer always be looking for better tools and equipment.  Just as monsters have various stats like hit points and armor ratings and damage values, different crafting recipes or materials might have stats such as difficulty ratings, complication potentials, and material integrity.

    We honestly don't know what the team has planned for how the act of crafting an item will work in Pantheon.  However, I think the ideal is for that to be a form of gameplay that is just as rich and compelling and fun of an activity as combat is for adventuring classes.  I'll take it a step further and say that ideally, crafting as a blacksmith should *feel* different than crafting as a weaver, or a provisioner.  After all, in the real world, cooking is vastly different from smelting ore or working with leather.

    To put all this another way - in order for crafting (or anything, even something like Perception) to really be a viable gameplay sphere for Pantheon both the "why" and the "how" of it matter.  The system needs to be fun to engage with in its own right, AND players of all stripes need to be able to find reasons to engage with it and have fulfilling experience.  Whether they're casual or hardcore about it, and whether they see themselves as an artisan or a merchant, or somewhere in between.

    • 20 posts
    June 16, 2020 1:57 PM PDT

    So all games need money sinks.  I think the cleanest method is something that old school muds used to do.  It was called RENT and it's the reason that items that vanish when you log out are called NORENT.  Some old muds basically forced you to pay x value when you logged off based on the "value" of your gear.  This isn't something I've seen in any MMO at all, but the mechanism works.  Yes, when you didn't have enough rent you basically had to drop/sell items until you had enough to be able to log out.  If you went link dead, the items lost were random.  An alternative could simply be a wealth tax that would prevent accounts from accumulating more than x amount of plat w/out getting a 5% tax on amounts over X on logout.  This would probably end up with people storing money in gems and other bankable items (and because there's always a transaction loss with vendor buy/sell) the loss could be controlled there.  

    As for crafting, I would much prefer some sort of minigame system where you actually have to manage stuff to have a successful item.  The reason is, anything that's simply click, drop contents in, click agian to assemble is basically just a time sink.  Might as well just let people pay raw plat to raise skill instead (which would prevent the creation of junk skill up items that get undersold on the market anyway) basically trainer mechanisms.  Alternatively, simply make crafters pay for new "training" to break specific skill cap points.  You learned enough to take sewing to 20.  Once you hit 20, you go back to the trainer (or maybe have to find a better trainer) and pay to get your skill cap lifted to 45 or 50 or something.  Makes the sink more than just buyijng stuff that you assemble anyway.

    Do you tax trades directly between two players (or only auction house layer stuff assuming there is one?)  If you tax trades, do you tax what appears to be raw gifts?  Do you have a shared bank section for an account?  If not, moving plat from one character to another could incur taxes twice (which would definitely take money out of the economy too.)    

    • 75 posts
    June 17, 2020 1:45 PM PDT

    So this sounds a lot like the Vanguard crafting model...but I’m not sure I understand the economics of the trade fees. The theory for controlling trade with a monetary sink is based upon a system with steady consumption to balance supply. The time sink also theoretically slows consumption....somewhat like diminishing returns systems slow supply per capita; but these have the side effects of frustration without enhancing immersion, don’t they?. Correct me if I’m wrong, but controlling oversupply with Fee sinks amounts to shooting a BB at a tank if the system is unbalanced does it not? And how do we define consumption if the player base growth slows? Would it not be more effective to use NPC taskmasters and crafting complexity (including grouping requirements) to balance system supply?

    I think that a key problem with most modern crafting systems is that adventuring is considered the primary supply source.  In games like Eve, adventuring is a massive consumption source instead and provides minimal supply relative to the "crafting" gameplay, etc.  Maybe the sinks or rent perhaps should target the consumer.  Maybe give them breaks on tax for selling supplies direct to a crafter via contract board...charge them rent on stored equip-able gear but less for materials


    This post was edited by Baerr at June 17, 2020 7:02 PM PDT