Forums » Crafting

Game Economic Theory

    • 9 posts
    April 19, 2021 9:07 AM PDT

    Some players love to play the market in mmorpgs and some say It can destroy a world experience, but we can all agree that a game economy is crucial to any mmorpg as these systems heavily impact the social and economic culture in any world. I do understand that a global market via auction house or whatever can suck a lot of the fun and immersion out of the world, but what about something different? Having no structure and only letting players trade among themselves directly might be sound to the social values of the vision but does it really foster world immersion? I think it would be interesting to see a system which has some limited/constrained central structure and yet maintain some unpredictability and freedom of human (player) conditions. Perhaps a Neutral Market faction that randomly and cyclically moves from major city to major city. This would also freshen up the staleness of making one city the "capitol" market city, or if all major cities have access to the global market, one typically has the best logistics for a home base. Having such a robust market caravan moving from one city trade hub to the next would really give the game and economy a sense of life. There are many things that can be done with such a system to integrate it further into player experience for example; a Merchant profession which can open a shop giving access to the market to other players. A Merchant could be tasked by NPCs to do "caravan runs" moving goods from one vendor to another, which when completed they would be able to open up shop for a limited amount of time depending on length and difficulty of task travel distance. This Merchant shop could then be positioned at any location giving Market access to other players. Maybe Merchants could then set their own commission prices. This Profession would would then rely on traveling and exploring but also strategical thinking where to set up shop. I think if done carefully enough this system would really foster the in-game free market economy vs a solely player driven anarcho-capitalist concept.

    It would be cool to see social and economic climates, events, crafting, caravan/vendor tasks, Shop functions, etc build off of this theory. Before I continue to rant in depth I'd like to hear from the community about any social or technical limitations on what has been proposed so far. Perhaps you have a different theory on handling the markets?


    This post was edited by Scipio at April 19, 2021 3:08 PM PDT
    • 1641 posts
    April 19, 2021 9:58 AM PDT

    IMO:

    Historically, any multi-player game that attempts to enforce arbitrage will fail, because players build their own global market in Discord or using any global chat channel available. (tlpauctions being the most popular with EQ1 TLP, but there are examples of out-of-game global markets for everything from Eve to Fallout76)

    If it's a public design goal that all the consumables or non-consumables in the game world are produced by players, then you actually have to make that possible, for both sellers and buyers.
    That's a big deal.  Many development teams or game companies throw the phrase of 'player driven economy' around casually, but to actually do it requires significant design & implementation investment.

    A simple example;  PFO, fo76, shroud of the avatar, and project gorgon all tried the insane notion that paying customers would spend their PLAY-time going from seller stall to seller stall in dozens of locations (per day) in an attempt to find something they wanted or needed.  They all failed spectacularly.  Players won't pay RL money for the privilege of spending hours every day browsing market stalls for something they need or want.  They either build their own centralized search mechanism, or they unsubscribe, or stop playing.  Take your pick.

    It comes down to FUN.  Is it fun to travel to the seller stall, open it, scroll through every time, travel to the next seller stall, and repeat?  Is that actually something you look forward to with any hint of excitement, joy, challenge, or derive any positive interaction from?  Would YOU pay $15 euros a month for that privilege?  It's a question worth asking.  I've personally used every attempt at a market, bazaar, or similar in every MMO I've played since 1995.  Some were ok.  Some had some objectively bad features.

    Even if you do make it convenient, that doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy for the economy. A really great example from EQ1.  There's no reasonable time limits on items put up for sale.  There's no proportional listing fees on items put up for sale.  Now, just those two things creates this emergent player behavior:  There's no incentive to price anything competitively, full stop.   Forever, players will put arbitrary items on the bazaar for 10k platinum, and it doesn't matter.  They can be there for weeks or months.  Also, it allows for trivial market manipulation, but that's another discussion.

    Another large few problems that aren't ever (typically) addressed are the 'everyone is rich' scenario, the 'NPCs have infinite money' implementation, and 'everything can be sold for coin' design.
    Each of these causes massive economic problems, the least bad being guaranteeing gold-sellers and RMT.
    Consider, though, the solutions: Everyone is 'poor'.  NPCs never provide coin for any reason.  Nothing can be sold for coin.  Despite these not really being that bad in practice, most people shy away at providing solutions at this point, mostly due to a lack of imagination. ;)

    In short, if you're willing to accept an economic design premise of: Currency can't be traded with other players and NPCs never provide coin, that would be a pretty good place to start.

    • 9 posts
    April 19, 2021 10:35 AM PDT

    Interesting, I believe "player driven economy" is a utopian term. I'm looking at a mixed model. I don't see a big problem with inflation, deflation, arbitrage, supply shortages, secondary markets in game, and off game "underground" markets because these thing are all part of the nature of an economy. Although I am concerned on the functionality of a "mixed" system. Which components of a market can be pragmatically implemented by players and which by the world? Can they exist in the same market structure?


    This post was edited by Scipio at April 19, 2021 10:47 AM PDT
    • 9 posts
    April 19, 2021 10:58 AM PDT

    What if vendors have a disposition, random temporary taste for certain goods and refusal to purchase other types. Would this be sufficient in slowing down the farming effectiveness and constrain coinage?

    • 1878 posts
    April 19, 2021 11:49 AM PDT

    OP, are you aware that Pantheon will have localized auction houses?  I'd guess localized by continent but possibly by city?  We aren't privy to the details but the direction has been made clear.

    • 1641 posts
    April 19, 2021 12:10 PM PDT

    Which components of a market can be pragmatically implemented by players and which by the world? Can they exist in the same market structure?

    IMO:

    Either all or as many as you wish, if you give players the means/tools. And yes, if you give players the means/tools.

    What if vendors have a disposition, random temporary taste for certain goods and refusal to purchase other types. Would this be sufficient in slowing down the farming effectiveness and constrain coinage?

    Again, IMO:

    Unfortunately, delaying economic damage isn't as good as preventing it entirely.  In your example, you're suggesting delaying it, but still permitting it, and adding an annoying frustration (arbitrary randomness) on top of the permitting.  Not ideal, from my perspective. :)

    A player driven economy can happen, if the game is designed around it and there is sufficient fun, challenging and rewarding means for actually doing that.  The problem is, without systems that permit a degree of automation, baking 3000 loaves of bread a day (if each player on the server needs 1 loaf of bread per day), one at a time, with a recipe that requires 9 grain to produce one flour, and you need 3 flour per combine, and the combine can fail, and the combine takes 2 minutes to complete, and needs gnoll spit, which has a 5% drop rate on exactly 5 gnolls in one zone in the entirety of 3 continents, and the grain takes 6 in-game hours to grow, and you have to defend it from group-required giant rust weevils during a wave-event for the whole 6 in-game hours.. well, you can see the problem.

    On the other hand, if you can consume your un-tradeable reputation on leadership to have a NPCs collect the raw materials and bake the bread for you, and you need to sacrifice xp, loot, and more to obtain reputation.. that has some potential.  That works at scale.  Or you allow characters to make bulk bread using materials obtained from consuming reputation and they get the water from a bucket and a well, and with the addition of magic, buffs, or similar from their NPC guild, they can produce a hundred bread in a few minutes to restock an NPC, and when it's all traded away, they have a net gain in reputation.

    The only 'constrain' of coinage is to make it untradeable and/or make it so NPCs never produce it.  If you allow it to be tradeable and NPCs will accept it, and NPCs produce it (either as loot or in trade/selling), then runaway inflation is guaranteed.

    Also, arbitrage can't happen in any scenario with instant communication, especially if that communcation occurs outside the scenario.  Given that is logically true, what value is there in attempting to implement arbitrage, knowing it will fail?  Developers say "regional markets" and a very small portion of potential customers swoon and feel this is great, because it gives them a chance to exploit their fellow players.  Except.. the only players you can exploit are the ignorant.   And once they're exploited, once, they aren't any more, and all you've guaranteed is a toxic paying-customer-to-paying-customer interaction.  Again, not ideal, from my perspective.
    It seems a better use of resources to simply provide a thematically consistent method to search for what you want.  If you want to implement anything with a hope in hades of being 'player driven' you need players to be able to buy and sell easily.  I mean, you can certainly build a game where the actual game does everything in it's power to prevent that, but it seems disingenuous to waste the time and effort on yet another mechanic that fights against public design goals.

    If players supply NPCs, and NPC stock of player-created goods is searchable, coin is not required, and it can all be used to facilitate positive emergent player behavior via sacrifice and similar mechanics.


    This post was edited by vjek at April 19, 2021 12:13 PM PDT
    • 2159 posts
    April 19, 2021 12:40 PM PDT

    vjek said:

    IMO:

    If it's a public design goal that all the consumables or non-consumables in the game world are produced by players, then you actually have to make that possible, for both sellers and buyers.
    That's a big deal.  Many development teams or game companies throw the phrase of 'player driven economy' around casually, but to actually do it requires significant design & implementation investment.

    That is what makes EVE Online such a great game (and one I regret quitting and selling off my accounts for a lot of money) because the economy was player driven. Minerals from 0.0 space, at least those not used for the needs of the corporation/alliance that mined it, would flow to Empire space to be sold on the markets. Those minerals would be purchased by players who then would produce ships and modules to be sold on the market.  With just a little starting capital, you really could make billions of ISK by playing the market.  The amount of market data you could access in EVE Online would make the New York Stock Exchange pale in comparison.

    There was some NPC supplied materials like rare faction modules, tech 1 blueprints and poor quality tech 1 modules but by and large the players had the overwhelming majority of the marketplace locked down.

    As for Panmtheon, the economy discussions back in late 2013/early 2014 were interesting in that it really delved deep into ideas to do away with the 'npcs are an infinity fountain' approach and opening up the economy to be much more player driven.  Players could have had expanded opportunities to make money purely through the market (not the buy low-reprice stupid high approach) but through movement of goods around the various world to meet local market demands.  The idea of 'silk roads' taken up by players was under serious consideration.  NPCs pricing, both selling and buying, would be affected by what existed in their area and what didn't exist.  A region with no wolves might pay more for wolf hides yet because there were bears everywhere, would pay very little for bear pelts.  Players would be the providers for the stock you see on all the merchants by moving goods around.  Interesting conversations during those early days.

     

    • 9 posts
    April 19, 2021 3:22 PM PDT

    Great answers on the last question there vjek. Although it could be fun to deal with vendor behavior as a player.


    This post was edited by Scipio at April 19, 2021 3:30 PM PDT
    • 9 posts
    April 19, 2021 3:47 PM PDT

    Vandraad said:

     

    Players could have had expanded opportunities to make money purely through the market (not the buy low-reprice stupid high approach) but through movement of goods around the various world to meet local market demands.  The idea of 'silk roads' taken up by players was under serious consideration.  NPCs pricing, both selling and buying, would be affected by what existed in their area and what didn't exist.  A region with no wolves might pay more for wolf hides yet because there were bears everywhere, would pay very little for bear pelts.  Players would be the providers for the stock you see on all the merchants by moving goods around.  Interesting conversations during those early days.

     

     

    That sounds amazing, and very difficult. I'm excited for whatever they come up with, I trust the devs.