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Skippy’s Dream MMO Part 3

July 21st, 2008 by skippy

This time I want to talk about in-game inflation. So its a discussion about economics, as applied to an imaginary fantasy kingdom. I’m such a huge nerd.

In a real economy, the government prints money, ideally with some sort of backing to it. And if they just start printing more money then all of the money becomes less valuable.

In an online game, players are constantly creating more money in the game world. They’re solving quests, and killing monsters, and looting dungeons. All of this is going to cause new money to be created out of thin air and handed to the players. And if the game has any sort of auction house, or trading going on between the players, this will cause prices to start skyrocket.

The time where this starts becoming really evident, is when a new player comes into the game. The low level monsters and quests aren’t keeping up with the rapid inflation. The 5 silver coins that was a good reward last year is basically worthless now.

If you really want to see how out of whack it gets, take a look at any item that players want for sale from an NPC vendor, vs how much for the exact same thing from an auction. Its not uncommon for players to purchase things from an NPC vendor and sell them for several thousand times what they paid.

My proposed solution to this problem is to set the game up in such a way that it can adjust itself to take inflation into account.

My idea is that the game tracks the sale of certain staple items that the players tend to trade a lot. In WOW, a good staple item might be copper ore. Lots of players need it, and piles of it are always trading hands through the auction house.

So every now and then, maybe once a week or some such time, the game tallies up the average price of a stack of copper ore. For the first week lets say this price is 1 gold coin on average. And on the next week the price has creeped up to 2 gold coins on average. At this point the game will have determined that all money is now worth 50% less than it used to be. So it will now double the quest rewards and the treasure from monsters.

I know that is won’t actually prevent the inflation problems. But it might mitigate them a little. Plus it might help to make the world feel a bit more alive and dynamic to the players.

Any gamers or economists have any thoughts on this?

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47 Responses to “Skippy’s Dream MMO Part 3”

  1. SPC Hyle Says:

    Guild wars allowed you to buy and sell stuff from vendors with a variable market price based on supply and demand.


  2. Pyroclastic Says:

    I think your idea would just lead to runaway inflation. More rewards = more money to spend at the auction house, so the newbies will have the same problem when they get 1000 silver to kill a bunch of beetles, because what cost 10 silver at game start now might cost 100,000 silver. And what about those people whose full week of savings is now worth half of what it was?
    The only feasible way I can think of, apart from having a strictly limited and very fluid money supply, is to have a reliable, significant money sink to erase in-game currency. WoW has item degredation and one-time mount costs; Tabula Rasa has item degredation and ammo; CoH has costuming, auction house fees, and prestige (make money for your Supergroup instead of for your character, and you can convert money to prestige but not the other way around). I’m pretty sure WoW’s sinks aren’t enough to keep an economy check. CoH’s aren’t, and most good enhancements steadily increase in price (one particular one has increased from about 30-40 million to 80-100 million in a few months).


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 10:16 am:

    I can see the point about extra money driving the inflation up even more. It’s definitely the sort of thing that I’d want to experiment with before any sort of final answer.

    As for the people who saved for a week in my scenario, only to find that their money was worth half as much:

    If the in game inflation is so bad that goods are selling for twice as much a week later, then they’re money is worth half of it’s value the week before. Regardless of whether or no the game has any sort of inflation compensation built in.

    I mean, I would love to devise an in-game system that eliminated inflation altogether. But If I ever figure out how to do that, I would probably be qualified for a Nobel in economics.


    Signalist reply on August 18th, 2011 4:48 am:

    what about something like what was done IRL Finland in early 1960s; when a magazine cost 100 marks in 1962, starting January 1963 the same magazine would cost only one mark, don’t know the right word for it, hopefully you get the idea.

    Another idea; there would be a special currency just for the auctions, it cannot be traded anywhere else but in bank/auction house/whatever, and that the exchange rates would be automatically adjusted as people buy these ‘auction tokens’; the more they are bought the more they cost, and when turning tokens into gold/whatever the regular currency is, the exchange rate would not be the same as when buying tokens, in other words if exchange rate is 100 gold for 10 tokens when buying tokens, the selling rate would not be 10 tokens for 100 but 90 gold, and as mentioned earlier one could NOT trade these tokens with other players, but with certain NPCs only.


  3. SPC Hyle Says:

    Asheron’s Call economy was really stable for a while, largely because it wasn’t dependent on cash as there was no great need for it. I mean, trade notes were used by some people for points (that system was pretty good, btw), but items you had to find or make in game were far more accepted.

    Then there was a bug that made it possible to literally print cash, and they didn’t fix it for a month. Poof! Notes were not part of the economy any longer. SIKs and plats were.


  4. Lord Enigma Says:

    A lot of this is fixed in WoW with things costing a lot from vendors. A lot of gold is exchanged for services, and not to mention, training. That is money that exits the market. People respeccing skills at 50 gold a pop, or dumping 5000 gold for their epic flying mount.


    SPC Hyle reply on July 21st, 2008 10:34 pm:

    With level 70s making over 100 gold in an hour just running around doing dailies (and they can make more than that if they want to), not to mention the cash that any gathering skill makes, even epic flying mounts amount to little more than chump change.

    You want to stabilize the economy? No fucking auction house and no gathering professions, make in-game cash good for buying only basic supplies for trades or paying rent on a property. What will happen is people will barter with point systems, like they did in AC. Expendable items, like SIKs, were points. Items got removed by salvage or failed tink attempts (BOOM!). Make the high-req weapons drop rarely, and hard to tink successfully, and the economy works.


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 9:19 am:

    Well yeah, removing the players from influencing the economy and it becomes highly stable. I think a lot of players wouldn’t like it as much that way though


  5. Gunfingers Says:

    Or just work it like a real economy. Have a set amount of money available on the server distributed amongst players, NPCs, and monsters. If a player buys from a vendor, NPCs have more money. If a player does a quest and gets money, their money goes down. If a player kills a monster and gets money, monsters have less money. If a player dies and monsters take his money, monsters have more money.

    That’s probably a little simplistic, and you’d probably have to introduce more periodically as players join and increase in level, but i think it could be made workable.


    Cantih reply on July 21st, 2008 10:43 pm:

    Ultima Online tried this with farmed mining resources.
    What happened was that a group of people ended up hoarding and controlling the entire supply.

    In the end, UO had to abandon the fixed ammount plan.


  6. Jason Says:

    You sure you really played EVE online? :D

    Mudflation is a beast, and usually what ruins an MMO for me. Basically, to stabilize an economy, you have to realize a balance between supply and demand. Supply won’t necessarily meet demand, but you’ll eventually arrive at a stable pricepoint for any given item, provided that both the supply and demand remain stable.

    Most MMO’s suffer from the simple fact that, once an item is “born” (i.e. dropped from a MOB, as a reward for a quest, or as a successful crafting attempt), in most MMO’s, it never leaves the economy. Imagine a US economy where automakers just had to push a button to make a car (no labor or material cost at all). The first car ever made would be priceless! The next 10 might be worth billion. But then other people get a button, and THEY start pushing it too! Push push push push and now there are 5 cars per person in the US! No cost involved, except the time to push a button. Demand drops, supply is high, and now cars aren’t worth $5.

    Same thing happens in MMO’s. First Vorpal Sword of Elf Slay0rz is worth $1200 in ebayed gold. The next 5 are worth a bit less, then the quest that drops it gets run again and again, until There are 500 Vorpal Swords of Elf Slay0rz in the economy, and they get passed around and around.

    Then take into account that, lets assume the VSoES (above) has +12 elf damage. That weapon that was hellauber last expansion, the Pointyeared Doomaxe (+8 against elves, elfs, and elphz) is suddenly obsolete, due to items never decaying, or leaving the economy at all.

    BOE (bind on equip) began to address SOME of this, in that the item couldn’t be used by more than one character. However, the item could still be “farmed” until there were more than the economy could support.

    What MMO’s need is, from an economic standpoint, is BOTH decay AND destruction.

    Decay is where an item loses its capacity of awesome. As you chop stuff to bits with it, a weapon should lose its edge, reducing its effectiveness, until cleaned with a whetstone, and it should rust, reducing its speed, unless oiled (whetstones, oil, bowstrings, enamel for armor, shield repair kits, etc etc) are something that could be a “consumeable”. Use it, and it refurbishes the item, but consumes the repair kit. Now HERE is the important part. These need to be NPC controlled, and not player made. Its important to be able to get money/currency back OUT of the economy. It helps keep the value of the currency stable.

    The destruction creates a continuing market for goods and services. In EVE, if you get blown up, you lose the ship you were in, and usually most of the weapons and modules you had attached to the ship. In that instance, several items are removed from the economy at once.

    As long as its designed into the game from the beginning, most people don’t seem to mind. You’ll have some whines from the carebears from WoW and other games that aren’t used to actual concequences beyond a little XP loss, but you’ll create a genre that really makes people play a lot more seriously.


    Cantih reply on July 21st, 2008 11:14 pm:

    “As long as its designed into the game from the beginning, most people don’t seem to mind.”

    Actually, Gemstone used to have permanent item decay. From the beginning it was SEVERELY unpopular, and it was eventually removed. People don’t like it when things they work hard for are taken from them.

    EVE is kind of for hardcore players. It’s not particularly popular, even Dofus has more paying subscribers, and I’d bet you’ve never even heard of Dofus.


    Jason reply on July 21st, 2008 11:35 pm:

    EVE can be played very casually, though it often isn’t, I’ll admit.

    One thing that I’ve noticed about MMO’s (I have played SWG, EQ1, EQ2, V:SoH, RG:TR, and am currently playing EVE) is that there is ALWAYS some sort of grind.

    Usually, skill/ability progression is tied to gaining “experience” points of some sort, and once a predetermined amount is reached, that character goes up a level, and their skills increase. Along with this “grind” is the expectation of loot/reward/financial incentive.

    EVE broke that paradigm by using the “skill training system”, in which your abilities progress, regardless of wether you’re logged in or not. Now granted, when a skill timer runs up, you do have to log in to start the next skill training, but that can be efficently managed outside the game. So knowing that you’re going to be hella busy with work/vacation/deployment for awhile doesn’t necessarily mean that your characer’s progression stops.

    Now, all that fanboisim aside, the point there is that the only basic grind in EVE is for money, with which to go buy ships and ship fittings, and go blow each other up, to make them have to buy more fittings that you do. They took the characters advancement, and made that grind free, so that the economics of the game become paramount, and advancement just sort of happens while you aren’t looking. It makes the game more immersive in that you aren’t searching for the ultimate mob to farm to reach level 70, and a character that is properly trained can be effective after a few days of training, to any group he/she can join.

    When permanent item decay becomes a grind in addition to having to rustle up “xp” so you can advance in the storyline slash get to where everyone else is, then yeah, it can certainly be detrimental. But when that item decay is set up as a relatively “realistic” part of the world, then its much more enjoyable. At least to me.


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 9:44 am:

    But the problem with decay is that people don’t like losing the fancy toys that they spent all of their time collecting.

    WOW solved the problem, to an extent, through soul-binding and disenchanting.

    I’m certainly all for coming up with ways to get stuff back out of the economy, it’s just not what I was talking about here.

    The main reason that I haven’t gone over it yet is that I am mostly just talking in general terms about game mechanic ideas, free of specific setting. (Or I’ll make one up on the spot if I think it will help sell the idea.)

    But you can’t get very specific on the whole destruction/decay thing without putting into a setting. Other than to say it exists.

    Although I’m getting some ideas now…..so I’ll probably write about that next week….

    Jason reply on July 23rd, 2008 12:34 am:

    Pharming is really the issue.

    Again, apologies for continuing to use this game as an example, but its the game I’m currently playing, but EVE fixed that too.

    The problem is that, in a LOT of MMO’s, X mob has a VERY specific loot table. X mob also spawns either on a timer, or as the result of an event. Also, x mob also often requires a large group/raid of people to take down. So mobs/zones/instances are run over and over and over so that they increase the chance that one of those holy grails is going to drop.

    Once you can reliably put N item into the game at Y rate, then the economy begins to destabilize.

    The way to overcome this is though itemization diversity, and by getting people to realize that there aren’t many of the aforementioned VSoES that are going to be available, their introduction to the economy is going to be unpredictable, and that there is definately a chance that they could lose any given item at any given time.

    Itemization, as driven by a player driven economy, is the solution. In an economy where you have 10 versions of an item (lets say a sword) that has relative functionality levels from 1 to 10 (thats one item per level of functionality there kids…), the 10’s have to be Ultrahellascarce, whereas the 1’s need to drop like gumdrops from your grandma’s purse… Once people understand the concept of “yeah, X is awesome, but I’m prefectly happy with 80% of the functionality of X, at 10% the cost”, then that economy becomes self supportive. Especially when the players are the ones that can create items at functionality levels 1 and 8.

    No one likes losing their pricey pixels, but sometimes thats what delivers the rush.

    Now, from my point of view, you can’t really accurately develop a self supporting economy by disregarding decay of some sort. Inflation is directly driven by the amount of buying power in that economy. Take players Bubba, Jane, and Elroy. Elroy won the roll on a VSoES. But he’s a necromancer, and can’t use it. Bubba and Jane, however, both want it. Last week, the VSoES was selling for 100 gold. This week, Bubba and Jane REALLY want that sword. Bubba offers 100g (last weeks price). Jane, however, got lucky and suckered some people into giving her money last week by pretending to be a noob. She’s got 125g burning a hole in her pixelpurse. Not only that, but she knows that Bubba REALLY wants that sword, but just bought a new shield last week for 50g, so he’s almost tapped out. She offers 125g for the sword, and gets it. SHAZAM! Inflation.

    The only way to combat inflation is through two sources. First, competition. How many VSoES are on the market? How many could be put on the market? Second, removal from the economy. Can you prevent the item in question from being re-entered into the economy (see mudflation). Everquest had the right idea with no-drop items. Its like BoE, but once looted, can’t be traded or set down. Its pretty harsh though, compared to BoE, because it means that the item can really NEVER be part of the economy, except for the moment that it drops.

  7. Delbin Says:

    The thing about inflation is that new players can sell the copper ore for 1000x the vendor price. One gold for a level 5 running around gathering copper is enough to last them 20 levels of repair and training costs. Getting a mount becomes more trivial. These NPC/fixed costs become easier to meet and less burdensome to the new player.

    I personally enjoy that aspect of inflation. Maybe the developers intended mounts and such to be more difficult to get, but I still remember spending hours in Silithus getting thorium to pay for an epic mount. I’d rather be doing something more dynamic.


  8. JRGuinness Says:

    You think its difficult for a game like that? Try stabilizing the economy for an MMO that is only financial transactions: http://www.blogshares.com The guys who run this thing have to manage an entire artificial stock market and economy. I’m lucky in that I’m just an editor, however I have managed to acrue somewhere around 90 Billion in-game dollars.

    Ausction otherwise


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 9:58 am:

    Well I’d certainly like to know how they do it.

    Is my blog worth anything on your game?


    JRGuinness reply on July 22nd, 2008 11:43 pm:

    It is now. I added your blog and it will be available for trade in a little while. http://blogshares.com/blogs.php?checkid=11900199

    As for how they do it:

    1. Little changes made over time.

    2. Some big changes as needed.

    3. A corps of volunteers who are dedicated to keeping the game going.

    Check out some of the discussions here for ideas on how to get your game economy stabilized: http://blogshares.com/yabbse/index.php?board=17.0

    You can also come by and join in the chat room and talk with some of the developers.

    Captcha: Properly Coasts


  9. Andrew Says:

    Meh… Go back to the oldschool games like Diablo 2 where if you dies you lost a third of your money, and if you were PKed all of your gold dropped to the ground where you died.


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 9:52 am:

    But if everyone goes back to old-school games, then they will stop buying new ones.

    And if they stop buying new ones, then people will stop paying me to make them.

    And if that happens then I will have to find another line of work.

    That would make me sad.

    But yeah, Diablo 2 still rocks now.


    Jason reply on July 23rd, 2008 12:42 am:

    Actually, I’ve played a couple of highly touted games recently that really “failed to deliver”, so to speak. Vanguard:Saga of Heroes and Richard Garriots Tabula Rasa were both games that had a great premise, but fell miserably short when it came to being entertaining.

    So more important, to me as a paying subscriber, is that I play a game that I ENJOY. Its over when I sit back and say “damn, I’m paying $15/month and NOT having fun”.


  10. Axiluvia Says:

    What I think they should do to fix inflation is make it so NPCs sell the items that are overpriced. You can’t buy copper ore or cloth at all from NPCs, so all of the market there is player driven. Ultima Online, cloth and such was much cheaper, because people could buy as much as they wanted from NPCs

    Why spend 100 gold for 100 copper ingots, when you could buy 100 copper ingots for 1 gold at an NPC? (Since I’m thinking a copper ingot would be 100 copper coins, = 1 silver). And make it limitless. That way, newbies could be able to afford as much ore as they want, and other players would have to offer competitive prices.

    I think this should only be for the easier to find items. Mythril would be much more expensive, of course, etc.


    skippy reply on July 22nd, 2008 9:50 am:

    The problem is that that doesn’t really stabilize the economy, so much as remove crafting supplies from taking part in it.

    It would just move the problem somewhere else.

    Now maybe if NPC’s start vending crafting supplies as a response to high demand. Heck you could make specialty NPCs who only vend items that are selling for ridiculous prices.


    Jason reply on July 23rd, 2008 3:29 am:

    Market Speculators could probably break that real fast. Not to mention the third party “gold resellers”.


    Matt reply on July 24th, 2008 9:51 pm:

    The new WoW patch just did that, kind of… Haris Pilton sells re-dic-u-lously high priced items. Several of them have no real purpose other than looking cool, but there is a 22 slot bag, and I think it costs about 2200 gold…

    “rigor uso” Is that an organization for deployed undead?


  11. morrogoth Says:

    skippy your idea rocks on a grander scale. but to cure inflation you should have people randomly lose bits of gold when wandering around the town, there are pickpockets out there, isnt there? and you could very well face bandits and highwaymen too, with the pay or fight option.

    (thanks captcha Nella Dilman)


  12. Andrew Says:

    I’m not saying that people should start buying the old games and ignore the new, I’m saying that new games should go back to the old mindset of the original MMOs…

    Player 1: “I have more gold than you!”
    Player 2: “So?”
    Player 1: “Well I can afford to buy that Godly Plate of the Whale whilst you have to live with the Blue Rags you have!”
    Player 2 proceeds to unleash his Kings Sword of Haste on Player 1 and annihilates Player 1. All Player 1s gold drops to the ground and Player 2 gathers it up.
    Player 2: “Well now I have more gold than you Mr. Godly Plate of the Whale!”

    This kept the system from stagnating as people who had a tendancy to hoard their gold generally lost it.

    Then there is also the idea of gold caps as well. I really liked those. You can only have so much gold, and no more. I play an online game where the player is capped at a fairly small amount of gold and where items become the object of trade rather than gold. Of course everything has a “gold” value, but this is generally ignored in favor of “I need this and you need that. Lets trade.”

    But gold caps have never been a favorite because it restricts economy and how much a person can “earn” in game. In a game where having two or three thousand gold means you can buy pretty much anything you want setting the cap on say 10,000 would keep the economy from getting too unbalanced while allowing players to have a sense of achievement. You could also do something like have a real world reward system (buy a game ticket for 10,000 gold, turn in 5 game tickets and get a free months play). So you do this and suddenly gold comes flying out of the market. Then to make things slightly better, you cut back a little on the gold drop ratio in game. Now it takes a capped (max level) character an entire month of dedicated play to accumulate 10,000 gold even if s/he is bartering and trading and collecting from mobs. They spend 5 months working their ass off, and still buying 5 months play time, to get one month free.

    Wow… Don’t let me go off on a tangent like that… I’ll be here all day typing.

    Captcha: thou Hyman (I’ll just leave this you ya’lls imagination)


  13. Andrew Says:


    I just spent a while going through a lot of the old MMO’s I used to play. Some of them I have forgotten about until this article came up. Games like Alter Aeon, Shadowlands and a few other such games. We’re talking old here folks… MUDs MUSHes and MOOs. Alter Aeon (still my favorite MUD) is thriving with well over 300 players logging on hourly and I spoke with Dennis (the original game creator and owner) about how he balances the economy even though he has auctions and no gold caps. Unlike games like WoW and Evercrack his game economy has stayed fairly stable since the inception of his game in 1995. 13 years and no economy crash?!? His answer surprised me and may surprise you.

    Me: “Gossip: So Dennis, just to get a basis on the standing of your game, How big is it?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Holy ****! Grimflame! Where the hell have you been!”
    Me: “Gossip: Working. So how big is your game now?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Somewhere around 300,000 players.”
    Me: “Gossip: Wow! That’s not bad for an old school MUD. How many people login daily?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Use whois”
    After typing the whois command it lists all the players currently logged in, the highest volue of players logged in that day, and the total number of logins that day.
    Me: “Gossip: So 372 players logged in today with a maximum volume of 180 players at once?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Have you been reading college books again?”
    Me: “Gossip: Graduated years ago. Anywho, so how do you keep the games economy balanced?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Have you been drinking? You already know the answer to that.”
    Me: “Gossip: Lets just say I don’t.”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Are you sure you haven’t been drinking? OK, we by constantly expanding the game and making bigger and better items (and mobs) I keep the economy in check. BTW, have you finished your new area yet?”
    Me: “Gossip: Almost. Gotta run a few tests and let the testers in to make sure nothing is broke. But by making more stuff you keep things from getting too out of hand?”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: Pretty much, if I keep making the items everyone has second best then no one wants to pay too much for them. But that means I have to make bigger mobs so the players still have a challenge. BTW your invincible knight is being killed on a regular basis now.”
    Me: “Gossip: I’ll just have to make a new invincible knight then. Thanks Dennis.”
    Dennis: “Dentin gossips: No prob. Now go build your area!”

    As you can see above the answer to economic inflation and stagnation it the introduction of new territory, items and challenges on a regular basis. There are still a few rare items that sell for a couple million gold on that game, but gold doesn’t have a lot of value (as my character Grimflame I can rustle up a couple mil in a day or two). Mostly though the players are so intent on finding the next best thing that they don’t have time to inflate the economy. And with the addition of a new area every other week or so (Dennis has about 40 people constantly building new area) they never get bored. There is your answer! Just keep expanding until the game is so huge that no one can truly have the best of everything!

    Captcha: butt stations – I think those would be the exit, sphincter and colon.


    Jason reply on July 23rd, 2008 7:08 pm:

    That was a fun read. Not unlike conversations I have on a daily basis.

    But it still points back to removing items from the economy. In this case, however, you aren’t removing the item from the *world*, you’re just obsoleting it by making it relatively useless compared to the item that “replaced” it.


    Andrew reply on July 24th, 2008 10:30 pm:

    Ah but they are still useful to those that don’t have them. It simply reduces the value of the previous items. There is also the “binding” solution. As soon as you touch (not equip) specific items they are permanently bound to your character and no one else can use them.


  14. veaudaux Says:

    Your take seems to be that inflation is inevitable in an MMO because money is created out of “thin air”. It’s NOT created out of thin air though, because of the time involved. Rather than its value being tied to a precious metal, its value is tied to another precious resource – time.

    I’ve played WoW for 2 years now, and basic crafting materials cost the same in the AH as they did when I started. 2 years is a _substantial_ amount of time in an MMO, and to not notice any appreciable amount of inflation in that time means that Blizzard is doing something right – especially considering making gold is easier now than it’s ever been, and will probably continue to get easier after the next expansion. What really kills a game’s economy is not normal inflation, it’s people buying from gold farmers. WoW catches, bans, and now SUES bot farmers. Their economy is fine. Lineage II turns a blind eye, and their economy makes the game completely unplayable unless you buy money.

    Buying from gold farmers devalues the resource the economy is ACTUALLY based on – time. That’s what makes for crazy inflation. If you want to keep your game’s economy in check, make good policies against buying and selling in-game resources for real-life money, make good detection tools, and then enforce the rules you’ve made.


    Andrew reply on July 25th, 2008 2:35 am:

    What skippy is saying is with access to more money )the creating money out of thin air part) the bargaining prices for specific high demand items skyrockes which in turn devalues other low demand items, which unbalances the games in the favor of the people who find ways to farm gold. And BTW, Blizzard only bans those who sell the gold for real money. I have 4 gold farms on WoW right now, but since I don’t sell anything for real cash, I’m not going to get banned.

    Captcha: 24 policy – Once you are over 24 years old, the kids think of you as OLD


    Jason reply on July 26th, 2008 11:29 pm:

    Money is created out of thin air though. Yes, you can factor time in to a relative degree, but most MMO’s have an almost zero cost of living. When you log out, you don’t eat, your animals don’t eat, etc. Some have begun to fix this with “property ownership” (SWG, VG, EQ2, etc). Others have used taxes (sales) and brokerage fees (market listing costs) to help pull money back out of the economy too. Still, imagine how much more disposeable income you’d have IRL if you could buy one car and know that it would never break.


  15. Sawbill Says:

    I’ve been playing WoW since 2005. The economy has issues, which “chinese farmers” are only a part of. you have high level players starting lower level ‘toons on the same server to make “twinks” (buying/farming the best gear usable for low levels to “pwn” others in PvP. Then you have bottleneck materials that seem to blow prices sky high. ir- a stack (20 pieces) of wool (2nd level cloth) on my server goes for 3-6 gold. the next level up, silk, goes for about 1 gold for the same stack. the wool is a bottle neck for both tailoring and first aid skills, you have to use it to get to the next crafting level.

    as for “controlling” inflation, you have to look at some factors. the more characters you have, the more money you have to have. ie- if you calculate 100 gold per player, a server of 1000 players needs 100,000 gold available. if the players double, so does the gold needed. so there is a natural inflation. once you have reached the highest level, you have nothing to do but make money, so alot of time goes into that, to get those rare ultra-uber items. then you have basic industry generating wealth. I can catch a stack of fish and vendor them for 20 copper each, or cook them at no cost and vendor them for 35 copper each… at the same time i skilled up my cooking (to a point. i can burn bread with the best of them!) that’s a healthy increase in the economy. you have monsters that drop coins, so there’s that increase as well. again, a healthy industry. at the same time, I can go buy a book for 90 silver and resell it for about 1..5 – 2 gold. and i get ganked (pvp killed from stealth) alot because i’m breaking a monopoly that has this same book going for 5 gold. I just feel that at the level you need this book, you can’t afford 5 gold (i sure couldn’t) so i sell it reasonable and make a small profit.

    bind on pickup helps hold down the inflation. some of the best items bind to the ‘toon when aqquired, regardless if you equip it or not. even the highest crafted stuff.

    as for controlling the monopoly, the only way that i can see is to track each and every coin, see where it goes and who it goes to. that tracks down farmers for profit. also, a way of brnging in items that are uber l33t, but have a limited use and high cost, might help (fixed I.W.I.N. button anyone? with a one time charge?) by getting money out of the hands of those people that have the most. repairing armor done thru a vendor only, and increasing in cost with the value of the item repaired (I went to Onoxia’s Lair and the only epic i got was the repair bill tshirt anyone?)


  16. Vaarok Says:

    Why not add a weight value to gold coinage?

    Then players will either have to fill up inventory/carryweight with stacks, or convert it into something else more portable. This spawns banks and gemsellers and whatever else, all of which can be controlled and regulate the economy, as well as making money-grubbing less rewarding. Add in some theft, and you’ve got a nice economic model.


    Stickfodder reply on July 26th, 2008 11:04 am:

    I’m not sure if its because I’m tired but I think that’s a really good idea.


    Jason reply on July 26th, 2008 11:32 pm:

    Most games that use multiple denominations (copper/silver/gold/plat) already use coin weights. One issue, though, is that its too easy to change them up.

    And what happens when you want to buy an item that costs 50000 stone weight in the highest denomination coin?


    Fenrir reply on July 27th, 2008 6:01 am:

    Bank notes, or gems. Or it becomes something along the lines of what the Diablo 2 economy did, where Stones of Jordan became the currency rather than actual gold.

    SPC Hyle reply on July 28th, 2008 10:05 am:

    Trade notes in AC2 did this exact same thing. 1 pyreal used to be 1 BU. Kept players from fucking the economy.

    SPC Hyle reply on July 28th, 2008 10:05 am:

    Sorry, Not AC2, just Asheron’s Call

    Andrew reply on July 28th, 2008 6:30 pm:

    Now to confuse you:

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but it is a bad idea.

    First of all, for those games that actually pay attention to weight the lower level characters have enough issues with weight, while the higher level chars don’t. All this ready does is put more gold in the higher levels pockets because they can handle it. And it still doesn’t stop farmers because they’d just create a whole slew of lower level “mules” to carry nothing but gold around.

    Here’s a drastic thought that would have everyone screaming though. Restrict the accounts to no more than 2 characters. That way the owner could have a primary and a single “mule.” However for those who want to play (eventually) all the classes make them player deleteable, but only both chars at the same time.


    SKD reply on July 28th, 2008 9:51 pm:

    Unpopular modification – allow several alts but they can only be created, after the first of course, either when all current toons are above a certain level, let’s say 60 for the sake of argument, or upon deletion of a toon. Make it so you have to invest a decent amount of time into each toon or lose the time you have invested.

    Captcha “subject Van” – Used by royalty to make sure there are sycophants wherever they go


  17. Jason Says:

    Here’s something that might really bend your mind…

    CCP (the company that runs EVE online) forbids third party ISK (currency) selling. However, they’ve realized that there IS a demand for third party currency trading… and they’ve decided to fill that niche themselves.

    They sell GTC’s (game time codes) online. A 30 day pass is $15, and a 60 day pass is $28 (or something along those lines). GTC’s are tradeable in-game for ISK (Inter-Stellar Kredits). CCP has developed a secure GTC trading method by which the player selling AND the player recieving the code are protected. The system makes sure that the codes are clean (unused), and keeps a record of the transaction.

    This allows players to fund their game playing with money earned in game, without violating the eula, provided that there are people that are willing to sell the GTCs.

    So… CCp still gets their subscription fees, and players still have a method to convert $$$ to Gold (albeit with the middleman of GTCs and relatively fixed trading amounts).


  18. Cris Picado Says:

    In Guild Wars you can customize a weapon. When a weapon is customized for a character, it deals 20% more damage. The draw back is that no other character (even for the same account, or a new character with the same name) will be able to use it. This makes its resell value next to nothing. For unique items like the “The Black Blade of Pointy Ear Slaying” or the “Vorpal Potato Peeler of Leprechaun Slaying” or some such stupid quest items things make it so you get it…you can only use it. Thusly someone can’t just go defeat the BBEG…get the “Axe of Dwarven Death” and sell it for millions. Also for those wo know me…yes..I do own a unique item that I didn’t earn. The axe I won in a rock, paper, scissor game, kinda like Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. After I got it I customized it so that I wouldn’t be tempted to sell it. Thus stopping the cycle.


  19. Jason Says:

    Similar to BOE. But it still doesn’t get around the fact that it obsoletes other items, while never really being in danger of being replaced itself, until something BETTER came along. Thus, the mudflation.

    In this case, the devastation that the lack of item decay/destruction wreaks on the economy comes in the form of actually removing the demand from the market, as opposed to increasing supply. Same overall effect.

    GW, however (and I’ve played this one too, forgot to list it though) was fun, but a bit shallow in depth of play compared to most other “mmo’s” out there. I tend to consider it a hybrid between MMO and SPRPG.

    Maybe I need to go back and give DDO another shot too… see what kind of a sandbox that is…


  20. Tryan Says:

    well i play WoW and i find that inflation isnt really a big deal outside of the auction house. the only reason that prices are much higher in the auction houses are because people are way too lazy to get stuff themselves, or that they cant do it themselves. in the latter case i find that the increased price could be explained as cost of labor getting the materials


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