Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 02, 2009
 
Best economic system

I've been asked what MMO I thought had the best economic system. The sad answer is "none of them". Economic systems are often not at the heart of MMORPGs, and only added at a late stage of the development as an afterthought. Warhammer Online, for example, did not have an auction house for most of the beta, and when one was added just before release, it didn't work very well. Crafting in WoW is a joke, you can get from level 1 to the level cap in an hour once you bought the resources. And in nearly all games you are forced to craft a huge number of useless items to skill up. If we want to have a good economic system, we'll have to design one from scratch, taking highlights from various games:

Resource gathering: By far the most fun resource gathering I ever played in a MMORPG was in Star Wars Galaxies. In that game the location of resources change once per week, and resources have stats. So you go out exploring with a fun scanning system to find resources, manually extract one resource to find out its quality, and if that quality is to your liking, plant a harvester. Great system, with lots of advantages: Putting in more effort to find better quality resources pays off, but somebody not playing a lot can still have his harvesters running while he is offline, unlike most other games where you don't get anything if you're not online.

Trading: In the real world trade happens because certain goods are plentiful in one place, and rare in another. Thus transporting the good from A to B enables you to sell it at a profit. Very few MMORPGs have a system like that, and most of those who have are space flight games. In a game like WoW the auction house of lets say Undercity is linked with that of Thunder Bluff, thus the price of goods is the same regardless of location. And if that wasn't the case, transporting items by teleport would quickly remove all opportunity for trading. If we want to add trading to an economic MMORPG, we would need a system where teleporting and other fast transport is limited to characters and their equipment, while the transport of goods was much slower. Ideally transporting goods from A to B would have some adventure involved, so there would be an interest in a career as trader, transporting goods all over the world.

Crafting: The best crafting system I know is smithing a blade in A Tale in the Desert. There you start with a block of metal, and need to hammer it into the shape of the blade you want, using different types of hammers. The closer your block of metal resembles the target shape, the better the quality of your produced blade. Thus you can hammer out a cheap blade quickly, or spend an hour on a perfect product. And the whole process really feels like smithing, you're not just clicking a button, or playing Bejewelled to craft something.

Craft skilling: I'm still looking for a good system here. I do not like systems where you need to craft useless things to skill up to be allowed to craft useful things. Star Wars Galaxies at least had a sort of practice crafting, which used less resources, did not produce anything, but still gained you skill points. Systems where you can salvage a crafted item and get most of the resources back can also work to avoid markets being flooded with items only crafted for skilling.

Auction house: I much prefer blind auction houses like the one in Final Fantasy XI to the more common simple WoW AH system. In a blind AH you don't see for how much the seller has put up his goods, but you do see how many items are available, and for how much the last X items sold. Then you make a bid, and if there is a seller whose offer price is lower than your bid, you'll buy his item. In a WoW system you only see the price of the items that *didn't* sell, so the average computed by an addon like Auctioneer is systematically too high. Blind auction houses also prevent people from seeing at what price the competition offered their items, and then simply underbidding them by 5 copper. In addition to being blind, a better auction house system would also offer buy orders, not just sell orders.

Personal shops: I'm not totally against personal shops. I do however strongly dislike systems where there are ONLY personal shops, and no centralized system to find who is selling what, example Ragnarok Online. In such a system, whenever you want to buy anything, you need to visit every personal shop one by one to see whether what you want is on offer. Comparing prices takes forever, a really horrible system. Personal shops however can be a good addition to an auction house system, or you could design a system with only personal shops, but a centralized register to find who is selling what where at what price. Another suboptimal feature of many personal shop systems (mostly in Asian games) is the necessity to stay online to keep your shop open. That is a design based on the fact that in Asia you often pay per hour hour for these games. Thus keeping your shop up costs you real money, and earns the game company revenue, which is why they design it that way. In a monthly fee or Free2Play business model, the need to stay online to sell something is just annoying and serves no purpose. Nothing more annoying than to come back after having set up an afk shop and finding that you sold nothing, because for some reason you got disconnected shortly after going afk. A much better personal shop system is the one in Star Wars Galaxies, where there is player housing which can effectively be turned into a shop, the selling is done via vendor robots and works offline, you can even put up a display of the wares you want to sell, and over time you can get a reputation as a master crafter and good shop source for some type of item.

Inflation: One major problem of economic gameplay is the convention that a level 1 character killing a monster will earn currency or items worth only a few coppers. A high-level character killing a monster of his level, in spite of that being no more difficult than the level 1 character killing that level 1 monster, will get far more valuable loot. In World of Warcraft the reward for one daily quest at level 80 is sufficient for all the monetary needs of a character from level 1 to 20. That level based inflation is extremely destructive to economic systems. Nothing but the economic activity at the level cap really matters.

Rest of game: I mentioned before that economic systems are often added as an afterthought. While some people have a lot of fun doing economic activities like resource gathering, crafting, or trading, most games are designed in a way that these activities are not necessary. You can perfectly well get from level 1 to the level cap in World of Warcraft without ever visiting the auction house, gathering a single resource, or crafting a single item. Items never break permanently, they can always be repaired. The only items leaving the economy are those that are soulbound, being either bind on pickup, or bind on equip items that have been equipped, and where the owner got hold of a better item. So the old item gets vendored or disenchanted. Crafted items compete with all other sources of items, loot drops, quest rewards, PvP rewards, token items, etc. In a game where crafting and the player economy was to play a bigger role, crafting would have to become the major source of items. For example the raid boss would not drop epic loot, but only a resource that was needed to craft an epic item. All current non-crafting sources of items would give out resources or gold instead, and you'd have to take these resources to a crafter to get items made, or sell the resources and buy the items on the market. This is how Luminary works, which is why I'm playing that game now. Other game systems that encourage crafting are systems in which items break, and have to be replaced, or where repairing gets more and more expensive until buying a new item is simply cheaper.

So as you can see, elements of good economic gameplay are already existing in various games, but there isn't really one game where all the elements are good. One game has fun trading, but boring resource gathering. In another game crafting is fun, but there is no need for the items you crafted, and nobody buys them. No game is really a good economic simulation MMORPG with fun in all of the various aspects.
Comments:
Thanks for the list. Very interesting stuff. Let's just hope that Blizzards developers of the next MMO do what they always did:
Concentrate on what works (in other games) and merge it into one grand game.
 
You've hit the nail on the head when you said "economic systems are often not at the heart of MMORPGs". Exactly true. WoW isn't about amassing money, it's about playing the game so really the virtual economy is just a by-product at best.
 
A more detailed comment:

The SWG ressource gathering is clearly superior to the WOW model, because it focuses on what is fun (searching for better ressources) without denying you the benefit of actually getting the ressources by doing so. Problematic is just the question: How much better should a better ressource be and how do we remove all these masses of ressources that are created 24h/day by every player from the market. There has to be scarcity after all.

Trading and dangerous or at least non-instant travel are very difficult to implement. As much as it hurts me, credibility of the world probably has to be sacrificed a bit here. You probably have to implement a system where you can travel the usual way, but cannot transport (major amounts) of ressources/goods this way.
One solution would be to allow fast travel, but to transport goods you need a horse (or a caravan). If everything were soulbound (the second you touch it), but also everything were produced out of ressources that can only be transported via dangerous non-instant travel you had a nice hybrid system without too much problems of credibility.

A-Tale-in-the-Desert - crafting system is brilliant. If well executed. If it were really difficult (skillwise) to forge a perfect sword, but possible, it would certainly attract a lot of players.

Craft-skillung should work with training items for the start. Later your skill could only increase proportionally with the number of your items regularily used by other players. I hope this isn't to casual-hostile. This could, by the way, be supplemented or replaced with/by the Tale in the Desert way of crafting.

Personal shops could be an option, but I agree: You need some register, some index, because searching for goods for hours is not fun, and fun>>credibility in this case.

Level induced Inflation could easily be removed by removig levels, of course. Which I support for a long time by now. Just a few tutorial levels and then the endgame+PvE single player questing for ressources/skills/money etc.
However, a more powerful character should have access to more gold. I just agree that the difference between lvl 1 and 80 should be a factor of 3 or 4, not 10.000. This applies to gold, damage done, survivability etc..

I doubt a system where items eventually always break is a good system. It is certainly enjoyable, but I strongly support the Luminary system.
 
Great post! I never played SWG, but everything else is right on the money.

A couple of other games worth a mention are Pirates of the Burning Sea and Vanguard. PotBS uses a simplified version of the EVE model. Each port has different resources, and goods must be transported by ships, which are vulnerable to piracy. Also, ships can be equipped with various types of riggings--like sails, grappling hooks, etc,--and the riggings are destroyed when a ship is sunk. That means that demand for riggings is always high, which keeps crafters in business.

Vanguard uses a more traditional crafting system, but includes an interesting "work order" mechanic. Essentially, work orders are short crafting quests that allow a crafter to make an item for an NPC in exchange for experience and gold. This allows crafters to skill up without flooding the market with useless goods.

Here's a question. The games with the very best economic systems (like EVE) typically include some type of item degradation or destruction that eventually removes goods from the economy. This helps to keep the economy stable over time, prevents mudflation, and gives crafters work. Does item destruction make for a healthier economy? If so, is there a palatable way to implement it in a mainstream game?
 
Just to respond to a couple of Nils' points:

You probably have to implement a system where you can travel the usual way, but cannot transport (major amounts) of ressources/goods this way.

That's exactly what PotBS does. You can physically fast-travel from one port to another, but to transport goods you have to use a ship. I think EVE does something similar with "jump clones."

I just agree that the difference between lvl 1 and 80 should be a factor of 3 or 4, not 10.000.

Obviously this is a different topic, but I agree completely.
 
Actually there is an exception to the WoW crafting "joke", which is inscription. You'll be able to craft glyphs which are useful to anyone and can be sold at a relatively (compared to the other professions at early levels) very high amount of profit.
If anyone would start a new character on a realm where they have no main with gold to sponsor the character, I'd suggest getting herbalism and inscription. I managed to make about 100g when I got to level 20. You will need herbalism as well though, because you won't be able to afford the herbs to get started. Once I'm able to make enough profit so I can start buying the herbs, I'll probably replace herbalism with a profession which has more benefits for my character instead of gold amount.
The suggestions you make are generally aimed at making the system more complex. As a result I think you'll only widen the gap between the 24/7 online players, and those that play a couple hours/week.
So I do believe Blizzard did a lot of things right, the system is very accessible and at the same time complex enough to keep it interesting for traders. The biggest problem they have is the quality of crafted products. Fix that and imo they'll have a very decent economic system.
 
@rvanmil:
Blizzard learns and inscription is a good example that they do. As are the class mechanics of Death Knights.
 
I think EVE does something similar with "jump clones."
Indeed it does. Every 24 hours, you can move the consciousness of your character into an another body. All items (including that body) have to be moved to the target location beforehand.
 
How about FML? Where crafting is making your players better by developing your coaching skills, ofcourse getting the right material and play them in the right position, tactic and matches. Controlling your finances is at the heart of the game. Trading is a lot about timing, communication, presentation.
The developers closely look at the inflation and adjust things if it gets to bad!

It's a bit difficult to recognise because there are no elves in FML, but from an economic point of view I think it's a pretty good example of a MMORPG.
 
That's exactly what PotBS does. You can physically fast-travel from one port to another, but to transport goods you have to use a ship. I think EVE does something similar with "jump clones."


To translate this into a WoW-like MMO you could introduce a rule:
The only things you can take with you on fast travel are those that are soulbound.
If you find something in a dungeon that is not soulbound (ressources)it is automatically transfered to your the warehouse of the nearest city/village. (Wouldn't make much sense to allow you to transport it to your 'home city' if that could be freely switched)

---
However, while economy should definitely be added as one major part to future MMOs, it shouldn't be necessary to play this part - as it is not necessary to play Arena/raid/play BGs etc...

While there are many players who would love meaningful money or at least crafting in an MMO, many wouldn't.

---
One crazy crafting idea:
Take the Desert-Tale crafting and make it real demanding by using cooldowns, timedependent buffs, reactionary elements (krits). In short transfer the feral druid dps mechanism into a minigame to forge a sword.
Let the smith set the amount of time he wants to invest into forging the sword. From 30seconds up to 30minutes (you don't want newspapers to report how people died while forging on e sword for 3 days :)

Allow smiths to use as ressources swords from different other smiths to make an even better sword. I suggested the feral druid dps mechanism, because it is so complex, that you cannot even name a best rotation.

Now imagine what could grow out of this machnism:
Smiths compete for the best ability to make 30min swords. A guild buys 20 30min swords of the ten best smiths of the server and employs one of their smiths to forge a MASTER SWORD out of them. Add drastically diminishing returns here (you don't want overpowered swords - just no limit to how good they can be - not a difficult mathematical problem).

Isn't that real fanatsy. I know I'd love to be part of the guild that tries to forge a master sword - especially if it takes half a year of preparations ..

I'd love to be standig next to my guildmate who has the best damn sword on the server - even if it is just 0.1dps better than the next best sword. :)

mmh.. imagine a master ring instead of a sword.. one to rule them all;)
 
To combine available items to forge better ones out of them is, btw, a very nice way to remove items from the game, create a natural gear progression and add incentives to constantly produce the 'basic' items.

You circumvent the necessity to remove items against the will of the player (gear decay) and you could even remove the mechanism of 'soulbound', because gear is removed from the game constantly and willingly by the players.
.. I should really stop to spam your blog, Tobold :)
 
Eve's prett good if you like complexity and spreadsheets.
 
I'd have to say Eve Online would be best economic system out there. Not many MMO's has a Lead Econonomist that tracks and reports on the state of the virtual economy in quarterly reports.
 
I'd have to say Eve Online would be best economic system out there.

Agreed that EVE does many things right, especially in the trading and auction house domain. However resource gathering is extremely boring in EVE (unless it leads to you being attacked by other players), and crafting could be way better as well. Inflation based on how long you played the game is also a huge problem in EVE, veterans earn in hours what newbies make in a month.
 
Resource gathering and crafting in Eve is no more boring or exciting than most mainstream MMO's out there including WoW.

There are some that try to liven up resource gathering and crafting with minigames but I'm not a big fan of those systems.
 
Totally agree again, WoW resource gathering and crafting is boring. But I listed other games where resource gathering or crafting is better than in WoW or EVE. As I said, no existing game is really good, we'll need a mix of the best features from several games.
 
I'm quite enjoying the crafting/gathering segment of Saga of Ryzom. Detailed article on that in the next couple of days on my site, but in the meantime here are some bullets:

- Crafting mats obtainable from any creature kill (by quartering the carcass) and also by the Gathering Profession (which is fairly deep)
- Crafting mats have a "quality" statistic, so obtaining high quality mats is important for creating the best items
- Crafting consists of picking a pattern (e.g. light boots, heavy shield, etc) and then picking the material (or combination of materials) that you will slot into each part of the item (hilt, lining, trigger, stuffing, etc.). The resulting item directly reflects the materials you used for its components.

Anyways - I'll go more in depth on my site soon... probably early next week.
 
there have been a lot of comments lately about free to play mmorpg: like Runes of Magic, Maabinogi, etc.

Which one in your opinion is the most fun to play ? This would be an interesting analysis from you
 
I have to boggle that EVE isn't on any of the lists or mentioned as the best economy out there at the moment. Complete with an economist.

While the blind auction house is interesting--and creates some interesting game play though price setting--it has one of the same problems that the WoW auction house has--there is no ability for the buyer to signal his demand.

This becomes especially important where the AH isn't unified. If I am out in Outer Slavovia I want and need to be able to create a contract where I am paying a premium to have good delivered.

If the buyer can't create a pull for goods, then the economy is broken and your basic trading profession is far harder and riskier. (A seller has no information for total demand at a particular price in a particular place when you are dealing with a small number, or single buyers.)
 
PS I think the 80 grinding the Argent Crusade dailies (about 120 gold in a hour) has way more economic power than a level 4 mission runner in EVE versus their newbie counter parts.
 
*Not the Nils who posted previously.*

Tobold, why is it actually desirable that the game designers provide all trading infrastructure, in the form of vendor or AH systems? In the real world the system that works best are the ones that the market decides works the best, not the ones set up by some centralised entity.

I believe that the best market would be the one designed by the gamers themselves, if an MMO maker were to allow them to develop mods that had auction house and vendor functionalities. It would be very interesting to see which competing trading systems would survive in such a merket driven system.
 
I liked several aspects of UO. First the weapon crafting was fun, mainly because it featured randomly added effects (and colors). Iirc the purists were against it, but i thought it was cool at the time. Also i like the personal shops, you could go bargain hunting if you wanted and stumble upon nice surprises. I liked the exploration and the random aspect of it. Of course this decentralized system didnt allow for mathematically optimizing your buy and sell decisions, but i think thats a good thing.
 
Well, I guess I'll put that down as one vote in favor of The Shattered World's economy.
 

I believe that the best market would be the one designed by the gamers themselves, if an MMO maker were to allow them to develop mods that had auction house and vendor functionalities. It would be very interesting to see which competing trading systems would survive in such a merket driven system.


Well, Nils .. we should have chosen one of those crazy stupid nicks, I guess :)

While your suggestion could basically add to the MMO genre, I fear, that it wouldn't work.

The problem and big difference between an MMO and the real life is that people in MMOs do not maximise their fun, but the rate at which they gain power.
(If we did this in real life, nobody played MMOs :)

Thus the players wouldn't invent great things that made the MMO more fun, but things that allowed them to gain more money faster. In addition they wouldn't give a damn about the credibility of the world or anythings that stands in the path of maximising power.

A good example are the quests in one of those MMOs (forgot the name) that players could create for other players. They didn't create fun quests, but quests with the best powergain/hour ratio.
 
I knew there was more than one! A single Nils couldn't have produced that many comments. ;)
 
I have always wanted to see a stock market type of system in an MMO. I think EvE has one but I am not sure.

Take WoW for example. You would have companies that are setup by Blizzard and also controlled by them.

Having a market like that run free just runs into problems later down the road. Having people with a lot of money buy all the shares would just be annoying. However if let’s say Goblin-Explosions Inc was set up you can invest your money and watch it grow or shrink over time.

Being controlled by Blizz would allow for not a whole lot of math to be implemented and adds the random factor so people do not try to Min/Max the system. The market could have down turns or bottom out all together.

So you have risk in the market like you do today. Another benefit of this system is that it is taking gold out of the system for those that choose to invest. But like crafting, not everyone wants to do it. I never picked up a crafting profession once when I played WoW.


Market shares would have to be a ratio so that "low-levels" and "high-levels" could both put money in and see some return.

Example: Ford stock would be for the "low-level" where Google (during its prime a few years back) would be the "high-level" stock which sold for around $800 a share. The system then would allow everyone that wants to compete in the market a chance at earning and losing some money. The key here is that the system is controlled by Blizzard and not the players.

In a "free-market" hardly anything should be run by government or cooperation’s. But no free-market ends up being perfect. So to keep things stable and to avoid the inflation/deflation and underbidding the system is centrally controlled.


On-topic: I have some issues with crafting being so important in MMOs. What I find is that if crafting is very hard and time consuming then you will get only a few crafters that charge whatever they want. If the gear is as good or better then top end gear then we see huge price tags.

If the crafting is too easy and everyone can pick it up we get the WoW effect. Most prices are about the same, but raid/arena gear in WoW is usually better than anything you can craft.

Also I am not a fan of any system where you have to play a mini-game to get a good item. Any type of system whether it is drawing the shape of the item, playing bejeweled, or finding the right mix of materials.

Crafting should just be simple but with a bit of chance, luck, and randomness. I get X-leafs for a potion, I add Y-container that has stats on it. Containers could add +10% to luck or another could be +20% to add a HoT but -5% to luck (if luck was a skill, likewise any other stat that would increase the chance of making something successfully.)


I do like the SWG idea of gathering resources which sounds like a great system that I would like to see in a future MMO.

MMOs are just big math equations and sooner or later people figure out the numbers, then Min/Max to achieve the best possible performance. In crafting at least this should stop, having a chance that your item may not be able to craft could be as simple as having a random roll in the system. Joe tries to craft, roll 1-100. 100 is perfect 1 is complete fail with even some negative side effects on that player.

Everything else in between would be + or – effects to that item, potion, or weapon. Limits let’s say 20 or below are all out fail and 75+ would be successes, this number is figured internally and would be changed every 30min-1 hour to keep from people trying to cheat the system or craft all out at once without penalty.


However just my 2-cents.
 

MMOs are just big math equations and sooner or later people figure out the numbers, then Min/Max to achieve the best possible performance.


It isn't too hard to create systems that behave chaotically and are highly dependend on RNG and thus can only be maximised while you are at it, not on a spreadsheat before. These systems can still require a lot of prior thinking and are much more interesting (and less frustrating) than a simple roll.
Once again: The feral druid dps mechanism is a good example. Obviously you should forbid any addon that makes the decision for in player in realtime while he is playing.


[What can I say, Tobold? I just love your blog :) ]
 
Math as it behaves to crafting. Any other mechanics are fine since the game still has to be fun.

The roll system was just an idea, thats why I am not on the creative team on any studio.

I do not think we will see a game with a great economy because that is just another niche in the market.

Most people just want to be able to trade and have an AH, but that is all they know. I would have to say that more players want a solid PvE/PvP experience than having a great in-game economy.

If it was that important more developers would take the time to implant these kinds of systems. Besides the small crowd that wants such a diverse economy and crafting system it is just more fluff to add to the game.
 
Wow great article. I am pretty sure if we had MMO with economic system like you described it would be for the better

Especially like blind auctions idea, and yeah goods transportation imho is a must - at adds a solid new layer (and if its pvp game you just enabled a great way for meaningful pvp, smuggling , blockades , "safe long haulers" and fast hotshots trying to skip trough 0.0 sector hoping they luck out and make quicker buck)

And one thing you forgot to mention(as you always ignore this facet:) ) but which have a huge impact on economy is PvP. properly designed system would ensure resources/good rotation and demand for crafter goods.

EvE actually has lots of the thing right in the economy area
 
I don't see any advantage to a blind auction system whatsoever. It's unlike real life, where one can determine what an item is being sold for, and the only purpose it serves is to allow sellers to more easily make ridiculous profits. I think the arguments for a fully transparent, two-way auction system (transparent sales bids and transparent purchase bids) are quite compelling.

Sure, in a transparent auction system it's possible to underbid other sellers, or overbid other buyers if there are purchase bids. So what? What's the harm there? This leads to a balanced economy wherein items have a fairly predictable value from day to day. Both buyers and sellers then know exactly what they're getting into, and what the competition is like. It doesn't prevent anyone from making a profit but it does protect buyers - if I know how much an item is being sold for (i.e. if sales bids are transparent), I won't wildly overbid for it as a buyer. If the purchase bids are transparent, then I as a seller know which items are valuable and I can then seek to craft or acquire the items that will make me the most money. If the purchase bids are opaque, I as a seller have no way to know which items are in demand today, which again leads to a massive disparity between the free market value of items and the amount people pay for them.

Besides the ability to rip off buyers, can anyone present a justification for an opaque auction system?
 
I would say it is the current AH system that is more likely to rip off buyers, as they get no information whatsoever about the real price history and market value in the past. Thus the possibility to buy everything up and repost it at twice the price, with the buyers not even noticing the price has gone up.

In the blind AH system only the minimum sales prices the seller gives is hidden. The actual purchase price of the transactions that happened is visible, unlike the current system.

Furthermore for the seller the blind system avoids somebody else coming a minute later and underbidding them by 5 copper, which is inconvenient because removing the auction and reposting it even cheaper loses you a lot in AH fees.
 
Regarding item decay, Puzzle Pirates does it in a couple of interesting ways, and yes, it's a necessary money sink. Some items decay based on calendar days, some decay based on login days (so a thirty day badge could be consumed over a year playing once every two weeks or so), and some items (like furniture) only decay when moved or used.

At first it bothered me, but then I noted that it's part of how they make money, and part of how they keep the economy from inflating too wildly. What makes it work for me is that you can play the game perfectly well without anything that decays. If I had to buy stuff to have fun, I'd be bothered, but PP dodges that nicely.

...switching gears, I'm a huge fan of "artisan" crafting. I want player skill and artistry to matter, allowing me to create something in the game that's completely unique and valuable (if I'm any good, anyway). I'd love to create a "brand" of in-game crafted goods, and use that as a money maker, rather than wildlife slaughter, quests or playing markets.

Oh, and the idea of merchant caravans that need protection is a fun way to build the world lore as well as give combat-loving players something to do that's a bit more variable than meandering the countryside looking to aggro regenerating mobs.
 
"I would say it is the current AH system that is more likely to rip off buyers, as they get no information whatsoever about the real price history and market value in the past. Thus the possibility to buy everything up and repost it at twice the price, with the buyers not even noticing the price has gone up."

You're conflating a transparent system with one that gives no history of previous auctions. The two concepts are not correlated; you can easily have a blind system that doesn't give a history of previous auctions (though it would admittedly and obviously suck) or a transparent system that tells you not only what items are being offered for now but also what they previously sold for.

I'm by the way in favour of giving a history of previous auctions, as well as having complete transparency for seller and buyer bids.

As for the cost involved in removing items from auction and putting them up for bid, a) whether there's an upfront cost to auction items or not is hardly set in stone - e.g. IIRC EQ2 doesn't charge anything to post items, thus the charge you worry about doesn't have to be a factor, and b) the incidental cost involved in taking items off auction and putting them back up is more than offset by the increased price stability and lack of price gouging that a fully transparent system yields.
 
I'm wondering if the current crafters in EVE would want actual crafting to be 'better' (through minigames or otherwise). I think the fact that you can set up production rather quickly means crafting is more about WHAT you craft and how you sell it than about playing Peggle for the high score. In other words, the fact that crafting in EVE is a few menu clicks is a plus for those who are econ minded, rather than looking for a reason to play a mini-game. I think there is a market in the MMO space for both, but I don't think 'better' crafting is always to mix the two.

I think mining in EVE falls into that category as well. Instead of constantly having to click-click-click, mining is a slower and more relaxed process, which is great if you are planning your next business move while watching your hull fill up with ore.

As for the actual AH, EVE has built-in price tracking and trending, so you can always get an idea for an items price history (but as all things EVE, it's not that cut and dry, as the history is only for that sector, and each sector has it's own value on everything)
 
I'm wondering if the current crafters in EVE would want actual crafting to be 'better' (through minigames or otherwise).
Being able to customize or at least build a "brand" ships and other equipment has been on CCP's "nice to have" list for quite a while, and the CSM has asked for it as well.

But customization/branding needs to be an alternative, not a replacement. For large-scale fleet combat, ships are a commodity that do get destroyed frequently. Ideally, players have a fleet of identical ships waiting in their hangars to allow them to get back into the fray as quickly as possible. The current manufacturing system is perfect for fulfilling these kinds of needs. But for those who prefer a guerrilla-style approach in PvP, highly customized and personalized ships would be great, even if it were something as simple as having your corporation/alliance logo painted somewhere on the hull.
 
@Tobold: "Inflation based on how long you played the game is also a huge problem in EVE, veterans earn in hours what newbies make in a month."

There's very little inflation in the cost of base tech 1 items a young pilot would use. Since the skill requirements for the manufacture of "starter" items are pretty low, if the margin on the items increases to substantial levels, there's a very large pool of potential manufacturers to draw the market back down towards low margins.
 
@Hirvox: "But for those who prefer a guerrilla-style approach in PvP, highly customized and personalized ships would be great"

Enter... tech 3 cruisers. ;)
 
Enter... tech 3 cruisers. ;)
If you're willing to pay a few capital ships' worth of isk for a cruiser-sized piece of bait, sure. ;-)
 
What I really don't understand about EVE is how spending a lot of ISK can even be considered a problem if you could just buy them with €. *scratching his head*
 
What I really don't understand about EVE is how spending a lot of ISK can even be considered a problem if you could just buy them with €. *scratching his head*

It's about efficiency. How much bang for your buck are you going to get and can you afford it? Unless you're a Russian aluminium magnate that can put $100k into a game, it can become a problem. A 60-day gametime card costs around 26€, and can be legitimately traded for around 600 million isk. That'll buy you a non-customized battleship or three, but won't get you far with a modular T3 cruiser, which currently cost several billion isk.
 
Hirvox, but that is exactly why I said inflation is a problem in EVE. For a newbie just starting EVE 600 million ISK is a HUGE amount of money, more than he'll earn in months, and thus sapping a lot of interest out of economic gameplay. For a veteran it's not so much.
 

It's about efficiency. How much bang for your buck are you going to get and can you afford it? Unless you're a Russian aluminium magnate that can put $100k into a game, it can become a problem. A 60-day gametime card costs around 26€, and can be legitimately traded for around 600 million isk. That'll buy you a non-customized battleship or three, but won't get you far with a modular T3 cruiser, which currently cost several billion isk.


I am not a Russian aluminium magnate, but I could easily invest 400€ the month into a game, if I wanted.
That would buy me 9,23 billion the month.

The reason I wouldn't do it, is that somebody else might invest 1000€ the month and be better than I am .. just because he has fewer kids at home, a not-working wife or rich parents .. gamebreaker for me.
 
The reason I wouldn't do it, is that somebody else might invest 1000€ the month and be better than I am .. just because he has fewer kids at home, a not-working wife or rich parents .. gamebreaker for me.
Understandable. Money certainly helps, but it isn't everything. For example, money doesn't buy you situational awareness, which is one of the key factors in Eve. You might have a ship that cost a hundred times as much as the other guy's and outperforms his on every front, but he might have a few friends just waiting for you to engage him. Or one could catch a capital ship pilot in a dinky hauler and negate his advantage in skill points. It's no coincidence that one of the factors that is used to measure PvP prowess in Eve is efficiency: Maximum damage with minimal resources. Not to mention, there's plenty of people playing EvE that love nothing better than turning that $1000 guy's expensive ships into scrap again and again. ;-)

Hirvox, but that is exactly why I said inflation is a problem in EVE.
For a newbie just starting EVE 600 million ISK is a HUGE amount of money, more than he'll earn in months, and thus sapping a lot of interest out of economic gameplay. For a veteran it's not so much.

Yes, and I agreed on that individual motivation was an issue when this was last discussed. Those that have tried Eve probably can agree on that stories about it's learning curve are not that exaggerated. But I pointed out that because that ISK needs to be earned in-game before it can be bought, there is an another side to the equation: Learning on how to make money in-game can yield substantial benefits because there's a constant demand for isk. The wealth injected into the system by those time cards literally vanishes each month and hundreds of billions of isk can literally go up in smoke in one big fleet battle.

Finally, a disclaimer: I don't think that Eve's economic model is flawless or even the best out there, but I do think that it's interesting enough be kept in mind whenever economics in virtual worlds is discussed.
 
@Tobold: "For a newbie just starting EVE 600 million ISK is a HUGE amount of money, more than he'll earn in months, and thus sapping a lot of interest out of economic gameplay. For a veteran it's not so much."

If you want large volumes of ISK in EVE it's not hard to find, even as a young pilot.

When my original main was three months old, with about 15 million in my wallet, I trained up some basic skills and went remote station-trading to jita. Six intense weeks later I had 1.6 billion. Close to zero risk, a bit of :effort:, and certainly nothing clever.

I understand why some might find the availability of a "content bypass" like PLEX sales to sap their interest in the economic gameplay. However, in my experience (member of EVE University, saw a year of new pilots in corpchat and fleets) PLEX sales did not have this effect.

The Uni has strong support for new pilots; that's its purpose. Tutorial mining operations, with proceeds split evenly by pilot, were very common, and experienced miners would usually forego their shares. To a player a month or two old, ten or fifteen million ISK after a few hours learning the process of common can gang mining was almost as abstractly large a figure as 600M. Did it demotivate them? It seemed not - they had scope to have some fun in the short term, and developed an ambition to make that much ISK on their own terms.

Upshot: for the type of young EVE players I saw in that situation, the existence of PLEXes did not appear to have a substantial negative impact on their gameplay satisfaction.

tl;dr: EVE players like playing EVE, even the noobs.
 
Great article. I like reading good analysis of MMOs.
 
Iam very surprised that Face of Mankind is not on this list.

Face of Mankind by far is what I know that has the best economic system. No items can be bought from any NPC or whatsoever all items are consumable weapon and everything has durability and cannot be repaired. Each item in the game may it be potion weapon armour is all player made. Auction house is separate from each planet. Economy depends on what resources is on that particular planet. Contract system is also implemented. Basically someone puts up a contract and has an agreement on what he want and when he wants it. So your job is to finish the requirements for that contract and get to meet with that player and finish of the deal. The game system is also Player-ran. The game becomes what the players want it to be. The game is still growing they added a few questing system NPC where you have to kill aliens/monsters at necars field.

Although, sadly a bunch of retarded people who doesnt know how to play the game properly and just think that it is nothing more but just a shooting game. So most likely by the first few hours in the game you'd quit due to the frustration of getting killed all the time by some random guy.
 
I order for any game to have a successful economy is that all items are consumable there for having to be replaced.

Games like 'Pirates of the Burning Sea' and 'EVE Online' and perhaps others i'm not aware of created a system where items are lost and replaced on a regular basis.

Games like World of Warcraft are protective of a players gains. Armor is never lost, and now Glyphs created through inscription is permanent. The market in World of Warcraft is flooded and never moves and will progressively get worse as the game runs its course. (hate to see this happen to WOW as I've played the game since release.)
 
What about Silkroad Online? Wikipedia: Silkroad Online is noted for its "Triangular Conflict System"[4] in which characters may select one of three jobs, trader, hunter, or thief to engage each other in player versus player combat. Thieves attack traders who are protected by hunters. Hunters kill thieves getting experience to level up to a higher level of hunter. Traders complete trade runs which gives experience to increase their trader level, and thieves kill traders and hunters to level up. Thieves can also steal goods dropped by traders to take to the thieves' den in exchange for gold and thief experience.

Game: http://www.joymax.com/silkroad/
 
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