SotA Economics - an opinion piece

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by macnlos, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. macnlos

    macnlos Avatar

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    The economy of a virtual world is the leading indicator of the state or well being of a game. You can't simply say I'm going to fix the "economy", you have to look at factors that influence the economy and affect change on those factors. Some of these factors are:

    • Player base - how many people participating in the economy
    • Services - the types of things a players can do that is of value
    • Currency Generators - different ways players can acquire currency
    • Currency Sinks - different ways a player has to spend currency
    So basically it is built on Players, Jobs, Money makes, and Money spends. The odd thing is that "currency" is not just Gold or COTOs; currency is anything that has value. For example, I just recently gave a "treasure map" to a guild mate and in exchange he unlocked and untrapped a Treasure Chest I acquired from a mob loot. That treasure map in this instance is currency. I know I could sell the map for some gold but in this case I exchanged it for a service. Gold is just way for us to measure value.

    Player Base:
    This is an obvious problem. A small player base limits an economy. This this is exaggerated by the level of the player base as well. SotA has a lot of veteran players, that means that the need for simpler services or materials is less.

    Services:
    Services, of if you would like "jobs", are important. In the example above I needed the services of a players with a particular skill and I paid with something tangible for that service. SotA has two major things working against it. First, unlimited skills for characters means that a single player can be self-sufficient. Elaina, my main character basically does not need any services of anyone else because she has good skills in most areas.

    Second, is the lack of destruction of things of value. I basically can set my character up and function with its armor, weapons and other adornments without having to replace it for a good amount of time. This has all kinds of impact on the economy:

    • If there is no/low risk to higher level items then there isn't a need to replace it.
    • Because there is no/low risk, the need for mid or lower level items is non-existent.
    Think about something as simple as arrows. Arrows cost nothing. Arrows have been made so you can carry 1000's of them at a time. I run around with 5000 arrows. I literally have have 30,000+ arrows in my bank. First, and I say this because the team always talks about "immersion", the idea that I can carry around 5000 arrows and only be partially loaded is just ridiculous. Because it is so cheap also means that the cost of being an Archer is nil. Can I join the game and make Fletching my profession? No.

    In another game I'm playing, spiritual ancestor, I actually can't afford to be an Archer to start off with. I don't have the money to buy enough arrows and I'm too weak to carry enough to go adventuring. And while you can buy some arrows off game vendors, you can never find enough. That means I have to find the services of a fletcher or become a fletcher myself. <-- Economy Stimulation

    Currency Generators & Currency Sinks:
    I combine these two because they are symbiotic. There is a balance that is required between the two in order to maintain a healthy economy. If the "generators" are too big then people acquire too much gold and goods/services lose their value. If the "sinks" are to0 big then people never have enough money, can't get what they need and then the game play ceases.

    The problem in this game is the lack of "sinks", things that force a player to spend their currency. Everyone will scream that PvP/Full Loot / Open Killing is a bad thing. But for an economy it is one of the best sinks. In UO I die a lot. I'll be in a dungeon making some gold and then a wave of PKers come through and wipe me out. And there I am with my death shroud in town picking up the pieces. This one event cause the following:

    1. I head to the armorer and spend about 400 gold on basic armor and a weapon.
    2. I head to the healers and spend about 300 gold on bandages, which I use to heal myself
    3. I head to the alchemist and spend 400 gold on some potions
    This one event causes me to spend 1100 gold just to recuperate. But that's okay, I way my risk of adventuring in popular areas where I can generate more than I lose. One other side effect is that I don't roll around with the best of the best equipment; that's just asking to lose it. I use basic store bought or at most, GM crafted equipment. Yes, I do have some nice gear but I only roll around with it when I'm in a group and the likelihood of me not losing it is greater.

    Shroud's Economy:
    I often hear/see Chris talking about the value of gold and seeing what things are valued at. This is great to look at but it is not the "economy" of the game. It is just one indicator of the economy. One of the best ways to make gold in the game is the selling of raw resources (wood, ore, cotton, etc). I'm sure Chris could quote that something like 1 billion worth of gold was spent on Ore or something. The important question though is what happened after that?

    It should look something akin to: person gets ore, person makes ingots, person sells ingots, next person uses ingots to create something and sells something, next person buys something - uses it - makes gold and then has a need to buy more. It should be a cycle that literally is the "economy". But in SotA its stops short and never feeds back in. I buy the ore to make items and raise skills but there really isn't a sufficient market to sell the equipment. For me it is Bows and there simply isn't a constant need/demand for them because they last for so long.

    Shroud of the Avatar has an economy but it is in severely poor shape or dysfunctional at best. Its economy is plagued by the lack of proper Currency Sinks and the players ability, with unlimited skills, to be the super character that is too independent. I'm not saying SotA has to be PvP either, thought I would argue strongly for it, but if it isn't the it needs to find a way to supplement the Currency Sinks.

    In a few hours the next Telethon will go live. While I'm sure it will be good, I won't be watching. What would get me to watch? I would really appreciate, and many others would too, if the team would get online and give a real state of the game with a real assessment of where it's at and what it is doing to focus on fixing it. I would tune in for that, I would donate/buy something for that.

    Why do I share this?
    It's my opinion and after spending so much time and money with this game I'm allowed to have it. I've earned the right to share it with the community. I have tried my best not to rant but simply explain and cite examples. I don't expect you to either agree or disagree with me. Take it as food for thought, ignore it or use it. I would love to see well spoken responses and I hope it doesn't become too toxic (because then it will likely be locked/deleted).

    Peace!
    E
     
  2. Vladamir Begemot

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    I'm not watching either.... but it's because my internet crapped out :'(

    So here I am replying!

    For the most part, I agree. But not everything.

    Agree about gear. The only time it wears out for me is when Corpion Poison is bugged and hits 10 times per hit. Ok, my daggers wear out pretty quickly then. The rest of the time the gear is gets upgraded just because, long before it gets scrapped due to use.

    Pretty funny about the arrows. Can you imagine the uproar? So that's never going to happen. And probably shouldn't, the game is pretty punishing in its learning curve already. If we make arrows hard to get/carry we can kiss all the potential new player archers goodbye.

    Disagree with everything pertaining to low level gear/materials being unneccissary. New players are coming through like crazy right now, and they need low level gear. Make them a normal (+2) iron mace and put it on a vendor in a new player area and it will sell for a profit. I them at 549 gold. By the time they are out of the Outskirts, they can easily afford that, with our without the Oracle handout.

    They also need a place to sell their low level mats, and if you provide that as well, you'll see them totally kit themselves out on your vendor. I'll get ten or twenty small buy orders filled from a single new player (5 iron ore, 10 maple wood, 6 amathyst fragments, etc), and then a weapon, shield, and armor purchased right afterwards (or Viola sees the armor purchases, she handles the tailoring.)

    On top of this, there is a big opportunity to help new players out by giving them work. I know you CAN do everything, so can I, but why? Why not have them do some milling and smelting? It saves me time, gives them a place in the economy, gets them started and a chance to work with an experienced player who can answer questions, tell them to get into town to open the next skill, etc.

    (Re: It kind of saves me time.... it kind of does, kind of doesn't. I have two screens, I COULD be using an alt to do that while banging out swords with my main, but then its a lot more lonely. It doesn't hurt me to pay something to get them started on their journey. And it's rewarding.)

    So I guess my point is, with the lower end economy, we're the people dropping the ball, not Port. We have tools in place (buy orders for components would be nice, actually), the market is there (believe it or not, I'm falling behind, help!), the new players who would like to participate are there. We've just got to integrate them.

    Of course, once they get that uber set of gear.... that's the last they'll be buying gear for a long.... loooooong time. :)

    And yes, more gold sinks would be good. But as soon as PvP enters into Viola's mining adventure, you can bet she's not playing any more. Too traumatic. Other methods are needed.
     
  3. Elwyn

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    That's not a gold sink. A proper gold sink destroys the gold, taking it out of the money supply, but PvP loot just transfers it to another player.

    The problem is that everyone (or at least the veteran players that make up most of the current player base) wants the XP from the milling and smelting. I gave up trying to sell ingots and timber a long time ago. Leather is even worse, since animal hides drop like rain.
     
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  4. Bow Vale

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    My problem with the economy has always been that everyone can do everything, meaning there is a lot less people to sell to as most people want to do/try to make something themselves to sell or use/raise skills off. People should have had to specialise in certain aspects, maybe either gathering, producing or manufacture, this would have produced at the least a functioning basic supply/demand. MMO's need specialisation it gives all players even new ones a position in the game and allows them to contribute and be worthwhile as well as being being the catalyst to basic economic principles.
     
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  5. Shift

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    Elaina I think you hit the nail on the head. I Have to agree with you on everything.
     
  6. Barugon

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    Your wish is going to come true in a few releases. Specialization will allow you to pick your enchantment/masterwork but you'll only be able to socialize in one skill tree.
     
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  7. Elwyn

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    Oh no they're going to nerf social skills! Pay to pose is going to be real!
     
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  8. Bowen Bloodgood

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    I personally avoid the "player economy" as much as possible. It's just a jolt to my system that screams "you're sitting at home in a chair playing a game".

    Weightless, single denomination currency called "gold" that only has value in large quantities
    All merchants buy anything and are basically limitless currency faucets
    I consider most sinks and faucets to be.. I supposed the best descriptors I can come up with are misplaced and unbalanced.

    Yeah ok I know I'm in the minority here but I would've approached the economy very differently. Unfortunately, like most things *I* would do it's probably too expensive to do. Ah well..
     
  9. Spungwa

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    ** Posted with my alt by accident


    In a player economy, gold is just a function of player time. Player skill is irrelevant after a time, as after a time enough people have the skill that it is just what makes you the most gold per hour.
    No amount of character specialisation will change that, it just means more alts.

    The problem with this economy is currently there is a lack of consumption from adventuring. Crafters bear all the gold sink. Yes reagents are a gold sink (though if bought from agriculture the crafter is still the sink from seed and maybe water), but i would think insignificant compared to the amount of coal, wax etc bought.

    Gear is not a gold sink, never will be. Gear just moves gold from one player to another, unless you are buying gear from the NPC, and i can see no good reason you would.

    The economy though is nowhere near as bad as most make out. If it was then the items that are purely player economy items would not be as stable as they are. Ore, beetle carapaces, other items that actually have consumption (demand) and no supply from the NPC vendor (so no infinite supply at a given price).

    If the picking of MW and ENC does come in, then gear will become more of part of the economy. Not because of specialisation, but because crafter will be able to charge a reasonable amount for an item and make money. With the current RNG most players will not pay the "real" cost of the item. Most crafters are crafting for fun, not for profit, because crafting gear profit does not really exist in any kind of scale.

    Even with the above i don't think gear should die quicker, it is too much work to make. It would be better if another way is made to consume crafted goods that does not product gold (which would just cause inflation).

    Everyone is trying to make gold from gear, you need to realise that currently in this economy that is not where the economy is (and as i said specialisation will not fix that - though the lack of RNG may). The economy is in consumables (foods, scrolls, even deco - as the magic mover has made these more consumable as people don't tend to reuse deco) as there is more economies of scale in those products and even that is small as adventures dont need much of anything.

    So the real economy is in selling materials to crafters for them to grind XP and level, not to especially make money. In my experience of who i know (including myself) we do it because we want to not because it makes gold. I will NEVER recoup the gold it has cost to level my crafting selling stuff in this game. Not even accounting for the gold i could have made adventuring in the game time i spent crafting. But as i said, i find it fun and this is a game after all, not a job. My adventuring pays for my crafting, not the other way around.


    Regards
    Spung
     
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  10. Elrond

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    I dont think specialisations will have the effect people expect . Cooldowns , respawn timers , specialisations - they only limit regular players rest will just use multiple accounts to overcome these barriers...
     
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  11. Greyfox

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    Until the population improved dramatically we will have no functioning player economy. Implement randomized high quality Diablo style drops for all loot. Player made items are comparable, not necessarily better, but can be more specialized.

    Make mob drops exciting and valuable to spur people playing.

    Until the active population is at least 25000 or more a player ran economy won’t work.
     
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  12. macnlos

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    25k concurrent? I’d be happy with 2.5k concurrent.

    Lol, the shard I’m playing on has the team/owner announcing the active online player count throughout the day. The shard is 3-4 weeks old. This past weekend it passed 2000 active/concurrent users.
     
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  13. Rook Strife

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    This game uses RNG everywhere but where you'd actually want it lol
     
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  14. Greyfox

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    Not 25k Concurrent. 25k actively playing and paying players. Read the article below for a good example.

    https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/...unt-increases-15-930-per-cent-after-going-f2p
     
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  15. Jaesun

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    Is it that time of the month again?
     
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  16. Lord Tachys al`Fahn

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    In UO, basic weapons and such are purchased at NPC vendors, which is where I believe he is going with this, which makes it a gold sink.
     
  17. kaeshiva

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    The problem I've always seen here, when we're talking about gold, is that there's an infinite amount of it. You input X players into a system who are killing monsters and selling the junk they drop to NPCs who have both infinite demand and infinite money to buy these goods. The 'faucet' by which 'gold currency' enters the game is almost completely 'fighting based' - any time a means is found to make gold via non-combat means it is quickly nerfed. Why is this?

    If gold entering the economy is a function of player time, then other activities, such as fishing, brewing, agriculture, crafting, etc. should have similar gold inputs for similar time investments. Sure, brewing and agriculture make money, but far less than equivalent time spent adventuring, even before you factor in the 'artificial waiting' functionality due to the grow / mature timers. Otherwise, its just 'the fighting game'. Only by fighting monsters can you get 'new money'. Yes, there are some things that you can craft and sell, but almost all of them require fighting in some form (and those that don't, are adjusted to be non-lucrative.). So you have all these people fighting, and earning money, but their 'expenses' often fall far short of the amount of gold they are able to generate.

    Conversely, your crafters have no way of generating money. And they have all the costs. The fuels, recipes, (and astronomical recipe prices due to the "drop only" methodology for any gear components worth making). But you can't actually make money crafting. Sure, sure, some deco items and consumables you can turn a profit on, but demand on such things is extremely limited. You'll never finance your crafting career on it. This was exacerbated by "loot improvements" where items such as repair kits, scrolls, potions, etc. drop in abundance.

    The recent 'deadly poison' situation (nerf in progress) is actually a good example of how things -should- work:
    Player A plants a crop, and they could sell it to the npc, OR, they could sell it to a player for slightly more.
    In order for Player B to buy the crop from player A, there needs to be sufficient consumption of the crop, i.e. Player B needs to be able to do something with it to make it worth buying.
    Player B could invest player time to increase the value of the crop turning it into potions or food. But if they can't make more money selling this stuff than they paid for the materials, then the system breaks down.
    Player A and Player B in this situation could agree on a price that split the profit between them while both contributing effort.
    Without the processing step leading to some sort of benefit for player B, well, player A simply goes back to selling to the NPC as that's the best case scenario.
    This is why we are left with an economy where everyone just does their own thing because cooperation is discouraged.
    Sure, Player A could plant the crop AND make all the potions - but the amount of time that takes increments up quite quickly.
    There is no supply chain.

    With the deadly poisons, we worked out an agreeable price for crops where the farmer got a piece of the profit and the alchemist got a piece of the profit.
    This entire operation yielded very little money - about 10% of what you could get spending the equivalent playtime fighting even Tier 1-3 trash mobs and vendor dumping.

    I firmly believe that all dropped goods from fighting, or agriculture, or anything else, should have to go through a processing step in order to return 'gold'.
    I've never understood WHY npcs would buy endless amounts of rusty garbage. It would make more sense if the only use of these items was scrap, and if NPCs bought scrap. (And chances are, a player would pay more for such scrap, thus limiting the influx of endless gold from infinite pocket npcs).

    We're still in a situation where it takes more wood to make a nice wand than it does to build a house. Crafting specialization should make some headway in making the gear market more accessible and less clogged with unwanted garbage, just desperately hoping for a sale under cost to recoup something, anything, of what was spent. But honestly, I don't think specialization is going to change much in terms of player to player interaction - its just going to force people to diversify into multiple accounts to maintain their self sufficiency.

    Why is self-sufficiency so desireable here? I think one reason is there's no centralised market, trying to find someone selling what you need is an arduous, house to house process unless you've made particular arrangements. Its far easier to just do all the steps yourself. And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that, and I don't think its something that needs to be aggressively stamped out. The problem is that player time is perceived as nil value, when really, it is the only thing that should have value at all. I'm even ok with 'fighting stuff' having a better return due to "risk" and gear degradation, but fighters make all the money and crafters have all the sinks, which is why the economy cannot properly develop.

    - Consider consumption alternatives for produced goods other than selling for gold (turning them in for experience/crafting supply bundles that would include things like recipes etc rather than having such be "more mob drops)
    - Consider crafting work orders/quests/things to allow the crafter to make a living. Sure, he may have to fight a bit to get supplies, but buying them from players should at least be a viable option. At the moment, the extreme consumption on ore due to gear RNG means buying materials for any other purpose other than outfitting oneself is a non-starter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  18. Elrond

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    Thats the only reason why the economy is still '' floating'' ..centralise the market and the economy will '' crash in 24 hours'' and by crash i mean everything sold at npc price + 1 gold ... this alone should give some thought to whoever designed the economy ...

    I noticed Chris trying to slow the amount of goods ( ore ) and gold entering the economy but so far i dont think hes attempts were successfull . The mining nerf ( increased time for nodes respawn ) has only affected the regular players who maybe play 1-3 hours/day ... multi miners however ( those who mine on 3-5 accounts ) at once are still pulling huge amounts of ore 5-8k silver ore / 8-12h of mining ( i tested this myself ). Copper and iron ore have dropped even more in price then before the nerf ( an average of 25g /ore )The artifacts value nerf to stem the gold devaluing constantly and next the poison nerfs ( nightshade) which were basically the only profitable activity worth it for farming .

    Where was farming before nightshade ? Deeds value was in the ground , and agriculture existed only at village level ( with few people planting couple k cotton for their needs ... where is it today ? Farming is a massive industry in the game with hundreds if not thousands of DEEDS invested in ...

    so unless something is added to agriculture i fear deeds will go same path again.... Should being a land owner produce profits ? I think it should but not neccessarily from the game . Farming can make profits from selling to players if we can grow worthwhile crops that players are actually interested in buying .

    Im pretty sure players are not gonna buy 200k onions or potatoes /day ..hell i barely sell 1k potatoes /week . So unless we get something interesting in farming it will be pretty much DEAD as brewery ...and farming is a serious investment ...those deeds cost crap load of cash ...+ 5 story basements .. Would be dissapointed if it gets killed without decent alternatives being offered ...Solutions - Add beetles to cotton from farming .. add forests so we can grow trees and cut for timber .... we dont need to produce gold from farming to be profitable just decent goods ... BUT WITH ONIONS AND POTATOES ....

    To sum up i ll wait to see the effects of these changes before approving or dissaproving but so far im not seeing the expected effects . I know poisons are a huge cause for the gold inflation with probably 10 mil + gold entering the economy daily just from farming so i understand why this nerf is need it , but ... i also do not like this trend every time something becomes profitable we leave it a bit for people to invest money in it then we kill it and well figure out in a year or two if we give it another shot ....so i would like some viable solutions to be presented when a branch of the economy is killed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  19. Black FjP

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    I also think a central market would be bad for the already mostly nonexistant end game economy, the only way that you can get any sort of crafting edge to actually turn a proffit at this time is vendor placement and notoriety. If everything was just a search bar away the market would just be more flooded than it already is with undercut prices down to 1/20th what it costs to craft this stuff.

    I also don't know if specialization is going to help, it will reduce the gold investment to make great pieces for sure, but I imagine that will just raise the bar of gear per price point. The limiter will still be demand which is very low. Once a player has an item they need for that spot, they remove themselves from that market indefinately.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  20. kaeshiva

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    This is the point.
    Nobody is going to buy 200k onions. What would you do with them?
    Nightshade & deadly poison - you had something to do - you could earn some xp, and, depending on what you paid the farmer, break even or make a small (miniscule, usually) profit, assuming you were buying in the 2.8-3g/ea range that most people were selling them at. All this "profit" that was created went to THE FARMER. And that's okay. Because people would buy the stuff, consume it, turn it into something, and sell it to get their money back. They'd make experience in the process, and a viable supply-return system existed.

    There is nothing you can do with any crop that you grow that sells better than just selling the raw crops straight to the NPC. Except brewing whiskey, which uses a very small amount of crops by comparison and has a 1 month wait. Even if you're running a thousand cask operation you can grow all you need in a few rotations of a single village lot.

    In order for players to buy from players, they need to be able to get some value from what they buy - either in terms of investing time to make profit with it, or gaining xp from it without making a financial loss. If you make a financial loss, then you can't afford to buy more the next day, unless you're going to go grind cash from mobs for that express purpose and just sink it into xp gains in an ever descending spiral of pointlessless.

    If you don't want the consumption to have a financial impact, then let us buy potatos, make potato salad, and turn it in to an npc soup kitchen somewhere in exchange for experience, or perhaps some sort of faction gain/progression/supplybagreward/something. Not everything has to be about gold. But if its about nothing, then nobody will bother.
     
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