Time to talk about economy!

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Chris, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Chris

    Chris Tech Lord SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    2,054
    Likes Received:
    23,428
    Trophy Points:
    190
    Gender:
    Male
    This is a shortened version of the a post I made to Dev Plus earlier this week. Now for public consumption in a slightly cleaner version! Enjoy!

    Who wants to talk about economy?? Ok, to be honest, I’m going to start by talking about economy but since almost all systems in the game are linked, I’m sure I’ll wander over to other more interesting stuff before I’m done. This will be a mix of concepts that are already true (but I want to make players aware of), ideas that we have mostly locked in stone, and then a few ideas I’m just adding in so I can see if players gasp and scream. I probably won’t tell you which is which though as that would ruin my fun… Also, about 80% of this talk will apply to online stuff so my apologies to the people most interested in single player.

    So the world of online game macroeconomics is different from the real world in many ways but the desired state of the market is the same. That desired state is an economy with a small, but consistent, rate of inflation. Also, just like in the real world, we know we won’t get it exactly right and that we need to very carefully monitor things to see what is causing fluctuations and have easy ways to correct things. Also, like the real world, we must have mechanisms in place that let players correct inflation through their natural behaviors and competitiveness. Before diving into the specifics of those systems though, I wanted to give a brief overview of game economies and then hit on a few ways SotA might be different.

    Game economies! So for any non-barter economy to work, there must be an accepted form of global currency. For us, this is the ubiquitous gold piece. This is the only form of currency that merchants, vendors, trainers, etc will accept. I will provide reasons and examples of why players might not use gold amongst themselves later in the post.

    The rough rate of inflation can be approximated by looking at the growth rate of the approximate amount of gold assets or items which can be sold to merchants for gold in the economy divided by the number of active players in the economy. For this to happen we must have fairly balanced inputs and outputs to that pile of gold. Also, for the real business guys out there are mentally correcting me, yes I realize that inflation in the real world is really based on what things costs(CPI), not the net sum of wealth but for this discussion I think this is easier to understand and helps us track what we need which is are people adding and destroying wealth from the system at our desired rate.

    Again, for clarity, this is the macroeconomics level; not the market level. So that means for calculations into inputs and outputs, we only care how much gold can be created by the game to be added to that total player pool. For example, if a great brown grizzly bear is killed and skinned and a fabulous bear pelt is created the only thing that matters is how much that pelt can be sold to a merchant for. So the merchant might only pay 15 gold for it so that is how much that object counts towards the macroeconomics inflation calculations even though players might be paying 5000 gold for it on the jobs board (more on that later). The 5000 gold that players are willing to pay is just money moving from one pocket to another pocket as far as the macroeconomy is concerned. In fact, players selling to other players through vendors or job boards actually removes money from the economy since they tend to take a cut of the transaction. While we do need to keep an eye on what things are selling between players those market economics don’t change overall game inflation.

    So while a bit confusing, the good news is that this means that tracking money in and money out of the system is much easier for us. When items are created, we know without a doubt what their value to the macroeconomy is going to be. It also means we can set target outputs for zones and track those in terms of gold (and experience) output per player, per hour so we can see what areas are out of whack in terms of rewards and need adjusting. This also gives us an easy metric to try and find new exploits and cheaters through data mining.

    Now that we’re hopefully on the same page on what makes up the macroeconomy, lets dive into what things are inputs and drains which will help me then identify the different roles player types play in the macroeconomy:

    • So killing a creature and taking its mad lewtz? Cha-ching!
    • Harvesting a cotton plant? Cha-ching!
    • Killing a bear and skinning it for its pelt? Cha-ching!
    • Taking that pelt and turning it into some sweet leather armor? BUZZZ…balanced or drain
    • Selling that sweet leather armor at the vendor(not merchant) for big $$$? BUZZ… definitely a drain
    • Completing a quest for an NPC who then gives you a reward? Cha-ching!
    • Killing another player and taking something from them? BUZZ...balanced or drain

    So for each of these that are “Cha-ching!” it is the game creating gold out of thin air and moving it to a player. For the crafting leather armor, while this will probably make something of more value to other players, the final item will only sell to a vendor for the same or less than the sum of the parts that went into it. So pelts worth 50 gold to a vendor can be turned into leather armor worth 45 gold to a merchant.

    If the leather armor is actually something that is good enough that other players want then they could put the armor for sale on a vendor or sell it in person to the player but to the macroeconomics of the game, that is just money moving from one pocket to the other, possibly with a drain of a vendor cut.

    Same with killing another player. The killer will most likely gain some benefit but that is just moving value around. Also, the net will probably be a large loss since both parties probably damaged armor, damaged weapons, used consumables, and used reagents.

    Ok, so if the above explanation wasn’t too bad and you’ve had your coffee this morning, after a few minutes here is what you will probably come to realize in terms of how it relates to player types:

    • Crafters are probably a drain on the macroeconomy
    • PVP players are a huge drain on the macroeconomy
    • PVE players are the engine that adds the majority of wealth to the macroeconomy!

    So if you’re a crafter or a PVP player, don’t get out the pitchforks just yet. Again, this is macroeconomics and not market economics. So lets take a quick dive into market economy stuff that is really more of what the players playing the game see as the economy.

    So one of the key ways in which SotA is different from most other online games is that in SotA the best items in the game are always created by players. If you look at a game like WoW, the “economy” is almost completely driven by creature drops and the crafter type has zero real opportunity to thrive.

    In SotA we are intentionally forcing PVE and PVP players to deal with crafters (or learn to craft themselves) if they want to be at the top of their games. To a large extent though, the crafters are dependent upon the PVE players for resource gathering. This symbiotic relationship is one of the primary engines for the market economy. To put it into terms a bad economist from a sitcom would use:

    • Group A has easy access to widgets(resources) but doesn't need widgets, it needs gizmos (quality equipment)
    • Group B has less access to widgets but wants them badly so they can turn the widgets into gizmos to sell to Group A
    • Group A pays for the gizmos which then gives group B money to buy more widgets to turn into gizmos to sell to Group A... repeat!

    So, that muffled sobbing you hear in the background are all the PVP focused players who now realize that they need the gizmos but don't have a good way to get widgets. So this is the sad truth of PVPers, if the story ended there, but there is good news for the PVP guys. Many of the rarest widgets only exist in significant quantities inside PVP areas.

    So the good news that, at first, sounds like bad news is that unlike some other specialized groups, anyone can go into a PVP area and collect the rare widgets. So sounds like bad news for the PVPers but in reality, it is one of the lure mechanism for the sheep to the wolves that we have talked about in the past. I am going to do another "Wall of Text" type post for PVP soon so I won't go over all the mechanisms here but I will say that there will be systems in place to give fair opportunity to all to try and stop people from escaping with the valuable widgets.

    One of the challenges with building systems to balance the PVP rewards system is finding a system that isn't easily exploited. With crafters and PVE systems, we control half of the simulation. With PVP, players control both sides of the simulation. Simply rewarding players for killing players other players will obviously just result in PVPers taking turns killing each other. We can put systems in place to limit rewards from individuals that will then just result in guilds doing the same thing with more players.

    So the question we had to ask ourselves is: Do we come up with other mechanisms to allow PVPers to generate some economic value through their desired play style or do we just force them to PVE or craft in addition to PVPing? PVP players will have their own trophy type reward mechanisms with leader boards and other public facing elements but that still doesn’t pay the bills to fix up the armor and buy new potions. After much debate, we decided we did want to try to have a way that PVP players could generate at least some value in the economy which is where the rare resources in PVP areas comes in.

    So one of the things that was stated recently in a hangout that caused a bit of an uproar was that players won’t be able to enter into PVP zones in Single Player Online mode. So this topic is still open for debate. If players prefer, we can make PVP zones enterable in SPOnline mode BUT ONLY if we remove the rare resources from them. All elements of the game must have a risk vs reward element to them and it feels like what players want is for us to remove the risk but leave the reward and that can’t happen.

    This isn’t because we hate you and we’re trying to make the game less fun. This would be like us putting a button in Kingsport that gave you 4000 gold every time you pushed it. Yah, sure it would be cool for a bit but it would break the game in the long run. BTW, I used KP and 4k gold as examples because we had a bug in a previous release that basically let you do just that. Buy something, turn and craft it, turn and sell it for 4k more gold and when we removed it people screamed bloody murder. :[​IMG]

    Also, just to be clear, the resources that will be put in PVP areas are going to exist elsewhere in the game. We’re just putting more of them in PVP zones than in most other zones. Also, it is all fictionalized and fits into the story and lore.

    So I know if I don’t change the topic quick, all the replies will be about those last 3 paragraphs so...look something shiny!! Let’s talk about work orders!! This actually is a super shiny feature that I’m going to work hard on getting into R16!

    So work orders are essentially the opposite of vendors. They allow players to go create a request for goods and the price they are willing to pay. This helps crafters because they can request raw resources they need, but might not be able to get. This helps adventurers because they can do things like request 50 potions at a time or a specific item that they need from crafters. This helps EVERYONE because it essentially creates a simple player created quest system.

    Now instead of us creating NPCs and coming up with cheesy “Bring me 10 wolf pelts” type quests, we can leave that for other players to do! These will also be local to towns which means another reasons for players to travel and visit more towns.

    It also will drive player interactions in a big way. Why? Because if you see Bob the blacksmith constantly putting up iron ore requests, at some point smart players would just contact him directly and start making a deal so you can cut out the middle man.

    Oh, and to wrap up some loose ends on the things I mentioned above but never explained, we can look to UO’s economy to see what happened when the systems break down. At one point in UO they had an exploit that allowed billions of gold to flood into the system. Inflation skyrocketed and gold essentially became worthless. This is the nightmare situation for developers. This happened in Archeage recently to such an extent that they were investigating rollbacks on live servers. On UO when this happened players gave up using gold and switched to the barter system until the economy recovered, which took months.

    Scary stuff indeed! So obviously we will be doing everything we can to make sure the economy never gets to a point where our desired currency collapses but we’re also adding in some other mechanisms to help pull the inflation back into line in case it does happen

    Ok, I think I’m well past my 2000 word target so I’m going to call this brain dump done and move on to my next stream of consciousness topic which will be PVP and PVE, risk and reward!
     
  2. reesian

    reesian Avatar

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    181
    Trophy Points:
    8
  3. Arradin

    Arradin Avatar

    Messages:
    1,147
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sweden
    "short version" :D
     
  4. docdoom77

    docdoom77 Avatar

    Messages:
    1,274
    Likes Received:
    3,381
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Latveria
    You lost me at 80% online. Which is good, because I didn't have time to read a novel. :p
     
  5. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

    Messages:
    4,351
    Likes Received:
    14,669
    Trophy Points:
    153
    But how does the economy work in the single player mode, especially offline? Is there an economy? Is it NPC driven?

    As for PvP zones in single player mode: I am all for being able to enter and explore them. Remove the rare resources but instead give single player fans something else to do there. Maybe fight a certain monster or find some treasure. I think no scene should be "empty" and there should always be some things to do, no matter what mode you play in.
     
    Chatele likes this.
  6. Fikule

    Fikule Avatar

    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    580
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Just going to throw my possible PvP economy stuff in this post for ze feedbacks.

    A few possible Cha-chings for PvP:

    First idea is based on the possibility of Trade Wagons between towns. You can join a trade wagon as a guard. There may be multiple trade wagons instanced off from each other for each trip. You travel in the overview map with the wagon. The wagon can be held up by players and monsters. A PvP player will only see Wagons with either no player guards or those of a similar level. I guess if player parties/groups were further on you might be able to have multiple guards and multiple attackers. If there are no player guards or no player attackers, it is a PvE experience, but the wagons would be open PvP challenges.
    • Successfully defend a wagon on the road (PvE/PvP). Cha-ching!
    • Successfully raid a wagon on the road (PvE/PvP). Cha-ching!
    The next one would be PvP (Chaos?) guilds raiding a town. For instance, a guild sets a raid up and a timer for 15 minutes starts. After 15 minutes, the raid will begin. For that 15 minutes, other players (or guilds?) can volunteer to defend against the raid. The players able to join the defense would match the amount of players raiding. NPC guards would make up the numbers. The guards become tougher the more there are (So a full PvE raid is hopefully as difficult as a PvP one). The raid can start early if there is a full roster of defenders. Ideally these raids would be instanced.
    • Successfully raid a town or point of interest (PvE/PvP). Cha-Ching!
    • Successfully defend against a player raid (PvP Only). Cha-Ching!
    By the same line, PvP guilds may be able to establish guild "Dens" or "Camps" that good (Order?) guilds can raid against. The camps would appear on the overview map when there are enough guild members available to defend it and there is enough loot available (see the next sentence ^^). You could say 20% of all raided loot for the guild is stored there (the pvp guild can't access it). If the good players win, they get the loot. If the PvP guild wins, the loot goes to them. This means that when a PvP guild is actively raiding, they will eventually have to defend their camp. It might not even be a fully owned camp, just a map point created for that guild to specifically defend. You could also stipulate that if they lose, they can't raid for a while.
    • Successfully destroy a PvP camp (PvP Only). Cha-Ching!
    • Successfully defend your PvP camp (PvP Only). Cha-Ching!
    Note: Wagon/Raid loot would replace player economic penalties for these instances of PvP. The reward would be the non-player loot, making the PvP less detrimental to the loser while keeping the rewards for the winner and the actual fun of PvP. You still need to kill someone for loot, just not their own loot :p
     
  7. licemeat

    licemeat Avatar

    Messages:
    892
    Likes Received:
    2,811
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cincinnati Oh
    All I got from this was that there is going to be a button in Kingsport dispersing gold . Super excited for that.
     
  8. Tahru

    Tahru Avatar

    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    11,438
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Dragomir Mori
    Man, I loath long posts. But this was an important one, so I read each painstaking word with extreme patience. My conclusions is...

    You rock Chris! Not that i had doubts to begin with, but I have none at now.
     
  9. Arradin

    Arradin Avatar

    Messages:
    1,147
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sweden

    So wait, i am a crafter.. i don't have time to go hunting for raw materials... i can put up a 'quest' for people to bring me 10 iron ore, and get rewards in return?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Bowen Bloodgood

    Bowen Bloodgood Avatar

    Messages:
    12,682
    Likes Received:
    22,175
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Caer Dracwych
    Do I have to read the whole thing again? ;)

    Well I'm going to take the opportunity again to bring up multi-denomination currency. Gold is supposed to be worth something. If I have 10,000 gold I ought to be bleedin' rich. I'd like to suggest converting the current gold into a lowest denomination of bronze or copper and work up from there. Otherwise in the long term people are going to think 10,000 gold is chump change. Especially if gold output is anything remotely close to right now. A bandit drops 20 gold? If I had 20 gold coins in my pocket right now.. I'd be able to buy a lot more than a loaf of bread.

    It would be especially useful if currency becomes tangible.. as implied by the idea that we'd be able to mint our own coin. I'd rather manage 10 gold, 50 silver and 100 bronze than I would 105,100 gold.
     
  11. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

    Messages:
    4,351
    Likes Received:
    14,669
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Sending others on quests would be cool for single player, too. You could send special NPCs or companions on some quests. Really cool would be if you could even follow them around and watch them do those quests!
     
  12. Bowen Bloodgood

    Bowen Bloodgood Avatar

    Messages:
    12,682
    Likes Received:
    22,175
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Caer Dracwych
    I could only imagine those NPCs would turn around and say "if you're following me out here why don't you do it yourself?" :)
     
    Chatele, 4EverLost, Ice Queen and 3 others like this.
  13. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

    Messages:
    4,351
    Likes Received:
    14,669
    Trophy Points:
    153
    It's just to control them if they are doing their work and doing it good ;)
     
    Ronan likes this.
  14. Bowen Bloodgood

    Bowen Bloodgood Avatar

    Messages:
    12,682
    Likes Received:
    22,175
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Caer Dracwych
    "Supervising" got it. ;)
     
    Lord_Darkmoon and Ronan like this.
  15. Lord Baldrith

    Lord Baldrith Avatar

    Messages:
    2,161
    Likes Received:
    7,050
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wizards Rest
    Chris: Technically you are creating something from nothing when you harvest leather, and convert it to armor or just mats for crafting that armor. Unless you are saying that the wax and labor involved take the Cha-ching! out of it :)

    I agree with Bowen....I would like to see other types of currency besides gold. In the games I've played where there is only 1 currency you end up with...Gee you only have 10 million gold...I've got 200 trillion :)

    Great post...really excited about work orders!
     
  16. Vasflam2

    Vasflam2 Avatar

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    154
    Trophy Points:
    8
    "the resources that will be put in PVP areas are going to exist elsewhere in the game. We’re just putting more of them in PVP zones than in most other zones"

    Excellent News! This is what was expected and it is the way it should be. Without incentive PvP will languish. One of my top priorities will be to prevent anyone from touching my resource nodes in my zone.
     
  17. Damian Killingsworth

    Damian Killingsworth Avatar

    Messages:
    882
    Likes Received:
    1,374
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Whyte Roc
    Thanks Chris! Way to take the bull by the horns and untie the divided. +1
     
    A Ghost likes this.
  18. Anendrue

    Anendrue Avatar

    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    921
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    College Station, TX
    We have to do this all over again. :confused:

    Most of us made our points loud and clear in the other thread. There are only a few thousand posts on PvP and its effect on economics in dozens if not hundreds of threads.

    PvE and crafters are not going to suddenly embrace the idea of increased resources to PvP players to underwrite their life style choice. What about the beggars do they get underwritten too? The starving artists who want to write and publish in game, where is their subsidy? And so forth and so on....
    • If it is about balancing net resources, how do you deal with a large guilds owning and farming a PvP zone by maximizing the instance with their members?
    • If it's about difficulty in gaining rare resources from PvP zones then make it difficult for PvE to get those resources too. Rare should mean hard and that should apply to everyone, including PvE and crafters. Make some extremely hard PvE zones with the same rate of rares being sent into the world.
    • If it's about sending sheep to the wolves to be ganked and res killed then prepare for the majority of the PvE population to scream, NO THANK YOU.
    However, all of this leaves the beggar, starving artist, author, and interior decorator feeling like they need a subsidy too.;)
     
  19. Sindariya

    Sindariya Avatar

    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    7,206
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Gender:
    Female
    I love the fact, that we will have only one currency. I hate the hickhack about pence.

    I'm still worrying, that crafters don't make cha-ching. The good thing is, that this prevents the people from making useless armor just to gain gold. But my concern is, that everyone will just make his own armor and repairs, just because it is cheaper, and so the economy will not start circling. We will have a closed economy system, what means everything what goes into the system, stays there. Even loot will be created by players. But why should I craft something and sell it to merchant and get it so into the system, if I don't win anything from it? Or will mobs create not only gold but also armor or other things of value?
    What also worry me is the amount of gold that is possible to make per run out in the world. It is impossible to avoid damage or the use of reagents if you go out to gather or kill mobs. The question is, how much will stay in our pocket after all repair bills are paid or new reagents are bought. At the moment repair doesn't make sense, it is more expensive than make something new.

    You made this example:
    • Group A has easy access to widgets(resources) but doesn't need widgets, it needs gizmos (quality equipment)
    • Group B has less access to widgets but wants them badly so they can turn the widgets into gizmos to sell to Group A
    • Group A pays for the gizmos which then gives group B money to buy more widgets to turn into gizmos to sell to Group A... repeat!
    My problem is, that I don't see this circle start. Where did group A get the money to pay group B. Or where did group B get the money to buy from group A to start the circle. Everyone has to do PVE to generate gold which he can spend. I fear a world flooded with raw material and nothing more.

    Work orders are a great idea but will only work if the economy works. Perhaps I'm worrying to much. But at the moment I can't see this economy work.
     
  20. Sold and gone

    Sold and gone Avatar

    Messages:
    4,690
    Likes Received:
    11,034
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Somewhere underground waiting to get you!
    In my opinion the thing that throws a wrench into all of this is that there are 2 skill trees. PvP can also be the gatherers. Its not like UO and you have a limited choice of skill points and have to sacrifice some combat skill to pvp in order to mine or harvest. So you have pvp gatherers and pve gatherers.