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Old 02-13-2004, 01:27 PM   #1
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Well, I've been taking economics this semester and it's really amazing stuff.

It's gotten me thinking about MUD economies.  I'll be speaking in terms of Merc muds, but I think this is pretty universal.

I don't remember who said it (MUD-Dev?) but I've heard MUDs described as having faucet and sink economies.  That is, through spontaneous generation, prodcuts enter the marketplace, and somehow are either drained away, or hoarded.  

So, how can we simulate market behaviors on a game.  Well, for any economics to work, we need infinite want (no prob! and finite resources.  So, auto-loading shop-keepers is basically not allowable.  OK, so shopkeepers must pay (production cost) to stock their shelves (inventories).  

Now, free markets also depend on the unincumberred(sp) interaction of buyers and sellers, so some kind of price negociation system would be required:

Perhaps, a list price based on the current going rate of a given index_data, and some haggling (not the theif skill! with the keeper.  E.g:

Player checks list price, then makes an offer.  Then, through some process yet to be determined the keeper decides if he'll accept that price.  Then, the transaction occurs or doesn't.
Key to all of this is economic tracking so we can simulate market supply and demand.  I imagine something as simple as tracking supply and demand schedules for items globally would suffice.  Local markets might be skewed.  (In theory, the armor shop next to the armnaments forge would have lower prices)

Well, just a musing.


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Old 02-13-2004, 02:19 PM   #2
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Well, I think it's a matter of what type of Mu* you are dealing with (not codebase, mind you). For instance, a Mu* where most of the shops are run by mobiles, perhaps in a hack-n-slash type will have a very hard time implementing any other kind of system on. But on a mud where where everything is player driven (well, as much as can be allowed)...shops would be owned by players, and the typical economical law of supply and demand, and other types of economics could be applied. Which is just another vote for RP Mu*s in my opinion
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Old 02-13-2004, 03:20 PM   #3
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Certainly, if it's all player driven, then you can assume rationality and everything will handle itself. I was thinking more about how to do this in a game where NPCs ran the shops.

I don't see how RP has much bearing on that. There'd have to be a lot of xp involved for me to sit in a general store selling waterskins. <g> At some point we must realize that for players to realize any kind of fantasy, their in-game jobs can't bee TOO much like minimum wage drugeries IRL. I do, however, see your point.

I think I need to make myself more clear though. I'm talking about price setting economies for NPCs.

If the shopkeep knows that the going rate for, say, a torch is seven gp, then he'll list it at 10 gp, but will accept an offer for 6 or 7 or something based on his inventory. Each transaction is put into some sort of aggregate function to determine those market prices. The shopkeep will have to 'order' more items every so often (PULSE_ECONOMY?) and will, in some way, make rational decisions in that regard.

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Old 02-13-2004, 03:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by
I don't see how RP has much bearing on that. There'd have to be a lot of xp involved for me to sit in a general store selling waterskins. <g> At some point we must realize that for players to realize any kind of fantasy, their in-game jobs can't bee TOO much like minimum wage drugeries IRL. I do, however, see your point.
Heh. Heh. Heh. No.

First, most of the places where I've seen lots of player shops don't have experience, or don't offer any experience for selling things. The general rule is, their is something either exciting or romantic about fantasy worlds, which is why RP in them, even of fairly mundane tasks, appeals to a lot of players. That and, well, being the uberest blacksmith of all can be fun too.

And there are those of us who RP to tell stories, many of whom are very very excited telling the story of even a "drugery".

So, basically, I guess what I'm saying is, don't make those kind of evil assumptions.
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:38 PM   #5
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Uh, as much as you guys love to jump on the RP soapbox, EVERYTHING is not exciting or romantic.

I accept that I may have made generalizations in my sarcasm; I'm prone to that. Things are rarely funny w/o a little hyperbole for emphasis.

I hate to let this degrade into an RP-related discussion, as much as we all _love_ those.

And it may, in fact must, just be my opinion that the point of a MUD server is to offer something more than sitting on IRC with a DM. That is, we can automate a world for fantasy and RP, etc.

Anyhow, I'm still proposing a system and have implied a request for comment...still waiting on that.

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Old 02-21-2004, 06:14 PM   #6
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You have to just invent the demand I think. You simply cannot rely on the player base to need to buy as much as the player base will have to sell. In real life, one shop somewhere in Virginia or something sells all the bullets the US Govt used to need for the armed forces..... Illustrates simply this: people mud to be excellent at SOMETHING, whether it be warrioring, wizarding, or the making of widgets, and when you have lots of people running around playing at excellence you need the game to take the role of the drudges who work their work weeks and then buy the goods.

Work out the formula such that the market can get flooded with certain things such that they are no longer profitable, which will then motivate the players to seek out other things to make/steal/plunder.

I used to play this video game on Nintendo where you basically went around sailin from port to port, buying here and selling there, making money to buy larger boats to transport more goods, yada yada. Was fun.

Like most mud related things, I think it might also be necessary to establish a ceiling level for balance sake eventually, then you fiddle with the numbers depending on just how long and hard you think someone should have to work to advance.

I hope I am on topic! =) I have been on a game for some time now that has many cities and lots of possibilities for economic based play, but there are oplayer shops, and they turn out to be more like substitute houses than anything. You rent the shop, you may have a few small things that you have for sale low enough that someone might want to buy them, but the cities themselves are not coded to encourage someone loading a pack full of gold, for example, and dragging it to the Iron Hills where a lot of smiths are but where gold is in short supply. That is the sort of thing I'd like to see more of, motive for caravans yada yada.
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Old 02-21-2004, 10:50 PM   #7
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Supply and demand, the basis of economics is easily facilitated in MUDs. But first you have a couple of questions, what creates demand? what creates supply?

The first is easy, whats in demand (in most ROM, stat/number driven muds) is what makes you better. A sword of damage +100 is going to be more demanded then a sword of damage +10. And similarly a breastplate of intelligence +100 is going to be more in demand then a breastplate of intelligence +10.

Now what creates supply? This depends sometimes what MUD your playing. If its player-craft based... i.e. everything in the game is predominantly player made then its a bit harder. But for most Muds I've seen the best items are loaded on mobs, or sold in shops. Meaning that supply is created by the code through certain situations.

Moving on, a decreased supply will increase demand. An increase demand will obviously decrease supply.

But in the aforementioned scenario there is hiccup. What happens when supply is limitless? The normal rules of economics don't really apply when the conditions are changed. If the 'Super Sword of Fire +1' will always load atop the easily ascended mountain, the demand may be both high and easily filled. And soon everyone has a super sword of fire +1.

Did you see what happened there? An unlimited supply actually reduces demand in the long-run, when everyone has one. What worth is an item that everyone has? If everyone had ming vases would they be worth anything at a New York auctionhouse? Probably not.

But lets say that the sword of fire +1 was guarded on this mountain by the Massive Drake of Slaying. Suddenly the playing field changes. They may NOT be so easy to come by, and supply becomes limited to those that can get them and they may or may not wish to sell them, driving up the price, and creating an economy based on value as determined by cost to acquire.

Value based on cost to acquire drives up the price, as the item's value as perceived by the person getting it, must be higher then the value of their time and energy exerted. If the cost to acquire was 5 minutes and pill of haste, then a few minutes healing after, the value of the item will be less, as more and more people would be able to get it.

So from this model you have a scale of naturally progressing items. Easy to obtain items are often made weak, making the value less as determined by the stats of the item. With the scale rising until you get to the 'best' items in the game. Which are probably the hardest to obtain, obviously most demanded, and subsequently the most expensive.

To create demand the items must be good, and useful. No one will pay buko bucks for a hat that looks pretty but doesn't do anything for them in some respect. But that can also vary on what usefulness means to the person. A collector might want it, or any of a number of people, but Im gojng on generally preceived majorities.

Now a nifty thing, used in the mud Feudal Realms, is a 'maxload' feature. The rarest items are added a maxload flag, with a defined number of 'loads' before it reaches maximum. This said, its now possible to make the super ring of invisability load only 10 times on the demon of darkness before he stops wearing it. Making the item that much more valuable as its quantities are now limited. (See above about what creates supply).

So supply is now exhaustable in an extreme sense, as opposed to forever loading. So now a new factor is added to value, and value affects demand, and demand falls upon the best usually.

Now used in the MUD ArmageddonMUD is a neat economy feature played in through the effective seperation and databasing of cities. One city may pay more for something and less for other things, while at the same time selling things for less and selling things for more. City A may buy gold for 100 dollars per chunk, while City B will pay 200. At the same time City B sells gold jewelry for 150 dollars a piece, while City A will sell for 175.

You get the point. Taxes through item type are a great way to stimulate market environments. For example if you have a city in your game that mass produces weapons, obviously their shopkeepers will pay less. While a city on the frontier might be in desperate need of weapons.
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Old 02-22-2004, 05:56 AM   #8
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You can create player-driven selling and buying without having a roleplaying game. Just look at Final Fantasy XI which has an auction based system which players participate in. Yes it's automated to a degree, but it's the player's creating the supply and demand

Also, taking Jenred's example of the Sword of Fire being guarded by a big Dragon being enough to stop people flooding the market with the Sword of Fire. That isn't going to stop people eventually. It probably will in the short term, but your eventually going to get a big bad ass who can take out the Dragon, and who will do so repeatedly.

In a non-RP mud, unless there is a rule to stop him, nothing is going to stop him Unless you have code (such as the maxload code).

Another thing to take into account is, do items dissapear? If items dissapear, having finite items (unless the code spawns more when some dissapear) is going to eventually create an empty mud. But if you have a replenishing supply of items in a mud that doesn't lose items, then your going to eventually flood the market.

So it's important to take into account how items can be destroyed, when working out how items can be created.
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Old 02-22-2004, 09:31 AM   #9
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I think a lot of it also depends on the player base and the style of game you're playing. Sorry, but RP -really does- have a lot to do with this, as much as you might wish it didn't.

In a game where the players' characters value basic survival in a harsh wilderness over pretty stuff and uber magickal items, those common things like tents to sleep in, water, are going to be the most highly valued among those who dwell in the desert. Pretty fluff things, luxury items, will be valued among those who exist only to be pretty and luxurious, who already have a well of clean water in their marble courtyard and down-filled king-sized beds in their boudoir.

In a game where the players take this kind of thing seriously and delve deeply into the RP, the RP will certainly affect the price and the supply/demand.

In a game where the players just want to get from point A to point B and beat the tar out of the nearest Level 20 critter mob, none of those things will matter, and the players will just want critters that drop neato treasures so they don't have to buy much of anything anyway.

Then there's the hybrid, where your character can be both quasi-realistic and a "stat-monster" at the same time, where the items available for sale cater to the *players'* whims rather than the *characters'* whims. Gemstone is a great example of that. Sure, that +25 imflass club with acid crits will garner several millions of coins, but so will that tiny jam-speckled halfling satchel that has a "script" attached so when you pull on it, it sends an echo of a pet bird squawking from inside.

Then you have to take into account whether or not players buy and sell this stuff for real life cash. That will certainly affect the value of things in the game itself.

The answer? There isn't any difinitive answer. It all boils down to the usual "It depends."
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Old 02-22-2004, 10:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by
Sorry, but RP -really does- have a lot to do with this, as much as you might wish it didn't.
I'm afraid I must disagree - I fail to see any connection at all between an economy system and roleplaying. In fact when I think of economy systems the first computer game that springs to mind is Elite - a great computer game I used to play many years ago, which was basically a space trading game with combat. No roleplaying, just buying, selling, killing and gathering resources. I always wanted to do something similiar in a mud (and still may).
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Old 02-22-2004, 11:25 AM   #11
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Economy... in RP...  um, wtf?  Why the heck would I want to spend hours tediously gaining gold when- since it's an RP mud- i can just go "emote summons a djinni and wishes for a billion coins"?

Economy is pointless anywhere BUT hack'n'slash. In good hack'n'slash you have several types of currency. gold, which is slowly filtered in as people kill mobs, etc, and slowly filters back out as they buy potions. Potions are the next type, these are only bought, seldom sold (some muds will let players brew their own and if the mud is big, someone might make a brew bot to sell cheaper than mobs), and are the lifeblood of the people trying to bring in the main type, which is raw goods, in the form of equipment/treasures only winnable by killing mobs. Raw goods are traded for other raw goods, or for gold; and slowly filter back out via deaths/damage/accidental sacrificing/etc.
As long as a mob is killable, its equipment will filter in much faster than it filters out, so a good mud will periodically and unpredictably make mobs harder or take an item away for good, making it suddenly achieve the status of an artifact which can never be reproduced, and THIS leads to some interesting economies if the mud exists for many rl years :-)

As for all you RPers, I hope the zippers catch in your fursuits and you die of heatstroke
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Old 02-22-2004, 11:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by (erdos @ Feb. 22 2004,10:25)
Economy... in RP... um, wtf? Why the heck would I want to spend hours tediously gaining gold when- since it's an RP mud- i can just go "emote summons a djinni and wishes for a billion coins"?
That post shows an obvious ignorance of how (some/most) RP muds work (the ones muds I've played anyway. Maybe there are SOME muds that allow this).

All I'll say is this isn't how RP muds work.
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Old 08-17-2004, 03:24 PM   #13
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The faucet and drain analogy is similar to what I look to when pushing our own economy buttons. One of the best methods of controlling object proliferation is allow for a fast drain- for example, object destruction is very easy, whereas going out and amassing valuables takes some time and effort. The same goes for currency- we often a number of services which take money for a temporary reward. We also make it difficult to store items off your person- there are a few places, but none are accessible only by you. Finally, we have several incentives for destroying objects- the Empire demands periodic donations as tribute from its citizens, Scions can Despoil powerful magical objects for temporary bursts of power, etc.

Controlling the faucet is trickier- areas don't have finite supplies of residents (they repopulate themselves periodically), and those residents will carry money, clothing, weapons, etc. This is a side effect of needing to keep the play experience constant for people who join the game at different times. If there were only 20 goblins in the village, and someone came through and killed them all... well, that wouldn't be very fun for the next group to go there. So we accept the unreality that more goblins will show up in (game-time) a day or so.

Well, if goblins are infinite, and goblins usually carry spears, spears are potentially infinite. So what you're really pricing is the difficulty and time involved in grabbing one. You don't care so much if spears are infinite, because character lifespan isn't- the goblins can kill of the character once in a while, or other characters might see someone killing goblins, and swoop in for a kill of their own. Even if the activity is safe, you can only generate so many spears per hour. Our shops will only buy so many, and the other players generally want 0-1 spears/person. So even if your spear collection has theoretical value ('spears are worth 50 copper&#39, you end up unable to convert spears into utility, and therefore aren't willing to convert time/risk into spears. Because fast drains are in effect, there's probably something else they need more, and they're redirect their efforts. This is good, because variety keeps people interested.

In short- allow fast drains to create an overall demand, then make sure your system doesn't reward monotony. If a bot can easily do it, it shouldn't be worth anything.

Economy... in RP... um, wtf? Why the heck would I want to spend hours tediously gaining gold when- since it's an RP mud- i can just go "emote summons a djinni and wishes for a billion coins"?

Except for the issue of internal consistency. Just because something is set in an alternate reality, doesn't mean that reality doesn't have its own set of rules.
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by (John @ Feb. 23 2004,01:33)
Originally Posted by erdos,Feb. 22 2004,10:25
Economy... in RP... um, wtf? Why the heck would I want to spend hours tediously gaining gold when- since it's an RP mud- i can just go "emote summons a djinni and wishes for a billion coins"?
That post shows an obvious ignorance of how (some/most) RP muds work (the ones muds I've played anyway. Maybe there are SOME muds that allow this).

All I'll say is this isn't how RP muds work.
<- I wanted a nested quote here, but I am sure people can work it out.

This IS a good example, maybe not in the economy context, but I see an awful lot of the opposite when it comes to PK muds. I agree it was an exageration, but it gets very tiring to read it comming from both sides.

[code] PK != !RP[/quote] && H&S does not mean there have to be NO consequences for the killing of a NPC/PC

I have seen comments in quite a few posts in various boards that make this assumption., also player run shops does not make a good rp mud either.

You could try and make it heirachical, the village shopkeeper has 1 maybe 2 suppliers, there is a very good chance that he/she is ignorant of the price of an item on the other side of the country (let alone continent), modern MU*s with instantaneous comms might not be able to pull this off as easily. SO it doesn't matter if pot metal daggers are 2c in the capital, if he is selling out constantly, they may be a POS item, but in that community they are valuable. If a PC comes along and floods the local economy with the item then the first time they might make some big $$$ but the second and third time when the shopkeeper has some in stock... so it could be based on the quantity of the item available, and a time to last sale? I am sure there are some people out there who could come up with a usable equation(set of equations) to run with. You can then expand that to the next level up ( hmm, a bit pyramid schemey ) the supplier will have thier customers and suppliers, and that is all they have to base thier prices on. As you go further up the heirachy it will get more complex, but there is a chance to cut down the number of test/calcs there is probably only 1 source of +20 mace of thwuppages and I do not imagine it is a shop, if the main dealer deals in that sort of thing, and the item has a coded value, and he has 3 of them, and hasn't sold one for over 2 years game time hes probably not going to pay full "value" for it...

just my 2coppers
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Old 08-18-2004, 03:43 PM   #15
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I do think that economies on RPIs are different creatures than those on non-RPI.  Example:  In a H&S or even RP-lite MUD, players go out and gather resources and use/sell them, or make them into other things to use/sell.  This happens on RPIs as well, but in a subtly different fashion.  In RPIs, characters do not automatically know that the best sword is the "etched bone scimitar"...the players may know it, but that doesn't mean their characters do.  Similarly, though a player may know where to find the vines that their character can weave into baskets, the character may not know, or may disdain grubbing around in the dirt for vines. Rather, they may hire someone to go out gathering vines for them, or buy the vines in a straightforward sale from a vine-gatherer.

So, in short, in an RPI, the players don't necessarily extract as much profit as they can in the gameworld, but only what they think is realistic.

Another example, and I'm sure this happens in non-RPIs as well (but not to the same extent) is that many players specifically DON'T want the best sword, strongest armor, or prettiest clothes.  They just want something with the right look, and the right flavor, and it might be one of the most non-descript or shoddiest items in the game.  This means that demand is harder to predict and will fluctuate with little notice or reason, because not everyone is after the same coveted items.

Which moves me back to the original topic.  If you could code a mechanism that would measure the demand for an item and automatically raise/lower the price, you might be able to approximate a more balanced economy.

For example, pretend that the hottest new item that everyone wants is "a rugged, oversized haversack".  When the first one is bought, the price goes up a tiny amount.  If no one buys any haversacks for awhile the price will start dropping slowly, back to, and perhaps even below, the original price.  If, however, there is a rush on these delightful haversacks, then the price will continue rising with each one sold, until it reaches a level where the demand drops off because the price is too high (and eventually if no one buys any more the price will drop back down gradually).  With a system like this, all you have to set is the rock-bottom price (to prevent things from dropping too low, beyond any profit margin over material costs).

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