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Old 07-19-2008, 11:10 AM   #1
Sergeytov
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Encouraging Money Velocity

The primary question I have is thus: How do I promote commercial actions between PCs, rather than simply relying on vendors and automated outputs?

Right now the MU* I'm working on has an 'active' (less than two weeks idle) characterbase of about 40 PCs. We have a system of item creation (crafting) that allows one to begin with a mine/farm/whathave you and make the components all the way up to a variety of finished products.

The ability to make these products (and the cost of 'living expenses') are based on time spent on the game grid. So those who spend more time on the grid are able to make more/do more things.


So we have a variety of programmers, engineers, even gunsmiths hard at work producing items. The problem being most of the time these items are simply sold right back to vendors. I've balanced the vendor rates out so the profits aren't obscene, but I am still curious about how to encourage further PC to PC transactions (and thus RP opportunities).

Steps I have already taken:
1) Priced vendors in such a way that PCs can easily undercut their prices and provide superior products
2) Players are able to own shops that buy/sell items even when they are not online
3) Players (but not vendors) are able to improve/augment/repair products
4) Introduced one-shot disposable items, and more powerful items require disposable 'battery' like items to power up, like that really shiny combat armor a PC might have.

Potential troubles I may have:
1) A lack of 'base item' crafters, like miners for ore and farmers for food, thus forcing cooks and such to buy food from the vendors.
2) Items degrade only when they are used in RP. As I am on a MUSH, and we hit the storytelling angle hard, this was perceived as the best compromise between something like 'item rot' code and 'no degrading, ever'

I am simply curious as to if anyone has ideas on how to improve the amount of money being transferred and how often it is being transferred between PCs (I believe in economics this is called the 'velocity of money'), as this likely indicates Roleplay is taking place and the econ system is being used as a tool to assist in roleplay, rather than simply an annoyance that is dealt with, it also is meant to serve to make money a meaningful measurement within the game.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:43 AM   #2
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

I think the key is to allow superior products to be provided by players, with a few caveats.

1. Products produced by players must be superior -enough-, and truly exclusive to being provided by another player. This means slight improvements that will easily covered up by other gear at leveling may not be enough, particularly in terms of a smaller community. Also, if items sold back to vendors just go into the shop inventory, there is no need to go browsing players for the items, when they can still be bought at a shop for more. Dealing with other players, rather than npcs, is a great expenditure of time, which can make up for the difference in gold cost, favoring relations with npcs.

2. Products must be sufficiently rare. If your supply of products is too high, the crafters are making more than they need and obviously selling them to shops to cover the excess. Plus, this means that any given crafter can probably produce the item, or it can be made available in a shop, so when they produce a high quality item, it isn't worth their while to sell it, as all the other crafters would offer competitive prices, and again, make it not worth the expenditure of time involved in dealing with a pc.

Ultimately, playing a game is about spending time for the players, to produce gold and exp. If they can make 50% more gold dealing with another player, but have to spend 300% more time (usually even more, as deals with npcs are pretty fast), they'll skip it. Watch that balance, and you'll have it made.

-Kereth
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:45 AM   #3
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kereth View Post
Ultimately, playing a game is about spending time for the players, to produce gold and exp. If they can make 50% more gold dealing with another player, but have to spend 300% more time (usually even more, as deals with npcs are pretty fast), they'll skip it. Watch that balance, and you'll have it made.
I don't know if this will change your assessment at all, but the way I work 'time' into the game is that characters, no matter what they are doing, 'bank' crafting minutes. This means they can store 'em up while RPing, exploring, or just chilling and waiting for somebody to come by. When a player creates something via crafting it, it is created immediately (to the player, after they type the command), and the minutes are subtracted from their bank. Thus they really can't 'save' time by going to a vendor instead.
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Old 07-21-2008, 05:43 AM   #4
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Post Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Doesn't really change my assessment, no. In fact, it potentially makes it more extreme, since now crafting time doesn't have to be as much an expenditure of real time.

The issue is that a player can run to a shop, type "sell all" and get a cash return for their crafting, or they can spend time, maybe even a few hours, tracking down another player who is interested in their item, and get a slightly better price. That time they spend hunting could potentially be used for more crafting, or for some other productive endeavor, and if the time/effort only rewards them with a small gain, few players will bother with anything but the fast way (npc vendors). This goes the same in reverse.

Most games, whether gathering items from drops or crafting them, have lots of common quality items, which are expected to be shopped. Then, there are a few, higher quality items, which are both more valuable and rare, at least to a certain extent. Rarity comes from the fact that either a. You only make these items 1 in 100 times when crafting, b. have to get more expensive, difficult to obtain items to craft them from, which may take considerably more time to gather c. they are dangerous to obtain, often being in the possession of some singularly powerful monster, and so forth. These items are not shopped, because they are the best. Everyone wants one, but because they are harder to obtain, there isn't one for everyone. That means only those with the deepest pockets can get one. Those who have them will sell them to other players, because they will sell for large quantities of money, while the shops will only give a slightly higher price for them. Those who do no have them will seek out players to buy them from, because they will not be found in shops, and because they want the advantage these items provide.


So long as there are a small quantity of items like these, there will always be player to player sales occurring. Selling to npc vendors is inevitable, and that's not a problem. Have loads of common items in your game, and let players stock up on cash by crafting or killing and looting to get these items, but if you want them to do more than that, you need to provide something better.

You say you like controlling things with economics, and I'm offering you the most basic of that. Watch your supply and demand, and keep all hidden costs in mind.

-Kereth

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Old 07-21-2008, 05:53 AM   #5
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

It seems I failed to properly account for the amount of player time spent as a variable, then. I'll look into it, try a few things out, and see about posting my results for others who may be experiencing a similar question.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:26 PM   #6
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

I'm impressed; I think that it is a great idea to make is to that players can own shop, etc. Are players also able to build them?
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:16 AM   #7
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Currently the are not able to build in one command. I have to do that manually (my turnaround time is 12 hours, however, so this isn't a huge deal).

What can players do with the shops?
* Buy certain items at a certain price from other players
* Sell specific items at a price of their choosing

No shop needed for some other useful stuff that helps manage the shop, however:
* They can improve items to high qualities (something NPC vendors can't guarantee, or do most of the time)
* They can create their own items.
* They can easily undercut NPC on price and item quality

No shop is needed to engage in commerce, it's merely a way to facilitate money moving between PCs, that and some PCs make a big deal of their shops. One runs a Bar ICly and puts food and such in his vendor that PCs can buy (once again, undercutting NPCs on quality and price).

And Kereth: I'm removing high end items from vendors right now, leaving only the 'schematics' in (ie, plans to make advanced items), seeing if this helps those who make stuff out a bit. That's a longer term project, however. My daily economic statistics data shows no adverse effects, at the very least.

Last edited by Sergeytov : 07-25-2008 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Correcting a couple clumsy typos
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:44 AM   #8
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Another thing I'm trying out right now, which may seem a bit counterintuitive, is adding plenty of ways to acquire basic items/services from NPCs. Notably, I use higher prices and such. Ultimately, I'm creating a 'price ceiling' (as in the economics term) for these basic goods and services. PCs can easily perform these services cheaper and make plenty of profit, but the idea behind the price ceiling is to provide an alternative for a small playerbase, just in case they honestly can't find a PC, as well as prevent 'PC market forces' from running amok. This seems to be garnering positive reactions so far, at least.
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:27 AM   #9
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Some other things I'm trying out to keep money flowing within the PC to PC community.

1) I created 'NPC small businesses' that can be bought and owned by players. Some of these come with 'special abilities' (like special access to network nodes, at higher levels might eventually include genetic engineering labs and such) - These entities are fully transferable, just like any other 'object' like a pistol or armor.

2) I created the ability for PCs to make 'holding companies', like corporations. The idea here being that PCs can now combine their money to make larger purposes (like those businesses in point 1).

3) I created code to support PC to PC lending. Especially important in the case of big items that might require collateral.

The changes I mentioned earlier seem to have been received well enough by the players, and are keeping more money 'in the game.' The problem is that there just isn't /enough/ money floating in the PC economy yet to fully support such things. Hopefully the loan support will help.
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:02 AM   #10
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

I know basically nothing about economics, and even less about your game, but I have heard of a system called demurrage, advocated in particular by the finance theorist Silvio Gesell. It's basically negative interest. Instead of money gaining interest, it deteriorates, thus encouraging people to spend it as quickly as possible before it runs out! There was an experiment during the Great Depression, where a town in Austria introduced a new currency. Every month, the citizens had to pay to get a stamp to fix to their banknotes in order for them to stay valid: the stamps cost a certain percentage of the banknote's value. This was called an Umlaufsicherungsgebühr (fee-to-assure-circulation), and Silvio Gesell specifically talked about his system in terms of the velocity of money, if I recall correctly. The experiment in Austria was apparently very successful, and the inhabitants did funny things like paying their taxes early. I don't know how you'd implement this system in your game, but because it's digital, it sounds as though it would be quite simple.
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Old 09-14-2008, 05:53 AM   #11
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Remove the ability for NPC owned shops to purchase items. Now player crafters need to own a shop, sell directly to a player, or supply another players shop with goods. This is basically how it is in the IRE games, and I always had fun as a merchant. Even without any trade skills of my own I'd buy some things at the best price I could, barter them up to better things, sell those for a nice profit to a player, buy something else... until I was supplying shops (still with no crafting abilities of my own), and then got my own shops.

You also want to factor in what things can come from "mob drops" to make sure they aren't better than player made things (in general). An easy way is to make it so player made have a high "max" stat, and always a high "decay time" than mob dropped items.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:34 AM   #12
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Re: Encouraging Money Velocity

Be careful with totally removing the ability for players to buy and sell without the need of what I call "merchant" types. This can cause frustration in the playerbase not finding the merchant as needed. Also, be careful with player made items being the end all best thing out there. You will find players not using anything except that "special" sword made by johnny. (Learned both of these the hard way as NW has an extensive Merchant Guild that does nothing but create and work for others).

Other than that, it seems you are on the right track to economic success. Good Luck!
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