Stendhal economics proposal

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The game economy is experiencing an MMO inflationary spiral that weakens balance and could transform the game from fun to infuriating. This situation is the result of game systems that reward players both redundantly and with loot that is singular in use-case, becomes nearly useless upon replacement, and only exits the game world if sold for currency. In other words, the game rewards players too frequently and with items that cause a currency accumulation feedback loops.

Given that the problem is caused by a surplus of assets flowing into the game world, one might be tempted to conclude that balance can be restored and by doing the opposite: introducing gameplay elements that remove currency and assets from the system. These are often referred to as “sinks” (e.g., tolls, weapon degradation, food spoilage, storage capacity restrictions, limited secondary marketplaces for used gear). Though sinks can be used to tweak the rate of asset accumulation, in an otherwise functioning system, they cannot fix a structurally broken economy. Even if the game began charging players a toll at every doorway and levy a tax on every weapon, that still would be far too little to meaningfully slow the exponential wealth wealth accumulation. And the players would hate it.

The correct path forward, I believe, is to redesign the games reward systems, prices, and loot drops from the ground up. The game’s economic health requires a deliberative approach to the manner and means by which new items and gear enter the game world. There are many clever and fun options to better handle how value enters into and exits from the game world.

Solution are readily available, and can be are quite fun. But they do require a system wide approach.