Faucets, Sinks, and Markets

John Scott Tynes

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Dec 31, 1969
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Faucets, Sinks, and Markets

John Scott Tynes addresses why single player economies collapse and how to fix them.

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John Scott Tynes

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Dec 31, 1969
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Perhaps one day we may have a full blown stock market in a game.

But I doubt it.

And also, you've been around since '69?

Nice one.
 

John Scott Tynes

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Christ, my head hurts from all that. Never was great shakes with maths. =]
Still, it sounds like an opportunity for greater depth in games, and I'm down with that.
 

-Drifter-

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I don't know about spending that much time on the market in Assassin's Creed 2, since most people would probably just overlook it anyway, but it could certainly work for an RPG. Good article.
 

Nimbus

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Oct 22, 2008
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Provided you can spend money on things that will actually have a gameplay impact, that would actually be a good system. You need to give the player a reason to try to get money.
 

NamesAreHardToPick

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The authenticity of a market in MMO games is a large part of the fun of playing it. There's a competitive thrill. I can't see how playing an AI-driven market would be any more joy than owning 'bots in Unreal or what have you as compared to human players.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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SFJ said:
Christ, my head hurts from all that. Never was great shakes with maths. =]
Still, it sounds like an opportunity for greater depth in games, and I'm down with that.
Where I'm on the reverse end and loving every second of the maths fluctuations.

I was always drawn to MMOs not for the worlds as such, but for the economy. I love the cut/thrust of the market, and a MMO without a volatile market is dead to me.

However, I did hate PotBS because it pulled a trick on me I couldn't forgive.

As a Spanish Merchant, I was sailing between two quiet ports setting up my first real building, but as I landed in port, I found that the one part I needed was back at the first port. I was sure I'd moved it to the boat, but c'est la vie. In their look for "realism", I couldn't move it from one bank to the other, despite the fact that my farm blueprint took up the same space as a crate, but whatever.

On my way back, I was just nudging into port when a lag spike gets me, and then there's a Pirate Battleship bearing down on me. I start tacking away like crazy but this thing pulls up to me, blasts the crap out of my ship and I swim away on a plank.

Two days of trading gone due to a lag-spike. All of my spare money, and it's charging me to get my ship back from the port away from where all my money is.

That got it deleted from my system. The boarding parties of "Find The Captain, Stun Captain, Stab Repeatedly until Crew Surrenders" was just the finishing touch.
 
Jan 23, 2009
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Nimbus said:
Provided you can spend money on things that will actually have a gameplay impact, that would actually be a good system. You need to give the player a reason to try to get money.
Without a reason to risk your money its all pointless. There should be mor sinks then faucets.

As you said, Eve and Pirates does this as you can lose everything.

Money in single player games is simply "resources" and not treated as money.

However in MMOs the economies are better because people treat money as money. The more you make money like money, the better the market. You cant do that unless you give the players control.

Lets take Eve Online. In eve you can get minerals that you use to build stuff, and then you sell the stuff at a profit, to get your own stuff. But if many people are doing this, then it becomes a competitive market.

Simple economics is what you proposed. ie. Thieves disrupt a trade route. But its not organic, is just a mini-game.

In an MMO like Eve, if a group of players decide to invade someone else, the mining operations and flow of minerals is disrupted. This causes a shortage in a certain mineral, and all items that need that mineral to be produced go up in price.

Things can get more complex, like economic wars.

When you give many players control to act in a group, then you create an economy. If there is only 1 person, its simply a resource, and not currency.
 

Jared

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Jul 14, 2009
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-Stranger- said:
I don't know about spending that much time on the market in Assassin's Creed 2, since most people would probably just overlook it anyway, but it could certainly work for an RPG. Good article.
Certainly. I mean, a little tweak here and there to the system and it could incoporate some pretty nice elements
 

wordsmith

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May 1, 2008
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There was something similar in the first Pirates Of The Caribbean game, by boarding all of the (for example) English ships, English ports would pay more for goods. It's all fun and games, until the 10-galleon fleet of a pissed off merchant comes to find out why the corn isn't arriving on time...
 

Tarkand

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It does like they blew it with AC2 at that.

Heck, you can even hire mercenaries... going along with your example, why not hire them to defend your caravan from thieves?

Main issue would remain the same tho - there just isn't much to do with gold in AC2... the investment game would give you something to screw around with, but unless they add several 10,000 + item to buy... what's the point?
 

pneuma08

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Sep 10, 2008
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I remember once back when I was playing WoW, when I found something that I could get or make fairly cheaply that sold for a good deal. A couple weeks later when I checked back to make a bit more money, I found that a lot of people jumped on the market and it was flooded with goods. I find the same thing happens on occasion with Kingdom of Loathing as well, although there are a group of players dedicated to just playing the market.

But as stated before, the key is to have lots of worthwhile sinks for people to use their money.
 

Dirty Apple

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I know it's not in the upper echelon on gaming greats, but I remember playing Maxis' SimFarm when I was a kid. I grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan, and my parents grabbed it for me from some bargin bin. Seeing as how I was between games at the time, I loaded it up, and found it more interesting than I could have thought it would be. I'll get to the point, it had a basic market system, whereby crops you grew in game then had to be sold on an open market. It even went so far as to include a futures system with price forcasting. Eventually, my interest waned and I moved onto something else, but for just a little bit I was making a fortune on the strawberries futures market.
 

Karloff

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You mention sinks and discuss consumables and item degredation. However one obvious sink, particularly when games go into the real estate biz, is estate maintenance and payroll. I don't know if that gets addressed in AC2, but I've yet to see any game that allows you to buy a property and then realistically deducts upkeep. Ships, castles, houses, bordellos - they all have ordinary annual costs of one kind or another, which, if not paid, lead to reduction in value and ultimately destruction of the asset. Extraordinary events - a fire, an embezzling employee - incur greater costs with swifter reductions in value.

It's not something I'd want to see in every game, but if the system says you can buy a property, then you might as well have to manage it.
 

John Scott Tynes

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Great article! How about a hybrid MMO/single player?

In other words, your game is your own, but to take Fallout 3 as an example, all the 'Moira's of the online community are linked together. All the Megatons of the world consume what the players dump there; if everyone is bringing back, say, cups and no one is bring back, say, dishes, well, the price of cups will fall and the price of dishes will go up. If everyone is dumping their stuff in Rivet City the prices in Rivet City will be lower than the prices in Megaton and you can make money doing the arbitrage between the two.

Sort of the limited MMO aspect I've heard exists in Demon's Souls--not enough to make you feel like you're playing an MMO or for it to be anything but a single player game, but just enough to make it feel like you're not the only person in the entire game world who ever takes a step outside to go collect stuff. Like those wandering merchants from Fallout 3: what did they do before I came along? And why don't they just follow me around instead of wasting their time because none of those NPCs seem to ever buy or sell anything!
 

John Scott Tynes

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In my opinion, economy has no place in AC2. I actually enjoyed the whole upgradey stuff of AC2 for a while, but as you said, it quickly became clear that it was a shallow and brief section of gameplay.

It's a game about assassinating people, for god's sake. At least Fable 2 had a precedent to have an economy, as crap as it was, it was an RPG.
 

Mushroomfreak111

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madbird-valiant said:
In my opinion, economy has no place in AC2. I actually enjoyed the whole upgradey stuff of AC2 for a while, but as you said, it quickly became clear that it was a shallow and brief section of gameplay.

It's a game about assassinating people, for god's sake. At least Fable 2 had a precedent to have an economy, as crap as it was, it was an RPG.
Agree, but I still feel AC2 could do sooo much more in terms of assassination, there is too few options for sneaking and planning...
 

John Scott Tynes

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Miki91 said:
madbird-valiant said:
In my opinion, economy has no place in AC2. I actually enjoyed the whole upgradey stuff of AC2 for a while, but as you said, it quickly became clear that it was a shallow and brief section of gameplay.

It's a game about assassinating people, for god's sake. At least Fable 2 had a precedent to have an economy, as crap as it was, it was an RPG.
Agree, but I still feel AC2 could do sooo much more in terms of assassination, there is too few options for sneaking and planning...
True, but at least 75% of the game isn't spent eavesdropping on conversations and beating up heralds. xD Maybe they'll get it right in AC3.
 

Yvl9921

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Apr 4, 2009
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Nimbus said:
Provided you can spend money on things that will actually have a gameplay impact, that would actually be a good system. You need to give the player a reason to try to get money.
Exactly. You were on to something for a while (really liked the analogy), but regardless of the element of risk, spending money to get money isn't exactly a sink. Now, if there were expensive upgrades to weapons, armor, or buildings (if they could be made relevant) in Acreed 2, then that would be a nice sink.

Really the overlying problem with the game is that it's way too easy, even for today's casual market. The low cost of everything in the game, along with the retardedly easy battle system, really shows that the designers underestimated the ability of the players, which is an easier mistake to make than one might think.
 

veloper

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I think most games should do the exact opposite: focus on combat or stealth, quests, etc. and REMOVE the stupid economy.

The main gameplay aspect becomes too easy when you let players grind for money and upgrade their weapons/gear.
If a game needs merchants for gear, they should only sell to you. Money and loot should be handed out at predefined acts within a game. This way a designer can maintain the sense of game progresion without making the game trivial.