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Not Confident ACE Knows How to Make Economy Work


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There has never been any kind of article or video (that I've seen) discussing how they envision the player-driven economy will actually work, maybe it is felt to be obvious? I'm not so sure, I think making it work will require a nuanced approach.

Todd is asking for advice on the subject:

Some of his conditions are no auction house, and there is a goal to drive foot traffic to EK's. In think this reveals some wishful thinking.

Unless they have plans to pump out a lot of EK customization tools, basically at launch all EK's will look virtually the same. Spring time in some nondescript hilly countryside with some cottages and a little castle. Why would anybody want to putz around EK after EK till they find what they are looking for - all while having to constantly load a new server (takes time) and create a new character vessel on that EK (takes more time). It is not an interesting activity - it's a chore. In fact, it's already boring and we aren't even in Alpha yet.

If ACE wants to get serious about making a player-driven economy work, then they either need to get serious about making the hoops people will have to jump through more interesting or they need to provide some hefty game features to allow sellers to connect with buyers more easily. Buy orders are almost a requirement here, especially if they are hardline about no Auction Houses.

If they don't do either of those things then the game will end up with one or two mega EK's run by the largest guilds where everyone goes to buy the stuff they need, and 99% of the players will play pretend merchant in their empty and ignored EK's.

 

 

 

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Honestly, I think the 'one of two mega EKs' problem is one that's gonna happen even if you let people set buy orders. I don't know if there is an easy solution to that though. Or if there is, I can't see it.

I kinda like the idea of them going oldschool with it and letting people just set themselves as vendors. (Adding the ability to set yourself as 'buying' items in the same way would be awesome). It should make trade hubs form more organically, and form around wherever people are congregating. You'd probably run into the same 'Mega EK' problem, but the barrier to entry to becoming one of the 'Mega EKs' would be much lower since all you'd need is to draw people to a space, and the market would form itself.

 

 

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I'm also not sure if they have spoken about the problem of EK's not being up while you are offline. The makes the lack of auction houses and even more so, the lack of ability to put vendors in the beachhead or faction world even more of a barrier to economy creation.

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14 hours ago, DocHollidaze said:

If they don't do either of those things then the game will end up with one or two mega EK's run by the largest guilds where everyone goes to buy the stuff they need, and 99% of the players will play pretend merchant in their empty and ignored EK's.

 

There is nothing short of not making people traveling EK to EK a non-economic factor that will prevent that from happening. 

It's called the the Pareto principle, and to date no economic system, socialist or capitalist, has done a single thing to prevent wealth and power from distributing in this fashion.

Trying to build around that, is going to be like trying to drill a hole into water.

Totally pointless.

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15 hours ago, DocHollidaze said:

If they don't do either of those things then the game will end up with one or two mega EK's run by the largest guilds where everyone goes to buy the stuff they need, and 99% of the players will play pretend merchant in their empty and ignored EK's.

I dont really see that as a real issue, but your hindsight might be better than mine. I dont see a Big guild becoming a merchant guild and i dont see a merchant guild becoming some big powerhouse that can supplement an ever growing need of supplies to run a Super EK.

Unless a guild went through alot of effort to make sure they only sell to specific people, i dont see a guild giving out goodies to what may very well be their enemies.

In all honesty i dont really see the Macro Economy (probably using this in the wrong context) being all that good in CF, i expect to see a bunch of Micro Economies (still probably using this in the wrong context) within a guild and possibly between a few ally guilds, but thats about it. With gear needing to be constantly replenished the big guilds that win campaigns are always gonna need more and more stuff for their members to remain competitive. Even that trash chain mail that got made is still useful for someone whos gear just broke, so why would they sell it off to some rando and leave a member naked?

Now thats not to say less competitive guilds might not try and turn a profit with good crafts, but if they arent competitive enough to make good enough gains from a campaign, they arent gonna have alot of resources to work with, and only small guilds that might be missing a person with a specific craft will go to those people looking for something, untill those small guilds either recruit that person they are getting stuff from, or end up finding their own crafter and no longer needing the other person.

But yes, if something isnt done to make finding stuff between EKs better, especially items to buy, then its just gonna be hard in general to find stuff. There are people who might try every merchant EK hopeing to find the best deal on something, and others will take the past of least resistance and just go with the first one or two they find

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What will really drive folks to visit one EK store over another for general goods of similar quality is convenience (availability) and price.  These are not the only reasons, but they are probably the main ones.

Simply put, folks will look for stores that have everything they need at competitive prices that are open when they play.  Shorter Version:  Why waste time surfing a thousand tiny stores when "X-Mart" has everything at a fair price and is open 24-7?

Now, that said, the author of this thread seems to be afraid that this means that only a large guild (or group of large guilds) will be able to set up and run "X-Mart" and that everyone else will have no way to make any real money.  This ignores the issue that successful retailers in the real world often face; the issue isn't finding enough buyers, but getting enough suppliers to meet the demand.  As such, there is an opportunity for wholesaler arrangements.  In other words, the most successful stores are going to need to purchase resources from lots of small suppliers if they want to keep availability up on popular items. 

This creates an opportunity for someone (or a guild) who specializes in high volume gathering of a specific item or high quality crafting of a specific item to make money off of large stores by providing raw materials and bulk goods, without ever opening an EK store of their own.

If you prefer to PvP, then maybe you will have a pawn shop agreement for commonly ganked items with resale value.  Another version of this would be to take contracts to gank supply lines for needed wholesale items.  Remember, that we won't always have the ability to farm high quality materials and then recall with them to our beachhead.

If you don't want to craft or PvP then there will still be a bunch of small stores out there with bargains that you can snatch up and resell.  Basically, this is the EK-hopping version of resellers that troll auction houses in other games for bargains before re-posting at a profit.

I would note that in the long run there is no reason that a single player couldn't end up having a large successful store if they were savvy enough at attracting enough wholesale suppliers and make enough money off of retail to keep paying those suppliers.  This is because no one ever said you (or your guild for that matter) have to farm everything themselves.

Now, add in double-crosses, trade boycotts, seasonal availability of resources, the normal life-cycle of guilds, and a never-ending need for supplies to support campaign objectives and I don't think it will be that hard for the economy to work for everyone.

Just my thoughts...

~Susitna.

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As an afterthought, it occurs to me that everything I argued for above is dependent on there being a compelling reason to fight in a campaign.  As long as folks want to participate in a campaign then there will be a robust economy to support the campaign. 

On that note, the reason to fight in a campaign right now is to get resources to fight in a campaign. 

I don't know what the pay-off is actually going to be for winning a campaign or even objectives in a campaign, but a good one would be content that allows you access to better resources or recipes.

For Example, there might be resources that cannot be harvested without success in previous campaigns and skill trees that require a certain number of wins to open.

Again, just some thoughts on what will drive folks to get out and fight which is what will really support folks needing to buy stuff.

Edited by Susitna
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14 minutes ago, McTan said:

The life-blood of a player-driven economy is competition for scarce, regionally-distributed resources combined with specialization.

Too many game designs forgo this concept for a more uniform resource distribution. In a game where players literally pick a place to settle, the player-driven economy will work if that place has precise, predictable and rigid economic consequences. 

In a simplified scenario: if Mithril Warhammers settles in a cold biome near a mountain, we should have a relative surplus of ore and stone, and a relative deficit of lumber and hide. Of course, there are more than one type of each of those things, so it could be even more excellently designed. Unfortunately, it seems like CF maps follow the classic setup where all types of ore, lumber, and stone appear randomly in every corner of the world. In this kind of set-up, when I am running randomly, I cannot predict what the next resource I will see is. I should be able to.

So, you do not have any sort of economic network, you simply have a contest for who can do it faster. This is simplified, I know there are some groups successfully locking down the highest tier of these things, but that is an elite scarcity economy and does not sustain as well as a regionally-distributed one. 

Let MWH, in the above scenario, corner the market on essentially all tiers of ore and be completely shut out of harvesting lumber and hide. This is a brilliant way to organize a player-driven economy because our economic interaction is driven by need. It also lowers the demand on individual guilds to cover all their needs in terms of trained harvesters and crafters, instead encouraging us to specialize and then trade with other specialists. Yes we want some high quality lumber and hide and equipment made from it, but we should not commit to training ourselves as lumberers, skinners, tanners, and carvers.

Then, let us market ourselves as ore and metalworking specialists, with tags on our EK.

tl;dr I'm not on twitter, but if I responded to JTC my simple suggestion would be: Do not distribute any resource uniformly.

i'd hope that the multi zone campaign worlds coming up soon would take this into account myself [for both biomes and their related resources!]

Edited by Tinnis
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7 minutes ago, Tinnis said:

i'd hope that the multi zone campaign worlds coming up soon would take this into account myself [for both biomes and their related resources!]

Another benefit of this set-up is that it allows small, themed or focused guilds to be economically competitive, and therefore, a more viable alternative to massive guilds.

Edited by McTan
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15 hours ago, ShadowwBoi13 said:

I dont really see that as a real issue, but your hindsight might be better than mine. I dont see a Big guild becoming a merchant guild and i dont see a merchant guild becoming some big powerhouse that can supplement an ever growing need of supplies to run a Super EK.

Unless a guild went through alot of effort to make sure they only sell to specific people, i dont see a guild giving out goodies to what may very well be their enemies.

In all honesty i dont really see the Macro Economy (probably using this in the wrong context) being all that good in CF, i expect to see a bunch of Micro Economies (still probably using this in the wrong context) within a guild and possibly between a few ally guilds, but thats about it. With gear needing to be constantly replenished the big guilds that win campaigns are always gonna need more and more stuff for their members to remain competitive. Even that trash chain mail that got made is still useful for someone whos gear just broke, so why would they sell it off to some rando and leave a member naked?

Now thats not to say less competitive guilds might not try and turn a profit with good crafts, but if they arent competitive enough to make good enough gains from a campaign, they arent gonna have alot of resources to work with, and only small guilds that might be missing a person with a specific craft will go to those people looking for something, untill those small guilds either recruit that person they are getting stuff from, or end up finding their own crafter and no longer needing the other person.

But yes, if something isnt done to make finding stuff between EKs better, especially items to buy, then its just gonna be hard in general to find stuff. There are people who might try every merchant EK hopeing to find the best deal on something, and others will take the past of least resistance and just go with the first one or two they find

Some good points, one thing to remember, a guild controlling a big trade hub could potentially blacklist their enemies.

One potential outcome, perhaps worst case scenario I suppose (in regard to "player-driven economy") is that most guilds completely ignore the frustration of the chore-intensive system as it currently will look, and just maintain enough internal crafters to be completely self-sufficient. Crowfall, as it currently seems to be feeling now, will have a sort of soft-requirement for people to join guilds right away or else be completely outclassed and unable to progress. At that point, it is less of a player driven open economy and more of "Join a guild if you want to have better gear."

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@Tinnis @McTan yeah that would be cool if each zone was thematically different and had specific resource abundance and deficiencies. Also, if resources were locked away by walls or natural barriers that required owning a fort to bypass - that could be another way to create scarcity and drive conflict.

I think the new adventure zones are a good step forward in adding more risk and interesting flavor to harvesting activities, and POI's created a localized abundance of resources that was at times worth fighting for - but make it so a player group can more activity try to lock out other players from accessing those areas and I see fights happening more often and with more intensity. The scarcity for the losers also creates economic opportunities for enterprising traders.

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13 hours ago, Susitna said:

As an afterthought, it occurs to me that everything I argued for above is dependent on there being a compelling reason to fight in a campaign.  As long as folks want to participate in a campaign then there will be a robust economy to support the campaign. 

 

I'm not sure that is always true, reasonably sized guilds might choose to be completely self-sufficient and entirely ignore a wider player-driven economy. I'm sure the bigger ones will do this anyway, but the smaller ones might feel obligated to if the economy systems are to inefficient to use. ie. if it is just easier to "do it yourself" which is currently feeling to be the case.

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Don't confuse @jtoddcoleman asking for player suggestions with not knowing how to form an in game economy. He's more or less asking "what are some quick and easy quality of life things that we could do for you guys in the short term?" which is why big ticket items like auction houses aren't on the table. @Jah suggestion to filter out offline EK's from the browse menu was an excellent example.

For what it's worth I think simplifying the crafting recipes would both make crafting faster and making gathering resources for crafting faster such that crafters/gatherers have a surplus of items/resources to actually sell. The reason there's no economy right now is because farmers only sell what crops are left over after they feed their families and right now there's not much if anything left over.

Why does a Mail Chest require 3 metal rings? Make it 1. Most people stack all the same stats anyways. If you use axes you stack slashing penetration. 

Why does a Mail Helmet require 2 metal scales? Make it 1. Same reasoning.

Why does a metal bar, or wood plank, require 3 stacks of 3 ore when stitched leather requires 3 stacks of 1 hide? Normalize it to 3 stacks of 1 resource across the board. 

Simple changes like this would lower crafting times and make resource more plentiful to where people actually had leftovers to sell. 

Edited by blazzen

Blazzen <Lords of Death>

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2 hours ago, blazzen said:

Don't confuse @jtoddcoleman asking for player suggestions with not knowing how to form an in game economy. He's more or less asking "what are some quick and easy quality of life things that we could do for you guys in the short term?" which is why big ticket items like auction houses aren't on the table. @Jah suggestion to filter out offline EK's from the browse menu was an excellent example.

For what it's worth I think simplifying the crafting recipes would both make crafting faster and making gathering resources for crafting faster such that crafters/gatherers have a surplus of items/resources to actually sell. The reason there's no economy right now is because farmers only sell what crops are left over after they feed their families and right now there's not much if anything left over.

Why does a Mail Chest require 3 metal rings? Make it 1. Most people stack all the same stats anyways. If you use axes you stack slashing penetration. 

Why does a Mail Helmet require 2 metal scales? Make it 1. Same reasoning.

Why does a metal bar, or wood plank, require 3 stacks of 3 ore when stitched leather requires 3 stacks of 1 hide? Normalize it to 3 stacks of 1 resource across the board. 

Simple changes like this would lower crafting times and make resource more plentiful to where people actually had leftovers to sell. 

I'm not sure that the resource costs need to be changed that dramatically (or at all), but it's just a balancing thing. They could always increase the amount of resources we get too. It's too early still to really see which knobs need to be turned. If resources are too abundant and people have stores of resources collecting dust, then it stops being a point of contention. 

I have bought resources from people, but I also do a lot of harvesting myself. I need all of those resources to keep my vendor stocked. If I were only harvesting and crafting for myself, I wouldn't need to spend as much time doing either one. So I don't think the costs are prohibitive. 

I think the real reason that the economy isn't stronger right now is because 1) there aren't that many people playing and 2) most people are trying to be self sufficient rather than filling a specific role within the economy. This will all change once training goes back to normal speed and the population is larger. Yes, some people will still try to be self sufficient by using multiple accounts, but there will be a lot of people who will want/need to focus on one role.

That said, there is absolutely a working economy in the game. People are buying and selling both resources and gear. What we really need is an in-campaign solution for trading. In the guild-based campaigns, people may depend on their guildmates for gear and have less of a need for vendors, but the faction campaigns will definitely need ways for people to buy and sell gear without it being face to face. It's not a huge issue right now, but it will be once the import/export model changes.

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5 minutes ago, Arkade said:

I'm not sure that the resource costs need to be changed that dramatically (or at all), but it's just a balancing thing. They could always increase the amount of resources we get too. It's too early still to really see which knobs need to be turned. If resources are too abundant and people have stores of resources collecting dust, then it stops being a point of contention. 

The reason I'd prefer crafting recipes be simplified is it just takes forever to craft anything. A set of mail is like 30 minutes of clicking and that's with very fast crafting times. If we only had to make 1 ring instead of 3 for the chest piece that means only 3 armor layers instead of 9 and it cuts down on a lot of time and clicking. As I stated before the difference between 1 ring and 3 rings doesn't really add much in the way of customization because everyone stacks a certain type of armor penetration for the most part anyways. And if you did want different stats then you just put them on the helm, boots or gloves instead. 

Full set of armor, weapons, jewelry, etc. probably an hour at least of crafting time. The bottleneck is not just the time it takes to harvest the resources it's also the crafting times. Factories could help solve this but it depends on how much tedium is added to keep them running. 

 

Edited by blazzen

Blazzen <Lords of Death>

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1 hour ago, blazzen said:

The reason I'd prefer crafting recipes be simplified is it just takes forever to craft anything. A set of mail is like 30 minutes of clicking and that's with very fast crafting times. If we only had to make 1 ring instead of 3 for the chest piece that means only 3 armor layers instead of 9 and it cuts down on a lot of time and clicking. As I stated before the difference between 1 ring and 3 rings doesn't really add much in the way of customization because everyone stacks a certain type of armor penetration for the most part anyways. And if you did want different stats then you just put them on the helm, boots or gloves instead. 

Full set of armor, weapons, jewelry, etc. probably an hour at least of crafting time. The bottleneck is not just the time it takes to harvest the resources it's also the crafting times. Factories could help solve this but it depends on how much tedium is added to keep them running. 

 

Factories will help remove much of the manual labor involved in crafting. Beyond that, if you simplify the recipes, you take out some of the flexibility. A chest piece having 3 rings means you can put different stats on each of the rings. If it were only 1, then your choices would be more limited.

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7 minutes ago, Arkade said:

Factories will help remove much of the manual labor involved in crafting. Beyond that, if you simplify the recipes, you take out some of the flexibility. A chest piece having 3 rings means you can put different stats on each of the rings. If it were only 1, then your choices would be more limited.

5.7 or 5.8 is also supposed to have more crafting work done.  So they may be looking at the stalls and stutters in the process itself to make it less burdensome.

 

Edited by KrakkenSmacken
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1 minute ago, KrakkenSmacken said:

5.7 or 5.8 is also supposed to have more crafting work done.  So they may be looking at the stalls and stutters in the process itself to make it less burdensome.

 

Yeah, the projects interface should make it much easier. Far less jumping around between recipes.

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6 hours ago, blazzen said:

For what it's worth I think simplifying the crafting recipes would both make crafting faster and making gathering resources for crafting faster such that crafters/gatherers have a surplus of items/resources to actually sell. The reason there's no economy right now is because farmers only sell what crops are left over after they feed their families and right now there's not much if anything left over.

I had a massive post written about game economy being a misdirected goal, instead the focus should be on guild economy. What does the ratio of combatants to harvesters to crafters need to be, in order for a guild to be self-sufficient? An insanely important question, and one with a very imbalanced answer, IMO. I would hope for something like 40:5:5, but it's not anywhere close to that. The reason ACE should focus on this question is because their sustainable population is guilds, and guilds need to feel self-sustaining (for the most part), either through being able to make everything themselves [most games] OR by being able to produce and sell a surplus of something that someone else has a deficit of [best economy games].

When I got to that reasoning in the post, I realized that what was more important to say was surplus/deficit and regional-distribution of resources, so I scrapped that post.

Edited by McTan
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