Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Cap on the Base Currency

Continuing our discussion on base currency, what would happen if the developers instituted a cap on earnings in the base currency?

All the other currencies generally have caps, and that helps keep the population together in terms of what is affordable. What would be the effect of extending this cap to the base currency of gold/gil/credits?

For the cap to work, it would have to restrict income purely. You would only be able to earn, say 1000 gold per week, no matter how much you spend.

The immediate effect I can see is that the market become a lot less liquid. Buying 500g worth of raw materials, and crafting finished materials worth 600g is only 100g of profit. But it would count as 600g towards the cap. If it doesn't, if spending money increases the amount of cap room, then a player could use an item as a store of value, and effectively evade the cap.

The game devs might have to eliminate a lot of gold sinks. Take repairs. Wiping a few dozen times is okay because the repair cost is negligible. But with a hard cap on gold, wiping and repairs become a large source of friction. The best solution might be to eliminate item damage altogether. Consumables like potions and flasks would be another issue.

But with a cap, the gap between experienced player and new player is much lower. A few thousand instead of potentially millions. Caps work well with all the other currencies. Surely it would be beneficial on the base currency as well.


  1. "Caps work well with all the other currencies."

    No they don't. They are lame, and those other currencies aren't actually functioning as currencies at all, but as a simple reward system only. That's a no, and a Hell No, if you weren't keeping track.

    "Surely it would be beneficial on the base currency as well."

    No, they would work much less well for the base currency than they do in other situations. People would find a non-restricted way to trade amongst themselves, like they do in all MMOs where the base currency has problems. (Think of the way trading worked in Diablo II, where gold was hyper-inflated and trading happened via barter)

  2. I don't follow why you want to limit effort based rewards. That sucks. If I farm a rare item, or valor points, or ah farm, or grind mining, or whatever I should have a reward.

    Saying there is a limit just causes me to disengage from the game faster.

    I know that having caps means players cannot be expected to play 24x7 to advance as fast as possible, but that is a game mechanic trying to alter the player.

    I've never liked the idea of those caps, because that is the game telling me that I need to manage my time based around their schedule.

    It feels the same as "you've run too many instances" ... Right, I'll go play something else then. Unsubscribe.

  3. "But with a cap, the gap between experienced player and new player is much lower. A few thousand instead of potentially millions."

    But you're limited in how much you can catch up a day, so you're still perpetually behind.

    Unless you do something along the line of what Blizzard did with PvP currency: if you earn none in a week, your cap the next week goes up. Basically, there's a cap on the season, but not on the day, so someone can spend 24/7 to catch up if they wish, but folks can't spend 24/7 to out-earn everyone else.

    Granted, this works well in seasons because there's a reset, whereas for a base currency there never is a hard reset. You just eventually have effectively no cap after long enough time has passed.

  4. As far as WoW goes removing dailies as a source of gold income effectively keeps things on a good level.
    WoW economy was fantastic in TBC prior to 2.4 dailies patch. Skettis and ogrila dailies netted around 50 gold at the time and you needed 5000 gold just for epic flying skill (100 days), also a plate repair bill was up to 27gold if my memory serves me right. So it forced everyone to find other ways to earn gold, but still the gold influx was just from mobs dropping it and raid bosses so that could be adjusted too damn easily, plus it was extremely low compared to what havoc dailies brought to the economy. They made people too damn lazy (that and the SUPER EASY heroics later in Wotlk). There was no challenge whatsoever after that.

  5. Creating currency (farming it) can be capped, but capping trading it would destroy its purpose.

  6. What's going to happen in your world is that everyone is going to buy and sell with netherweave, with the AH completely empty. (Well, maybe not necessarily netherweave, but it's going to be something you can carry a lot of in little space, easy to farm in large quantities, and commonly accepted as a medium of exchange. Hmm... that description reminds me of something.)

    With gold capped, you can't afford to spend it on anything except armor repairs. Repairing a full set of plate gear costs something like 250g right now, meaning if I died 40 times, I'm done for the day, I simply can't play the game anymore because ALL MY EQUIPMENT IS FUCKING BROKEN. While hilarious as a means of slowing progression, limiting every raid to 40 tries a day, it's going to be hell for everyone who can't avoid dying. (If you think tanks are scarce now, they won't even exist outside of the most hardcore raids in this new world order.)

    Mages, priests, and warlocks etc. are mostly fine, since they can DPS at like 10% efficiency even if they're unarmed and unarmored. Tanks and hunters and rogues etc. are completely fucked, though, tanks can't tank without armor, hunters and rogues can't even DPS without their weapons. Meaning every raid is going to be a bunch of naked guys taunt the boss between them while a few casters learned how to play the encounter naked. It's the only way to learn fights without damaging your precious gear.

    But that's besides the point, even if it's kind of hilarious to think of raiding naked as being optimal. (Except for the one try where everyone is actually wearing their gear, of course. But you better get that shit down in one try, because even if you win, the tank's gear is still being shredded from boss auto attacks.)

    Anyway, what would happen is that rather than making wealth being distributed equally, gold now becomes the REPAIR TOKEN you use to repair broken armor, while netherweave takes the place of gold, you trade, say, a bunch of leather for netherweave, the guy takes leather and makes it into a boot or something, then sells the boot for more netherweave than he spent getting the leather.

    It doesn't have to be netherweave, either, but as I've said, it has three requirements to function as a currency, it must be easily stackable, i.e. you have to be able to carry around at least twenty, preferablly one hundred, and ideally 1000 or 9999 in a single bag slot. Then it has to be easily farmed, you can't trade with, say, that rare TCG pet treat that stacks to 10000 per slot if there's only like 200 pet treats per card. There simply isn't enough pet treats to make a functional economy. Thirdly, the currency has to be accepted as a medium of exchange, meaning you have to be able to DO something with it. In the case of netherweave, you can convert it into netherweave bags, cloth armor, etc. So it has intrinsic value. The pet treat fails this test too, since you can't do anything with it except make your pet grow bigger.

    Long story short, all the new world order would do is make raiding a lot more dwarf fortress style 'fun,' render the AH completely useless, meaning the trade channel is going to be spammed from hell to back, and make a lot of people rage quit because the new world order is, frankly speaking, quite retarded.

    (I'm not meaning this as a personal attack or anything, but seriously, this world I'm imagining is ridiculously stupid.)

  7. : /, sorry, shouldn't be typing while I'm sleep deprived, didn't notice the remove repair costs thing you had on your post.

    But let me type up an analysis of the economy instead, rather than naked raiding.

    What's going to happen is that the AH becomes useless except for buying materials, and everyone spams the trade chat looking for work.

    (If you buy materials to make finished goods, you cut into the amount of gold you can earn. Buying 400g worth of mats means you can only get 600g profit this week. Buying 1000g means you can't get profit this week at all. Meaning, farming mobs/heroics/whatever for gold is far better than actually making something to sell on the AH.)

    Of course, production professions can still earn money, you just can't buy materials for yourself anymore. The buyer of your good has to buy them himself. (Mats + tip is going to the price of whatever you wanted to buy, since you can't buy the finished product, you have to buy the materials and look for a producer.)

    D :

    What did the economy every do to you that you need to stab it so badly. The equipment market on the Ah dries up, because there's no profit in making goods for sale, only in getting tips while someone else brings the materials.

    The funny thing is, it doesn't even fix the income disparity, everyone gets just gets poorer. Less goods are produced, less good are in circulation, so everyone has worse equipment, bags, enchants, anything that can cost gold in any way, shape, or form, is now harder to find. But the rich still has BETTER enchants, BETTER crafted armor and weapons, etc. Not because they have more gold, but because they have more trade skills. They can farm the materials themselves, they can craft the armor themselves, and they can enchant it themselves. Of course, you'd be killing the people good at making money off the AH, but who cares about those people?

    (I do, arbitrage is a bloody service, that's why they earn money from it.)

    The market becomes ridiculously unstable, arbitrage stops existing because something like 10% profit doesn't cut it when it means you can only earn 100g a week since the other 900 was spent on buying and rebuying the thing you're reselling.

    Everything jumps wildly in price from 1g to 1000g randomly, because there isn't any stabilizing force in the market. Long story short, the Auction house DIES.

    Continued Next Post


  8. The crafted equipment dies first. Then the bag selling business. Then, finally, the gathering professions. There's no point putting stuff up for sale when there's nothing you can buy with gold. Sure, you can still use it to tip people, but the de facto currency is going to move away from gold and into something that's stackable, easily obtained, and common accepted. You know, the old gold before it got nerfed to the ground.

    The main advantage of gold over other forms of WoW currency is that the auction house accepts it. If you kill the auction house, you kill the demand for gold.

    Now new players are screwed even more, since the de facto currency is something non intuitive. You have to one, actually realize that gold isn't worth jack. And only then could you start as the fresh newbie, you know, the guy that can't catch up because the rich is miles ahead of you.

    : /

    I might be wrong, but money is money because it's fluid, if you kill the fluidity, it stops being money. If you want to remove gold from the game, then just raise the AH cut.

    The reason inflation is so high is because money doesn't get removed from the economy when you buy something on the AH, unlike when you use it to repair or buy vendor items. The money goes to a different player, it isn't simply deleted from the game.

    I.e. gold is created from heroic/dailies/whatever but NOT DESTROYED. Inflation happens when the production of money out paces the production of goods. Goods are destroyed (soul bound equipment can't be sold), but money isn't (most of the cash you pay to buy the crafted helm of whatever goes to another player).

    It's obviously that the price of goods would rise relative to the price of gold. The supply of gold gets higher and higher while the supply of crafted goods remain roughly the same, since they're CONSUMED.

  9. Your real problem seems to be the purchasing power difference between long term players and new players. You want to create a system where a longterm player is richer, but not so much richer that they can buy outbid the new player on any item and not even feel the sting.

    There are three interlinked problems here, inflation, income disparity and wealth disparity.

    Inflation happens because every day (for example) 100k gold enters the economy from quests, drops and other sources but only 90k gold leaves the economy from repair bills and other sources. Every day the value of existing currency in your wallet becomes slightly less as because there is more gold out there.

    Income disparity in an MMO is different from the real world because most MMO's (especially WoW) have an inflation causing gold faucet only accessible to max level players (dailies). This means that even a fairly idiotic max level player can make 100x the daily income of a beginner. This is a purely level based income disparity, low level questing rewards orders of magnitude less gold than high level questing/dailies. One fix to level based income disparity is to make all quests reward approx the same amount of gold regardless of level (this would have it's own problems, see Malcanis's law). There is also an intelligence based income disparity that you basically cannot remove without crippling the game, if traders putting in 3 hours of day trading/crafting are forced to make the same income as someone basically afk'ing dailies for an hour or two they will stop trading.

    The third facet is wealth disparity. Wealth disparity (the sum total of your assets on the market minus your debts) is a substantial issue in an MMO and may not be in the real world (some interesting research on what is the real problem, income or wealth disparity). In an MMO old players have all the gear, or they have the friends to get new gear with at the start of an expansion, they already have 5,000 gold flying, they have all the mounts and fripperies. They don't have debts because must games don't have real banks with loans. They just steadily wrack up assets. Some of these assets cannot be sold (like college degrees or certifications, think artisan flying) but still represent an advantage and may be factored into wealth disparity. Because they already have all these things they can easily outcompete the beginner for anything they are both interested in. Additionally, much of the beginners income goes towards these non-saleable assets (mounts, riding skills, BoP items to boost their ilvl so they can do raidfinder) that the old player already has (mounts) or doesn't need because of their network of friends (BoP items to boost ilvl).

    These three issues combine to place the market power of beginners orders of magnitude behind that of old players. The solution is simple, but painful hence why MMO's avoid it. Real continuning gold sinks such that inflation is at no more than a few percent per year, not one time avoidable sinks like flying skills but mandatory consistent sinks. Additionall a progressive tax (or sink) system where the wealthy pay more than poor will alleviate some of the wealth disparity issues, although it will be wise to avoid taxing network affects like being in a guild. Finally income disparity must be addressed to prevent shafting the beginners by making the old players the only ones to afford the sinks. The way to address income disparity is not through caps but through income equaliziation efforts. Make top level content pay 1.25 or 1.50 times more than level 1 content, not the approx 250x that it pays right now. (25g quest reward compared against 10s quest reward).

    The hard part is to do these while still providing interesting things to do, if everything has the same income/results (other than trading) than it will likely feel homogenous and boring.

  10. And even beyond the points that everyone else has already brought up, the point of caps on the other currencies is to slow down the purchasing of items that use that currency, and draw out the gearing process. The base currency doesn't compete with these gearing currencies, so why should there be a cap on earning it? Why should your odds-and-sods currency have a limit?