Gaming Massively

Monday, October 5, 2009

not dead yet, sir

40 years of Monty Python. Amazing!

Anyhoo, I'm really not deceased or anything. I just really haven't seen anything that caught my fancy. Tobold's recent post on the GENI of WoW was pretty impressive, and I was taken by the Free Realms demographics posted at Game Genus, and I see a few folks talking about Alganon (which is, I presume, a game where you get really smart the first half, then really dumb, then you die - doesn't seem like it'll sell very well to me!)(for those that don't get it)

So I'll keep watching, and waiting. Innovation will happen - it just may take another year or so....

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

more data, more data, more data!

Kill Ten Rats informed me that Edward Castronova (and friends) have published a paper (pdf) on the Economics of EQII, using actual game data. Lots of it:
The dataset is
a comprehensive capture of the actions and communications of hundreds of
thousands of players over time. This dataset contains more than 300 million
individual transactions: lists of thousands of items sold, with purchase amounts
and prices.

I'd like to draw your attention to that number again: 300,000,000 individual transactions.

With that kind of data I'm amazed the paper is only 24 pages.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

EVE Online stats

Yay! More stats from Eve Online! A massive tome with lots of numbers!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

MMO Economics redux

Wow - Tobold just pointed me to a blog called the WoW Economist. This guy likes numbers even more than me. And that's going a ways. It isn't as interesting to me as secondary work using the data this guy is generating would be, but it certainly is good data.

Economics in WoW, and the other levelling games, is interesting - I remember this with Pirates of the Burning Sea especially, where as people levelled up the markets evolved. Of course, PotBS wanted to have a completely player driven economy, whereas WoW has a much more command-and-control economy, where, for example, items can have value one day, and be valueless the next (because they can no longer be traded). Economics on sharded games are also interesting, because what's rare on one server may not be on another.

I think, in part, that's what makes Eve Online so exciting - having an economy where every player has access to the market makes for a much more interesting economic game (and part of most MMOs is the economic game - the auction house in WoW wouldn't always be packed if this weren't the case - people buying low and selling high - hopefully to better effect than the real world of late). Even with a giant bug in their economy, Eve has had a tremendously interesting economic game.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Game Econ, more

You may remember I posted a bit back about a series Massively was doing on a theoretical game economy. Well, now part two of that series is up, and I'm afraid they've lost me completely now. I think the key idea of this whole thought experiment is that it's a closed loop system - there is a set amount of stuff in the world, and no more is getting in. It may change form (the copper in your level one copper shield might become a decorative copper insignia in your level one zillion sword of epic killing spree). And I'm honestly down with this idea. I just don't like the magical way stuff disappears and reappears - I would prefer the NPCs to be part of a fully functioning economy.

But I've said that already - on to part two, where the whole concept is built around a server's 'age', i.e. as the game is played the number of people at any given level will change, and the monsters and loot should react accordingly. Here again I feel that rather the game should be able to sustain those low level areas independent of characters. This may be because I'm such a fan of huge worlds. I would much prefer the AI does crazy stuff with massive numbers of NPCs to keep stuff interesting, than phasing them out in favor of higher level hordes once everyone is levelled up. Among other things, it interferes with the suspension of disbelief, if the village simply disappears.

As an aside, does anyone know why gaming companies aren't having massive AI battles for players to wander into? It's probably some sort of server load thing, isn't it. Argh! For better computers!!

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Monday, September 8, 2008

game economics

Alexis Kassan has an article up over at massively detailing a theoretical economic model for an MMO. I have more than a passing interest in the economics of gaming, so I gave it a good long read. It proposes basically a game where there is no crafting, and where resources are fixed in game - no sudden influx of thorium to throw the game into an inflationary tailspin. It's a little odd to me how the proposal is phrased, seeming to indicate that the economy would only encompass players - it would seem better to set economic processes in place so that the NPCs are also participating, but in a totally rational way, so at least they wouldn't contribute to the crazy if some weird financial disease were to afflict the player base (gold sellers, e.g.).

I much preferred the way PotBS tried to do things (have chars construct all in-game items) - I was, however, sad that they seemed to not have NPCs participating in the economy, as I think that's the only way to prevent the character levelling from screwing up your economy. I've a sneaky suspicion that Eve Online is now mature enough that they can get away with a true player run economy, and I think the practices they perfect may become the ideal by which all others are measured. But, not having played, that's just speculation.

Given the epic fail happening in the (real) world economy right now, it's pretty clear that economics is tough. But games have it somewhat easier - their oversight can be 100% effective. But I think economics may be something only mature games (or games with a whole lot of time and money for prep) should do big. It's not tough - you don't even need a working graphics engine to do the economics, as long as you're planning well enough. But planning seems very often to be a big challenge, and if you don't plan it right, well, you have to bail out your virtual Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mobile Gaming and the Virtual Economy

With CES going on, folks are talking about gadgets. Tobold has a post on multi-platform gaming, with a specific reference to auction houses.

However, it was a later post, about material production in PotBS, that really made me think about the mobile possibilities. Why not go beyond - create a real (game based) economy, complete with loans, stocks, etc, all accessible in the same way real markets are. Since clearly people seem to enjoy participating in (fake) economic transactions, let the game become literally two games. Pure traders need never set foot (so to speak) in the game. It would be a way to create a profit center as well - you could let people buy the currency with real money. To prevent inflation, however, it might be better to limit this exchange.

But there's also the game, whatever it's based on. Putting some production limits in place (like PotBS does), and making everything player produced, allows you to control the availability of higher level items. Allowing them to be permanently destroyed is another limit.

Then, for giggles, allow natural disasters (to keep investors on their toes). Combined with the natural chaos a market will induce (runs on certain items, etc) the game will never be the same twice.

I think the biggest key is not to let the level of the characters determine the value of items - make sure that the lower level stuff stays valuable, even as the upper level stuff gets out there.

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