NBI Talk Back Challenge: designing a player economy

I’m giving away a copy of Assassin’s Creed III for Steam to the next person who donates at least $20 to my Extra Life Marathon fund!


This topic is part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative Talk Back Challenge Event. Today myself and newbie blogger LyleDark are being Armchair Game Designers. Go read his post!

I usually try to stay away from armchair MMO designing, as much as I like to complain about the genre. I’m not a designer — I’m a player with opinions — and I have little idea how one actually designs and develops a game. That being said I do have an awful lot of opinions, so let’s talk about how I would create a great MMO economy.

An MMO economy is a combination of creating goods (gatherers, crafters) and distributing them, usually through an auction house. There are a few key points to creating value in these materials or goods, and they’re usually the things that players say they don’t enjoy: scarcity of materials, rare crafting recipes, limited market listings, remote auction houses.

1) Location, location, location (EvE Online)
EvE’s economy hits just about every single one of those ways of adding value, but the one I want to cherry-pick is the idea that different locations have different auction houses. If I put some goods up for sale at Jita, they’re located there and players in the Dodixie region across the universe generally can’t see them.

Right now most games have an auction house in every major city that are interlinked. I say split those suckers up! Throw some more in! Players will naturally gravitate to having one central “trading hub” (you could interlink all the, say, Orgrimmar AH across servers for greater inventory and volatility), creating possible value for traders who want to make the effort to travel.

2) Keep resources limited (just about every game except Guild Wars 2)
Shared credit for mob tapping is all the rage now, which I personally enjoy. What I can’t agree with is universally available resource nodes, like in Guild Wars 2. When everyone gets all nodes, it floods the markets with raw materials and drives down the prices of finished products.

3) Create rare recipes (old school WoW)
Back in the early days of WoW, special high end recipes would drop off of raid bosses. The items they made would be relatively rare on a server, and fetch a pretty high price on the AH. This distribution method fell out of favor during the great Elitist Purge of the WotLK era, with most games now very much supporting an “all recipes for all crafters” vision.

To this I say: bah! The distribution method doesn’t have to be raiding — remember people farming for days for the Crusader enchant recipe? — but having rare recipes that very few players will ever own is the spice of a great crafting system.

All three of these things add time-consuming factors to player economies that in many cases have fallen out of fashion, but that is how an economy works! You make money because you hauled that item across the world, or you spent days looking for the recipe, or you farmed up 18 gabillion flowers.

As the goblins say, time is money friend. If I designed a player economy, I’d build in these features.

Cat Context 36: Minisode! Steam Family Sharing, Beyond: Two Souls, Extra Life Plans

Cat Context 36: Minisode! Steam Family Sharing, Beyond: Two Souls, Extra Life Plans

cat context vertical Cat Context 36: Minisode! Steam Family Sharing, Beyond: Two Souls, Extra Life Plans

It’s a Cat Context Mini-sode! Elly and Liore got together for 30 minutes to get the recording schedule back on track and talk about Steam’s Family Sharing beta, Beyond: Two Souls anticipation, and plans for the upcoming Extra Life Marathon for Kids.

Liore got one of the latest wave of invites for Steam’s new Family Sharing program, and she gives the inside scoop on how well the new system works. Meanwhile, Beyond: Two Souls is out this week, but does auteur David Cage actually make games or just interactive movies? Opinions are divided. And finally, both Elly and Liore are participating in the Extra Life Marathon this year, and they talk about their experiences from last year and what games they expect to be playing for your viewing pleasure.

Also: Circle this date on your calendar, because Elly says Liore is right about something!

Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:

It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
* Segment break music is Pope Spaceship from the Electronic Super Joy soundtrack
* Extra-Life donation page for Elly and Liore
* The Steam Family Sharing details
* Totally cinematic trailer for Beyond: Two Souls

Prayer of Mending: the best spell ever

By this point, I have played many healers in many MMOs. Each game has tried to put its own twist on healing, from Tera’s position-dependent spells to RIFT’s crazy multiple soul configurations. But no matter what game I was playing and what kind of healer I was, I always missed one thing: the WoW priest spell Prayer of Mending.

On a visceral level, the spell just feels good. It shoots out from your hands to the target like some kind of starry healing bullet, and their character animation buckles slightly when it hits. Doing this also makes a great, solid sound that you can clearly hear even in the middle of combat. (If you’re totally unfamiliar with PoM, here’s a very quick video demonstration.)

I would definitely count it as one of the most fun spells to use simply for cosmetic reasons, but it also is useful in ways that other games don’t seem to have. The key is that you can apply it before the target takes damage, and it will hang out for 30 seconds waiting to heal something. Once it does, PoM shoots over to another party/raid member, and sits there for 30 seconds or until they take damage. Repeat 3 more times.

This gives PoM two distinct advantages that most other healing spells don’t have. First, you can just release it into the wild, as it were, upon cooldown and rest assured that even if you are doing something else your heals are still out there to a degree. Second, pre-healing. Other games have shields (although they’re still relatively uncommon, in my experience) but the benefits from having a heal already sitting on the tank the very first second they takes damage cannot be over-stated. Often that first pull is totally chaotic enough as it is, and having an extra second to start casting a big heal is very useful.

I’m a little ish on smart heals in general — if nothing else they reduce my ability to grudge-heal puggies, dammit — but no matter what MMO I’m playing my PoM finger is always itchy.


Sorry I’ve been talking about WoW so much lately. (Hi, Corr.) Well, not THAT sorry. Some non-WoW specific things:

* Milady on the politics of tanking and healing
* Syl has organized a poetry slam for the newbie blogger initiative!

I met the super nice folks behind Escape Goat at PAX, and they kindly sent me an alpha version of Escape Goat 2 to try. I made a video of the first 8 levels or so, seen below. If you like puzzles and/or goats who are accused of witchcraft, I highly recommend putting this on your future shopping list!

Return to WoW Update: a newbie in LFR

Return to WoW Update: a newbie in LFR

Be my Battlenet friend! Hit up Liore#1422.

Goblin Liore hit 90 last weekend and has been slowly visiting all the Looking for Raid zones. And there are a lot of them! One of the fun things about coming in at the very end of an expansion is that there is over a year of content to see, which means something like 12 different possible LFRs.

Thanks to the magic of Timeless Isle I was able to hit the proper ilevel for the first raid within about 3 hours. My strategy was pretty simple: run around and open every chest, tag every rare that I could get to, and then blow all my Timeless coin thingies at the Monkey Casino. By the end of the day I had 8 epics, 1 Burden of Eternity upgrade token, two copies of Bonkers the pet monkey, and most surprisingly one Hyacinth Macaw, which I was pleased to see still sells for ~25,000 on the Auction House.

goblin liore Return to WoW Update: a newbie in LFR

I’ve been running one or two LFRs each night all week, and as of tonight I will officially be able to queue up for the final raid and see Garrosh soon. (Orcs Must Die!) So far I have been pleasantly surprised by my fellow raiders — at worst the groups are stonily silent, at best jovial and helpful.

I’ve been cribbing off No Life @ 90’s LFR guides, which are lovely and compact for that moment when you’re standing in front of a new boss and have about 90 seconds until the pull. Even without them, though, the basics of raiding remain the same: don’t stand in stupid shit, don’t run the AOE debuff through the group.

To be fair, LFR still isn’t much of a challenge. In fact, the only time I’ve died all week was on the first pull of Durumu, who I can only imagine was a raid-killer in his prime. (For those who don’t play WoW, late in the fight Durumu covers the floor in purple junk and the raid must navigate through the “maze” on the fly, which is exactly the sort of thing that kills otherwise solid players.)

The simplicity of LFR has been great for me to jump right into and learn the Pandaria class changes, but it’s also made me fairly determined to come back sometime in a flex raid, if not normals. “Organized chaos” bosses have always been my favorite, and there seem to be a lot of them.

One of the guidelines I set for myself in this return to WoW was to not worry about anything that I don’t find fun. There will be no chasing achievements, no grinding out boring reputations, no pouring over rotations and stats if I find myself not really caring about it. So far, so good.

Cat Context 35: Steam Machines, FF14, Bad Raider Memories

Cat Context 35: Steam Machines, FF14, Bad Raider Memories

cat context vertical Cat Context 35: Steam Machines, FF14, Bad Raider Memories

And we’re back! Liore has unpacked, Elly has returned from his trip, and we’re joined by guest Ryven to talk about the Steam announcements and Final Fantasy XIV!

Steam has made an Operating System! And some hardware! And we bicker about it! We’re not entirely sure who the market is for this or what the machine will actually do, but Elly is pretty sure it’s going to be stupid. Liore is more hopeful although hesitant about the Linux bit. Most importantly, everyone agrees that the new controller looks like a happy robot.

Ryven has been playing Final Fantasy XIV, and he talks about why we should be playing it too, including the rad outfits and raid content. Ryven has also been playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and describes why the game is fun but so hard to play. (We also take a moment to acknowledge that The Lost Vikings is still one of the best games ever.)

Also, Elly has been playing Magic (again)! Liore has been playing WoW (again)! All three of us do a little reminiscing about old school WoW raids and the people who just could not ever not stand in stuff arrrrrrrgh whyyyy.

Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:

It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
* Extra-Life donation page for Elly and Liore
* The Steam announcements
* RPS on A Tale of Two Sons

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