Persistent World Barter Economy Framework

vjek

Novice
I'd like your feedback on this document.
Specifically, I'm looking for logical flaws, layout, spelling, appearance, hosting, file type, grammar, tense, and sentence structure issues.
Feel free to post all of that in this thread.
If you feel a particular section or topic needs more or less content, coverage or explanation, by all means, specify what and where.
My intent is to take your feedback, make adjustments, iterate with this community, and then release the document to a larger/wider audience for more iterations and feedback.

If you feel the document has no value in it's existence, goal or content, that's fine, but I would prefer private conversations for those opinion debates, at this phase.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read it and offer comments or feedback, if you do.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
@vjek I've sent you a private message with some of the feedback.
Since it's a big topic with a lot of interesting things, I'll try to summarize my feedback here.

Perhaps for a broarder audience, it would be beneficial if all the different sections have a brief description on its own. This to avoid confusion when you get many different points of view.

GuildDesign:

The pay SC to earn SC, might feel odd for many. But for discussion sake, I'll put it under: accepting the inconvenience of the model.

When the social currency (SC) of a guildmember is consumed, would the guild's "prestige" go down, due to less social currency being present in that guild? Or would it remain at level X, but just not go up until more or new social currency is provided? When I've collected 10 SC, I'm worth that much. So I spend 10 SC in the prestige of my guild. The guild goes up by 10SC, but I go down 10 SC because i've spent it.
Other example: I'm a member of a the guild, I earn 20 SC. The guild prestige system, notices that I (a guild member) has gotten an increase in SC by 20, and so the guild goes up aswel (equal or other calibration to my increase of SC). Couple of days later, I decide to spent 20SC on a cloak. The guild system notices a drop of my SC and recalibrates their own prestige accordingly. ...you see where I'm going with this?

In the other scenario, a guildmember donates SC to a guild and the guild goes up. (This already is in conflict with your suggested no-trade policy.) As the SC is donated, a member leaving the guild would not affect that donated SC. As that's the whole point of donation. If a guildmember "temporarily" deposits SC to their guild, they could indeed take that with them as they leave the guild.
There could a be a design where temporarily donated SC would become a permanent donation after X time has passed before the guild member leaves the guild. Or when they confirm to permantely donate SC. However, this permanent donation, again would contradict the system, you've described as the guild would not be affected (lose SC) due to a guild member leaving.
Now if those SC donations are temporarily only. This would bring up the question, what can it be used for? Can it be consumed at all? As it should still be available to leaving members to take with them again. If donated SC, can not be consumed but rather be a pile of SC somewhere in the guild's facilities. It could still work. But again it brings a lot of complications: similar to keep a pingpong-ball a float in the air while blowing through a tube underneath the ball. The SC of the guild, could unlock features, that are linked to the amount of SC present in the guild and thus reflect the prestige of that guild. As long as there is SC coming in. Why? Any member is still required to spend SC to interact in some fashion with the unlocked guild features. Mind you, the stash of temporary SC is not to be touched. If it would, then the prestige would go down and unlocked features would again become unavailable to the members.

So in a sense, guildmembers become the bloodline for this guilddesign. Which sounds good, but not every player wants to log in and "work for the guild". I recall, many players, join guild to team up with friends and to fun stuff that do not per se benefit the guild's prestige. They are just there to have fun.

The adventuring player will need to head back to a guild npc, turn in their goods in order to receive SC (with the guild's prestige in mind). Unless there are guild npc's spread out across the world and are easely contacted? Or every npc can offer guild SC, but this last one would be in conflict with your design. Seeing that goods or otherwise obtained loot can not directly earn a player SC.
And so, we go back on track here; Trading these goods will require them to spend SC before earning some from the goods they've returned. Looking at the adventurer example: this would mean: kill goblin -> obtain leather skin -> turn to npc and pay SC -> receive refined leather skin -> craft or commission craft -> obtain leather armor -> use at will: donate for SC, trade with PC, equip.
At every stage beyond the first npc-stage, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), that adventurer can convert that item into SC ONLY when they spend SC first.
With the guild design in mind, imagine 40 guildmembers spending and earning SC regularly during their game session. The guild's prestige (level?) would have to be recalibrated continously? With major influx and efflux when guildmembers join or leave the guild (not to mention alts as those shift between guilds more regurarly then main characters).


My apologies, it seems it's not possible to cut corners here, I'll reply in different stages to try and make it a more pleasant read instead.
 
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Barin999

Journeyman
First off, it might be interesting to be able to investigate the components origin of an obtained item. Very simply, it could state; this item consists out of leather, wood, iron. The system might be designed or explained as such that the player knows that the major component is written on top of the list and the amount of each component which used in this item, goes down with the listing. This would mean that there is more wood in the item and iron is the least present. (Explanation for the use of it, will follow later on.)

Scenario: A leather armour is obtained from a goblin. The player has two options:

  • Directly go to a crafter/player and try to make a trade to get SC from the item
  • Go to an npc and hand over the armour
What happens at the npc? Several options there:

  • They choose to obtain a severely lowered SC directly.
  • They choose to hand over the item and immediately get a cleaned patch of leather.
  • They choose to hand it over, the npc informs them it will take them 5 real-time days, to have the cleaned patch of leather sold. But it will result in a higher amount of SC. This means the player has to wait for this period of time in order to obtain SC from his leather armour.
Option 3 could be solved differently. Instead of putting a real time delay on the return. One could make it a random return trade. Similar to a slot machine in the casino, you hand over the item and continue the trade with the npc, not knowing what he’ll give you back. BUT the difference here, the return will be scaled proportionately. The return will be an item that has it’s SC value range between certain boundaries. IF the leather goblin armour is sold, the biggest component of that armour might be leather, so the player might get a leather armour. But they could receive iron studs instead, that also are a component of that goblin armour. The SC value of those studs however is not as great as the leather. This happens at random. So it’s not certain that handing the goblin armour over to the merchant will render you with the best outcome. The only thing that is certain, you will not have gained any SC directly, you will receive some item immediately after the trade, the value of the return item will be greater than NPC option 1 and NPC option 2 but lower than the pc option mentioned above. As long as this slot-system is producing more items of suboptimal SC value, this suggestion could work. Because this renders other components, instead of actual SC it might not be perceived as gambling. You will always get something back. It will work as a good sink and players could quickly go back to adventuring.

In case of NPC option 3; What happens if the player does not return to the npc in time but rather much later or forgets the npc? à The npc sends the player a mail.

The SC mail: Each merchant station is a waypoint of some sorts. So when you travel you’ll pass several merchants. Depending on the distance between the current location of the player and the npc that is mailing him the SC, the final return of SC will be lowered. Meaning, if the player is still within the region but does not want/know how to travel back to that npc, they can retrieve the SC from the mail (be that with a small deduction). The best way is to get back to the npc and retrieve it from him straight away. (stimulating player travel) IF the player has moved on to another region entirely, the amount of SC will be lower still, and even greater would the deduction be if the player was in another continent. The bottom line here is, the further you are away from that npc (where you trusted your leather armour to, to be sold after 5 days), the less SC you’ll get by accepting the deal through mail. Look at it as some sort of taxation or commission system, where npc’s had to spend some ‘of his’ SC to get the mail to the player.

It’s acceptable in the knowledge of the fact that players will be moving back and forth many times in the world, for npc or pc related reasons. It’s not unthinkable that the player will pass those merchants every so often.

This allows players to dump their gains at npc’s for some fashion of return. Be that immediately or over time. What’s is certain, is that their bags are empty again and they can get to move on again. It’s a quick fix for those players that do not want to bother with, can get the most out of my loot, but rather just have fun in the game by exploring and killing mobs. (let’s face it, many will do just that and enjoy it)

There could be some kind of barrier in the things they can entrust the npc to turn in to SC over time. Otherwise, there would be little reason for that player to turn to bigger cities or to other players. The bigger incentive for those players would be that, you’ll get more SC from interaction with crafters or trading their loot with others.

Item value up till now: leather goblin armour; 1 SC if sold directly to merchant, 3 SC after 5 days at the merchant. The cleaned leather strap; for crafters of that crafting guild 5SC immediately (after crafting process ofc), for crafters of another crafting guild 4SC immediately.

I’ve mentioned something investigation of an obtained item. Let’s elaborate on that a bit here: Early on in the text, I’ve suggested that by investigating an item, player can view the component origins of that item. (Mind you, I’m not saying stats.) If the major component is for example leather. And the two other components are wood and iron. Then it would be most opportune to turn this item in at a tanner, or outfitter. Again, turning to a pc would be more profitable than an npc. Now let’s say the adventurer hands the item over to an outfitter. They might be able to produce a product that has maximum SC value. If however, the adventurer turns it over to a smith instead, that crafter might be able to produce something, but it would not hold the same value as the player being an outfitter.

Why is that? The biggest component is leather, an outfitter would have the most components to work with to produce the largest piece of value in return. The smith would have little to work with and the item they might be able to make out of it, will be of lesser value. How much of a certain component is used in an item, will thereby determine which crafter will be most profitable. This gives an interesting twist to the whole ‘let’s go and trade goods’. When the item is consumed in order to produce something better, the entire item is being consumed and not only the part that fits the trade. So one cannot dismantle the goblin armour and get several pieces out of it that they would take to separate crafters (outfitter, woodworker, smith). This deliberate design choice puts more weight to the decision of the player, to whom they’re going to turn to.

Now you’ve installed a system, where the playstyle and actual choices in game, will determine how much SC they’ll obtain during their game sessions. You’re not punishing those players that don’t like to spend time trading or min maxing, but you’re offering those that go beyond an incentive to use their brains and really get to know the goods they gain, trade or sell in the world.
...
So far that was step one.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
Now, what do to with that patch of leather? Again the player can choose between several options;

  • They can try and trade that leather with a npc merchant in the local area (no npc would be interested, unless the settlement has X amount of magnitude)
  • They can trade the leather with an npc merchant in the bigger cities in the area. Where the finer goods get shipped off to.
  • Both step 1 and 2 would allow for SC to be earned at this stage of trade.
  • However, both options would still render less SC then if they would go for option 3.
  • The player takes the leather patch to a player and asks them to convert them into something useful. (A worked leather armour for example). The item itself has a higher SC value if donated to the appropriate npc merchant.
  • The player choose to invest the leather patch at the player to get a full armour out of it, but they’ll need more items for that crafter in order to complete the item they want.
What can traders do with this item they can make? They can use it as a component to make actual equip able/consumable items for him or for other players. Or they can trade the armour for SC. Or the crafter can turn it into the appropriate NPC crafting guild, which will in turn will be the same mechanic for that crafter.

Why isn’t the local merchant interested in that gear? Depending on the magnitude of the settlement, the better the goods are, the more expensive they are. The local npc’s might only offer a max amount of SC for a component or item of X quality/tier. If you want more SC out of it, you’ll have to move to towns or cities that ‘require/use’ more qualitative items or components. Also, the npc’s of the smaller towns, might just have no use for it as they do not have the knowledge to process these higher quality components or wear/trade these high end products locally. The goods might just be too expensive to them and therefore not interesting enough. (Think castle quality vs peasant quality)

Item value of the cleaned leather patch; 10SC at any npc, 12SC at appropriate trade-npc.

If the player turns it into at the correct merchant they’ll get more out of it. But even the perfect match would still end up less profitable compared to turning to a player.

Item value of the leather armour made by the outfitter: 17 SC

Advanced players and skilled players can render better results (or get more profit out of it themselves) What does that mean? Let’s say the production of the leather armour renders the player the item PLUS a portion of SC for the crafter. In a way that, the crafter gets his cut. The crafter now gives the adventure the leather armour with a value of 17SC. The adventurer can trade/wear it or sell/consume it for 17SC. The crafter is being paid by direct means, namely he’s getting his few points of SC when the crafting process has ended. This ‘commission’ as it were, could be % based on the final SC-value of the produced item. Meaning, a higher level item made by the crafter, will give him a bigger ‘commission’. This would be the primary incentive for crafters to crafter for other people (viewing from an economic standpoint, not a marketing or social standpoint). The better the crafter gets, the bigger his commission will become. The commission could also be other items/tokens that render SC if the crafter interacts with an npc.

The technical details of the return could be a calculation again of several things: skill used, relatedness to highest component (in other words, where is the used component situated on the component list after investigation of the item), level of the crafter, random failure factor, gear, other trade related skills, achievements, etc.

All this is still based on that adventurer obtain a leather goblin armour. So there is still the entire harvesting, quest rewards to be added into this design.
 

Barin999

Journeyman
NPC industry

This suggestion is still situated within the content of a coin-free economy, where trade and Social currency/Prestige are the only means of transitioning goods.

Because there is scavenging and looting of treasures and collecting gear from kills in the game, there is a lot of supply of goods. I’d like to see a design where you actually have an in game industry. This industry would be on the demanding side of things. Here ones more, fits the crafter into place. But this time, I’m talking about NPC’s. Societies or organisations within the world of Terminus that consume resources and are in permanent need for more. Since I’m talking about industry, I am in fact focusing on crafting-related NPC’s.

A smith in a village could be demanding for coal, iron, wood. If the village is big enough, an outfitter might be in need of leather or components relating to their craft. Easy enough you’d say, just a chop tree-quest. But what if npc’s actually are in need of specific items that one can find in the area. Only in this area. All fine and dandy, but this still looks a lot like your usual quest.

Now let’s take this one step further. You do not receive coin or experience for it as you hand in the required items. Instead, you influence the direct environment of that npc’s tradesmen. And as the amount of offered items increases, the smith grows in value, skill, shop, connections,… At a certain stage, the player who has boosted that smith gets called in by that npc. The npc invites him to become a member of the local house. Now this opens up a couple of things. Content or other rewards. All this with loot/gear/products of this specific surrounding area.

All along, the smith is still demanding the same items and as long as one (or many) player(s) keep the flow of incoming resources going, the smith will grow. But what could happen; the player moves on to other areas, the flow to the smith decreases or stops entirely, the smith’s “prestige/capabilities” decrease again down to starting point. On the other side of the spectrum the following could happen as well: the player still provides more and more and the smith’s demands are met. The capabilities/prestige of that smith in that specific village has reached its maximum. What this means for that player; items that are handed in will offer him the max amount of SC-valued return possible. Now the player is called in again to venture to another smith at a larger village. This village has many more connections that require items from its own specific region and less of regions further away. Now the player has a choice, head back and stay with that smith. The player could still earn items with a certain SC-value. But not beyond that. OR the player chooses to move on and move to the bigger village. Now the smith of this bigger village, demands more and more dangerous items. Similar to the design of the smaller village, the player will not gain SC directly and has the choice to invest in making the “prestige” of that smithy increase.

It now makes the world even more alive and dynamic. Each server will be different. Purely because not every/all players will move or stay within certain villages or locations as long as others. The result is different, but in every server you’ll have the same demanding npc industry. So what you produce as loot per server, is more likely to be consumed by the npc industry demanding those very items. This makes the whole item sinks, are smaller loop. It is likely that items will not remain on the server as long as in a system without such a small consumption circle. (if that makes sense)

What this design does, is it puts a value on location while still making local investments a profitable thing. VR has already stated that the value of items will differ depending on where you’re going to try and sell them. And this suggestion is quite similar. It not only allows for a steadily increase of importance but it works the other way around as well. Handing in a goblin armour might get you an item worth 4SC in return from a major city, but in the village near the goblin cave, it might be rendering an item of 6SC. Why? Lore wise, well because the villagers threatened by those goblins in the area will appreciate it more than a merchant in a distant town. This might motivate players to think what they want to do with their goods. Over time, players will start to think, “hey, I found this item near that village. Instead of unloading all of it in the major city, I’ll drop by the small town and have a bigger profit.” The crown found in the goblin cave however, will bring them more profit in the major city than it would in the small village. Why? Well, the villagers might have limited amount of X to return, so you’d lose SC indirectly. But, in a major city, you’re bound to find crafters or npc’s that can help you out in a more suited way. And crowns have more “importance” in bigger cities compared to smaller towns.

Heck, there might be NPC crafting guilds or other NPC adventurers guilds that are in demand for crowns, to increase their prestige.

This suggestion is just one side of the story as this could connect to @vjek suggestion of SC economy. So you’d have personal SC to gather or guild SC to gather by trading crowns or goblin armour. Not forgetting the actual player-crafters that might be able to use items to produce gear/consumables or other items that will profit that player directly.
In a way, I was missing this in your document @vjek . The npc economy that demands those resources. The conversion system is there, but I could not read the Demand system. This could put more incentive for players to engage in this Barter economy with the npcs.
 

vjek

Novice
Step one:

Not of a fan of RNG/real-time-days mechanics, but I see where you're going with it. I think personal amplifiers/discount of/for SC are a better path, but either would work.
I have no issue with distance consequences for escrow NPCs. I think it may be better to simply incorporate unavoidable time delay in the Market, but what you've outlined could be used as well. It's not required, it's a fine tuning detail, but there's nothing wrong with the idea or implementation.
Ultimately what you're describing is effectively NPC crafters in addition to PC Crafters, which is indicated in the document, but not expanded on because there's so many different ways to implement it, I didn't want to restrict those implementation ideas by enumerating some or one. Time penalties is a great way to implement them, yet, players are typically going to use them when PC Crafters aren't available, and/or time is what they don't have, so that may be something to consider.
--
Step two:
I like the idea that the PC crafter gets SC for doing his part in the process.
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NPC Industry:
I agree that players should be either solely or primarily the suppliers of everything. If it really is a player driven economy, then this is a requirement.
The "permanent need for more" from NPCs/NPC Guilds/Deities/Organizations/Players/Player Guilds is also what I had in mind.
Agreed on the SC amplifier (max amount of SC-valued return possible), that was the intent if they fully integrate themselves into the economy and/or fill all roles of that region.
Agreed on the smaller loop item sink consequence.
In my personal implementation (I wouldn't enumerate this in the framework as it's too specific) is that each PC racial faction (good/neutral/evil) would have world plots that they could start, drive/push, and maintain, via this mechanic. Specifically, that if you and yours could provide all the goods to a smith in the region, and convince them to sell them to the goblins, then the goblins become supplied by this village. Or you could supply the kings men. Or mercenaries. Three different plot paths based on three different options, per region.
Completely agree on the NPC guilds having demand, offering services, and being involved. That, too, was an obvious positive feature.

Regarding prestige spent by PC Guilds. I have a few thoughts on this, but I think one good way would be that for particular event tokens that you could purchase, each guild member could contribute as much of their personal prestige to their purchase, at the NPC that provides the token. That way, the guild doesn't hold it until it's paid for, and it's entirely the choice of the player, and if desired, the SC could be returned to the player if the guild imploded before the token was finally purchased, or used.
Just something like: this event token costs 1000 prestige. Your guild has paid 400/1000 so far, do you want to add 50? Once twenty players with that guild tag add 50 (or one adds 500, and 10 add 50, it's arbitrary) then the event token becomes redeemable by the leader or an officer designated with that privilege.
Subsequently, use of that event token widget will spawn a world plot event, culminating in something rewarding for the participants. Could be a crafting event, harvesting, religious, racial, social/festival, diplomacy, combat, invasion, whatever. This is where designers get to make their custom event scripts that actually affect the world, and possibly afterwards, could be a persistent effect. Something like SC discounts/amplifiers for that region, NPC SC stock changes, or participants gain hours/days/weeks/month-long effects, or similar.

There's really no end to the game-changing effects. If, for example, you and yours pushed a local apothecary to the top of his social food chain, and he became the local/regional "power", then perhaps for hours, days or weeks, his shop stocks valuable SC-purchased consumables for spell casters that participated or support him. But.. competing with that is the local blacksmith, who may offer similar discounts or availability to things like coldstones, heatstones, or rotstones (for sharpening weapons, to add varying temporary procs) that non-casters want. Thus, you have players indirectly competing, which is typically beneficial for subscription rates.

Hm, just had an interesting thought. With the design goal of encouraging the continued use and re-use of lower level zones, if higher level SC vendors only had stock if all the lower tiers were supplied and maintained, this would strongly encourage players to continue to support those lower tiers/regions. By participating, consuming, adventuring and harvesting/producing in them.

--
Again, I'm hesitant to put too much specificity in the framework, to prevent the possible implementations. But I agree that a section on NPC Demand would help clarify the mental model, so I'll add that once your comments are done, for this version of the framework. Good feedback, and you're definitely picking up what I'm putting down. :)

EDIT: Had some more time for a few follow-up comments and ideas, which I wouldn't necessarily put in the framework, but I think would work in Pantheon..
++
PC Guilds use SC to purchase and maintain all guild perks. Anyone/everyone in the guild can contribute to their purchase, but only officers/leaders can actually redeem them. They're all time limited, require maintenance, and have concurrent guild membership requirements, for some perks.
But, to start, it seems reasonable that if one person wanted to have one guild with two perks, that is, the guild name tag and the guild chat channel, that the guild leader could purchase these perks with SC, and then start inviting other players.
You could also make some perks require that contribution to the perk be limited by Account. That is, to gain a perk that would only affect groups of that guild, in combat, for example, it would require 6 separate accounts all contribute an equal share of SC to gain that perk. Doesn't have to be that way, but it could be.

In a more dangerous vein, you could also have guild rank positions offer SC amplifiers and/or discounts, inherent and only as part of the rank or position.
So, there would be tangible in-game rewards/benefits for being a guild officer, beyond the added responsibility and ... babysitting(!) that often comes with the positions. This may require aligning the guild with an NPC organization, either permanently, or infrequently changing.

There is also the whole deity sacrifice angle to the barter economy. Sacrificing the leather armor to a deity should also grant SC. In what state should also be a consideration. This could tie into worship, whereby your particular devotion to either one of the pantheon, or the entire pantheon, or faction-aligned-deities, could provide the player and/or guild with tangible benefits, provided they continued to sacrifice sufficiently or generously.
As an example, say the Gods for evil are Syronai, "deities of the Graven Hold", and D'shath. If, as a Dark Myr, you sacrifice to Syronai, you would gain racial benefits. If, as a guild, you sacrificed equally to all three, you might gain additional 'evil' Abilities, effects, banes, amplifiers or discounts. It may also open up unique SC event tokens that can be purchased from temples/places-of-worship.

Your guild crafters would have a pivotal role to play in deity sacrifice, if end-result crafted items were always worth more as deity sacrifices.
Temple NPCs could be another flavor of SC vendor, with a different inventory of items and effects, affecting all game loops, from crafting to diplomacy, combat, and more. So your deity donation opens up more options for SC purchase with those religious NPCs. The primary difference here is, it's a pure item sink. Donating to an NPC organization (such as the Crafters guild, or Warriors Guild) may desire particular items, whereas a deity might accept anything.
Optionally, deities might have their favorites, depending on Lore, so you could have them vastly prefer food & drink, for example, if it was a design goal to keep those valuable over time. SC deity sacrifice amplifiers could also vary by season and/or region and/or tier.
 
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