Game talk‘Flation

 Posted by (Visited 36595 times)  Game talk
Jan 172007
 

With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older items has dropped. I’ve seen folks who are new to the whole expansion thing wondering about past games, and whether the same was true, and how much the buying power of past currencies fell in the wake of expansions. They even asked for links to studies.

No links, but this is a well-studied and understood phenomenon called mudflation in the biz, and which partakes of characteristics of real-world inflation as well as some unqie game-only characteristics. Every level-based game hits it when they raise the level cap (actually, they hit it continuously, but boosts to the level cap make it worse). In WoW’s case, it’ll be ameliorated to some degree by the incredibly heavy use of binding items. Typical symptoms you can certainly expect:

  • An overall rise in the “power” of users of a given level, as measured before-and-after on the expansion, generally because of increased access to abilities or items.
  • Increased success manifested via mobs that used to take groups being soloed, and so on.
  • Time to level to continue to decrease, and perhaps accelerate (it has almost certainly been decreasing anyway because of repeat play across intro levels, plus just overall increased competence and knowledge among the players).
  • Comments like “the game doesn’t start til level ‘x’” increasing, with X moving up — one form of “hollow world syndrome.”
  • A decreased worth of currency, expressed in terms of buying power overall (though the cost of many formerly desirable items will fall precipitously).
  • Decreased worth of formerly high-end items, particularly within “bands” of content where hand-me-downs are practical.
  • “Hollow world” syndrome, where formerly populated zones become less so, as the bulk of the users shift locales to fit the new mean level.

The classic means of controlling mudflation are

  • reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad.
  • Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play.
  • Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw.
  • Never introducing higher DPS mechanisms; in other words, the levels become cosmetic, because the actual power of players does not increase. This is how the systems with “infinite levels” tend to work — they asymptotically approach zero player power growth.
  • Shifting player attention from power gains to cosmetic gains (e.g., instead of a new badass sword, gain the ability to redesign your sword and personalize it).
  • Radically altered elder games (politics, economics, PvP, etc). This runs the risk of alienating players who liked the game they were already playing.
  • Remort systems and other such mechanisms to encourage repeat play of lower levels.
  • Restrictions on trade, such as soulbinding items, so they cannot be handed down and thus increase the ‘standard of living” for all users.
  • Level limits on equipment use, so that you are forced to abandon equipment (which in a soulbinding game, effectively means item deletion).

Fundamentally, though, it’s endemic because it’s implicit in the core assumptions a level-and-hp-increase based system with infinite inflows.

  67 Responses to “‘Flation”

  1. instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) (Disclosure: I am a proud member of the advisory board for Areae, the company Raph founded) See also: Koster’s keynote from Game Developers Conference Koster’s amazing “What are the lessons of MMORPGs today?”>

  2. Fri 2007-01-19 iPhone ringtone NYT WoW nerd Dealing with mudflation Unfortunate CAPTCHA IP address icons Delicious custom cake

  3. instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) (Disclosure: I am a proud member of the advisory board for Areae, the company Raph founded) See also: Koster’s keynote from Game Developers Conference Koster’s amazing “What are the lessons of MMORPGs today?

  4. Dealing with mudflation 4 hours ago Nelson Minar : Dealing with mudflation – Excellent game design insights from Raph Koster # copy

  5. investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link(via Wonderland) (Disclosure: I am a proud member of the advisory board for Areae, the company Raph founded) See also: Koster’s keynote from Game Developers Conference Koster’s amazing “What are the lessons of MMORPGs today?”>

  6. instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link

  7. The level cap will last much longer than 28 hours for casuals and most players, especially those new players, or returning players who have not reached the level cap.Of the points brought up when discussing the effects of an expansion on the economy, Raph mentions two effects on these players that come with TBC, or any other expansion because mudflation seems omnipresent in MMO economies. 1. Formerly high-end items will decrease in worth, particularly within “bands” of content where hand-me-downs

  8. [...] Bloggers January 18, 2007 06:34 Dynamic spawn system Once upon a time in a classic MMORPG there was a camp of 10 foozles. And as there was a quest to hunt them for foozle pelts, often players came to that camp and started killing them. Using a classic… Source: Tobold Categories: Bloggers 01:00 Ack, no more Harmonix Guitar Hero games? The headline says it all: GameDaily BIZ: Breaking: Guitar Hero Development Goes to Neversoft. I suppose this might be a side effect of Harmonix getting acquired by MTV while Red Octane got bought by Activision. And Neversoft is a talented shop. But either way, it’s still dismaying… Source: Raph's Koster Website Categories: Bloggers 00:32 ‘Flation With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older items has dropped. I’ve seen folks who are new to the whole expansion thing wondering about past games, and whether the same was true, and how much the buying power of past currencies fell in the wake of [...] Source: Raph's Koster Website Categories: Bloggers 00:19 Be Ready to Launch MMO Development Lesson #1, more or less just said: Don’t launch before you are done, unless you have to, even though you’ll probably fail unless players can’t tell what’s a bug and what’s by design. Do things that you think are helpful, because then if your game fails, maybe you won’t feel so bad. But c’mon! That’s [...] Source: Jeff Freeman – Dundee Categories: Bloggers 00:03 One server to rule them all I’m looking for an Everquest II server to call home for a few months. End game guilds do not matter, my only request is a bustling server during evening pst times. I don’t have many readers, but it is worth a shot before taking the plunge. There has to be one reader out there who [...] Source: Pitfalls – Krones Categories: Bloggers [...]

  9. As a WoW player that loosely follows the MMORPG industry (why I’m hear right?) I find it interesting to see the changed Blizzard made over the past months to address what I consider planning issues. Previously items had percentage based enhancements. For example, Sword of Superior Killing (not real – I hope) would add +25% of the players strength. Blizzard realized this wasn’t sustainable (who wants a +2% enhancement after a 25% enhancement, talk about let down).

    What they’ve done is modify almost every percentage based enhancement and change it to a flat rate. Now the Sword of Superior Killing may add a flat +25 strength. In addition, the benefit of an attribute goes down as the players level increases. So 25 strength at level 60 is a better increase than the same +25 at level 70.

    As time goes on do these strategies become part of the design suite, or do companies try and patent the ideas?

  10. Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play.

    Could anyone suggest a few good examples? I went almost straight from CRPGs to MMORPGs, with only the most cursory look at MUDs.

    I’d love a chance to see this in action.

  11. I don’t know of any of them being patented.

  12. [...] Moves! Bookmark: « ‘Playing with Fire: When Advergaming Backfires’ trackback Leave aReply [...]

  13. [...] http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older items has dropped. I’ve seen folks who are new to the whole expansion thing wondering about past games, and whether the same was true, and how much the buying power of past currencies fell in the wake of expansions. They even asked for links to studies. [...]

  14. Could anyone suggest a few good examples? I went almost straight from CRPGs to MMORPGs, with only the most cursory look at MUDs.

    I’d love a chance to see this in action.

    Eve Online is probably the biggest example of an MMORPG that does this.

  15. Actually WoW introduced a really interesting way to raise level cap without making every past items obsolete or upsetting the player base. Previously items had hard percentage bonuses on certain attributes and some were more important then others such as the % to do a critical hit. With the burning crusades they needed more powerful items yet did not want that ratio to go too high (if a Warlock starts making critical hits all the time then it becomes unbalancing).

    So instead talents still have a fixed percentage bonus (so they are always useful) but most items have a critical rating instead. A critical rating offers a % bonus that’s dependant on the level of a player so a staff that gave 1% more critical at level 60 would offer maybe 0.8% at level 70. So the level 60 player using top of the line level 60 items from the original game is still extremely powerful by those standards but will need to upgrade his gear once he reaches level 70 (if he still wants to be at the top).

    So overall it was a way to introduce a nerf that worked: you don’t get weaker now and you have more powerful items later and the game is still balanced in the same way (which might not be perfectly balanced but that’s another debate entirely). Subtle but effective :P

  16. Draconi, glad to see you interest in that particular idea.

    If I can interject once again, these games are built wrong from the get-go. Why should players not lose? Without loss, it becomes something other than a game. It becomes nothing more than social environments for collecting. It’s baseball cards. Little wonder that the economies are screwed with inflation and “end game”, it’s designed for it.

  17. Would be interested in knowing whether the tiered approach of WoW for endgame items (ie T0 – T1 – T2 – T3…) is not actually a mistake: with the expansion launch, a new gear tier is created (presently T4/T5) and has to represent a significant improvement over the previous one (T3)… so level 70 endgame begins with that… and the gap between former high powerful (blue/purple) items and new weak (green) ones is actually very high in order to catch up. Not very immersive for players when hard won ‘epic’ items are replaced with the first drop of a random foozle.

  18. It becomes nothing more than social environments for collecting.

    Nothing more? Some of us like social environments for collecting. Don’t confuse ‘not built to my taste’ with ‘built wrong’.

  19. Well that’s just bull, Jujutsu, if you pardon my saying so. Yes, collections are fun and should be in these games. But my point was that the games are “nothing more”. And that is built wrong. Turning your accusation back at you, that’s “built for your taste” only. Furthermore, that is just what I said it is, built for inflation. I mean, when players are done collecting all there is, more has to be added. Because that’s the game. The part I didn’t mention is that these collections are for items of power. When more has to be added, so does the power. Spin on the merry-go-round. You’re just going around, where you were is no longer relevant to you, but where you’re going is back there anyways. At least as far as game play. Inflation is on a spirally stairway.

    But truthfully, I don’t care if you have your game, in fact that’s great. But I want mine too, instead of another clone.
    And yeah, I tried WoW and CoH and DAoC, etc. Yes, I went back to UO. At least they have somewhat of a grasp on this, even if they too add power up the stairway spiral of inflation.

  20. A critical rating offers a % bonus that’s dependant on the level of a player so a staff that gave 1% more critical at level 60 would offer maybe 0.8% at level 70. So the level 60 player using top of the line level 60 items from the original game is still extremely powerful by those standards but will need to upgrade his gear once he reaches level 70 (if he still wants to be at the top).

    That’s not new… that’s the same thing as a percentage reduction in item effectiveness based on its level proximity to your level, just applied to a particular stat.

    The usual way to do this is with a bell curve: internally, the item has an “ideal” level, and it falls off in effectiveness both above and below. With tight restrictions on trading and obtaining the item, you can instead do a curve that discounts the lower levels and only fades at higher levels.

    In practice, it’s a way to push people off of items without actually increasing the power cap. So for example, you can have two identical swords, but one is “perfect” at level 60 and another is perfect at level 70. Players will naturally switch because they seek to optimize, and abandon the older one because they outgrew it even though the stats are actually identical in the DB.

    The mechanic may actually be overkill if you have already set up other factors, such as DPS or typical enemie, to work in similar fashion.

    At some point, though, you end up saying “well, if everything is actually the same level, same DPS, same stats, and it’s all based on my proximity to ideal level, why not just not have the stats increase at all?” And then the chain of logic leads you out of these increasingly baroque tricks.

  21. Would be interested in knowing whether the tiered approach of WoW for endgame items (ie T0 – T1 – T2 – T3…) is not actually a mistake: with the expansion launch, a new gear tier is created (presently T4/T5) and has to represent a significant improvement over the previous one (T3)… so level 70 endgame begins with that… and the gap between former high powerful (blue/purple) items and new weak (green) ones is actually very high in order to catch up. Not very immersive for players when hard won ‘epic’ items are replaced with the first drop of a random foozle.

    It’s not a mistake per se, it’s just how these games work. Get used to previously hard won epics being common crap, that’s just how mudflation works. :)

  22. “Shifting player attention from power gains to cosmetic gains (e.g., instead of a new badass sword, gain the ability to redesign your sword and personalize it).”

    is exactly where WOW is missing the boat, they’ve totally ignored the crafting “game”. As well as missing the importance of non-combat classes.

    I bought TBC on release night, I loaded it up and went out and ran about 10 quests, and replaced 3 or 4 epic items with green quest rewards….mudflation makes my head hurt.

  23. I also think its worth mentioning that the same folks who worked hard to get those T3 epics generally have no problem giving them up for the chance to get even better stuff in a variety of new raids.

    There were a lot of these players who basically felt like they had finished the game and were waiting for new challenges to tackle.

  24. That is the nature of combat-centric item-oriented game systems. The whole approach leads to a theme park like experience and while I think that type of game has its place in the industry, one has to take the mudflation concept with it because they are inseparable.

    One of the ways to combat mudflation is often overlooked because it increases development complexity. Orthogonal paths of achievement can curb mudflation trememdously by creating alternative uses for items. Items typically earned in the early levels might be desirable because they are rare and represent status in the social world of politics. Maybe, the business that has setup shop wants all of its employees to wear the same low level clothing. Perhaps its simply too expensive to outfit your city’s military with top of the line epics assuming the players have a city that can be defended. Given these alternative methods of gameplay, it stands to reason that mudflation would remain better checked and balanced due to demand for items remaining high even after one mode of play has declared the item useless. Afterall, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. With one mode of gameplay like WoW has, on man’s trash is nothing more than trash.

    The problem with this is that designing orthogonal paths of achievement outside of combat requires more development time. Combat has to be there. The genre dictates it and any other game system is horribly boring to present to the suits to get money. Combat is the first system designed and usually the first one with a complete content pipeline in place. It’s simply more cost effective to put this content generation system in place inside your studio then reuse existing code, assets and tools to add new content.

    Burning Crusade quests are largely a rehash of everything that appeared in the original game, except with different monsters, higher numbers of mobs to kill and different item rewards. New gameplay mechanics did not need to be coded into the game to get 99.9% of the BC content into the expansion. That work is done by lower paid workers and maximizes profits. WoW was never designed to have a deep social game beyond inviting and kicking people from your small circle of friends(ie your guild or group). Adding in politics would require massive amounts of coding by high paid workers to accomplish. Adding in anything even remotely resembling shop ownership in SWG would require the same. Therefore, gameplay remains singular in its focus, severly limiting the design team’s ability to generate new content. Once you put the content pipeline in place its hard to get outside of what it can do because doing so costs lots of money.

    That leaves WoW and combat-centric item-oriented games with one way to expand the game; expanded character power. Players already discard content that’s not useful to advancing their character in a singularly focused game. In order to get them to use new content, it has to be better than old content and more gold/xp has to be given out. That’s because there is only one way to measure achievement; character power; which leads to… mudflation. Sad thing is that there’s no way to stop it; one can only curb its effects but even WoW eventually has to give in and make changes large enough to stop subscription churn. (ie release an expansion) I’m of the mind that we can’t get a good hold on mudflation until we stop designing purely DIKU based MMOs. Their built in flaw is mudflation and there isn’t a development team out there that can stop it. MUDs have tried for almost two decades and all have failed miserably. WoW et. al. are no different in this case, just bigger.

  25. Draconi wrote:
    Could anyone suggest a few good examples?

    I’ll give Sony the love that Raph isn’t giving them. :) EQ1 and EQ2 had a system of “alternate advancement” (AA) where you could spend experience points in gaining points you could allocate in a tree for special abilities. Very similar to how WoW talent trees work.

    The brilliant thing about this is that in EQ2, the system allowed people who were maxxed out to spend their time and effort earning AA points even while they were at maximum level. However, the system was developed in such a way that new players that came on after the system was introduced could earn points while they were gaining levels. It didn’t significantly add to the total time required to max out a character, but it did provide a lot of additional gameplay for the characters that were already maxxed out.

    Solok wrote:
    As time goes on do these strategies become part of the design suite, or do companies try and patent the ideas?

    Few patents are issued, because 1) patents are costly to obtain for the most part and, 2) patents have to be relatively specific and we’re a pretty creative industry. Even if Sony had patented the idea of AA points as I described above, any designer worth their wages could design a different system with similar results. It’s just faster and easier to duplicate existing systems. :)

    In reality, patents would only add to the cost of making games with little benefit. If Sony started patenting things, other large companies would follow suit. That means that companies would simply cross-license patents in order to avoid training their designers how to circumvent patents. The big negative effect of this situation would be that the little guys would get crushed; most of us indie developers are beneath the notice of the large companies, anyway.

  26. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  27. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  28. I also think its worth mentioning that the same folks who worked hard to get those T3 epics generally have no problem giving them up for the chance to get even better stuff in a variety of new raids.

    I have a problem with it, and my character was only T2 geared.

    In EverQuest, guilds were basically required to progress through the raid tiers in order, e.g. old world -> Kunark -> Velious. Having your members geared in the previous tier gave you a chance to survive the newer raid content.

    WoW seems to have totally abandoned that principle (which it stuck to until now). In Burning Crusade, you get some levelling use out of the gear you spent months earning, and then it’s gone in the blink of an eye, replaced with 5-man dungeon drops. But it’s a level playing field – others who don’t have that kind of gear are also able to tackle the new content and “catch up” with your T1/2/3 gear by the time they’re level 70.

    It feels like shocking mudflation. Ultimately there was no reason for me to gear up in the previous raid content. I could have just closed my account and waited for TBC.

  29. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  30. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  31. [...] gbsteve (gbsteve) wrote,@ 2007-01-19 13:32:00      Mudflation and Wuffle This is the same phenomena as level bloat in tabletop games, except worse because it affects thousands of players at once. There’s an article about it here that mentions some of the ways of dealing with it:reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Never introducing higher DPS mechanisms; in other words, the levels become cosmetic, because the actual power of players does not increase. This is how the systems with “infinite levels” tend to work — they asymptotically approach zero player power growth. Shifting player attention from power gains to cosmetic gains (e.g., instead of a new badass sword, gain the ability to redesign your sword and personalize it). Radically altered elder games (politics, economics, PvP, etc). This runs the risk of alienating players who liked the game they were already playing. Remort systems and other such mechanisms to encourage repeat play of lower levels. Restrictions on trade, such as soulbinding items, so they cannot be handed down and thus increase the ’standard of living” for all users. Level limits on equipment use, so that you are forced to abandon equipment (which in a soulbinding game, effectively means item deletion). It would help if MUD items gave fixed bonuses instead of percentage increases. A +20% sword is always good but a +1 sword is only nice at lower levels. Of course, if the rewards are other than killing things and taking there stuff then you don’t need to worry about levels much at all. How about a wuffle based system? Wuffle is Cory Doctorow’s word for social capital as defined in Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom (which is an OK read btw although the characters are annoyingly adolescent – but I guess that’s what you get in societies where no one has to work, the Culture is the same which is why the best characters are limnal in some way).I think abilities could be capped in a zero based way (Social skills + Physical prowess + Craft and Magic = c but start out at less than c). That way you can improve your character, up to a maximum but specilisation would come at the detriment of other skills. Wuffle on the other hand would give access to better interaction with NPCs, perhaps property or even titles. Wuffle could even be aspected so that you might have different Wuffle from different kingdoms.(Post a new comment) [...]

  32. “Ultimately there was no reason for me to gear up in the previous raid content. I could have just closed my account and waited for TBC.”

    This is a shocking piece of short sightedness. The point of a game is to play the game. The challenge of conquering content, participating in the social environment, and enjoying the story line and history the game developers are trying to create.

    If your only goal is “gear” then you might as well never buy any game because there is always going to be an expansion for any successful game and you can wait an infinite amount of time for the next best thing, or you can play the game.

    Sure you can close your account and wait for TBC, but why reopen it then? When the next expansion is only a year or two away and everything from TBC will be obsolete. Your logic fails.

  33. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  34. [...] Mudflation on Raph Koster Mudflation on Raph Koster Quote: [...]

  35. I wonder if Magic, the Gathering expansion sets have any lessons here. I remember the introduction of snow-covered lands and creatures that would have an advantage in snow-covered lands but a disadvantage in the regular lands. This way the new uber-goodies do not devalue the old uber-goodies.

  36. Tom said:

    I wonder if Magic, the Gathering expansion sets have any lessons here. I remember the introduction of snow-covered lands and creatures that would have an advantage in snow-covered lands but a disadvantage in the regular lands. This way the new uber-goodies do not devalue the old uber-goodies.

    That’s actually a good idea for any game, and a version of Raph’s “other paths” tangents. It would probably cost more to do, maybe, but be loads more interesting. As a related idea, one that would surely cost loads more to do, adding underwater kingdoms and associated goodies would be really cool.
    If I could say one thing about this though, it’s that there are many players who like to define their characters by the gear they wear and their appearance. So, once they have the appearnace they are shooting for, forcing changes to that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Altering it to some degree can be ok, for instance heavy cloaks for those cold mountainous regions, and fur boats, gloves, etc. Why would the extra new stuff have to be a complete makeover? A heavy cloak of Frost Resistance or Furry Boots of Snow Travail can be cool items.
    Again here, if you’re going to guarantee everyone the items, you’re selling the desire factor way short. And so the value of the items as well as the game as a whole.

  37. It is endemic to the design assumptions of a game based on levels and hp with infinite inflows, as you say, and the reason is that levels and hp come from role-playing games, which were designed for much smaller numbers of players.

    These games should work on a different system, because one of the design assumptions of finite-user RPGs is that everyone levels more or less simultaneously.

    That assumption literally doesn’t scale.

  38. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  39. I always miss the best discussions until they’re halfway through.

    Mudflation is something that’s been a problem in nearly every game I’ve played. Even in EVE online you end up with a mudflation problem as Tech 2 equipment becomes more prevalent and easy to get. In any game where item quality is or can be a significant determining factor of character power, you’re bound to run into this problem as new items are introduced.

    I don’t think any game can wholly avoid mudflation, but it should be possible to create a design that mitigates the impact. Concepts like soft level caps (the Bell curves Raph talked about), bind-on-pickup or attunable items that can’t be traded after the fact, and so on. Mechanisms to help pull old, unused items out of the economy – whether they get recycled in return for faction points of some sort, sold to NPC vendors for cash, or whatever.

    When it comes to leveling and character power, that’s a different sort of thing. Breadth of game systems is probably the best way to combat that. Sure you might be a level 50 warrior, but your leadership skill is only 15/200 so let’s see you effectively garrison that stronghold there. On the other hand, your mage friend might only be level 32, but he spent time building his leadership skill, and his stronghold’s looking quite a bit better than yours. While individual and small-group combat systems are going to be in any game, any virtual world should include multiple games – a combat game, a crafting/economic game, various social games, territorial control, inter-regional trading, etc. There should be enough to do that even if you hit the top at one area there are still several other options available for you to choose, and hopefully at least one will be relatively interesting to you.

    EQ’s AA system didn’t really do a good job of circumventing power inflation because there was no cap on the number of AAs you could get – grind long enough, and eventually you have them all. EQ2 did it a bit better by limiting the maximum number of points and forcing you to choose. In the end though, both of these are just additional advancement systems that go hand-in-hand with normal leveling, such that players begin to expect that a character of level X is going to have roughly Y AA points, and high-end guilds start looking for max-level characters with a minimum amount of AAs.

  40. [...] * reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. * Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. * Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via Wonderland) [...]

  41. David (Tal) wrote:
    I don’t think any game can wholly avoid mudflation,

    Sure you can: don’t add content. :) But, some might claim the cure is worse than the disease.

    I’m mostly considering the effect of a new player coming into the game. This makes some sense since part of the goal of most expansions is to try to attract new people to the game. In some ways, MUDflation is a good thing because it lets me play the game faster so that I can catch up with friends. This is a flaw in the typical level-based system: level segregation sucks.

    Yes, eventually AAs become “required” for you to participate. But, as I pointed out, the AAs in EQ2 can be earned as you’re gaining levels. By the time you get to max level, you only have to work a bit more to gain maximum power. You only have to gain 10 AAs at max level instead of the full 50 that your previously maxxed out friends had to. A good way to add content for the higher levels that doesn’t punish people that start late.

    On the other hand, progression raiding hurts the experience of a person that starts later. My current guild in EQ2 is doing the highest level instanced raids. My ghetto equipment that came from grouping, not raiding, won’t measure up for the most part. (I am lucky in that I’m a caster, so the requirements are a bit less.) But, few in my guild are interested in going slumming in order to gear me up, unfortunately, so I’m stuck in a holding pattern.

    Further, some of the older content was invalidated by the increase in level maximum. For example, I only went into Solusek’s Eye in EQ2 because the deity quest required it. Looks cool, but I’m much higher level now than the zone requires. And, I will likely never see the raid stuff because nobody is doing that anymore. People who want to raid are doing the harder stuff and just grouping up to max level. I guess I might have to wait a few years for them to do EQ2 progression servers, eh? :) Same thing will probably happen in WoW: how many people will do MC raids after a few more expansions? Very few, I’ll wager, unless they revamp the zone to be harder or require some other change.

    Some more thoughts.

  42. Mudflation will always be a problem until designers introduce mechanisms that better mimic the disadvantages of real-world economies, not just the advantages.

    Economics, the 101-level textbook will tell us, is the study of infinite desire in a world of limited resources.

    In the tabletop RPG, there aren’t an infinite supply of Artifact Gear Items waiting to be snapped up by Raid Groups — there is ONE. There is only one because it required great labor and resource to make the one.

    In the real world, Master Josh doesn’t have an infinite amount of money to pay an infinite number of 1st level characters to rid his warehouse of an infinite number or rats — he only makes a finite amount of profit from his storage fees.

    The questions a world-designer has to ask are difficult to answer w.r.t. economy. Where does currency come from? What is it spent on? How do NPC’s and PC’s economies for goods and currency interact? How much real-world style item decay is the right amount for our gameworld?

    The MMO I played the most was SW:G. There were a myriad of things causing inflation in that game, but primary, in my mind, was the PROFITABILITY of the most basic forms of “hunting” and the subsequent enormous influx of credits-from-nowhere. You don’t need to be Ben Bernanke to know that increasing the money supply spreads more money around the economy; and, in a closed system like SW:G, the results happened rather quickly.

    …….time is short, so I’ll finish by saying, yes, it’s a tough problem, but one that can be mitigated by more accurately emulating a real-world economy. That’s why we have these dual- and quad-core machines, right? :P

  43. In SWG, we actually chose to say “we don’t care what the value of a credit is” precisely because of the infinite spawns. Since basically every good had its prices set by players, the effect of devaluation of currency was fairly minimal in terms of buying power for goods because the prices floated along with the currency. In a typical mudflation scenario, values are “hardcoded” and therefore the buying power of players rises dramatically.

    The same was sort of true with items; in SWG and UO both there was big turnover on items, and everything was doomed to break, pretty much. The result was that there were greater markets for items that were not top of the line. In SWG’s case, we also made it so that the influx of resources of varying quality resulted in the best item or goods not always being available.

  44. Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play.

    Could anyone suggest a few good examples? I went almost straight from CRPGs to MMORPGs, with only the most cursory look at MUDs.

    I’d love a chance to see this in action.

    One web based MUD-like game that does this is Kingdom of Loathing. After you’ve played through all the existing content, you’re able to start over as a different class. There are some bonuses to doing so: you get one skill/ability (out of ~100) made permanent, you get to retain most of your items but they’re in limited-access storage for a while, etc. You also get some extra content and a few opt-in challenges to make it more interesting. Those extra challenges and the lure of collecting a full set of permanent skills provide orthogonal advancement.

    In fact, KoL does most of the stuff that Ralph dicusses to limit mudflation and keep the game interesting, but it’s always walking a fine line. Economic issues constantly crop up and have to be tuned by the developers.

    The user-created KoLwiki has some pretty good reading material on the subject: ascension (starting over), bugmeat (meat = money), and meatsinks.

  45. Interesting that you should point that out Raph. In SWG today what we see is that prices have skyrocketed to the point where new players can have a hard time affording anything that’s the least bit rare. We get people complaining that they want something but can’t afford the 50 to 200 million credits that other players are charging for it. There’s a lot of other things muddling the issue however, not the least of which was the massive collective nerf that crafted equipment took a year ago. The removal of item decay was another big one. So while new players have a lot of problems with buying power on the economy, they also don’t actually have all that much they really need to buy. But it irritates those of us that have been around since launch because we remember when a few thousand credits could get you a decent starting weapon and a set of clothes from the local tailor.

    Based on this though, and on experience in other games, I think the main problem with devaluation of currency is going to be the impact it has on the new player experience. At launch you start them with 1000 credits – a year later do you need to bump that to 2500 to allow them to be able to afford the same things they could at launch? What about 4 years after that? Since ideally you want the game to be bringing in new players throughout its lifespan, the new player experience is something that you really have to make sure is a good one throughout the life of the game. I don’t think any game really does that very well right now.

  46. @Psychochild:

    Is the goal of expansions to add new players to the game, or to keep existing players playing, or both? With EQ I’ve seen them see-saw back and forth between those two things for years. EQ2 did it as well, releasing two high-level expansions (keep players playing) and then an all-levels expansion (new players too) – EoF was an amazing expansion for the game though :)

    I’m not sure why it works this way, but there are a lot of older games out there that could really benefit more from marketing, yet that marketing only seems to come every 2 or 3 expansions. This is one thing Blizzard has figured out. They are constantly marketing WoW. And as a result, they are probably gaining new players at a fairly consistent rate. Compare that to a game like EQ2, where you’re only seeing any sort of out-of-store marketing when a major expansion ships, and it makes you wonder if too much gets hinged on an expansion. Sure, expansions are nice because you put a fresh box on store shelves, but expansion-based marketing is really a holdover from single-player games I think, and relying solely on that to bring new players to an MMO is going to end up stunting your growth in the long run.

    I dunno, maybe there’s some wierd industry reason we don’t see more MMO marketing between expansions. Or maybe it is happening, and it’s just not happening in places where someone like me is going to notice. I mean, I notice when people run TV ads on sci-fi, and I notice banner ads on websites that I visit, but I’m not a magazine person nor do I visit the mall anymore. *shrug*

  47. @ Pyschochild again

    Level caps invalidating older content is one of the things that really, really annoys me about level cap raises in general. Your example of Solusek’s Eye is a great one – on the raiding side of EQ2, the entire Fire and Ice/Deception quest series is a good one too. Basically, the problem is that those quests and zones were created to be end-game content for a level 50 game, and now that you can level to 70, there’s no real reason to go there. The question is though: Would it have been better not to raise the level cap, or would it have been better not to try and make end-game content that’s just going to get obsoleted when the level cap raises?

  48. [...] I don’t intend this thread to turn into a discussion so save the dead horse emoticons. Just linking to an article writen about MMORPG inflation. http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/ I have posted the original text below but there are some comments written on the actual page worth reading. Just interesting in general imo. "With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older items has dropped. I’ve seen folks who are new to the whole expansion thing wondering about past games, and whether the same was true, and how much the buying power of past currencies fell in the wake of expansions. They even asked for links to studies. No links, but this is a well-studied and understood phenomenon called mudflation in the biz, and which partakes of characteristics of real-world inflation as well as some unqie game-only characteristics. Every level-based game hits it when they raise the level cap (actually, they hit it continuously, but boosts to the level cap make it worse). In WoW’s case, it’ll be ameliorated to some degree by the incredibly heavy use of binding items. Typical symptoms you can certainly expect: An overall rise in the “power” of users of a given level, as measured before-and-after on the expansion, generally because of increased access to abilities or items. Increased success manifested via mobs that used to take groups being soloed, and so on. Time to level to continue to decrease, and perhaps accelerate (it has almost certainly been decreasing anyway because of repeat play across intro levels, plus just overall increased competence and knowledge among the players). Comments like “the game doesn’t start til level ‘x’” increasing, with X moving up — one form of “hollow world syndrome.” A decreased worth of currency, expressed in terms of buying power overall (though the cost of many formerly desirable items will fall precipitously). Decreased worth of formerly high-end items, particularly within “bands” of content where hand-me-downs are practical. “Hollow world” syndrome, where formerly populated zones become less so, as the bulk of the users shift locales to fit the new mean level. The classic means of controlling mudflation are reducing the amount of value in the economy via means such as: item decay, item deletion (either via challenges where you can lose items, or manually; yes, some games literally just go in and delete items), character purges, etc. Many games used to simply wipe the player database every few months because mudflation had gotten so bad. Refusing to up the level limit, and instead introducing orthogonal advancement paths. This single mechanism is probably the single biggest slowdown you can effect. Many long-running successful muds got that way by simply never upping the level cap, and instead investing their expansion in enriching the content and encouraging repeat play. Obsessive attention to economic stats and adjusting all economic drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Never introducing higher DPS mechanisms; in other words, the levels become cosmetic, because the actual power of players does not increase. This is how the systems with “infinite levels” tend to work — they asymptotically approach zero player power growth. Shifting player attention from power gains to cosmetic gains (e.g., instead of a new badass sword, gain the ability to redesign your sword and personalize it). Radically altered elder games (politics, economics, PvP, etc). This runs the risk of alienating players who liked the game they were already playing. Remort systems and other such mechanisms to encourage repeat play of lower levels. Restrictions on trade, such as soulbinding items, so they cannot be handed down and thus increase the ’standard of living” for all users. Level limits on equipment use, so that you are forced to abandon equipment (which in a soulbinding game, effectively means item deletion). Fundamentally, though, it’s endemic because it’s implicit in the core assumptions a level-and-hp-increase based system with infinite inflows." —————————-Escher Fairy Server 100+3 Cooking 92 Fishing Thread Index | New Subject | Reply to Thread 0 Replies [ Search Forums ] 0 Messages skipped by filter settings, 1 displayedRegistration is required to post on this forum [...]

  49. Raph please don’t talk about SWG. It makes me cry :( What you just said reminds me of a thread on the original SWG boards about crafting and how SWG wasn’t going to have “filler” items that were meant just to get a person from 100 pts to 200 pts in a craft skill :(

  50. I think the main problem with devaluation of currency is going to be the impact it has on the new player experience. At launch you start them with 1000 credits – a year later do you need to bump that to 2500 to allow them to be able to afford the same things they could at launch?

    Yes, you absolutely do. Ideally, you ought to do it in an automated way, since it’s not hard to put together, say a basket of common newbie goods and assess the prices on them via the market place. Static quest rewards ought to be handled the same way… In SWG, we let a whole lot of these static figures slip through.

    The result of this, btw, isn’t merely psychological. In the case of repeatable earning activities like the mission terminals, what it does is make you run them over and over. In other words, it creates grind. This will be true of any case where the currency is devalued and you require players to spend it, and there’s some repeatable activity to earn it. Another reason why mudflation is problematic.

  51. mujadaddy wrote:
    ……time is short, so I’ll finish by saying, yes, it’s a tough problem, but one that can be mitigated by more accurately emulating a real-world economy. That’s why we have these dual- and quad-core machines, right?

    The problem is that this isn’t terribly fun. In the real world we have poverty, credit card debt, and suicides over unpaid bills. Not exactly a compelling description for gameplay, I fear. The secret is, as Sam Lewis said in his Austin talk, that inflation is okay but you really want to avoid hyperinflation.

    David (Tal) wrote:
    Is the goal of expansions to add new players to the game, or to keep existing players playing, or both?

    I think both. In some cases, it’s also intended to bring back people that have since stopped playing your game. Anecdotally, I know a lot of people that stopped play WoW waiting for the expansion. Scott Miller is a rather public example of this. When I was working at 3DO, we were told to release our updates around Thanksgiving since that was one of our peak usage times of the year; more players online and more players trying out new expansion material meant lots of people playing (and paying).

    I’m not sure why it works this way, but there are a lot of older games out there that could really benefit more from marketing….

    Of course, there is an upper limit on marketing. It actually takes a considerable amount of money to do proper advertising (says the person who had budgets of a few thousand while running my own game). WoW makes a lot more money than other games, so they probably feel a bit looser with the marketing budget than a more modest game. You also have the issue of oversaturating a particular audience with too much advertising. For a game with a potentially more limited audience, more advertising isn’t always a better option. “Advertise smarter, not harder,” so to speak. :)

    Raph wrote:
    Yes, you absolutely do. Ideally, you ought to do it in an automated way, since it’s not hard to put together, say a basket of common newbie goods and assess the prices on them via the market place. Static quest rewards ought to be handled the same way… In SWG, we let a whole lot of these static figures slip through.

    Actually, this is not the best option, IMHO. If you do this then you simply add additional currency to the system which simply makes the inflation worse, leading to the hyperinflation Sam mentioned in his talk I referenced above. Think of the wheelbarrows of money people had to use to buy basic goods in Germany after the war for an idea. This is especially problematic if your automatic adjustment adjusts incorrectly and gives out too much money…. Not that we ever have bugs in our games. ;)

    And, in defense of static prices, this helps newbies not get swamped. If you can buy basic equipment to play the game at a reasonable level at a constant price, then the fluctuations of the economy affect newbies less. Of course, you have the problem that when the NPC merchants no longer supply the necessary goods they fall to the mercy of the economy.

    One thing that EQ2 did well was the broker market in its latest incarnation. If a player is smart about pricing my items when I post them for sale, he or she can drain some of the cash off of the richer players and use it to buy his or her own items out of the market. You might not have the incredible spending power of someone that started playing at launch, but you can get a bit of their money. But, exploiting the market does require some skill to do. An alternative is to have an auction system so that people can bid up items, but that takes another set of skills to exploit the market correctly. But, I’ve been able to do will in EQ2 and make pretty good money with minimum investment of time and research, just mostly some smart pricing.

    Another idea is to for developers to implement ways to drain money out of the system so that the newbie stipend and static values don’t lose significant buying power. Expensive cosmetic enhancements and slight adjustments to gameplay are the usual route here.

    The problem with developer drains is twofold. First, people begin to resent these additional drains on the economy. If you have a few million and blow it on making your head have a particle effect, it irks other people that they can’t get that automatically, too. On the other hand, some rich people may not care for anything quite so gaudy.

    Second, part of the fun of these games is accumulating wealth and power, so some measure of inflation is going to be present. The trick is to keep it from growing too fast or too uncontrolled. Eventually, however, your system will probably get to the point where purchase power decreases. However, in a dynamic system like SWG, a good drain would help keep prices more stable.

    My further thoughts.

  52. I maintain that it is possible add content and not commit mudflation– it just has to do with the kinds of content you add. Witness City of Heroes, which has mostly remained resistant to mudflation because of the feebleness of its itemization and economic systems, as well as its decided lack of an endgame experience. That game has grown and added substantial content over its lifespan (City of Villains most notably) while experiencing very little itemization inflation; however, the cure may have been worse than the disease for some players (myself included).

    The thing is, mudflation can be useful at some points, particularly when contained with level-limit and Bind-on-pickup systems. WoW successfully milked it for almost two years as a proxy for level based advancement, because it was a much less effort intensive way for Blizzard to allow characters to power up. A 60 in tier-3 is nothing like a 60 in what passed for endgame gear in 2004– but it’s a lot easier to add a few new database entries for cool new items than it is to add, say, ten new levels.

  53. [...] (Upcoming Theory-craft! The basic gist is that Blizz knows what they’re doing in terms of allowing us to level so quickly in TBC. There is a large amount of lateral content planned for level 70.) Well, if you’re like me you’re looking at the people who were saying “It takes as long to get from 60-70 as it did to get from 1-40 or from 1-60,” and you’re wondering what pharmacy they’ve been to and how did they mix the common household drugs. It looks to me, and I could be wrong, that it’s possible to get to 70 within a minimum of 28 hours played. That was a record set by a guy who had his guild killing mobs he’d tag. Even still, the ability to level so quickly instills a mild bit of fear in my heart. Will the expansion be over before Blizzard releases new content? Will we be able to have something to enjoy for a long time? Some of us may be thinking that the answer to the above questions are: Yes, the xpac will be completed by most very quickly, and we’ll be bored before Blizz gets on it. I would like to say that that may not be the case. I’ve been learning a little bit about MMOG economies today. They appear to run rather differently than real world economies because in MMO economies it’s possible to create value out of nothing (or a bit of time). Essentially it is very easy to create new wealth and so inflation can get out of control verrrrrrry quickly. In order to curb this there are a couple of tools that game devs use, as seen in the link below. http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/ If the above -is- the case, then one can see why Blizz would make the level cap so low, and the levels so easy. Basically the levels are easy because gaining them proceeds on the same curve as the previous 1-60 levels did. One could postulate that Blizz did this in order to maintain a contiguous gaming experience from 1-X (where X is the current level cap). The reason the cap wasn’t raised higher, while this could be baiting the consumer, is simply so that the game won’t die out as fast. Either that or it’s the most expedient route to provide new content. Designing linear content of a similar volume to the content in TBC may actually have taken more work than designing the lateral content that appears to be in TBC right now. If that is not the case then one can still fall back on the idea that designing Linear content, in terms of a greater level cap, would create such inflation when the population hit X level that the game would quickly collapse under it’s own weight. Proceeding in a slow linear manner and a quicker lateral manner appears to be what Blizz is doing. There was a lot of lateral progression at 60 and look how long it kept us playing I’d also say that the economy isn’t as inflated as I’ve heard it can be in games like FFXI. So the plan appears to be working. If that’s the plan Blizz also appears to be using money sinks to reduce the amount of cash in circulation. I think the strongest examples would be Epic mounts and the Tier.5 armor quests. Follow that up with the Epic mounts in outland going for 5k gold one starts to see some fairly massive money sinks. Crafting, while it returns to the crafter, is also a money sink, and now that I think of it, the crafting system may actually be designed such that selling finished products is supposed to generate very little profit (as so often has seemed to be the case). So inflation goes down due to there being less free gold. The lateral content appears to come in at 70. One has two major dungeons to explore(The Caverns of Time and Karazhan), each with a couple of wings, plus a heroic difficulty mode. With all of that lateral content and a stable economy almost forced due to game mechanics it seems that TBC will have a lot more life in it than just 60-70. Your thoughts?! Other interesting links: http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/ http://crystaltips.typepad.com/wonderland/2005/03/raphs_keynote.html Link on SWG’s Economy: http://www.boingboing.net/2004/05/03/star_wars_galaxies_e.html_________________ [...]

  54. [...] Home &middot About &middot News &middot Podcast &middot Blog &middot Forum &middot Login &middot Register Fallen Earth Website Revamped http://www.fallenearth.com/article.php?article=15 "On January 18th, 2007 the new Fallen Earth website was relaunched with a new look and new features: * * An RSS feed so you can keep up with the latest news. * * Information with the backstory of Fallen Earth, as well as descriptions of the various factions. * * Community features, such as Bulletin Board and listings of fan sites. * * Improved galleries for screenshots, videos and wallpapers." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:36:25 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 28 / comments: 0 Saga Interview – The MMORTS http://www.firingsquad.com/news/newsarticle.asp?searchid=13960 "Persistant RTS games have been released in the past but none have really taken off like the typical fantasy MMO. Developer Wahoo Studios hopes to change that with Saga, a fantasy based RTS MMO with a different kind of business model in addition to trying out some new gameplay designs. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with the game’s creator and executive producer Jason Faller to find out more about their plans for Saga." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:36:04 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 25 / comments: 0 Utopia to be next Guild Wars expansion? http://www.gamespot.com/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=25318601 "NCsoft has said it wants to put two expansion packs out each year, with Factions and Nightfall being the company’s first two releases. Given that Nightfall launched in October, the next add-on is roughly due for release in April, and it seems about time that NCsoft started talking about it." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:35:31 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 46 / comments: 0 Raph’s Website – ‘Flation http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/ "With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older items has dropped. I’ve seen folks who are new to the whole expansion thing wondering about past games, and whether the same was true, and how much the buying power of past currencies fell in the wake of expansions. They even asked for links to studies." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:34:24 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 22 / comments: 0 Vanguard Impressions http://www.jolt.co.uk/index.php?articleid=7947 "Vanguard is probably the last of the big non-brand name MMORPGs that really stands a chance of making a significant splash. While most games in the fantasy side of the MMO genre would get lost in comparisons to Everquest II and World of Warcraft (if they’re lucky), Vanguard had been attracting attention thanks to the team behind it. Led by Brad McQuaid and Jeff Butler, two of the men behind the juggernaut that was Everquest "“ or Evercrack as it was better known due to how addictive it was (yeah, that’s three years of this writer’s life he won’t be getting back) "“ Vanguard has one hell of a pedigree; but with competition being as tough as it is in the MMO market, it’s easy to go from a Best Of Show Pedigree Dog to a Put In A Kennel For Making A Mess On The Carpet Dog real quick." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:33:53 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 55 / comments: 0 2Moons Voice-Over Contest http://phpbb.acclaim.com/2moons/viewtopic.php?t=1594. "You want your voice to be heard? Show your talent and be one of the lucky winners and your voice will become immortalized in 2Moons." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:33:25 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 9 / comments: 0 EverQuest II: Echoes of Faydwer PC review http://www.gamesxtreme.net/pc/game/everquest-ii-echoes-of-faydwer/review.shtml "It may seem strange that as a big MMO fan I didn’t play the original Everquest. Forget about, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and all the other modern Massively Multiplayer Role Players, Everquest was one of the key titles that introduced the MMO genre to the masses. The game had great financial success and without it online gaming would be a very different scene. Spawning several add-ons the game also had a sequel, Everquest 2 released in November 2004. Again, it may seem strange but I didn’t get round to playing the initial release, but I do now have my hands on the most recent expansion Echoes of Faydwer." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:32:30 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 34 / comments: 0 MTV: The post-launch with Jeff Kaplan http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1550175/20070117/index.jhtml "He’s the lead game designer of "World of Warcraft." National holiday or not, the biggest addition of new content released for the most popular massively multiplayer game in America was going on sale. An expansion pack called "The Burning Crusade" would allow players to venture across massive new plots of land and play two new races. Gamers who had spent months maxing their characters to the former Level 60 ability limit would now be able to crank things up to 70. And Kaplan had to be in the Irvine, California, office of "WoW" developer Blizzard Entertainment to make sure the "World" didn’t come crashing down." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:31:31 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 21 / comments: 0 City of Heroes: Issue #9 Details Revealed http://www.warcry.com/news/view/67851-City-of-Heroes-Issue-9-Details-Revealed "The folks at NCSoft and Cryptic Studios have released some details on Issue #9: "Breakthrough". The official fact sheet made the rounds earlier today. Here are the details." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:29:41 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 33 / comments: 0 Vanguard Beta Closing http://pc.ign.com/articles/756/756802p1.html?RSSwhen2007-01-19_103800&RSSid=756802 "Sony Online Entertainment is closing the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes beta on January 23 at 11:59 pm PST. With Vanguard hitting retail shelves on January 30 and the stress test complete, the fantasy MMO beta is no longer necessary. All beta character profiles will be saved to a test server, which will open sometime after Vanguard’s release." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:25:49 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 28 / comments: 0 Tobold’s MMORPG Blog: Burning Crusade Levels http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2007/01/burning-crusade-levels.html "Trick question: how many additional levels does the Burning Crusade add to World of Warcraft? Nominally the answer is 10, from 60 to 70. But looking at it a bit closer the expansion levels behave differently than the previous levels. A Burning Crusade level is a curious hybrid between one and two old levels, so in practice the expansion adds between 10 and 20 effective levels to the game. Lets have this closer look:" Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:17:37 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 30 / comments: 0 World of Warcraft: Notes from the front http://renatawc.blogspot.com/2007/01/notes-from-front.html "So, Burning Crusade is a few days underway. There are areas in which I was pleasantly surprised, and others where the results are so typical of expansion launches, but it’s still hard not to be disappointed. Pleasantly surprised: The servers were up and the queues have not been unreasonably long. I was expecting not to be able to log on at all much during the first couple of days with server crashes and monster queues perhaps reaching into four digits." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:17:23 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 34 / comments: 0 Tobold’s MMORPG Blog: I want to be a lone hero http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2007/01/i-want-to-be-lone-hero.html "Fantasy MMORPGs cast the player in the role of a hero. They work by making the player believe that he, either alone or in a group, braves great dangers, for which he is rewarded not only with treasure, but also with a sense of accomplishment. For this it is necessary for us to "forget" that when we kill the evil sorcerer, we aren’t the first to do so, and once we are gone the evil sorcerer pops back into existence to be killed by the next hero." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:15:26 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 22 / comments: 0 Raph Koster talks Areae http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2007/01/19/raph_koster_talks_areae.html "Raph Koster’s pre-Christmas announcement about his new project Areae kicked off digital mountains of speculation about what the celebrated game and virtual world designer (and prolific blogger) had up his sleeve. The details out there are sketchy, often scraped together through a combination of information fragments, rare snippits of insider knowledge and raftloads of speculation, so I contacted Raph to find out just what this new MMOG-meets-Web 2.0 project is all about." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:15:14 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 18 / comments: 0 Great Blogs and the Important of Reciprocity http://taurenshaman.wordpress.com/2006/06/07/great-blogs-and-the-important-of-reciprocity/ "For some time now I have been reading Tobold’s excellent blog on World of Warcraft. In theory it is a blog about multiplayer online games in general, with specific attention to whatever game Tobold is currently playing. In actuality, he isn’t playing other games and the focus has become almost exclusively about Warcraft, referenced with his MOG experience. If you are not familar with the blog, by all means check it out. His insights are usually keen and it helps that I often agree with his thinking." Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 17:14:25 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 21 / comments: 0 MMO Expansions – What Is Appropriate Timing? http://tagn.wordpress.com/2007/01/18/mmo-expansions-what-is-appropriate-timing/ "With the release of The Burning Crusade and the commentary that has surrounded it, there are a couple of questions I want to dredge up. The first, and perhaps the easiest to discuss, is the timing of expansions. How often should an MMO offer expansions?" Submitted by brent on Jan 19, 2007 13:22:31 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 36 / comments: 0 WoW Player Housing http://www.mmognation.com/2007/01/18/wow-player-housing/ "Have I ever mentioned how much I like MTV’s games coverage? Stephen Totilo is doing a bangup job over there. Now if only it weren’t trapped in that awful flash thing. Anyway, Totilo has a sit-down with Jeff Kaplan up on the site right now, and it’s good stuff. The part that made me jump up and down in my seat is, specifically, this:" Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:47:06 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 168 / comments: 0 [Audio] EQ2-Daily Podcast – Show 34 http://www.eq2-daily.com/podcast.aspx "This show we are revist EQ2 Resources we use, discuss Frostfell, the ingame browser, EQ2 maps fix, PvP 40% Rule, Unrest, and Olivia Newton-John." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:45:28 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 22 / comments: 0 How to avoid online scams in World of Warcraft http://wow.tentonhammer.com/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=617 "There are several very simple things to do that can almost completely eliminate your risk of getting scammed in wow. I say almost as there is always the possibility that someone sniffs network traffic to get your account info or happens to crack it by brute force, however these are not the normal methods used to get it due to the time and effort involved. So, how do you avoid being scammed? Follow these simple guidelines:" Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:44:24 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 40 / comments: 0 URU Live Launching New Content Tomorrow http://www.warcry.com/news/view/67809-URU-Live-Launching-New-Content-Tomorrow "In preparation of the highly anticipated early 2007 release of "Myst Online: Uru Live", two major developments are being announced. Currently in beta release, a new area of the city and an all-new, never-before-seen Age are being released tomorrow, January 19." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:42:25 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 16 / comments: 0 Mythic Entertainment – Warhammer Online http://www.warhammeronline.com/english/media/screenshots/ Seventeen new Warhammer Online screenshots. Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:29:07 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 58 / comments: 1 China’s Online Games Industry Grows 74 Percent http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=12450 "ccording to a new report, the online games industry in China has recorded massive growth in 2006, with revenues up 73.5 percent over 2005 to a total of 6.54 billion Yuan ($839 million), 65 percent of which came from domestically developed games. " Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:27:54 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 17 / comments: 0 Vanguard beta patch notes http://vs.warcry.com/scripts/news/view_news.phtml?site=64&id=67789 "A new patch has been issued for the beta servers. There’s a whole ton of changes in this latest patch across the board in multiple adventuring classes, crafting, diplomacy and more. Be sure to click ‘read more’ to view the notes." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:26:17 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 39 / comments: 0 WoW – Always look on the bright side of server crashes http://www.wowinsider.com/2007/01/18/always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-server-crashes/ "Like Chris’s server, my server has been a pit of instability and crashes that make the game nearly impossible to play. Tuesday night, Magtheridon was crashing literally every minute, and half the time no mobs would spawn when the server was up. This is pretty annoying for people trying to quest or do instances, but it led to a couple of fun little side games. Among these were:" Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:25:40 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 35 / comments: 0 Vista Not So Beautiful, say Casual Devs http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=14952 "Microsoft has trumpeted the benefits of its upcoming Windows Vista release (combined with DirectX 10) to the gaming community, but in the casual games space some developers remain wary of the new Windows. Wild Tangent, PopCap and others chime in." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:25:15 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 46 / comments: 0 Windows Vista screws indy-game developers http://gigagamez.com/2007/01/17/windows-vista-indy-game-killer/ "What you’re looking at on the right is, in the opinion of some of its most reputed developers, an interface that will throttle their branch of the game industry. It’s the game menu for Microsoft Vista, and it allows parents to block access to select games, based on their ESRB rating. Which is not a bad feature, really, but as with many Microsoft products, new features created with the best intentions often lead to unforeseen woes." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:05:27 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 32 / comments: 0 8000 Vanguard Beta Keys http://vs.warcry.com/scripts/news/view_news.phtml?site=64&id=67816 (Well, at least I now know where VirginWorlds rates with the 5 that were granted.)"VSOH.Gamona, a German Affiliate site for Vanguard, is giving away 8,000 beta keys to the next couple thousand people that register to their site. However, this site is indeed in German, so it may be a bit confusing to navigate if you aren’t familiar with the language. I believe the register link is right next to the login field near the top of the page." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:04:28 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 27 / comments: 0 WoW TBC: first official gameplay trailer http://mmorpg.qj.net/WoW-TBC-first-official-gameplay-trailer/pg/49/aid/79797 "To follow up on the very recent and very successful launch of the WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade, Blizzard has released the first of what may be a series of official gameplay trailers. We’re guessing that it may be to convert those who still haven’t bought TBC and those who adamantly believe that they can continue without the expansion when their entire guild has already upgraded. Either that, or it’s to make players of other MMOs green with envy (and it may actually be working). So, sit back and bask in the one minute and ten seconds of glory, which is this video." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 16:03:20 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 20 / comments: 0 Article – Eye on ’07: MMOGs http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=71817 "Expect this year’s MMOG landscape to continue to be dominated by, and to some extent defined by, World of Warcraft – whose first expansion will also probably be the biggest game of the year in this genre. However, there are plenty of other very promising games on the horizon, and with millions of new players switched on to MMOG play by WoW’s success, the floor is open for rivals to Blizzard’s dominance to emerge in 2007…" Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 15:58:12 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 22 / comments: 0 What would you do if you woke up one day and the internet was dead? http://eqforums.station.sony.com/eq/board/message?board.id=Temporaryboard&message.id=243&view=by_date_ascendin … Funny thread. My favorite response echoes my own feelings: "I’d get the shakes. After that, I don’t know." Submitted by brent on Jan 18, 2007 15:43:03 CST (more) (comments) karma: 0 / clicks: 25 / comments: 0 << See More Recent News &middot &middot See Older News >> [...]

  55. by Psychochild:

    The problem is that this isn’t terribly fun. In the real world we have poverty, credit card debt, and suicides over unpaid bills. Not exactly a compelling description for gameplay, I fear. The secret is, as Sam Lewis said in his Austin talk, that inflation is okay but you really want to avoid hyperinflation.

    Most games don’t extend credit, though. Cash-and-carry.

    In a game, you want the players to emulate a shark — constantly moving forward to avoid sinking. That’s what a monthly fee is all about right? Play or “die.” The developers have to determine *how slowly* that “swim rate” should be in their economy. I’m not saying it’s not a lot of mental work, but I *am* saying you shouldn’t fear emulating the real-world economy more closely.

    Inflation *IS* ok…as long as there’s a “good” reason for it. “The game world is played 24 hours a day and therefore moves through economic swings at incredible, mindboggling rates,” to me, is not a good reason.

    by Raph:

    In SWG, we actually chose to say “we don’t care what the value of a credit is” precisely because of the infinite spawns. Since basically every good had its prices set by players, the effect of devaluation of currency was fairly minimal in terms of buying power for goods because the prices floated along with the currency. In a typical mudflation scenario, values are “hardcoded” and therefore the buying power of players rises dramatically.

    The same was sort of true with items; in SWG and UO both there was big turnover on items, and everything was doomed to break, pretty much. The result was that there were greater markets for items that were not top of the line. In SWG’s case, we also made it so that the influx of resources of varying quality resulted in the best item or goods not always being available.

    The devs SHOULDN’T set the value of a credit. The game world should do that (Check), but then you say that “basically every good had its prices set by players.” …which is true, also. What I’m getting at is that apart from the minimal power requirements for harvesting the resources in the first place, there were NO CASH OUTLAYS that were “required” by the game. Resource “barons” needed a little cash which was generally compensated a hundred- or even a thousand-fold… and the end-consumers who needed the most expensive arms & armor would only be limited in their “cash creation” by their time and ingenuity in the game. This is of what I’m speaking. I don’t think the raw rate of cash influx was conceived of by you guys. (I was a *very* modest credit grinder, errrr, Hunter, and I could make 150k an hour with zero risk to me except the possibility of 1-2k of equipment degradation) … 150k was enough to buy… almost anything that wasn’t Top tier in that game. One hour of work for the largest house in the game… from the most expensive Architects…

    Anyway, not to turn this into a memory lane post… I just think mudflation is a mitigatable-by-accuracy problem… :) I *do* enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts though…

  56. [...] CommentTime7 days ago  permalink In the theory department, Raph Koster has an excellent article about dealing with mudflation. He’s got a long history with MMOG design, interesting to see the various approaches and how WoW fits in. [...]

  57. [...] possible the game designers did this in an attempt to fight the single-player equivalent of Mudflation. A system like this can make sure the player is paced correctly and doesn’t outgrow smaller [...]

  58. [...] http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/ an interesting read for those interested in the economies of mmos… y release of new patches will [...]

  59. [...] is not just a problem in the real world.  Apparently MMOGs like World of Witchcraft  experience a type of inflation as [...]

  60. [...] the game at a rapid rate without ruining it. Raph Koster has a nice summary of mudflation on his website, both the symptoms of it and traditional ways of trying to address [...]

  61. [...] drains to account for all the influx. This often means punishingly high costs for players, btw. Link (via [...]

  62. [...] designing Dungeon Escape, a friend pointed me in the direction of an article by Raph Koster on mudflation.  The article talks about the age old problem of persistent games.  To briefly summarise, a [...]

  63. [...] Koster has some interesting thoughts about inflation in MMORPGs, With the launch of Burning Crusade, people are already commenting on how much the value of older [...]

  64. [...] Ralph Koster’s official site has a link to the talk he gave here. [...]

  65. [...] Ralph Koster’s official site has a link to the talk he gave here. [...]

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