When Galaxies was announced, I was in my peak of reverse engineering Blizzard games. I had been reverse engineering the Battle.net client protocol since Diablo 1 and StarCraft. Battle.net had a community full of people who reverse engineered the Blizzard games and there was somewhat of a competition as to who could write the coolest bots, as we called them. Bots were apps that emulated the official clients and could completely sign into Battle.net without using the actual game. Most of mine were just console apps, because I enjoyed the reverse engineering more than the coding.
So, when Galaxies finally came out in beta, a friend of mine luckily got a copy. The computer that I used at that time, which was a shared family computer, was terrible so I didn't expect to play the game, but I did ask him for a copy of the game's directory so that I could start writing Galaxies bots. I focused all of my time on reverse engineering the Galaxies client protocol. I would stay up until the sun came up, staring at the game in a debugger. When a family member need to computer or I had to go to school, I'd hit print on IDA and print out an entire dll - tons of paper. I'd basically annotate the printed out assembly with what I thought was happening and then I'd get home and confirm or deny it with the debugger at run-time. I'd borrow my friends account so that I could see the sign in process in real-time and get packet dumps. I did this for months straight and it never got old.
The end result was a console application that could emulate the official client and sign in to Galaxies, select your character and respond to various events. My friends would level up new character's professions and I'd run them on my terrible computer while we were at school, and over night. I could run many at once with no problem.
While we did not have the in-game success with making tons of money, I did save a lot of money up front on a lot of new computers and tons of copies of Galaxies. :)
You're the sort of person I like to mention when folk come up with half-assed "encryption" schemes. The kind of person who reads hex for fun.
I used IDA to annotate the dis-assembly of various files that I was interested in. I never did like IDA's run-time debugging interface. So, I used OllyDbg for most of my debugging. I liked OllyDbg because of the graphical nature of it all. But, I would also use WinDbg if I wanted to set breakpoints on unresolved symbols. I couldn't seem to get OllyDbg to do that. WinDbg is great if you're familiar with the more command-line approach.
I used Ethereal, now named Wireshark, for packet capture and inspection. You just have to get familiar with the filters to harness the power of it. I'd typically start by using netstat to see what ports were being used, and then I'd filter on those ports. A lot of my first protocol reverse engineering was really just pure brute force by staring at packet dumps of multiple log in attempts with all the cases (success, fail, etc) and just basically doing a manual diff process, noting the changes. Until I got better at using IDA and WinDbg, anyways.
For quick and dirty virtual mem scanning, I'd just use this tool called ArtMoney. It was an amazing tool because you could scan the memory for some data, bookmark offsets and then re-scan. Basically, you could build upon previous scans, allowing you to sieve results. Like, in StarCraft this was so easy because if you were trying to find a value that was increasing or decreasing, like supply income, you scan and scan again saying "show me only the results that went down since last scan." Then, scan again using those results but only show the ones that went up. Usually, after 3-4 sieve scans you'd be staring at your values. Then you just attach OllyDbg to the process, breakpoint on memory read or write to them, see where it breaks and step out a few function calls (because you'd usually land in some low level write function or loop event or something).
Lots of tools, but the key is just to use common sense. Think about what it's logically doing. Use your knowledge of game loops and stuff to determine what you're probably looking at or looking for. Always annotate the assembly code, even if at first it seems small and stupid. Over time those small notes add up and you'll end up with fully commented code. :P A lot can be researched by poking around in the files in the install directories, too.
The irony is staggering.
Gold farming has generally been considered a fraud of sorts, because it can seriously damage the in-game economy or the player perception of the economy, and many gold farmers perform actual fraud (creating accounts with fake or stolen CC numbers).
The fact that there are cartels within computer games hiring low cost foreign workers to manipulate a virtual experience for real monetary gain, and there are investigative units trying to track them down is fucking awesome.
I was an original beta player for UO and we had a fantastic run exploiting bugs and high speed Internet connections from the Intel game lab we ran, with multiple accounts to dominate and reach wealth and fame.
It was my golden years of gaming actually. Now I may play an hour or two of skyrim a week if I am lucky.
Back then I was making nearly nearly 70k to play UO from a sick lab 12+hours a day.
From one point of view, sure. It really is a bummer to the player experience since the reality of it is that a company can and will protect itself better than it's users in aggregate will protect themselves, so you just end up with the current WoW situation of a huge stream of hacked accounts draining resources of the game company and destroying the play experience of the players. I'm not sure where any of this is wonderful, really. It isn't like the myth of the gold farmer where they hire out warehouses of employees to play the game building up "new gold" in the player economy, it's just key loggers and trojans and ten million potential victims.
Generally speaking expect a 30% pay cut compared to a non-games programmer (varying on what kind of games, zynga-style stuff is highly payed IIRC).
Every gold farmer was competing on price with someone who had INSERT ... INTO ITEMS; available to them and the manual labor was winning.
There were many folks who said that there were solid commercial reasons for this refusal at the time. A lot of them boiled down to "I don't know about those crazy Asians but sophisticated American consumers don't want to do this thing that we're spending thousands of man-hours a month unsuccessfully trying to prevent Americans from doing." Those have been pretty decisively proven wrong since a) when AAA US MMORPGs experiment with item sales they make serious bank and b) the Free2Play model empirically has worked very, very well in the US, especially when you compare the revenue per user and in aggregate against the HUGE premium embedded in development costs of the AAA subscription RPGs.
Oh, also, Zynga ROFLstomped the entire industry. (10~50% of the revenues of the most successful MMORPGs for 2~3% of the development costs of the median AAA MMORPG... and they did it more times in a three year period than there have been successful AAA MMORPGs in history.)
It's also a really quick read for a Stephenson book.
Play Money is a fantastic non-fiction account of online gaming economies if anyone wants a more extensive non-fiction treatment of the topic.
But I can also understand the resistance to it. I only just started playing my first MMORPG (SW:TOR), and as a player I think it would bother me if they openly sold advancement to the people that would be in the PVP matches with me. I know a certain amount in the background is unavoidable, but that is fair easier to tolerate than having the company sanction much less be involved in it.
So, if the amount of money they would gain from the purchasers exceeds the amount they would lose from people with my opinions dropping the game, then from a business perspective they should do it, but it comes at a cost. Of course the middle ground is to do it on some servers and consider outside purchases cheating on other servers, but even that might turn off some potential players that see it as distasteful.
The f2p model was tested with a lot of other games, both in China and Korea. I think gunz online was one of them.
Anyhoo - the major American brands resisted because of the cultural idea behind an MMO of the time - as in a world, which you subscribed to be in, and act within.
Being able to pay money to advance faster than other people broke the golden rule of immersion the original founders/artists had in mind.
Dont forget, this is now a bygone age of gaming - where people created games as an extension of their imagination and a hope to enact cool things in character.
Today those drives are still there, but completely leashed to the need to ensure profitability.
Its led to more attempts and games, but you now don't have things like sprawling empty wastelands in the barrens of WoW. Every square inch has been maximized to ensure that it has no dead spaces, or environments which let people advance at anything beyond the average rate decided by the designers.
Most designers for MMOs will avoid selling advancement enhancing goods - it destroys the game in the long run.
The model they use is one where if you aren't paying, you are the content. They need to make sure it is egalitarian at a gameplay level.
Beyond that, its free for monetization.
Also, zynga is an idea thieving bandit of a company - so their costs are also far lower due to their hiring people that can copy as opposed to the thought leaders who would have come up with original content.
But if the only metric you choose to measure them on is revenue to expense, then by that myopic unethical lens - sure they look good.
They are facebook's largest advertiser, IIRC. Additionally, I believe facebook has invested in zynga, so the relationship is more symbiotic than parasitic. I am anti-zynga, but its important to be accurate in our critiques.
This doesnt mean they dont have their own infrastructure - but it is different than an MMO company like SWG/WOW that have their own infrastructure for 100% of the game.
The point made was that Zynga is doing what MMOs do at far lower cost. I said the cost was offset because Facebook foots the bill for the platform on which Zynga depends.
I believe Zynga provides more of Facebook's profits than any other company.
Zynga could easily argue that Facebook is a parasite by profiting from all the people who want to play Zynga's games.
In almost all cases, it has meant a higher amount of revenue, either for brand-new games or for games which transition to the F2P model or an in-between hybrid model. It looks like, generally, big-name MMORPGs are still starting out with a subscription model, but most games at other tiers are launching free-to-play with an item shop. Lots of long-running MMOs are transitioning to a hybrid model to add revenue to a product from which little is expected but also little is being spent on (just enough money to keep the servers running and keep a slow flow of updates).
I think it would be much harder these days for a player to make money by through farming, except for with the old guard of MMORPGs which still don't have an item shop. I could be wrong, I am not looking at these economies closely so I don't know if the farmers are actually able to provide items / prices competitive with the developrs.
Isn't that what EVE did? (Also, you might want to read Stephenson's latest novel, Reamde, for an exploration of a game company that did just that.)
I realize it's not the same but it's in the same vein: engineers with an upper hand beating the in-game economy.
The costs of these items or services in game helps to establish the value of what is traded among players, either directly or through an auction house.
They design these things into the game [i] on purpose [/i]
The economics of video games, in terms of GDP is simple - people constantly produce thing from a never ending well of digital resource nodes.
As a result of crafting + drop + trash sales, total gold in the servers always goes up, causing unending price inflation.
Its a pretty cool example of what would happen in a world with plenty.
Game designers create gold sinks to give people - especially the stupidly rich - something to dump their gold into.
I've been on the wow servers soon after vanilla launched - some gamers (and some human beings in general) are just wired to enjoy amassing wealth and gaming the economy.
These sinks were created to ensure that those players end up doing minimal damage to the average player.
But it was unsustainable due to new MMOs, new tech and the rise of professional farmers. You had to constantly adapt, see where the game is going, and jump ship before the game collapses. I remember getting calls in the middle of the night from the west coast, asking about my auctions and how it all works and if there was more. And getting interrogated by my mum since I'm getting all these calls from strangers.
Farming by hand, or playing the auction house no longer is the optimal way to go. Now people offer full blown services to play your toon for you, using VM, to mask/hide your IP incase you/they get caught (so you can claim you got hacked), with really good players charging up to thousands of dollars to play your character.
EDIT: Now that I thought about it some more, I noticed my pattern at the beginning was doing everything myself, whether is scouring for bargains, farming gold, flipping properties – then I moved on to hiring people within the game and paying them in-game gold for them to farm for me (in SWG, I would provide locations of mineral fields to my 'employee's and set a price ahead of time how much I'd pay per unit, and I'd buy all they have) – then I moved on to automatic botting/scripting in WoW. Interestingly, this aligns somewhat closely to real life industries and how they improve output.
Then I also realized first there was the emergence of sellers (the farmers), then came the companies that has its own farming team in addition to buying pixels from farmers and flipping them for profit. And finally, the arrival of platforms – connecting direct buyers with direct sellers while taking a cut (similar to eBay) – and it's these guys are making the real money – taking zero risks (not worrying about getting caught), providing minimal support and very scalable.
And now the gaming companies wants to keep everything to themselves and take a cut. Blizzard's D3 will be paid close attention to how its Auction House system works out – it will be very, very interesting to see where it all leads.
The most significant thing for me was the romanticization. How the guy ascribes emotional significance to a shitty MMO. He's gaming the shitty MMO, just like he is being gamed by the shitty MMO's designers. And it has all this importance to him. Sad, poignant, alarming, eerie.
"At the beginning of the novel, it [Milo's syndicate] is merely a system that gets fresh eggs to his mess hall by buying them in Sicily for one cent, selling them to Malta for four and a half cents, buying them back for seven cents, and finally selling them to the mess halls for five cents."
"In a democracy, the government is the people," Milo explained. "We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."
The game was released in 2001. In 2003 it had 400,000 subscribers. They released the controversial NGE/CU changes in 2005. It wasn't until 2009 that they shut down about half the servers. And they didn't shut down the game until a new Star Wars MMO was imminent.*
I can't image that most of the market for a Star Wars MMO hadn't tried it, maybe played it quite a bit, and then moved on in the space of 10 years. I understand the desire for things to last forever, but I don't know that most things will.
* Numbers to be taken with a grain of salt, they were culled from wikipedia.
What actually kills a game is the lack of new serious players to balance out the slow attrition of the veterans. The temptation for companies running these games is to make them more "accessible" to more casual gamers. But there's a fine line between "accessible" and "not addictive enough to flip people into paying customers".
Its a little more true of video games, but even there the lifetimes can be quite long. The original StarCraft was relased in 98 and is still being actively played even with StarCraft II out.
Of course, the thing all these examples have in common is competition with other players, but that is true in all MMOs as well.
Take Gemstone, it's still around after 24 years and still earning money. http://www.play.net/gs4/
http://realmsofdespair.org/ was my MUD of choice as a kid.
One of the game mechanics was the concept of ‘buffs’ - basically chemical stimulants your character could consume to temporarily boost critical stats which aided in combat. They were an essential item in PvP (player vs player) combat if you wanted to have that edge and so were in high demand. Buffs could only be made by the ‘doctor’ class and only by the top level doctors. Another critical game mechanic was that the quality of the buff affected how much of a boost you could receive to your stats, and the quality of the buffs was affected by the quality of the raw materials you sourced to make the buff (every resource had a variety of stats - this game was a real minmax-ers delight). The highest quality buffs were the only one that people were interested in buying.
Most of the resources required for the buffs were reasonably easy to find - but there was one which was rare - avian meat. The highest quality avian meat, harvested by killing particular birds, only appeared (real-time) once a month for a few days. Without this avian meat, you could not produce the highest quality buffs.
The first time I made buffs - I happened to time it during the HQ (high quality) avian meat period. I spent hours killing the birds to collect meat. I made my buffs, had a shop near Coronet (the main trading city in the game) and sold out within a few days. And I noticed that all the doctors sold out within days too - and that the last few that had some stock could request extortion prices for their stock. That gave me an idea …
The next month when the avian meat spawned, I parked my character in the main spaceport and keyed up a macro (the game had an in-game macro system). All my macro did was cause my character to shout out every minute “Buying avian meat @ Z credits/piece - sell to my vendor at coords X,Y”. I basically bankrupted myself buying up as much avian meat as I could whilst it was available.
I made up a batch of buffs and started selling them - I ran out after 20 days - but I was now substantially more wealthy! I figured - heck I’m on a good thing - let’s do that the next month. Of course, no good thing goes unnoticed …
The next month, there were three other doctors in the spaceport shouting out that they were buying avian meat. Well this simply would not do! So I basically upped the price I was offering to purchase avian meat above theirs - heck - I was flush with funds from last month so I figured I could out buy them. It turns out I was right - I was able to purchase even more avian meat than the last month and I was able to produce enough HQ buffs to just last the month. Then the third month - this is when the market dynamics got interesting …
By now, several people had noticed that avian meat was in hot demand once a month. In the third month, there were several ‘shouters’ when the HQ avian meat started spawning. Like last month, I upped the price I was willing to offer to price them out of the market - a bidding war erupted, but with my bankroll, I could outbid anyone (although I was cringing how fast I was going through my credits). Like any market, with the prices rising so quick, it changed behaviours - suddenly many of the ‘hunters’ in the game were out killing birds to collect meat. I effectively had my own contractor workforce out hunting avian meat!
By the end of the third HQ avian meat season, I had more meat than I ever had before. I realised I almost had complete control of the buff market on my server so I changed my selling tactics. I made my batch of buffs and started selling them, but I jacked the price up (100% increase) - this time I wanted to be able to continuously sell my buffs to last the full month. Other buff sellers kept selling them at the going rate … so I did the rounds of the cities each night and bought up any HQ buffs which were under my price and added them to my stockpile. By the end of the first week, I was bankrupt although I had a huge stockpile of HQ buffs - but most importantly, virtually every buff vendor was empty … except mine. I jacked my price up even further and did a roaring trade.
Over the next few cycles I cemented my reputation as one of the few reliable buff vendors who could consistently offer the highest quality buffs month-round. With the constant trade and monopoly prices, I was able to further entrench my dominant position each month by continuing to out bid any other doctor who tried to purchase avian meat. There were two other doctors on the server who managed to offer buffs for most of the month, and whilst I never talked to them, I noticed that they never went below whatever price I set. Our little oligopoly had a total lock on the buff market - it was a golden age!
When I quit the game a couple of months later, I had millions in credits which I sold for a few thousand $US. SWG let me play out my monopolistic capitalistic fantasies - how I loved that game :D
The "Chinese gold farmer" way is to be in the spaceport all the time and keep outbidding you minimal amounts. At the end of the month, your resource stocks would be bought at the same price, and their quantities proportional to the relative time amounts each of you has spent in the spaceport. So they can sell at the same price as you, or even lower if they value their time less and would accept less profit.
The "lazy" way (my favorite) requires very little capital and very little time. The idea is to seriously outbid you but only offer to buy small quantities. You will only be able to match this bidding war up to a limit, since you're paying very inflated prices and buying a hundred times more than I do. (If you miscalculate, you'll end up with a huge stock of finished products that you can only sell profitably at ten times the previous price, and people will simply not buy.) Once you've reached this limit, you have to allow me into the market, and I'm buying and selling at pretty much the same prices as you do.
Chinese Gold Farmer method: You needed as large a bankroll as myself and you needed to buy enough avian meat to last the month. My first mover advantage on this market insulated me from any casual gamer - none had the bankroll (or were willing to invest it the way I was) and I guess I was lucky that a 'professional' CGF didn't appear :)
Lazy method: Because you needed such huge quantities to last the month, I tended to ignore the 'casual' buyers of avian meat - the ones who would offer prices above mine, but in small quantities. I didn't mind people selling buffs in small quantities because I knew they would run out after a few days whereas I could sell continuously through the whole month - and once the other vendors started running out, I jacked my prices up again further building my bankroll and cementing my position for the next cycle.
> Other buff sellers kept selling them at the going rate … so I did the rounds of the cities each night and bought up any HQ buffs which were under my price and added them to my stockpile.
As well as high barriers to entry:
> Buffs could only be made by the ‘doctor’ class and only by the top level doctors.
Basically there is massive demand for buffs, but the supply is restricted by the avian meat availability. Thus a huge demand for avian meat with low supply. The price should go up, and this guy brought the market price in line by outbidding everyone else.
He corners the market, and like any cornerer, he has to overbid the "market price" to shut everyone else out. Now he is in a weak and vulnerable position, to any of his competition. He has a large supply of capital goods that he overpaid for.
The overbidding for avian meat should induce more "mining" (hunting) of the avian meat -- it should be wildly profitable relative to effort invested. This should tend to raise supply, making the overbidding market cornerer's job even harder.
Anyone with half a brain should mine some avian meat and then offer to sell it for (pinky to lower lip) 1 billion dollars (or whatever). The market cornerer will either pay the asking price or relinquish some control of the market.
Since there is no monopoly on buff producers (per the anecdote), the meat miner can lower the price until it sells to a buff producer (whether the cornerer or not). The miner extracts the profit, and the buff producer, with such high input costs, should have smaller margins on the finished product.
What prevented this from happening is that supplying a months worth of buffs required a lot of avian meat. And avian meat was a pain in the arse to harvest - you had to roam all over the map looking for the changing spawn points and if I remember correctly, you would only have maybe 20 pieces of the resource for every hour hunting - it was seriously time consuming. So I never encountered a hunter who was selling bulk amounts of avian meat - they all sold in dribs and drabs and so had no negotiating power with me. The small amounts they potentially could individually withheld would have almost no impact to my manufacturing -the only way to affect me was if they ganged up, which would have required substantial coordination.
I was also very dynamic with my pricing - the amount I set was based on what other vendors offered. With my huge bankroll (thanks to first mover advantage), I trumped any bid and scared other doctors away - they simply knew they couldn't compete. As soon as they gave up, I reduced my prices.
On a separate note Video games are some of the best laboratories we have to allow us to test economics - and iirc papers have been done to test and learn from these environments. I doubt I can dig any up, if I can, I will post it.
I believe in this story, there was a limited supply of meat - it couldn't be infinitely mined.
1. An artificial, rigid caste system that allowed only a tiny pool of players to produce the best buffs
2. An artificial, rigid "ingredients" system that ensured the best buff could only be made from one extremely rare material (and no amount of innovation could escape this)
Anarchists would argue that those types of market restrictions are bound to cause oligopolies to form!
That said, even with his oligopoly, it sounds like he nearly single-handedly created a huge market for that avian meat, and that market enriched a lot of other players.
I might be misreading the story, though!
Check WoW out for example - the analysis on the spreads, ideal prices to sell ores, gold, are at OCD levels of accuracy.
Addons scan the auction house for undervalued goods, undertake pricing strategies, hold historical data on those goods and allow people to know whether an item is under or over valued.
Websites are dedicated to identifying prices across all the servers and that leads to people doing cross server arbitrage.
He didn't improve the market, he just made a monopoly. A pretty cool one at that.
The resource spawning system drew my attention, and I ended up spending countless hours developing tracking systems outside the game to both keep track of the current and past spawns as well as keep track of my harvester fleet. I knew almost immediately when the best Rhodium Steel for a particular weapon spawned and would drop every harvester on the strongest vein I could find.
For those unfamiliar with the resource mechanics of SWG, there was a fixed hierarchy of resource types that different crafting recipes required. The more advanced the recipe, the more specific the resource requirement (e.g., Rhodium Steel instead of just Metal). Every couple weeks the current spawn of a given type would dry up and a new one would come along to take its place with different stats. These stats ultimately determined the final stats of items crafted with the resource.
Resources also spawned in "veins" similar to how they're found in real life. The closer to the center of the spawn you were, the more yield your harvesters produced. It was possible to effectively block out any competition by placing enough harvesters on a vein, and this is exactly what I did.
At one point I even started doing "contract" work for the high-end crafters. They would give me a quantity of a resource they wanted and I would deliver it daily as the harvesters collected.
At the end (sometime around when the Jedi questing was introduced) I had amassed enough credits that I was within the top 5-10 on the server I played. I sold it all on eBay and more than paid for my time playing.
Other research has continued on this as well - pretty sure game theory systems have been tested here.
Its always been a hope of mine that at some point, blizzard open sources their trading and economy data for people in the academic community.
The best labs to test human group behavior to changing incentives is probably video games. They've already established that in a world where everyone is created equal, you end up with only a small fraction cornering most of the resources/gold.
When I was in high school with plenty of time on my hands I turned my hobby of playing Everquest into a pretty lucrative business (especially for a 17yr old). I found it amazing what people would pay for items to help advance their characters, especially those who were older and had limited time, and thus wanted to minimize time-sinks.
I'd also recommend Stephenson's "Reamde", and Stross's "Halting State".
Reminds me of Julian Dibbell's "Play Money" , where he spends a year trying to make Ultima Online his main source of income.
If you want crazy, you should check Eve Online's economy, it's on a wholly different level and scale.
Especially as CCP (the game developer) takes a cut of real-world to in-game money conversions: you can buy PLEX (1-month account extension) with real money, and it's an in-game item which you can exchange for virtual currency (by selling it to other players).
This story sounds very common today, i tried similar things in WoW but never to earn real money. Common players don't care much about game money, that makes it so easy to exploit the system. In the end it is was fun for myself, but the common player was forced to grind a little more because of people like me.
I had to log in to that account once or twice a week to manage inventory space, but other than that it was autonomous. My trading account was flagged only twice - once because I mailed a large amount of gold to my main character, and once because I intercepted some items that a gold seller was using to launder hacked gold.
In short, Blizzard's involvement with their economy is entirely focused on policing RMT. They don't care how players manipulate markets.
Did you hit the gold cap, and do you still run the programs?
+1 for Julian Dibbel's book Play Money also. Great read if your into virtual economies, along with Castronova's Synthetic Worlds.
As the game goes on they try more and more to appeal to the casual gamer which either doesn't have the skills or the time to master the game in the same way. Meaning it becomes hard to really differentiate yourself from others playing the game as most of everyone has pretty good items and didn't have to work hard to acquire them.
Even though I have nowhere near enough time to be a hardcore gamer at anything these days, I still don't think I'd really enjoy playing something causally and having it all handed to me.
There is a deeper question lurking beneath all of this, I feel -- and unfortunately for me it has deep ties with questions of meaning and purpose and thus gets bound up in my religion, which I do not want to talk too much about here. But the question is, "what makes a game worthwhile? why do you keep playing?" My Neopets were not very worthwhile and, since they're immortal, I imagine they've been starving in a cold computer database for the last way-too-many years. I obviously got bored with the grind necessary to take care of them, but why? Why did I complete all of Morrowind and yet found Oblivion impossible to play? What is it in my human quest that I am looking to create in a game, and are games unreal or real or hyper-real or something else? If we don't enjoy "having it all handed to us" but yet we also don't enjoy "working for it", what exactly do we want?
I want to feel like I'm discovering things, achieving things e participate in the game story. Why is that so incompatible with an mmo without having me staring at a screen for hours on end and alienating my family from my presence?
I want to put in an hour or half a day or everyother day without doing repetitive tasks. I want to earn stuff yes, but not work for it. By work I mean doing something boring and repetitive that has nothing to do with the game itself (how many tons of ore it takes to make a sword again?). We already have to work hard in life, why they want us to do work more in exchange for entertainment (if you can call it that).
In the end, all they want is addicted players (hence the lottery reward model) to keep the money coming.
I got stung by them before, now I choose to live.
I posted this earlier, on another forum and its valid here -
Your talking about being interesting. And no one had an interesting life by remaining safe and within their comfort zone.
At least thats my 2 c.\
Morrowind also had the uncanny valley going for it, you could fill in a lot of gaps with your own imagination. Oblivion added far too many guard rails and bread crumb paths - it became disney land.
PS. The above statements are to be taken in context of MMOs with a player-based economy, such as EVE.
Soulbound items did exactly the opposite, materials were still traded and when it was crafted there was no resell value. That meant the demand stayed high. The economy was also influenced trough expensive mounts and auction taxes. It may be not as complex as EVE, but big because everyone participated in it.
Comparing to those two tittles WOW is super tame and casual.
Edit: I played EVE too and it is pretty much up there with UO in terms of there being a real possibility of getting a heart attack by playing the game.
How are 5h-8h raids designed with casual in mind?
Specially considering that any item you just happen to pick-up casually (as in not in raids) is plain garbage next to those and it matters a whole lot in a pvp-oriented game?
I disagree completely. WoW is designed from the ground up for addiction.
"Because it wasn’t the game I loved. That game died in 2005 with the NGE/CU. It died when developers turned their backs on the gamers who had spent the effort and instead listened to the lazy, whining voices who wanted it all given to them."
Sounds a lot like the government of today.
Oh wait.... Nevermind.
"Drawing pictures seems like an incredibly pathetic way to earn a living. Surely those with the intelligence to accomplish such things could contribute their time to something more productive?"
If we all we ever did was "something more productive" the world would be a damn boring place, and one in which I would not want to live.
Why is that any more pathetic than cat-picture-websites?
A few people will be more able to do this kind of informal work from home than more formal work for an employer because they are ill and not able to get work, or not able to get support at work.
It was at least a year late for being unprecedented :). I was doing exactly the same in mid-late 2000 with Eve Online.
A hypothetical economy has $10,000 in total currency, a bank has all $10,000 in cash reserves to begin with. There are 40 members of society, each of them with a different occupation but together they form a basic economy.
Pete is loaned $9,000 from the bank.
Pete pays Bill that money for an old car.
Bill puts $9,000 in the bank.
The banking system has $10,000 cash.
Jane is loaned $9,000 from the bank.
Jane pays Matt that money for renovations to her house.
Matt puts $9,000 in the bank.
The bank has $10,000 cash.
The bank charges interest on these loans.
The bank is owed $10,000 from Pete
The bank is owed $10,000 from Jane
The bank owes $9,000 to Bill
The bank owes $9,000 to Matt
Pete and Jane pay back $10,000 each, $20,000 collectively, but wait, that can't happen, because there is only $10,000 in the entire economy and Bill and Matt each have a net worth of $9,000, accounting for 90% of the wealth of the economy (as far as they think, anyways). Lets step back.
The bank has $10,000 cash
The bank owes Matt $9,000
The bank owes Bill $9,000
Jane owes the bank $10,000
Pete owes the bank $10,000
## The Bank's Assets
The Bank's Net worth $12,000
Pete's net worth -$10,000
Jane's net worth -$10,000
Bill's net worth $9,000
Matt's net worth $9,000
Total currency in the system $10,000
The total currency in the system is still $10,000, but the bank's accountant says it is worth $12,000. What? Not only that, but if the bank were to be found in the wrong, it would not just crumble the bank, but the entire economic system -- because everyone is involved and has a stake in what the bank is doing here.
Now, there are plenty of businesses in the world that, more or less, have a license to "print money" so to speak. People who offer their time for money have this to a certain extent, if I give you 10 hours of my day and you have to pay $1000 for it, I have basically created a debt in the system for $1000, without having first put $1000 of actual currency into the system.
The banking system is remarkable in this context however, because it uses money itself to create more money, while simultaneously making everyone a stakeholder in their being right -- increasing the danger to the system far more than any other existing entity. Bank's also vest rich people into their system by making them little lender's themselves (when our money makes interest by way of our banks investing/loaning it to others)
If I dont get paid my $1000 that I say you owe then too bad for me and I may sue you. But if the bank doesn't get paid it's $18,000 in the scenario above the whole economy is coming down with them. The banking system of borrowing and lending money that is not backed by anything tangible is a house of cards. It is a similar system to the OP's article that feeds itself. The guy who wrote this article I think got a first-hand perspective in how extraordinary it is when you see all of the working parts at once.
So, what happens when the bank does get found in the wrong in the above scenario? Let's walk through that.
Pete and Jane can't find the money to pay back their debt. They may have thought they had it in their sights, but for some reason they just can't seem to get enough money to pay back the bank (obviously, the money necessary just doesn't exist unless they can find a way to print money faster than the bank, but more on that later...) and so they both decide the bank is a sham and take up legal claims, suing the bank in their society's courts for usury and fraud.
The bank is (quite hypothetically) found guilty of both usury and fraud, since the extent of the economy is easily defined in this society it is easily reasoned that the bank is corrupting the system. A single entity cannot claim to have more currency than is in existence. It's loans are voided ab initio.
Pete's net worth $0
Jane's net worth $0
The Bank's Net worth -$8,000
Bill and Matt hear of this debacle, and quickly go to the bank to withdraw their money. But it's a race to the counter, the bank only has $10,000 and they are both owed $9,000. It is worth noting at this point that the bank has literally no legal measures to take to prevent it from being liable for it's debts to Bill and Matt.
Bill gets to the counter first and withdraws all of his $9,000. The bank is legally obligated to pay Bill his $9,000 and does so. Matt gets to the counter but there is only $1,000 left, he withdraws the $1,000 that he can.
Matt sues the bank for not paying him back his money (he gave them his cold hard earned cash, afterall). The courts find Matt in the right and the bank owes him $9,000 that they do not have. The bank goes bankrupt, the economy goes bankrupt (funny that word) -- Matt and everyone else in the society refuse to use money as currency because it is not reliable.
But was it the currency that made the system collapse? No. It was the failed predictions of those in the banking system, who have more stakeholders than any other business ever has or should have. It is indeed true that once a stakeholder was made out of the richest few (themselves and those who produced the most in this scenario), every single person who relies on money subsequently became stakeholders, which is everyone in society.
System's that are similar to that described in the OP's article quickly fail, unless accurate predictions can be made about what the "economy" can "absorb" or rather, what can be skimmed off the top while not bringing the house of cards down. In OP's case there was little pre-planned organization and he had no insight into too many other things affecting his process so it was not really possible.
tl:dr I believe that loans from banks should only be legal as investments into a business and loans to individuals (even for houses) should be financed from private companies so that the total risk to the economy is evenly dispersed.
EDIT: My apologies for the way-too-long scenario and explanation, but it seemed remarkably similar to the banking crisis (to me at least) and I thought it might make for an interesting discussion.