Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cash Flow

So long work hours and delicious cheese its continue to war against my goals, but I managed to hold steady at 220.5 for the week. I'd like to push that down a pound or more before friday, but it is going to take some real effort on my part. I managed to stick to nothing but water at work today, which is great, my pop intake is down to a can a day. Now if I can just get past this period of stress caused by paying for all the travel expenses before things like Tax Refunds filter back down into my account I will be in great shape (well still pretty bad shape, 20 pushups is still my limit)

Speaking of money, today I'm looking at the Economy entries in the Wildstar blog. There will be words and allusions to numbers following the cut, if you'd rather see the Gamescom 2012 developer walk through  follow this link. It is in 4 parts, but that should get you started.

On to the numbers and words!

The first entry is an uplink analysis on Trade Skills. The question asked was: What are the best and worst parts of tradeskill systems in MMOs?

Good question! There were some good answers.

For me I like the Guild Wars Crafting system for the way that you can make items of a limited scope that are good for the level range that you can craft them. Clean sets with clean bonuses at set level ranges. This makes them useful. Also, very rarely am I making a ton of one thing just to destroy it or sell it as I level up. There are parts and components in each tier that build skill and then combining them finishes the tier. I like the EVE system because everything has value. Making materials available at low skill level have use at high skill levels keeps the entire community involved in the economy. If components crafted at these low skill levels are used in high skill designs that is even better, for that to work there must be some constraint to crafting that makes purchasing these items from low level players appealing to a high level character. A limited crafting queue or a time sink. Something that you may not be interested in using on something that is not providing you with a skill up.

I dislike simple grind crafting systems. I hate failing to craft something that I know how to make, or exceed the skill to make. For simple recipes, for skill ups, I kind of like a fail mechanic, it adds some chance. Do I craft the easy item for 1 point, or do I try and craft the thing that I could fail at for a chance at 5 points? But high end items using expensive and rare materials should not have this. Scorpion Armor from FFXI, the best chest armor for melee dps. To create it you needed a Scorpion claw, which was a drop from one of the world bosses that showed up once a week. The crafting system in FFXI not only had a fail condition, but it also had a critical success condition, and there were ways to alter the percentages. Craft the item on the correct day of the week at the correct time of day with your character facing the correct direction and you added up these bonuses....and then BOOM your crafting crystal explodes and everyone in town gets a message that you destroyed your scorpion's claw. That kind of thing is not fun for anyone, getting the rare crafting material should be the hard part. I like specialization. I like the idea that some people in the economy can make some things and some people can make others. That should have meaning. Maybe anyone can make a sword, but if you want a master-craft sword, well then you need someone who specialized in that, and you can make him a bad ass pair of boots in return. I seem to have forgotten what the question was, moving on.

Jeremy Wood wrote a blog entry about the Economy earlier that week, which he should be pretty qualified to talk about since he is the Economy Team Lead at Carbine. He covers some basic information on what the Economy Team does for an MMO and then mentions a couple of specific items they are bringing to gearing. First, non-controversial Dyes. GW2 shows us that Dyes are awesome. I get a little thrill every time I get an unidentified dye bottle. For the players that want customization they have it, for the players who are indifferent, they can sell them. Half of my income in GW2 is from selling various shades of rare black dyes. The second item is modification slots in gear. This is something out of the SWTOR playbook. One that I liked the idea of, but it just didn't pan out. The question will be are the modification items the stats of the item, or do they modify them? Do they only provide stats or do they provide other customizations? Are all customization slots performance related or are there going to be vanity slots for glows or Auras or other wacky modifications (your gun shoots rubber chickens instead of bullets.) If the creation of modification items is spread out among different specializations and there is a churn effect on their use it can be a major component of the economy.

The final item was an outsourced Wildstar Wednesday at Wildstar Central who hosted a Q&A with Jeremy Wood based on the above mentioned Blog entry. He touches on some other details here, including a costume system, which is separate from the dye system, but details were scarce.

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