[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Dave Rickey mahrinskel at brokentoys.org
Fri May 23 00:48:00 CEST 2003

From: "Jeff Cole" <jeff.cole at mindspring.com>
> From: Dave Rickey
>> From: Jeff Cole

>>> I don't disagree that a design need consider the boundary
>>> conditions--both theoretical and practical.  However, you were
>>> offering examples at the extreme in support of what I inferred
>>> to be your assertion of very general principles.

>> I am having trouble following your reasoning here.  We're still
>> having a conceptual break over the "irrational" economic
>> behaviour of players, I'm claiming that the irrationality that
>> economists dismiss as "extreme" and discard from their theories,
>> is actually inherent to the system and will break systems that
>> are not built to account for them, and pointing to Camelot as an
>> example of a system that did *not* break.

> I think our conceptual break is greater than that.  I disagree
> that Camelot does "economy" well--either objectively or
> subjectively compared to the prior art.  In order to claim the
> Camelot economy didn't break, you need to assume such limited
> definitions of "economy" and/or "break" as to beg the question.

Issues related to the economy did not become priority "Oh my god we
have to fix this" problems.  Although there was an ongoing economic
emphasis in development, with 2-3 developers working on it steadily,
it was all very low-key and rarely rose to the point where
management was even aware of it, never mind pushing for decisions on
it or making them directly.  By the standards of previous games,
that is "non-broken".

>> If, in fact, there is such a systematic error, the MMOG's would
>> seem to be a good environment for finding it.  The number of
>> participants is limited, the interaction with outside influences
>> is comparatively minor, the ability to manipulate the core
>> scarcities and inherent demands effectively limitless, and the
>> information available to an observer far closer to complete, than
>> in any real system.

> I disagree in large part.  Game systems and general designs have
> to provide for much more efficient transaction and for
> participation of a much larger portion of a server/shard's
> population in a much greater percentage of markets.  Then, maybe.

I might buy this, if the predictive record of economists weren't so
poor.  The old joke is that they have "predicted 9 of the last 5
recessions".  In spite of centuries of work, a continuing effort in
the public, private, and academic arenas, the "dismal science" is
going nowhere, and has been for a long time.  I'm going to make a
bold statement: It is not only worthwhile for economists to study
online game economies, but there are Nobel prizes waiting for the
ones that figure them out.


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