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Is RMT the key to making a true sandbox world???

Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

Like many others here, I'm getting a bit tired of the tried and true scripted quest concepts that are used liberally throughout MMORPGs.  You know what I'm talking about, go to Bob, kill 10 rats, get reward.  Even when this is done very well, it still means that the game provides an essentially finite experience, and then when it's over, you have the "endgame" which is generally just PvP or gear grinding.

I have long dreamed of a game where the players would actually provide "content" and interesting stories all on their own, and the world would be perepetually interesting with no end.  But alas, it seems that most games that have tried this never work out completely.  Most games that I've played which I've played that attempt this do so by one of the following:

--

1.  Asking the players to develop scripted quests just like devs would with some kind of quest-generation engine.  The problem with this is that quests made by players really aren't going to be any more interesting than those made by devs, so at best, you just get more of the same.

2.  Attempting to design the game world around player-driven, dynamic content and hoping that your players will create emergent gameplay for themselves using said content.

--

Now I think #2 here has real merit...but unfortunately, I've just never seen it implemented in a very appealing way.  Some games focus on crafting and economics (SWG), but the actual gameplay of crafting and selling goods really just isn't that fun for the majority of players.  Other games, such as Darkfall, DAoC, or GW2, try to create an interesting political/war drama by allowing players to own and/or fight over real estate in the game.

I think that this poltical/war drama angle has potential, but everytime I have played a game with it, I just find myself not caring that much.  I mean, what value does a virtual town have to me?  Am I willing to stay up all night defending it?  Maybe once, but probably not twice...at some point I'm just going to realize that defending this virtual piece of property is meaningless and stop.

I believe this "lack of motivation" that I felt while playing these games tends to damage the entire experience for everyone.  There's really no drama when you assault another player's holding and find that there is no one there to defend because they really just don't care that much to defend it...this experience has been extremely common for me in all games like this.

So how do you motivate people to care about the game world?  How do you get them invested?  Well...the answer may be simpler than you would think.  What is a major factor in real life that motivates just about anyone?

Money.

And when we talk about money in games...we generally talk about RMT. 

So before I get started here, let me just say that I generally hate RMT.  But I have realized that this hate isn't due to anything intrinsically bad about RMT, instead it is due to the fact that, up until now, RMT is, at best, fairly non-intrusive, and at worst is actively harms the game.

But what about implementing RMT in a way that actually HELPS the concept of the game?  I think that the potential to earn real money can serve as a huge motivating factor that can make the game more interesting for everyone IF, it is done correctly (Diablo 3, not done correctly).

And this is where we get to my idea.

At a basic level, my idea is to have a pay to play game where players can actually obtain "game time" (let's call it "spice" for now just as a tribute to Dune) through the world and then sell this to other players at a lower rate than the game dev sells it.  So like, you could buy a month of game time for $15 from the game dev, or $13 from a player...you will buy it from the player.  The player will get this money, with maybe a small tax collected by the game dev.

Obviously, there is more than just that.  So to elaborate...

There will be mines in the game that produce "raw spice" for whatever players are holding them.  The mines can be seized by other players/guilds, and when taken over they will start to produce "raw spice" for whoever took it.  The expectation here is that these mines will be a source of REAL money, and thus should be hotly contested, and staunchly defended by players...I would also want to have purchaseable defenses for mines to make them more secure.

Raw spice can be traded, but cannot provide game time until it is refined.  To refine raw spice, a player must rent a refinery from the game dev for a real money monthly fee.  A refinery, working constantly, will be able to produce significantly more value in "spice" than it costs to rent a month.  So provided that you keep your refineries supplied, they will provide you profit, otherwise, you may take a loss.  As such, renting a refinery is a "risk," you need to keep your refinery well supplied or lose money.  This is not a risk any run of the mill spice miner will likely take.

This dynamic should create an interesting landscape where mining companies are always attempting to control more mines and defend the ones they have from other mining companies, I would expect this to play like an actual war of territorial control.  On the other hand, refining companies are constantly trying to secure enough supply from the mining companies to keep them refineries running and producing constantly; I would expect this to play more like an economic, shadowy war of trying to secure supply contracts over other refiners and supporting your loyal miners from behind the scenes.

 

This is clearly a very brief concept, but what do you guys think of this?  I think that players will be much more invested in a game when they can actually make real money by simply being the "best" at the game.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

Comments

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member
    Nice to see you back creslin

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member
    Originally posted by Aerowyn
    Nice to see you back creslin

    Hey Aero, good to see you too :)...I check in every now and then.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • snapfusionsnapfusion San, CAPosts: 954Member

    No

    RMT in a game is like going to Disneyland where all the costumed charcaters, Micky, Pluto, etc walk around missing the head on on their costumes,  so Im just left staring at a bunch of people wearing weird cloths.  The magic is gone.

     

    You think RMT has a place in online gaming? Not in my opinion, its no longer a game at that point, its a job.  I have one of those already thats why I play computer games.

  • RefMinorRefMinor MyTownPosts: 3,452Member Uncommon
    Depends on how well you think your faction will compete against shift working squads of Chinese slave labour.
  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 7,606Member Epic
    Originally posted by snapfusion
    ............
    You think RMT has a place in online gaming? Not in my opinion, its no longer a game at that point, its a job.  I have one of those already thats why I play computer games.

    I find myself in agreement with this post.

  • kragekrage Miami, FLPosts: 422Member Uncommon

    Honestly I think it would be a decent incentive, I have thought about similar business models for MMO Devs. Although as some mentioned if you put a sticker price on content development you have a whole slew of issues that may crop up, I would also be curious to see how quality control and determining price point would be established.

     

    That said perhaps instead of  paying the content creators money directly perhaps a monetary value compensation of ingame currency would be sufficient?

    Say for example, with the success of the B2P model and acceptance of P2P (subscriptions), you make a B2P MMO that made money for the developers on box sales, and charged a subscription for players. 

    The subscription can then be actually funnelled into the game (unlike most subs that are pure profit) by hiring live game masters to coach and supervise volunteer player creators. 

    Then for successful player created content that player may be able to recieve a free subscription for the game, thus giving them incentive without making it overly lucrative for content "Sweat shops".

    I would also suggest that if you have enough quality content creators you can let them form special guilds with moddable servers perhaps, not gameplay merely terrain, aesthetics, and forms of lore? Just musing on this point but I think another tier for super proactive guilds that also help flesh out the world would be very important...and bring back that spark that used to be called Guild pride.

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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 14,247Member Rare

    Keep an eye on Shroud of the Avatar. LB used to talk about systems similar to what you describe back in his UO days, and he's recently brough tthat up again regarding his new game.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 16,598Member Epic

    So basically, you make money or at least get your subscription paid for by controlling a base in the game?

    What are the chances that casuals won't get wiped out simply because someone else plays three times as much?  Major mechanics that pointedly exclude most of your players tend to be a bad idea.  And people who are already playing your game like it's a full-time job hardly need incentives to play even more.

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Keep an eye on Shroud of the Avatar. LB used to talk about systems similar to what you describe back in his UO days, and he's recently brough tthat up again regarding his new game.  

    Backed it :).  I'm hoping it's decent!

    Also...to respond to most of the replies here.  It's going to be very easy to poke holes in the little system that I brought up just because it's not very well defined.  It may be possible to shore up these holes by adding to the system...but I don't really want to get fixated on that one system alone.

    Instead, I really just wanted to talk about ways to use RMT to SUPPORT the design of a game in general.

    I think that RMT is basically inevitable at this point, and it bothers me that it's almost always been implemented in a way that is "bad" for the game.  But I don't think it has to be like this...I believe that a clever design could actually use RMT to the benefit of the game.

    So I think that it's important to get discussions rolling about how we can turn RMT from a force of evil into a force of good.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    So basically, you make money or at least get your subscription paid for by controlling a base in the game? What are the chances that casuals won't get wiped out simply because someone else plays three times as much?  Major mechanics that pointedly exclude most of your players tend to be a bad idea.  And people who are already playing your game like it's a full-time job hardly need incentives to play even more.

    My general idea was that the people "up top" who profited off the game would have to pay for more casual players to help defend their property, take new property, sabotage enemies etc...

    So basically, the "top" players would wind up generating content for the more casual players without even trying...that's the goal at least.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 16,598Member Epic

    You can't pay out very much of your revenue to players, as the game needs to make money.  For casuals, maybe the difference between spending all of their time defending someone else's base and spending all of their time doing whatever they feel like might amount to a few dollars per month assuming a subscription, or considerably less if "free to play".  I doubt that would be much of an incentive; better in-game loot would probably be a stronger incentive.

  • ManDown717ManDown717 Clarksville, TNPosts: 4Member Uncommon

    My psychology is a little rough, but I believe it is the overjustification effect that says rewarding people with money or prizes for things they already enjoy doing can lead to a decrease in their enjoyment over time.

     

    Project Entropia or Entropia Universe now pretty much utilizes a similar system to what you have described.  Free to download, put real currency in for virtual currency that you can cash out for a transaction fee.  It has been around for 10 years now and some people seem to do very well playing it.  This is the game where the man spent $100,000 for the virtual resort a few years back, and they just auctioned off their moon expansion for $150,000 I believe. 

    http://www.entropiauniverse.com/

     

    I think you are asking the wrong question.  It isn't "what value does a virtual town have to me?" it's "why do I enjoy playing a virtual character?"  Personally, my character is almost secondary to the people I am playing the game with, namely my guild members.  Over the years, subscription based games have gotten more money from me because I enjoyed "hanging out" with my guild more than I disliked the game.

     

    I believe that MMORPGs suffer from 2 major issues:

    a)  They have given up trying to be "virtual worlds."  Honestly, if you told me ten years ago, while I was playing Everquest, that MMORPGs would turn into single player quest runs you completed in "populated" worlds I'd have thought you were crazy.

    b)  The intense focus on numbers (levels, gear rating, dps, hps, character sheet stats...).  It is easier to demonstrate progression by increasing numbers.  They should have been exploring other approaches.  For example if your starting character picked up a new weapon they have a basic attack and a basic defense.  As they become more powerful they learn new skills ( i.e. a faster attack that does less overall damage, or a defense that prevents more damage but limits overall movement) this would show an increase in power, but still allow starting characters to compete or group with veteran players.

     

    TL;DR  I agree completely with being disappointed in the "standard" scripted quests.  But I don't believe that RMT or player driven content is the answer with the technology/programming/design used in today's games.

  • ironoreironore Utah, UTPosts: 957Member Common
    Originally posted by Creslin321
    2.  Attempting to design the game world around player-driven, dynamic content and hoping that your players will create emergent gameplay for themselves using said content. Now I think #2 here has real merit...but unfortunately, I've just never seen it implemented in a very appealing way.  

    #2 is the key and you are right, it has never been done very well.  I have experimented with it extensively and have seen it work in limited small scale simulations (such as in a classroom) where the content was set but the player access to it and interactions with the game setting and with each other socially/politically/economically were all emergent and dynamic and really drove the gameplay in surprising and amazing ways.

    edit: as for RMT it is worth looking in to and experimenting with.  The economics of the model would have to be studied extensively but it might have merit.  Still I would advocate aiming for acheivement of the goal by designing the interactions of the players and the game world in a way that natuarally leads to incentives to care for the game world precisely because of how dynamic and important their interactions within the game world are to them.

    IronOre - Forging the Future

  • TalinguardTalinguard Winchester, VAPosts: 676Member Common
    Ironore...wow long time no see!!!

    Presentation for new MMORPG economics concept http://www.slideshare.net/talin/mmo-economics-concept-v-10

  • TalinguardTalinguard Winchester, VAPosts: 676Member Common

     

    If there is a problem in MMO economics today, it’s the fact that developers have handed the creation of new money to the players and attempted to balance the goods & services to money ratio after the fact.  That is, players pull money in and devs are left creating systems that pull it out. 

    Work too hard to pull money out and new and casual players can't pay the fees.  On the other hand if you don't work hard enough to pull money out and you end up with inflation and again, new and casual players suffer because they can't afford anything.

    I've given some thought to creating something in game that represents something of intrinsic value (real money) and I think it's an interesting idea, but the limitation in my opinion is still the same.  The devs must control the creation of new money, but as a caveat to everything I've said, there has to be a way during periods of short money supply from the devs, that players can compete for money already in the game, which means that players are either incentivized to put their money in player that the place where players store it is vulnerable to theft....

    Presentation for new MMORPG economics concept http://www.slideshare.net/talin/mmo-economics-concept-v-10

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 14,247Member Rare
    Originally posted by Creslin321

    This is clearly a very brief concept, but what do you guys think of this?  I think that players will be much more invested in a game when they can actually make real money by simply being the "best" at the game.

    Will players be much more invested, or would the people looking for a game go elsewhere while the people looking to profit 'work' your game for revenue?

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member Common

    Isn't Creslin's idea almost exactly how Entropia works? Players pay money to get the tools necessary to collect sweat (spice) and use that for stuff in the game, or sell it to other players. They've scaled it up to the point that players can buy large tracts of land or even space stations.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • TalinguardTalinguard Winchester, VAPosts: 676Member Common
    I'd think the downside is that bugs/ hacks that effect gameplay is one thing, but when a player percives real money is being lost then the consequenses of failure increase accordingly....

    Presentation for new MMORPG economics concept http://www.slideshare.net/talin/mmo-economics-concept-v-10

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 14,247Member Rare
    Originally posted by lizardbones
    Isn't Creslin's idea almost exactly how Entropia works? Players pay money to get the tools necessary to collect sweat (spice) and use that for stuff in the game, or sell it to other players. They've scaled it up to the point that players can buy large tracts of land or even space stations.

    Pretty similar, which makes EU a great example of his idea in action.

    In the decade or so of EU's existence, how many stories, blogs, articles or news items have there been about the fun stuff the players do? Now compare that with the number of stories, blogs, articles or news items that are about the money the players make.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,171Member Uncommon

    I think I'd be concerned about two things: the IRS (in the US) and what happened to Second Life.


    The IRS is keeping an eye on RMT in every virtual scenario as it's a potential source of revenue and thus taxation. You might be able to get away with it for several years but eventually, I think the IRS will find a way to tax RMT and it will disappear from the gaming scene unless it's buffered by game currency and a cash shop.


    Second Life used to be called a game. Not anymore. Once RMT was standardized, those with lots of either time or lots of money were able to capitalize on it. Now it's best known for pixel pr0n. Ugh.


    I think you're on the right track with exploring motivation, but I play games to step away from the grind of my job.

  • birdycephonbirdycephon Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 1,314Member
    I think RMT is harmful to the game, simply because of the practices being put into effect by the users who engage in such activities. They completely screw over everyone else who is not RMT.
  • anemoanemo Posts: 977Member Uncommon

    As someone who profited from SecondLife I'll share a few views:

    Essentially at the time I was a programming student, and had a knack for it.   Which meant that when I got around to scripting I learned fast, and could work on new ideas that others haven't seen.   When I copied an Idea I was able to make it take less SIM resources(A major issue),  make it work a lot more fluently(which was great for combat systems for RP SIMs I liked), and/or program it defensively to work against game/server changes(Which ended up making one of my competitors products useless for 2 months while mine worked fine...  I had a lot of fun with that one since the person tracked me down to nag me, and nagged my commisioner even more).

    In the end though I pulled out around $200 over 5 months, and working 4 to 10 hours a week.   Which means I was making less than 2 dollars an hour.    However since I wasn't working it like a job it was interesting, and I got on(off?) the job experience.   So in reality it really wasn't profitable(due to time spent), but any hobby that nets some money instead of sinking it is even better fun.   I also only worked for others on commision(with cash up front to prove their seriousness), which meant I rarely had to deal with customers.

    Mostly just worked on attractions(Wave maker for surfers, Dungeon aids for RPGs), and a bunch of combat stuff for RPG SIMS.    This was a good 2 or 3 years ago.

    ______________________

    As for second lifes bussiness strategy it works really well for them, they've put themsleves in a position where it's really hard to not draw a lot of income and where there is almost no competition(social play W/ advanced building tools).    However they've needed to do downsizing to maintain actual profit.  Right now they're also bleeding users away, and they're releasing other games right now(after traditionally only ever working on SL).

    When you start looking at where their revenue actually comes from.   You'll find out that almost all of it comes from leasing land, rather than Cash Cuts from $L transactions.   As a matter of fact a lot of new  policies/updates Lindens Labs have been working on have been to try to get land leasing away from "Land Barons" and into their own control, rather than anything dealing with the linden exchange.  This has worked against them at least in the short run.

    ________________________

    I'd be willing to bet in a normal MMO to try to not scare people away you would probably need to have your largest coin draws be the renting/leasing of land over anything else.   Especially if you're going to have a real game aspect, rather than aiming for social play be your game(like second life).

     

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

    "At one point technology meant making tech that could get to the moon, now it means making tech that could get you a taxi."

  • xaritscinxaritscin CaliPosts: 350Member Uncommon

    RMT should be an option while it doesnt fuck up gameplay, gonna put the example of EVE cause its the only one where i've seen a succesfull aproach.

    the PLEX system can be taken as RMT the same way as gametime codes, the deal is that the PLEX can actually be sold on the game as a commodity, now, what happens to it depends from player yo player, maybe someone needs it to feed its account time without paying a dime, maybe someone wanted to get a quick injection of ISK so he invested real money to get one and sell it.

    at the end everybody wins cause someone bought it for something, someone got its ISK and CCP got real money in the process, i think this official way could serve as a good alternative between P2P and F2P payment models.

    being able to pay subscription using a commodity that can be bought both from real money and ingame currency.

    now, how this doesnt fuck up the system?, well, PLEX can disappear the same way as any other object in the game, so if you are fool enough to fly with it in the ship and get blown, its money loss. also, the ISK that the seller got doesnt actually give him an advantage, he could just buy a ship and pimp fit it and get blown, it really depends in the economy and the money sinks anyways.

    in fact, Ankama Games has implemented a similar system (right now it only works in Dofus), the famous Ogrines can be bought by real money and then sold on an special market on the game, ogrines have the same functions as does PLEX in EVE, except that its count in numbers (like if you  would do the things via Aurum in EVE), this way players can use their ingame currency for buying ogrines and get a quick injection of game time (be it a week, a month, three months, etc..). its again a win/win situation, but it can only be succesfull if the game actually keeps the right deal. the case in Dofus is that this Ogrines are account wide, so players can also use it to get time for other games like Wakfu...

     

     

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