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Market King - Cornering an MMO Market

Modeling an economy for an MMO should be a game itself! Use this to test your economic variables, and whether it is "fair" for new players.

This is a cross post, originally on my personal blog.  I dont see a whole lot of blog posts like this on Gamasutra, so hopefully this one isnt out of line.

I was chatting with my friend this morning about the economies of persistant online multiplayer games, and how the production of high power goods or the oversaturation of low powered good produced by veteran players causes issues in attempting balance with new and old players.  With this discussion, I decided to isolate and test the power creep of adding new players into an established marketplace.  This is the game "Market King" and its just a prototype for now.  Rule design and optional rules are below.  I'll be testing it over the next few days to seehow it plays.


Market King

A 100 round Game for 3-6 players, playing as the CEOs of rival Manufacturing companies.

2 of the CEOs start each with 1 die(Factory), and there is one die(Factory) in "The market".  The players go around clockwise, taking turns.

Each turn, a player gets to do one of the following three actions:

Manufacture:  The CEO's factories are open for business, and produce.  Roll all dice you own, get points equal to the total rolled.  For each 6 rolled, add a factory to your own pool as operations expand.
Invest:  The CEO invests in new equipment.  The take half of the factories from the market (Minimum 1, rounding down) and add them to your pool.  The Market will always have a minimum of 1 factory for sale. 
Liquidate:  The CEO sells their factories.  Remove a number factories from your pool and add them to the market.  Gain 5*(100-current turn) points per dice added.  The # of factories sold must always be 1 more than the last number of factories sold (starting at 0).

Every 20 turns, a new CEO may join with one factory.

The CEO with the most points after round 100 wins.


The important points of this game, and how it relates to online economies:
-Saturating the market by liquidating enables your rivals to capitalize on the opportunity and step up production (When you sell large quantities online, you must sell at a reduced price, which your rivals can pounce on)
-Saturating the market properly actually increases your own production in the long run  (A properly seeded market can create new areas of trade, especially when an online game has locational markets)
-the later a player joins the game, the harder it is for them to competetively break into the market and liquidate (in most online economies, veteran players have some sort of competetive advantage that allows them to bully out new players)
-The later a player joins the game, the easier it is for them to exploit the saturated market and catch up in production power (Joining and associating with veteran players in a game gets you up to speed very quickly online)
-Assuming a player Manufactures, and just tries to exploit their current resources, they can get very lucky and catch up to the older players (in online games, often through rare loot)
-The average power of any player constantly increases as they age. (generally online games have power Creep)

Variables to play with:
-Allowing more than one new player to join at a time, desaturating the market for newer players (simulating a large number of new players in a free triel weekend or something)
-In large games, allowing players to organize, giving market or manufacturing bonuses to allies (simulating Guilds, Corporations, and Supergroups)
-Resetting all CEOs and the market to one dice in the middle of the game, keeping current points (Simulating a new feature or expansion which invalidates old assets, but not old currency)
-Give all CEOs a second type of dice and create a second market at 1 dice.  (Simulating the creation of a new market allowing all players equal access)
-Allow CEOs to purchase factories from the market for points, without taking an action (simulating some sort of external invesment, possibly from microtransactions?)
-Forcing CEOs to pay an upkeep of 1 point per factry for factories which were not producing this turn. (simulating the decay in value of unused assets)
-Forcing CEOs to pay an upkeep of 1 point per factory every turn, regardless if it was used to produce (simulating taxes, equipment decay, Guild fees, etc.)


Thats it!  What do you guys think?  Would this simulate the difference in power between new and old players, *eventually* evening out their power levels?  Would the gap never close, due to a head start?  What are the odds, at each point in the game, that a new player can retake an old one by playing the market?  What if the new player only produces, and relies on 6's to produce more factories?  What are the odds of them even showing up on the radar?

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