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Ecosystem bassed design

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Kiwasi, May 16, 2015.

  1. Teila

    Teila

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    Interesting. We are incorporating some of this into our game, especially supply and demand controlling the prices. I played a text game many years ago that did this and it was fun. You could try to sell something, NPC would give you an offer and you could sell or hold for a higher price later.

    Our plan, if we get enough players, is to gradually eliminate NPC sellers and instead have the entire economy run by the players. They control the towns, hire the guards, pay the workers, own the shops, etc. To eliminate the need for players to be bored out of their wits patrolling a wall or standing in a shop all day selling, we plan to allow them to hire NPCs. NPCs must be paid in order to keep them at their job...or they might get angry and rebel. :) There is a lot more to it, but basically, the players control the economy. They can choose prices for their items and another player can undercut them on price and/or quality. Guilds (as in real trade guilds) will compete and set rules based on player consensus.

    I played a popular MMO a while back that started with a very nice player economy. Prices were determined by how much people were willing to pay. Of course, they ruined the game, added huge loot drops (faucets) and didn't add in the corresponding sinks. Prices because extremely high, and everyone had lots of money, except the newcomers, who were often gifted by rich players who had everything in the game anyway. :)

    But it was very fun at first. I remember haggling and dealing with other players when selling stuff or booking our band for a party. Ahh, good memories. :)

    One big problem with a game like this though is that players often tend to hoard their money so you have to put in sinks, such as rent for houses, maintenance, taxes, bank fees, etc. just to get the players moving. In real life those "sinks" actually come back in services so it might be possible to allow the money to be used to hire more NPC guards for the town or new entertainment places.

    Who knows if it will work, but it will be fun trying. :)
     
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  2. Kiwasi

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    About two minutes. The equivalent of about 5-10 trades.

    I'm picking this was due to inaccuracies. Real life capitalism doesn't fail that fast.

    I think the system issue is the trader currently does not consume any resources. Basically meaning that the trader does not have any particular need to return gold to the cities on any regular basis.

    Yup. Turns out balancing the sinks is quite a challenge. Even with my tiny 4 entity simulation.

    Anyway I'll have another go at this over the next few days and see if I can't get some decent sinks on the traders and set up a self balancing system.
     
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  3. Tomnnn

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    Man catches fish
    Man brings fish to market
    Man sells fish for 5 gold
    Man gets hungry
    Man rebuys fish for 5 gold
    Man eats fish

    Perfect economy :cool:
     
  4. TonyLi

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    There's no reason why @BoredMormon has to model it on a snapshot of any real time and place in history, but medieval Europe (the basis of many fantasy RPGs) had tithes to the Church, fees to guilds, taxes to feudal lords, tribute to aggressive neighbors, and plenty more alternate currents of money flow.
     
  5. Teila

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    Yep, feudal systems are fun! :)
     
  6. RockoDyne

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    Well, it's not like that isn't a real world issue.

    Without knowing anything about the numbers you're running, you might have better results with much less currency and higher production/stocks overall.

    On one hand I would love to see something like this, on the other I'm reminded of a friend from college who talked about how his WoW guild would price-fix the auction house on their server. Without politics getting involved (another thing I would love to see being player driven), it's too easy to game the system.
     
  7. Teila

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    Yeah, you are right. Players are unpredictable.

    We will have politics in our game as well, also player driven. The game is more about political and social intrigue in a role playing environment than your average MMO. I even hate to call it an MMO since we will probably need to limit the number of players. A few hundred would be perfect in my mind although we will see if we get that many. At first, we are starting with a small multi-player to test all the systems.

    I know this all sounds ambitious, but some of the stuff you guys are putting in your game simply won't be in ours. We are focusing on what we think we can do best. The vast majority of our content will be player created and player driven. It is what the role players want, a place to create their stories. I have said that again, and will say it many times over again...we are creating the stage and the tools and letting the players have fun...not with full out "kill the other guy before he kills you", but with politics, mysteries, social issues, and whatever tales the players want to tell.

    I am hoping that the griefers who want a fabulous combat system will just run away from all us "care bears". If not, we will have a player driven justice system and real consequences for actions. It is rather an experiment but even if it fails, it will be interesting to see the results.
     
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  8. Tomnnn

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    Maybe your town can have casino-esque bouncers who rough up players who make too much off the market.
     
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  9. RockoDyne

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    Maybe use a feral animal as currency?
     
  10. Tomnnn

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    Hmm... I think maybe what would work best would be a currency-less form of communism. Everyone contributes resources to a non-corrupt arbiter entity who distributes them fairly. Players may only interact with the market by serving the community or contributing as well.

    In a way, yes.

    Perhaps the 'currency' for outsiders - the players - would be reputation and or contribution. Reputation might entitle you to food from the distributor, or you could aid the farmers, fishermen, hunters etc in order to get yourself some food AND contribute any extra to the community. Efforts in any form will become a means of progression and need specific activities will yield a larger quantity of the item with a gain in your 'reputation' resource.

    Basically, I'm suggesting that your economy function like the luxury island prison Norway has. All of the prisoners work to produce the goods that the community of that island will live off of.
     
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  11. Teila

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    In real life, that might be nice.

    But in a game...what is life without conflict and glory? ;) Players will fight for their wealth and then oppress those below them...maybe...we will see. :) It is up to them.
     
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  12. Tomnnn

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    Old societies used to work like that, right? So...

    How about... a community below a certain size will operate in that manner, but larger communities will develop an economy based on currency? Then the nations can go to war and the loser can revert to good ol' tradin' 'n fishin' 'n apostrophes. This should allow big nations to become prosperous, corrupt and whatever else while keeping small villages from disappearing.
     
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  13. RockoDyne

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    Only if they start quoting the one scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "King? I thought we was an autonomous collective." Where they go on about being an anarchist commune.
     
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  14. Kiwasi

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    So the consensus is I need to build a capitalist system and a communist system and let them battle it out for world domination? Time to brush up on my Cold War trivia.

    Just got to figure out how to incorporate the Random Whale.
     
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  15. Tomnnn

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    Say what about Welsh people? Huh? Oh, whales... my mistake, I misheard you.

    How about a whale that travels from port to port making terrible jokes?

    --edit

    People wonder why moby dick is often drawn pale and white. Well, most wales are pale and white.

    --edit2

    Before you say it... 'welshman' / 'welshmen' doesn't really work, right? That's why.
     
  16. sicga123

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    No, the current system is a FIAT banking system it works because it is acceopted as a real currency. Prior to the FIAT system both the United States and the British Empire ran on the gold standard which is a commodity currency system. This linked how much currency could be in circulation with the gold reserves held by a country. Gold in circulation increases at the rate of roughly 1.8% per year which is the rate at which new deposits are found and mined ,so is a natural inflation. It allows for a more stable system. However, until the first real global networks were set up virtually all international trade was for luxury goods, trade as we know it where large amounts of raw materials such as iron and coal etc are moved around the globe were naver traded over large distances before. Most games do not truly reflect this. MMOs and game economies do not and should not reflect real world systems and it is pointless to try and model them. If I am remembering correctly Rome ran on a silver standard and the curreny was regularly debased until it was virtually worthless. Isaac Newton in later life was put in charge of the English treasury and charged with saving the English pound because the currency was on the verge of collapse due to fraud and that was a commodity system. I point this out because it is only worthwhile creating an economic system that works in a particular game and useless to model real world systems of this nature.
     
  17. Teila

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    Funny you should say that...there is one culture in our lore that is tribal and operates on a more communal basis. They share what they have with everyone in the tribe. If we get enough players, we will add that cultural area and players can play as tribal members and leaders. We will have to see!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
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  18. RockoDyne

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    Either way, you still end up with the problem of consolidated wealth. Once needs are met, the only real use for money is to accumulate more money. Even with high risk investments and low margin trades, wealth consolidation is still bound to be a draining force on the economy. It's just not a zero sum game.
     
  19. sicga123

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    Yes, possibly, but that's too complex a discussion for a foum post, and the aim in pre-modern societies is not to accumulate more money for the sake of it, it is to accumulate more power and money was power. Anyway games do not model real economic systems, they do not model real systems or communities or feudal systems at all. Games are about a workable in-game system I doubt skyrim models an economy as realisitically as all that. A dynamic system can be incredibly difficult to manage and create. Would it be possible to build a good enough AI system to evolve something like the Dutch East India company, or create a NPC character that would buy a plot of land and turn it into Singapore, or cause something like the opium wars over Tea? Or map the oceans for strategic purposes, or create a series of commercial companies and use them as a front to make massive land grabs, or setup divide and rule systems, or create something like the South Sea Bubble or the stock market collapse caused by a fall in the value of the Tulip, or sign a treaty of Unity because an entire country just went bankrupt financing expeditions to Patagonia because they were sold a pile of crappy real estate, or drain an entire empire of gold to buy pepper? Probably not, which is why skyrim and all other games don't bother best just o create a bunch of events in keeping with the lore of the game world and keep economic systems to micro economics i.e. buying swords, a stable trade system with limited returns and keep it strictly localised.
     
  20. Teila

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    Honestly, a system that "appears" to give the player some control is all you need. A complex real world system would be cool for an RTS game but it would be a bear to balance and maintain.

    I love realism in games but I think it is all about perception. If players' actions have some effect on the world, specifically the parts of the economy that impact them, then they will feel empowered.
     
  21. sicga123

    sicga123

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    Yes, exactly. Games need a working economy on a small scale. If a character can have a small system that allows for some flexibility and limited emergent play that can be a really good game mechanic. Besides, one very rarely gets the player payback for very complex systems it's never worth the development time. Often with game development it's not 'can a system be devised', its 'is it worth the resource cost to do it?'
     
  22. Teila

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    Absolutely. I think a certain amount of complexity is good in a system IF it is a main focus for the game. If your game has a very complex combat system, then great, spend time on it. If your game centers around story, or politics, or an economic system, then again, spend time on it. But if it is only a part of your game, you need to dole out time to the various systems.

    BoredMormon sounds like he is making a game where the focus is on the economic system, so he should put as much into it as he can.
     
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  23. RockoDyne

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    Sadly, I think this is the point that kills most economic simulations. If it's not player focused, it's actually easy to make a system that is realistic, warts and all. What ends up needing to be built is "economics: the power fantasy", because you otherwise end up facing a grim reality on par with facing your own death.

    Don't I just sound cheery?
     
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  24. Teila

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    Yeah, but real life economic systems do not usually end well. So I think you are being realistic. :)
     
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  25. Kiwasi

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    @sicga123 A simulation that could produce something as complex as the South Sea Bubble would be amazing. Can you imagine a game that gave you the power to play as a James Blunt or a Robert Walpole or any of the other characters involved? Way to big a game to attempt with the scope I'm capable of producing. But it would be pretty epic.

    I'm thinking my game will be more on the scope and scale of Robin Hood. A small, relatively local economy. I'm attempting to build a stable, self regulating, resource balanced system. I can then drop my player in it and let them cause havoc in whatever fashion they choose.

    At this stage I am fascinated by the possibility of the system. I'll attempt to build an engaging game on top of it later. This approach has produced my only completed unique game so far, so I'll stick with it. There are a ton of ideas on the actual game play bouncing around in my head. But they all rely on getting the simulation stable first.

    I dunno, humans are still around and still trading. So despite the sometimes catastrophic fails, economies as a whole continue.
     
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  26. Teila

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    True, but a game is only a sliver out of that time. Imagine how long one would have to play a game to go in and out of an economic collapse. :) I could see it in a RTS with an accelerated pace, but not so much in an RPG. :) Even with an MMO, most players don't last more than a few years and if the economy collapses and the players find out their money and "stuff" is worth nothing, they might leave sooner.
     
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  27. Tomnnn

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    Sounds like more reasons to avoid currency. Food & the service of protecting that food and its community will always have value. Can't exactly have an economic crash if you're dealing with simple people who just want to eat and live and not get attacked by wolves, as the cliche goes.
     
  28. RockoDyne

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    Due largely in part to the fact that the wealth of the world is easily acquired from the Earth. We would have a lot of problems if we couldn't produce gas cheaply.

    So basically goat theft auto?
     
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  29. Teila

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    Somehow I think you are not talking about a game. lol

    The problem with real life scenarios in a game is that we cannot log out of real life, but we can out of a game. If it becomes too hopeless, players can log out.
     
  30. Tomnnn

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    I was :p I was thinking about the population of the typical medieval game setting, minus currency.

    Some online games solved that with 'sleepers'. When a player logs out, their character falls asleep where ever they were. And offline / single player games can calculate a passage of time when players turn the world back on :D
     
  31. Ryiah

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    Or they may shift to an item that is almost worthless but difficult to acquire. I watched it happen with Dungeons and Dragons Online. The built-in currency system became almost useless because so many of us had hit the absolute limit on platinum (32-bit or basically ~4.294 billion) across one or more characters.

    Our solution was to take an item, a Flawless Red Dragonscale, that was almost useless in-game but reasonably difficult to acquire as it only came from a single raid. It eventually broke down too when exploiting occurred, but it worked for a couple years or so.
     
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  32. Teila

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    But they still opt out of whatever is going on at the moment.
     
  33. Tomnnn

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    And when they return to the game, they find that they've been murdered a few times and have nothing :D I actually watched I think... CohhCarnage(?) on Twitch come across a sleeper, tie a rope around them and then drag them down a cliff, killing them gradually with fall damage. I don't know if what I saw was actually funny, but it's hard not to laugh when you hear other people laughing.

    @Ryiah I tried to start that in diablo 3 with rings that had the word 'treasure' in their name somewhere. But then all items worth trading became bind on account and people disliked the idea because stash space is already a huge problem. Since every character on an account shares the same chest, your mules are only worth their inventory.
     
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  34. Teila

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    Hmm, yeah, that will go over well. LOL Unless the game is extremely hard core, I doubt you would get many customers. It certainly wouldn't work with our player base.
     
  35. Tomnnn

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    I don't know how hardcore the player base would be after the devs canned their previous early access title after breaking it :3

    I did that with runescape for a while. I was hoping to crash the economy by underselling goods to low level players, but then the grand exchange happened and bots did that for me. Random events are gone so there's literally no inconvenience at all for bots.
     
  36. sicga123

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    General lack of regulation and information produces south sea bubbles. The last global collapse of an economic system seems to have been at the end of the Bronze Age. It makes an interesting study if a somewhat sketchy one. Anyway it's not possible to simulate an economy using economic theory because the textbook models do not work, one always has to introduce qualifiers. There are competing economic theories as well and there are also numerous cultural parameters that play into how economies work especially in the medieval world.
     
  37. Tomnnn

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    Here's an important question - are the npc populations static? Capitalism's shining role is keeping people from thinking about our finite resources with an uncapped population. It's our means of saying some people may have whatever they please and some may starve or freeze to death in the streets. If there were no limit on resources, there would be no humane reason to deny others food or shelter.

    In your game if the populations don't change drastically, the economy should be easy to simulate until players arrive :p If you introduce npcs that can multiply then you're going to run into big issues lol. Even if you hardcode it so they don't exceed their own carrying capacity, new players will then pose a huge threat to food sources. If you don't hardcode anything, large amounts of the population will starve or in an attempt to distribute food fairly they will all starve.

    Small question, huge consequences :D
     
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  38. sicga123

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    That's a malthusian notion which has long since been proven wrong. The system is not a closed one i.e. there is always additional energy input and the amount of crops grown is limited by land available, if there is possibility to expand arable land then a community will expand as needed. If the aim is to create a realistic simulation then it is a requirement that you understand the system you are attempting to simulate or at least research whether assumptions you are making are based in fact, otherwise what is the point? However, if you are actually just engaging in resource management with no reference to real world economics then one is creating a bespoke game world economy and anything goes. If the aim of that background simulation is to cause emergent gameplay it is not worthwhile to spend the time to create such a simulation, plus I don't really see where players would benefit from a simulation running in the background, easier just to code in a series of events that will cause conflict for the players instead of going to extreme efforts to create an unrealistic economic system because who will apprecaite it anyway?
     
  39. Tomnnn

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    The estimate was wrong, but it's common sense that we'll run out of resources eventually if we don't cap the population or continue space exploration.

    Until running out of land or being unable to feed a few trillion people :p

    Well part of the idea is to have a system that the players can actually effect. If the setting is the usual rpg setting then the 'economy simulation' shouldn't be that complex because most (all?) of the goods will have value and a need to fill. There might be art with subjective value and low need, but things like food and raw materials will always be important, and that's where the player can contribute to the market or destroy it.

    Who will appreciate it? Well... thread title... it's a niche, but it's also kinda the point ;)
     
  40. Teila

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    Closed world is unrealistic. Even in a game world, there is a world outside of the one you see. You can't go there, but you might meet people from there. So even if your NPCs grow in population, some will migrate away, some will die of disease, some will die in wars.

    If you want an NPC population that is growing, you will have to balance it with a way for the NPCs to move away or die. In a realistic world, people would move away when there were no jobs or they would die of starvation. Remember, the population stayed somewhat stable for a very long period of time. Things are different in modern times...we just grow and grow.
     
  41. Tomnnn

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    @Teila I was thinking of a mechanism to replace the dead without increasing the population. If we're just running a simulation that is going much faster than real time, how many real life hours before the game world population exceeds the amount of space they have?

    I'm surprised no one is concerned about this.

    I don't see this scaling well as time approaches infinity. Why does infinity always pose such a problem? :p
     
  42. Teila

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    How can you replace the dead without increasing the population? Put in something that increases the death rate as population increase, which is really what happened to keep the population stable.

    Disease was a big problem and crowded cities with poor sections were often the victims. Babies and children died, woman had miscarriages, people had shorter life spans...all these kept population in check. Diseases spread more quickly in crowded areas, such as cities. Starvation occurred more frequently in crowded areas. Drinking water more often was contaminated by the increase in waste.

    I don't see the problem, honestly. Lots of ways to decrease population.
     
  43. Tomnnn

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    Haha well that's what I'm getting at xP I meant avoiding permanent net growths. Maybe it'll be as easy as hardcoding the families to not breed like duggars :)
     
  44. Kiwasi

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    @Tomnnn letting population that doesn't obtain the needed resources starve to death is already included in the simulation. Eventually the population should stabilise around the carrying capacity of the environment. Or, with a tweak of parameters, you can create a boom and bust environment similar to how many microbes behave.

    I do however like the idea for multiplayer of using NPCs that login and logout to balance the player count, to keep the population relatively stable. This might just mitigate many of the multiplayer problems we mentioned already in the thread.

    So far every member of the community dedicated to playing my games is demanding this feature.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
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  45. Ryiah

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    Dwarf Fortress has slowly been getting more and more of its world simulation running in the background during both Adventure and Fortress Modes. The player base is totally in love with it.
     
  46. Kiwasi

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    So this mornings first attempt was hardly stable.

    3 cities 4 traders - North city.png

    But now I've got something that looks pretty good

    3 cities 20 traders - North city.png

    Time to code in some bandits!
     
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  47. sicga123

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    No, of course not, but I'm not really arguing anyway, I have no interest in doing so. However, it seems that there is no point in the simulation if you are fudging the data and correcting the system yourself. As a player how would I know the difference between the events in your system and how they are created in skyrim? I wouldn't but doing the skyrim system reduces the development time. Besides a microbe simulation does not map to an economics simulation, it merely simulates the behaviour of microbes.
     
  48. Kiwasi

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    I love Skyrim, but its economics suck. Have you ever tried to game the economic system in Skyrim? It can't be done. Most of the merchants have scripted immortality. And if you steal every item in their inventory there shop continues to function as normal. On a larger scale wouldn't it have been fun to defeat the storm cloak rebellion by burning every wheat field around their cities? You then slowly starve them to death, and launch the final invasion when their armies were almost dead anyway.

    I have no pretensions that I can build anything on the scale of Skyrim. But that's the type of thing that I'm trying to allow my games to do. Just on a single part time developer scale.

    There only difference between how microbes compete and cooperate for resources and how humans compete and cooperate for resources is the intelligence of the agents involved. I'm not trying to create an AI that can conceptualise and run a Ponzi scheme. But an AI that notices when the cupboard is low and food and responds by buying more food should be well within my capabilities.
     
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  49. sicga123

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    The Spartans tried that on the Athenians during the Peloponnesian war and it never worked. During the Thirty Years war the south of Germany was so devestated that many of the armies planted and harvested their own crops, Wallenstein basically turned all his own lands around Prague into a big resource factory to feed, clothe and arm his armies



    That's a big difference though. I'm not doubting your ability even to create a system such as skyrim, that's all just a matter of time, nor is any AI that difficult, we're all using a binary system at the most basic level everything comes down to yes or no, nothing is complicated in that , so of course you could create what on the surface is an incredibly complex AI because it's all just 'this' or 'that' at the machine code level. It's whether it is worth your effort to make it more complex for yourself or to simplify the process. I think the idea you have is an excellent idea, I'm not trying to knock you down in anyway, I'm simply pointing out that you can achieve the same results with easier systems in a faster way. If you enjoy creating those type of mathematical simulations in code , fine, but it's not really a thing that is open to debate or suggestions how best to achieve what you want to achieve because you have other reasons for running those simualtions which are not open to suggestion or persuasion.

    So I apologise if I seem to be trying to impose my POV or knock down your ideas, it's simply a misunderstanding. I look forward to seeing what you create.
     
  50. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,860
    Explain the simpler way. That was the point of me starting this thread, if there is some silver bullet solution for believable economies I'm keen to use it.

    But the example you quoted in Skyrim is just straight out wrong for the experience I want to create. Skyrim doesn't have an economy. Merchants simply reset there goods for sale on a time based basis. Nothing you do in game affects the availability of goods to merchants. Nothing you do changes the ecology. Any world changes you make are the result of scripted quests. Its a great game, and a great experience, but not an economic one.
     
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