Economy changes

So I’ve lately been fixing up the game’s “Daily Finance Report” functionality, to give a better view of what’s actually going on. And… as I’ve been chasing down all the things that do (and don’t) cost money, I’ve realised that I really need to do a pass on the game’s economy, just in general.

Right now, a lot of the numbers were simply picked as values that looked good at the time, not with any particular cohesive “design” behind them. Let’s pick some notable (and questionable) examples:

  1. Right now, the salary for a developer is set at $50/day. This is extremely silly; an average salary for a real game developer working on a commercial MMO is likely to be higher than that per hour.
  2. Right now, the salary for a GM is set at $30/day. This is also extremely silly, for exactly the same reason; in the real-world, GMs with any amount of experience will be earning more than that per hour!
  3. Right now, each region you have active is costing $1000/day in upkeep. That’s just silly. The only way one could rationally justify that sort of expense would be if you were including salaries for support staff in that number. But we’re already handling salaries separately.
  4. Editing the terrain costs $100 per change. But… it’s not exactly obvious what that money is being used for. This isn’t a real-world terrain where we have to put fuel in construction vehicles or anything; really the only cost to making changes is people’s time, and we’re already explicitly paying people’s salaries. This sort of world editing… maybe it ought to be free? But from a “actually playing the game” perspective, I want people to be weighing off the cost of changing something against the benefits.
  5. Not shown here (yet), there’s a $500 one-time price for activating a region. Presumably that’s the cost of setting up a server to host game content there. It would probably make sense for this cost to go up, and the ‘upkeep’ cost to go substantially down. And for this price to be at least partially refunded, if the region is deactivated later.
  6. Right now, loans are charging interest at about 5% p.a., which I’ve rounded off as 0.01% per day. That… may be okay? I’m actually not entirely certain how loan interest is typically calculated in the real world. I read that in the USA, a 4.5% rate is standard, here in Australia 8.6% is standard. So… not a million miles off from what I’d set. Net result; your default $500,000 loan (which in the real world is not even remotely enough to build an MMORPG) results in a $50 interest payment each day, until you pay down the loan.

Anyhow, this improved dialog will be in the next build; we now track each of these different financial categories separately, and keep track of ten days worth of history, so you can move forward and backward through time and see how things have changed.

Additionally, this financial report now contains accurate information about the progress-so-far in the current day (previously it would only show data for yesterday). And finally, all of the periodic income/expenses (subscription fees, loan interest charges, etc) are now being incurred at the start of a day, instead of at the end. There’s actually no difference there; it’s just a change to how the money is entered in the reporting.

My task for the day: Figure out how many new subscribers a player should be expected to get and keep, and then adjust the costs of things so that the player can realistically turn a small profit and start paying down their loan, once they have a couple of regions running.

Definitely interested in folks’ input on this topic!


How about a „game development“ timer for terrain changes?

It could be coupled with staff abilities for quality and speed

hm, terrain work quality… bad shaped trees? ^^

if you change too much terrain in the beginning it can block other developments… so maybe you can hire freelancers for this work?

I’m hesitant to use timers explicitly, but there’s definitely something in the idea to limit the rate at which work can be done based upon how many staff you have. We already have that a little bit with the construction of buildings; developers have to go and activate the buildings you place, so you can definitely develop a backlog if you don’t have many developers.

Right now, I’m playing with different costs for things. I’m making staff much more expensive (and starting the player with far fewer of them), and I’m making “things” generally less expensive. And I’m trying to balance the amount of money we give the player to start against the amount of money the player needs to spend to set up their game, and the amount of income they’re likely to earn over the first few days.

One interesting thing I’ve stumbled over during this balance pass is that in the current build, ad campaigns are absurdly overpowered. Assuming you’re not doing something silly, taking out a magazine advertisement will typically earn you about 160 times what the advertisement cost you, for example. (Any current testers, you’re being silly if you’re not constantly running magazine advertisements. Other advertisement types are also overpowered right now, but the magazine advertisements are the worst) The mechanics for those advertising campaigns definitely need to be reworked. Or at least, their specific costs and benefits need to be balanced! (On the other hand, if you aren’t set up to accept a lot of new users quickly, you’ll probably just overload your game and get bad press. So… maybe it’s not quite as bad as I’ve suggested.)

And at present, I am wrestling with our continuous integration server. Was going to put an updated build up tonight, but that may not actually happen if I can’t get the builds happy again.

Will update when I manage to get that server to be happy again!

Okay, I have a fresh server set up and apparently working. Now I just need to move bits and pieces around and wait for DNS changes to propagate… Fun fun!