((Sorry this post got much bigger than original intended. There are many pictures lower down for people with limited time))
My guild had somewhere in between 150-250 members in the beginning.
It was great fun. We were all skilling up our crafting/combat skills, moulding our land, raiding enemies, building up defensives, patrolling our area and kicking out people that would not join us.
Times were good, and there was always plenty to do, plenty to see, and plenty of people to fight.
Three months in, my guild had built up our town, all walled in with Castle Walls and Towers. We had every workshop built with the best quality resources. We had the surrounding farmland fertilised up to 100q and pumping out the highest of quality crops. We had the stables and barns producing the highest quality horses, leather, meats, wool, milk & dung. Our herb gardens where producing bulk herbs. Our miners had found a very large Iron ore deposit within a 1-minute horse-cart ride from the blacksmith area. We had everything sorted. We started producing endless amounts of weapons, armours, warhorses, hardy warhorses. Etc etc
Basically, we had everything.
We had the skills and facilities to make the best quality items, and we had (and still have) bulk stockpiles of all the resources required to make these items.
But slowly, our player base has declined to the point where we only have 5-10 semi-active players.
Many people have their opinions on why this is the case, mostly related to combat changes, and many are probably right to some extent.
But fundamentally, I believe most people became disinterested when, all of a sudden, a lot of them had nothing productive to do, nothing new to build, nothing new to see, and nobody new to fight
(outside of IBs). There really was (and still is) no satisfying endgame.
So, I thought I’d suggest some small tweaks/features that I think/hope will help to combat the above and ultimately create a full, active and dynamic sandbox world. The suggested changes are big in scope, but small in actual development effort.
I have tried to focus on things I think probably wouldn’t take much effort to implement. (other than buy/sell orders). Value changes or a few lines of code.
The main topics I want to touch on are;
1. Problem: MMO Economy – The Five Rules
2. Suggestion: Resources Scarcity & Specialisation
3. Suggestion: Sinks – Resource/Items & Currency
4. Suggestion: Transport Network
5. Suggestion: Trader Post/Market Interface
6. Result: Player Hotspot's, Real Politics and Warfare
8. Implementation and Timeline
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Wow wait, no combat suggestions, this guy has got to be joking?!”
, but in my opinion both combat and non-combat and equally important. Neither can exist without the other. There are already plenty of people out there providing constructive feedback on the combat side of things anyway.
I realise the likelihood of any of these suggestions being incorporated is low, but it’s worth a shot, and I’ll do my best to try and explain the current shortfalls and possible solutions. I think that the changes below would benefit all playstyles and create significantly more endgame sandbox experiences.
1. The Economy
First off, I have not studied economics formally, and I don’t pretend to have advanced knowledge of the matter, especially compared to Bobik, and many of you reading this, so I’ll keep this section somewhat short. But I have played a lot of MMORPGs in my time and I know how important getting the economy right is for the success of an MMORPG, especially for a game like Life is Feudal which is very comparable to EVE online.
The very first point I want to make is that the regional blueprint and resource system we currently have is good, and that it should remain for high tier items & buildings
it simply is not enough to maintain a successful economy. It’s a matter of scale.
Every resource in the game, whether its feathers, unmixed herbs, pork or royal plate armor, needs to have value and be worth trading.
I stumbled upon a article a while back that mentioned the five most important rules for a MMORPG economy. Link at the end.
The Five Rules
to maintaining a successful MMORPG in-game economy;
Rule 1: Make sure there are resources that are needed the most are ones that anyone can gather, including new players. Follow EVE's "more Tritanium!" model rather than the theme-park "highest level mats only" model.
I believe the current system of regional blueprints tends to lean towards the “highest level mats only” as they are used to create a few high-end products. New players have very little input into creating these items. And the volumes required are too small.
Again, every resource in the game should have value and traded
, regardless if they are primary, secondary or tertiary. No one ever trades 3000 stone worth of billets, shaped rock, or potatoes, they only trade in 200 stone regional ingots, hanks of linen, boards, etc. Every other resource is basically worthless.
A new player must spend exponentially more effort to get an item that someone wants to buy than the effort required by an established player. This is GOOD in concept but the difference in effort is far too great atm. It’s just discouraging and frustrating for a lot of new players. The game needs new players. If you get the economy going, and give every resource a value/worth, then new players can sell their labour/time/effort to other players by gathering, transporting guarding or stealing resources for that other player for a small cut.
How do I think this situation can be achieved? Create scarcity, which I will talk about later.
Rule 2: Encourage specialisation of labour by making systems that reward players/guilds for specialising in one thing, be it gathering or crafting, and encourage inter-dependency by having different specialisations require output from other specialisations... Money flows in EVE because everyone always needs something from someone else.
This is not the case currently, every guild is the same can produce the same resources. The economy needs to be based around the specialisation of a GUILD, not specialisations of PLAYERS.
Specialisation of PLAYERS (which we have now) just creates many smaller “guild” economies with no real reason to trade outside of that economy other than for regional blueprints. The main currency being “favours” or “for the greater good” or “Survival”.
I’m not saying that these small “guild” economies are bad, I think they are the backbone of this game
, helping to create a very social and enjoyable community game. BUT, the game needs to change so that players travel & explore the ever changing, dynamic and beautiful world. I think it’s more important that a guild becomes more of a cog in a larger world economy than to be fully self-sufficient on their own.
Scarcity of climate specific primary resources and regional specialisation bonuses
would greatly help achieve this, especially when combined with the current regional blueprints for high end armours. I will discuss more on this later.
Rule 3: BUT DON'T make it impossible for guilds to go out of their specialization in order to correct for market inefficiencies.
This should not be much of a problem in LIF as the player base will relocate to account for supply/demand of items/resources.
Rule 4: Build systems that make it easy for players to transact without actually having to interact. Markets with buy and sell orders are a great way for a player to indicate their desire to make an economic transaction without having to actually find someone to listen to them first.
This is not the case currently. See my suggestions dedicated to Trader Post/Market interface improvements
. A lot needs to be done to address this, but I believe the Dev’s are working on this and I don’t think would be too hard to achieve. Buy orders are equally as important as sell orders. More filters are required.
Rules 5:Worry more about equipment/resources/item faucets and drains than cash faucets and drains. Don't neglect cash drains; but worry a lot more about equipment/resources/item drains.
I think this is one of the reasons that the Economy is not working. There are not nearly enough item sinks in the game. EVE works because people lose mass amounts of resources during battles. Currently, my guild, although not very active, still has mass resources which will never expire. We have warehouses full of items that we will we will not use up for a long time.
This is obviously quiet a hard one and you would need to find the right balanced
so that the game is still fun to play and doesn’t feel like a massive effort just to maintain a claim
So how do we fix the above issues? The next couple of sections cover how I think the above gaps in the economy can be fixed.
2. Scarcity of High Quality Primary Resources and Specialisation of Regions.
So… Time = Money. It's a basic, crucial truth upon which every economic reality is based.
When the player looks at the prices of things on the Market/Trader Post, the player must make a choice: buy it at that price on the Market
or go get it yourself
. One costs money
, the other costs time
. If a player is equally willing to spend either resource, then they should do whichever is cheaper: if the player can get the money to buy the thing in less time than getting the thing itself, then they should buy the thing.
Currently, its almost always easier to go get it yourself
and this often includes regional items (region bases).
And what would create this in Life is Feudal? Scarcity of resources & guild specialisation
Currently is almost always quicker/easier to get the resources yourself. Even region resources.
Every guild operates their own small inhouse economy where goods are requested and fulfilled for the benefit of the community. Sure, every now and then we need regional wood from the desert??, and regional flax grown in the frozen lands to the north… but regardless, it really is a matter of scale.
Once setup, any guild can effectively “Farm” 90% of the primary resources at the highest quality.
I.e. 100 quality primary resources such as, Hardwood, Softwood, Branches, Bark, Silkworm Cocoons, Apples, Nuts, Fish, Water, Taproot, Berries, Mushrooms, Honey, Thick Hide, Thin Hide, Horses, Beef, Pork, White Meat, Lamb, Woolpack, Dung, Feathers, Milk, Bones, Animal By-products, Eggs, Herbs, Plant Fibre, Grapes, Lettuce, Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, Grain, Wheat, Flax & Flint. And most guilds can find reasonable quality ore nearby without too much effort.
Below is a rough illustration of a Current Guild Economy
, with the quality of primary resources available to a hypothetical guild displayed around the edge.
The foresters, farmers, breeders, miners, diggers, & gatherers all gather these resources within a couple of minutes
of the base.
The below setup is what most established guilds will currently have or be able to have if they tried.
Why would they need to trade with others?
For a few regional items (and that’s only if they don’t just go get it themselves with a regional private/T1 claim)
Below are three hypothetical guilds.
Guild A doesn’t have the best minerals nearby, but otherwise can farm most things well.
Guild B can mine most ores up to 75 quality and farm the rest at 100 quality.
Guild C has pretty much everything covered.
They trade a few regional items every now and then for armor blueprints
, just stockpiling for when they may need them.
And remember primary resources don’t even need to be 100Q. As they move through the crafting chain, the quality of the product increases. I.e. to create max quality steel (80q) you can probably use 20q-40q Iron Ore -> Iron Ingots –> Metal Plate –> Plate Armor (especially when combined with a 100Q Bloomery/Smelting Skill/Crucible and Tongs/Hammer + 100Q Blacksmith Shop (20% Bonus) + 100Q Blacksmiths Outfit (20% Bonus)).
That’s another kettle of fish that should probably be considered.
And why would any of these guilds trade anything other than regional goods?
Even with climate specific “time/tick” advantages, why would a guild trade coin for billets/boards/building logs currently? There is no point when considering Time (Effort) = Money.
They have two options;
1. To GROW
the wood themselves, or
2. To TRADE
for the wood that someone else produced.
With the current setup, it’s FAR easier/less effort to account for your climate than to trade with others.
If you plant 25 trees a day, eventually you will get 25 trees a day to harvest. Even though it may take significantly longer for trees to grow in the south, it’s still way less effort to just plant way more of them than to trade with others from up north. (I know I’m not mentioning regional wood, but I’ll get to that later)
I’m hopeful the trader post rework may reduce the “effort” level of trading with others enough to make a difference.
But at the end of the day, Time = Money and if its still easier quicker to do it yourself within your own base, then that’s what will happen.
So how can we create this scarcity? In my opinion, by implementing the following concepts;
A) Climates - Primary Resource Quality Caps, and
B) Regions – Yields & Action Speed bonuses.
Firstly, Climates - Primary Resource Quality Caps, and
limiting what quality of resources can be gathered in a specific climate.
(Like the real world. Some areas of Europe have better soil and produce higher quality crops, some parts have the best iron, some the best wood some the best silk i.e. Asia. Sure, we already have climates implemented, but more is needed to allow specialisation and trade to occur.
For example, you could say that herbs and silk should only be high quality in the continental climate. If a player in the desert climate harvests a herb (from grass or herb garden) then the resulting quality would be limited to say 10Q or 25Q
. However, if a player harvests a herb in the continental climate, there would be no capping and players can harvest herbs up to 100Q
if they have the skills/tools/etc.
Similiar capping system that already exists with Copper/Iron/Steel/Vos Steel
Below is an illustration how resources could be capped/limited in each climate region.
If a guild were to be based in the Arctic, they would be able to produce things like wood, bark, sticks, fish, water, flint to the highest quality
, in which they would be able to sell to others for a premium. However, all crops grown and animals breed would be of the lowest quality, which they would have to trade for if they wanted better quality. This is just a rough concept and more balancing of recipes would be required.
The specifics would need to be fine-tuned/balanced. Where;
Red = 0-25
, Orange = 0-50
, Blue = 0-75
& Green = 0-100
Red = 0-10
, Orange = 0-32
, Blue = 0-66
& Green = 0-100
to account for skill influence during crafting. I.e. being able to turn 20-40
quality iron ore into 80+
Guilds in each climate would have unique resources they could produce at the highest quality.
Now, with climate caps, the same three guilds now have a very different availability of high quality primary resources. They can still do everything
, make walls, cook food, make armor & weapons etc but they will have to trade with others for the higher quality resources.
They now directly or indirectly rely on one another for high quality resources (outside of regional's). Currently, regional trade is probably