Friday, June 30, 2006

On RMT

Jeff Freeman writes:


I disagree with this assessment of gold farmers, in reference to Dan’s proposal:

What Rubenfield espouses isn’t RMT: as most understand it, RMT is player trading with player (or farmer, or arbitrage trader, or what have you.) It’s still understood that the money came from somewhere. It isn’t counterfeit currency (unless your game has a dupe, which it probably does); it was earned, by fair means or foul, by someone.

But the money and items that farmers produce are created from thin-air, and would not exist otherwise. Farmers are producing at a rate beyond what a normal player, playing normally, would produce. The impact on the economy is no different at all than if the game company simply created that same number of items, that same amount of cash, and sold it on the web. Also, I think “farmer” is too gentle a term. They’re more like strip-miners: extracting resources and damaging the environment at the same time.




(Having to tread warily here)
Wholly agree that 'farmers' is too mild a term and that, in one particular game environment the farmers genuinely were stripminers.

The game mechanic allowed players to drop mining equipment to extract resources which were then sold on at low cost (though a marvellous bazaar and vendor system) converting the resource to credits which were then sold to other players for hard cash.

This had two main effects. One was the economic effect of having $foo resource dumped onto the marked for little more than it cost to extract which made life difficult for the 'dust crop' farmer artisans to compete (though admittedly it also allowed them to pick up raw materials in bulk to convert into items, but that's a whole other avenue of investigation)

The second was the actual environmental impact of the harvester farms which occupied huge tracts of 'land' which would otherwise have been open for creature spawns, battlegrounds, etc. This disruption (real or perceived) to the spawning of creatures hunted by other players for resources, advancement and fun was a good analogue to real world industrial impact and, as such, is a reasonable argument for the case that credit farmers DO impact on the playability of the game for other players.

The presence of the harvesting equipment was visually intrusive, the huge grids where players had collaborated (or multiple account holders had used lot-share methods) to place literally hundreds of large harvesters was, fromthe PoV of a PvE gamer aesthetically horrific.

The harvesters also generated considerable amounts of lag causing rubberbanding when a player drove into the area near them or creature warping if you were trying to clear a lair among them.

Again, this was a direct impact on playability, for some players it was a 'barrier to play'.

Had the game company opted to make the resources available for purchase in a way similar to that being suggested to counter the RMT farmers the immediate difference would have been that there would have been NO server farms. Crafters could have bought the stacks of resources that they wanted, at cost+, and toddled off to merrily grind their way through the endless shirts/crafting tools needed to gain mastery of their profession. Specialist crafters could and would still place harvesters to get specific reources required for specific products.

All would have been right in the world, or would it...

I rather suspect that the farmers would have found something else they could make a % on and then that would get hammered by them until the rest of the player base squeaked.

1 comment:

Kenshu said...

I've seen a few other suggestions along this line regarding selling resources. I must admit that I would have much prefered this method than the other one.

There were positive aspects to seeing harvesters while traversing planets. For one, it added to the atmosphere of the game. However, the downsides of limited space and server lag was not worth having the harvesters in game.

I would have prefered a system that either completely eliminated harvesters (NPC vendors on all planets selling resources) or a system requiring the harvesters to be constantly moved.