Tuesday, 10 February, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

I broke into the S.MG secrets factories and all I got is this lousy pic :


So : crafting was done already, mining is already pretty much done. The way it works is that there are some skills involved, which you may or may not manage to get. If you get at least one, you can mine. There are also tools involved, which obviously you can craft, provided you can find the materials and recipes - but you don't need them. You can dig shit up with your bare hands, at a cost of health.

Whenever you find something, you get a claim in the ground, a key in your pocket and (for now) a recipe for developing your claim. Developing your claim is a building process that takes a recipe, building materialsi and at least one relevant skill. Once developed, the claim essentially turns into a chest holding a quantity of whatever it is you found.

You can also sell your claim, by selling the key. Whoever buys it will be able to develop it as if he had found it himself. There are two, entirely separate rolls involved : when you go looking for materials you roll to establish what size and type of material you find, and no more. At this point, any two claims of the same size and type are exactly equally valuable. Then, when you develop a claim you roll again, to see the exact find you get. This roll depends on the relevant skills and the stats of the developer, so trading out claims to specialists is a rational move - if only it can be figured out what actually makes one a specialist.ii

As you can see, qualities are a complicated matter in this game.

In any case : mining is insanely complicated an activity. I do not believe that anyone will manage to figure out how it actually works within my lifetime. (I am also very curious as to how this prediction will fare.) Honestly from what I've seen so far, I'm willing to say that this game beats everything available today on the strength of mining complexity alone.

You know that old story about how Explorer types of players are never catered to, because creating exploring content is the most expensive activity, so everyone just caters to the Growth demographic as much as feasible to build a Social (ie, PVP) demographic out of it and maybe make some money ? Yeah, well... I warn you, if you're the obsesive-compulsive explorer type, stay away. If you make the mistake of trying to go mining in Eulora, you'll never, ever, ever find your way back out again.

You were warned.

PS. Did you notice the spelling ? Yeah, that means you.

  1. Function of the claim size. There's seven of those : Tiny (under 10k satoshi, 0.0001 BTC) ; Small (larger than Tiny but under a bitcent) ; Ordinary (larger than Small but under a Bitcoin) ; Remarkable (larger than Ordinary but under 10 Bitcoin) ; Sizable (larger than Remarkable but under 100 Bitcoin) ; Ample (larger than Sizable but under 1`000 Bitcoin) and Exceptional (larger than 1`000 Bitcoin). []
  2. Note that the find sizes are not linearly distributed, so it is not correct to say that a Remarkable find is worth ~5.5 Bitcoin. It will be definitely closer to 1, but exactly how close is left as an exercise to the players.

    Moreover, because raw materials will be found randomly but consumed according to set recipes, necessarily there will exist situations of shortage and oversupply. In these circumstances we expect items to sell at all times at a mark-up over their "value", which will vary by type, and obviously over time. Thus Iron may be worth say 135%, so that 100 BTC worth of iron actually fetches 135 Bitcoins, whereas Bottled Queef Gas may be worth 755%, meaning that a quantity of gas nominally worth two Bitcoin actually trades for 15.1 on the market.

    Since NPCs will always buy anything in exchange for its nominal value, it doesn't ever make sense to sell anything under 100%. However, since crafting evolves, it does make sense to store various materials, if overabundant. Within some limits, of course, as storage also has its own fixed costs (gotta build a chest or warehouse or something). []

Category: S.MG
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9 Responses

  1. It did it again!

    As a precursor don't use angle brackets on trilema unless you intend to use HTML.

    "I do not believe that anyone will manage to figure out how it actually works within my lifetime."
    DnD inspired even if parallel. The interesting thing is how well you'd get along with Squ-Enix designers in the late 90's early 2000's. This subset of complexity in the MMORPG is probably what indirectly inspired the .hack//sign series and its successors.

    Although I can't speak for Japanese culture, there was always some sort of evidence of a craving for chaotic and emergent RPG mechanics. (Seems antithetical to the cookie cutter MMORPGs attributed to the Koreans, but I don't want to be prejudiced or racist).

    Crafting for example in FFXI almost 15 years after release isn't 100% documented from player experience alone. (The game bible probably has secrets, which is locked away in some vault inside Mt. Fuji with Godzilla and other things). In FFXI game time is 1:20 or something like that. 3 seconds in real life is 1 minute of time in game. The week has 7 days and each correlates to a specific element in game (Ice, Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, Dark, Light). Each night had a different moon cycle (waxing and waning of the moon).

    As you can guess one element of crafting involved the day's element type in relation to the item crafted, along with the moon phase - this is something implicitly derived from being a player character existing in the world of Vana'diel. When the emergence of these mechanics all comes together then you get complex behavior (something something chaos theory?), in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    "You know that old story about how Explorer types of players are never catered to"

    I think this is merely an American Phenomenon because Americans are of course lazy, even when playing video games. The commonplace saying when WoW came out was "This is too easy" (prob said the Ultima Online player), which was entirely the point. Brilliant marketing strategy that has since ruined a generation of gamers.

    When you encounter things like Dwarf Fortress, the initial learning curve becomes a cliff, (which is apparent in Eulora given the endeavors of one mod6). This isn't a bad thing, just a thing that exists in games where exploration is key: a time investment, referencing "expensive activity." These are the mechanics that make profound games, as it requires thinking when done correctly.

    Emergent gameplay as a phenomenon intrigues me due to what player can accomplish through genuine creativity. (There are countless examples of "creative solutions" found in the Dwarf Fortress forums alone).


    "Moreover, because raw materials will be found randomly but consumed according to set recipes, necessarily there will exist situations of shortage and oversupply."

    I find this intriguing due to SoE's (the makers of Everquest) approach to resource gathering in Star Wars Galaxies. There was an emergent phenomenon where an entire class of players rose up to rule the economy (until the management broke that economy with rampant inflation to help the n00b, funny how socialism makes its way into the most niche of places...).

    In this game Artisan classes were specialized in extracting and using resources of planets. Yes, all classes had some form of crafting such as the hunter being able to craft traps and tents from the animals he'd kill. However manufactured things used frequently in the game came from this Artisan class. And of course to make more specialized things the class required more skills thus more experience etc.

    At the launch of the game you saw what you described in your article, individuals running around planets with their survey kit looking for resources and digging them up by hand. Then eventually people became more skilled a few months down the line and would build extractors to extract more resources and autonomously (even while the player wasn't logged in). Eventually they were able to make mega extractors. Areas once completely dominated by nature, would have fields of extractors like an oil field.

    The issue arises of the predetermined value of the universe's finite resources, chosen before the game is even launched. Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft achieved this through predetermined seeds (although a Minecraft world will grow to as big as one's disk space), filling the world with its resources thorughout the land and seas in a God-like creation manner. (LET THERE BE LIGHT, so to speak).

    I'm excited to see this come to life in Eulora and it's corresponding auction house markets without the corruption of socialism being satiated in the case of previous examples (except Dwarf Fortress), where n00bs demand for inflation to satiate their derpage desires forced the hands of the developers to ruin their creation (fucking reddit, and "forums" and shit).

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    Because the game is Bitcoin-backed, having good time sinks is essential - otherwise player can just you know, throw away 100 Bitcoins a click and go through all of Apple's fictitious valuation in a year or something. This isn't practical.

    So the player also has time sinks available. It would be stupid however to couple these two, and force the player into a particular proportion (whatever, have a focus group and decide how much adrenalin per ocd unit or w/e). So the player gets to set the proportion for himself.

    Also, I can definitely say that the economy here is not pregenerated. Everything is pool-based, and while some pools may be fed a little by S.MG to get things going, essentially what players put in players get back out, as a mechanic.

  3. "So the player gets to set the proportion for himself."

    As a function of how OCD he is? I've always loved seeing the 102% complete mechanism in the days of Crash Banditcoot to fuck with players 15 years later as the continue their quest for perfection.

    The non-practical "direct" solution is why Freemium games are ideas spawning from the Canadian Devil and running rampant through the app stores. Pretty much digitized drugs for certain addicts who will spend more in a year on the freemium game than most players spend on the yearly additions to their collection in the same time span. The nature of your solution if applied correctly could even combat this plague.

    It definitely lies groundwork for a potential cypherpunk arcade.

    "Also, I can definitely say that the economy here is not pregenerated. Everything is pool-based, and while some pools may be fed a little by S.MG to get things going, essentially what players put in players get back out, as a mechanic."

    Won't this create a valuation for the world in a sense? Resources available are a function of how much players have put into the world monetarily thus Eulora (the universe) has a BTC valuation?

    This cannot be avoided I don't think. Resources are fed by player subscription, or at least a function thereof. This is

  4. The bottom sentence is stray and should be deleted. I can't type today :(

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    It would exactly create a valuation for the world, yes. And - here's a big thing - technological progress IS pregenerated. So unless the world is actually THIS rich, it will never progress past THAT stage. Much better control of the "updates timeline" so to speak.

    Resoruces are not fed by player subscription, that's separate.

  6. "Resoruces are not fed by player subscription, that's separate."

    What is the correlation between player subscription, valuation, and resources pumped into Eulora-verse?

    Non-inflationary resources (or at least fixed inflation resources), fed into the planet makes for an economy based on the extraction and construction of goods from those limited resources. I figured if Eulora-verse is valued at 50-60 BTC at launch and grows to 250BTC some time later, the resources available for the world to evolve technologically would follow suit. I guess this is the confusing part for me: how these variables in construction/resource mechanics correlate to what subscribing players pay into the world.

    Star Wars Galaxies took this approach of predisposed progress, and it worked in the way you've theorized. The only problem was redditards (although there was no reddit back then), convinced the management to institutionalize socialism in the universe amounting to an inflation in resources to be extracted. This ultimately creates inflation in the economy. As I told MPOE a few years ago, this inflation phenomenon occurred in FFXI due to non-fixed supply (theoretical infinite supply which Gavin proposes introducing to Bitcoin), and the result was a skyrocket in prices everywhere. The free market mechanic always works in terms of price discovery of items, this is one thing FFXI proved, but balancing the "distribution" of resources is more meaningful as it directly affects this process.

  7. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 11 February 2015

    Suppose A makes an account. A's character will have to eat, to the tune of a few Bitcents a week. A is rich, he deposits 10 BTC and goes mining. He buys the largest bomb there is, sets it off and finds nothing. He quits the game in a rage.

    Now the resources pool is 10 BTC richer, and on top of that A has done his part to pay for Eulora servers etc by paying for his character's food.

    Suppose B makes an account. B's character will also have to eat. B is experienced, so he deposits 1 BTC and goes mining. He buys the smallest implements available, works at it for two months, at the end of which he's lost half his original BTC but has some pretty decent skills and a good understanding of what's what. So in another two weeks he manages to mine profitably, covers his hole and increases his stake to 2.5 BTC (not to mention the value of the skills, which YES will also be tradeable).

    Now the resources pool is 1.5 BTC poorer, and on top of that B has done his part to pay for Eulora servers etc by ALSO paying for his character's food.

    Basically, food will act as a rake. Unrelated to the actual risk/reward of the various game activities.

  8. The rake system prevents the freemium model from arising here, so my thanks on not contributing to the will of the Canadian Devil.

    For arguments sake lets say Player B continues playing and only spends enough on food to warrant his portion of server costs, while still extracting value from the economy by being skilled.

    If 10-15 Player B's exist and there is no Player A to offset their c, won't this create a deficit in the resource pool as what has been accumulated in Eulora-verse approaches zero?

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 12 February 2015

    No, because the players B can't extract anything if they no longer have an edge. If player B is merely average, then player B will on average make 0.

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