Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guildbound items

Let me present a pretty wild idea for changing how in-game markets work. First, let's see the problem: the straightforward solution of in-game market is the open, free market like it's implemented in EVE. You can buy, farm, create and sell anything. Why is it a problem? Because the optimal decision of a player is RMT. Since others have perfected making ISK, either by complicated market schemes or simply by brute-force multiboxing (not to mention botting), the best course of action is buying ISK from them for real money.

To somewhat control the black market and all the account hacking and botting involved, CCP introduced time codes and PLEX as a sanctioned market. The result is a constantly rising PLEX price, reaching 1B. A real newbie who has no market wizard aspiration can't earn more than 10-20M/hour. So he'd need to farm 50-100 hours to earn as much money as he'd earn by paying $15, equal to the money he is already paying for a monthly subscription. So for the "normal" players RMT buying (pay-to-win) becomes mandatory in an open market system.

The Blizzard solution is "no economy". Everything meaningful is soulbound. While there is a market, it is only populated by vanity and convenience items. Consumables exist, but they are so abundant, that their price is trivial. Gear comes already from dungeon runs and can't be traded. While there is crafted gear, but crafting itself needs soulbound reagents, so you can't just buy 10000 ore and build 100 axes. Ore pours out from your personal mine (I'm blacksmith without mining and I'm selling leftover ore). While this got rid of the rampart goldselling (no one buys gold if he can't use it), it also got rid of player interactions. Why care about the other guy if everything is handled to you by NPCs?

I think I have a better solution that fosters player interaction: everything you create or gain from NPCs is guild-bound, you can freely trade it with guild members, but only with them. Of course once you equip an item, it becomes soulbound as it's the only item destruction mechanic in WoW and most games: old gear need to be disenchanted or sold to an NPC. This allows a group of players to cooperate in a non-combat way, allowing non-raiders to be useful and desired members of a raiding guild. Raiders would sell raid drop for consumables, crafted gear and gold of the industrialists. On the other hand it wouldn't allow pay-to-win (besides for extreme cases), since you can only receive items from your guild members.

Of course the latter needs handling guild hopping, or the goldseller just jumps in a guild, gives the members items for real money and quits. The solution is somewhat rigid, but actually very anti-griefing, preventing ragequits and ragekicks: the items in your possession are either guildbound or souldbound. Currency itself also have two "accounts": guildbound and soulbound. When you farm ore, that becomes guildbound. When you craft an axe from it, that's guildbound too, you can trade it on the instanced auction house of the guild or via direct trade. When you equip it, it becomes soulbound and it's fully yours. Same for gold, the gold you get from quests are in your "guildbound account". Still, everything in your possession is fully under your control, your guild can't take or manipulate it.

What happens when you'd quit or be kicked? You can't while you have a single guildbound item. You'll become suspended, which means you can't see the guild chat or access the guild features (like guild bank or guild achievements), you are shown as guildless, but can't join a new guild. How can you get rid of the guildbound items?
  • You can still craft from materials, but the product is still guildbound.
  • You can equip guildbound items, making them soulbound.
  • You can sell guildbound items to NPCs, getting guildbound gold.
  • You can turn "guildbound gold" into "soulbound gold" at will. You can only pay to NPCs with this gold, only for personal services (skills, repairs, taxi, garrison upgrade, followers, mounts). You can also purchase gear from NPCs, but that becomes soulbound instantly.
  • You can still freely trade with your old guild. This is the preferred method of fixing the situation, you give them guildbound items they can use and they give you items and gold that you can turn into soulbound.
  • You can turn consumables into soulbound. You can't trade them anymore, but can consume them later.
  • You can send them to your guildless alts.
  • Finally you can destroy items.
So the suspended player can (and has to) liquidate his assets before fully leaving. The guild can only "grief" him by not using the auction house and not doing direct trading with him, since the suspended player can purchase items for himself at will, and sell his guildbound items for gold. If just one old member breaks the embargo (and the guild leadership can't see that), the trades will be made. Players are very much encouraged to do so, since the leaving player surely gives discount. Of course, the suspended period gives everyone time to think it over and undo hasty decisions.

This system would only allow one form of RMT: if the RMT-er is permanently living in the guild, constantly selling his farmed items and gold for the members. When someone newly joins, everything he has is soulbound, so he can't give anything to the members, just what he farmed while being with them. Guildless players are in an invisible 1-man guild, everything they earn is bound to that guild, so they must soulbound everything before joining. Account hacking becomes pointless: you can't leave the guild with your loot and the guild of the stolen character will surely not RMT with you.

PS: I've seen ships with wrong tank type, but this beats them all. I'm speechless.

PS2: Christmas is here! With lot of bonus Goon tears.

PS3: Now a real battle report between Marmite and the minions of Evil, not a freighter gank. The result is the same though.


Anonymous said...

Your logic is wrong. If newbies can only buy plex, because they aren't making enough isk, then the price of plex would drop.

Maybe there are a lot of people who just like to play casual.

Gevlon said...

There aren't enough newbies to buy PLEX-es. The multiboxing ISK printers simply demanded much more PLEX-es.

Until now.

Anonymous said...

"PS2: Christmas is here! With lot of bonus Goon tears."
Goons on a whole are ecstatically happy about this change. Remember, goons tend to make is afk ratting, which requires no multibroadcasting software. What this does mean though is those guys that use multiboxing are dead. Like for example the guy, replicator, that runs the MoA bombing fleet. He won't be killing many more goons, so there's billions worth of kills down the drain.

Enemies of goons and highsec mining carebears are far more hurt by this than goons will be.

maxim said...

Blizzard has spiced up the formula a bit with Black Markets. Basically, you can get high end BoP raiding gear in a bidding war against other people with similar amounts of cash on hand.
So saying "you can't buy anything useful with gold" is wrong.

However, this obviously applies only to people that are very competitive about their gold and have a lot of it. Someone who is only minimally successful with with ~100k in the bank won't get much of anything.

You are essentially saying that some current WoW-BoPs need to become Guild-Bound until equipped.

I could get behind that for some lesser gear pieces as part of an experiment. In WoW that would be rings/necks/cloaks/wrists. Dunno about Eve.

The system where you can't leave the guild if you have guild-bound items is unworkable in practice. I think the items should just be removed and placed in guildbank.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: you can't take these items from the player and place them to the guildbank (practically give to the guildmaster), since the player worked for them and not the guild.

Real world example: you can't grab your house and garden and bring it to another country. A house in London will always be in London. But you can sell them to someone who lives or moves to London and bring your money away.

So he should be able to use them personally (or trade them for another item or gold for personal use).

He only needs to be stopped to give it to another guild (for RMT purposes).

maxim said...

I don't mind guild-bound items becoming soulbound when equipped (or under other possible conditions) in the same way BoE items do.

However, if a person leaves the guild (or is kicked from it), all his guild-bound items go to guildbank.

If a person works hard to attain guild-bound items, it should be understood that he is working for the guild and that the results of his work stay with the guild. His personal feeling of accomplishment from it therefore depends on how much he identifies with the guild.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: then the guildmaster just kicks everyone and all unequipped items, tradeskill materials and unused gold just become his.

Anonymous said...

Huge success. Now we can have a STOCK of stuff in our guild bank and rmt it whenever we find a customer! No need to pull this slacking cash cow in raid! Just don't equip the item, store it in GB, ad it in your catalogue, invite a customer to your guild, give him this item, watch your bank acc for transaction.

I remember zul'aman time runs for bear mount and ulduar hm10 items selling. Your guild items idea would double our profits and half time spent raiding (no more 1-2-3 clients in a raid group

maxim said...

Generally, this is not a problem that needs solving on game-design level. This is a problem that is solved socially through leader's reputation etc.

Also i don't think it is good or necessary to make all items guild-bound. Some items work better staying unbound. Some items work better staying BoP.

Guild-bound is good idea, but, as everything else, it needs to be taken in moderation.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: you think it wouldn't be obvious if random people would join your guild, get items for nothing and then quit?

If you bring an RMT customer to a raid, he "earns" the item, so it's not obvious. Given to him is obvious.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see why multiboxing should be still allowed.
CCP doesn't need to prove anything but the first banwave of legitimate multiboxplay but with twitchfinger korean speed input .. will make bad press.
It's still way to grey area and technically impossible to have accurate evidence. Yes, the 15 man incursions will be banned fast but the 3-5 accounts .. well that can be a minefield.