Sunday, September 30, 2012

Large scale trading

Player/player trading is definitely a must-have because it allows to pass items in-the-field between party members.

But when it comes to facilitating a large scale ingame economy driven by supply and demand, this tool quickly gets to its limits. It's hard to find out who buys and sells what for which price. Players will have to help themselves by creating an external trade platform like a marketplace forum or (when there are some skilled but bored web developers in the community) a marketplace website. And even when people make deals via this platform, they still need to arrange an ingame meeting to fulfill the deal.

To make it easier to trade items with each other, I need an ingame trade platform which allows the players to:
  • place offers
  • browse other players offers (smart searching would be a plus)
  • accept other players offers and perform the transaction, even when the other party is offline
There are two types of items players can offer:

1. commodity items which are in high supply and demand
2. unique items

For commodity items, the price is the result of the current supply and demand in the community. They are often bought or sold in bulk quantities. For trading these items, I would like to create a stock-exchange like system where players place buy- and sell orders ("buy 25 ruby for 50 bugs each"). Like a real commodity market, the system automatically matches these orders and publishes the current price as a guide for buyers and sellers.

For unique items, this approach wouldn't be feasible, because they aren't so interchangeable that you could place a buy offer for them ("buying robe for lvl 25+ with at least 20 fire defense and +10 on ice magic skill and not too high weight and a beautiful color would be nice, too"?). So I would rather prefer an auction-house approach for selling items where players can offer items they found/made and other players can place offers for them.

There are a lot of interesting approaches to auctions, like the Vickery auction or the Dutch auction which might be interesting to try, but the eBay system where sellers place items with a minimum and maximum (instant-buy) price is so widely used that players might expect this system. I could still try to offer all of these auction variants in the same interface, though. The Vickery variant is especially interesting to me, because it doesn't discriminate against casual gamers who only check the market every few days and don't have the time to log in every hour to check that nobody overbid them.

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