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Author Topic: Can a barter economy work?  (Read 3474 times)

Jrome90

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Can a barter economy work?
« on: Feb 25, 12, 08:26:23 PM »

There must be a good reason why a game has an economy based on bartering. Otherwise, players might just feel it is a gimmick.

What is a good reason for having a barter economy? Perhaps the game takes place in a time period where a currency just doesn't make sense. Such as a post-apocalyptic time period.

That alone is not the only requirement for it to work. You would probably need to have a player driven economy, and a way for players to be able to trade while offline. It would need to be easy for the player to setup the offline trading.
The question is: How?
Would every item have a point value? And the offline trade system allows anybody to trade for the item using anything that is equal to that value?. A good example would be trading 10 single point items, for one 10 point item.
 
I think it would be better to have another option to choose from. Only accept specfic items.

The point system could also be used by players to reference how much an item is worth.
A point system? Really? I can only imagine reading "10 points"(Lame). How else could you value an item without a currency to help players get a general idea of what the item is worth? Any Ideas?

You would also need to make sure that items don't last forever, heavily relying on crafting (Not a bad thing). That way players are forced to replace/repair the items. This would make sure items are removed from the game, instead of being stockpiled.
 
Here are a couple other issues that may be a result of a barter economy:
  • Players would most likely need to remember every item they own.
[li]Currency is usually a good indicator of wealth. Without it, how can players know that they are wealthly, or not?
[/li][/list]
Even if a barter economy can be successful, in the end, players would most likely establish a currency using a certain item.

Any ideas, or suggestions to make it work? Is it worth the risk?
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Atticus

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #1 on: Feb 25, 12, 10:06:08 PM »

Why do they need to be able to trade offline and how?

You dont need to have points for barter. The players when bartering decide what to accept in trade for there item.

A character may decide to trade their +100 vorpal sword for a chicken if they are hungry enough...

It would be interesting to allow an auction house.

At the end of the auction the seller would have to check all the bids and decide which bid he liked the best...

Might be interesting system to play out but it might be too clunky for the players.

Also consider the inventory issues if players stored their wealth via their inventory...
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Atticus

RicoTheMad

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #2 on: Feb 25, 12, 10:20:42 PM »

Large inventory = large amount of gameplay possibilities.

For our project, we're actually leaning towards a barter system of sorts. We may decide to scrap it if it doesn't test well, but transporting items from one place to another will definitely be part of the core gameplay. When you have a game with open PvP and loot systems, transporting goods is not a chore, its a profession all of its own, or at the very least, a very risky and blood-pumping endeavor for the cheapskate moving their goods.

The problem with barter systems is that its hard to pull off, even in real life. For barter to take place, the guy you're bartering with must have what you want, and you have to have what he wants. If those two don't match up, it won't happen. This is why in the real world, societies quickly invent some sort of currency. This guarantees that you always have something people want to trade for, and solves the issues of trying to find the right guy to hawk your items to.

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Jrome90

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #3 on: Feb 25, 12, 11:03:52 PM »

Why do they need to be able to trade offline and how?
Because not everybody enjoys spending their time trying to trade while online.

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You dont need to have points for barter. The players when bartering decide what to accept in trade for there item.
It isn't really points. I was using points as an example. It is just way to make sure the players are getting a fair deal. not everybody likes taking risks.

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A character may decide to trade their +100 vorpal sword for a chicken if they are hungry enough...
True

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It would be interesting to allow an auction house.
The offline trading would act as something similar. Except the return would be an item, or items instead of money. You don't have to be offline for it to work.

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At the end of the auction the seller would have to check all the bids and decide which bid he liked the best...
That could work, but players might want to get the item instantly.
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Might be interesting system to play out but it might be too clunky for the players.
That is my concern too.

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Also consider the inventory issues if players stored their wealth via their inventory...
You don't have to store everything in the inventory. There can be other means as well.
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HE-Cooper

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #4 on: Feb 26, 12, 09:17:51 AM »

The problem here is, is that for all the correct reasons you are heading away from true barter and into a currency system. The minute you wish to assign value to an item in anyway other than its relative value from one player to another, weighed against the relative value of the other side of the trade, you might as well just add a currency and save the hassle.

The more interesting aspects of macroeconics come in when you allow reAl world forces to affect value. Take Eve online for example. No game driven prices, only supply and demand at multiple levels along an objects lifespan, then location, ease of access, etc, and you have some pretty amazingly effective market systems.
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Jrome90

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #5 on: Feb 26, 12, 05:49:08 PM »

The problem here is, is that for all the correct reasons you are heading away from true barter and into a currency system. The minute you wish to assign value to an item in anyway other than its relative value from one player to another, weighed against the relative value of the other side of the trade, you might as well just add a currency and save the hassle.
I agree.

Cooper, in your opinion, do you think a true barter economy could work?
I am not sure players would really like it that much, if at all.
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HE-Cooper

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Re: Can a barter economy work?
« Reply #6 on: Feb 26, 12, 06:36:40 PM »

I think it's less a question of whether pure barter would, and more about asking what you are specifically trying to achieve or avoid. Most RPG game design that's trying to literally take the game back to the dark or stone ages, I find that the only real reason is because it would be neat, or would be less like wow. But even the purest RPG, that which begat it all, had electrum, platinum, gold and silver.
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