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Economics of Last Epoch, IMO

Greetings All!
I’m relatively new to Last Epoch and have immensely enjoyed my play thus far in the beta. Although, having been an avid gamer since the days of Ultima Online (c. 1996), there are certain aspects from other successful MMO titles LE has carried over that I was hoping would (could) be addressed by a game of this caliber, namely the ECONOMY.
Assuming the following are primary tenants of the development team, and LE as a whole, I am writing this post to help promote conversation / instill some out-of-the-box ideas…

  • Address line between adequate currency availability throughout leveling and end-game play while avoiding inflationary practices
  • Bazaar: auctions (timed vs. instant transactions), QTY of allowed auctions (per char / acct), etc.
  • Enacting systems that Limit exposure for RMT / Aftermarket susceptible practices
  • Crafting as Primary or Supplemental means of end-game gearing?
  • Uniques/Legendaries as build-centric or build-supportive, hybrid?
  • BOE / Bound nature of certain levels / types of gear?
  • Tiered Crafting materials?
  • Many other details
    A fair amount of the reference and initial ideas was pulled from this 2018 thread by KQKyle
    Trading! or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bazaar!


    Non-Inflationary Economic structure

Addressing what I affectionately call “The First Tenant” of any game, many MMOs that use a standardized currency (such as Gold) are plagued with ever-inflating / devaluing of gold as the game progresses. The value of anything, not only in an online game like Last Epoch, but in the real World as well, are based on two factors:
A. Usability / Usefulness of the item and B. Availability

Without making this TOO MUCH a 101 class on Macro and Micro Economics, basic pillars of Supply and Demand are the driving force behind the relative values of both the currency (Gold) and all items (crafting materials, gear, etc).
The primary problem with LE’s currency system is that there is a non-static amount of gold; meaning gold is generated as part of a loot table from mobs / chests / etc. This, by nature, is the basis of the inflationary issues that I had mentioned before. Similar to Fiat currency (ie. the insert country here Dollar), where an entity decides how much of said currency is available for circulation, my suggestions are as follows:

  1. Static-Gold Standard (SGS)
    I propose that LE disables gold generation from loot tables, and instead adds a static amount of gold to the Vendor Shared Currency Pool (VSCP) based on the number of accounts in that game type. (ie 1 player for solo / offline, X accounts per shard / server). This enables a litany of both sustainable game-mechanic interactions, like purchases of gear / gambling vendor / respeccing, etc, as well EHG backend management.

Some of the PROs:

  • Drastically limits RMT by supporting the disallowing of P2P trading of currency
  • Doesn’t natively cause inflation
  • Dev team no longer required to create, constantly monitor, and adjust gold sinks
  • Promotes player interaction with NPC vendors and the Bazaar
  • Allows back-end transaction tracking for monitoring for EHG management purposes and EULA / TOS violations
  • Standardizes Auction and potential P2P trade functionality

Largest CONs:

  • Currency Drought: When players stop spending currency (returning it to the VSCP), and vendors effectively run out of gold to buy your items you are trying to sell. (can be avoided via a multitude of built-in mechanics, as well as stimulus packages)
  • Players are required to obtain gold by picking up and selling items to vendors and/or procuring it from quest turn-ins, or other alternate means.

An easy concept to help visualize this system is thinking of it as a big Zero-sum DKP between players and vendors, with a static amount of positive points added when a new player registers / plays an account.

With SGS, inside of regular play, picking up item drops and selling them to a vendor plays a more integral role in gaining in-game currency, especially in the lower levels. Additionally, with the looming implementation of loot filters, hopefully they will support filtering by value as well, and would make for a conducive scenario during both leveling and end-game play, where picking up worth-while items to sell would be an advantageous venture!
Alternatively, if the objective were to have players avoid picking up loot to sell, gold could be awarded (taken from the VSCP) as part of quest completion.


2. Bazaar-specific interaction

a. Active auctions limit
One suggestion made in the original post is the possibility of limiting the allowed number of active auctions per account to five (5). This seems like a sub-optimal option and is resounded by many replies to the post as being unwanted by the player base. Not to mention, this attempt at an artificial limit to the supply-side functionality of items seems like it could be a large hindrance to healthy player trade via the Bazaar. Another good thing about application of the SGS, limits on number of auctions are no longer necessary.


b. Bazaar Posting Fees
As stated in replies by several community members, posting costs are generally (and should be) bore by the seller. A simple solution with the SGS is charging a flat % fee to postings, of say 10% of posting price (rounded to nearest 1g. applied to the fee portion), with the minimum posting price of an auction being 10g (9g to the seller, 1g fee), collected at auction close and deducted from the currency sent to the poster.
Also, EHG could incorporate instant buyout on auctions, where the seller could opt-in for a set buyout price, but the fee was drastically higher if someone were to purchase it via that option, say 25% of set BO price.
Here’s the catch: that Seller Fee isn’t just deleted: all seller fees are then redistributed to the VSCP, so players then have access to it again, ensuring there is a much less likely chance of a currency drought happening.


3. Crafting & Build-defining Uniques / Epics / Legendaries / etc

Being new and not having experienced much end-game play yet, I’m going to reserve from engaging in any in-depth conversion on this topic. After I get 100h played / lvl 100 I feel I’ll have a much better basis to perform qualified analysis.

Although, one thing that I’d recommend EHG take a stance on early on is: whether or not crating will be the primary means of end-game gearing, or a supplemental means of gearing a character. Considering the flexibility and nature of LE being an ARPG, it feels like the system currently promotes crafting being more supplemental.

Using a couple of other games as examples, I’d say that D3 is more of the build-defining item style of end-game gearing, while POE would be based around crafting. Yes, there are some ‘build-based’ uniques in POE, but for the most part, a majority of play time for any given builds revolve around crafting/modifying items to get the most out of them. My assumption is that LE wants to fall somewhere between.


4. Direct Trading

Similarly to point 3, I’m not sure where I stand yet on (dis)allowing direct P2P player trading of items. My gut feeling would be that, if there was no limit on Bazaar auctions, all item trading (off account) should flow through that intermediary. Also, I have not discerned yet if they are planning on having shared item pools for loot drops in multiplayer play, so that is also a factor. Lastly, not sure where EHG stands on shared multiplayer stashes (ie guild stash in POE). More on this to come.


Well, there it is… some of my opinions and suggestions on the state of the economy in LE.
Hope you all are enjoying this game as much as I am!

(edit: corrected typo in Bazzar fees explanation)

That sounds, to my non-macro/micro-economically educated brain to basically be what happens in real life? I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

It also feels like it would only shift EHG’s focus from making sure there were enough drains of gold in the game to prevent inflation to making sure there’s enough economic activity in the game to prevent stagnation.

It does feel like it would solve some problems (though gold hoarders would be a bad thing), and I do kinda like the idea of the economy being a bit more “realistic”.

No, LE is most definitely (currently) on the PoE side of things. Most builds are equipped with rares and maybe 1 or 2 uniques.

IMO, all trades should go through the bazaar unless the two players have been on each others friends list for a certain period of time.

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Completely agree with this to prevent RMT.

Although RMT won’t destroy the game, it will chase me away from playing it, personally.

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I agree Llama, there are definitely some scenarios that would need to be accounted for. All in all, I’ve effectively spent the last 20 years considering and fleshing-out this style of currency system for implementation in a game’s development.

Not to mention narrative-wise, trying to explain why the Interdimensional Space-Wolf you just killed was carrying $53 USD on him, is a little weird to conceptualize… lol

I can cope with rifling through the inter-dimensional space wolf’s wallet to half inch his cash better than wondering how the fudge that tiny spider was carrying the massive polearm it just dropped.

Edit: apparently my phone’s autocorrect doesn’t have polearm in it…

True. TBH, if I was lead dev on a game, you’d only get gear and currency from quest turn-ins / chests/ etc. At most, I’d have vendor fodder items (non-gear) that specific vendors would give you $ for. The loot table / drop gold off all the filler mobs is near-irrelevant /unwanted in games most games it exists in. Just take a look at how much GGG is scaling back random drops for 4.0.

*Also, the way that EHG has set up gold to be such a crucial part of the game, having you get a majority if not all of it from mob drops promotes botting.

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Crafting is the primary form of gearing and it’s not even close. As for your idea to tackle inflation, I’m not sure it changes much. You’re going from gold generation from loot tables to gold generated from VSCP. The problem with gold inflation in many games is that they are generated from loot tables AND there’s not enough ways to spend it. Right now I’m spending my gold on runes of shattering and gambling. If those didn’t exist, gold would be completely useless for me outside of the occasional use of rerolling modifiers on monoliths. To me the better experience is having multiple ways of spending gold (touch the demand side) rather than limiting gold generation (touching the supply side). Problems come up with 1) there’s no place to spend gold on (low demand) or 2) there are ways to spend gold, but the gold generation vastly outstrips what you can spend (excessive supply).

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There is no NEW currency generation in the version I described. Only a set amount added to the pool for each new account.
And yes, there’d still need to be more gold sinks (returning gold from a player to the VCSP) in the SGS, as per the introduction/assessment of fees on the Bazaar, multiple tiers (higher cost) of shattering runes and protect scrolls for crafting, etc.

Either way, the current system employs an INFINITE supply of new gold just from the same number of ppl playing the game, which is the biggest issue that is prevented by SGS.

I disagree with your infinite comment. Theoretically yes, but the old adage time is money applies here. No one person or a group can ever generate infinite money (except GMs) because it’s gated by time. You can realistically map out how much money is generated an hour (by average or max) and map out what the gold sinks are. As long as the gold sinks > money generated, there won’t ever be an infinite supply of money because as much as the system generates gold, the system also takes away gold that goes into oblivion. It’s hard to apply real world economics as money spent doesn’t actually disappear (it circulates). Money spent on gold sinks do disappear and does not circulate.

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Exactly my point; you can never create gold sinks that outpace gold created per hour when gold creation has no achievable limit, nor would you really want to.

Look at every Multiplayer game that’s been created in the past 2 decades where currency was generated on a loot table. Every single one has experienced significant inflation on some scale, some more drastically than others.

This system limits / prevents that, and if anything, as gold gets more scarce / used less, the value of the currency increases. It’s the exact opposite of a generate & expend system, and yields a better / more desired outcome.

Why not design & implement a system that completely alleviates having to create and manage inflating-currency sinks from the get-go?

I think the issue is not that you can “never” create enough gold sinks to outpace gold created. The issue is gold creation activities done by people who will not use the gold, aka gold farmers and people who are finished with the game. I suppose your solution precisely (tries) to tackles gold farming. However, I don’t believe gold farmers can’t get around the new system in some fashion. As long as the value of gold generated per account gives enough gold to pay for the new account, then they can just keep buying LE and create new accounts. Farm until max money, move to next account and keep the cycle going. Whereas the downsides of VSCP may possibly be harder to manage/create enough discomfort to regular players.

Also another flaw of the VSCP is that you’re proposing to disable gold generation from loot tables and instead have people sell gear to vendors to generate money. Gold generation via gear selling is technically (according to your standards) infinite if people know what they’re doing (multiple accounts, grab gold by the clock).

VSCP in the end is another form of supply that can be measured by gold generated by account + time. The current system used by most games is a form of supply that can be measured by gold generated per hour (time). What I’m trying to argue is that the cause of inflation is not (primarily) due to supply, but due to demand. You’re essentially introducing another bottleneck (account) that doesn’t tackle the inherent issue of demand. Not saying you don’t recognize that demand is also part of the problem. Just pointing out that you put too much into “infinite” supply being the primary cause.

Also, I’m indcens. For some reason my computer keeps logging me into my other account that I didn’t know I had…

The VSCP would be shared across all vendors and all players. Think of it as the “total amount of gold out there”.

For round #s sake, let’s say there are 10 players, 5 vendors, and the pool seed is 10K per account. Then each vendor would (at the start) have a split of the total 100k pool (20K ea. for this example), and subsequently get a disbursement every time a new account is added.
Then, as you play / loot items, they are sold to vendors for $, and you subsequently spend that $ on other vendor gear, skill upgrades & respecs, gambling, and eventually crafting mats & Bazaar Fees, etc, wherein each expenditure returns the gold to the respective vendor (the pool).

Yes, the return methods need to be conducive to the gameplay, but it is easier to manage deteriorating gold availability than trying to deal with constantly attempting to account for an ever-increasing supply of currency, generated just by playing the game.

Also, if you are using a closed system like SGS, there is no way that someone can ‘farm gold’ directly. At a minimum, it would be very convoluted and require multiple points of transaction in order to accomplish. (Farming items, selling items to vendors to get the gold, then somehow using the bazaar to overpay for items posted by the person you are selling the gold to.) All of which can have stop-gaps put in place to prevent.

Assuming botting and RMT of in game items and currency stays against TOS/EULA and will remain a focus of EHGs, culprits of these types of actions would be easily flagged and actionable through server-side transaction metrics and heuristics.

As for exploits and dupes, that’s just coding issues that can happen in any game, and hopefully they are taken care of quickly.

The other nice part about SGS, is the total gold in the system can be monitored and devs can quickly ascertain if something is awry just by doing a simple calculation server side.
Not to mention, gold no longer needs to becomes an object (in order to drop on the ground from a mob). Gaining and spending currency is basically just a journal entry akin to cryptocurrency.

Fellaz, RMT will never cease to exist in any game - it ends only once it’s dead. If you’d use your imagination a little bit more, you could paint some very vivid pictures about the avalanche of complaints and ragequits if these suggestions ought to be realized.
Not to mention, RMT is not inherently bad and plenty of games have had them become a net positive for both players and devs.

I haven’t seen a single successful fight against RMT in any game but can name Runescape( temporarily) & Torchlight 3 as it’s contenders for games which ruined themselves completely, simply by creating systems against RMT.
I have never RMTed but I know that fighting against RMT always ends bad.

on the topic of trade, I think in the FAR future, players should have the option of trading cosmetics like pets with each other, that would be cool.

20 posts were split to a new topic: RMT in Diablo III, RMT in Path of Exile, and Other Off-Topic Posts

This, basically. If a player’s argument is “I won’t play X game if it has RMT”, and the game in question has any aspect that can be sold - and this could be currency like in PoE, powerlevels/lootshare like in D3, achievements like in WoW, and the list goes on…then just don’t play the game. The way the RMT market has evolved more or less ensures that if there’s an aspect of a game that can be monetized, and there’s a market for that monetization, it’s going to happen.

The fact that RMT will likely exist in some form no matter what is what makes it even more important that any in-game economy be kept as an optional feature, so that players who do not wish to participate can still have a satisfying game experience.

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There is HUGE difference between black/gray market and native RMT support in the game - and if you say it’s the same thing, you are being dishonest.

EHG has already stated there will not be a supported RMT system other than MTX, which will only be for aesthetics uses in-game. Anyone using the term “RMT” at this juncture needs to understand that this would be referencing unsupported 3rd party RMT (Black Market) that violates the TOS / EULA EHG has set forth.

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Games that use supply and demand mechanics have a whole player driven economy that revolves heavily around crafting an consuming the crafted items. LE doesn’t have all this.

Also this system can be abused by 24/7 trade addicts to maximize profit while mere mortals will sell items for near to no profit.

The bazar will already add stuff for people to trade and play merchants.

Games that use supply and demand mechanics have a whole player driven economy that revolves heavily around crafting an consuming the crafted items. LE doesn’t have all this.

I know, it’s the beta, and there no multiplayer yet. Assuming the objective of LE is to create a ‘diverse multiplayer economy’ and ‘avoid worthless / currency inflation’, as they have stated is their goal (in several EHG posts), then the game WILL have those attributes. Therefore, utilizing a system that supports economic motives, as opposed to an infinitely inflating gold creation system they are using now, would help support that. If they decide to continue w/ the GAL (Gold as Loot) system, then there’s no way to avoid inflation / devaluing of gold, just like UO, Everquest, Wow, etc, and mostly like D3 (arpg).

Also this system can be abused by 24/7 trade addicts to maximize profit while mere mortals will sell items for near to no profit.

Any person who devotes 24/7 to understanding and using a system will have an advantage over people who don’t. That’s the way life works…

The Bazaar will already add stuff for people to trade and play merchants.

Not sure what you are referring to…

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