A HECKIN CONCERNIn this article I would like to explain what does me a hecking concern about the loot economy.
How it is supposed to beIf we look at how the basic gameplay is supposed to work we can identify the following process:
1. The player spawns inAfter spawning in the player (and teammates) attempt to secure their immediate surroundings
2. The player starts movingThe player selects where to go next depending on his goal for this raid. This can be simply looking for a fight in an area that suits the weapon he brought, looting a specific area or something in between.
This part is the core of the game flow. Combat and looting. Players seek out loot as a motivator so they can get better stuff for the next raid by selling loot or by directly acquiring what they want in combat. These systems are intertwined. You grab loot from various containers and you end up having to fight over it with other players and AI. This is the struggle. You get good stuff if you prevail and manage to carry it to the exit of the map.
3. The player exits the mapAfter loading up like a cargo camel the player's primary instict is to get all that stuff out without ending up dead. This part of the game makes the player avoid combat at all costs.
4. The player sells loot and buys the things he wants.This is the holy ritual of unloading loot. The player spends 10 minutes gawking at the riches he acquired and sells it to get better weapons. Then the game loops back to 1.
The struggleThe struggle in EFT (or any game) is to overcome obstacles to get what one desires. The harder the struggle, the more intense victories and failures are to a player. A key component for that in EFT or DAYZ is that you risk to lose all your gear when you die. But you can also take all that stuff from other players. There is a constant pressure and fear to lose things, which in turns gives things you can lose value. Because something that is easy to get, has no perceived value.
Each new wipe resets the struggle. However experienced players (which all players will be eventually) will try to grab loot as safely as possible and grind through the quests to get the items they want. The motivational carrot on a stick is new items in a patch being gated behind high level traders. Once that carrot is reached, motivation to keep playing quickly evaporates.
There are only two real motivators to keep playing
1. Finding new items.
2. Getting cash to buy what you want.
Once these two goals are hit the loot economy and therefore the struggle collapses for a player. He has a few M4 rifles, heavy armor and chasing loot is boring now. You can see this pattern with popular twitch streamers. Most of them are experienced players (because they play a lot). And they do two things: Farm rare loot items or look for shootouts with very expensive weapons. You won't see streamers struggling to survive with shotguns and submachine guns and limited ammo except for the first hour after a new patch.
Do you see what the problem is with that? The two main systems of the game, looting and shooting are detached from each other. Players go for the loot the first 20 levels, with the occasional firefight, then later switch to looking for combat once they have all the items. But as we talked about earlier, the struggle is only real if you have to fight over your loot. But this is not the case.
A large map like shoreline is a calm looting shopping tour. And because of the large size of the hotel, running into other players is very difficult. Observe the map for yourself. You will find mid-level players sneaking through the building quietly collecting, and M4 decked players on the roof looking for kills.
The point here is, the struggle is only real at the start of the game.
While new maps inject excitement into the game they can only inflate the excitement for a limited amount of time, because the gameplay systems at the core are static. Once you played through a few large patches, you won't emotionally be able to handle the olympic sprinting through customs to complete quests.
What if we could make that struggle constant and dynamic at the same time? EFT where that pressure to acquire loot is high all the time, just like after a wipe.
100% Player-Run EconomyLet's imagine an economy that is completely player-run.
- Traders only sell very basic items, makarov pistols, bandages. Nothing else.
- All other items have to be sourced by finding them in the game.
- Players can sell items at their own prices to other places. NOT to traders. Except for barter items.
Let's consider this scenario for EFT.
Cody sells an M4A player, let's call him Cody, knows a great spot to find a very rare weapon, an M4. He loots the weapon at great risk, fighting his way through 5 scavs and other players with his trusty shotgun and 15 shells he could scrape together. Then he decided what to do with the M4. Sell it? or keep it. Cody decides to sell it because he feels confident that his shotgun is enough to get more loot, because other players only have shotguns too.
So he puts it on the market for 1 million. After 3 days, no one has bought the M4. So he has to drop the price to sell it. So he goes down to 500k and sells one. 500k, that is a lot of cash. He brags about it on reddit, so other players assume an M4 can bag 500k. So they keep looking for M4s and start selling them. To sell it faster, Joe sells his M4 for 490k. Cody then starts to drop his price to 480k to sell his next M4. A price war starts and eventually the price drops to 50k because below that Cody and Joe both assume the risk of getting an M4 is not worth it anymore.
Any player who wants it cheaper has to find it himself. Therefore the price stabilized at 50k for an M4. Now because everyone farmed M4 rifles, some players want an AK74 but can't find any. All the loot suppliers neglected looking for AK74. Now a player with a lot of cash and the desire for an AK74 is willing to pay 250k for an AK74 because they are so rare.
Do you see the pattern?
A dynamic player-run economy like this would completely remove the static loot grind progression and keep the game dynamic with supply and demand shifting.
Let's consider another scenario.
Mad Max: Fury TOZImagine a wasteland like in Mad Max, except for gasoline being the prized item, it is ANYTHING that is not a TOZ. Scavs only carry very basic weapons, TOZ and makarov. Anything beyond is hidden in hard to find loot spots. This would shift the majority of players into the start of the loot progression line. And progression is stretched out. Players with several MP153 shotguns would be considered successful because they are beyond the TOZ peasants. And players with automatic rifles would be like gods. Ammo would be literally a currency. You would not know what the next day might bring, trading woul be exciting every time you check.
But the danger of instantly losing your weapon is still present so poor players can still climb the loot progression ladder by winning against better equipped players.
Artificial price vs real priceThe DVL and RSASS cost approximately the same amount right now (160k - 180k). These prices are dictated by the developers. What would happen to these weapon prices in a free floating economy? Cody would sell a DVL for 1 million. Because it looks snipy. But then Jeff comes in and sells an RSASS for the same price. The buyers will refuse the DVL for that price because it fires the same round at a much lower rate. It is supposedly more accurate, but that would only play a role in combat beyond 800 meters, and that is farther than the view distance in EFT. On the average 200m sniping distance in the game now, a semi automatic weapon is more practical, or worth more. Even at 500m a semi automatic weapon would put more shots on target at the same time. So the DVL price starts tanking because no one wants it unless the price is below 20K. My prediction is that the usability of bolt action rifles is so narrow that they will be as cheap as shotguns.
The player run market will free float the price and the weapon remains an exciting choice for combat IF the price is right. And that can mean many things for any player. In a static economy, the developers would constantly have to monitor prices and they would notice no one picks a DVL ever so they would have to adjust it lower and see if it works.
EFT already has player economy features planned. However, let's take it a step further, make it 100% player-run, without the artificially stabilized item prices that traders offer. And AI controlled supply and demand is still too artificial.
So this is what I propose:
- Make the economy 100% player-run. Allow prices to freely float without artificial AI interference. Right now prices are 0% player-controlled. With an AI faking supply and demand, player control would only be 20% at best. Only the absence of ANY weapon beyond makarov being sold or bought by the game itself will allow for truly free floating prices.
Barter items could still exist for Hideout supplies or as payment for AI trader rare loot auctions.
It would be immensely more exciting to trade an SV98 for 3 boxes of 5.45 ammo because a player wants that instead of fullfilling an artificial desire for car batteries that prapor might have.
- Do it early, now. Instead of waiting for it until the game is near complete. No one likes the grindy static quests to get better loot. Give us total capitalist freedom with item prices and it will add another layer to the game that will keep the game fun and the struggle real all the time.
- This would make fixing the game economy easy for developers too. Instead of the current retarded tragedy of "how to fix dogtags" inflating money worth and players stacking up too much money, developers can simply control the economy at the base, by adjusting spawn rates for items and then observing how this ripples through the economy. This is a far better solution then trying to rework the pricing for all items all the time. Just open it all up to player pricing and then the invisible hand of the free market will fix it.
- If the economy is not free floating, there will always be very determined players that figure out the best farming places and they will keep pumping extra money into the economy inflating it. Because as long as you can sell scav shotguns to state-guaranteed prices the money will keep inflating.
- It would make all weapons viable all the time, because in certain economic conditions players might end up having to use shotguns. This never happens with the current setup. Shotguns are uselss immediately after a wipe and submachine guns are skipped in favor of rifles. With a dynamic systems, developers could change the spawn rates for rifles for a few weeks and players would be forced back into the loot stone age for some time which I think would be very exciting. Because currently shotguns and submachine guns are wasted development effort because there is never the pressure to use them.
- Free floating economy would require players to sell things another player needs instead of offloading loot to AI traders. This alone would add a new layer of strategic thinking to the game.
Let's try this now, before the game develops itself into a dead-end with the static traders and the repeated and very annoying quests.