Men are from sometime in the future…

… women are from 19th. century Britain. Or so I’ve found out. Allow me to relate to you a conversation I recently had with my amazing spousal unit. It will be summarized and paraphrased, of course, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea. Even if the names have been removed to protect the innocent.

Developers, designers and psychology students take good note, because this is how deep the rabbit hole goes sometimes.

I had a light bulb. Comic book light bulb, you know. Over my head.

“Hmm. You know what would be cool?”
“What’s that?”, she says, not really taking her attention from whatever it was she was doing. I simply smiled, softly and wryly, as I chewed the idea in my head and replied.
“Player-owned stores”
“Huh?”

And at that point right there I knew something was wrong, and that perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything. All it takes sometimes is a little “Huh?” for the umpires in your mind to start tossing flags all over the place. No, this is wrong. I can’t be getting “Huh?” at this point, I thought. Not so early. This is basic. Player-owned stores. We hold these truths to be self-evident and all that.

I felt like a dealer in a corner, peddling my stuff, and instead of “How much?” I’m getting “Cool. What does it do?”. You know something is wrong because this stuff sells itself. And yet, I charged. I charged like the Light Brigade.

“You know. Player-owned stores. As in… instead of just normal, boring old crafting you would be able to get your own store. Instead of training for tailor, or blacksmith, or whatever you would get a license, invest some currency into setting it up…”
“I’m not quite getting it…”,
she dropped nonchalantly.
“… and you give the store some raw materials, and plans or recipes to start working. All automatic. As long as it has the materials and the plans, you tell the store how many items to produce, what price to sell them, all that.” I concluded.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t like that.”

My eyelid might have twitched at some point, but I’m not sure. I kept on going.
“What’s not to like? I mean it’s… it’s basically the automation of the most griefy parts of crafting, and the streamlining…” (I actually used that word) “…of the whole process of selling to market. Automatic money generation as long as your store has the mats in stock while you do something else. You’d still have to replenish the raw materials when they run out, feed it new plans for items as you buy or find them, but essentially it runs itself.”
“I don’t really dig that”
, she commented. Dissecting my exposition while it still was alive. A barbaric practice.
Why not?”
“Well, part of the joy of crafting for me comes from the sense of accomplishment. Of leveling up. It’s like an investment.”
, she asserted. And I believed her.
Well I suppose it could be that if your store does well it could ‘level up’… kinda… be able to produce more or different items.” I argued, “In fact, it could be that if it does really well and you have a good business going, you’d be able to issue and offer stock, trade with the store-as-company in the game’s stock market, things like that.”
“I wouldn’t craft in a scenario like that. I might not even play the game”
, she concluded. I could see her soul frowning. I just sighed to myself.
What… is it too detached from actual character advancement so you don’t like it?”, I asked.
I don’t want to own a store”, she said with a hint of disgust at the idea, “I just want to make things. A lot of crafters don’t do it for a profit…”

Okay. Stop. Second flag. Defensive foul, for talking crap. I’m pretty much sure that there’s a difference between “Not doing it for a profit” and “Not being able to make a profit”. Right? Because if you give people the option to make things and not make a profit, or make things and make a profit, they’re gonna head to the hills and reject the tenets of the free market or whatever just to make the point that crafting ‘comes from the heart’. Come on now. Making things is nice, but don’t come tell me you wouldn’t take the profit if you could sell them. Still, I let it go.

…the accomplishment of learning certain patterns. Whatever.”
“But, by Crom, woman… nothing stops you from walking into your own store, or access it however, and craft something manually there. Why couldn’t we have that functionality? This is just the automation of the most tedious parts of cr…” I realized at that point she wasn’t listening. What gave me the hint was that she kept going.
… I was about as excited in WoW to hit 300 in crafting as I was to hit 60. The store thing wouldn’t bother me if it was optional. Like, you could choose to have a store or not. I would choose not to.” she finished proudly. Almost raising her left fist to represent crafters everywhere and send a clear message to ‘The Man’.
Yes. I understand. Yes, it can be optional.”
“Would I be able to set my own prices?”
she asked.
Well, yeah, what do you think this is? Vladivostok under Stalin?”
“No, but…”
“Yes, you can set individual prices, dammit.”
I explained didactically.
Like… I don’t know you, so I’m selling you this belt for 30g. But this other guy made me something at a discount, so I wanna sell him the same belt for 15g.”
“Sure. Why not. There are a few ways to do that, I think.”
I concluded. Or, rather, I should have concluded. But no, of course another idea popped up that I just had to share, with disastrous consequences.

Now that I think about it…hmm…”, I rubbed my chin, “What if there was some sort of directory for established stores. That you can browse in-game. Check their stocks, prices, even order from there if you want without having to go over to the store itself. That’d be neat.”
“Why? What would that do?”,
she asked.
Well, it’d eliminate the need for a Trade channel for one”, I smirked, “imagine the bandwidth savings”. I thought it was nice. A nice little joke to finish matters. But then… then she said something that chilled me to the bone. With all the naturality of a cold-blooded killer that shoots someone, turns around and embraces his mother.
There has to be a Trade channel”, she simply said. And broke my heart.

I had no will to continue.

18 thoughts on “Men are from sometime in the future…”

  1. That description sounds kinda like EVE’s industry system… and that reminds me of accounting, but not of an adventure game.

    Then again, I had a somewhat similar idea some time ago: You buy a workshop/laboratory/whatever and pay for some employees. If you want to craft something, you still need the raw materials, basic stuff so far. But in order to gain access to better stuff, you’d get quests from your workshop – something like “find some of the antique armor from the elves so we can reproduce it”. Granted, this’d probably result in many “collect X from Y”-quests – but then again, that’s what crafting usually is about anyway.

    This would fit in neatly with housing and could provide some great atmospheric opportunities: If you had a house with attached workshop, with your guys working there, greeting you, talking to you, there’d be a great sense of ‘coming home’. (If you played KOTOR, think of the spaceship)

  2. “… and I’d call it an Auction House”.

    Seriously, WoW has this. Put your materials in, click how many to make, come back when it’s done, put them on the AH.

    Could hardly be simpler.

  3. This thought of having player-owned stores occured to me as well some time ago. While I tried another one of these Asia-grinders with their ridicoulous concept of setting up shop with having to be online, I thought about different concepts of a market.
    (links a the bottom)

    And as already stated, your idea became reality in EVE Online to a large extend. But for a crafting system like yours, there has to be much more demand of consumable items (like ammo, or armour that actually wears out) as it is in most of the (Fantasy) MMOs.

    And the concept of player-owned stores, as nice as it may be RP-wise, would definitely need the proposed “market list”. Else the market becomes absolutely intransparent for both crafters and buyers.

    I like the general concept, but it demands a player-driven in-game economy to work. Which requires a much different concept of items as most MMOs currently have:
    – Items have to wear out and eventually break without being able to repair them

    – crafted items have to be of value, also compared to looted ones

    – to maintain the idea of having rare and epic equipment, the rareness and epicity (?) should be not in the particular piece of equipment itself but instead provided by other means. Maybe one places a very rare gem on a normal, player-crafted sword to enhance it greatly. The sword eventually breaks and has to be replaced, but the gem can be removed from the broken sword and placed in a new one.

    – that would generate constant demand of items, without neglecting players demand of rare and epic items to show off.

    http://blog.dyardawen.de/index.php?/archives/8-Meditations-on-the-market.html
    http://blog.dyardawen.de/index.php?/archives/10-I-invented-the-perfect-MMOG.html

    just my quick thoughts about the issue :)

  4. “Seriously, WoW has this. Put your materials in, click how many to make, come back when it’s done, put them on the AH…”

    I have to agree with Tipa here… WoW has 98.7% (exact figure!!1!) of what you are thinking of in their crafting/ AH setup…

    The only flavor that is missing is a ‘player-owned structure’ type setup. If they add Player Housing and add a way to access the AH from your house, you would have exactly this set-up.

    Also, If you remember how UO worked back in the day (maybe still? Haven’t been since around when the Second Age was released…) everyone had houses or castles, and a little guys standing out front that had their goods for sale. In that case you had to travel to the ‘store’ but it was a player store none-the-less.

  5. Sounds like SWG crafting. Crafters can place NPC vendors in their structures, give the NPC’s custom outfits/clothing, decorate it up like a store, set their own prices. Player-owned vendors can be searched from central bazaar terminals, once you’ve found something you plan on buying, you click a button to set a waypoint for you to travel to the store to purchase your item(s).

  6. “Seriously, WoW has this. Put your materials in, click how many to make, come back when it’s done, put them on the AH…”

    Not quite, for teh AH you have to craft stuff yourself with the store as described herein you just drop your recipies and raw materials in the back and the finished goods are made automatically.

    Bit like what you could do with factories and vendors in SWG but even more automated.

  7. I think you’ve missed the point of crafting for a large portion of the people who enjoy it. It’s not an economic achievement game, (those can be fun too, but you don’t need to be a crafter to play the auction house.) it’s a social achievement game. Making unique things for yourself and your friends is the ultimate goal for many crafters – not making money.

  8. Regarding the men/mars/women/venus thing… Here’s what I think is going on with the conversation with your wife. You’re talking about end-result and she’s talking about process. Of course I’m generalizing, but a lot of times men tend to focus more on the outcome of a process rather than the process itself. For example, they kill the deer because we need supper. Period. How the deer is caught is less important than the past tense of having caught it for eating. On the other hand, women have been placed in the position of being process oriented (whether this is by preference or training is debatable). For example, women knit. A lot of women knit because it feels good to do it, not because they really need another scarf or sock. Yes, they knit for a purpose sometimes too, but knitting is such a long process that you must enjoy it or you’d never get through it. So anyway, I think there’s just a “thinking” paradigm in conflict with your wife.

  9. Player owned stores: Been there, done that. Two words: Ultima Online. Doesn’t really work. Not enough real estate for the vendors, not enough demand for mundane items. She’s right and you’re wrong. Commoditizing craftable items doesn’t enhance gameplay value, it destroys it.

    The easier it is to find and acquire a commodity, the lower the value of owning it. On the other side of the balance sheet, the easier it is for someone to sell a commodity, the more consistent his profit will be from making it. Of course, if his profit is zero, he won’t bother. But in a completely fluid economy, people simply work on razor thin margins. But it isn’t fun, it doesn’t contribute to your enjoyment of the craft.

    You need to strike a balance between making it difficult for people to find items and making it easy for them to sell items. The trade channel and auction house is that solution.

    So I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your wife is a better economist than you are.

  10. @Game Dame: Wow, I had to blink in astonishment at your astute analysis of the mechanics of the conversation. Very impressive. Of course I think he’s actually wrong in his conclusion, but you nailed the gender gulf precisely with your insight.

  11. The AH sucks. I miss the Bazaar and restocking my Bazaar mule with crafted rings of a couple different types once a week or so. The Bazaar owned. Easily the best part of EQ.

  12. Ah, the bazaar. Good times.

    Stores are fun for a “decorate your home” Sims-style fun factor. Auction Houses are far more efficient for busy people who just want to buy and sell to the largest number of people they can (and you do want that).

  13. The thing I miss most economy-wise coming from Eve to WoW is buy orders. They’re an important way of getting price information to sellers, as well as enabling the time-poor to actually get hold of stuff.

    Eve’s system is more “industry” than “craft”; I can see the two things appealing to different people; the individualised time-heavy socialisation-heavy class-structured* no-secondhand-goods trade system of WoW fits its prelapsarian theme as the mass-production of fortunes from number-heavy anonymous commodities markets fits that of Eve.

    * In the sense of social class rather than “druid” etc

  14. “Come on now. Making things is nice, but don’t come tell me you wouldn’t take the profit if you could sell them. ”

    Actually I have to really try to convince crafters I know to make a profit. They don’t want to, they feel like they are ripping people off if they make a profit, or something. I really don’t understand it. Of course while they charge very low prices, they also get mad at people underselling them saying those people are “greedy”. That’s when I get really confused.

    I have to keep editing this to delete things that would get me in trouble. Mainly comments about “thinking” and taking my own advice about us men knowing when to shut up. :) See? there I go again

  15. Isn’t part of this close to what’s available with EQ2? You house is your store and you sell your items from the vaults within your house. What I love about this is that unlike the WOW auction house, your items remain on sale for as long as you choose, which allows for smaller margin items to eventually sell and return a profit. I really dislike the 2 day window that exists in WOW.

    Of course there’s no auto-crafting. Personally, I find EQ2 crafting much more fulfilling that WOW’s click and go. However, I could foresee a game with both. Click and go, makes lower quality items perhaps? Slightly lower stats? While crafted has the chance of making top tier depending how your skill/methods applied.

    Like your wife, I craft for the pleasure and achievement, not so much for the profit. If I can make one, sure, I’ll take it. But I max 2 professions and all 3 secondaries on every toon in WOW, and that’s not done for the profit. :-)

  16. I’d like to point out that I wasn’t framing things in terms of right and wrong, but instead to illustrate the differences of thought and thought processes that can be out there.

    Personally, I think both my wife and I are both right and wrong at the same time, but hey that’s what makes it juicy. ;)

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