Ur Without Vendors Part Deux: Buy Orders
We’ve arranged for alternate supplies of items only available via NPC vendors. Of course, no one upset about the concept of a player-driven economy is worried about Tiny Speck adding more content to the game as such is clearly inevitable — as long as the game is running they will add more content.
No, what most people seem to be worried about is that phasing out the vendors will change the way they play the game, forcing them into new patterns, forcing them to study and work with the in game economy in order to make currants. As for that latter bit, I feel players already do that. They already investigate, to some extent, what they will get for grinding out a large amount of product and dumping it on a vendor. They have, consciously or unconsciously, worked out the time spent versus reward ratio—or took someone else’s word for it. So really the concern is more about not being able to sell product instantly, something they are currently used to.
Even though some people I like and consider friends express this concern, I don’t have much sympathy. In part, my experience in games with player-driven economies just doesn’t provide any support for the fear. While playing Eve, I never worried about selling my goods and was always able to do so instantly if I wanted to, yet the game does not give and has never given the option to sell to an NPC vendor. [Note from future Sauce: I did not think about SWG until I was thinking about advertising. Suffice it to say SWG, while I never struggled to make money, did have some downsides to its player-driven economy. So it can be done badly, but it can be done well.]
But even though I do not share this fear, am not even able to relate to it, it is this fear that makes buy orders an important part of transitioning to an Ur without vendors.
Let’s imagine a scenario in an Ur without vendors to illustrate how buy orders would function such that the daily game play of the “I only sell to the Tool Vendor and that’s that” players would not change at all.
In this hypothetical scenario, I have set myself up as seller of furniture items. The method of sale isn’t important — either auction or my own (coming soon™) personal street vendor. However, as someone who has been playing the game for awhile, I don’t want to put in the time to gather the components I need for furniture. I’m tired of gathering. I prefer to only log in occasionally, check my auction or vendor stock, and craft more things to fill my “shelves,” rather than spent two or three times longer gathering components.
Now I’m not the only one with buy orders out in the world for planks, metal, and snails, so I set my buy price slightly above that of my competition, about 90% of face value. Quite simply, players that want to just craft and dump items on the vendor will be doing exactly that, with perhaps only the added step of checking for items with high demand — gauged by the number of buy orders available.
In an Ur without vendors, nothing will change for the craft and dump crowd except where they dump. In my scenario above, they will even get more return on their product than they do in the current system, with only the single extra step of checking buy orders before crafting.
And for those that grind out awesome stews and meat tetras and other finished items — I’ll have buy orders for you too. After all, if you just want to craft and dump, you’ll be satisfied with any payment at 75% value and up, as that is what you—most of us right now really, out of necessity—are already willing to settle for.
On the other hand, I take a lot of satisfaction from producing items that others want to buy, and though I’m pleased more by making the sale than by being able to markup the price, since I’m not interested in instant sales, I will be able to turn around your finished product for a profit, especially using a personal vendor and not worrying about auction fees. I will provide a service for those that don’t want to worry about the economy, and they will provide a service for me — allowing me to move fully into the economic meta-game, something I already take advantage of at every possible turn. When R3 released and all my friends were organizing and decorating their houses, I was out gathering building materials to sell on auction — I just about doubled my currants in a single weekend.
In a nutshell, an Ur without vendors will still have vendors that buy from players — those vendors will just be other players. With properly implemented buy orders, no existing game play style will be eliminated — instead, the options of how to play will be expanded. Of course, there’s still the challenge of finding the buy orders, the added step I mentioned but glossed over like it was meaningless. I confess it’s not meaningless, and how that functions will affect whether or not buy orders replace and improve upon the tool vendors of today. But that’s part 3, in-game marketing and advertising, and I will cover that later this week.