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May 11, 2006



Oh, I only can comment about my experience with Eve Online as a virtual world game with regard to your thoughts on markets versus guild pools.

Alot of big and very succesfull guilds in Eve-Online are communistic in approach in that ownership by individuals of goods in the game worls is limited in some ways up and untill being nearly non-existent.

Other large guilds indeed have internal markets, mostly based on the use of the common market features but with exercise of available limiting options. Other popular methods are using internal forums as out of game addition to ingame markets.

On top of that, the bigger guilds have access to resources and production techniques individual players have not in some cases. Which they then monopolise for internal use only, shutting out the market and more importantly the rest of the playerbase in some cases.

As to the methodology of admistrating common ownership or internal markets, that too is reasonably diverse. But seeing how we are talking from anywhere between ten and a thousand members of these guilds you can probably imagine that most try to keep it simple and don't administrate more then absolutely required or administrate on an ad-hoc basis.

And yes, that does turn important parts of the gameplay into a team effort by default rather then individual effort with teamwork influences.

I certainly think that in this setting it is by far more efficient to work as a cooperative in a lesser or greater degree, also because of the fact that this world is a very competitive one. Every resource sold to a competitor has unknown and possibly negative effects on your place in the competition.

I believe that in any competitive setting this is the main motivation to use internal distribution within guilds rather then an open market. It's a win-win situation for the guild no matter how you look at it.


This is basically Coase's theory of the firm, isn't it? That intra-company exchanges dominate because of the lowered transaction costs, and better intra-group trust.


As far as I know there is no formal credit market in any MMORPG. Guilds are a way of solving this market imperfection. The guild pools resources and lends them to a member to craft an item and then the player will pay back by helping another guild member. Defaulting on a guild is more expensive than defaulting on an individual. It is much more damaging to your reputation when 30-40 players go around saying that you screw them than when only 1 does. Defaulting on the guild means expulsion from it. So if the players puts any value on being a member that also helps to enforce the contract, this is true at the end game level when group playing is needed to raid, fight wars or siege castles. Also having 30 guys mad at you in a PvP server sometimes is not a very good idea (I think this does not work on WoW but it works in Lineage 2).

Of course default does happen. Most of the cases I've seen were when a low level player enters a guild with high level players and is given some mid level equipment.

About what happens in ubber guilds my guess is that there is an implicit division within the guild. Smaller groups of players pool resources and help each other.


I don't know exactly what you mean by a "formal credit market" but there are multiple corporations in Eve that will lend you money based on nothing more than your word. It seems like enough people repay their loans for this to work.

I think corps dominate because you can borrow equipment and put it back without paying for it. Having a common pool is always better in the case where you don't need to use everything at once.

If every member of the corp had to buy, say, a ship, you'd need one for each player. But if they're given away by the corp you can just take it and put it back when you're done and the corp only needs half or a quarter as many. This is obviously more efficient, though I'm afraid I don't know the technical economic term for it :)


"I don't know exactly what you mean by a "formal credit market" but there are multiple corporations in Eve that will lend you money based on nothing more than your word."

That is exactly yhe point. The only thing you have on MMORPG is "your word". If you default on those corporations they cannot take you to a virtual court and confiscate your assets. Which does not mean that they can't make your life a living hell if you don't pay.
Maybe one day one of these corporations will become like a court (after all the goverment is just the biggest corporation of all and that is why we go to it enforce our contracts). Players will be able to make contracts among them and if they don't live upto them then the damaged part can go to the ubber corporation and present its case.


So by formal market I mean a market were contracts are verifiable and can be taken to a court. Loan sharks are not a formal credit market but they can be highly efficient anyway.


Thanks, I guess this ties back into the Code as Law discussion then. We'll have to wait for someone to write code that supports it before it can become formal.


Peter> This is basically Coase's theory of the firm, isn't it? That intra-company exchanges dominate because of the lowered transaction costs, and better intra-group trust.

Well, you could use Coase to explain this, certainly, though that puts a lot of emphasis on avoiding transaction costs and not as much emphasis (I think) on the potential analogy to family structures. It also elides much need for empirical investigation of whether the Coase theory is born out in the guild context. I imagine that someone (maybe even Coase?) has tried to apply Coase to families.

@ Peter & Alejandro: Thanks -- Eve always seems to be the most interesting VW to talk about for these types of economic and group organization issues. The market for credit concept is interesting and it seems like a good explanation for guild resource pooling, but honestly it doesn't always *feel* much like a market for credit when you see it in action. I agree, though, that reputation mechanics seem to work much more effectively in guilds because of the smaller scale -- but again, that makes me wonder about uberguild mechanics and how/if they differ.


Speaking of WoW specifically, guild resource pools make economic sense from several standpoints. One is the reduced transaction cost and high confidence levels when one deals with a guild member as opposed to a complete stranger. Another is that certain materials cannot be obtained individually, but only through joint efforts - Molten Core, Zul'Gurub or Ahn'Qiraj reagents, for example. Yet another factor is that professional specialization in WoW can get rather expensive (to obtain rare recipes, one has to grind reputation with different factions, which is neither easy nor quick); guild sponsorships help reduce the cost, and offer benefits to both the crafter and the guild, afterwards.
There is certainly plenty of free-market activity in WoW, but it is important to bear in mind that the game environment is in a permanent state of "war economy," in which fighting is both the primary means of production and the ultimate purpose of consumption. This is why collectivist (yet largely voluntary, I would still argue) forms of economic acrivity make sense in that particular context.


Fearless, so I take it that pooled labor inevitably leads to some pooling of assets: the guild effectively *is* the firm in that regard. W/r/t to individual specialization, though, it doesn't seem to follow that pooling arrangements would beat the market -- specialization is basically the definition of how the market functions, right? To the extent that the guild subsidizes skilling up at a craft, I guess that points back to the arguments about functional systems for obtaining credit. Not sure I'm following about the "war economy" -- how does that differ, as a systemic matter, from other economies?

Fwiw, just Googled "Coase" & "family unit" -- and of course, there's a bunch there, e.g.




I found this observation most interesting:

at least in some cases, it seems that guild resource pools must be more efficient than markets for distribution.

What cases might those be?

Free markets are considered "efficient" because they're effective at letting sellers and buyers who don't know each other freely negotiate to determine a price that's closest to the assumed actual value of the item being traded. This is more efficient than other systems for making trades only in that other systems usually generate prices that are further away from that supposed actual value point -- either the buyer is being overcharged, or the seller is being shortchanged. Because both of those effects depress future transactions (why trade if you're going to lose value?), free markets are held to be optimal for maintaining and increasing trade over the long term.

But how is that effect supposed to happen without competition for "best value?" In what way are groups that don't impose costs on inter-group trades more economically efficient than groups that employ a free market system for moving things to where they have the most utility?

The real-world analog to guilds (in the economic sense) that comes first to my mind is the kibbutz. Small groups seem to be able to survive using a no-cost economy. Because the participants know each other (no anonymity), and expect to trade with each other again (non-terminated interaction), cooperation per Axelrod can emerge. And in a cooperative environment, considering items to be held in common won't be abused by non-cooperators. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" can work because the whole group has the necessary information about who can do what and who needs what.

But, as pointed out above, this kind of system doesn't scale up well. At some point, there's a transition from being mostly trades-among-friends to being mostly trades-among-strangers. In a world of anonymous traders and low probability of repeated trades among the same people, cooperation doesn't emerge naturally. Beyond a certain group size, trading requires that some external system for assuring fairness be created and accepted (or imposed).

So it looks like "no-cost" internal trade systems have a cost after all -- there's an opportunity cost of things that can't be done because the group isn't large enough to accomplish them. The price of eliminating internal trade costs is deliberately minimizing the size of the group. That prevents the group from being able to access the more complex (i.e., more productive and higher-value) economic opportunities, imposing a ceiling on group value that over the long term will be equal to (greater than?) the value of group assets if there had been internal costs on transactions that allowed strangers to trade with strangers.

The real reason free markets do well over the long term is that they spur production by expanding hugely the number of people who can participate effectively in the system. (Shades of Julian Simon....)

So is there a lesson here for guilds? As with kibbutzes, is there some invisible but large cost imposed by no-cost trading within the group to avoid having to trade outside the group? Or do guilds trade enough with outsiders to offset this cost?

Or does the whole analogy break down because production costs in many virtual worlds are trivial since items can be created out of thin air?


(Oh, and the apparent correlation of the number of levels in some current MMOGs and typical human lifespans in years...? Just a coincidence, I think. D&D started out with ten levels; having 60 is just inflation at work. Ten years from now we'll probably have games with 300 levels -- I doubt lifespans will have increased equally!)


The critical flaw of the free market, Bart, is that it necessarily assumes that money is the ultimate and perfect indicator (measure) of value. This is completely false in situations where other forms of value are not only non-negligible, but significant.

For instance, I might give away a multimillion dollar mansion to someone for no other reason than, "I love you." The money itself loses value, and the free market becomes irrelevant. The value gained was completely non-monetary, something the free market cannot account for.

But this doesn't work the more abstract and the more huge the population gets. This is why the free market is better. I don't know that person in Germany; why would I give him anything? Because he's giving me something I consider equal value: a sum of money. All other forms of value get dropped into negligibility, and money becomes a reliable measure.

A small corp or guild is a more efficient economic system than a free market when they are willing to go on the word of its members. In other words, when trust is enough of a promise, when "What benefits you will benefit me". When they're their own community. They don't need a mediator, because they're good between each other.

A married couple doesn't need a free market to decide what they exchange until they get a divorce. =)


I think guilds could be looked at like a virtual Corporate Arcology, rather then as a commune or a part of a free market system. In that they can and especially in the cases of larger guilds, contain a mostly self sufficient community that produces in goods in commune for by itself for itself. With a level of exterior trade used to fill any needs. This type of trade is a not-for-profit trade that is geared to filling gaps and overall sustenance of the status-quo rather then creating a large investment platform. Although, I'm not saying that groups have not been known to pool investment capital together to further growth, but rarely have I seen, in my experience of course, bodies built on the hording of capital for the pure purpose of profiteering.

Further, in my experience, guilds often have policies regarding relations with other guilds (Read: competitive corporations) and the 'employees' of said guild often times see themselves as an extension of their guild. Myself, as an example, having said that I would never play WoW if I was not a member of the GLA.

Also, again in my experience with relations with others, guilds will often be very introverted as far as day to day business growth, preferring 'working' with guild members rather then outsiders, further reinforcing the Arcology lifestyle of being born, raised, living, working and finally dying as a member of that closed and protected corporate community. This theory is heavily reinforced when we see the animosity a member who, has benefited from the communal help of the guild, leaves taking with him all that he had taken from the pool, is shunned and looked down upon, not as a deserter but as someone who 'used' the group to further himself. As an example, one of the Warriors from my guild left after raiding with us for about 2 months, and just after leaving spent all of his earned capital (DKP) and received the items he had deserved (In my opinion as the GM anyways). However, rather then seeing him as someone who worked for the group and received what he deserved before moving on, the group as a whole despised his actions as a traitor and still over a year later still talk of him as a pariah in terms like "Hig caused that wipe".

Just a few random thoughts generated from a very interesting number of questions.



One part about the trust issue between traders, is that trust in an idividual (can I trust this person?) can be superceeded by trust in his affiliation (can I trust my fellow guild-mate?). If there is a sufficient amount of pride/trust/espirit-de-corps within the guild, then knowing personally the person you're trading with becomes irrelevant.


TN> Let's say, just arguendo, that when we see the laborious production of objects of value that can benefit those other than the producer, we see the emergence of markets. <

In a crafting game production of objects is, or should be, fun. Since there is no labor involved in producing objects, it makes sense to give them away. If nobody is doing any work, why should anyone be paid any money? In my experience in games like A Tale in the Desert, a good proportion of people felt that being paid for what they just made would reframe their “fun” as “work”, and were resistant to it.

Bart> In what way are groups that don't impose costs on inter-group trades more economically efficient than groups that employ a free market system for moving things to where they have the most utility? <

They are more efficient when things that in the real world would be trade costs are benefits. If my idea of fun gameplay is to run from A to B with stuff, then delivery becomes income rather than expense. More likely, my “income” from a delivery depends considerably on the personalities of the sender and recipient. Its more fun to deliver to someone you like than someone you don’t. Simplistic application of real world economics to game worlds ignores the fact that the currency of game worlds is “fun”. And the math of fun is not the same as the simple algebra of dollars.


One of my favorite all time Monty Python lines ever occurs in a scene where Graham Chapman plays a Royal Navy Captain who has to decide whom of his crew, trapped at sea in a lifeboat, must be killed and eaten. He should volunteer, but doesn't... As a coward, of course, he doesn't want to be picked, but all his methods of choosing (one potato, two potato; eenie-meenie-minie-moe, etc.) keep landing on him. When they do rock-paper-scissors, everyone in the boat picks rock... except him. He picks scissors. "Rock beats scissors, sir," one of the crew says.

Graham looks down at his fingers, still making the characteristic 'V,' and says: "But they're very good scissors..."

My point? That, to me, much of this comparison between real-world and in-game "economics" hinges on an assumption that shouldn't necessarily be made -- that there is intrinsic "economic worth" to items besides their value as objects of play. Of course some folks will give them real world value... but as has been pointed out, some buffs can be tossed off like air. And some items that are highly-prized at lower levels, are nuthin' but a thang at higher levels. In some cases, the value of the item may be more in the *giving* of it than in the thing itself. I had an in-game friend once give me an item she'd carried and worn for months. It did me no good at all in terms of point-value, level or abilities. But it reminded me of her all the time; a virtual keep-sake. A souvenier. What is the "economic worth" of an item like that?

How would the Mastercard ad go?

New +5 sword of smiting... 50 silver.
Seven-league Mage Boots... 8 gold.
Potion of Concealment... 12 gold.

Chance to help your guildmaster out on his final quest to get to Level 60?


If your guild is doing "priceless" stuff, it doesn't matter how "efficient" it is when distributing virtual "stuff." Bahamut help me the day I determine to always "play most efficiently."


I'm not sure how germane this information is going to be, but it seemed to fit well enough to include it.

In my EQ2 guild, items that can be of value to the whole guild (rare crafting recipes, for example) are distributed free of cost among guild mates. While these items have a distinct (if low) market value, it is perceived that there is greater value in making sure the guild trade skillers have all of the recipes they need. The payback from this is that the trade skill items produced in guild can be purchased well below open market value, so given enough transactions, the person passing on the recipes for free stands to save more money on equipment/spells/whatever than he would have made selling the items in the first place.

Likewise, guild mates are often given a "First right of refusal" on items with significant value in game, such as rare dropped items or spells. These items are often sold in guild at below market value.

Likewise, trivial loot items dropped during the raid (vendor fodder) are looted by a designated guild member and then sold for gold. The funds from these sales are they used by guild members to either repair equipment damaged in the course of the raid (which can get expensive over time) or to make potions that will be used on a future raid to help its chances of success.

Overall, the philosophy behind these transactions is that outfitting our guild members with the best items/spells/whatever benefits everyone in the guild in the long term. Since the guild and its members will be able to operate more efficiently and on a higher level, this in guild economy lets the group advance with more ease and take on more challenging content with a higher level of success than if everyone just looked after themselves.


Hivemind>does the fact that the number of levels in most (not all) MMORPGs hovers at around the lifespan of a human being have any significance other than the fact that it just kind of happened that way?

Originally, there were far fewer levels, mainly because with permanent death you don't need so many. As the effects of character "death" gradually diminished, we saw a rise in the number of levels that characters could achieve. The levels began to get closer together, too, so that whereas in MUD1 the points you needed to get to level N were double those you needed to get to level N-1, levels in later games had a more logarithmic relationship to one another. In absolute terms, the numbers got bigger: in MUD1 you needed 102,400 points to reach the highest level ("wizard/witch", or "wiz"), but eventually we saw games where the points were stored in floating point number format,

>Is there anything to the fact that a level "ding" is celebrated, like a birthday, with congratulations from friends and some presents from the game gods.

I don't know, but I can say that it's something that happened right from the early days. People generally remembered when they made wiz and celebrated their "wiz birthday" or wizday accordingly.



FWIW, I've generally seen a stabilization in the number of levels in virtual worlds. There was a point in time where, hack and slash being the focus, the number of levels on a MUD were undeservedly vaunted as their strongest selling point. It went from hundreds to thousands to "infinite" over a short period of time in the late 90s.

This brings to mind an interesting point. I've yet to run into a MUD that can handle 'raiding' style play -- most places seem to end up saturating their network connection because their normally linear bandwidth requirements become geometric if people concentrate within the same room.


An important fact I have seen about communistic intra-guild economies is that they work better in non item-centric games where basic, easily replaceable generic equipement is still competitive and useful. It also seems related to games where equipement decays or is easily lost.

In EVE, when I dump very common loot in my shared items corporation hangars I don't lose much in terms of wealth, but I can cut drastically down the refitting time for a corpmate that loses his ship, of course named rare modules are better, but marginally better.

In old school UO, my character was perfectly viable using easily mass produced chainmail and weapons, so I just gave all my money and stuff to the guild, knowing I could always find free and inmediate replacements for anything I needed in the guild vaults.

But in DAoC or WoW that system fails horribly, because you need to be decked out with expensive, hard to get stuff to be able to put up a fight, and no matter how much you try to be fair to everyone, greed soon starts showing up it's ugly face.


Over the course of several guild memberships in WoW I have seen the "pooling" of resource to be very different between guilds. In the lower level and more social guilds, there is indeed a pooling of recourses and a more communistic attitude towards guild recourses; however, in the hardcore raiding guilds, the loot distribution has been much tighter. I would not consider the dkp systems I have seen to be a sort of pooling since people have to earn dkp first and then have to spend that dkp in order to acquire items. To me it seems more akin to going to work (a raid), earning a paycheck (dkp), and then buying tools (loot/items.) Also, in the higher level guilds I have been apart of, the communal feeling of helping people to achieve their goals is less focused on since players often times have to meet certain baselines before they will be considered for guild membership. In these examples, there is some communal efforts put towards the betterment of the guild as a whole, but the heated arguments that I have witnessed surrounding dkp based systems, would support a theory of more individualistic mindsets. Even in these guilds, though, there is communal pooling of certain recourses such as potions and materials such lava cores, which are used to support the guild raids. So in short, yes it would seem that at least uberguilds do edge back towards free markets.
I have been in one guild that tried to break away from this capitalist model and implemented what they called a “merit system.” This system attempted to work first for the betterment of the guild over individuals. However, after a 6-month trial, the system failed, and that guild is currently working to implement a more traditional dkp system. In the end, there were two major problems with the merit system. First, it disadvantaged the members that had previously “geared out” their characters before coming to this guild, and second, it benefited greediness in that the more items a person took, the more chances they had to earn more merit, since there was a maximum limit to the amount of accruable merit.
I do think that guilds turn MMORPGs into more of a team sport and less of a solo game, but in guilds and sport teams alike, ball hogs are still present.


1) Is there any particular characteristic of classes of virtual goods that guilds will put into pooling arrangements? Is there any particular classes of goods that are exempted from guild pooling?

These are typically the items that we send to our guild banks:
- raw resources used in the process of crafting
- formulas or recipes that the finder cannot use but believe another guild member can use
- reputation-gaining items or tokens that everyone can use
- items that the finder has no immediate use for but believes may be of some value to someone else later on
- valuable or quest items that were attained through group effort

Usually, items that are not sent to a guild bank are high-value items that an individual has acquired through their own effort.

I should also mention here that my guild is pretty close-knit, and we share our resources. Our guild banks provide countless materials and quest items for members, which gives further incentive for people to send items in.

I know that, depending on the culture of a person's guild, sometimes people are all allowed to keep their own resources and offer them first to guildmates at vendor price, rather than giving them freely. I think this is all related to how the guild is first formed, how it is led, how many people are in the guild, and how quickly new members are added.

2) Any stories (hyperlinks would be even better) to more complicated structures of guild administration of common resources? Thoughts on why they are more efficient than market models?

There are some guild bank administration tools (in-game mods, web interfaces, executables) that can be found on www.curse-gaming.com.

3) There's obviously an issue with scaling common ownership -- so how do uberguilds handle these arrangements differently? Do they edge back toward standard markets? Do they have some kind of n00b welfare?

Not sure there is one answer to these questions, but I'll tell you what my guild does. We currently have five guild banks (we started with one but we got so many items that things just sort of exploded), which were until yesterday managed by one person. We have since transferred the guild banks onto an account in such a way that items will be more accessible to members for use. Whenever someone needs an item from the bank, they make a request on our forums, via in-game mail, by whisper, or by asking on Vent. None of our guild members sell items to one another; they are given freely. In addition, there is a bit of "pooling" activity more so than market activity, in that raw resources are all sent to a single individual who has collected a majority of trade skills, for example, and who is available to craft or enchant items frequently. There is inherent danger in pooling resources into one individual, because if that individual suddenly becomes disastisfied with the game or RL issues come up, the rest of the guild effectively loses all the crafting abilities that have been pooled in that person. This is the primary motivation behind distributing ownership of resources, in the form of sharing accounts, for example. In terms of noob welfare, we don't really have a strict policy for it. Basically, new members to our guild usually come in unprepared to a certain extent; they are not properly attuned to the right dungeons, or they don't have a base level of resistance gear that is necessary for tackling certain content. When this happens, usually the guild pulls together to help them finish necessary quest lines and thus be able to participate with us, and our guild bank similarly creates helpful items or gives extra resist items to the individuals in need. This act is motivated as much by altruism as by personal gain, because having an extra person who is properly outfitted for an encounter is beneficial to the wellbeing of the raid, as well as good in a preventative sense (because in certain cases, a noob not having the proper equipment or being untrained can cause the entire party to die).

4) Is there an interesting dimension to this in terms of ludology? E.g., does the guild turn the MMORPG into a team sport rather than a solo game played socially?

I would say that I have increasingly found WoW to be a drastically different game after level 60 than in levels 1-59. This is because the greatest challenge to players at level 60 is organizational, not purely skill-driven and time-based. This is where the multiplayer part of MMORPG comes into play in ways that are not even conceivable earlier on. For me, having perched around level 60 on multiple characters for so long, I've really gotten quite interested in observing the life, management, and evolution of guild structures as entities. So I would say that for me personally, guild management itself becomes something of a meta-game in the end, much like playing the auction house or griefing may become a meta-game for others. I think it is by nature a part of WoW that it becomes a team sport for those who want to experience end-game content (MC, BWL, AQ40, etc.). Guilds are the necessary organizations that form to achieve those end-game goals. In fact, it can get quite frustrating when players, for numerous reasons, can't gain entry into a guild capable of accessing end-game content.


I think it's important to remember there isn't a true market economy going on.

There's the player economy, then the NPC vendor economy.

One thing I'm shocked by is just how few players utilize the Auction House (essentially WoW's in-game version of Ebay).

But then, on second thought, how are they supposed to know that large fangs vendor for a few measly copper, while they generally sell to other players on the AH for a gold? It takes a long, long time to learn what all sells in the AH and how to properly price it. It also takes considerable effort (and effort that is considered non-fun and non-game).

So most of the time, players will just sell items to the vendor for a relatively paltry sum.

But if they see, "Hey, this is a nice item for a level 45 priest. And there's a 45 priest in the guild. Instead of vendoring this I could send it to him." The cost (both in terms of time and money) for mailing it are essentially non-existant. (In WoW, almost without exception, whenever you are near an NPC vendor you are also near an in-game mailbox) These types of "resource pooling" seem to occur most often in my (admittedly rather casual) guild.

It seems to me that this sort of intra-guild sharing is a pretty standard case of weighing economic interest, with not many altruistic, communistic undertones. The vendor price you are forgoing is pretty inconsequential on many items. It's not quite like giving away buffs, but it's not that far off either. (And yes, I do still feel a twinge of guilt at describing 2 gold as "inconsequential").

Now descending into unapologetic WoW-ese:

Are we ignoring the problem of inflation here?

When I first started WoW, my guild leader wanted us to mail him all our green items, so he raise his enchanting skill. But I truly needed to vendor them. And there was no one twinking characters so the AH wasn't really an option. Everyone needed mount/skill money to the exclusion of everything else. So in that sense, the collectivist vision of the guild was trumped because of my own sense of overriding economic self-interest.

Now, after only a tiny amount time spent with AH arbitrage, I can make obscene profits. And this is on lower level stuff, without even getting close to the world of WoW high capitalism.

Once you hit a certain point of uber-rich in WoW, there's nothing left to "buy" but new Player Characters with which you can do the high-end raids. So helping out guildies becomes the only way to spend your money, purely in terms of economic self-interest. Can guild banks be explained in this way?

And a related question: Why isn't participation in raids merely bought and sold in gold, exactly like wage labor in the real world? Why is there a ubiquitous sense that guilds are the only way to do it?


I am wondering why a WoW picture had to go along with this article?

Should Terra Nova just be renamed World of Second Lifecraft? I hope Blizzard and Linden are at least paying for some (or all) of the bandwidth here.

The subject of this thread is an interesting one, and is certainly worth discussing. But it has absolutely nothing to do specifically with World of Warcraft, so why YET ANOTHER publicity generating screenshot?

I honestly believe that the integrity and value of Terra Nova is suffering quite badly as a result of its extraordinary WoW/SL focus.


The above post was mine. I cleared out my cookies recently and forgot to re-enter my info.


I certainly have to agree with a number of people that have mentioned that it seems more efficient having pooled resources for corporations in many cases in Eve.

In the examples that I've seen, it's generally because it's much more efficient to get someone back to being a productive member quickly than it is to get them to pay for the small amount of stuff they need to get back up and running when they're wiped out.

Of course, this is also slightly deceptive, as many corporations will have a small standing tax rate on member transactions that will fund things like this, but there's also the fact that in the pvp and territorial aspect of the game, a pilot in a ship will generally be providing a very valuable service that isn't reimbursed monetarily. In many aspects, it probably works out in the favour of the corporation if you started assigning numbers to everything, and proves much more managable given a lack of tools for determining how much time and value a person has been, as well as the administrative headache that would become.


"4) Is there an interesting dimension to this in terms of ludology? E.g., does the guild turn the MMORPG into a team sport rather than a solo game played socially?"

I don't think anyone could pretend that Eve is a solo game played socially. It is a 'team sport' at all levels. Corp vs corp or alliance vs alliance is where the vast majority of the game lies.

Most successful corporations in Eve will operate in a commune-like way. Shared resources make everyone more powerful.

Our corp has a 10% tax on NPC bounties, performed automatically through the game mechanics. All loot from NPCs is also collected and donated to the corp hangars, where most of it will be refined into minerals and then rebuilt into free ships for corp members. Mining the valuable ores recieves a 10% tax on the resulting minerals, in order to pay for the fuel for the refinery. Pvp loot is usually given to gang members who lost their ships in the fight, or sold and the money divided among the gang members. If it's loot from an alliance fleet battle, however, the loot is donated to the alliance bank where it is sold back to the members at below-market prices.

This is pretty common stuff in Eve. I think Terra Nova is playing far too much world of warcraft, as most of the questions asked here can be answered with "Eve Online".


Coase's theory of the firm, or Williamson's Transaction Cost Economics probably explains some of the guild structuring/exchange processes, but not all. I'm more familiar with the Williamson side which really extends into the transaction cost minimization aspect, it does fairly well in depicting why organizations choose market exchange, but doesn't really work that well in explaining why exchanges occur within the firm's boundaries or in hybrid organziational forms (think alliances of guilds). The problem (per Ghoshal and Moran 1996) is that TCE tends to overemphasize 'opportunism with guile' and management by fiat while failing to explain benefits achieved through organized cooperation (see Bernard, 1981).

From my experiences, the guild/exchange process probably varies by guild structure and I'm certain you'll find quite the variety of structures and control schemes out there with guilds. I know my long-time guild mates have acknowledged a number of times that we run a quasi-communist system, but we're a small communal guild and it works. I believe with the larger uber-guilds you tend to see more rational systems/bureaucratic forms with semi-internalized markets for reward systems (i.e. dragon points).

Frankly, there's an entire organizational theory literature base waiting to be applied to guilds... and guilds themselves are a rich area for study of voluntary organizational forms.

Interesting thought either way.


In my experience the more "uber" a guild is the more tightly their guild banking system is focussed on their collective objective (PvP, raiding or whatever else) instead of broadly supporting all members in many aspects of the game. In fact it is often a valued quality of uber guild members that they are self sufficient enough to handle any "mundane" aspects of the game without support from the guild. So in that respect it definitely moves back towards normal markets.

The opposite side of this coin is that such a guild bank can also be extremely generous when it comes to areas within the scope of its objective. New members may suddenly find themselves given an awful lot of rare and powerful resources if it will help improve them and further the collective objectives.


Stephen - is that observation particularly about guilds in MMOGs which do not feature harsh item death penalties though? The system that many corporations operate around in Eve seems very much tailored around dealing with that issue.

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