October 13, 2008

Junk Selling in MMOs

Every time I have started a new MMO, I have encountered the same way of giving me some starting coins : emptying my backpack on the table of the local vendor, watching his eyes lit with joy at the prospect of buying my junk : broken scorpion pincers, torn butterfly wings, and so on.

I have never understood their love for junk, but, as I needed cold hard cash, I was happy to provide them with it. And they would always buy them. Or perhaps it was out of pity for the fledging adventurer that I was, far from the god-killer I would one day become ? Or perhaps they were hoping that, since they bought my junk, I would come back to sell them said killed-god-kidney?

But I digress…

The question still remains: WHY would they buy this ?

And I have a second question: they see thousands of adventurers coming, many buying their equipment to improve their efficiency and/or survivability. How can they cope with so much demand?

I have found a modicum of an answer in a single player game. On the DS: Etrian Odyssey. In that game, there’s no crafting. There’s no finding a legendary epic double blade of poisoned fang in the rectum of a killed wolf (at least we know why this wolf was angry). In EO, the only things you find during your encounters are monsters’ parts. Or supplies like wood or plants. And, when you sell them to the vendor in town, it unlocks equipment to be bought.

So, there is a reason behind buying that junk: creating the supplies needed to equip all those starved heroes. And there is a reason for all those supplies: much junk was sold.

But, why not do it like EO does? Why couldn’t players unlock equipment by supplying vendors with supplies, following “recipes” where 2 “butterfly wings” and 3 “wolf’s hide” would unlock a “darkened leather suit”? And why (like in Etrian) should it unlock unlimited supplies? Perhaps it would enable 1 to 3 equipment to be sold next. That way, the economy would enter a crafting cycle somewhat like the original SWG, or so I was told.

Of course, crafters themselves would have access to other recipes, in order to let people choose their path.

What do you think? Would this work?