Dreams of Anarchy - Greed is Good
Well, I have to admit that the new Game Director has made a good impression on me this month. With the new patch (18.4.15 ) not only has Sector 10 solo instance been fixed, but also... the cooldown of 'Shadowlands Recall Beacon' available from the Veteran vendor is lowered to match the Rubi-Ka version as I had suggested in the previous article!
I was very happy with the small but meaningful change. Today, I'd like to share some more ideas on how to improve Anarchy Online, specifically the in-game aspect of buying, selling and trading.
Currently, the only way for a player to have a shop of his/her own to sell items requires the person to be in an org, and to have the Alien Invasion expansion. Those who do not have that specific expansion (or no expansions at all -froobs-) would have to use the shopping channels. In the past that seemed pretty fair, we had a larger playerbase.
I think that there may be other options for players to buy, sell and trade. Here is what I suggest.
Scratch them, remove them altogether from the game. Before you shout "How can I sell my stuff if my org has no market!" hear me out. Right now if you close your shop with items in it, and open a new one either in the same market or another market (like when you move to another org) you still retain those items and the profits from items sold, so there is a system in place that does keep track of everything you have in your shop.
This means that removing your org market will not mean that you lose your items. Now on to explain how you get to sell your items.
The year is 29486
Yes, that is the actual year where AO is currently at, the 30th millennium. So far into the future and we need to run or fly to a shop? If we can buy stuff online in 2012 and not even move from the comfort of our own home to buy ridiculous things like pet food or important things like a big screen TV... why do we have to travel sometimes across half of Rubi-Ka to get an item?
If the Devs were able to create a portable Bank, and portable GMS they can certainly create... a portable shop. You can add items to your shop by using a portable device (make it NODROP) where you can add items as you are able to do right now. Of course some limitations would need to be placed, like not able to use it in combat (or have a PvP flag), maybe even limit it's use yo larger towns or areas with 75% gas. In other words, you wouldn't order a pizza online while your skydiving would you? (someone would, but what I'm saying is that the average person would not).
Another twist, is that players would not be required to be in an org, to own a shop. There are already plenty of reason to be in an organization, having a market has always been seen as a "bonus" but rarely as the main reason to be in an org. However, if you are in an org, that little Org Tax on markets owned by org members, should still apply. If you're in an org, you should contribute towards the upkeep, that is only fair if you have a shop (1-5% is not really going to break you).
GMS with Delivery
Alright, so let's say you have a portable shop, and fill it with goodies. Without a Market, how are your buyers going to get your stuff? Simple, there are Mail terminals in every large town in the game including all Shadowlands gardens, within 2-7 minutes of purchase (Express Delivery Time) a buyer will receive the item in the mail after making a purchase through a GMS terminal (including the portable version).
Of course there is the one situation where I can think... for some reason a buyer lost internet, power outage, being grounded (some AO players are young) or aren't able to log in for other reasons. A normal mail timeout is 14 days. Any mail that times out will be deleted and items/credits will be lost (will not be reimbursed).
If the buyer is unable to log in for 2 weeks, well... he'll have to eat the loss. It doesn't sound fair, but even the Devs can't cover "acts of god" (and I'm an atheist so I find this sorta funny). As long as this is made clear I think the playerbase would be more than happy to accept this.
From a buyer's point of view, unless he/she is so wealthy that price is not something that matters to the person, one would look for the lowest price when searching for an item to purchase.
My wife does her shopping online and has learned to be quite thrifty and knows where to go for free shipping, discounts and every possible way to save money.
Again, AO is set far in the future. Why do paid players need to roll a neutral character to compare prices between clan and omni shops? because sometimes the difference can go into the hundreds of millions. So a person saves credits, at the cost of a character slot, which to me, doesn't make any sense.
This suggestion may make a few AO Devs cringe, but most MMO's have game-wide auction houses or shops where someone can buy items from players regardless if they are on their own side or not. From a storyline pov... clans are desperate to make credits since they don't work for a wealthy corporation, omnis are greedy corporate drones (sorry, it's the clanner in me) and the neutrals would sell anything to put food on the table because they're stuck in the middle.
Bottom line, everyone needs credits.
Making all player shops visible on GMS regardless of faction will increase competitive prices and help the market be more stable (most of the time).
A chance for Profit
Ok now the idea of a portable shop can make FC a few bucks, if they do it right. The best way to do it in my personal opinion is to give portable shops to all paid players, in other words, if you are not a froob, you get one with each character you currently have and any future characters you create.
Just as they did with the Jet Pack where you could get this cool item for a limited time, maybe doing the same with the current froobs would also be a way of saying "thanks for playing our game" to them.
Of course giving away portable shops to froobs, would have to be limited time, and maybe only 1 or 2 per account. Here comes the profit... have portable shops available at the Item Shop for froobs -not account wide-(and of course make clear in the description that a paid player should not buy this item since they get it for free).
Take it with you
In my previous article I mentioned the possibility of a portable mail system (like bank and gms) for Paid Points. Now imagine... you are far from town but can still check your mail, buy stuff, sell stuff (if the portable mail and portable shop are created) and check gms for price comparison without having to stop your mission/quest or leave your team.
Yes, most costs Paid Points, but the game needs income to pay for development because Devs are not paid with Monopoly money and Funcom is not a non-profit company, let's be real here.
You get convenience, they get a few of your bucks and the game is better for it.
2 is better than 3
At this time we have shopping channels for levels 11-50, 50-100 and 100+. I think it's time to consolidate a bit, and have just 11-100 and 100+, two channels. Currently most sellers who are 100+ use all three channels to advertise their goods, which usually triples the walls of text if that person is selling a lot of stuff. By only having two channels the spam is reduced over time and it also covers a wider range of player levels.
Possible Side Effects
Ok, so if an org doesn't need a Market (which is a very large building) I think a moderate percentage of orgs would consider switching to having an instanced city. Upkeep is cheaper, but... the downside is that an org city in Serenity Islands, does not provide a "shortcut" to Rubi-Ka playfields. For example, my main org Mercury Dragons Clan has a QL 300 Large City in Pleasant Meadows, from where members go to Mantis Hive/Smugglers Den, Mercenaries and other locations within that playfield or neighboring playfields. Having a real city is still an advantage and it still costs more than an instanced city (credit sink).
Without City Markets, this could lead a few orgs to move onto Serenity Islands as a more convenient and more cost effective option, which could leave more open plots available. This can be beneficial if the consideration of a merge of both active servers is being taken seriously as stated in the Monthly Development Update: January 2012
by the current Game Director Fia ”Lindelu” Tjernberg.
I didn't forget the Market forums at the official AO forums, but anyone who posts there, expects a reply post in their thread from buyers. Froobs can currently search and read posts, but not make posts.
Even though this limits the froob community it does make sense from Funcom's point of view. Anyone can make a froob account and start posting spam in their forums and paid subscribers are less likely to do that since there are consequences to such actions.
I don't see any reason to change this. The exception would be if there is a server merge, to condense the market forums.
I've been buying, selling and trading items in Anarchy Online for over 10 years, and as the game has expanded and evolved I've adapted to more efficient and better ways to do it.
We do have an extremely active community and if you've learned the game enough to like it... you know you'll be buying, selling and trading items on almost all your characters.
In closing, a piece of advice. Avoid accepting "items in a backpack" in-game, because you may get an empty backpack. It's better to do several trades where you can see what you're getting, than taking a chance at getting ripped off. All trades are final in-game (that is why the accept button appears on both sides of a trade, your last chance to change your mind) and chances of getting a refund, are unlikely.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go check on 6 shops, have a great week everyone!
Last updated on 02.15.2012 by Windguaerd
Article written by Windguaerd
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