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Ahoy from a recently minted pirate, who turned from his landlubberly ways upon clicking ye Penny Arcade link. Having the false impression that my computer was already set up to be able to boot in Linux, I signed up for an account, only to find myself set adrift in the sea of Macintosh incompatibility. Arrrr... gh.
However, I've been reading the forums, and along with some observations from elsewhere on the Internet, I can see two important issues with related solutions.
First, there's the economy. Right now it's in a state of volatility. Of course, post-launch when there are many more pirates in the game, competition will settle down all the prices. However... the way supply and demand work right now leaves something to be desired. Namely, scaling. Let's say that, for some reason, the vast majority of players decide that trading is more fun than pillaging. What will happen? Profit margins will become wafer-thin, for one thing. In the real world, that would fix the problem. Trading doesn't make a lot of money? Don't go into trade. In the game, however, people are really going to want to do what's fun, rather than what pays the best. If players decide that trading is fun, they'll be frustrated if low profits force them to switch to pillaging. On the other hand, suppose that the vast majority of players decide that trading is the most boring thing ever invented. Then what happens? The few remaining traders would make lots and lots of money... but stores would suffer. Stores depend on trade, and they would end up spending a lot of money and still not getting full supply. Of course, hopefully neither extreme will happen, but it's still likely the economy will end up somewhat off-kilter.
The second problem is the so-called 'Ninja Raid,' a future problem that could occur when flag wars are implemented. A ninja raid is when someone commits a PvP attack on an enemy's home base in the small hours of the morning. They encounter no opposition because everyone else is asleep; they have the server to themselves. Instead of really being Pirate vs. Pirate, a flag war could turn into an exploit-fest where one side wins because of its players' caffeine-drinking skills, rather than their pillaging skills. There's also a related exploit that was mentioned in a thread about trade in this forum - the best time to trade is at night when nobody else is on and you can get a monopoly. Although the 'Ninja Trade' isn't as bad as the 'Ninja Raid,' it's still an exploit that can distort gameplay.
So, what's the related solution that I'm posting about? It's the title of this post, "Dynamic NPP Population." The common underlying problem is that economy and war in Y!PP depend entirely on the whims of its players. If lots of players trade, there will be too much commerce; if not enough players trade, too little. Likewise with the number of warships patrolling the harbor in a future flag war. Large sections of the game vanish when players leave, only to become potentially overcrowded when players enter. The gameworld quite literally revolves around the player, and it hurtles off its axis if the player acts in unexpected ways.
My suggestion: create an average total population for the gameworld, probably as a multiple of the number of registered accounts, and have NPPs fill the difference between the number of players logged in at any given time and the total population. Much like swabbies filling in for a duty station, NPPs ships would fill in for player ships; they would come into port and go AWOL when players log on, then come back aboard and set sail when players log off. NPP traders trade, NPP warships patrol the harbor, NPP brigands look for trouble. The idea is twofold: first, for any given action, trade, pillage, or war, you don't profit from being logged on when other players are logged off; second, the economy is player-run in proportion to how much players enjoy running it, with an insulating layer of NPPs to ensure that shops can supply pillagers in case nobody particularly enjoys the running.
The solution to trade camping that comes out of this is that resource spawns would have enough trade goods to sell them to NPPs, but would only do so when there weren't any players with buy orders in the harbor. Hence, NPPs would go empty-handed before players would. There would be enough resources for players without being an overabundance.
Joined: May 1, 2003
The Rudder Revolution is perfectly safe from your so-called "ninja raid." Even if nobody else was awake, Garf could hold off the lot of ye alone!
In other news, not just americans play this game. There seem to be sizable populations of both austrailians and europeans. I do not doubt that they are fairly evenly distributed.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to
add, but when there is nothing left to take away..
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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