The economy is a delicate and mind-bending thing which is undoubtedly hard to control, a job I don't envy our devs for. It takes little effort to complain about complex topics like this, much more to suggest possible solutions and unending efforts to resolve the issues for good.
Without further ado, here’s my take on the game, its progression system and economic stability.
In this post I’d like to address following topics:
The games dual currency economy gold & BFP
Upgrade disenchanting / gold rewards
Gold with no end
Inflation of BFP
The possibilities devs have to influence card prices
Possible solutions for an arising problem
Various booster packs and their pricing
The games economy
We have two currency systems in Skylords reborn: Gold and BFP. Both Gold and BFP are “earned” by simply playing the game. When I say “earned” I mean created by the server which has an infinite supply for both. At this point we need to look at those two currencies separately which is easily doable since they do not interact with each other in any way.
Gold is not tradable between players and used for upgrading cards, essentially fine-tuning and end game progression. There is nothing that stops the community to greed for gold. The more the players play, the more gold will be distributed. It’s a nice closed system which allows a steady progression for the players. For some it’s too slow, which is a point I will not discuss. However, how this gold is distributed I’d like to discuss. Without messing with the total value of upgrades too much I suggest to normalise the disenchant value. This would probably not prevent Guns of Lyr “goldruns” to be the most efficient way to farm gold but it would allow to players to play their favourite map to farm gold without feeling cheated when only common upgrades show up at the end of the map. Here are chart of the current disenchant values and another chart with my suggestion. Note: these values are not chosen at random, but with a more even distributed gold reward in mind. The target would be to not add or subtract a significant amount from the rewards over all maps combined.
These numbers are a significant gold contributor such as finishing maps, which are the main tools for devs to control “late game” progression of skylords reborn and ultimately pace the endgame grind. The system is quite beautiful since it allows a nonstop grind and constant progress to achive fully upgraded decks.
Inflation of Gold
“I’ve got every upgrade I can wish for, what do I do with the gold?”
For the 0.1% of players who have hundreds of thousands of gold and those who only play a certain deck, it’s a bit of a bummer there is no ultra-endgame usage for gold, but since this currency isn’t tradable, no one really minds.
Question for you, the reader: Should there be a currency sink (a way to delete significant amounts of currency for little effect) for gold?
One option would be additional booster packs which progressively get more expensive: first one would cost 100’000 gold, second 200’000, third 300’000 and so on. If you’re now asking yourself why anyone would ever buy 10 boosters for 5.5 million gold, then this problem does not affect you.
Battleforge points / BFP
In contrast to gold are BFPs tradable between players and somewhat limited by the rewardsystem. Let’s focus first on the big picture:
Players “earn” or more accurately generate BFP daily by completing quests and since the last big patch also with playtime. These points are used to either buy cards from other players (with the auction house or direct trade) or to buy different booster packs from the server for X amount. You don’t need to have a degree in economics to see a difference between gold and BFP: With enough time, the market will be satisfied with most common and lesser used cards. Those will lose value until they’re basically worthless. On the other hand rarer and broadly used cards will significantly rise in prise. We can see this effect right now and could see it 10 years back with EA at the controls. Only difference being, BFP could always get generated with real life currency at a fixed rate and nowadays we have a timely limited supply due to quests.
Maintaining value of BFP / Expected booster value edited 19.08.20
By tying BFP to a fixed booster price our valuable BFP will never lose their value. In a perfect economy the expected value from opening a booster is near but always below its price. The difference in value comes from taking a risk: When opening a single booster you will lose value in the big majority of cases, in some you'll go even and in rare cases you'll profit. How this risk is valued depends on the individual. In general wealthy ppl are more likely to pay for risk and the poor rather play it save by selling boosers or not buying boosters (even on discount).
We could very well calculate the expected value of a booster to confirm this by pricing every card with the actual marketprice, weighting their value by multiplying with the chance to opening this specific card in a booster and add all of them up. Why didn't I already do it you ask? Because we're not in a perfect economy, prices are hard to track by hand and fluctuate immense as well as rapitly due to the small-ish active playerbase. And lastly because of diliberate marketmanipulation/pricefixing by players who rather play the economy than the game (nothing wrong with that, I loved to do this myself in various games too).
Market liquidity edited 19.08.20
The economy will - to a certain extend - balance itself but the effects described above are getting more drastic over time. We can slow this effect down by rewarding players with booster packs directly instead of BFP. As @Ponni pointed out, a higher supply keeps the market liquid/speeds up the economy (many trades are being made because of players competing over prices and undercutting).
On the other hand we can also slow down the economy and therefore speed up the effect described before. By rewarding players with only BFP. Why that is, you ask? Well it’s a fair question to ask and a tricky one to explain. There are many additional human factors influencing this besides demand and supply. As I said, with BFP bound to booster packs they won’t ever lose value, but with more available BFP ppl tend to save their treasure. Thus slowing down the market by not spending it on cards or boosters which will lower the price of undemanded cards and raise the price of cards in high demand. Since the last patch this is what we are seeing. Note: I don’t have any data to back any of this up but would be very interested if there is some to monitor prices of certain cards to watch the effect.
I’m not sure what the reasons were behind the change to reward players with more BFP than cards directly, in my humble opinion: This is the wrong way to wander. There are different approaches to keep the economy liquid, forcing more cards instead of BFP is one of them by creating more supply and less currency in circulation. Another approach would be to trick the market: Instead of increasing the supply we can change the trade system to our wishes. By increasing the auction time significantly supply will increase due to less active players staying in the market for more than 48h (current limit for auctions). Increasing the limit from 24h to 48h was a step in the right direction. Note: I’ll talk about the prices of specific boosters later in this post, just keep reading.
Inflation of BFP
Now we can discuss inflation. This system is inflating, that is a fact. You don’t need to understand economics to see in the picture above that there are more and more cards and BFP circulating the player base. What this system needs is a currency sink: A way for players to get rid of huge amounts of currency for little upsides. Like the suggestion in the gold section of this post, this is meant for players who got it all. By giving the 1% of players a reason to spend their treasure you also even out the playing field for the rest (side note: If you think forcing players to buy more boosters is a solution, you didn’t pay enough attention). So yeah, what do you – the reader – think? How would you get rid of BFP? What’s the thing you’d pay horrendous prices for even if there’s a way less expensive alternative?
Promo cards. My suggestion will not make everyone happy, it removes the possibility for lucky players to get promo cards with boosters. Now hear me out before you burn me alive: Firstly, removing promos will rise the value of every other card in the game available through boosters since they’re still bound to the 450 BFP cost of the boosters – thus help normalise the market prises of cards. Secondly, promo cards would still be available for everyone in the store for a set amount of BFP and will be accountbound/non-tradeable. Further I suggest that the fist promo card purchased from the store (not a player, this is very important since player interactions are net 0 trades) could be somewhat reasonably priced with… let’s say 5’000 BFP. The second one will cost you significantly more: 10k BFP. The third 15k and so on. This would give even regular players the option to buy their favourite promo cards if they wish to. At the same time it would delete enormous amounts of BFP from player who already own what they want.
Additional – but way less effective – currency sinks would be significant auction house fees. Make them cost significant amounts of BFP (~5-15% of sold price a.e.). I’m completely fine with our current auction house. I think our community is a bit too small to make fees a significant contributor to deflation.
Dev market manipulation
A similar system could be implemented for all non-promo cards too. A static card shop where all cards are available to a fixed price. Those cards would of course not be accountbound and would be tradable, but their prices will be horrendous at first glance. I’ll make another example with numbers which I have not put much thought into: The vendor would sell every common card for 375 BFP, uncommons for 750 BFP, rares for 1500 BFP and ultra rares for 3000 BFP. I know, you would never ever buy an Eliminator or Kobold Inc. for 750 BFP. But what about a Shaman? Seems like a quite reasonable price, right? The point is, by creating a fixed upper limit for cards you ensure the market isn’t inflating over a set limit.
Without implementation of a currency sink (does not have to be my suggestion) there is little to nothing the devs can do to fix this games economy. The only sink we have today, are people abandoning the game and never come back. I think we can come up with something better than that.
I need to point out, reducing the amount of BFP players get from the reward system is an option, but only slows down the inevitable. Furthermore reducing the amount of BFP rewards would slow down the “early game” progression of players. When I started this beta the progression seemed a bit slow to the point I considered multiaccounting (don’t tell the devs). I think slowing this progression down even further isn’t considered an option for the devs. I cross my fingers I’m not wrong about this…
Lastly here’s how the possible economy could look like:
Various booster packs added 19.08.20
This topic is not as related to the economy as one might think, but has a couple of shared points, that's why I decided to include it here.
Since last patch more specific boosters were introduced which limit the cardpool to either a race or faction. Currently the basic booster (without any cardpool restricitons) is priced at 450 BFP, race boosters are set to 155% of the base price and faction boosters 220% respectivly. These values are open for discussion according to devs and here's my opinion to the matter.
Note: I will not discuss the set price of the basic booster nor include the booster discounts right away. The basic booster price is the backbone of this games market and not topic in this part of the post. However I will go into the upprices of the newly introduced booster packs.
Why they exist and how they are priced added 19.08.20
Adding specific boosters is comparable to the suggestion I brought up earlier to have a specific card vendor. It's an attempt help the economy balance itself more consistan.
I recap: In a perfect economy the value of the basic booster is the average value of its content times a individual risk factor. Now I make deliberately a false assumtion to make my point clear: All 539 (correct me if I'm wrong) cards in Skylords reborn have the exact same value. This would mean even with a restricted cardpool in race boosters (approximately 240) and faction boosters (approximately 110) every booster should have the base price times a factor to compensate risk. The factor rises while risk diminish by limiting the cardpool further (making the outcome more predictable).
Let's make an example: When the prices of "Harvester" and "Infect" rise to oblivion, at some point it makes more sence mathematicly to buy "Shaddow" or "Lost Souls" booster packs even when they come with a high upprice.
Conclusion added 19.08.20
Higher prices of specific boosters will push prices prices of specific cards up, while on the contrary lower prices of specific boosters pull prices of cards down.
My suggestion for risk factor and booster prices added 19.08.20
I will try to make some calculaions with an example to have an actual suggestion on how much these risk factors should be with reasonable market prices for specific cards. Unfortunatly I don't have the time right now to do so. Stay tuned.
I hope you enjoyed the read, I’m curious about your feedback.
For folks interested in virtual economies, check this YouTube channel out:
MMO Economies - How to Manage Inflation in Virtual Economies - Extra Credits
MMO Economies - Hyperinflation, Reserve Currencies & You! - Extra Credits
I'd love to create new content for the game but frankly I am pretty terrible at PvE map design. When I saw this post from MephistoRoss my gears started running, ideas kept popping in and out of my head and motivation as well as time I've got plenty for the time being. I don’t like asymmetrical games/modes, this is one of the reasons I’m bad at PvE design. In the reply to the post I scribbled down a couple of ideas and here is a more fleshed out variant of my thoughts.
“My” community map idea: Champions of Nyn
A MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena).
We’re going back to 2003, the release date of Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), a community map for Warcraft 3. Back then MOBA as a game genre didn’t exist and a guy called Eul released this gem of a community map into the world. Today games like League of Legends are amongst the most played and popular games ever created. My vision for this map is not to replace any of the triple A titles out there, but to apply the concepts inside of Skylords reborn.
More concrete vision for this map/gamemode (if MOBA isn’t a familiar genre to you I’d recommend to read the wikipedia article first): A 3v3 map with team bases at the center left and right with 2 lanes splitting the map into top, middle and bottom jungle. Best comparable with the old 3v3 map “Twisted Treeline” from League of Legends. When entering the map all players can choose one of multiple playable characters to play this round. Comparable to how you had your hero Harvester in the community map “Rise of Demon” by Emmaerzeh/Lebovin, you will unlock specific skills for your chosen character by killing minions (uncontrollable units from a team which run towards the enemy base) and monsters (jungle camps/enemy units periodically spawning in the jungle). Skill usage can be restricted by either cooldown, energy or both combined. Boss monsters will be part of the jungle giving one team an advantage over the other by granting a buff, debuffing the enemy, enhancing power generation etc.
Currently I have no specific idea to make use of the deckbuilding aspect of the game. The only “reasonable” thing for me at the moment is to ban every single card to prevent major balance issues. I’m up for suggestions though.
My humble skills
I’m new to coding but can do quite a lot of stuff in Skylords reborn inside of mapscripts. Everything mentioned in 'my idea' is doable with the skills I’ve acquired during the pandemic. But, I’m not all knowing and will need some help. Especially in map generation, as far as I know maps can be generated with pixelated images, I saw it on YouTube once. That’s pretty much all I know of map generation. Further I need to improve my knowledge of script groups which I didn’t come around playing with so far.
My future plans
Realising a project like this requires quite a time investment which I’m willing to do, but also proper planning. This community map won't be released (V1.0) before following milestones are achieved:
V0.0.1 Proof of concept; playable 3v3 team game with objective and 1 playable hero (respawning)
V0.1 Creatuon of map (balancing and redesign along the way)
V0.2 Minions and experience; leveling up heroes granting more power and abilities
V0.3 Monsters and neutral buffs
V0.4 Increase number of playable heroes to 3, make them unique (max one of each per team)
V0.5 Playtest 1 (closed beta) & balancing
V0.6 Increase number of playable heroes to at least 6
V0.7 Add eyecandy: Animations, cutscenes and character callouts to the map
V0.8 Playtest 2 (open beta) & final balancing
But before I really start on V0.1 I need one thing: Community feedback if there’s even a wish for a mode like this. What do you think? Would you give it a shot? Do you even have ideas? And would you like to be part of a small dev crew?
I mean I don’t mind having that many rankings but most of them might stay as of now: „ see Ranking with x players“, either way, we will definitely need an ingame filter for it or it ll become very hard to keep track.
50 minutes for one map? But I got told already, that it is a hard map with just 3 or 4 player
3-Player, 6-Player, 9-Player and 12-Player ingame option seems fine for me, since not many Player seem to be able to play that map on Expert (till now 6 won matches in Ascension and 18 won in Passage to Darkness according to the ranking). For forum I was thinking to add a spoiler for the 12 player maps, because 8-Player is easier than 6-Player, but still harder than 9-Player. Feel free to leave your feedback
We would suppose also to add new rankings for the 12P-Maps. We want to avoid unnecessary cluttering of the 12P rankings. Thats why we would suppose the following classification of the rankings:
1) Passage to Darkness
Due to the fact that all three maps are nearly the same we suppose the following categories to keep the overview:
3/12 = "1/4" on a single map
6/12 = "2/4" on a single map
9/12 = "3/4" on a single map
4/12 to 9/12 like above. 4/12 because based on our current experiences it may be not possible to finish the map ascension with just 3 players or we were just unlucky until now ;-).
4/12 = "1/4" - on two single maps one player and two players on the other map
6/12 = "2/4" on a single map
9/12 = "3/4" on a single map
For a makeable approach to track the rankings the devs also need to apply filter options for the 12P maps ingame. @Zyna@Ladadoos
What do you think about our approach speedruners? Do you want to have deeper classification?
We also have some first times:
50.51.5 LEBOVIN + Pritstift + Treim + Wanky
Passage to Darkness 3/12:
17.21.4 Pritstift + Treim + Wanky
There is a big and old "enmity" between our and the mostly russian team. So if we would post our replays it would mainly be helpful for them. They are the only team that has the time and knowledge to learn a lot from this replays . They simply could stick the best out of both team tactics together. But after they never would post their own replays to us?! They dont even wanted to share MOTM rpve replays in the past....!
So i dont will help to improve and maybe beat our times without a realistic change to see a replay from the other side to do the same. We invested years of gaming to develop so i dont will give it out without the chance of a fair reaction.
This is my point of view. I know it could work different for speedruns and the community - but thats the situation we have right now. So sorry for the rest of the community.
But still we are working to share some semi-speedruns from some of the maps to make it easier for new players to develop own speedruns tactics that could be competetive against the existing teams if they work hard enough.
GoL solo in 6.31.9 done by Wanky ^^
GoL Duo in 3.52.9 done by Mynoduesp and Wanky ^^
Dwarven Riddle Duoin 8.35.5 done by Pritstift and Lebovin ^^
Dwarven Riddle Trio in 7.02.2 done by Treim Lebovin and Wanky ^^
Empire Trio 13.23.8 Done by Pritstift Lebovin and Wanky ^^