Can I interest you in a payment plan?

| Friday, February 15, 2013
Why can't players go into debt?    Obviously we can picture some reasons.

The biggest reason might be the ability to create debt, then delete the character, mailing off whatever item was bought.  This can be fixed by making the item soulbound.  In the case of trade materials, that would have to apply to the crafting results.  Or exclude trade materials since I foresee many problems, both on the technical side and on the player side.

Paying back is tricky too.  What can the game do?  One like EVE could be heartless and tear out your implants and break a clone's kneecaps.  But WoW can't do that.  It can't actively punish failure to repay, which leaves it open to abuse.

Behold: income withholding.  Make the player's gold go negative and future quest rewards, coin, and vendor sales go to the debt.  Despite having less than no gold, players could still make some purchases, such as repairs, though that would add to their debt.  Again, in a game like WoW we can't have a situation where a player cannot repair their armor.

Excessive debt is also a potential issue.  For example, if I bought a 250,000g mount, we all know I'm not paying that off with my main's coin looting and daily quest rewards.  Not for a very long time.  To deal with this, the account's income on that server would be calculated and purchases could not exceed a certain time period's income, perhaps no more than a month.

This creates some potential problems.  Can the income be faked?  The obvious way would be through direct trades of gold.  A trusting guild might trade a lot of gold to someone so they could borrow for a mount, then take it back, so that the players with an income of 100g a day is in debt for the next 2/3 of a year.  Excluding direct gold trades would fix that, but then it blocks players who do a lot of selling through direct trades.  The AH couldn't be excluded, but then the trillion gold gold coin becomes a potential issue, though the resulting gold destruction might discourage that course of action.  Looking at a longer time frame, such as several months, could give an idea of what a player typically takes in, before they thought to cheat the system.  That creates the problem that income isn't stable: in my case I know my income has gone up dramatically in the past few weeks thanks to my enchanter, so I'd appear much poorer than I am.

Ultimately the problem may be that any amount of gold that can be safely loaned is going to be too little to be worth much.  Loaning me a few thousand is a safe bet: I can pay it back in a few days, but in that case, I'd rather just wait a few days and not deal with goblins.  Loaning me the $250,000g for one of those fancy mounts, that could take a long time.  Then what if I quit?  Returning is less interesting if I know I'm going to have a couple hundred thousand debt waiting for me.

All this leads me to this suggestion: make it an RP mechanic.

Allow for small loans, only a few hundred gold.  Stick a one-week timer on them.  After that week, goblins come for you.  Pay up then or you have a difficult boss fight on your hands.  Better hope you're in a raid when it happens, or maybe not!  If you beat them, then the debt is forgiven, though the goblins will refuse to loan you money for a few weeks, since goons aren't free.  If you pay up, then they'll leave you alone and gladly lend you more gold right away, even on the spot.  If you run away, then they get the bank to withhold income until it is paid off, with periodic letters notifying you that you are being watched.

You might have noticed that the first scenario, borrow money, kill goons, is essentially free gold.  That's why it is meant to be a difficult fight, and can appear anywhere, though the timer will be pretty exact.  By that I mean, if you borrow on Monday at 7pm, the goons will show up the next Monday between 7pm and 8pm, so you could plan ahead.  This could be a guild event, or just a way to get people working together, in a capitalistic manner of course: "/2 paying 50g per person for a group to protect me from goons in 15 minutes!  PLEASE!" Borrow 500g, pay 200g to other players, pocket the 300g, and then repeat it a few weeks once the goblins have burned down their banking records.  Or maybe that should be a quest as well, to break in and destroy the evidence.  The criminal implications are endless!


Dàchéng said...

I like your idea, Kelpsacovic. You're onto something! How about if your PvP flag was turned on - for both factions - after your debt was a certain age? It would be great if the goblins could put a bounty on your head! Also what about letting the goblins loot your corpse (including all that soulbound armour you worked so hard to collect) and get their money back that way?

Dàchéng said...

Kelpsacovic? Sorry!!

Klepsacovic said...

@Dàchéng: I think WoW is a bit too soft for corpse looting to work, not that I'm suggesting that is a problem with WoW; it's just the sort of game it is.

The PvP flagging could potentially work, as long as it dropped after the first kill. Though in that case, it could be vulnerable to exploits depending on how the loan size and bounty compare.

Either name works: My first character (shaman) was Klepsacovic, my paladins are Kelpsacovic.

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