17 December, 2005

Musings, Economics, Music, Oh My!

Wow. Between going back at the xp grind yet again, but this time on my Red Mage, running around the world to hand out Christmas cards, and other assorted endeavours including trying to skillup my Sword solo (and dying twice with homepointing, too -_-), skilling up Goldsmithing, and generally going by my daily FF routine, I've come to realise something.

I'm feeling quite burnt out. >_<

This is also the point where I start to wax lyrical about my chronic debate over what job I should level or "max out". After all, I'm leveling my Red Mage right now, but to what end, to what purpose? Granted, I was inspired by watching Avesta solo Bune (and lots of other things!) but a bit of that wonder has died down, although I suppose with my current policy when it comes to HNM/sky, it looks like the only way I'm ever going to get my Zenith Mitts is to solo Genbu myself! (although granted, the pop items could be rather tricky...-_-)

As such, I've been spending a little bit more time out-of-game keeping myself occupied with some things here and there. ^^

Following through with an earlier post, I ended up ordering a book, Synthetic Worlds written by Edward Castronova at Indiana University. In it, he goes into detail about what an MMORPG is, what an MMORPG experience is, and the part that interests me greatly, the effects and workings of a virtual economy, and what happens when virtual meets real. It's also written in a very readable, casual style (although it does pick up and get more technical). Here's a short excerpt,

This book claims that synthetic worlds have become important in some sense, that they are now well worth study, even if they are, at the moment, little more than souped-up video games. Once one reecognizes that a silver piece in Sabert's world can have value just like a US dollar, one also must realize that the silver piece is not merely like money, it is money...

...Focusing on economics for a moment, note that Sabert found gems in the environment and he sold them for money. That looks like individual labor supply to me, and individual money demand...It therefore has a nominal wage rate and price level. That means it has a real wage rate and real gross domestic product. In fact, Sabert's world can potentially be measured by every macroeconomic indicator that can be applied to Earth countries.

In particular, he goes on to briefly talk about the infamous problem that we all know and love- "Real Money Trade". To me, while I personally do not approve of RMT, I find the whole dynamics of this melding between real and virtual economies fascinating.

Soon a new entrant in the game item trading emerged, Internet Gaming Entertainment Ltd. (IGE)...This business model simply takes everything we know about customer satisfaction and applies it to virtual-item sales, or RMT- real money trade.

...Yet for all its success, IGE and its competitors are not fully accepted within the gaming industry. Game developers in general seem to wish that IGE and the market it feeds would go away. For the fact is, the developers are trying to build a fantasy existence, and the idea that not only is this alleged fantasy irreparably intermixed with reality, but that some outsider can make millions off of that fact, is troubling.

Anyway, enough copying other people's work over to this blog. In short, it's a very good read, and offers some very deep insight.

Me? While I personally disapprove of buying one's way to power, I will readily say that RMT is here to stay, and it is of my personal belief that Sony did the right thing with Everquest 2, and open up some servers where RMT is, in fact legal. I don't know how those servers are doing now though, although I am very interested to find out. Like I said, this stuff fascinates me.

Don't get me wrong, I disapprove of the actions of the vast majority of the gilsellers out there in terms of underhand and/or grief tactics to get their money. However, I do not deny that the RMT industry is not only one that's growing larger and more relevant, but it's also one that's doing so exponentially. At the same time, I accept the economic principles that are in place, and yes, there will be a point where the opportunity cost is low enough for me to go "screw it", and just buy the gil. It might have to go all the way down to $1 per million (and it'd be a very sad day the day that happens, too -_-), or it might just take a price of $10/million, but the fact of the matter is, that breaking point does exist. Yes, even for the most anti-RMT people out there, too.

People will naturally gravitate towards whatever is the easiest moeny for them, while those without it will scorn. When I started one of the very first KS30 services on Odin, my group saw this as a fantastic way to make money.

And you know what? It was very good. I mean, really good. I think those KS30 runs in total singlehandedly funded my HQ staves collection, my Igqira Weskit, and a whole bunch of other things that I could not have otherwise afforded. It got me my first million, and it gave me enough capital such that, with the appropriate investments into Gardening, I am now self-sustained.

Good enough to get ahold of attention from practially every other BLM71+ on the server. I'm quite glad I got out of the KS30 business before it got out of hand, but given the number of /shouts in Lower Jeuno a week, I'm glad I was able to take advantage of the situation and get in and out before everybody else jumped onto the KS30 bandwagon. Part of it may have been my business practice though. I personally never intended to be intrusive onto other people, so customers were limited on a word-of-mouth basis. It is because of this that I not once /shouted an advertisement for my KS30 services in the middle of Lower Jeuno. Besides, word of mouth was already spreading about so quickly, I was easily filling up my allocated time slots with people (particularly THFs and BSTs, I might add) who wanted to convert their Kindred Seals into a bit of spare change (and a shot at a Claw).

Only on the encouragement of one of the BLMs in my group, did I reluctantly post an advertisement of sorts up on Killing Ifrit's Odin server forums. And hoo boy, did I get a backlash. More interestingly though, was that I was getting feedback from two completely different ends of the spectrum. I had people who loved the idea, and the service, and those who were completely appauled by it. Heck, I was even accused of committing "highway robbery" (even though I still like Sidant. ^^)

I took a forced break from the game for six weeks when I had to send in my computer in for repairs, and that more or less killed the business for me. Fortunately, I had already gained enough from it to settle me for life barring a disaster, although naturally, I wasn't very pleased to find new KS30 services up and about when I returned. I was even less pleased to find out that it was someone from my own linkshell who initiated a rival KS30 group, although to be fair, his group has since made some advancements in the BLM KS business that I have benefitted from myself.

Anyway, before I get even more sidetracked, the point of the matter is that there are those out there who look down upon using the KS30 services. To some, it takes away the "fun" of getting a group together and actually doing the KSNM together while to others it's downright cheating, and others will think you're nuts for literally walking up to a group of Black Mages to be ripped off. (On another side note, I felt so bad for "ripping off" the first batch of customers off, that I actually wanted to reduce the rate down to just keeping 50% of the total sales, although this would include the Claw. >_<)

The interesting question would then be what makes us different from say, a gilseller-run KS30 service? After all, it's hardly a sure thing to say that none of the Black Mages have ever supported the RMT industry through buying gil, so there's obviously something going on here. Mixing ethics and economics isn't quite my cup of tea though, so I'll end this particular spiel here.

Onto something completely different, I was browsing through SquareEnix's music over at the iTunes store, whereby I just so happened to chance across this CD:

1. Vana'diel March

2. Metalworks

3. Rolanberry Fields

4. Kazham

5. The Forgotten City- Tavnazian Safehold

6. Mog House

7. The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah

8. Awakening

9. Selbina

10. Blessed in Her Glorious Light (Jeuno)

Other than the oh-so-cutaru cover, the CD itself contains ten remixed tracks of some of FFXI's music, in all sorts of genres. It's very interesting, and quite a refreshing new look at some of the pieces one has become so familiar with, although there's perhaps not enough quiet, mellow-ish pieces to satisfy my liking, although the piano rendering of The Forgotten City- Tavnazian Safehold is just beautiful. My other favourites are the Rolanberry Fields and Selbina, just in case you'd like to know as well. ^^

Some of the pieces on the other hand, take a little while to get used to, or are at least an acquired taste. Ever heard the Jeuno theme, gospel style? I don't think I've gotten used to that one just yet, although it still remains rather amusing. ^^


Kirsteena said...

The whole gilselling issue is an interesting one. On our server anything has become fair game. Want a Genbu's shield? Only 150k. Just listen for the shout in Jeuno. This recently appeared from one of the Japanese ls, who the NA based ls had been trying to work with to make the HNM scene a little less messy.


Kind of defeats the object of trying to work together...

Yes there are days when you think ah stuff if I need xxx and I might as well just go buy the gil. Everyone does have a breaking point. I struggle with what I need, but I have been lucky with what I have got. But I would like to level smn one day, but with a vermy pushing 10 mill now, at what point do you say forget farming/fishing/synthing I'm buying it.

Jynx said...

Good read ^^, and I also agree RMT is here to stay as much as we all hate it, I will continue to despise the trade because it influences the real world econimy in third world countries for another meduim to employ people for pennies a day, and make money Hand over Fist over other people missery.

Also with christmas being here I seen a post on KI of someone wondering why IGE was out of gil, and the idea dawned upon me people are buying mass ammounts of gil for christmas presents in game and in turn destroying a stable economy because other non gilbuyers, gilbuyers and RMT take advantage of the fact people are to lazy to wait for a overpriced item to go back to normal price..

For example Scorpion harness is 10 million now, and other items have recntly insanly risin in price.

as for FFXI, if you let all the coruption and fighting in the game slide over you the game is very, very enjoyable but when you actually think of everything wrong with the game it can seem the game has gone to the dogs.

The games all about perspective, and I enjoy the comunity more then I do anything else, and there is nothing RMT can't sell you a good community.

Strawberrie said...

I think I've given up worrying about RMT and economy issues a long time ago. I really only play to be with a handful of friends, or to see the storylines of CoP and NPC quests. I've also been fortunate enough to have a steady gil flow (marrying a guy with TH4 isn't without its charm). Even if the economy does go to hell, at least I'll still be able to have a good chat with Vagus and the others. There's enough problems in the real world to let yourself carried away with game ones. :) Keep yer head up!