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Benefits of a Fully Player-Driven Game World

Albion Online Developer Journals - By Guest Writer on July 05, 2016

Benefits of a Fully Player-Driven Game World

A core aspect of Albion Online is that its entire world is fully player-driven. This includes crafting, trading, buildings, land ownership and entire player-driven cities.

As a result of that, there are tons of different activities that you can do as a player. Activities that actually make sense doing and that for which you will also be rewarded by other players. Gatherers, crafters, landlords, traders, criminals, hunters of said criminals, transporters and many other things, each of them with the option to specialize and become famous for what you do, will all have their place in the grand economy of the world

In this column, I want to outline how our player-driven world works, and what that means for the players who venture into it. Not only in itself, but also in comparison to classical theme park MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

Gathering

Albion Online uses five basic resources types, four of which are used for item crafting and one, stone, is used for building construction. The four main crafting resources are wood, ore, hide and fiber.

All of the resources are quite limited by design. The resources come in tiers ranging from 1 to 8, and in particular highest end resources are extremely rare, balanced in such a way that there is a cap on the daily amount that can spawn. This means that the equation that “more time gathering = more resources gathered” does not necessarily hold true, especially at the mid and high end of the game. In order to get a good gatherer, you need to go to the right locations at the right time, and for the higher end resources, it’s advisable to bring some protection with you - or to be sneaky enough to avoid being ambushed. Since those high-end resources are so limited, the rewards are insanely good if you manage to pull this off. Gathering is exciting precisely because of this risk-reward relationship and because your own skill as a player truly matters.

Crafting

In Albion, basically anything can be freely traded between players. This means that if you gather resources, you can either craft them into items yourself, or you can just simply sell them to the player-driven market and use the silver to buy the item that you wanted - as others might be able to create a better or more cost-efficient version of it.

Now, when it comes to crafting, in many games, once you have unlocked the ability to craft an item, you can create an infinite amount of it provided that you have the materials. The issue with that is that it pretty much kills competition in the market and makes pure crafting a very unrewarding activity to specialize in.

We resolve this issue from multiple angles: the crafting unlock tree is very deep and fragmented, meaning that if you truly specialize into crafting a particular item, chances are that you only have a few true competitors. On top of that, each character gets a certain number of crafting focus points per day. You can always craft as many items as you want, however, if you decide to also use focus points, you get a kick-back on the materials used. Generally speaking, if you craft using focus points, your production costs are lower, meaning you can essentially always turn a profit when then selling your crafted goods to the market, provided that your items are in high enough demand. Now, the more specialized you are in crafting a particular item, the less focus points you will consume when crafting, meaning that the number of items you can craft with reduced production cost increases.

With these mechanics in place, it is absolutely possible to make your in-game living by being a pure crafter, buying your materials off the market, creating your items and then selling to finished items back to the market.

Buildings and Land

Items are crafted in buildings, such as a Warrior's Forge or Mage Tower. With the exception of a few newbie zone buildings, these are all player-made. So how does this work?

You can either construct your own crafting buildings on your personal island or guild island, or, as a guild, you can conquer land in the open world and build up your guild base there.

However, - and this is what I want to focus on here - you can also get a piece of land inside a player city and use that for the construction of a crafting building. Once you have constructed your building there, you can allow other players to use it for a fee, which is generally calculated as a percentage of the underlying value of the crafted item. However, if you build a forge for example, it might not be the only one in that city, so you can expect to compete with others over the fees you charge. On top of that, location also plays a major role: is your building in the city center? Right at an entrance or exit? Or in a remote location? To keep things fair and balanced, and prevent stagnation, city plots come up for auction in regular intervals - meaning that other players can buy you out of your plot if their offer is high enough. However, you as the existing owner of the plot only have to bid half as much as the highest other bidder in order to keep it.

The above means that - if you like - you can make it your profession in Albion to be a property magnate, by trading real estate plots and getting a portfolio of crafting buildings in key locations. This, again, is only possible because the property market in Albion is also fully player-driven. 

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