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STO Developer Blog: Economy

Posted Sep 27, 2005 by Jon Wood

STO Developer Blog: Economy

Perpetual Entertainment's Star Trek Online has released another developer blog. This time, it's the "senior systems designer", Eric Heimburg, who talks to us about the economy in Star Trek Online. Numerous people have been wondering if a game featuring the moneyless Federation would even carry an economy. The answer is: Of course it will. 

Hi, I’m Eric Heimburg, senior systems designer on Star Trek Online. It’s been a roller coaster of a time for me – I’ve been here less than two months and I’ve already gotten my hands in all sorts of game details. One of the things I’ve helped tackle is the economy of Star Trek Online. Let me give you a rundown on our current thinking.

First off, will the game have an economy? We’ve heard the community ask this question several times, and the answer is yes. The Federation has a thriving economy, with major financial institutions (such as the Bank of Bolias) keeping trade running smoothly. There are also important game reasons why we’re including an economy. In fact, from a gameplay point of view, we couldn’t NOT have an economy! This is because STO will have items, and these items can be traded between players. Once you have that, you have an economy. Even if the game had no currency, players would simply set up a barter system. The history of MMOs shows that players will create their own economy if the game’s systems don’t suit their purposes. In fact, some of the player-created barter economies have been pretty fun. But is a barter system appropriate for Star Trek? Not in general. Bartering is a pretty time-consuming way to do trade, and modern MMO players expect the convenience of currency. So what sort of currency should Star Trek Online have?

Well, the basic unit of currency in the Federation is the credit, an entirely electronic type of money. The credit is quite well entrenched in canon stories: Cyrano Jones was selling tribbles for credits way back in 2268; nearly a century later, they were still in common use when the Federation offered 1,500,000 credits for the Barzan wormhole in 2366. Since players are in the Federation, it makes sense to use Federation credits as the basic currency. We’ll assume that other currencies, such as latinum bars and Cardassian Leks, can be converted into credits (perhaps with some exchange fee).

To read the rest of this blog, click here.

* special thanks to corduroy13 for bringing this one to our attention.

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