Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
10.1 Greenspan for the Win
All games need an economy, even those that don't overtly have anything to
do with money. In sports games, the economy might be measured in points
scored or in player stats. In a fighting game, the game economy is measured in
damage, speed, and health. This is how game designers balance a game such
that it is fair and (more important) fun. Of course, many in-game economies
are an obvious and explicit part of the reward structure. Earning copper, sil-
ver, and gold from each monster slain is an integral part of World of Warcraft
(and most other fantasy RPGs). Most social games give players some form of
currency as a direct reward for almost every action they take; in many social
games, this reward mechanic is tied to the core compulsion loop, and coins
and stars spring out of every mouse-click like hyperactive candy from a piñata.
For games that feature microtransactions, it often makes some sense to
complicate the in-game economy a bit by introducing a secondary form of
currency that is tied to real-world money. This “dual currency” system is so
common these days that it could almost be considered a standard design
trope. Dual currency models typically divide into “soft” currencies (which
are awarded in game and have no real-world value) and “hard” currencies
(which are derived from real-world money). There are game design and logis-
tic reasons for adopting a dual currency model, both of which we'll explore in
this chapter.
There is, of course, no law that says a game has to adopt a dual currency
model. Having a single in-game currency (that could even be pegged to a real-
world currency like the U.S. dollar) is perfectly appropriate for the right kind
of game (though it would likely pose a number of game design challenges).
Conversely, there's no hard and fast rule against having more than two cur-
rency systems in place in your game at any one time. Indeed, with many social
networks and platforms providing their own virtual currency systems, such a
design plan might be ideal.
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