Until recently, we have heard only bits and pieces of how the Elder Scrolls Online economy will work. Developers claim to have a robust crafting system, and given the history of the single-player Elder Scrolls games, I can accept that. But how do I get my wares into the hands of other players? Gameplay Designer Nick Konkle spoke to Shoddy Cast about that very thing. Surprisingly, he revealed quite a bit, and although it's a very interesting listen, I don't think any MMO has tried anything like it. I'm scared and very intrigued.
Guilds hold the keys to the larger economy in the Elder Scrolls Online. First, guilds will have stores within the guild interface to help them sell items to guild members. Guilds can also set up guild stores in Cyrodiil to trade with players outside the guild. That's right: Cyrodiil, the PvP zone. But let's tackle the intraguild store first.
I'm not sure whether this guild store that sells items only to its own members is an effort to encourage larger guilds or something else entirely. To be honest, in most guilds that I've been a part of, players did more giving away of items than they ever did selling items to each other. Perhaps this will allow guild leaders and crafting officers to better track who is taking what from the guild bank. I'm not sure.
Also, if one guild houses some of the best crafters, then I can see many players clamoring to join that one guild, especially if the best gear comes from crafting. In fact, I'd venture to say that the total number guilds in the game as a whole might become quite narrow if resources in the game end up being very limited, but the Cyrodiil stores might counter that some.
The Elder Scrolls Online will not have an auction house. Konkle explained why on Shoddy Cast:
"You don't necessarily want to do a global auction house for a game with one giant server because that generally leads to all the best gear being available at very, very cheap prices. A lot of times that can trivialize the game. You cannot have a healthy economy when there are no restrictions on getting the best stuff in the game."So how will this be set up in ESO? In Cyrodiil, there sit keeps all over the map, and each keep can be captured by a specific faction and claimed by specific guild. Konkle was short on details about how a guild actually lays claim to a keep, but for the sake of argument, let's say that all a guild has to do is be the first one to plant its flag in the keep (although I suspect it's more complicated than that). If your guild has planted its flag in a specific keep, then your guild leader (or anyone with the correct permissions?) can set up a shop there. Again, the details are sketchy on whether this means that an individual can set up her own NPCs to sell items or there will be one store that multiple players will have access to. But the bottom line is that the guild stores will be set up in the middle of the open-world PvP zone. Color me intrigued.
Obviously, this means that the keeps closest to the starting area of each faction will likely be the most contested within the faction itself because they are likely to be the easiest to get to. However, Konkle mentioned that it will still be easy enough for players to get to other keeps because of the teleport system. Does that mean that players will be able to jump directly from one keep to the next or from the starting area to an outer keep quickly? That could have consequences on not just the economic game but also PvP in general.
As I said above, the system makes me both intrigued and scared. I like the idea of not having a central auction house. Like Konkle, I have seen this type of trading system make the trading game annoying and cutthroat to the point that players just don't want to be involved. But I can imagine some major issues with the proposed ESO system as well. Some guilds are small and want to remain small. I cannot see how these guilds will be able to participate in the world economy. And if keep turnover is anything like WvWvW in Guild Wars 2, then there might be only a handful of massive guilds participating. At the same time, it makes guarding these keeps more important and meaningful, which I am extremely fond of.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe this is the right move? Are you scared and intrigued, too? Let me know in the comments.
Konkle discussed more than guild stores; he also talked about combat mechanics, the bounty system, the justice system, among other things. Even if you don't have a spare 45 minutes, you should make time to listen to this interview. Your interest in the game just might be renewed.
Each week, traverse the treacherous terrain of Tamriel with Larry Everett as he records his journey through The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG from ZeniMax. Comments are welcome below, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. He promises to keep the arrow-to-the-knee jokes to a minimum.