One issue that has come up again and again when discussions about the IG economy arise is that it's not an entirely IG thing. There is an extremely significant OOG personality component which is revealed time and time again.Yames said:I'm a fan of mandatory retirement, it would piss off alot of the high level players but really that is the minority and it would save the economy, the level spread would even out, magic items would circulate, and the game would function in a natural way.
If I were to try and construct a formula that tried to estimate how much "worth" a particular character might have (between magic items, gold, and other "stuff") it would be something like:
OOG Player Ability (50%) x Character Desire for Stuff (25%) x Character Level (25%)
That's not something that many people like to hear, but there it is. I've been playing for about 15 years now and have come to realize that the great majority of "ability to get stuff" is an OOG factor. Players can get better (or worse) at it, but it depends far more on the player than on which specific character they might play.
If you take a high-level game with players who have played for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years, and restart them all at level 1, invariably the same people who have the greatest amount of "stuff" will end up having it again.
I'm not saying this to try and make the task of catching up seem insurmountable - far from it, I'm actually saying that in some cases it's a lot easier than you might think to catch up in terms of material wealth. I am willing to bet money that an experienced player who is very good at getting "stuff" could restart a new character and end up with hundreds of gold and lots of magic items within a year - I've seen it happen tons of times over the years. The level is a very, very small part of what makes it possible.
So what is it that lets characters get "rich"? There's several factors that go into that "player ability" category above:
1. Experience with the game system. A player who knows the system inside and out will be able to target how most effectively to acquire stuff right off the bat.
2. Experience with the particular plot team and chapter "style". I'm not saying favoritism kicks in here, but if Joe knows that the plot team in Chapter A tends to put big-money gems on random crunchies, he knows to go after the crunchies there, while in Chapter B he should go for solving "quests" and mods, because that's where they hand out their big-money gems.
3. Player personality. Yep, we are all about "be all that you can't be"... but at the end of the day, if you are a person who knows how to network and charm people OOG, you're going to be able to carry those skills over to your characters. That absolutely sucks to realize to start with, but take heart: these are skills you can learn (and then transfer back to your OOG life). I was terribly shy when I started playing; I credit LARP for a dramatic difference in how outgoing I have become and how able to connect with new people and persuade them to my point of view.
If you are looking at how to solve "have" vs "have not", look at the players, not the characters. Character level really isn't a big part of it, but experience with the game is a big factor. If you are instead looking at "how could you make coin more useful", well, that's an entirely different discussion, but it sounds like that's not what you're aiming at with your musings.