alice maz - minecraft


80 bookmarks. First posted by thoth december 2017.


digital girl in an analog world
minecraft  mmo 
7 weeks ago by skchrko
This is an amazing story of beating a game. It is undeniably brilliant, and yet also sociopathic.
from twitter_favs
9 weeks ago by mathpunk
The first game I ever outsmarted was Final Fantasy 6. I was eight or nine. The rafting level after the Returners' hideout. You're shunted along on a rail, forced into a series of fights that culminate with a boss encounter. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket 
11 weeks ago by domingogallardo
RT : I wrote about the ups and downs of triumphing over a virtual economy and the joy of learnable systems
from twitter_favs
11 weeks ago by bob
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
january 2018 by bdeskin
The first game I ever outsmarted was Final Fantasy 6. I was eight or nine. The rafting level after the Returners' hideout. You're shunted along on a rail, forced into a series of fights that culminate with a boss encounter. You have a temporary party member, Banon, with a zero-cost, group-target heal. The only status ailment the river enemies apply is Darkness, but as a consequence of an infamous bug with the game's evade mechanic, it does nothing. The river forks at two points, and the "wrong" choice at one of the forks sends the raft in a loop. There is a setting that makes the game preserve cursor positions for each character across battles.

I set everything up just right, placed a stack of quarters on the A button, turned off the television, and went to sleep.

I've always loved knowable systems. People are messy and complicated, but systems don't lie to you. Understand how all the parts work, understand how all the parts interact, and you can construct a perfect model of the whole thing in your head. Of course it's more complicated than that. Many people can be understood well enough for practical purposes as mechanical systems, and actual mechanical systems can be impossibly complex and plenty inscrutable. There are entire classes of software vulnerabilities that leverage physical properties of the hardware they run on, properties sufficiently abstracted away that most programmers have never in their lives considered them. But the thought is nice. I dreamed of going into constitutional law as a kid, back when I thought law was a perfect system, with outputs purely a function of inputs, that could be learned and trusted. I got fairly decent at interacting with people basically the same way you train a neural net, dumbly adjusting weights to minimize a loss function until I stumbled into something "good enough." I have to physically suppress the urge to hedge nearly everything I say with, "Well, it's way more complicated than this, but..."

So I know what I like, at least. Games scratched for a while this itch I have. Outright cheating always kind of bored me. Any asshole could plug in a Game Genie and look up codes online. (It had not occurred to me, as a child, that these "codes" were actually modifications to learnable systems themselves.) What I liked was playing within the confines of the rules, building an understanding of how the thing worked, then finding some leverage and exploiting the hell out of it. It's an interesting enough pursuit on its own, but all that gets cranked up an order of magnitude online. You're still just tinkering with systems. Watching how they function absent your influence, testing some inputs and observing the outputs, figuring things out, and taking control. But now you have marks, competition, and an audience. And just, like, people. People affect the system and become part of the system and make things so much more complex that the joy of figuring it all out is that much greater.

After sinking 10-20k hours into a single MMO and accomplishing a lot of unbelievable things within the confines of its gargantuan ruleset, it is generally pretty easy for me to pick up another game and figure out what makes it tick. I'll tell the story about that whole experience sometime, but it's a long tale to tell. This is about one of those other games: Minecraft.

Classical Chinese cityplanning divided the space of a city into nine congruant squares, numbered to sum to 15 in all directions. Everything was oriented on a north-south axis, with all important buildings facing south (here toward bottom-right.) The palace sat in the center, protected by its own wall with gatehouses and corner towers more ornate than those on the outer. The court sat in front of the sanctum, the market behind, the temple to the ancestors to the left, and temples to agriculture on the right. This all derives from the Rites of Zhou, and is presumed to be the exact layout of their first capital, Chengzhou, before the flight to Wangcheng.
The Players (names changed)
Alice
Ok this name wasn't changed.
Emma
Breathtaking builder with nigh-limitless cash reserves. Often called the queen of the server and earned the hell out of the title. She'd buy items at three times market just because she needed lots fast, and she bought so much her price became the price. And the builds she made with them were truly remarkable. Living legend.
Samantha
Before the currency was backed by experience points, she built the fastest mob grinder on the server and made an ungodly amount of money selling enchantments. Would quit for months, come back, and shake the economy up like no one else.
Victoria
Chief architect of an extensive rail network in the nether. Kept a finger on the pulse of the economy and bled it for all it was worth. Played the market like a harp. A lot of our best schemes were Victoria's schemes.
By the time of the Crash, we four were among the most influential people in the economy. By the end of the recovery from it, we owned the economy. The cartel we formed to pull the market back from the brink had about a half-dozen other significant players, and everyone contributed plenty, but for the most part the four of us called the shots and had the capital to back it up. When the server was wiped for biome update, we vaulted every hurdle, most of which were put in place specifically because of us, and reclaimed our riches in a matter of months.

Zel
Market maker. Known for the Emporium, a massive store near the marketplace proper that also bought everything it sold, a rare practice. Got rather wealthy off the spread on items; I almost single-handedly bankrupted them off the price differences between items. Also wrote our IRC bot, so for a time !alice triggered a lighthearted joke about my ruthlessness.
Lily
Kicked off the wool bubble. Did quite well for herself, as she was a producer rather than a speculator.
Charlotte
Discovered an item duping glitch and crashed the entire economy. Never shared the existence of the vuln or her exploit for it with a soul, as far as I know. Was obvious to me what she was doing, but only because I understood the economy well enough to know it was impossible any other way. If she'd switched to a burner account and laundered the money, she probably would have gotten away with it. Good kid. Hope she learns to program.
Jill, Frank
Just as lovely as everyone else, but for our purposes, "two wool speculators."

My main shop in the market, the last in a series of four locations, trading up each time.
Starting Out
Working a game's economy is an interesting pursuit because it, like most interesting pursuits, requires your whole brain to get really good at it. It's both analytical and creative: devise general theories with broad applicability, but retain a willingness to disregard or reevaluate those theories when something contradicts them. And it's fun as hell. There's not much quite like the brainfeel of starting with nothing, carving out a niche, getting a foothold, and snowballing. Game economies are all radically different because there aren't any limits on weird things the designers can do with the game, but they're all fundamentally similar too. Here are the tricks to breaking any of them, as basic as they may be:

Learn the game inside and out. You don't necessarily need to get good at it. I was a terrible player of my MMO for the first couple years I was involved in top-tier play. My primary role in my guild before I actually got good at the game itself was "in-house mechanics wonk," and it was an important role.) But you need to know what "good" is. It's hard to speculate on pork bellies without understanding why people care about pigs in the first place.
Read the patch notes and keep them in mind. Read the upcoming changes until you know them by heart. Actually think about how changes to the game will change the market. This is as overpowered as insider trading is in the real economy, except the information is all right there in public. Most players never do this, and you can make a killing in any game by hoarding the things that will be more valuable when the patch hits than they are right now. You would be amazed how fast "I'm so excited about [useless item becoming incredibly useful]!!" turns to "omg why is [suddenly useful item] so expensive :( :(" the moment the patch drops.
Study a tiny piece of the market. Don't touch it, just watch until you think you understand it. Make a small bet and see whether it pays off. Consider whether your hypothesis was right or whether you just got lucky. Slowly increase the size of your bets. Explore other tiny pieces. Think about how those pieces interact, how they are similar, how they differ. Manage your risk. Accrue capital so you can increase the size of your bets while decreasing your risk of ruin. It's a bit of art and a bit of science, but you can go from dabbling in a few niches to having a complete understanding of the entire market before you even know it.
Study people. Know your competition and know what makes them tick. Know the major buyers, know the tendencies of the swarms of anonymous buyers.
Overall just know a lot of things I guess.
I started on my server with only a rudimentary knowledge of the game itself and ipso facto zero understanding of its economy. Within six months or so, I had perhaps as detailed a mental model of it as one could get. I knew the price ranges of most of the items in the game and everything that all of them were used for. I knew how common they were on the market, who the major sellers were, what their supply chains looked like. I knew how fast they sold through, whether the price was stable or tacking a certain way, and I had tons of theories on ways to play all this to get what I needed and turn a profit while doing it, and nearly all of them were sound. Most of it I didn't even think about. I didn't need to contemplate why, for instance, lumber was both cheaper and more common than it should be, such that I could buy it all and hold, force the price up, corner the market, and keep it that way. I just kind… [more]
economics  games 
january 2018 by tomshen
Loooong detailed essay about the economics of a Minecraft server
minecraft  gaming  economics 
january 2018 by guberman
Working a game's economy is an interesting pursuit because it, like most interesting pursuits, requires your whole brain to get really good at it. It's both analytical and creative: devise general theories with broad applicability, but retain a willingness to disregard or reevaluate those theories when something contradicts them. And it's fun as hell. 
minecraft  economics  gaming 
january 2018 by evilsofa
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, its …
from:IFTTT  Longreads  from:flipboard 
january 2018 by curiousstranger
"We called ourselves the Minecraft Illuminati."
from twitter
january 2018 by grantpotter
digital girl in an analog world
economics  games  minecraft  markets 
january 2018 by urbansheep
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
january 2018 by ecandino
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
december 2017 by svs
digital girl in an analog world
economics  games  minecraft 
december 2017 by MattieTK
Minecraft economies. There is no story, only money.

But none of it had the same savor. The joy of my first run was starting from zero, knowing nothing of the server and little of the game, building my knowledge graph, learning, experimenting, getting results. The diamond cartel was our most audacious gamble, but it was still an unknown until we pulled it off. On the new server, everything felt rote. I scouted out a skeleton spawner and built an experience grinder my first day or two, got my enchanted diamond, constructed a 50-furnace autosmelter and a passive iron farm. I felt as a dreary Harappan, building things I'd already built time and again, without any inventiveness, any spark.
december 2017 by everbigger
Zel's Emporium was truly a wonderland. Three stories, couple hundred chests, and every item they sold, they also bought. From the same chest. In theory, the arbitrage business is a good one: set up your shops, keep an eye on the prices, collect free money off the spread with very little effort. The Emporium's stock was so diverse that it did plenty of business in both directions, and Zel had enough cash reserves to bounce back from most setbacks.

[ would it be possible to do an autonomousish gold<->silver exchange? look @ last couple months of market data.
finance 
december 2017 by notaddicted
digital girl in an analog world
minecraft  economics 
december 2017 by e2b
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
december 2017 by bling
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
december 2017 by adrianhon
economics
december 2017 by ry4an
By the time of the Crash, we four were among the most influential people in the economy. By the end of the recovery from it, we owned the economy. The cartel we formed to pull the market back from the brink had about a half-dozen other significant players, and everyone contributed plenty, but for the most part the four of us called the shots and had the capital to back it up. When the server was wiped for biome update, we vaulted every hurdle, most of which were put in place specifically because of us, and reclaimed our riches in a matter of months.
games  economy  minecraft 
december 2017 by ndw
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
december 2017 by sgerhard
anecdotes from working over a minecraft economy
musings on the joy of learning and exploiting complex systems
minecraft  economics  games  good  read 
december 2017 by vitaminCPP
digital girl in an analog world
mmorpg  minecraft  markets  economics  games  game_concept  /economics  1217  122917  @read  alicemaz 
december 2017 by otlib
RT @bnroj: you don't have to be autistic to join the minecraft illuminati... but it helps [long-arcane-fun]
https://t.co/5AyGAkaX7D
via:packrati.us 
december 2017 by mshook
Economics of Minecraft
from twitter_favs
december 2017 by briantrice
RT : I wrote about the ups and downs of triumphing over a virtual economy and the joy of learnable systems
from twitter_favs
december 2017 by hyperfekt
Those of us with the means to do as we pleased drove our vast resources into monumental construction. My grandest project was a Chinese city, tragically cut…
from instapaper
december 2017 by evanwalsh
Epic post about cornering Minecraft markets.
minecraft  economics  games 
december 2017 by emk
digital girl in an analog world
minecraft  speculation  economics  /economics 
december 2017 by lgarron