by Max Barry

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Another Card Trading Update

by Max Barry
Thu, 19 Apr 2018

Okay! Obviously card trading was supposed to reopen by now. I did slightly overestimate how much card-based work it was possible to accomplish in one week, following two other weeks that were also full of card-based work. Thanks to those of you patiently waiting.

We're still a little way off being ready to re-open trading, but this post is to share current thinking about the plan. Confirmed/definitely intended features include:

  • One loot box per nation every 48 hours

  • Greatly reduced likelihood of drawing the card of a nation from the same region

  • Direct trading of cards between nations

  • Greater snipability of low-value transactions (discussion below)

  • No ex-nation cards in loot boxes

  • When a nation ceases to exist, its deck will also cease to exist (after a period of time)

  • Deck size limited but expandable by spending bank

  • The ability to group cards together in "Collections" for display purposes

  • A browsable global marketplace

  • A range of upgrades to the interface and underlying mechanics

There are also some more ambitious longer-term ideas, but one step at a time. Some of the above will be live from when we re-open trading and others will come in as development time allows over future months.

All About Puppets

The trickiest question has been how to handle puppet farming. This is when a player controls many nations and uses them to collect cards and funnel good ones to their "main." I actually think the first part is fine: It doesn't matter if someone wants to use multiple nations to build multiple decks. It's the second part, where they sell good cards to their main for next to nothing, that threatens to become corrosive over time, because in that case, it's less like the person is building multiple decks, and more like they're building one deck by earning cards at a faster rate than everyone else. That's problematic in a trading game where your position is impacted by others' holdings.

For mini-games like this, it's often suggested that we limit it to World Assembly nations, where a one-nation-each rule is enforced. But many people have good reasons for not wanting to join the WA, which shouldn't exclude them from other parts of NationStates.

The real challenge is to discourage puppet farming without unduly interfering with real communities exchanging cards amongst themselves. Because an important part of the fun of deck building, I think, is that you can offer special deals or gifts to people you know. We could eliminate puppet farming by forcing all trades to be conducted at current market prices, but this would also eliminate elements of trust, friendship, and co-operation, leaving us with a more economically fair but less interesting game.

Essentially: You should be able to offer a good card for cheap or even free to someone you know, because that's how communities work. But puppet farms should not easily stream their cards to a single owner.

To deliver this, we're doing two things. Firstly, direct trading will allow you to nominate a particular nation to exchange with (or gift to), with a bank fee involved. This makes it accessible for most nations, but less viable for puppets, who don't normally accumulate much bank, and will be disproportionately affected since they want to gift every good card they find. Secondly, to create a window of time that allows sniping of open market-based transactions, to reduce the ability to "sell" a valuable card for nothing to yourself.

That's it for now, and thanks again for your patience!

Got feedback? Forum: Discussion thread!