I used to be a big Medievia player. Yep, I played text-based MMORPGs, so I have a lot of opinions on what makes a good MMOG.
I just found out about Massively, a blog about MMORPGs, and while I am not adding it to my feeds, some of the articles reminded me of one of my pet issues: Inflation.
Inflation in MMORPGs causes wierdness. As equipment gets tweaked and becomes more or less valuable, or as new “elite” equipment is introduced, it can dramatically affect the net worth of players. Also, as new player introduction rates increase or decrease and/or game difficulty is tweaked, the speed with which currency (“gold”) is introduced into the economy changes.
The result is that long-time players can rapidly discover that their hard work has made no difference in-game financially for their character. They could rapidly be reduced to subsistence. Alternately, people that started playing early, before the game was “hard” could find that they now have generational wealth and will always be the richest players in the game despite a lack of effort going forward relative to other players.
Managing the effects of inflation in games is something frequently overlooked by game designers, yet is something that must be considered and managed to provide for fair game-play.