Game Economy Calculator
The game economy calculator is a google sheet document that can help to easily generate three different types of game economies, and creates custom algorithmic pricing models. After asking a simple set of questions, the economy calculator generates linear, exponential, and a custom economy dubbed "tier-based linear" that works off the principle of real-world margin. It comes equipped with a graph to show economic curves, the formulas for each economy type which can be easily implemented into any game engine, and a shop generator for a quick list of item prices. To use it follow this link, create a copy of the document, follow the instructions given on the "Setup" sheet, and grant google scripts access when prompted.
The purpose of the calculator is to allow for anyone to generate an economy, no matter their previous economic or fiscal knowledge, and deliver an easily implementable algorithmic pricing equation. For all equations, "X" represents the level of the player or item, and "Y" represents the cost of an item. After generating an economy, an equation (I.E. Y=(7.071428571428571)X-6.071428571428571) is given. This equation can be implemented into any game engine, and when an item price is needed, the price can be solved with X representing the desired item's level. Using the equation above, a level 5 item would cost 29.29 (29.29=(7.071428571428571)5-6.071428571428571).
For the tier-based linear economy, the equation used to measure price changes based on level and number of tiers. Both the equations for each tier and range are provided on the "Input" sheet, but the user must set up a switch case based on the desired item's level when implementing the equations into another game engine.
For a game that has 30 total levels and 4 main resources (wood, iron, bronze, and diamond), a tier-based linear equation would be best because it breaks up cost into tiers based on the value of the base components used, and the skill used to craft with those materials. (IE: Skyrim, Monster Hunter)
For a game that has 10 total levels, no variety in materials used for goods, and is not based around economic progression, linear is best because the model is largely static, and ideal for shorter game experiences. (IE: Hollow Knight, Paper Mario)
For a game that has 500 total levels, with an economy in which items can reach costs in the hundreds of billions, an exponential economy is best because it focuses on rapid progression that slows dramatically towards the later levels ensuring a long playtime. (IE: Old School Runescape GE, Clicker Heroes)
Obstacles and Challenges
This project is the first of my systems created as a pure utility, and not intended to be used specifically for one of my personal games. Because of this I had to think about user experience and make sure that it was accessible to all, even if they didn't have a firm understanding in the theory or tech that went into it. I also had to focus on the documentation and make sure the instructions written were informative and easy to follow. I decided to use google scripts instead of excel so it was available to a potentially wider audience. This meant I had to learn the basics of html to utilize google scripts, which this project would not have been possible without.
The goal of this system was to see if I could convert a deeply complex topic into an easily accessible tool. I decided on an economy calculator as it was a subject many designers had not focused on and something I had previously researched. I wanted to make the process of developing an economy a seamless one, and to simplify it while not losing too many of the intricacies.
What I learned
The game economy calculator taught me a great deal about making a tool intended to be user friendly and accessible. More than any of my other projects, user experience was my focus after working out the economy types and the math behind them. I also learned to break down a highly complex topic into something that was easily digestible. I learned the basics of html and google scripts, as well as how to properly organize a google sheet document.