- What was going on at around the time that created such a huge drop in the economy?
Not a clue. I'm not on the team day to day anymore, remember, so I don't know exactly.
- Also, can we get some larger images?
All of 'em are actually at the normal size I get them, except one. The last one I had to reduce hugely--normally, it's something that is ten or more screens wide and that you scroll across.
- What I would be really interested in seeing though is graphs like this for the different servers, to see how the ways people make and spend their money varies from server to server.
We're capable of getting that data, but generally, we track the economy as a whole across all servers, because by and large we can only make changes across all servers. We're not going to try adjusting the inflow of currency from missions on a server-by-server basis, for example. Obviously, if duping was prevalent on one server but not another, that would cause problems, but usually stuff like that happens on all the servers at once.
- how often does the dev team generate these reports and assess the economy?
These reports come off a webpage that is automatically updated every 24 hours. The "Fed" meetings, as I call them, were happening weekly when I was on the team... you'd have to ask the current folks how often they happen now.
- a breakdown by server would be very cool, as well as the resource breakdown by category (mineral, gemstone, gas, etc)
These reports only cover currency, as I mentioned. Tracking resources is actually a bit of a pain because there're literally hundreds of them, and they expire all the time. I keep waiting to find a commodities tracking and futures exchange on a fansite.
- It would be much more interesting to see a comparison of several different months of the economy and a break down by server. All this page shows is that the devs do some sort of tracking on the flow of money without giving any actual salient facts. As it is now... colourful pictures but no substance at all.
Well, we have to work within the limits of a typical Friday Feature length. You could easily write a book's worth about virtual economies.
I am unsure what salient facts would really be of use to you, other than for curiosity. Does it help you to know that on 4/2 the economy shed 601,519,132 credits, but on 9/26/2003 it gained 840,324,091? Let me know.
- Also, the graph showing the flow of money in is missing one... duping. I know there have been measures taken to eliminate it and probably a lot of it has been eliminated and that it is not an official source of money, but it does affect the economy. I, for one, would love to see an official estimate of what duping has done to the economy and how it has been dwindled.
By its very nature, duping doesn't show up. We log each time currency is minted by a game system, and what game system did it, and we log each time currency is destroyed, and by what. You might notice that even that tracking has some holes in it--transaction fees on the bazaar, for example, don't show up in the graphs (though the amount is tiny). Since duping is happening without a game system knowing it, usually, it doesn't show up at all. That's why we were able to catch the problem by looking at data that didn't add up.
- I'm glad to see the cashflow problem was dupers and that the game is slowly bleeding that false cash back out.
Not all that slowly--we went in and zapped the cash out of accounts that seemed to be totally ridiculous. But a lot of the duped cash is spread out at this point, since it was used in transactions. So probably everyone has SOME counterfeit credits in their possession at this point. That's why going the route of running at a deficit is a better way to go for now. The best way to track this, much as I hate to say it, is to watch the value of SWG credits on eBay. Since we closed the duping loophole, the price has more than tripled.
- a per capita breakout and a profession breakout of income/expenditures would be better to understand the real state of the economy....
There's a ton of characters who exist as "money holder mules" essentially, and distinguishing them from normal chars is hard. And it's also very hard to pin down what profession someone is algorithmically, given how the skill system works. Lastly, since these graphs are about tracking currency creation and destruction, they don't speak to how money sloshes around within "the sink." Even a pistoleer might make most of their money from bazaar transactions, for example. So a profession breakout is kinda tricky.