My name is Jim Sager, and I'm looking for a position as a Game Designer/Programmer for a MMORPG. I've tried to make my own MMORPG solo(tens of thousands of hours work), but I could not find enough art to fill the bill. Now I am spilling the beans on all the game ideas that are good for MMORPGS to extend their life. If you'd like to hire me as a game designer/game programmer, check my resume I've been playing video games since I was 3 years old in 1980 playing Pacman as my dad lifted me up. I've been programming and playing video games ever since at a high level. The problem is you don't get far without a team. Feel free to read my ideas and use them for free. If you want to hire me, that'd be even cooler.
If you want to play some games I made:
A tribute to Gauntlet 2: This is a polished game made mainly to have the engine for future games.
Unique Puzzle Game
=Game Design Blog=
Dec 19,2013: Here's my big idea:
I'm interviewing for positions, so I might as well share my big idea. This is the future of free to play games in my idea. The combo is 2 fold. 1) You make games advertising based, and let the player get a share of the ad revenue via raffle tickets or leader board. 2) You create a game maker feature like Little Big Planet. The formula is simple: A) Pick a Genre B) Make a game with professional backend tools that anyone can use C) Release the tools to your public D) Allow people to sell games they made with your tools on your network and you get a cut like 50/50 E) Have a live team to investigate bad games.
So you make a game that should be pretty good. Then people can use your tools to make games. And since they make more games with your tools, the life of your game is extended indefinitely. If that wasn't good on its own, you can make more profit because more levels and games are made. It is probably best to keep everything free to play with ads. This way more people make games, and more people play games.
The rating system is key. You need a way to let people to rate games players make. 1-10 in fun, difficulty, and so on. People can then search for games based on those qualities, and also the number of times its been played. If you want to get really next gen, you can allow people to post their runs to youtube automatically, but this isn't needed. The rating system will also have a way to report levels for hate speech. The rating system will also let you rate the ESRB level. With reporting and ESRB, game masters can shut down games they don't agree with.
The whole system would mean people make games, but they're stuck on your network for distribution. This is why you're able to monetize on their work using your tools. Copyright infringing would be an issue just like adult and hateful themes, but just have a policy in place like youtube for shutting them down. If you allow game makers for each genre of video game, you'd corner the markets and competitors could have a hard time even getting a game against you. And if they do end up competing with a new feature, you can just add it to your tool set.
The long term viability of cornering the market on games would be: A) Getting one game to work fine. B) Expanding the tools and art assets for that game C) Once it is at stable growth, branch out into other genres.
Some genres you could capitalize on are: Platformers, 2d Zelda style games, board games, kingdom or city simulation, card games CCG and standard 52 card, racing, 3d FPS, etc, etc.
The conclusion of all this is you start with a game you believe in. When building it, you make sure you stick with the philosophy of making your back end tools robust and easy to use(yes it takes a bit more work). Then after you release the game and polish off any game play bugs, you release the level/game builder system to the public too. It worked for Little Big Planet, and LBP didn't have a way of paying their level builders! So a combination of free to play + ad revenue with shared ad revenue to the players and shared ad revenue to the level builders, you can have a loyal subscription base.
The dirty secret is that ad companies always wanted to run a television station with nothing but ads and share a small amount of money to the viewers, but there is no way to confirm they're watching. With a video game that is loosely designed against being able to be botted up, you can confirm they're there by them actually playing the game. So the equation is cracked. For added measure, you could even throw in a virtual currency in your system to compete with BitCoin/LiteCoin/WOW gold.
Anyway, this is my big time idea, but it isn't really usable by small time players. The act of making a robust game, with robust tools, a network to host new games, game masters to regulate content, and a system that pays people based on their level building/playing time... That is much more than what a small time player can have. But cornering the market on an entire genre is exactly what the big time players would do. And the players themselves would love you because of all the added content. And would be game makers would latch on to your version of game making and be happy they get checks in the mail.
An alternative to purely ad based revenue is charging for your game, and allowing the game developer/players to charge for their games too.
Dec 6, 2013: Been a while since blogging, got a job. Also I'm working hard at my Throne and Crown I also opened an artificial Intelligence blogging site here. I came here to give visibility to a SlashDot.org post I had. I talk about a market for a competitor to itunes.
Sept 26,2013 Just wanted to say I've been toying with making a Plants vs Zombies meets Magic the Gathering game in my spare time. Then I see Ironclad on steam :)
Octobeer 16, 2013: I realize there is a huge market for a game like Second Life, but instead of server based, everyone hosts their own P2P server. This means it is their world. People can play in it. They can edit it up with tools for free. The key is that everyone else can make custom avatars, buildings, dances, sounds, and other media. They sell this media on the marketplace on the main server. Anyone can buy and use this content in their own world. And the company that made the game takes like a 30% cut. This thing could be hacked all sorts of ways if it is your own world, but it would be harder for people who play in your world to hack it. So hacks aren't that big of a problem, but instead are a bonus in a kind of way.
The whole system is just a socialization space similar to Second Life, but done with modern graphics, and without a central server for it. A cheesy WOW clone game could be tacked on it to attract early adopters, but that wouldn't be why everyone plays. The general idea is second life is a success being a non game that people socialize in, so redo it for P2P. The nice thing about this game is that you only need to do a bare minimum amount of content yourself. Then by virtue of everyone wanting to make money, content will build itself.
August 24, 2013: I wrote a piece of software to automatically play Final Fantasy XIV for you. I wrote the interpreted language software a decade ago. I wrote and tweaked the scripts in just a few hours. You can find it here.
August 19,2013: More on a bot craft idea. You could have structures made before game and saved to a file. Then your bots would attempt to create these structures with the resources they gain. An example would be the bunker that you stay in to protect yourself from attack. If you wanted to get fancy with your code, you could allow multiple materials to make some parts. For example, in your bunker, you might want it to to be highly protective of mining towards you(or explosions) and use a stronger material, but in the short run before your bots find that material, they could use a lesser material.
August 16, 2013: I made a Github to post my code
August 16,2013. I think the next generation of consoles will have serious competition. You see the major competitors: Xbox one, Ps4, and Nintendo. Steam has solidified the PC gaming's future as unshakable. What a lot of people don't see is Google and Apple competing with the consoles. All you need to do is attach a game pad to a smart phone or tablet, and you can play games of superior quality than Super Nintendo right there. Hook a phone to a television, and it is on par with the Ouya. Except more people have phones.
What this means for my development: Throne and Crown is a 2d Zelda style game I'm making. I only have about three months of coding left on it, and my artists are paced out for a two year development pace right now. I am redoing the graphics engine to use Starling which is a GPU graphics mode. I did the benchmarking and the game will render 10-100x faster. This means in addition to medium end PCs, lower end PCs can play as well. But more importantly, Iphone, Android phones, Ipad and Android Tablets will be able to play. At first I didn't want to redo the graphics engine since it will take me 1-3 months to do because phones/tablets had no good input. What I realized is that people can use a PS3 or Xbox360 controller specifically for our game to play. And if they want, they can hook it up to the television. My thoughts yesterday was,"Why doesn't Google compete with the Xbox One?" then I was like,"Oh wait, they can."
July 30, 2013:
I had an idea for a zombie video game like Ground Hog day today. When you die, it starts out as the beginning of a zombie pandemic. As you die and play through it over and over, you get secrets to where weapons and supplies are. You find tricks you can use to survive and save people. Eventually you find out who caused the zombie pandemic. You can then kill him before he goes through with it. I'm not sure an ending where you serve in prison is a good ending though. I didn't think it the whole way through, but it sounded like a good premise for a zombie game.
July 25, 2013. More ideas on BotCraft.
So the idea of Botcraft is that you have a Minecraft server than can host up to 64+ players at once.
The main server would seed as many players as it could into the zone.
The goal is survival. If you die, you restart getting seeded into a new game. Depending on how high you finished, you either gain or lose ladder points.
So the trick would be to burrow yourself down into a bunker asap, mine yourself basic materials, and start making robots to seek out and kill your opponents. In the process you must seek out and kill other robots too.
You can write your own code, and that is the only thing that gets saved to the next match. Also you can select items to autocraft without manually doing it if you have the resources.
I think the game is fun because it reminds me of CHOLO for c64
You can make robots who would automine.
You can make robots who will act as supply vehicles from your mining robots in case they can't carry it all back.
You can make robots who attack other robots in a variety of styles.
You can make robots that hack other robots and take them over.
There could be flying robots to scout, and flying robots to fight.
The reason I choose Minecraft as a game to base this on is that it has resource gathering, crafting and the ability to make an underground bunker already.
All is needed is making robots out of resources, and you have an epic robot war game.
July 4th, 2013. I have a team of two artists and one musician to work on a new video game. It will be found at ThroneAndCrown.com when I get the webpage up.
June 23,2013: Emailed Notch from Minecraft
I have been working on Indie games since 1992. I was thinking if you had a game like Minecraft with programmable robots in a MMORPG, people would like to play it. I played Asheron's Call with bots I wrote to autoplay. It is kinda fun to watch them run around and play automatically. If Minecraft had this so you could have bots go harvest, fight and defend for you, it could be fun.
The shiny thing in this game would be: Botcoin. Just like diamonds are coveted in Minecraft, bot coin would be forged from a legendary metal. We would let people buy things from the real money micotransaction store with Botcoin for instance. So people could sell them to other people in real life. I find MMORPGS last as long as their RL economy holds them up such as found on Playerauctions.com. Your player should always be in a state of want. Once the player has nothing more to desire in the game, he gets bored and moves on to the next game.
For a server, people could do P2P. While you play the game, you host 2-5 servers for other people. There would be redundant server loads where the p2p server in charge updates the secondary servers in case the server in charge crashes. One server goes down cuz a player quits, and another server would be the main server, updating the backup servers. This server allocation and failover would be the most challenging and rewarding thing to code.
The result would be a MMORPG land where everyone strives to build a bunker from which to strike out and build a robot army. You could choose a PVP server or a PVE server. Each update could present new levels with more challenges to over come, such as an opposing robot army.
June 14,2013 End game content idea for MMORPGS: Farming mystery bonuses for future games. This one is pretty straight forward and doesn't need a lot of explanation. In the course of a MMORPG, eventually your player nears out maximum power. Once you're at near maximum power and did everything in this game, there maybe isn't much more to do until content is introduced. Well with mystery bonuses, you can let your players gather resources that won't be used until the next patch is released. So the player will be so excited for the next content patch, they'll be gathering in a great deal of mystery bonuses that are dropped at a rare rate. Players might be pleased or disappointed when they see what their mystery bonus unlocks, but that isn't the angle you're aiming for. You just want to keep your players entertained at end game.
Mystery bonuses don't have to be isolated to just a single game. You can have players farm mystery bonuses then use them in another game. I came up with this idea because I wanted to fund a MMORPG, but in order to do that I would need players for a more basic game. The basic game would have allowed winners to gain mystery bonuses for the future game. This would build excitement for the future game, and also make the current game feel like it matters more.
An example of mystery bonuses done correct dates back to Asheron's Call 1. There was a drop called a cracked shard. It had no use at first, but was rare, so it was traded for as a resource. People wanted them, but they didn't know what they did. Later they formed to make a quality armor that was desired greatly.
Asheron's Call 1 was a great game for its time. It is sad the initial failure of Asheron's Call 2 wiped out the AC1 playerbase. Let this be a lesson for anyone who is king of the hill in MMORPGS, don't knock yourself off the hill with competition. Wait until someone else dethrones you, then release your new product. If I was Blizzard, I'd build out proper end game content trying to attract old users back. In the meanwhile, Titan should be developed in case competitors spring up and take your subscribers.
June 2, 2013 Been playing some Astroflux. It is pretty fun, but a bit of a grind like any MMORPG. You can find it here
May 23, 2013
I think there is a hit game if you combine Xwing vs TieFighter with a Privateer system. Start out fighting for a government then become a pirate, a bounty hunter or mercenary. Build a fleet of ships that fight with you. Find pilots and recruit them. Train them up through encounters. Equip ships with more powerful weapons, shields, armor and hull. The key is that the combat is the same as Xwing vs TieFighter, but you throw in the RPG aspect to build up your forces for bigger fights. Not only is it doable. I think the market has been waiting for this.
Continuing the series on end game mmorpg content
Lets talk about strategy games. Remember board games like Stratego and Monopoly? They're pretty fun in their own regard. If you bring elements from board games into a MMORPG as a mini/board game, you can extend the life of your game.
The key with these mini/board games is that you should be able to bring elements you found in the main game into it. One example is your character could be the game piece. Your health could be another stat. When you play the board game, you are playing against other players and trying to win a single game that is different than the MMORPG normally being played.
The board game could be as simple as one where you go forward and back spaces. But it is better if you use ingenuity and allow players to maybe use special abilities to affect the other players. Different paths to take on the board might be better for different classes. Lets say there's a quick route to win, but then there is an overlook mountain halfway through. With the overlook mountain, you can knock players back to start, but it doesn't advance yourself as fast as the quick route. There might be another longer route to take that will get you a treasure card to get you real treasure in the game.
It is up to you as a game designer if you'll let your players play these constantly, or if there is a daily limit of one play per day, and a certain time to search for games each day so people have people to play with. This can limit the number of times people get easy gold/treasure a day.
Another idea is for a game that is positive for all people all around that the game itself is a rare drop to find. You find this game, and the person who has the game picks the people he'll play with. In the game, cooperation gives the most rewards for all, but if you back stab, you'll get more rewards for yourself. Unselfish play will reward everyone, but selfish play might not get people picking you to play in the future. I won't go into specific details about a board game that rewards selfish play over unselfish, but also rewards all if people aren't selfish, that's easy for anyone to figure out on your own.
You can even have mounted races on a board game, or if you're willing to code, in real time. Then you can have people work on mounts in the off game through breeding, raising, finding, leveling, training mounts. A real time race could even involve some sort of road rash style chariot combat if you wanted to put it in it, but for the most part you could get by with a regular non combat race. And like I began, it can even just be a board game race with your mounts, but your mount stat to affect the dice rolls.
The whole idea behind board games/mini games here and there in your MMORPG is that it makes sure your players don't get bored. Having a change up mini game gets people wanting to get good at the mini game and tooling their character to maximize for that. Some players just want to do PVP, some players just want to power up PVE, and some want to do both. But if you add mini games to your game, some players will want to be good at the mini games too so it extends the life of your game somewhat and makes for good end game content. It doesn't take much programming time to write up a board game, but you should put good design time into it so there are lots of strategies that can be used.
May 10, 2013:
Continuing the series on end game mmorpg content
Kingdom simulating is a good end game tool. If you have a limited number of castles and lands to control, it can be something guilds fight for to control. Owning a castle can convey all sorts of bonuses. But castles could be open for attack directly at a scheduled time, or have castle control be determined through something other than combat.
You can go as far as you want with castle control, like taxing people, and even going so far as to make it similar to sim city. On May 9th when I talked about housing, I said property taxes are a bad idea in general for housing. But you can have a semi-exception when the person making the taxes is another player. This would make the player choose more wisely which guild they stay with. It isn't the smartest game design decision because you open the door to griefer kings who make the land miserable. But if your system is PVP where anyone can conquer the castle if they can beat them, PVP players like a little bit of challenge.
There are many kingdom simulators out there already. Why would you want to put one on top of a good MMORPG? Well as long as you're not breaking the economy by giving kingdoms too much gold and rewards, it is something to do at end game. People like end game content. I feel people like Kingdom Simulators more when the rewards they gain are more tangible to be used. It is almost like the worth of a gold piece is known by the past 50-100 hours leveling your character.
If you adventured the whole game and you're rewarded with a castle, it will feel grand. You can then recruit and build an army, and supply them with equipment you found in dungeons and adventures. When you can equip an army with all the lewt you found, suddenly you have places to give medium powered rares instead of vendoring them. You can spend many hours equipping and training your army. Some of the buildings in your kingdom might be training fields and troop barracks, or even exotic pens for mythical creatures. If you just look at the idea of sim city, and apply it to a kingdom creation, the game becomes way more fun than sim city. The reasoning is that you worked overhead to get to this point, and that you can then use your city to attack other cities later. I don't suggest direct PVP here. I suggest more of conquering lands and resources outside your castle.
What are some lands and resources to conquer? Well lets say forest could be a resource. Another resource could be a gold mine. Another resource could be a magical lake. Another resource could be additional fields. Then you need to battle the guards at these resources to claim them as your own. When a player conquers them, he leaves a regiment there that acts as the next guards in charge. Controlling these resource points will result in you getting daily resources.
The whole idea for this style of end game is that you play as a single entity in your army. When a battle starts, it is army vs army, ai controlling itself, but you control your hero. Most battles will be lopsided. What you do as a game designer is make it so there are increasing and increasingly difficult resource nodes to capture so the player wants to increase in power and manage his army. There might be a few battles that aren't lopsided, and in them, you'd have to choose as a king if you'd want to fight the battle in the front lines to help snowball the battle, or if you would want to hang back and fight when the intensity dies down.
Army vs Army battles can spice up too if you have chaos wizards. They can say polymorph creatures into different creatures for a limited time. Also if you have a creature that spawns new guys. You could combine chaos wizards with a weak spawning creatures to get a wide variety of combatants. I only say this because I once played Zangband where I controlled half the map's monsters and they kept changing into different monsters. It was fine to fight in the middle of a big constantly changing battle.
May 9, 2013: I want to start a series called end game content, or at least discuss it more for a while. End game content is how you keep your customers in MMORPGS after they level to max. Brainstorming I think end game is: Housing, Kingdom Simulating, Strategy games, large scale MOBA, long term power gain, army forming, daily challenge stages(and other daily's), and farming mystery bonuses for the future.(note for myself: game master abilities too.)
Okay, I'll start with housing. If you can build a house, it is an enormous gold sink. That makes it a plus to begin with. If you make several sizes of houses where some are affordable and others would take months(or more) of gold sink, players will be happy there's something to spend gold on. I recommend making real estate something every player can achieve and not a limited resource where everyone can buy multiple land plots. Or you'll just end up like real life, where rich people buy up property so much it makes it prohibitive for regular people to afford land. Land is always constant, but more and more people are born into the real world. So it is a safe bet, land won't lose its value unless it is an out of control bubble. Anyway, you'll have happier players if everyone can own some land.
This brings up the question: Do you have all the land connected, or just have each person get their own zone? This is up to the game designer. Connected land has the advantage of seeming more "real". Zoned land can be cool if you allow friends to all live near each other. Zoned land is obviously easier to code when you're coding for infinite scale. Connected land that never ends is more of a programming and algorithmic challenge to code. Also connected land still has premium land spots, such as close to a town, or close to a good place to fight. In this way you'd have some of real estate effect going on. Depending on how you feel about this, it could be good or bad for what you want to design. Finally you can have a hybrid housing mode: You can have some houses on the main world in certain specific places for higher value because of their locations near towns and hunting zones. And you can have a unconnected zones of housing in space.
When you do some unconnected zones of housing, the trick is to have some landscape there. Maybe have the player get to pick through a couple selections of terrain style(desert, jungle, icy fjord, grassland, mountain, heavy forest, etc). Like I said earlier, its good to let friends build houses here too, or even a guild, so 10-100 places to build would be optimal.
Inside the house you can collect your trophies. This is what makes it end game. You can put the head of a really tough boss you fought. If you have random monsters spawn in the wild that are tough, you could allow the player to bring it to the taxidermist. The key that'd make this extra fun would be if the hard monsters had large variations(bell curve) on number of horns, size of horns, and size of head in general. People would like this almost as much as finding a rare item to equip.
Also you could furnish your house as has been seen in prior games. Furniture and art work on walls make homes seem cooler. Some furniture could be functional if you wanted to code it, but it is not serious if you do or not.
What should be functional would be magical investment tools. Lets say you have a mote system, where when you combine two motes, you get a stronger mote. At first you just want to hunt for motes, but eventually they're combined so high, that to get to the next level is exponentially harder. Now lets say you had a magical investment tool, it could double that mote once a month. This works as long as you don't have a tool that then splits a mote. Just look as far as games like Farmville and Outernauts and the like. Games which allow you to make an item that gets harvested once after so much time can be placed inside and outside your home. You could allow players to have smithing addons or laboratory addons.
It is possible to make homes be raidable, and stuff in it to be stolen, and the house destroyed, but these are mostly bad game design ideas. The important thing for your characters is that they can't be lewted themselves or have their own stuff stolen especially when they're not around. From personal experience: Lets say someone takes 3 months to upgrade their equipment on their character. Then in a bad foray, they lose it. They might quit the game over spending months of time to regain where they were. This is also the argument for light death penalties. Some players will play a hardcore or permadeath game, but those who just want to increase their power over time despise it when their power gets removed from them. Avoid things like property taxes on houses or many players will not want to buy a house to begin with.
That's about all there is for houses. They're a big gold sink. They allow you to collect more stuff. They allow you to garden and harvest over long periods of time. They're a good group meeting area. Players feel more connected to your game when they have a house. Houses do not permanently extend the life of your game, but they do extend it somewhat. The trick is to have many end game ideas, not just one. As I talked about in the brainstorming area, there are many end game ideas you can go with, we'll explore more later.
May 4,2013 I've noticed a lot of MOBA games like League of Legends doing well. However, no I know has made 3d melee style MOBA. The idea would be that the map is set up like DOTA or LOL with towers and minions. But you played the game from a third person point of view like Zelda3d or God of War.
The game I have(Crystal Fighter) is like Open World Tekken now. I'm wondering if I made a single level, finished out the other fighters, created some items and made it like a MOBA, if that would be fun?
The general idea is that a MOBA takes a lot less work than a MMORPG for map creation/quests/items/etc. At the same time, a MOBA might be more fun than simply making 1v1 or team melee.
One reason I'm not working on my game is that I don't think it could be a whole lot of fun to mimic Street Fighter Online. Street Fighter has much better graphics than me. When I first started coding this game, there was no online combat games so I could have had market back then, but not now.
Another reason I'm not working on my game is that I think for one man to solo a MMORPG is too much work. There's just not enough time in the day for me to create all the 3d models and art considering my skill set isn't art.
So MOBA style Tekken solves the work part. MOBA is less work than MMORPG. I think I could honestly see myself finish a MOBA in like 2 years. Once it is finished, I have special code to allow up to 5000 players at once. So I could scale from 5v5 MOBA even higher limited only by the number of players who want to play my game. So I'd scale it to 10v10 and 20v20, etc etc. I'd have players who do well in MOBA score rewards they store on their character that can unlock prizes when I finally make a MMORPG(This is an idea I had with the 1v1 and team based fighter mode prior). Because if I can make some money on the MOBA, I can make a MMORPG next, as well as keep making more fighters and items.
I just came up with this idea now, but I was so excited I wanted to share. Do you think God of War meets League of Legends would be a fun game to play? Another way to look at it: Tekken meets League of Legends.
I need to analyze this idea further, and see if it is worth committing 2 years of my time to completing it.
May 2,2013 I'm opening this page as a game design page. For a long time my mom would tell me,"Don't tell other people your ideas, or they'll just steal them." I think if people do use my ideas, it would make for more entertaining games. Up until this point I've been trying to make games to varying degrees of success which mostly result in the situation,"No one wants to do art for me." My current situation is that I can either teach myself how to do art, or make a game design blog. I've decided for a game design/game review blog.
Currently it seems like the big content developers have tried and failed to dethrone World of Warcraft. I buy and sell things in MMORPGs myself, and I see a large correlation between what gold goes for, and the health of the game itself. If no one wants to buy gold, no one wants gold. If no one wants gold, no one wants anything in your game. If no one wants anything in your game, its life cycle is through and aside from a glorified chat room, you have no economy.
So I think in this first random thoughts, I'll talk about techniques which will preserve a good economy. First let us look to auction houses. If your auction house allows people to buy and sell everything that can be dropped in the game, then people will rapidly get the best or near best items just by acquiring gold. This makes gold really valuable to start, but over time people buy maxed items and they have little use for gold. I've been playing some Guild Wars2, and one feature I like in it is that some the highest tier items are gotten in other ways than the Auction House. I'm not a fan of crafting in games. I prefer to find random lewt. But Guild Wars2 lets you buy and sell components that make up a quality item. So the components that make up quality items go for a good amount of gold. Still, once you have that quality equipment item, you have no more use for those components and they start to be less desired(in demand) too.
What you want in your gaming system is for the player to always want money, to always have things he wants to buy to become more powerful, or look different in costume. The last game I was working on after Dungeon Run was a MMORPG based on the engine. It is sad my company wanted to go in a different direction and split with me, but the idea was that you start in a Zelda 2d style exploration game. Then you'd win a castle and recruit for an army. Then you'd have to equip your army. The idea was that since you'd have hundreds of units in your army, you'd always like to find rares and epics even if you don't want to use them on yourself because you could use them on your army units. I believe it would be successful to make a 2d zelda style game with army vs army fights like Warcraft3 controlling the hero only and letting the army fight by itself. This would have been one way to keep the player always looking for rares and gold.
Another way to make it so the player is always looking for rares and gold is to have an alchemy system where you can melt down rares to gain a better rare. Asheron's Call 1 had this done with tinkering. Guild Wars2 tries it with the Mystic Forge, but for it to work correctly, you can't limit the power gained in the transmutation. You need to chose between allowing the intended equipment to break, or giving incrementally small upgrades for the cost used. I'm a fan of giving players power over time, and not cutting them off at a power cap ever. People say this favors PVE vs PVP, but if you give good rewards in PVP, they can power up while PVPing.(Note to self cover this too). Anyway everyone knows the proper power vs time curve looks something like this:
Even in games like Diablo 3, where random lewt is assigned, when you have an Auction House for everyone able to get the best lewt, inflation kills you rapidly. If your game is drop oriented only and can't buy things with gold, then no one wants gold at all. The trick is allowing the player to buy things with gold, yet not be able to max out their character. And a constant upgrade in players is what fixes this. World of Warcraft gets away with this by letting people buy expansions and gain more power that way. Otherwise people get close to the best gear in raids, and maybe they PVP with that gear. I'm not sure myself, I just get bored with hard caps on levels and gear. I really miss Asheron's Call 1 when there was no level cap, and gear had random stats attached. Asheron's Call had almost no economy when it came to money though, people used lewt for money(again a flaw).
Path of Exile goes the route of Diablo 2 and makes players find each other to trade. This makes it so it is harder to trade, and makes it so you can have more fun looking for trades compared to the Auction House, but it is not as fun for some players. The thing I want to note with Path of Exile is that your lewt can be consumed for random buffs which makes people desire it for other reasons than just currency. It is a good idea, similar to what I suggest, that gold can purchase alchemy buffs on your current equipment.
So lets look at my suggestion in depth. I say,"Let people have their MMORPG. Let the Auction House exist, but don't let the best items in the game be sold on the auction house. I also say let items have random stats unlike WOW where every item of the same type has the same stats. Just if the stats are past a certain threshold, the item is considered precious and unsellable, aka account bound. With precious items you can salvage them for components. You can sell the components, but you can't sell the item itself or people would rapidly get the best items in the game. Then with components you can form recipes to upgrade armor or weapons."*1
In this style, everyone would always want components because components can constantly upgrade their equipment with no maximum bonuses. For every bonus a piece of equipment has though, makes it so additional bonuses can fail at a higher rate. Or if you're not a game designer who likes when his players see failure for their attempts(this is a good way to be). You can simply have each level of upgrading cost more and more components. The demand for components will always be high then as people will always want components. Gold will always have value because people can buy components with it. It will take players longer and longer to upgrade themselves, but there is no hard cap where the game is over. If there is a problem with World of Warcraft it is that players get power capped and have nothing to do with their time, they get bored.
Again with the game style I was suggesting earlier of equipping an army, players would have even more desire to have good equipment. While one player might get bored that it takes a day to upgrade his sword to +1 more damage, that same player might have great fun spending a day and getting lots of gear for his army of soldiers and healers. So it is a combination of things to keep your economy healthy. Remember I said,"A healthy economy shows people actually want something in game! When players are in a constant state of want and powering up their characters, they are happy so long as there is stuff to do later with their increased power such as killing bosses, controlling property, raiding, etc." This first post is just to show a quick over view on how to make your gold useful, without resorting to gold sinks like taxes, required consumables, and equipment repairs.
A side note of this style is that since great items are account bound, you'll still need to acquire them on your own. The auction house won't let you buy the best things in the game, you'll have to go out and earn them on your own. The auction house will let you get good enough gear, but at a certain point, the player shouldn't be able to just use gold to max out his character's equipment. Gold would be used to polish(enhance with components) your equipment to something better, but you'll have a long time to keep finding things with better base stats. Then you're faced with a fun situation: Do you start polishing up the item with better base stats? Or do you stick with the item you've polished so far and keep polishing it even though you get diminishing returns on components? The key here is the game shouldn't be designed to hand you a victory once you have so much gold. If you can max out your character with gold, and there's nothing else to do then gold suddenly becomes worthless to you. If gold is worthless to one player, it becomes worthless to everyone who maxes out their character, and thus the economy can die, which it has in many otherwise fun games.