How Land Ownership Works
This (now funded) stretch goal may sound unassuming, but its implications for the types of societies that will form in Eco are huge. Land ownership has been one of the most transformative concepts in human history, and in Eco it will be the same.
With this feature we will implement:
- Buying and selling of land. Owned land will come with deeds that can be transferred between players using the existing trade and store interfaces, allowing ownership to transfer between players on terms they decide.
- Government control of land. Tools will be added to the player-run government to allow players to decide how land is distributed to players to use, and a huge amount of flexibility will be possible there. Is land gifted upon joining the server? Is it auctioned off to the highest bidder? Can it be reclaimed for the ‘communal good’? Or perhaps all land is free, and the concept of ownership prohibited? Each of these choices will make a huge impact on the types of economies that will form, and how resources from the world are distributed, and players will make them through their government as an extension of the law system.
- Taxation. With this feature, land can be taxed, depending on rules set by the player-run government. Different types of land can have different taxes, and the resources gathered from a specific piece of land can also be taxed accordingly.
The revenue generated by this taxation will go into a public fund, which can be spent on public works, which will be another feature enabled by this stretch goal. Public works are projects decided by the player-run government (via voting or fiat if it’s a dictatorship) that are assigned a budget and a player agent. That player is then authorized to spend the funds towards building the project (for example, building a road connecting two sections of the city would be a good public works project). As in the real world, government waste will become an issue, and we will implement means of oversight that will hold agents accountable based on how they spend the public funds.
- Zoning – By embedding an interactive world map in the law system, we will introduce a zoning mechanic, where players can propose and vote on zoning restrictions, allowing players to decide what kinds of buildings are allowed where. This will allow players to contain polluting buildings like refineries in specific areas to prevent them from contaminating other buildings like farms, as their pollution will spread to neighboring areas. Through zoning laws, players will be able to design their society much more efficiently as a group, allowing players to build individually still but restricted by agreed-upon zones.
- Rent – Players will be able to rent usage rights to other players for land that they own, making real estate ownership a viable business in the Eco economy. Players renting land/buildings from another player will be given certain rights to them, such as using the facilities that are built there (a refinery could be rented to a player who then charges other customers to use the building). This provides another option for sparse-players, allowing rich economic interactions between players without large time commitments or having to be online simultaneously.
The effects of these features on the economies (and indirectly, ecosystems) of Eco will be huge, and can play out in many different ways. It could lead to more efficient resource collection and usage, contained pollution, support for burgeoning industries through rent, and many more positive effects. Or, it could lead to real-estate moguls who keep a stranglehold on the resources of the world and prevent meaningful progress. Whichever occurs will be the result of the politics and law making routes players take, and have tremendous impacts on the surrounding ecosystem.