This is actually a post for the suggestion section, Im posting it here because it requires a little backstory and explaining which arent relavant to the actual suggestion, so this is a mostly a discussion thread. If you just want to read the suggestion and avoid a long diatribe about diablo 2, you could just read the suggestion forum or ignore all the stuff i put in italics.
My inspiration for this suggestion comes from Diablo 2 and specifically the rather unique economy (stupid pun intended). As you might know if you played D2 in multiplayer, the economy there was a player created barter economy. You would trade items with each other which would have high rarity and/or desirable stats.
In MMOs, economy works by currency inflows and currency sinks. Generally speaking, players get money for doing quests or killing mobs and spend money buying shiny stuff from NPCs or repairing their epix, thus money has actual value. Its exachangeable for services and items. WoW did it like this but had rather terrible inflation problems anyway but they fixed that by restarting the economy when they released a new expo... /slowclap
In xsyon we dont have any NPCs that sell us epix, mounts or repair our expensive wardrobe. What we have instead is decay, stuff breaks but currently there is a lot higher inflow of items than item decay provides a sink for. So to fix this, you either decrease the inflow of items or you increase the sink (decay). This is a delicate balance and its the reason why game developers like CCP has economists on staff for Eve online. I will say one thing though, decay atm is not even near to being fully implimented or regulated properly, at the same time there is a high inflow of items and the imbalance of these 2 things is the main reason why economy in Xsyon is rather screwed.
In xsyon there is no sinks for dollars, buttons, bottle caps etc and there is nothing that controls the currencies, so those items cant be used as currency. The supply only increases and you run into an inflation problem, you might aswell use leaves as currency. Golgafrincham style .
With the economy in Diablo 2 currencies more or less arose based on what items were universally usefull and easy to trade, the gold currency in the game was never viable because the inflow was much higher than the very limited sinks, it just wasnt usefull enough. There was the massively duped "stone of jordan" which was a very rare and usefull item for just about anyone and thus also tradeable for anything. Now some nefarious players found an exploit with which they could basicly "print SoJs" like counterfeit bank notes and so the value of SoJs deflated. The exploit was fixed and the value stabilized but now, some players were insanely and unfairly rich. This was a problem but the SoJs entered circulation and was a lot less rare but still just as usefull, so it became widely used as currency. There is only so many items you can buy in a game and the exploiting players had done their work properly, they had a lot more SoJ than they would ever need, filled entire accounts with them. Its easy to see how you could make a lot of IRL money on RMT with a large supply of counterfeit money, you could buy legitimately farmed items and resell the items on eBay. Eventually Blizzard stated that they wanted to purge all of the duped SoJs and ofc the value crashed completely. So yeah, this is a bit of an example in how rarity and demand works in a barter economy.
Valuation was allways a difficult thing for the clueless noobs, you could ask around what the going rate of an item was but getting a straight and accurate answer was allways difficult. There was never any market exchange or auction house where you could simply check and when you think about it this is actually a big deal with making a game that doesnt have an auction house or market, which is what Xsyon is moving towards. In such an economy it requires a lot of experience with trading to know these things. If you live with constant fear of getting ripped off, because you dont know what the value of items is, you are also much less likely to trade for stuff. We dont want auction houses, we want players to interact with each other, so we need an easy way of putting a value on an item.
After the SoJ, runes became the most tradeable item. Runes were basicly crafting ingredients which ranged from very common to extremely rare, they could be arranged in certain combinations to form "runewords", some of the very best items were runewords so runes became quite sought after. Now the interesting thing about runes was that if you had 3 of a given rune, you could transmute them into the rune of the next rarity and lvl, which effectively meant that even low level runes had actual value because with enough of them you could craft high level runes, not only that but it was very easy to determine the value of a rune, every rune was worth 3 times as much as the rune before it, making valuation easier. The range of rarity was much to large for this to work in practise. You would never trade low level runes for high level runes because the volume of low level runes you would need is insane, you would never even find that many in a lifetime and there was no stacking, bummer.
So this is my suggestion to create the basis of a crafting item currency (like the one I described with runes in Diablo 2) which is based on a range of rarity of items, usefullness and the ability to exchange items for other items of higher rarity, at a fair exhange rate. In xsyon we have some metal items which is used in crafting, these are screws, nails, rivets, buckles, decorations, zippers, spikes and small metal plates (there are others but these are the most notable as the others arent currently in a lot of recipes where they give you any stats). They are used to add a stat to an item, for example if you are crafting a suit of deerbone armor, you might consider to use titanium screws so you get +strengh from the item as well. The most usefull of these are incidently also the most rare, Chrome and Titanium. Many of the other itemstats are currently not working and while this is a problem because some of these items are essentially useless, but this is not really relevant, those stats will be added eventually. My idea is a new craft called: alchemy.
Alchemy works by letting you exchange metal items used in crafting for an item of the same kind with a higher level of rarity. Im not really clear on the order here but Iron > Steel > Stainless > Brass > Bronze > Aluminium > Silver > Gold > Chrome > Titanium. The rate of exchange could be 2 for 1, so if you have 512 iron screws you get 1 titanium screw. Im not entirely sure what kind of exchange rate would be fair with the kind of rarities we are talking, numbers make my head hurt. The quality of the items you get from alchemy would depend on your skill level of course, you would need tools and ingredients for the process.
What this would do for the economy is that it provides the game with items of actual value from very low and common to very high value and rare, making it easier to put a value on a specfic items and making it easier to trade. Currencies will arise regardless of whether you put them in game or no, it just takes suitable items and suitable mechanics and people will use that for trading.
Thx for reading.