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Money in Project Eternity: Get Rid of Adventurer-Based Economy

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Pretty much said this in the previous economy thread, but here goes:

 

Since the (main) game that Project Eternity is based on, Baldur's Gate (2), had a pretty good way of handling an RPG economy, as compared to many newer titles brought up here, I believe discussing the flaws of that system makes more sense than bringing up what other games did wrong? It might be presumptuous to assume PE will mirror BG2 with regards to how it handled loot and economy (though a number of crossovers between the two have already been confirmed), but IMO it makes even less sense to talk about other games (like NWN, a game PE will supposedly not take after). Nothing wrong with discussing what other games did right/wrong, the discussion just feels a bit redundant at times.

 

In short, BG2:

First of all, there are no randomly generated loot chests (PE will take after this). This makes the amount of gold available to the player easier to control by the designers.

Basic loot was generally worthless in mid-to-late game, but it would give you a reasonable amount of money in the beginning when you were just as ordinary as anyone else.

Rare loot (from unique monsters, and non-random chests) would sell for more, and after a few adventures, you could even afford to buy something rare from the shop.

After having finished pretty much every side-quest there is, you'd have enough money to buy most of the very expensive items.

 

And to top it off, even though money gave you a safety net to buy some gear that you might be lacking, and provide you with basic supplies, most of the things you'd end up using you found yourself, throughout your adventures (more fun than shopping). The economic system, if you examine it, is very basic, but it was unobtrusive, and apart from some Throne of Bhaal insanity, it supported the game very well.

 

If there are going to be merchant factions, that could make for some really cool quests involving trading and delivering valuable goods, in a scripted event that would feel like a more realistic economic environment (because you'd be taking part in real trade), but there's no need to over-complicate the basic economy system to make it feel "real".

 

I believe designing an RPG is more about making unobtrusive, abstracted, and enjoyable systems that don't get in the way of the player experience. Somehow, though BG2's system is far from perfect under scrutiny, it managed to keep the game highly enjoyable. You wanted to get out there, find more things, sell it, and amass more gold.

Edited by mstark
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Yes Storm of Zehir was good, but you must allow for players to choose how they want to play the game. If someone wants to be rich, you should not make them grind endlessly to get to that point. Try to think about other people when you make such arguments. Personally, I don't care, I love playing Ironman, only what you find Diablo games, but I also play games where I hoard like crazy. Maybe choice should be the overriding factor in any single player game economic consideration.

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What I'd like to propose for Project Eternity is for Obsidian is to abandon that traditional adventurer-based economy. Finding swords, armors, etc. in ruins should be more or less worthless if you can't actually use that gear. Instead, what should matter is finding commodities that actually matter to people in reality:

 

Why would they be worthless? Weapons have worth. The uses for them and the materials they're made of have worth. This isn't a question of whether they do or not. They do. Why wouldn't they? If people sell them, they have enough worth to be bought. If people sell them, then people buy them, and thus they are worth buying and selling. The end.

 

I don't actually disagree with what you're getting at, mind you, in fact a lot of what you're saying is quite interesting. It's just that one point . . .

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Why not have tiers of economy? Just have particular points in the game where you are given essentially infinite money for buying certain categories of things?

 

Take this page (it didn't originally come from dandwiki, it came from a frank and k tome):

 

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Dungeonomicon_%28DnD_Other%29/Economicon

 

It's specifically made for D&D 3.5e, but the point is valid; after a certain level or achievement, your 'earliest' currency goes from a particular number to 'infinite', with the actual infinity symbol or something, so you can simply stop collecting things that cost that currency... and some types of items can't be bought -- or sold -- with or for that currency at all!

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If there's going to be copper, silver and gold... would gold be like a status thing in itself? "Woah you have gold!!! :o"

 

Would you be able to trade copper for silver, silver for gold as well or are they their own entities by themselves? Some aristocratic fellow with a monocle: "What!? I have GOLD!! Why would I trade that against some petty silver!!! Shame on you sir!!".

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If there's going to be copper, silver and gold... would gold be like a status thing in itself? "Woah you have gold!!! :o"

 

Would you be able to trade copper for silver, silver for gold as well or are they their own entities by themselves? Some aristocratic fellow with a monocle: "What!? I have GOLD!! Why would I trade that against some petty silver!!! Shame on you sir!!".

Well, I don't believe anyone could only use gold. Unless you go to the baker and buy the whole bakery. Gold could be rare though, since in many instances gold coins were only minted on special occasions. Like in Republic Rome Aurei were used to give out bonuses to the army on big celebrations. Copper and brass, on the other hand, have a lot less value than prescribed by the exchange rate, so government officials and wealthy merchants might refuse to take anything less than silver. Once again in Rome taxes were only collected in silver coins. So that they could be melted and minted into even more coins with less silver in them, when the government needed more money.

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I've gotta agree with OP here. Loot shouldn't just be a stepping stone for getting more gold.

 

I wanted to throw out Arcanum as an inspiration as well. They had some interesting ways of dealing with selling loot. Certain merchants bought only certain items (and they didn't always buy these items either) and then you had a junk dealer who would buy mostly anything else at reduced prices.

 

Gold and ammo also had weight in that game. It was minimal, but it was not insignificant.

 

Also wanted to mention Might and Magic and its use of "training" to level up players as an interesting "money sink." It can give players a choice of "should I level up my player now, or buy that better item/use my gold for something else?" that can be interesting. Of course, at that point you have to make sure that there are ways of getting gold to pay for training.

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Bags of gemstones, with weight value instead of coin value?

 

So a ruby weighing 5 grams will buy you a sword. A diamond of same weight full suit of armour. Change is given in gemstones nearest to weight difference etc.. :p


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I agree, I am sick of being a millionaire by the end of every rpg (or the midway point) I always find the most enjoyable part of a games economy is when you make a conscious effort to save money for a specific weapon in preparation for a specific quest.

 

I have a couple of suggestions as to how this situation could be avoided.

 

First, give the player a motivation to keep unique legendary weapons, perhaps an armory in the stronghold where u can recruit some dude to research the unique weapons you find, this could reveal more about their lore, unlock hidden abilities, or allow the creation of a few new unique weapons once you have collected enough.

 

Someone else suggested equipping your guards, again i think this is a good idea.

 

Finally for a money sink the stronghold could be upgraded, much like Suikoden where you recruit unique characters to improve your castle, the difference being that you could have a cost involved in setting up a blacksmith/alchemist/tavern as well as having to persuade the individual to join your cause.

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A simple way of ensuring you don't break the economy by selling enemy loot: If you've just hacked a bandit to pieces, his gear is ruined. Swords will be notched and blunt if not completely shattered, armour will be cut to shreds, you'd be lucky to trade them in for a few rags. On that note, a simple weapon degradation mechanic would require upkeep of your armour and weapons. That stuff costs money to keep in good condition. Hell, magical armour might need to be fed precious gems to stay magical. +5 whatever armour is great, but if you don't spend the cash it won't STAY +5...

 

Weapons and armour should be expensive, anyway. They're hard to make, they're dangerous, and in your typical fantasy setting they're restricted to soldiers and nobility for the most part. And that's normal stuff. Nobody in their right mind would part with magical gear for something as simple as money. That's the sort of stuff you should get in exchange for serious favours like rescuing princesses and saving the life of the local archmage. They're legendary artifacts because they're supposed to be rare, but by the end of Baldur's gate 1 everyone was packing seriously magical equipment. 

 

It just has to be kept sensible. Exalted, while a terribly clunky tabletop RPG, had economies that worked despite the massive amounts of magic being thrown around. Gold, silver, magical materials, they all had their place and it worked. Hopefully the devs will be able to do something like that.

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An adventure based economy give you incetive to go out to kill monsters to get better loot which will help you kill more monsters to get better loot.

 

It's a very basic loop that you're stuck in, but you're doing something, accomplishing something, and it works. When it doesn't work is when you have no motivation NOT to kill everything in sight, because more money right? But maybe it would get too repetitive, but you're passing up money!

 

I suppose then, that the real solution is to not make any dungeon or area filled with too many enemies or get too repetitive. Or, or rather AND, make smaller, fodder like enemies carry an equivelant amount of money/loot. In other words, the most common enemies should give you so little gold that you don't even want to bother killing them for it. This removes the dilemna of "I'm not interested in wandering around killing these guys, but if I don't I pass up all that money!" Without removing the basic incentives for exploring every nook and cranny in a dungeon or getting more loot to kill more guys to get more loot.

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With a proper economic system there could be more professions than just simply being pretty much a "Bounty Hunter" or "Monster Hunter". But you could become a Thief that gets sucked into the underworld of a City, or choose to become a Holy Paladin to be a messenger of [insert God].

There is so many awesome things that could be done with a psuedo-real economy (immersion+authenticity). I've read several "Best Game Ever!" lists and EVE Online popped in there and I understand why. I have some thoughts on the concept of a good economy but I don't even know if I should bother, a Global Economy might take time to build and design (I understand this) and I also understand that financially the game would be played differently than the IE games (That doesn't mean combat would feel different). A Community Developed Economy? Now that is a different thing, whether it is used or not, that would be certainly interesting to see :)

This sounds more fun (In my opinion):
Profession = Income

Rather than the common one which is used in every game:
Slay enemy = Income

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I thought I would post this here, since it was really kind of an off-topic discussion in one of the Developer Update threads:

 

I prefer it being kept to a minimum, though I do like the little 'junk' stuff you'd get in DAO (with the sell all junk button). Added a bit of flavor outside of just bonus gold. But bonus golds a hell of a lot easier to deal with then having to shift through it to find out whats worth selling. Really do love there shared pack and stash idea.

Yeah, I get the original idea behind "junk" stuff. But, it loses almost everything in translation into a video game. I guess I just wish it had more than one use (selling for gold.) Because, mechanically, it literally just becomes a delayed tiny pile of gold. That "tarnished candlestick (junk)" is literally just an IOU for 1 silver, 3 copper, with a name that helps you pretend you found an actual part of the game world that just happens to be worth a little money and nothing else.

I don't mind the situation of finding tons of herbs (that are all usable crafting components) and those herbs actually having a sell value. Maybe you have no interest in crafting, so you just sell them all, as they're useful to someone. Of course, thinking about that, how often do random people know exactly what herbs are what out in the world? Really, only certain people (who learned how to identify those herbs for a reason) would even know what they were. So, one way to handle the "this only has one use to me, and that is sell value" items might be to only allow your party to "find" herbs, for example, if someone in the party has enough skill to identify them (could be tied directly to Apothecary or Survival or something...).

What I mean by this is, even if some chest in a dungeon has 17 useful Apothecary herbs in it, is your group of 6 Barbarians who don't even know the difference between mushrooms and grass REALLY going to go "Oh, hey, this is a potential thing for us to take that will be worth 7 silver a piece!"?

Hmmm... I hadn't really thought of this before. I mean, who's to say you know exactly what everything you see/find is, and its worth? Maybe you open a chest, and you find some junk in it (a broken pocketwatch or something.) The fact that it's listed in the loot interface suggests that your character(s) know it's worth "2 copper" or whatever. But, why don't they take the chest, itself (it's a small wooden box that probably isn't welded to the floor)? It's worth a lot more than a broken pocketwatch. And who's to say there isn't stuff in the chest that just wasn't of enough significance to list in the loot interface?

What if all the "junk" that was readily identifiable displayed no monetary value until you found a value for it (such as some person in a town saying "I lost my family's old pocketwatch... it was looted by bandits", or some smith saying "I'm in the market for any metal scrap things"? And things like specific herbs wouldn't even show up in the loot interface (much less have a value listed) unless someone in your party KNEW "Hey, that's a meelodinus flower, and I can make a potion with that!". i.e., they open the chest and say "Hmm, a nice sword, an ornate flask (worth money because I can see gold and gems on it), and... some random plant? It looks like a dandelion... those are literally everywhere. Why would I loot that?"

Any thoughts? Crap, I should really put this in one of the recent economy/loot threads...
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I don't mind adventure based economy. The economy system you are asking for has to be well done or is a hassle. They can easily add money sinks in this game. A powerful item that takes a percentage of your gold to deal damage to a enemy proportionate to the amount of money you have. Have gods places of worship, shrines, churches. Where you can get valuable temporary buffs but only if you donate a lot of your hard earned money. 

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I'm a bit split on this. On one hand, I can see why lugging around hundreds of thousands of goldpieces or whatever passes for currency would feel weird, or that there's no real way to properly spend it all without introducing goldsinks. But on the other hand, there's always that human bit of greed to finding yet another bit of wealth to add to my virtual collection. I suppose gaining favor with various factions could be used as currency, but again that's just shifting the problem over to a new definition.

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In history, cities turned rich because they became the gathering points of resources.  In this world, adventurers loot items from the surrounding areas and sell it at the closest town, like ants scouting and bringing back sugar.

 

Tired of the selling items for diminishing returns, the player sets up her own trading business.  Items left on sale could fetch a higher price.  Although the returns aren't immediate like a cash sale to other merchants, the wait could be worth it.  She sets prices at 90% market price, and sees brisk trade.


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I'm a bit split on this. On one hand, I can see why lugging around hundreds of thousands of goldpieces or whatever passes for currency would feel weird, or that there's no real way to properly spend it all without introducing goldsinks. But on the other hand, there's always that human bit of greed to finding yet another bit of wealth to add to my virtual collection. I suppose gaining favor with various factions could be used as currency, but again that's just shifting the problem over to a new definition.

Won't the stronghold end up becoming one gigantic gold sink?

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Won't the stronghold end up becoming one gigantic gold sink?

Only if the stronghold-proper is below sea level and the landscaping crew botches the moat.

 

Oh, wait... 8)


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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With a proper economic system there could be more professions than just simply being pretty much a "Bounty Hunter" or "Monster Hunter". But you could become a Thief that gets sucked into the underworld of a City, or choose to become a Holy Paladin to be a messenger of [insert God].

 

There is so many awesome things that could be done with a psuedo-real economy (immersion+authenticity). I've read several "Best Game Ever!" lists and EVE Online popped in there and I understand why. I have some thoughts on the concept of a good economy but I don't even know if I should bother, a Global Economy might take time to build and design (I understand this) and I also understand that financially the game would be played differently than the IE games (That doesn't mean combat would feel different). A Community Developed Economy? Now that is a different thing, whether it is used or not, that would be certainly interesting to see :)

 

This sounds more fun (In my opinion):

Profession = Income

 

Rather than the common one which is used in every game:

Slay enemy = Income

Problem with many economy systems is implementing it into single player game where all the nuances and so forth have to be designed as code and then written by some poor sobs.

Just like idea of profession = income.

Ok, character has profession X. Now how that works with the story is the question...

Designing the game so that blacksmith can play it from beginning to end while using blacksmithing as his main source of income would be... Challenging. Unless you design game around that concept, but then you have problem that other professions would have to be involved. It gets very, very complicated very fast.

 

I agree with earlier view that most important things for economic system are it's simplicity to understand and it being fun.

 

 

I also disagree strongly on notion that it should be made impossible to become rich, even if it is through constant loot hoarding from dungeon to shop. If you want to get money that way, it should be open option. Saying "I do it but I do not want to be permitted to do so" is IMO wrong. Others might want to be able to play it that way, and it would be wrong towards them to deny it.

 

I am good bit of completitionist, I admit. If it ain't nailed down, I grab it and keep it until I run out of space/weight and find something better (or decide to make extra trip to shop).

 

In essence, question of having hoards of money should not be decided by game, but rather player. If you do not want to be filthy rich, don't amass wealth.

 

For those who do not want to be rich, things like temple donations could be made to work as voluntary money sinks. They could provide some small benefits too, like blessing of that deity for a while, or people speaking your praise after you have handed over X amount of money.

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^ If the problem you've got, though, is "there's CLEARLY too much money to be had," then the easier way to balance it would be to better moderate the amount of wealth to be had. Not "let's add more things in to make this money go away in the event you've got too much."

 

Not that I think temple donations are a bad idea or anything, :). I just think that, in a well-designed system, you no longer need money sinks. You simply have money (or things of monetary value; potential money), and you have uses for that money. If the player can specifically go out of his way to wind up with plenty of money lying about, that's not inherently a bad thing. If a player has to go out of his way NOT to wind up with plenty of money lying about, that's probably indicative of a balance issue in your game economy.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I like the idea of limited gold for each merchant. There should be a dynamic economy, even artificially so, in which merchants' available gold, stocks and even prices are randomly changed every now and then to reflect how well their business is. And merchants should not willy nilly buy loots off of you. In a limited money economy, large investments (buying a pricey magical weapon is a large investment) often is not a good idea especially if it is going to take some time to make a profit off of it (how often do ordinary folks buy an enchanted sword?) One way to handle loots, besides having the merchant buy it off of you, is to have the merchant sell it for you, for a negotiable commission fee. Merchants in more populous/prosperous areas will help you sell loots at faster while backwatered merchants will take forever to get rid of that enchanted shield you asked him to sell.

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This whole idea from the starting post is quite interesting and admirable, yet I think there always are some pros and cons:

 

Advantages:

+ economy looks more realistic, thus the game world is more realistic

+ would cause the rare magic items really rare

+ innovation in a game making it more interesting, because of unique and never used before approach

 

Disadvantages:

- dull "farming" quests possibilities (a vendor wants you to fetch 20 this and 30 that)

- somewhat a match of Settlers being played in the background

 

But I would give it a go!

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Most RPGs I played had completely broken, and astonishingly  boring economies. The basic pattern always seemed to be the same.

 

1. In the beginning you could benefit from buying a lot of things, but you don't have any money. 

2. You get small handouts throughout the game simply because you're playing. (This includes both loot and quest rewards.) They accumulate.

3. There is never any real point in buying the items you can afford. Yeah, you could spend all you cash on some Slightly Better Sword. You can also wait 3 minutes and get something  even better via loot in the next dungeon.

4. You finish the game with a heap of useless gold.

 

The main point I want to make is that the most important aspect of an RPG economy is what kind of things money enables you to do. If all you get for being a billionaire is that Slightly Better Sword, than any kind of intricacies in the underlying systems are not worth the effort to develop or discuss. 

 

An interesting in-game economy would allows you to uniquely affect in-game events through money. This would make money valuable, which in turn would make spending or chasing money important role-playing decisions. 

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I love that this is being discussed with such fervor. Back when I DMed D&D, the first thing I did was reform the monetary system. If a peasant makes approx 1 silver/day, does it make sense that adventurers can slay some level 1 thing and get 100 gold (or whatever it was a simple sword cost - 1000 days of work for a normal person)? Only if all adventurers refuse to spend their money. If, say, 5% of adventurers gave up after their 2nd looting round, to live life happily forever after (not at all unfeasible) gold would quickly lose its scarcity and become unusable as a monetary token. Only rare things can be money.

 

When deciding if the monetary system should more closely resemble a real system or D&D, the developers should be aware that they are choosing between an RPG and an arcade hack'n'slash.

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The first thing is to know what kind of world is PE set in. How rare is magic? And what constitutes a magic item?

If we're in a world with mages guild in every town, a shaman in the smallest village and a robust crafting system,

it makes no sense for magic items to be exceedingly rare and expensive.

 

I'd suggest a sword is a sword, but a well balanced sword amounts to a sword +1,

a well tempered sword by a master swordsmith a sword +2

 

These should be available for purchase, in better shops.

 

 

I hope for a low(ish) magic world, where a hedge wizards cast temporary enhancements on weapons to earn their keep 

and major arms manufacturers employ wizards to enchant the (expensive) weapons ordered by nobles.

 

The truly great magic items should not be available on store shelf like a box of cereals.

Those should be rare, but not exceedingly so. Princes and heads of holy orders should have Holy Avenger swords or something

to that effect. But they wouldn't buy those from a local 7-eleven. 

 

I hate the standard RPG economy, where you basically take the make-believe-medieval history as a starting point,

and then rapidly move to where a beer costst a peasants 10 weeks salary and a traveling merchant has 5 million GP's worth

of stuff in inventory (but can only buy up to 600 GP's of items.. to keep things realistic)

 

And you should definitely, absolutely never end up in a situation where you have some immensely expesive and rare magic items

in your possession, but no-one in the entire world will buy it from you, for any price.

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