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I am not going to make a poll in this thread but the recent update by Tim Cain does raise questions about the intended direction of economy in Project Eternity.

 

There hasn't really been a thread on this before (There's been a couple on specific elements such as economy related to magic or difficulty, or currencies), but not a discussion of the economy in itself.

 

So I am making this thread for us to discuss economy in Project Eternity. To start off the thread properly I'll need to do a fairly good main post so I'll try to cover everything I can think of.

 

I'll try and open the discussion from the perspective of the player's wealth as it is really the only thing that the designers have to be weary of in the game. We know the inputs to player wealth in the game (perhaps not all of them, but enough to talk about) - so I think the discussion should be about the value of those inputs, the outputs of which the player spends their wealth.

 

Inputs to player wealth:

 

Items found

Money found

Skills (Crafting, Stealing etc)

Quest rewards

 

Outputs from player wealth: and as per this post on the Something Awful forums it seems that one of the purposes of it is as a money sink for players who don't necessarily do much with the Stronghold

 

Buying new items

Paying for Crafting

Paying for magical service (Healing, Restoration, Identification etc)

Repairing items (currently)

Player House

Player Stronghold

Quest inputs (eg. Paying the Shadow Thieves for transport to Spellhold in BG2)

 

I don't think this discussion should be particularly about multiple currencies or anything specifically but by all means feel free to talk about them.

 

My input

 

I'll start off by saying I'm not a huge fan of Item Durability proposed in Update 58 and as per this post in the Something Awful forums it seems that one of the purposes of Item durability is as a money sink for the player in case they do not invest in the Stronghold.

 

My suggestion here would be to remove item durability from the game and focus on other outputs from player wealth instead. Is it important that if a player does not invest in the stronghold that there be other money sinks in the game to circumvent the amount of wealth they will still have from doing so? Should the economy be balanced so that if the player wants to invest in the stronghold they might have to sacrifice other outputs?

 

Outputs themselves are also probably affected by skills (such as bartering might reduce the cost of items or increase the cost of sold items etc, we can't be sure until we see the full skill tree).

 

Here are some brief suggestions to get the ball rolling

  • Buying items should be expensive
  • Having a vendor craft items for you should be more expensive than doing it yourself for the convenience it offers
  • Paying for magical service should be expensive
  • There should be hopefully many quest options where you can use player wealth (paying for bribes etc) to garner specific outcomes. "Conscience do cost."
  • Selling items should get you a minimal fraction of the item cost, perhaps influenced by reputation or a skill such as bartering if one exists
  • Keep the money you find or are given in the game down
  • Artifact crafting could have a high money cost like BG2
  • Limit the junk item sell value to 1gp or currency equivalent in game
Expeditions: Conquistador also had a nice price/demand system for their trading that might be worth considering.

Personally I don't think the player having excess 100K gold is an issue, but there are definitely ways to bring that number down excluding Stronghold investment.

 

Anyway there's some points to discuss. I'm sure everyone else has heaps of ideas as well. Bring on the micro/macroeconomics enthusiasts etc.

Edited by Sensuki
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My concept of most CRPGs is that there is a hidden economy that covers all the little details of adventuring: acquiring food and drink, repairing items, and paying taxes and fees. To pay for those, there's an invisible tax on the loot so that all the little tradeable knick-knacks don't show up but instead go to pay for the expenses. To me this just part of that economy poking its head up into the game, in much the same way that you have to pay for a room to rent at the Inn. In the Fallout series the repair added a lot to the survivalist flavor of the setting; here, it's probably compensation for having so much lootable gear. You get extra loot, so you get extra expenses. I don't mind because it provides a certain level of grittiness to the game, much like the picture of a swordsman sharpening his blade after each battle. Those who don't like it seem to view it from a meta-gaming perspective as an extra maintenance activity.

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Perhaps a system where the player has to pay a regular wage to some of his/her party members to keep them happy. This will apply particularly to mercenaries employed from the adventurers hall.

Edited by tox1c5lug

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Buying items should be expensive

Selling items should get you a minimal fraction of the item cost, perhaps influenced by reputation or a skill such as bartering if one exists

 

Ok, I like the post and suggestions except for this pair which I really *hate* in all RPG's.

It's a crutch for designers who want to give the players huge rewards, but in the same time want to keep the rewards meaningless.

 

A silly game economy where a sword costs a 1000 gp, but is only worth 1 gp when you sell it.

As if nobody would just buy the swords from adventurers for 50 GP and sell them to other adventurers for 200 GP, thus bankrupting the damn greedy swordsmith.

 

And no. We're not talking about purchasing masterwork items and selling bumpy orc swords.

We're talking about the masterwork items that were just used to full effect a minute ago by the evil knights.

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This is not an easy problem to solve. Either the game has too drastically limit the amount of gold you get from adventuring, or make all purchases exceedingly expensive. Shops need to have things that the player will want to buy even in late game, while at the same time the player doesn't feel that exploring for loot becomes meaningless.

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We're talking about the masterwork items that were just used to full effect a minute ago by the evil knights.

I am talking about trash items not masterwork weapons.

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I thought a lot about this today, started discussing in the original topic, but I'll move here now.

 

 

It's a great discussion, but I think it should start with going back one extra step and asking the more rudimentary question - "WHY does economy have to be a necessary part of a roleplaying game?" which can be distilled even further to "what makes economy fun?"

 

I know it is a genre convention, but sometimes conventions have to be re-evaluated, otherwise we will never innovate.

 

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We're talking about the masterwork items that were just used to full effect a minute ago by the evil knights.

I am talking about trash items not masterwork weapons.

 

 

Well I'm fine with trash items costing next to nothing, but if I'm fighting a bunch of men-at-arms with good weapons and armor,

I'd expect to get a bunch of good weapons and armor as loot after the fight.

I'd also expect to be able to sell the items for 20% or more of their value, more if I'm charismatic or have trade skills.

 

I'm fine seeing their items degrade in use, but not fine if a perfectly good sword turns to junk sword when the enemy gets an arrow in the eye.

Or the whole armor going from pristine to junk when the guard loses his last HP.

 

All in all, beside the other Sensuki suggestions, I'm also fine losing cash in maintaining equipment.

But I'd rather not see things going all silly, where a damaged bow needs to be applied with a fresh log, as if you could add more good wood to the structure.

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It's a great discussion, but I think it should start with going back one extra step and asking the more rudimentary question - "WHY does economy have to be a necessary part of a roleplaying game?" which can be distilled even further to "what makes economy fun?"

 

There's something very american in the notion all accomplishments need to be rewarded with $$$.

From that follows you need to have something to do with all the $$$ or things are bad.

 

I'd love to see an RPG where playing something akin to a Knight Templar would be a good idea.

Just killed a dragon or captured a castle? All loot goes to the brotherhood, you just keep your old equipment.

 

Knights of the Old Republic could have gone there, but didn't dare to.

Jedi are supposed to go about in their simple clothes and armed with the same old sabre...

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There's something very american in the notion all accomplishments need to be rewarded with $$$.

From that follows you need to have something to do with all the $$$ or things are bad.

 

I'd love to see an RPG where playing something akin to a Knight Templar would be a good idea.

Just killed a dragon or captured a castle? All loot goes to the brotherhood, you just keep your old equipment.

 

Knights of the Old Republic could have gone there, but didn't dare to.

Jedi are supposed to go about in their simple clothes and armed with the same old sabre...

I see where you are coming from, but $$$ rewards don't HAVE to involve a classic RPG economy system. Finding a hoard of gold is exciting. Looting goblin's pockets for 5 gold pieces is terrible. One of the possible solutions is to avoid mundane economic interactions - paying 3 gold for meal, etc, unless poverty is the entire point of the game (which it almost never is). Instead of giving out gold in tiny batches, it can be given in "chests" basically. You finished a job, you got a "chest". Buying that new shiny magic item costs 3 "chests". Buying 10 healing potions costs 1 "chest".

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Buying items should be expensive

Selling items should get you a minimal fraction of the item cost, perhaps influenced by reputation or a skill such as bartering if one exists

 

It's a crutch for designers who want to give the players huge rewards, but in the same time want to keep the rewards meaningless.

 

How so? That sentence doesn't seem to make any sense. I'd say that the huge rewards are more important if selling items isn't worth anything.

 

 

 

A silly game economy where a sword costs a 1000 gp, but is only worth 1 gp when you sell it.

As if nobody would just buy the swords from adventurers for 50 GP and sell them to other adventurers for 200 GP, thus bankrupting the damn greedy swordsmith.

 

What about an economy where you get 0 gold pieces for it, because the merchant simply won't buy from you? Ever tried walking into a store and selling them the laptop you just bought?

 

Everything in the scenario you're describing is less believable than the fact that you can't sell the swords for more than 1 gp. What about the fact that you just killed 10 evil knights all by yourself, even though they were all equipped with "masterwork items"? In reality, that would have been one knight at most. Only one masterwork sword then. Or the city watch quickly claimed the bodies, as they would do. If you're at war, you wouldn't have time to loot the bodies. And on and on.

Literally everything is an abstraction in the game, and the only question one should ask is: Does it work mechanically while still being believable?

 

Does selling a sword for a higher price work mechanically? No. Is selling it at a very low price still believable? Well, if you'd put the same amount of detail into answering all other questions regarding believability as you'd have to put into this one in order to come out with a "no", the whole genre would be an unbelievable mess.

 

Blacksmiths earned their money by making swords. They were not interested in swords themselves. Other merchants wouldn't buy swords unless they needed them for themselves. The easiest and most believable abstraction of medieval trade from the perspective of an "adventurer" (i.e. someone NOT a smith or merchant and most likely a nobleman) would be to restrict you from selling anything at all.

However, we have D&D and the people who made that sadly decided that fantasy economies should completely rely on bartering, and so it shall be for eternity. :/

 

 

The calculation is very simple, by the way. You buy equipment for X gold. You kill Y people with that equipment. The total equipment you gain from that should roughly be worth X gold if you don't want to cause balancing issues (after all, you do get quest rewards in addition to that), so the amount of gold you should get for one set of equipment should be X divided by Y.

The enemies should be a challenge, so they'll have roughly the same equipment as you. That means you can sell the equipment you just bought for X gold for X/Y gold back to the same merchant.

(Yeah I know, this is oversimplified. But these kind of calculations or estimations are essential when talking about economy in games.)

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What about an economy where you get 0 gold pieces for it, because the merchant simply won't buy from you? Ever tried walking into a store and selling them the laptop you just bought?

 

 

 

The easiest and most believable abstraction of medieval trade from the perspective of an "adventurer" (i.e. someone NOT a smith or merchant and most likely a nobleman) would be to restrict you from selling anything at all.

 

 

 

 

 

You made several points, of which I readily appreciate the last quoted one (not being able to sell) and would actually prefer a game world like that.

Look at all the old movies and books, looting from the dead is frowned upon. A looter is someone any man of worth hangs in the nearest tree.

 

To the first one though, I'd call it a rubbish economy.

Sure, if you buy a new laptop, you can't just go and sell it to the next shop for a good price.

But that doesn't make it worthless, you can ebay the thing. Or find some peddler of goods if a more medieval example is required.

Things losing all value is a modern thing, all well made things had value in the earlier times without cheaply mass produced goods.

 

If there's a demand for things like swords, there's also a market for them.

 

 

The calculations for good game balanced economics don't interest me at all BTW.

I want feasible, believable economics and gameplay, not something that's fun to play. Or at least play balance is secondary to me.

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You made several points, of which I readily appreciate the last quoted one (not being able to sell) and would actually prefer a game world like that.

Look at all the old movies and books, looting from the dead is frowned upon. A looter is someone any man of worth hangs in the nearest tree.

It depends on who does the looting. If you defeated the enemy fair and square, it's considered spoils of war (as it has always been). If you are just coming in as a scavenger to grab stuff of the dead, you're a looter.

 

Basically, it all depends on how you got your loot. Robbing the freshly dead was a perfectly normal element of warfare.


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I think I've said this before somewhere, but I think that if you're buying and selling stuff, it would be better done by putting together a trade caravan or hiring a ship or  something

and shipping your goods off elsewhere to sell...imports and exports

 

Or maybe you hear of a small village that needs swords to defend against bandits, or a town int the grip of an epidemic who needs potions, and you can set up a caravan going there

maybe you can hire a merchant to deal with all that for you...or maybe you could travel with your caravan and defend it

 

Probably getting out of the scope of the game here......but it seems more believable than trying to sell stuff back to a shop whose aim is to sell stuff and make money, not buy stuff and spend money (though maybe there could be pawnbrokers who will buy stuff)

 

Though obviously the problem is mainly caused by having unrealistically large inventories...in reality you wouldn't take everything because you couldn't carry it, you are becoming rich in game by exploiting an unrealistic design decision.

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I'm perfectly OK with making end-game gear something which most merchants cannot afford to buy. Especially with an infinite inventory that's not so much a problem.

While it may be more realistic that merchant have all gear available throughout the game, you can also stagger it. "Blockade, our usual wares can only come through once its lifted"


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To the first one though, I'd call it a rubbish economy.

Sure, if you buy a new laptop, you can't just go and sell it to the next shop for a good price.

But that doesn't make it worthless, you can ebay the thing. Or find some peddler of goods if a more medieval example is required.

Things losing all value is a modern thing, all well made things had value in the earlier times without cheaply mass produced goods.

 

If there's a demand for things like swords, there's also a market for them.

 

A peddler of goods in medieval time was called a pawn broker I believe. And you got less gold out of him than from traders in RPGs. So we should lower that ratio anyway to make it more realistic.

 

In more detail: As far as I know a typical buy/sell ratio in IE games was 0.25, i.e. you could sell an item for 25% of the value it was sold for. Now that ratio is or was achievable with used books (only if in mint condition), but I doubt you get nearly as much for arbitrary items from a pawn broker. Ebay is different, auctions for the masses, not available in medieval times.

 

You probably could get better prices if you invested a lot of time in selling the stuff, but you would give up adventuring and take up trading, at least for a time. Not something I imagine my adventure troupe to do.

 

But really, if you want realism and believability, you are at the wrong place in a D&D inspired fantasy RPG.

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But really, if you want realism and believability, you are at the wrong place in a D&D inspired fantasy RPG.

 

 

True, but some of us liked the old games but don't want to see the same old nonsense aspects that they used to have still cropping up again and again.

 

People complain about dumbing down, but seem quite happy to carry on with the old established dumb stuff.....

Edited by motorizer

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A peddler of goods in medieval time was called a pawn broker I believe. And you got less gold out of him than from traders in RPGs. So we should lower that ratio anyway to make it more realistic.

 

 

Ok. Let's assume he'd be the only one who buys used stuff.

Does he only collect them or does he sell stuff as well?

Does he ask for the same prices as the swordsmith? He can't because he'd get no business.

So can I buy items from him rather than from the swordsmith? At half the swordsmiths prices?

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I'll reiterate what I said earlier: You should not be able to buy everything. I'd like the devs to just keep on creating uses for money so that money actually becomes useful. Skills whose only end effect is the accumulation of more money is pointless otherwise.

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My thought: unique items? Unique purchase opportunities. I.e. you don't waltz into Ye Adventurer's Departmental Store to pick out your favourite family heirloom or war trophy, and the general store has none of these things whatsoever. Examples:

 

You maybe run across an elderly war hero, who has sentimental reasons for wanting to retain his famed hammer, Bloodspatter, but is down on his luck due to a gambling addiction. Maybe you can persuade him to part with it... or force him further into debt so he has to.

 

You can't sell really expensive stuff to the city guard armorer, cos he doesn't have the money (hence he'll give you 100 gold for something worth 7000). As suggested, there might also be some risk (he can't afford the security, even if you do give it to him for a pittance). But if you work your way into high society (or low society), you might come across a collector/auctioneer (fence) who will pay prime money for your fabulous items. Or you can stick them in your stronghold. These guys could also serve as sources for occasional rare purchases, but they'll also rip you off. If you're good at bargaining or have done the right deals/favours, you might be able to do better, though.

 

The above could also serve as an illustration of party power growth. The big players won't even talk to you until you've amassed enough reputation (or paid them off, just to show you can afford the goods). Or if you're disliked in an area, the legitimate merchants will politely or impolitely show you out, but the black market might still be an option with the right contacts. Of course, sell to the wrong people and you might wind up facing foes decked out in stuff you supplied them.

 

Powerful magical items could be commodities in their own way. Stash an incredibly powerful helm in a bank vault, the same way priceless violins wind up in the house of some connoisseur who'll never play them. So if you "liberate" these items and return them to circulation or use, you're doing the world a favour... and maybe the owners might have you steal them as an insurance scam. Of course, they don't want to part with them, but hey, now you have evidence you can use for blackmail!

 

Not only would items gained by these means have their own compelling backstories, you'd also have your own story to tell as a result of how you acquired them.

Edited by Cthulchulain
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A silly game economy where a sword costs a 1000 gp, but is only worth 1 gp when you sell it.

As if nobody would just buy the swords from adventurers for 50 GP and sell them to other adventurers for 200 GP, thus bankrupting the damn greedy swordsmith.

That's why Blacksmiths post DRM on their newmade sword...

*cough*

 

Anyway, just going to quote myself from posting in another thread about this...

BG2 did it really well in this regard. A lot of unique usefull expensive items in stores, so you had to make choices what to buy and what not. Sure beats vendors having nothing (most RPG's) so they need to invent money-sinks needly to offset that rather than properly stock their vendors or just a few uber-weapons, which are merely uber rather than merely have a different utility like the BG2 special items.

 

It did bad in that 2 of these vendors became exlcusives, but that's another story...

 

So thruthfully, I don't really think a good RPG needs many moneysinks, just a lot of good vendor items to buy that aren't easy to come by. And not just sell +1 +2 +3 so there really isn't much choice, but the +1 ice, +1 fire, +1 poison which all have their uses in the gameworld, so not one destinct item is better and you just buy that and ignore the rest...

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I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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A silly game economy where a sword costs a 1000 gp, but is only worth 1 gp when you sell it.

As if nobody would just buy the swords from adventurers for 50 GP and sell them to other adventurers for 200 GP, thus bankrupting the damn greedy swordsmith.

That's why Blacksmiths post DRM on their newmade sword...

*cough*

 

Anyway, just going to quote myself from posting in another thread about this...

BG2 did it really well in this regard. A lot of unique usefull expensive items in stores, so you had to make choices what to buy and what not. Sure beats vendors having nothing (most RPG's) so they need to invent money-sinks needly to offset that rather than properly stock their vendors or just a few uber-weapons, which are merely uber rather than merely have a different utility like the BG2 special items.

 

It did bad in that 2 of these vendors became exlcusives, but that's another story...

 

So thruthfully, I don't really think a good RPG needs many moneysinks, just a lot of good vendor items to buy that aren't easy to come by. And not just sell +1 +2 +3 so there really isn't much choice, but the +1 ice, +1 fire, +1 poison which all have their uses in the gameworld, so not one destinct item is better and you just buy that and ignore the rest...

 

I disagree about having unique powerful items in shops, apart from feeling contrived and gamey it's also kind of rewarding you for not playing the game if you can just go and buy them...and it takes away from the unique feeling of the item if you just bought it in a shop...and there is also the question of where the hell did a shopkeeper get it and how does he manage to keep hold of it?

 

Shops should sell stuff that is useful and powerful by all means, but having unique artifacts for sale in a shop in town cheapens them. though it might be funny to have charlatans selling fake unique artifacts (could even lead to a quest or 2)

 

The reason you get so rich in RPGs is simply because you are exploiting the unrealistic inventory space and the fact that gold is weightless...

 

since almost everyone but me would explode in protest if they fixed this fundamental issue then the next best thing in my opinion is to make most of the stuff you find almost worthless(certainly a dealer with a shopfull of weapons and armor isn't going to give you a great deal for battered second hand stuff, and imagine going into an alchemists and trying to sell them a bottle of unknown liquid, good luck with that)

 

Don't make farmer Giles give you 1000 gold for saving his chickens...

 

and make plenty of stuff to spend it on, expensive services, stronghold upkeep. and no gold on monsters and animals (actually I'd rather not fight animals but that's a different topic) only enemies who'd have a use for gold should be carrying any.

 

I've yet to play an RPG where I didn't end up with too much money and nothing to spend it on, in skyrim for example (which is an example of everything that is wrong with RPGs even though I admit I found it fun) even when I'd stopped bothering to pick things up, people were still giving me hundreds or even thousands in gold for doing simple quests

Edited by motorizer
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