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Mercantile Skills in Project Eternity

merchant economy skill speechcraft barter haggle persuade supply demand arbitrage

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Poll: Mercantile Skills in Project Eternity (43 member(s) have cast votes)

How do you envision effective traders in Project Eternity?

  1. Silver-tongued smooth talkers that can somehow rob others right under their noses. (3 votes [6.98%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.98%

  2. Traveling merchants who utilize solid business strategy and work hard for their money. (5 votes [11.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.63%

  3. Skilled craftsmen that rely on the quality of their goods more than any underhanded methods. (7 votes [16.28%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.28%

  4. Some combination of the above. (27 votes [62.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 62.79%

  5. Neither of the above (please describe). (1 votes [2.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.33%

What strategies for increasing profit should Project Eternity offer?

  1. Building up rapport over time with specific NPCs until they like you enough to give you discounts (favor mechanic). (31 votes [15.05%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.05%

  2. Persuading NPCs until they like you so much that they give you good prices (whether through charm, intimidation, or bribes). (20 votes [9.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.71%

  3. Haggling aggressively with whichever gullible NPC one can find the quickest (conventional haggle skill). (15 votes [7.28%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.28%

  4. Utilizing an appraisal skill for uncommon items to ensure competitive pricing (appraise skill, possibly merged with identify skill). (23 votes [11.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.17%

  5. Seeking out non-merchant NPCs who need a certain item and bartering for another item that may be more valuable (bartering options). (20 votes [9.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.71%

  6. Seeking out merchants who specialize in certain kinds of goods and doing business with them (different types of merchants pay more or less for certain items). (30 votes [14.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.56%

  7. Exploiting differences in supply and demand from place to place (which would ideally be based on geography and resource availability). (23 votes [11.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.17%

  8. Exploiting fluctuations in supply and demand over time (requires some semblance of a simulated economy). (12 votes [5.83%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.83%

  9. Enhancing the items via crafting and enchantments to increase their value (basic crafting). (20 votes [9.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.71%

  10. Reducing items to their components so they can be crafted into something else or sold individually (reverse engineering in crafting). (12 votes [5.83%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.83%

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#41
Sacred_Path

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I thought the point of the evil approach was to simply steal people's goods, or kill them and loot their corpses, instead of expecting decent prices from other characters?


Several things:

1. Pickpocketing was not inherently denoted as evil, since even paladins could travel with capable thieves, and as long as the stealing was succesful you didn't lose any reputation points. I think you didn't even lose reputation when you were caught, only if you killed the (hostile) victim or other NPC's (such as guards).

2. Outright killing people in most cases resulted in reputation drops and was therefore not advisable, interestingly it was less advisable for evil characters (they had lower starting reputation) than it was for good characters. Too low a reputation broke the game because of NPC's being inherently hostile/ Flaming Fist mercenaries spawning.

As a whole, like I said, you were just making life hard on yourself by going evil.
 

Let me fix that for you:
#2: repair prices differ significantly, encouraging the player to make a cost-benefit analysis of whether he should bother.


This depends heavily on the design. In many games with durability weapons and armor actually break, therefore you don't really have a choice other than to repair things (unless you're flooded with these items or buying new things is cheaper, which would be some pretty weak design in both cases).

This could have worked better if durability works like it was suggested for P:E before being pulled. You could decide wether you go with a "blunted" sword or if you really need it to be in pristine condition. But again, you still have a choice to make there even without differing repair prices complicating things further.

Again, it could be significant for the kind of player who wants to buy everything in the game, but not for the player who wants to breeze through things casually. A world "not designed for backtracking" is a poorly designed world in my opinion, with or without regional pricing.


Eh, regional pricing is exactly one thing that gets in the way of "casually breezing through". If gold is limited enough, you will want to compare prices constantly. This is only limited to OCD players if the price difference is not significant, but if you actually have to carefully manage your funds it will slow the game's pace considerably because you don't want to get stuck with too little funds at some point in the game.

#42
mcmanusaur

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This could have worked better if durability works like it was suggested for P:E before being pulled. You could decide wether you go with a "blunted" sword or if you really need it to be in pristine condition. But again, you still have a choice to make there even without differing repair prices complicating things further.

 

I haven't really suggested that this apply to services- in comparison to goods- although it is conceivable.
 

Eh, regional pricing is exactly one thing that gets in the way of "casually breezing through". If gold is limited enough, you will want to compare prices constantly. This is only limited to OCD players if the price difference is not significant, but if you actually have to carefully manage your funds it will slow the game's pace considerably because you don't want to get stuck with too little funds at some point in the game.

 

This is not true. We know that there will be at least a few optional gold sinks in the game (not least of which the stronghold), and as I've said a couple times now it could be balanced such that casual playthroughs opting for convenience provide enough finances for core gameplay elements, whereas a more mindful approach opens the possibility for other options. And I might clarify that this is not about encouraging players to micromanage for the best prices for cheap, insignificant loot, but rather to provide incentives regarding more expensive items, or bulk transactions.

 

To me your argument seems comparable to claiming that "side quests will either provide an insignificant reward, in which case they're not worth doing, or they will provide a significant reward and players will be 'compelled' to complete them", or that "generic loot will either end up being worthless, or the player will be punished for not hauling it all back to town". It's a false dichotomy and it's up to the players to decide; if the players are really that obsessive-compulsive about their finances then there's nothing the developers can do to help them in my opinion.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 08:59 AM.


#43
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This could have worked better if durability works like it was suggested for P:E before being pulled. You could decide wether you go with a "blunted" sword or if you really need it to be in pristine condition. But again, you still have a choice to make there even without differing repair prices complicating things further.

I haven't really suggested that this apply to services- in comparison to goods- although it is conceivable.


Eh, we were talking about repair prices (see quote). But ok, goods: you already have quite a few decisions to make concering purchases even without regional pricing. What to buy, in what quantities, for which character and when. Would it be advisable to add different pricing to this mix?
 

This is not true. We know that there will be at least a few optional gold sinks in the game (not least of which the stronghold), and as I've said a couple times now it could be balanced such that casual playthroughs opting for convenience provide enough finances for core gameplay elements, whereas a more mindful approach opens the possibility for other options.


I din't know we were talking about P:E specifically. Seems a little late, and there probably won't be many hubs in the game (we know of two cities so far).

To me your argument seems comparable to claiming that "side quests will either provide an insignificant reward, in which case they're not worth doing, or they will provide a significant reward and players will be 'compelled' to complete them", or that "generic loot will either end up being worthless, or the player will be punished for not hauling it all back to town". It's a false dichotomy and it's up to the players to decide; if the players are really that obsessive-compulsive about their finances then there's nothing the developers can do to help them in my opinion.


Uh, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Players feel compelled to do side quests because the benefits make them attractive and advsiable considering the obstacles in the main quest. Plus, what compels you is your wish to see all of the content of the game. This is a motivation in itself. Is it also a motivation enough to engage in a trading minigame just because you can? For me personally, no.

Different difficulty levels may require different approaches, to stay with your "false dichotomy" example. If you really get an advantage by collecting and selling trash loot, then players of all kinds - not only the OCD crowd - will be compelled to do it if they feel the game is tough. Same for regional pricing - yes, on normal or easy difficulty, it may not bother a player at all, though we have to consider that a lot of people play games only once and will therefore try to get things "right" the first time through, which would in this case include trying to game the trading mechanics.

#44
mcmanusaur

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Uh, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Players feel compelled to do side quests because the benefits make them attractive and advsiable considering the obstacles in the main quest. Plus, what compels you is your wish to see all of the content of the game. This is a motivation in itself. Is it also a motivation enough to engage in a trading minigame just because you can? For me personally, no.

Different difficulty levels may require different approaches, to stay with your "false dichotomy" example. If you really get an advantage by collecting and selling trash loot, then players of all kinds - not only the OCD crowd - will be compelled to do it if they feel the game is tough. Same for regional pricing - yes, on normal or easy difficulty, it may not bother a player at all, though we have to consider that a lot of people play games only once and will therefore try to get things "right" the first time through, which would in this case include trying to game the trading mechanics.

 

Getting things "right" is a function of one's character's role, and if players are too blinded by the opportunity to optimize the numbers on the screen to realize that, then there's nothing that can be done to help them. In RPGs you define your experience as well as your character, and if you decide that your experience will revolve around hauling loot around in the most efficient manner, to me that is your own fault. When the advantage of engaging in such behavior is restricted to the optional gold sinks, instead of impacting the experience of core content, I don't see the issue.



#45
Sacred_Path

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Getting things "right" is a function of one's character's role, and if players are too blinded by the opportunity to optimize the numbers on the screen to realize that, then there's nothing that can be done to help them. In RPGs you define your experience as well as your character, and if you decide that your experience will revolve around hauling loot around in the most efficient manner, to me that is your own fault. When the advantage of engaging in such behavior is restricted to the optional gold sinks, instead of impacting the experience of core content, I don't see the issue.


It's not as simple as optimizing numbers on the screen. This may be true for character creation: if you RTFM and it gives you a good idea of what the attributes do, and what the skills do, and what talents you can unlock, and if you maybe played around a bit with the game, then you should be able to create characters that don't suck. It's your responsibility. Though it should be noted that even this is somewhat remedied in P:E because there will be no dump stats, for one. You can't screw your fighter up because you made him intelligent rather than strong.

Regional pricing can have far-reaching consequences and you won't be able to judge things at all until you've actually played through the game. Where do you get what prices for what goods and how do you get there? What will getting there entail? Solving certain quests, facing random attacks? By what creatures will you be beset, and when will you be strong enough? Is the cost in things like consumables and resurrection worth the trouble of getting there?

I haven't heard an answer from you as to how you want to avoid players having to keep lists of goods in different locations.

And no, you don't just make your own adventure. Gold is a commodity you need to manage in most RPGs. Running out of gold because you "chose your own adventure" (i.e. you went to places with high prices, sucker!) isn't exactly great.

#46
mcmanusaur

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Regional pricing can have far-reaching consequences and you won't be able to judge things at all until you've actually played through the game. Where do you get what prices for what goods and how do you get there? What will getting there entail? Solving certain quests, facing random attacks? By what creatures will you be beset, and when will you be strong enough? Is the cost in things like consumables and resurrection worth the trouble of getting there?

I haven't heard an answer from you as to how you want to avoid players having to keep lists of goods in different locations.

And no, you don't just make your own adventure. Gold is a commodity you need to manage in most RPGs. Running out of gold because you "chose your own adventure" (i.e. you went to places with high prices, sucker!) isn't exactly great.

 

My answer to how price lists are avoided is that it should be intuitive and based on geography, politics, or other factors that might logically impact resource availability, as I have stated from the beginning of this thread. You shouldn't need a list to tell you that armor is cheap at the place where they have a lot of metal, that furniture is cheaper near lumber camps, or that grain might be more expensive in an urban area. As far as learning where there are mines, lumber camps, or farms, that's part of learning about the setting and happens as you go as with any other aspect of the environment. I see the questions you mention as precisely the things we should be asking ourselves about any setting, and if people are so stuck to the notion of an optimal playthrough that they refuse to engage in a reasonable amount of trial and error, that's a problem with their approach to the game in my opinion.



#47
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My answer to how price lists are avoided is that it should be intuitive and based on geography, politics, or other factors that might logically impact resource availability, as I have stated from the beginning of this thread. You shouldn't need a list to tell you that armor is cheap at the place where they have a lot of metal, that furniture is cheaper near lumber camps, or that grain might be more expensive in an urban area.


Steel swords may be cheaper in a mining town, ok (may). That's not enough to make an informed decision. It may be worth buying no swords but only bows and leather armor for everyone until you get to that town because the swords may be dirt cheap. I barely make it there, fighting off beasts in melee with a bow is kinda difficult. Surprise, the swords are cheaper, but even spending all gold you can only afford 2 of them! Awsum. Better make the same hassling trip back to starting town, with 2 swords this time but without healing potions (you ran through em fighting off wolves).

This is not optimizing numbers.


As far as learning where there are mines, lumber camps, or farms, that's part of learning about the setting and happens as you go as with any other aspect of the environment. I see the questions you mention as precisely the things we should be asking ourselves about any setting, and if people are so stuck to the notion of an optimal playthrough that they refuse to engage in a reasonable amount of trial and error, that's a problem with their approach to the game in my opinion.


I also think exploration is important. Therefore, I think players shouldn't run into brick walls due to regional pricing. The few times where I accidentally end up in a location where I can get the goods I want cheaper don't offset the frustration of those times where things are too expensive IMO.

#48
mcmanusaur

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Steel swords may be cheaper in a mining town, ok (may). That's not enough to make an informed decision. It may be worth buying no swords but only bows and leather armor for everyone until you get to that town because the swords may be dirt cheap. I barely make it there, fighting off beasts in melee with a bow is kinda difficult. Surprise, the swords are cheaper, but even spending all gold you can only afford 2 of them! Awsum. Better make the same hassling trip back to starting town, with 2 swords this time but without healing potions (you ran through em fighting off wolves).


This is not optimizing numbers.

I also think exploration is important. Therefore, I think players shouldn't run into brick walls due to regional pricing. The few times where I accidentally end up in a location where I can get the goods I want cheaper don't offset the frustration of those times where things are too expensive IMO.

 

Not enough hand-holding for your tastes, then? I guess that outcome means you learn your lesson for credulously trying to optimize the game, eh? Maybe the next time that you only have enough money to buy 1.85 swords at the base price you'll be wise enough to not expect that you will have enough money for 4 swords in some far-off town. Or perhaps the lesson is that there's a reason why merchants tend to avoid trading along dangerous routes. Or maybe this could even be a lesson in opportunity costs, who knows?

 

What would you prefer?

 

For the last time, this isn't a "brick wall"; it's merely yet another degree of challenge to add to the rest. I'm sorry that the consequences of navigating "accidentally" frustrate you, but I don't see how that's a problem with the proposed mechanic.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 10:22 AM.


#49
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Steel swords may be cheaper in a mining town, ok (may). That's not enough to make an informed decision. It may be worth buying no swords but only bows and leather armor for everyone until you get to that town because the swords may be dirt cheap. I barely make it there, fighting off beasts in melee with a bow is kinda difficult. Surprise, the swords are cheaper, but even spending all gold you can only afford 2 of them! Awsum. Better make the same hassling trip back to starting town, with 2 swords this time but without healing potions (you ran through em fighting off wolves).

This is not optimizing numbers.

I also think exploration is important. Therefore, I think players shouldn't run into brick walls due to regional pricing. The few times where I accidentally end up in a location where I can get the goods I want cheaper don't offset the frustration of those times where things are too expensive IMO.

 
Not enough hand-holding for your tastes, then? I guess that outcome means you learn your lesson for credulously trying to optimize the game, eh? Maybe the next time that you only have enough money to buy 1.85 swords at the base price you'll be wise enough to not expect that you will have enough money for 4 swords in some far-off town. Or perhaps the lesson is that there's a reason why merchants tend to avoid trading along dangerous routes. Or maybe this could even be a lesson in opportunity costs, who knows?
 
What would you prefer?
 
For the last time, this isn't a "brick wall"; it's merely yet another degree of challenge to add to the rest. I'm sorry that the consequences of navigating "accidentally" frustrate you, but I don't see how that's a problem with the proposed mechanic.


Hah. Terrible design != no hand holding.

What you must allow for is the player making informed decisions. Which cannot be made if you know prices may vary around the world but you don't know by how much in what location. In this case, more information = better.

There's no lesson to be learned in my example; because for all you know, the prices may still vary elsewhere, and you won't know any specifics until you've been everywhere and have written down everything.

The only lesson you've learned is that fighting off wolves with only bows may be barely possible but it's a really bad choice. There is more to learn (maybe it would have been easier with those 1.85 swords?), but again, you don't need regional pricing in the mix to make things even more uncertain.

#50
mcmanusaur

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Hah. Terrible design != no hand holding.

What you must allow for is the player making informed decisions. Which cannot be made if you know prices may vary around the world but you don't know by how much in what location. In this case, more information = better.

There's no lesson to be learned in my example; because for all you know, the prices may still vary elsewhere, and you won't know any specifics until you've been everywhere and have written down everything.

The only lesson you've learned is that fighting off wolves with only bows may be barely possible but it's a really bad choice. There is more to learn (maybe it would have been easier with those 1.85 swords?), but again, you don't need regional pricing in the mix to make things even more uncertain.

 

Then I suppose- by the same token- we might as well inform the player of exactly which enemies he/she can plan on facing in a given area, so that they can make informed strategic decisions? Otherwise they can't possibly know what to do and when, which is bad design?

 

For me, uncertainty is an important part of RPGs, and many of the most intense RPG experiences I've had result from my uncertainty about the environment around me/my character. As far as I can see, economics is one of the most uncertain aspects of real life, so I don't see the problem with there being some small amount of uncertainty in its in-game representation.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 10:40 AM.

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#51
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Then I suppose- by the same token- we might as well inform the player of exactly which enemies he/she can plan on facing in a given area, so that they can make informed strategic decisions? Otherwise they can't possibly know what to do and when, which is bad design?


Reloading a battle because you didn't have a strategy the first time or your plan didn't work? Confirmed to be fun for most RPGers.

Reloading because you entered an area where enemies were too tough at your level? Considered ok.

But starting a playthrough to gather information about prices and stores so you can then start over with this pertinent information? Probably not supported by most.


For me, uncertainty is an important part of RPGs, and many of the most intense RPG experiences I've had result from my uncertainty about the environment around me/my character. As far as I can see, economics is one of the most uncertain aspects of real life, so I don't see the problem with there being some small amount of uncertainty in its in-game representation.


Surprise and wonder are key to RPGs (the first time through anyway), yes. But you can have plenty of that without regional pricing.

#52
mcmanusaur

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Reloading a battle because you didn't have a strategy the first time or your plan didn't work? Confirmed to be fun for most RPGers.

Reloading because you entered an area where enemies were too tough at your level? Considered ok.

But starting a playthrough to gather information about prices and stores so you can then start over with this pertinent information? Probably not supported by most.

 

You're confounding a lot of different variables there. Learning about the economic landscape as you go is no different to learning about the weaknesses of the enemies that you'll be facing, or the solutions to puzzles/quests you'll be completing, which both only happen through trial and error for the most part. In any of these cases, that knowledge could ostensibly help you play through the game more efficiently, so there's no reason to feel compelled to start a new playthrough in light of the former but not also due to the latter. And yet you're not suggesting that uncertainty regarding opposition forces the players to restart their playthroughs as soon as they've gained that knowledge... that's strange. Why is regional pricing any different? Alternatively, you could recognize that RPGs are always learning experieneces and instead play the game like a normal person, using trial and error as you go to figure out economics in the same way that you do enemy counts.

 

The comparison to be made here is between entering an area where enemies are too tough and reloading so that you can travel elsewhere, and traveling to a place that has higher prices than where you started and reloading so you can go elsewhere. However, the former is actually a "brick wall" in the figurative sense in that you literally cannot progress further without dying, whereas the latter is at worst a small inconvenience and hardly requires reloading at all. Maybe you choose to make use of your trip to buy some other commodity rather than what you intended, or maybe you simply continue on your travels, all the wiser for the next time around, which will likely come in the same playthrough. Again, all of this is only an issue if you are an obsessive perfectionist anyway, in which case I say once more "that is your problem, not the designer's".

 

To me, "wonder" is a product of many little things; sure, you could progressively remove each component without marginal costs for each being too significant, but that doesn't mean the things you've omitted contribute less than the things you've included, or that you won't eventually rid the game of all its wonder that way.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 11:31 AM.


#53
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You're confounding a lot of different variables there. Learning about the economic landscape as you go is no different to learning about the weaknesses of the enemies that you'll be facing, or the solutions to puzzles/quests you'll be completing, which both only happen through trial and error for the most part. In any of these cases, that knowledge could ostensibly help you play through the game more efficiently, so there's no reason to feel compelled to start a new playthrough in light of the former but not also due to the latter. And yet you're not suggesting that uncertainty regarding opposition forces the players to restart their playthroughs as soon as they've gained that knowledge... that's strange.


trial and error is involved in ferreting out the best trading opportunities in your idea as well.

I'm not suggesting that you need to start over because you've once run into stronger enemies because games are usually not designed in such a way that you could get stuck in a rut there. I fear that a game with an arbitrary economy as you suggest could lead to this though. Without advance knowledge of the "good deals", you're likely to run out of funds, which means a dead end in quite a few RPGs.

The comparison to be made here is between entering an area where enemies are too tough and reloading so that you can travel elsewhere, and traveling to a place that has higher prices than where you started and reloading so you can go elsewhere. However, the former is actually a "brick wall" in the figurative sense in that you literally cannot progress further without dying, whereas the latter is at worst a small inconvenience and hardly requires reloading at all. Maybe you choose to make use of your trip to buy some other commodity rather than what you intended, or maybe you just continue on your travels, wiser for the next time around.


When you're out of funds and possibly badly equipped (not as well equipped as you could have been had you gotten better deals!) and in some place surrounded by wilderness, that is usually bad news (brick wall).

In the case of simply going to the wrong area, you can possibly go somewhere else where it's more appropriate to be at your level. You aren't stuck (unless you've made bad choices in building your characters, as I admitted).

#54
jamoecw

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I'm just curious, since I never really understood the mechanic, and the poll results suggest that it's quite popular, but do specialized merchants have better or worse prices than general traders, and what's supposed to be the reasoning there? I could see general stores buying for less along the lines of a pawn shop (and I may be mistaken but I think this is the way most games do it?), but then does it really make any sense for someone who is trying to sell their goods (i.e. swords) to want to pay more to buy swords off someone else? They're trying to convert swords into income, not the other way around. If anything I'd think bladesmiths would refuse to buy your spare swords, and the only thing allowing general stores to buy low would be the seller's poor BATNA (excuse my business parlance). Hopefully someone can enlighten me, since I seem to be in the minority here, judging by the poll results.

 

Specialized merchants give you better deals because they're actually interested in the items your selling and do not want to buy them from other merchants.

If a merchant mainly buys/sells spices, while the merchant next to him buys/sells everything, then adventurers would most likely sell all their stuff at the second merchant because it's less of a hassle. In order to get these spices then, the first merchant would have to buy them from the other merchant and he'd make a net loss compared to giving you a better price.

(Also what jamoecw said. A general trader cannot be sure if the item will sell quickly or if it'll wind up collecting dust in a corner.)

 

But of course, technically it doesn't make sense for any merchants other than pawnbrokers and more shady dealers to want to buy stuff from you unless there's a crisis. They should have their own connections and networks to keep them supplied and wouldn't trust somebody who waltzes into their shops with what might be stolen goods or bad quality goods. If anything, they might say "I'll do you a favor and buy those items from you, for a small price".

 

And you're right of course that smiths wouldn't want to buy swords. In my opinion the only logical "specialized merchant" that would buy and sell swords in large quantities would be something like a specialized second hand store for adventurer's gear. You know, Ye Olde Adventurer's Shoppe.

How that would realistically affect smiths I cannot say. (Just sayin', would've been great if durability was still in. If those "second hand traders" only sold damaged items, that could've balanced things. But in a world where you have a thriving second hand market for swords and armor, I cannot imagine why somebody would decide to become a smith.)

 

back in the early 1900's you could make things and then go to a shop and get them to sell them for you if they thought it was worth it, the shops were sorta centers for commerce.  as time went on the mentality that you had specific suppliers and that you didn't need to bother with small time hobbyists that may be in the transition to manufacturer (depending on how things went).  my grandfather got started by making golf clubs, then went into manufacturing custom golf clubs, then into retail sporting goods.

 

prior to the black plague there were distinct niches, and just showing up with gear to sell was quite shady.  after the black plague showing up with a bunch of gear to sell wasn't suspect, as there was a shortage of skilled personnel, so there was a shortage of well crafted items.  almost since the dawn of manufacturing there has been signature marks to identify who made what, so if your stuff is 200 years old then knowledgable merchants would know you didn't go out and rob some place.

 

as population increases the knowledge needed to asses who made what increases, and it becomes too problematic to accept goods from strangers.  as population decreases the problems of maintaining supply infrastructure increases.  generally low population lends itself to criminal activity and legitimate opportunities, and higher population lends itself to reliability and stagnation.



#55
mcmanusaur

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I'm not suggesting that you need to start over because you've once run into stronger enemies because games are usually not designed in such a way that you could get stuck in a rut there. I fear that a game with an arbitrary economy as you suggest could lead to this though. Without advance knowledge of the "good deals", you're likely to run out of funds, which means a dead end in quite a few RPGs.


When you're out of funds and possibly badly equipped (not as well equipped as you could have been had you gotten better deals!) and in some place surrounded by wilderness, that is usually bad news (brick wall).

 

Running out of funds? In how many RPGs is this actually a regular occurrence? I haven't read much that suggests a high likelihood of this happening in Project Eternity, unless you're investing in a stronghold or some other optional gold sink. We're not talking about "good deals" and complete rip-offs, we're talking about good prices and slightly better deals. If you actually manage to find a way to go broke over something like this, you probably stuck at the game.

 

These arguments against regional pricing are seemingly becoming increasingly dubious, needy, and obscure, and you seem to be intent on retaining base assumptions- such as that this mechanic is somehow different than other mechanics that accomplish the same general effect, and that it cannot possibly be balanced to be neither insignificant nor compulsory- which I have already argued against, so I'm not sure whether this is getting anywhere.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 12:30 PM.


#56
Sacred_Path

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Running out of funds? In how many RPGs is this actually a regular occurrence?


Ah, but you wanted some semblance of a realistic economy. Actually, that's the one reason why you'd want regional pricing at all, am I correct? So you shouldn't flood the player with so much gold that it becomes meaningless.

I haven't read much that suggests a high likelihood of this happening in Project Eternity, unless you're investing in a stronghold or some other optional gold sink. We're not talking about "good deals" and complete rip-offs, we're talking about good prices and slightly better deals. If you actually manage to find a way to go broke over something like this, you probably stuck at the game.


Again, I'm not talking about P:E. That train has left the station. Like I also said, with only two cities, while "regional" pricing would have been a bit easier to balance, it would also seem like a waste of time IMO. It's not going to be a huge sandbox style game.
 

These arguments against regional pricing are seemingly becoming increasingly dubious, needy, and obscure, and you seem to be intent on retaining base assumptions- such as that this mechanic is somehow different than other mechanics that accomplish the same general effect, and that it cannot possibly be balanced to be neither insignificant nor compulsory- which I have already argued against, so I'm not sure whether this is getting anywhere.


Uh, please tell me exactly what "general effect" it is that you're hoping to achieve with regional pricing.

You have mentioned two things in passing: "immersion" (or make-believe) and "surprise"/"wonder". It's a pretty far fetch to claim that all mechanics that can contribute to immersion have the exact same effect as regional pricing; nay, it's ludicrous. Same goes for "wonder".

#57
jamoecw

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You're confounding a lot of different variables there. Learning about the economic landscape as you go is no different to learning about the weaknesses of the enemies that you'll be facing, or the solutions to puzzles/quests you'll be completing, which both only happen through trial and error for the most part. In any of these cases, that knowledge could ostensibly help you play through the game more efficiently, so there's no reason to feel compelled to start a new playthrough in light of the former but not also due to the latter. And yet you're not suggesting that uncertainty regarding opposition forces the players to restart their playthroughs as soon as they've gained that knowledge... that's strange.


trial and error is involved in ferreting out the best trading opportunities in your idea as well.

I'm not suggesting that you need to start over because you've once run into stronger enemies because games are usually not designed in such a way that you could get stuck in a rut there. I fear that a game with an arbitrary economy as you suggest could lead to this though. Without advance knowledge of the "good deals", you're likely to run out of funds, which means a dead end in quite a few RPGs.

The comparison to be made here is between entering an area where enemies are too tough and reloading so that you can travel elsewhere, and traveling to a place that has higher prices than where you started and reloading so you can go elsewhere. However, the former is actually a "brick wall" in the figurative sense in that you literally cannot progress further without dying, whereas the latter is at worst a small inconvenience and hardly requires reloading at all. Maybe you choose to make use of your trip to buy some other commodity rather than what you intended, or maybe you just continue on your travels, wiser for the next time around.


When you're out of funds and possibly badly equipped (not as well equipped as you could have been had you gotten better deals!) and in some place surrounded by wilderness, that is usually bad news (brick wall).

In the case of simply going to the wrong area, you can possibly go somewhere else where it's more appropriate to be at your level. You aren't stuck (unless you've made bad choices in building your characters, as I admitted).

 

the same extreme could be applied to enemies.  you had 2 fighters in your party, but without a 3rd some critical battle at some point in the 3rd level of a dungeon means that you can't win and thus have to abandon it in hopes that at a higher level you can complete it with only 2 fighters.

 

which is bad game design to need to be so strict on circumstances.  the same is applied to regional pricing, vary it by too much and (not only unrealistic) you end up wasting all you money and can't afford the gear you should have for your level and thus end up struggling.

 

if regional pricing varied by 5% in either direction of a standard price, then at most you will be only 10% down from knowing the optimal places.  balance wise you should be only 5% off at most.  this also means that if you know the optimal place you can only get a 5% boost to your gear.

 

throw in report with merchants on top of that and the benefit/loss becomes even smaller.  as the mining town still needs to feed its blacksmith, pay rent, etc. so the cost of a sword has a fairly set production cost, gaining better that shouldn't happen.  as you 'waste' money to a merchant, he will give better deals for both buying and selling, so you should make up any losses in the long run.  if you spread out your money then you don't get 'penalized' for spending every penny at the expensive merchant, and end up with average pricing.

 

on the other hand any variables that add challenge to the game will make succeeding at those challenges cause the game to be easier, and failing at those challenges cause the game to be harder.  streamlining a game is how many competitive games deal with the issue in order to broaden the balance to various skill levels, which tends to be simply dumbing things down.  as it is a single player game, i don't see the highs being too high an issue, and if they throw in a mechanic to balance the lows, then it could work.

 

in short if there are a low number of merchants, then it isn't a big deal, in fact theming the slight difference in prices based on regional tendencies would make the game more intuitive with less burden of knowledge, but if they have a large number of merchants and regions and such then it would become more of a hinderance.  likewise report can be good if you are supposed to be returning to areas regularly, but if you are supposed to be going linearly through the game then it would be a hinderance.



#58
Sacred_Path

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the same extreme could be applied to enemies.  you had 2 fighters in your party, but without a 3rd some critical battle at some point in the 3rd level of a dungeon means that you can't win and thus have to abandon it in hopes that at a higher level you can complete it with only 2 fighters.


This would indubitably be very bad design, and I don't think anyone would defend it. Regional pricing is bad in games, and it is being defended ITT.
 

if regional pricing varied by 5% in either direction of a standard price, then at most you will be only 10% down from knowing the optimal places.  balance wise you should be only 5% off at most.  this also means that if you know the optimal place you can only get a 5% boost to your gear.


You have a lot of factors there. In your example, occasional purchases/ sales might be alright. But if the game allows for a lot of loot hoarding, 10% could be a lot, enough to "compel". Which the OP wants to blame entirely on people being OCD about stuff, while I say that if the game is challenging (as it arguably should be), all players will (have to) submit to this.
 

throw in report with merchants on top of that and the benefit/loss becomes even smaller.  as the mining town still needs to feed its blacksmith, pay rent, etc. so the cost of a sword has a fairly set production cost, gaining better that shouldn't happen.  as you 'waste' money to a merchant, he will give better deals for both buying and selling, so you should make up any losses in the long run.  if you spread out your money then you don't get 'penalized' for spending every penny at the expensive merchant, and end up with average pricing.


As I have already said, you could simulate economy for the sake of simulating economy, without it affecting the player much. This would however, arguably, be a waste of ressources.
 

as it is a single player game, i don't see the highs being too high an issue, and if they throw in a mechanic to balance the lows, then it could work.


"single player games don't need balance/ power cap", I've seen that before, and it never makes sense. It's an opinion you can subscribe to if you think games should fellate the player, but me and the OP seem to actually, in theory, be in agreement that this shouldn't be the case.
 
I'm not going to hold two of these ludicrous conversations at the same time BTW

#59
mcmanusaur

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Ah, but you wanted some semblance of a realistic economy. Actually, that's the one reason why you'd want regional pricing at all, am I correct? So you shouldn't flood the player with so much gold that it becomes meaningless.

I'm interested in a more realistic economy in so much as it characterizes the game's setting in a deeper and more convincing way, not because I want the in-game finances to be more challenging for the sake of it. The spatial or temporal variety of prices is not related to how saturated the game world is with money.
 

Again, I'm not talking about P:E. That train has left the station. Like I also said, with only two cities, while "regional" pricing would have been a bit easier to balance, it would also seem like a waste of time IMO. It's not going to be a huge sandbox style game.

In my view, all RPG settings should be designed in a manner that's viable for a sandbox-style experience; that to me is the sign of an adequately developed game world. Most games might not end up as sandboxes, but that's not an excuse to cut corners in world design in my personal opinion. Linear worlds simply don't exist in three dimensions, and for me a linear narrative isn't justification for ignoring that.
 

Uh, please tell me exactly what "general effect" it is that you're hoping to achieve with regional pricing.

You have mentioned two things in passing: "immersion" (or make-believe) and "surprise"/"wonder". It's a pretty far fetch to claim that all mechanics that can contribute to immersion have the exact same effect as regional pricing; nay, it's ludicrous. Same goes for "wonder".

Those are the general effects of regional pricing, and many of the supposed negative side-effects you've argued apply equally to other factors that create immersion and wonder. The rest of your arguments operate under biased assumptions, such as the notion that players put so much emphasis on mindlessly optimizing the crap out of everything in RPGs that they are incapable of carrying out cost-benefit analyses, along with those I mentioned in my previous post.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 10 July 2013 - 12:58 PM.


#60
Sacred_Path

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I'm interested in a more realistic economy in so much as it characterizes the game's setting in a deeper and more convincing way, not because I want the in-game finances to be more challenging for the sake of it. The spatial or temporal variety of prices is not related to how saturated the game world is with money.


K, so you want a more realistic economy for the sake of realism and without it affecting the player much. Plz explain to me why this is a good idea and how you can justify spending ressources on it for implementation/ balancing.
 

In my view, all RPG settings should be designed in a manner that's viable for a sandbox-style experience; that to me is the sign of an adequately developed game world. Most games might not end up as sandboxes, but that's not an excuse to cut corners in world design in my personal opinion.


Also, justify making a gameworld intended for sandbox games in, say, a game as linear as Icewind Dale.
 

Those are the general effects of regional pricing, and many of the supposed negative side-effects you've argued apply equally to other factors that create immersion and wonder.


I've asked for examples here, and I still do.

One counter-example should suffice: I feel immersed when a gameworld's religions are well developed. Religion does not usually affect balance and it doesn't cause you to become stuck.

Herp derp.


The rest of your arguments operate under biased assumptions, such as the notion that players put so much emphasis on mindlessly optimizing the crap out of everything in RPGs that they are incapable of carrying out cost-benefit analyses, along with those I mentioned in my previous post.


I countered this on many levels, just recently as I said when the game is hard, it does force players to optimize, it's not their choice.





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