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Mercantile Skills in Project Eternity  

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  1. 1. How do you envision effective traders in Project Eternity?

    • Silver-tongued smooth talkers that can somehow rob others right under their noses.
      3
    • Traveling merchants who utilize solid business strategy and work hard for their money.
      5
    • Skilled craftsmen that rely on the quality of their goods more than any underhanded methods.
      7
    • Some combination of the above.
      27
    • Neither of the above (please describe).
      1
  2. 2. What strategies for increasing profit should Project Eternity offer?

    • Building up rapport over time with specific NPCs until they like you enough to give you discounts (favor mechanic).
      31
    • Persuading NPCs until they like you so much that they give you good prices (whether through charm, intimidation, or bribes).
      20
    • Haggling aggressively with whichever gullible NPC one can find the quickest (conventional haggle skill).
      15
    • Utilizing an appraisal skill for uncommon items to ensure competitive pricing (appraise skill, possibly merged with identify skill).
      23
    • Seeking out non-merchant NPCs who need a certain item and bartering for another item that may be more valuable (bartering options).
      20
    • 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
    • Exploiting differences in supply and demand from place to place (which would ideally be based on geography and resource availability).
      23
    • Exploiting fluctuations in supply and demand over time (requires some semblance of a simulated economy).
      12
    • Enhancing the items via crafting and enchantments to increase their value (basic crafting).
      20
    • Reducing items to their components so they can be crafted into something else or sold individually (reverse engineering in crafting).
      12


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If things are 5% more expensive somewhere, that adds up. If you performed actions such that things weren't 5% more expensive, throughout the entire game, that would also add up. At some point, you've either spent an extra 500 gold you wouldn't have, or saved 500 gold you wouldn't have, depending on the angle from which you're looking at it. Yet, if that 500 gold savings isn't necessary (i.e. you can not-save that 500 gold and still get by perfectly fine in the game), then it's not ridiculous. And if that 500 gold actually contributes to your buying something else more easily/quickly, then it was significant.

 

It's quite simple, really.

except it isn't.

 

If the difference is significant, you have no idea how much of anything the player will amass at any point in the game. Take healing potions in IE games; their prices are, for all intents and purposes, very similar IIRC, no matter where you buy them. Let's say in IWD, you can predict how many healing potions a player will probably have when descending into the Vale of Shadows. Of course there are ways that screw this up slightly, like grinding for yeti pelts to sale, but this isn't without its own risks and costs (i.e. resurrection). What's more, you can ensure some proper cost-benefit relation when compared to spending that money elsewhere. This isn't exactly easy in a more realistic economy; with a town that can or can't produce healing items cheaply (fresh water supply?), you have to recalculate everything. Take note that we agree the difference should be significant; that means significant per item, not only in droves (as may or may not be more realistic): i.e. in a mining town we can expect armor and weapons and repairs to be significantly cheaper. Signaling this to the players, you absolutely compel them to travel there to fill their armor needs. This will not only in theory be at odds with their other adventuring options, in which case I say again, economic needs shouldn't be the strongest driving force in an RPG. It may be, but it would make for a very peculiar game.

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Ok, sort of a compromise for you economyfags people.

 

 

Basic items should be available at most settlements: light armor, non-magical ammunition, basic weapons. There may be a small (most likely not significant) regional difference in pricing to give the semblance of a real economy.

Higher tier items are only available at specific locaions; heavy armor and specialist weapons in mining towns, longbows and healing potions in Elven settlements. Your party may still navigate the map in congruence with its material needs, but it's not as arbitrary, it doesn't punish exploration and it's not a balancing nightmare.

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Ummm... in what world is the potential quantity of sellable items and their respective base values NOT going to be factored into a design decision to allow price fluctuations between regions/locations?

 

I was under the assumption that we weren't discussing this under the assumption that the devs are mindless idiots who just draw numbers out of a hat in order to produce the math behind their implementations.

 

Guess that's what I get for assuming things.

 

Also, the price difference for repairing your stuff COMPELS players to go back to some other place to repair things? Hah. Yeah, just like the existence of 30 different types of potions COMPELS all players to always stock up on every type of potion available, and always use them on everyone in the party whenever possible in order to maximize combat efficiency. 'Cause, I certainly don't know of anyone who doesn't do that in games with lots of beneficial potions. I mean, if there's an option in a game, and it's beneficial, then obviously it's preposterous that you do it.

 

What? Selling my potions is 10% less profitable in this town than it is in another town? And that other town is 17 days away from here? Welp... better just hike back there right now. I have no other option. It's not like the distance factors into whether or not it's worth doing that or just selling them here, right now. Not to mention the possibility that, by the time I get there, prices could potentially change.

 

Not to mention that the idea that you're saving up all your potions and only selling them at the most profitable town means that you've ALREADY "arbitrarily" traveled to all other available towns in the area and sold potions at them, so that you now know all the price differences. How else would you know?

 

Ignore enough factors at play and there's always a seemingly valid, obvious argument against something.

 

Prices can statically differ, and even fluctuate, to some extent without breaking the game or requiring you to go completely out of your way to do anything to compensate for them. It really is that simple.

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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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plz tell me how you will make it small but significant at the same time. That's exactly the crux.

Regional differences in pricing will either be so small as to be insignificant or so significant that they're a real hassle/ enforce backtracking.

 

Well, it depends on the larger economy (how much money all the gold sinks drain, and how much surplus there is), but I would say that a 5-10% price difference adds up like Lephys said without making the more convenient choice financially paralyzing. I'd say it should be balanced such that the party should at least always have access to about the amount of gold required for equipment upkeep/restocking and the like, but in terms of funding excess spending on strongholds and that kind of thing, I think it's fair game to require players to be a bit more mindful financially. If you want your character to become rich then you must rely on those small profits that compound over time, but if a comfortable lifestyle is good enough you can ignore them.

 

Eh, I never said central narrative. It may be any kind of quest/ event going on in the game. Tracking a murderous beast into a desert environment may be out of the question because your 2 rangers might run out of arrows. For some weird ingame reason, you may be stuck in a city that sells only overpriced healing consumables, putting your melee heavy party at a disadvantage that you couldn't predict (it's not basic geography).

Hmm, whatever, but- joking here- at least this would give an in-game reason for fetch quests, so that you're not left asking why you can't buy however many doohickeys you need from next door. Seriously though, I think it should always be related to geography, unless there is a good political reason for it being otherwise (embargoes, contraband, etc. as someone mentioned). By the way I hate healing consumables in general but that's neither here nor there.

 

And you really think that's more fun than plotting a course because it promises good dividends for adventuring/ your party is well-suited to counter the specific enemies you're likely to meet there?

Personally I don't decide where I go based primarily on loot dividends or damage resistancies, but this would just be yet another thing for the player to take into consideration; it need not dominate decision-making.

 

I'd argue that anything that takes place outside the player characters' sphere isn't a good choice when it comes to RPG content. That's why I'm ambiguous at best when I hear players demanding that their characters should have some influence on the gameworld's politics. It's really too meta. "I think my party has garnered a high enough reputation to have some effect on local politics. My characters are also good at lockpicking. I can't wait to see how their lockpicking will affect the grand scheme of things".

Well, I think the argument those players would make is that it introduces such systems (politics, economy, etc.) into the character's sphere, albeit in an arguably artificial manner from my perspective. For me, they're just things that can only add to immersion if presented correctly, not more opportunity for my character to show how special he/she is.

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Of course there should be various sorts of merchants with various sorts of methods. It wouldn't be believable if everyone was a huckster or snake oil salesman any more than it would if every merchant was an infallible Protestant pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.

 

I don't think they should waste time and resources on something as ambitious as modeling a simulated mercantilist/capitalist economy. I'm not saying it wouldn't be interesting, but it strikes me as far outside the scope and budget of the game.

 

I agree, and in this thread I mean to ask how PE might use novel abstractions (more complex than those used by other RPGs) to give the impression and of a real economy, without actually doing a simulation.

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As mcmanusaur mentioned earlier, I find all of these quasi-magical force power mechanics boring and otherwise detracting from the more interesting elements of a game.  They are very limited in scope, and otherwise produce no fun challenges for the player to solve or overcome.  Though I can understand the desire for more options and mechanics in an RPG, I feel that those such half-baked are undeserving and prove only to shallow a game's overall character.

 

Half-baked... that was the term that I meant to use but couldn't remember.

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i.e. in a mining town we can expect armor and weapons and repairs to be significantly cheaper. Signaling this to the players, you absolutely compel them to travel there to fill their armor needs. This will not only in theory be at odds with their other adventuring options, in which case I say again, economic needs shouldn't be the strongest driving force in an RPG.

 

I have to agree with Lephys that it's a bit absurd to say that players are "compelled" to travel out of their way for better prices on healing potions or other menial consumables. I'm also not asking for economics to be the strongest driving force, but simply one of the considerations (currently it's not even that with the all-encompassing haggle skills we tend to see). It's up to the player to decide what motivates them and their characters, and if the player decides that it's getting as much money as possible, then it's their fault if their experience suffers somewhat, in my personal opinion.

 

Ok, sort of a compromise for you economyfags people.

 

 

Basic items should be available at most settlements: light armor, non-magical ammunition, basic weapons. There may be a small (most likely not significant) regional difference in pricing to give the semblance of a real economy.

Higher tier items are only available at specific locaions; heavy armor and specialist weapons in mining towns, longbows and healing potions in Elven settlements. Your party may still navigate the map in congruence with its material needs, but it's not as arbitrary, it doesn't punish exploration and it's not a balancing nightmare.

 

Again I'm not advocating for the availability of standard items (weapons, armor, consumables, etc.) to be restricted to certain areas- in fact I'd be happy if "unique" items were the only ones restricted in such a manner- and I'm not sure how that's a compromise; if anything that's far more inconveniencing than a slight price difference. I'd simply like to see prices vary realistically, based on reasonable estimates of regional supply and demand, and changes over time need not be perpetually simulated.

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retail is a difficult thing to simulate, both my father and grandfather owned retail stores.  basically different merchants have different philosophies about how to make money.  heck traveling the traveling salesman will go to the local shop in order to sell his wares to someone with money and the time to turn it into profit, then move on, those that buy directly from him are a relatively small portion of his income.  he will be unlikely to lower his prices to undercut his best customer (the shop), so you need to have some sort of rapport with him (or browbeat him) in order to get better pricing, but if you do the potential savings is bigger (it is rare to sell at a loss).  living where above or behind the shop used to be common, and it led to things like showing up in the dead of night and actually getting service (which isn't done in most games, unless they just stay behind the counter).

 

if you do haggling and report right it could work out quite well.  there is short term influence and long term influence, it takes quite a bit to sway short term influence, but repeated dealings would affect long term easier.

ex # 1 - so say you show up in the middle of the day to buy gear and such, you go to the shop and haggle a bit and agree on a price for a new shield, then run off into a dungeon and return the next day in the middle of the night.  you knock on the door, and the merchant tells you to wait while they open up, so they open up and there is a slight negative temporary influence due to the hour, but you unload 1/3 of his existing stock on him, and you don't haggle on each and every item, the slight long term influence from buying a shield and the lack of significant haggling this time causes him to throw in a few extra coppers on top of the total (the hour doesn't affect the influence enough to make any real difference this time).  you thank him and rest at the inn.  next time you are in town you see he has a nice sword, and you do some light haggling and get the price reduced a fair amount based by and large from the long term influence from the last transactions with him.  you run off and get a substantial amount of good items and come back and off load them for decent profit based on the report you have been building, he sees you as a small time supplier at this point, and wants to keep you happy and productive.

ex # 2 - this play through you show up in town in the middle of the day and you try the browbeating tactic to get a substantial deal on a shield, then run off into the dungeon and return in the middle of the night.  knock on the door again, and he opens up again, this time due to the browbeating combined with the late night he doesn't bend with the light haggling, so you browbeat him again, he gives a bit and you get and even better deal than last time.  you return after a while and see the nice sword again, this time he asks a huge sum of money, due to the poor long term influence, you haggle, to no avail, so you browbeat, he then drops the price down to a little over asking from last playthrough.  you go and get all the good items from last playthrough and look to offload them at the same place, this time he gives you very little for the stuff, so you again browbeat him, he then throws you and your loot out of the shop, since he doesn't feel you are worth the trouble of dealing with.

 

excessive haggling is bad, making him money is good.  different merchants value different things, to some it is just a job, these won't do as much for you, and will have less flexible pricing (which is good for infrequent visits).  to some it is how they live, these will do more for you and will have more flexible pricing (good for frequent, friendly visits).

 

as for traveling merchants, they should come in both varieties, but the advantages would be slightly different:  they need to sell things to shops, so a good report would get good prices for selling their goods, but much less so for buying your stuff.  they would also be able to get their hands on certain items you want, but be less reliable for finding them (they travel a route after all).

 

different places value different items differently, so that should influence the prices and such at least slightly.

 

these are pretty bare bones for retail, there is a lot of other factors, but these should create an illusion better than most other rpgs of a retail environment.

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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.

Edited by mcmanusaur

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retail is a difficult thing to simulate, both my father and grandfather owned retail stores.  basically different merchants have different philosophies about how to make money.  heck traveling the traveling salesman will go to the local shop in order to sell his wares to someone with money and the time to turn it into profit, then move on, those that buy directly from him are a relatively small portion of his income.  he will be unlikely to lower his prices to undercut his best customer (the shop), so you need to have some sort of rapport with him (or browbeat him) in order to get better pricing, but if you do the potential savings is bigger (it is rare to sell at a loss).  living where above or behind the shop used to be common, and it led to things like showing up in the dead of night and actually getting service (which isn't done in most games, unless they just stay behind the counter).

 

if you do haggling and report right it could work out quite well.  there is short term influence and long term influence, it takes quite a bit to sway short term influence, but repeated dealings would affect long term easier.

ex # 1 - so say you show up in the middle of the day to buy gear and such, you go to the shop and haggle a bit and agree on a price for a new shield, then run off into a dungeon and return the next day in the middle of the night.  you knock on the door, and the merchant tells you to wait while they open up, so they open up and there is a slight negative temporary influence due to the hour, but you unload 1/3 of his existing stock on him, and you don't haggle on each and every item, the slight long term influence from buying a shield and the lack of significant haggling this time causes him to throw in a few extra coppers on top of the total (the hour doesn't affect the influence enough to make any real difference this time).  you thank him and rest at the inn.  next time you are in town you see he has a nice sword, and you do some light haggling and get the price reduced a fair amount based by and large from the long term influence from the last transactions with him.  you run off and get a substantial amount of good items and come back and off load them for decent profit based on the report you have been building, he sees you as a small time supplier at this point, and wants to keep you happy and productive.

ex # 2 - this play through you show up in town in the middle of the day and you try the browbeating tactic to get a substantial deal on a shield, then run off into the dungeon and return in the middle of the night.  knock on the door again, and he opens up again, this time due to the browbeating combined with the late night he doesn't bend with the light haggling, so you browbeat him again, he gives a bit and you get and even better deal than last time.  you return after a while and see the nice sword again, this time he asks a huge sum of money, due to the poor long term influence, you haggle, to no avail, so you browbeat, he then drops the price down to a little over asking from last playthrough.  you go and get all the good items from last playthrough and look to offload them at the same place, this time he gives you very little for the stuff, so you again browbeat him, he then throws you and your loot out of the shop, since he doesn't feel you are worth the trouble of dealing with.

 

excessive haggling is bad, making him money is good.  different merchants value different things, to some it is just a job, these won't do as much for you, and will have less flexible pricing (which is good for infrequent visits).  to some it is how they live, these will do more for you and will have more flexible pricing (good for frequent, friendly visits).

 

as for traveling merchants, they should come in both varieties, but the advantages would be slightly different:  they need to sell things to shops, so a good report would get good prices for selling their goods, but much less so for buying your stuff.  they would also be able to get their hands on certain items you want, but be less reliable for finding them (they travel a route after all).

 

different places value different items differently, so that should influence the prices and such at least slightly.

 

these are pretty bare bones for retail, there is a lot of other factors, but these should create an illusion better than most other rpgs of a retail environment.

 

Thanks for the input; I found that very interesting, and you're right to bring up the fact that consistently haggling aggressively might just have a negative effect on long-term rapport, and thus it could make little net profit. I hadn't considered that but now that you mention it, it makes sense.

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Hmmm... so to me that suggests something along the lines of KOTOR. I guess that's fine if the skills are adequately substantial in their application. If there is a maximum of six party members, that would mean that you could possibly cover all the skills at a rate of two per character, which seems alright. At least that means there will be little redundancy, but at the same time the more or less guarantee that you'll have all skills covered at the end of the day is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you won't be tinkering with any different skills on successive play-throughs, but I guess that means you experience the full skill content the first time around. Hmmm.

A recent Josh Sawyer quote stated you will only be able to have one skill maxed, and two high skills. So the amount of skill points you get per level is not enough to max out two skills.

 

6x2 = 12 and there are 17 in the 4E PHB.

 

I do not believe there will be Acrobatics, Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, Heal or Intimidate.

 

But there may be some 3E stuff coming back and some stuff exclusive to Project Eternity that is not in D&D (such as Animancy, Glanfathan Lore etc).

 

So I think it's safe to say somewhere between 12-18ish maybe. I would say that less is probably more in this case. Expect to see a lot of generalization.

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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.

the factor you're missing is time.  a general store sells everyday items to a small group of people, a sword store will draw more people looking just for swords.  so the turnaround time for the swords in their inventory is quicker.  think of them not as converting a commodity to money, but inventory space.  

 

they draw people through advertising and knowledge.  they protect themselves from bad investments with knowledge and margins.  a general store in a peaceful land isn't going to know about swords, so knowledge is low, so they don't draw sword people, nor can they have narrow margins knowing that the sword is good.

 

a good example is fins.  in cold water you generally want open heel fins so that you can have booties to keep your feet warm.  most people use fins in warm water.  so a general store is used to seeing warm water fins for pools and trips to warm areas.  a specialty store has both, but if they are in a colder clime they will probably have more open heel fins.  if you are going on a trip, or are serious about fins you are going to want to go to a store that knows what you need, even if you do not.  because people don't go to the general store for fins, the few fins they have sit on the shelf longer, so the store has to charge more to make up the difference, but there is a limit (it needs to fall in the 'worth it for the convenience' range).

now if you have an old fin that is really good and you go to the general store, they only know that it is an old fin, they don't know that it is good.  as they don't know they must assume the worst and low ball you in case it is a cheap old fin, while the specialty store might know what it is exactly (which also means that general stores shouldn't be able to identify things for you, or it should be more expensive), and thus they don't have to assume the worst.

in real life if you are looking for a SCUBA fin you are going to go to a SCUBA store, and if you are looking for a swim fin you are going to go to a swim store, walmart has fins, but they are stocked to be as generic as possible, and thus probably aren't going to be as good as if you went to a specialty store (now throughout the bulk savings walmart gets and you'll find the specialty store is even cheaper, though walmart does have bulk pricing due to high inventory space/purchasing per personnel).

now if you apply the turn around time logic to swords, then if the shop carries a lot of the sword you are trying to sell, then they probably sell that type often, and thus can offer the best price, while a sword that they do not stock will be the worst price (but still better than a general store as they would treat it as the cheapest type of sword).

 

pawn shops are different still, most people go there when they need money, so they put up an item as collateral, hopefully to buy it back later.  the pawnbroker then cares more about the people returning to retrieve their item, so he will want a much better item than the value is worth.  in the end he is just a loan officer that uses inventory space instead of a leg breaker or a bank contract.  he would be the worst to go to for offloading loot, but for shady dealings he only cares about the same person returning for the item, and thus shouldn't have to worry about selling illegal goods to people (just holding it for a while).  he ought to sell stuff for cheap though, as he wants things out of his inventory space so he can loan out more money (so long as he makes money in the deal, again merchants tend not to sell at a loss).

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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.)

Edited by Fearabbit
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I was under the assumption that we weren't discussing this under the assumption that the devs are mindless idiots who just draw numbers out of a hat in order to produce the math behind their implementations.

I think, as I said, you have too simplistic an idea of the process.

 

Example: Baldur's Gate 1. Prices did not differ regionally (not noticeably), but they did differ depending on your reputation. Hence playing super lawful stupid good was ended up being vastly easier than playing evil. Well, roleplaying evil anyway (never tried playing an evil party with a high reputation).

So, the difference in pricing wasn't a good idea, unless it was the dev's declared goal was to punish players for taking the evil approach. Significant differences in regional pricing may not be a good idea, unless you want to punish players for following a certain direction on the world map over another.

 

Also, the price difference for repairing your stuff COMPELS players to go back to some other place to repair things? Hah. Yeah, just like the existence of 30 different types of potions COMPELS all players to always stock up on every type of potion available, and always use them on everyone in the party whenever possible in order to maximize combat efficiency.

 

#1: repair prices differ insignificantly, therefore making it irrelevant where you repair your weapons and armor.

 

#2: repair prices differ significantly, therefore compelling you to always seek out those places where it's cheap to do.

 

What? Selling my potions is 10% less profitable in this town than it is in another town? And that other town is 17 days away from here? Welp... better just hike back there right now. I have no other option.

What do you hope to achieve by this? If the difference isn't significant in the long run, why implement it at all? If it is significant but your game isn't designed for backtracking (i.e. world map too large), what do you hope to achieve by that? Rewarding the player for dumb luck (oh, my weapons broke near the town with the cheapest repair prices! Wheeee!) or having him keep giant lists with all commodities in all cities?

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Example: Baldur's Gate 1. Prices did not differ regionally (not noticeably), but they did differ depending on your reputation. Hence playing super lawful stupid good was ended up being vastly easier than playing evil. Well, roleplaying evil anyway (never tried playing an evil party with a high reputation).

So, the difference in pricing wasn't a good idea, unless it was the dev's declared goal was to punish players for taking the evil approach. Significant differences in regional pricing may not be a good idea, unless you want to punish players for following a certain direction on the world map over another.

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?

 

#1: repair prices differ insignificantly, therefore making it irrelevant where you repair your weapons and armor.

#2: repair prices differ significantly, therefore compelling you to always seek out those places where it's cheap to do.

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.

A lot of the time it might not even be worth backtracking given the associated travel time/costs, but if you're choosing whether to travel to point A via town B or town C, perhaps this is something that could inform the decision. This only "compels" players who are ridiculously obsessive-compulsive about their party's finances, and I'd say such people already have their priorities wrong, personally.

 

What do you hope to achieve by this? If the difference isn't significant in the long run, why implement it at all? If it is significant but your game isn't designed for backtracking (i.e. world map too large), what do you hope to achieve by that? Rewarding the player for dumb luck (oh, my weapons broke near the town with the cheapest repair prices! Wheeee!) or having him keep giant lists with all commodities in all cities?

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.

 

This is like saying if there's a system allowing characters to rent carriages and horses that costs money, players are compelled to not use it and instead walk everywhere.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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
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