Late-game shopping considerations

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Late-game shopping considerations

Postby Jetryl » Thu May 31, 2007 3:21 am

aka an RPG cliché we may want to avoid. We've got a long time before this is going to be an issue, though.

(to be explicit; it's the "why aren't they giving you the über-items for free if it's clear that you're the hero who's gonna save the world?" situation.)

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Postby ChopperDave » Thu May 31, 2007 4:46 am

So we give the player a coupon?
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Postby EmreBFG » Thu May 31, 2007 4:49 am

Ha, yeah, that's a good point... that I didn't think of before. I wonder how game designers in the past reasoned this decision?

I'm sure it's just a game balance decision, but still, it does make interesting thought food.
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Re: Late-game shopping considerations

Postby rujasu » Thu May 31, 2007 5:37 am

Jetryl wrote:(to be explicit; it's the "why aren't they giving you the über-items for free if it's clear that you're the hero who's gonna save the world?" situation.)


I like your point... I'm just going to list some random thoughts in response to this, rather than bothering to form an "argument" when I don't entirely have a position on this.

- Claudius is not, for the early part of the game, clearly any kind of hero... in fact, he's supposed to be looking for the hero. He's on an errand. And even in games where the hero is clearly set out to save the troubled world, he usually has to prove himself before the town is going to trust him with all of its best weapons. And by the time the party has proven to be the world's only hope, all of the weapons they need are hidden in dungeons... in those convenient little treasure chests...

- The whole idea of all cave-dwelling demons possessing currency is far more suspect than the idea of store owners being irrationally money-hungry.

- In other games, you can't buy weapons at all... you have to get the blacksmith to make the equipment for you, and you have to collect the raw materials. See Chrono Cross, or to a lesser extent Star Ocean on the PS1. Would you prefer to do something in that vein? Of course, this is a bit contrived as well, and I don't know how much more enjoyment it brings to the player. Not a bad system though, and probably not that complicated to implement, either.

- Maybe, rather than the aforementioned conveniently placed chests, we could have things for the party to accomplish (ex: saving the stupid kid who went into Ye Forbidden Cave of Dangers) in a given dungeon/stage of the game, and the townsfolk reward them based on how many of these tasks they complete by giving them equipment and powerful items.

Those are my thoughts for now... maybe I'll come up with more later. Feedback?
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Postby AaronA » Thu May 31, 2007 7:44 am

This must have been (near) the center of discussion since merchants were introduced in RPGs. There really isn't a logical way to explain merchant behavior, or why an item, weapon, and optionally magic merchants appear in each town and the goods get procedurally better.

Back to the matter at hand...

- The whole idea of all cave-dwelling demons possessing currency is far more suspect than the idea of store owners being irrationally money-hungry.


Agreed++, even more irrational is why they carry weapons that they don't use, or carry weapons that are three times their size.

- Maybe, rather than the aforementioned conveniently placed chests, we could have things for the party to accomplish (ex: saving the stupid kid who went into Ye Forbidden Cave of Dangers) in a given dungeon/stage of the game, and the townsfolk reward them based on how many of these tasks they complete by giving them equipment and powerful items.


I think your referring to side quests, its a good idea - but it would be a bit of a hassle to get a new weapon.

My two cents :)
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Re: Late-game shopping considerations

Postby Jetryl » Thu May 31, 2007 6:32 pm

rujasu wrote:- Claudius is not, for the early part of the game, clearly any kind of hero... in fact, he's supposed to be looking for the hero. He's on an errand. And even in games where the hero is clearly set out to save the troubled world, he usually has to prove himself before the town is going to trust him with all of its best weapons.


Definitely - for the first large part of the game, and even for late parts of the game, the hero gets no special treatment until they've proven themselves beyond reasonable doubt.

rujasu wrote:And by the time the party has proven to be the world's only hope, all of the weapons they need are hidden in dungeons... in those convenient little treasure chests...


I think that when our heroes get truly leet, any of the meaningful items they get should largely either be made for free from components, "granted" to them by a local lord, etc, or found in some hard-to-reach place. Mostly because these item themselves would a bit legendary in their own right. I could see a king charging claudius with a task, and giving him certain artifacts to complete that task. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't remember Chrono Trigger having much shopping-proper in the game; I think that they too actually granted a lot of items through special encounters.


rujasu wrote:- The whole idea of all cave-dwelling demons possessing currency is far more suspect than the idea of store owners being irrationally money-hungry.


I could see bandits having cash, and I could see intelligent, sapient non-humans possessing valuable things. One very good idea for caves - something that worked excellently in the exile/avernum series of games, was for valuable things to be on the corpses of the victims of unintelligent monsters. When going into dungeons in that game, you'd sometimes see items on the bodies of adventurers who'd gone before you. I think that was the case in diablo, as well.

Likewise, a good share of monsters could be seen to hoard valuables in their nest, though most would not hoard them on their body.

One plausible thing would be to have monsters whom the town has placed a general bounty on; back in the day, ranchers/farmers would place bounties on predators like wolves, foxes, bears, large cats, etc. If you took a token of the ones you killed, you could get paid. ( :( In one of the darker notes of history, you could also get paid in certain times/places, for the scalps/etc. of a certain species of primate. When people said lines like "Bring me his head on a plate!," they weren't quite exaggerating.

rujasu wrote:- In other games, you can't buy weapons at all... you have to get the blacksmith to make the equipment for you, and you have to collect the raw materials. See Chrono Cross, or to a lesser extent Star Ocean on the PS1. Would you prefer to do something in that vein? Of course, this is a bit contrived as well, and I don't know how much more enjoyment it brings to the player. Not a bad system though, and probably not that complicated to implement, either.


I think it would be fun to do these things based on favors owed you by the craftsman; sometimes related to the work, sometimes not. Sometimes they'd ask for raw materials, sometimes they might ask the skilled adventurer to do something they themselves are incapable of (perhaps asking them to climb a rock face and fetch a plant, or lift a heavy object, or translate some script they can't read. Especially when the heroes learn magic, this would make sense.

I think another awesome thing would be to make most trips to the blacksmith/tanner be for the same purpose that real people went to the blacksmith - real people went to the blacksmith to repair things, and things got goofed up all the time. Armor would get dented, swords would get chipped or even broken, gloves would get torn. I liked the idea behind the system that diablo had - for how weaponry would wear out as it got used. This was somewhat castrated by how often you switched equipment in that game, and I think that it could have a lot more use if it were in a game setting where - for the longest time, your character was equipped with just mundane weaponry.

On a side note - I think it would be cool, for a while, to have a variety of mundane equipment that was not a linear progression; to have a choice of weaponry where each different kind of sword you used had advantages and disadvantages (for a cheap example, an iron greatsword/claymore might do more damage than an iron broadsword, but would be much more unwieldy, and couldn't easily be used with a shield). In certain places you could get your hands on more durable/better makes of things (such as steel weapons), and additional varieties of weapons, but you wouldn't immediately drop into the usual RPG progression of wacky items that immediately become exponentially more powerful than the ones before. E.g, I don't like a game that has weapons with damage ratings that progress like the following:
1,2,5,7,12,18,20,26,32,40,50,65,80
This is how Secret of Mana 2 worked, and it was a bit ... boring, that way. There wasn't any strategy to it, you merely grabbed the latest version of the weapon/armor you had, in order to be able to compete in the latest area.

I'd like to see magic weapons made rare; and possibly made extensible with that shard thing roots talked about. In essence, made so that when you do get a magic weapon, you're highly unlikely to just pawn it off, later on. It'd be a major treasure of yours, and it would grow with you.

rujasu wrote:- Maybe, rather than the aforementioned conveniently placed chests, we could have things for the party to accomplish (ex: saving the stupid kid who went into Ye Forbidden Cave of Dangers) in a given dungeon/stage of the game, and the townsfolk reward them based on how many of these tasks they complete by giving them equipment and powerful items.


Yep.
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Postby Jetryl » Thu May 31, 2007 6:44 pm

AaronA wrote:This must have been (near) the center of discussion since merchants were introduced in RPGs. There really isn't a logical way to explain merchant behavior, or why an item, weapon, and optionally magic merchants appear in each town and the goods get procedurally better.


It's assumed in RPGs that the monsters will get progressively more difficult, and that the player will somehow rise to the challenge. Something in the overall stats of the player needs to increase to handle the tougher situations they find themselves in, however, it's a question of what.

Basically, I don't think we necessarily need to saddle this onto the _items_. I'd rather that the player-character itself rose in power, and that the weapons were different ways to channel this power.

E.g. that (until magic items start getting into play) weapons stayed at a similar level of power, but as you progressed, you got a better variety of them, which would each have different uses, and might even have different special attacks associated with them. (A mace, for example, could have a stun effect that a quarterstaff might not).


An advantage of doing it this way is that it helps to avoid "cascading effects"; where increases across several stats causes the balance to become much more volatile - causes it to be much easier to fall into "way too hard", or "trivially easy", rather than "just right". For example, in a procedurally-increasing-everything game, if a character got a ring of protection, pumped up his defensive stats, and got a protective spell he could cast, he might become so invulnerable at that stage as to make getting past it a risk-less grind.
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Re: Late-game shopping considerations

Postby eleazar » Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:44 pm

Jetryl wrote:(to be explicit; it's the "why aren't they giving you the über-items for free if it's clear that you're the hero who's gonna save the world?" situation.)

I've seen games in which the merchants will give you an increasingly large discount based on the player's reputation. The guy still needs to make a living, but the more obvious you can make it that you are saving the world, the better a deal he'll give you. Reputation does not equal Power, it's more a measure of good, publicly beneficial deeds.

I also agree that the best gear at any given point of the game should usually be only acquired by adventure, not shopping.
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But everyone doesn't see the "hero" as a great man

Postby Jastiv » Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:12 am

Maybe the merchant doesn't believe that the hero is really there to save the world, but the merchant just goes along with the idea to sell swords for more money. Merchants frequently just care about collecting more money and if they saw demons or whatever would probably just dismiss it as being part of an over active imagination.

My point, while the hero may think he is saving the world, other people might see him as someone who doesn't even grasp the concept of reality.
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Re: But everyone doesn't see the "hero" as a great

Postby Jetryl » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:13 am

:approve: Thanks for joining the discussion, we need more traffic on this forum.

Jastiv wrote:Maybe the merchant doesn't believe that the hero is really there to save the world, but the merchant just goes along with the idea to sell swords for more money. Merchants frequently just care about collecting more money and if they saw demons or whatever would probably just dismiss it as being part of an over active imagination.

My point, while the hero may think he is saving the world, other people might see him as someone who doesn't even grasp the concept of reality.


True; though I suppose that what I/Penny-Arcade am arguing is that there is a threshold beyond which it stops being possible to reasonably doubt the danger. If the shopkeeper had seen the "monsters" himself, and had seen them do something (like, say, kill a friend of theirs) that remained permanently in effect, they'd be hard-pressed to doubt things. Vis-a-Vis, if it wasn't some single incident, but a major "the world is falling apart" problem that affected everyone, then the average shopkeeper would realize that "money no longer buys security".

Security, and later, freedom (especially the freedom to do whatever you want) is really why people want money - because if they have enough money, they don't have to worry about having the basic needs. The freedom that comes from having lots of money can cater to your wants, but the needs come first. The "wants" are meaningless if you're dead. If money can no longer pay people to keep providing you with your needs (like, "not getting killed", for one), it stops being useful. (It's true that some people would be crazy enough to still grouse for cash even if put their life on the line; I suspect that they'd be in the minority, though.)


On the other hand:
A counter-point to my argument is that; though it might be hard to dismiss the "clear and present danger" as spurious, it might be easy to discredit the hero as being the saviour from it. To wit: Who the hell is this guy, thinking he's gonna save the world? Is he nuts?

If the shopkeepers start becking at the hero's call, we'll need to give them adequate justification for believing in him. Maybe their king demands it, maybe the hero has some sign of what he is (c.f. Aragorn carrying the king's sword, Anduril), or maybe the hero does some act personally ingratiating the shopkeeper towards them (such as saving their kid, or whatnot).
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Postby prophile » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:42 pm

With regards to explaining how the items get better, you could improve them in ALL the shops as the game goes along. Say that the technology is improving or whatever, and that the forges in [insert town here] are creating new items all the time.
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Postby wayfarer » Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:26 pm

You don't really seem to know shop owners. They would sell their grandma before giving out something for free. (Especially if the price is right)

For a shop owner it is just a win win situation. If you pay and you are successfull saving the world you can keep paying the taxes if the world ends shit happens wouldn't changed anything anyway. A serious hero has always lots of money. :devil:
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Postby stenny » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:40 pm

A normal man's thought: "Geez Christ! The world's falling apart! Here, take all the guns you want, as long as you save me from that dreadful overpowered dark lord! WHAAAH!"

A merchant's thought: "Heh heh. People will need a lot of weapons now the world's falling apart. I can raise my prizes! Ain't I smart, heh heh!"

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Postby AaronA » Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:45 am

A merchant's thought: "Heh heh. People will need a lot of weapons now the world's falling apart. I can raise my prizes! Ain't I smart, heh heh!"


Must all merchants be capitalists? Why not state ownership? Anyway, from reviewing the recent arguments and proposals, there doesn't seem to be a logical form of merchant, unless merchants are made to be complex individuals who's thoughts and actions are determined by the worlds state, the local state, and his personal opinion on the world, thats what I gather anyway. So - no smart merchant is constant - and constant merchants are probably preferred to implement.

My suggestion? Merchants change with the storyline, so their semi-constant/smart.

or maybe the hero does some act personally ingratiating the shopkeeper towards them


I kind of like the idea of each merchant having a challenging side quests for merchant rewards.

Just my four cents.
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Postby stenny » Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:24 pm

Must all merchants be capitalists? Why not state ownership? Anyway, from reviewing the recent arguments and proposals, there doesn't seem to be a logical form of merchant, unless merchants are made to be complex individuals who's thoughts and actions are determined by the worlds state, the local state, and his personal opinion on the world, thats what I gather anyway. So - no smart merchant is constant - and constant merchants are probably preferred to implement.


Well I don't know the game's storyline or scenario...whether the world is capitalistic or not....
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Postby wayfarer » Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:01 pm

I played an old game where the hero could buy stuff and in the night the village was constantly raided by monsters. The more the player killed the cheaper the shop prices did get. Else the shop keeper made the prices higher to restore the damage.

The first Diablo backround was similar. The village was raided too by monsters but also by heroes who tried their luck.

They could barely stand the weight of the masses of humans but they were their only hope. Still they couldn't give away their goods for free because the still had to live from something.
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Postby Jetryl » Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:00 am

Etc.

Monsters with nonsensical loot.
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Postby Burnsaber » Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:16 am

Jetryl wrote:Basically, I don't think we necessarily need to saddle this onto the _items_. I'd rather that the player-character itself rose in power, and that the weapons were different ways to channel this power.

E.g. that (until magic items start getting into play) weapons stayed at a similar level of power, but as you progressed, you got a better variety of them, which would each have different uses, and might even have different special attacks associated with them. (A mace, for example, could have a stun effect that a quarterstaff might not).


I'm in favor of this. "holding" out magical items for as long as possible helps to prevent that another late-game RPG merchant problem.

Town Crier: "Hear ye! Hear ye! Get your doomsday swords at Weapons Imperium! Quarantieed to end the world in one swing! Special offer! Only today! 50% off from maces that breathe fire!!"

And those swords are freaking expensive. The demand for swords that costs as much as a house must be quite low, even in a monster-filled world.

Besides, handling out ordinary equipment for a long time makes that first magical item even more sweeter. Sword that glows is quite awesome when you think about it.
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Postby Linds » Mon Jun 25, 2007 12:54 pm

Okok. How bout we sell sell sell, until theoretical event in which Claudius becomes hero, then all items available free of charge, catch is, don't sell uber-good items in normal stores. Its wierd having them there, anyway. They could be available via quest and strange stores in hard to reach places. This would, I think, increase the inherant value of obtaining these items anyway.

There would have to be stringent item limits to make sure you couldn't buy 400 potions at a time to make this feasible, however.
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Postby Roots » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:16 pm

I don't know why we are even talking about this, considering this is a design consideration for late in the game, and we are still at the very beginning. Seems like a pointless discussion since by the time we get to that point, we would have likely forgotten that this topic ever took place. :|
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