Regarding the joke about the edge beetle, one feature I don't like in games, is when monsters do random drops, and they drop nonsensical crap. Rarely do wolves or (insert generic monster here) legitimately have ... helmets and swords.
I really liked the way legend of zelda (a link to the past, and minish cap), terranigma, seiken densetsu, and chrono trigger did things. The only drops were things that made sense. They were common things you had a need for. In chrono trigger, it was usually potions; in zelda, it was replenishing arrows and stuff, and half the time, they dropped only from those who it made sense for them to drop from - arrows from warriors wielding bows.
Another game "anti-feature" is killing a bunch of monsters, and hauling loot back to town, then going back and killing monsters, then hauling more loot. Ick. It's flat, because there's not an interesting, competitive market for stuff; there's one place that buys your goods, at a flat rate. I don't mind features like this in trading games like Escape Velocity or Pirates, where being a plain old merchant is a major feature of the game, and the whole game is designed around making that complex and interesting enough to be enjoyable, but I think we should avoid it if it's a "half feature" added in as an afterthought for flavor, and just use the abstraction of giving the player raw currency.
Mantra: Choose certain elements of gameplay to be the bread and butter of the game, and make them rich and complex. Streamline/eliminate everything else.
Zelda had the guts to not make the player shop for their weapon. Curiously, it was no less fun in this regard, and in fact possibly more fun (due to lack of "furk*"), than either seikenken densetsu or chrono trigger, both of whom went through the motions of buying and selling weapons, but may as well not have do so, because the list of items you purchased was practically a predetermined linear chain. If it's gonna happen anyways; if it's not a real choice, don't bother making it optional. Just remove it.
Roots wrote:I like ElonNarai's idea about proving yourself to the townspeople. I think it would be cool if after completing local quests, the merchants and townspeople are willing to provide you with some things that can help you on your journey.
I think that when you get into the late game, any of your weapon improvements are done by "something other than buying them in a store" is a good idea.
Either you quest for them, you steal them from some treasure trove/sanctuary, you are given them by proving yourself worthy (ex: either by people, or by supernatural stuff, like the sword in the stone, or being granted excalibur by the lady of the lake, or winning the sword of kusanagi by killing the big serpent monster). Or, perhaps your weapon gets reforged by heroically-skilled smiths, like happens in both zelda and lord of the rings.
There are tons of options, but "buying them" is dumb.
* furk = work disguised as fun; confer "grinding", or "hauling and selling loot", or repeatedly raiding a dungeon to get a rare, random drop. Furk is evil. Kill it.