Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

In an RPG without money, where's attainment?

Recommended Posts

Wavinator    2017
A couple of threads have sparked this idea: Let's say that you have some sort of Star Trek society, where we assume there's no such thing as coin, banks, or villagers that charge 999,000 for the Level 88 Ubersword (Uberphaser, sorry [wink]). So what do you do for the addictive sense of attainment that comes from earning money? Attaining, I think, in our minds, equals power, freedom and control (maybe because of the type of society we are, I'm not sure). We find it deeply rewarding, which is why monsters are effectively pinatas that burst into gold when we're done hitting them. When you get money, you often think in terms of planning and strategy. "Should I spend it on that keen dagger, or should I tough it out and save up for the Klingon Batleth? Will it be worth it by the time I get it? Will I want something else?" I don't think you can simply swap in a reward or rank points. Money grants little rewards, and is deeply psychological. And we mark our progress by the loot we get, by the stuff we can afford to outfit our character with. So is a money-less RPG impossible?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xtrmntr    144
I'll assume you are refering to RPG/MMORPG's since most games don't involve the need for money to acquire stuff.

Can you give me a definition of a society where money doesn't exist? I'm not a Star Trek fan so I don't understand the reference.

Is it a barter society where items/goods are traded for other goods? I would assume that these types of things don't just materialize or that the person who owns them would willingly give them to you.

I suppose making a system where, instead of exploded gold pinata monsters, the monsters are exploding goods pinata's. To aquire more unique items may require that you find some set of goods which can be traded for that cool new dagger. It still results in the same type of system though.

Perhaps limit the player to only gain access to items/potions/weapons through crafting. The biggest problem is making crafting fun. I have yet to experienced a crafting system that I would define as fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Regent    122
Quote:
Can you give me a definition of a society where money doesn't exist? I'm not a Star Trek fan so I don't understand the reference.

Is it a barter society where items/goods are traded for other goods? I would assume that these types of things don't just materialize or that the person who owns them would willingly give them to you.
Actually, in the Star Trek world goods would just materialize. Replicators could make just about anything. People did their jobs for "the benefit of all mankind".

Quote:
Perhaps limit the player to only gain access to items/potions/weapons through crafting. The biggest problem is making crafting fun. I have yet to experienced a crafting system that I would define as fun.
Wish had a good crafting system. Mainly because there was so much to make. Corks, brooms, handles, shorts, you name it.

I think in a moneyless RPG, the attainment of power and control through rank in a powerful organization would take over. Since you can't throw money around, you do 'favors' to gain influence and manipulate people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TomX    264
I think a RPG without money would be possible, but I don't think I'd play it, I played Runescape (an MMORPG) for about 2 years and in the end the only thing that kept me going was getting richer and richer. I made all my money by dueling and after I made 21,000,000gp (which was a lot in Runescape) I ended up giving it away and quitting.

But I think an RPG with money would be more successful. Are you thinking about creating an RPG with no money in it?

EDIT: In terms of utility of the money, the best armour in the game cost ~3m . So I had really had 18m to spare, which would go to spare armour (at some points I had ~20 of the best sets of armour, well except Dragon Medium). I couldn't use the best shield in the game because it required a magic level of 59, whilst mine was 1.

My other money would go to items helping me in fights (Food to heal and potions to temporarily increase skills). Other uses of money were rare items such as Party Hats which cost ~15m for the most expensive one, but they provided no armour benefits so I never bought one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Genjix    100
item trading where you start off with rubbish items (that you find) and have to 'work your way up the ladder' by trading items and just generally gaining.

I don't like the fact in games where money just appears out of nowhere, I would like a game where theres a fixed economy and people have to do something to gain the money (rather than fight X get given Y).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
toipot    122
Hmm, I think producing a money less rpg just for the sake of it would be a bad move. By definition, you wouldnt be adding anything interesting or useful, just removing another game mechanic.

This would simplify a game to some degree, but in an rpg simplification is not really desired.

A money less rpg is possible, but it would be an rpg with fewer features and options available to the player.

"I don't like the fact in games where money just appears out of nowhere, I would like a game where theres a fixed economy and people have to do something to gain the money (rather than fight X get given Y)."

Agreed, monster bashing shouldnt earn you alot. There should be little financial gain in attacking person X, and that gain should be outweighed by becoming an outlaw, etc, so that only a dedicated outlaw could make money from bashing things.

Bashing commercial competitors etc would be another matter entirely, whereby removing competition affects your holdings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SumDude    163
A Bartering system could be used, but for selling to NPC's and such you would pretty much NEED a value system (a system in which the NPC determines the value of the items the player offers and the item the player wants so the player can buy from NPC's).

I would think that this system would involve problems though because it would be hard to find someone to barter with that wants what you have and vice versa. With money, EVERYONE wants it so there is always someone that wants it.

Example:
No Money: Say in a game where the player can get bear skins and sell them to a cloth worker. The Cloth Workers would find this REALLY valuable. The Cloth Worker wants it, but doesn't have anything the player wants. The player goes off looking for more Cloth Workers and finds one. The Cloth Worker gives him a Sword for the Skins.

Money: Player kills bears and then gets the skins. The player says he is selling bear skins for 100 dollars. Cloth Worker has the 100 dollars and instantly pays the player. Player then goes and buys a Shield or Sword he wants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator

So is a money-less RPG impossible?


No, the recently released Xenosaga Episode II for PS2 completely eliminated money and shops. This decision was one of the top complaints about this game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TechnoGoth    2937
Secert of Evermore an old SNES game had one chapter that involved a fun barter system that essentialy involved running around to various stalls trading 1 good for another until you had what the stalls trading equipment and rare items wanted. It was fun since you had to do a little market research and exploration. You want that jade disk? Well the guy will trade it for a lime stone tablet, a gold urn, and a cat statue. Now you have to find the people who sell those and see what they want. I enjoyed it alot.

But for a society without money in a startrek like world then anyone could have anything and would thus choose whatever they belive to be the best of that something. So instead you need other limitations, access levels would be a good one. A characters access level would determine what equipment they are allowed to replicate. As such it could be used as an incentive and punishment system. You've done well on your last few repair missions as reward you've been promoted from handy man to repairman which includes an increase in your engineering access level from 2 to 3. So perhaps a citzen starts with level one access in all categories. Catagories might include medical for instance, nd level 1 medical might allow a person to replicate bandages, tylenonal, antiseptic spray, etc... However if you want that portable dermal regenerator then your going to need at least level 5 medical access.


Another possibility would be to have replicator rations every item has a replication cost. Rations can be saved up and are rewarded at regular intervals. So as a repairman you receive 400 replication points a week. That type I micro scanner you've had your eye on costs 100 replications points so it will take you a while to save up enough for it. This of course is in essence another form of currency.

Either way since the player can effectivly choose the whatever equipment they want to use at their level then choice becomes a question of comparisons. So if level 2 weapondry allows you to choose between three diffrent energy pistols. Then the one the player uses will depend on whichever one they feel is the best.

Another option that might be worth exploring is that perhaps replicated equipment is worse then constucted equipment. Constructed equipment would be rare and difficult to aquire but worth the effort to aquire it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Genjix    100
disallow replication, but model the money system on todays world methinks.

another one is bartering (like trading cards), where people only swap if they think they have a good deal. initially deal out some items to a selected few players and watch them spread evenly throughout the game world.

add a natural way for people to advertise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sam Gamgee    222
There was another Startrek game (not an MMO), Starfleet Command or something like that, where it used "Prestige" as currency. Basically the more battles you won, the more prestige you got, which you could "spend" on new ships, etc. Something like this might work in the way you want it to...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tolaris    288
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
So what do you do for the addictive sense of attainment that comes from earning money? Attaining, I think, in our minds, equals power, freedom and control (maybe because of the type of society we are, I'm not sure).

This equation is a result of money being universal item which can be at any moment exchanged for a number of goods or services. So yes, increased amount of money means increased freedom of acquiring widening range of goods and services, and control over others you can exercise by acquiring their services.. in short, increased power of the individual.

If you create some magic society where everyone can easily get their hands on any physical item they can dream of, there will still be some things (or positions in social hierarchy) which won't be available to everyone. With such setup, sense of power again would come from accumulation of means that allow one to obtain these exclusive things.

(note, i don't think this Star Trek setup with magical replicators makes much sense... if one can pull things out of thin air at will, i should be pretty much able to 'replicate' for free the resources necessary to build my own starship along with automated crew to put it together and then fly it for me... who needs the 'official' space fleet then, and how is such official fleet going to react to equivalent of nuclear air carrier parked behind every house..? >>;;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WeirdoFu    205
Come to think of it, the most recent RPG I played that had no currency was Xenosaga 2.

I think for the whole no currency concept to work, you have to kind of model your character development system, skills, and equipment system in a completely different way such that the players don't really notice that they never really bought anything. So, kind of just build the game around the concept.

Just a thought....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
Great responses. I like the suggestion that getting an item == control. But control of what? Is it the virtual / storyworld sense of control, or is it control of how you play the game (or both/neither)?

I think bartering is an interesting alternative. That seemed to work well in A Tale In The Desert, and I could even see it working in a single-player RPG because the NPCs would, in theory, be much more interesting.

Here's an interesting point of tension: Money lets you control where you go (if there are other areas requiring funds to reach); who you can challenge (via equipment); and what other gameplay, if provided, that you can get into (also limited often by equipment / spells / items / etc.)

However, what if you shifted everything away from actually getting an item as the reward, and instead made all the other incidentals that you use money for the reward? You would take a quest so that you could be trained; once trained, you'd be able to take another quest so that you could earn armor; after that, you'd take another quest to get a house; and so on.

This would mean that the opinions of the NPCs would be the gateway to whether or not you progressed. It would have to be fuzzy (no visible prestige points) or you'd just be thinking money again. In fact, as soon as you make visible "x points" of anything, it will be related to money.

I can imagine a much more complex web between NPCs, some who may oppose each other, creating a lot of different strategy once the independence of money is taken away. I can also imagine RPG traditionalists rebelling, because while we say we want new things, what we often truly want are permutations of what we already know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
falkone    444
I don't know the solution.. but I do know that, when playing games such as Castlevnia: Symphony of the Night, I often wish I could sell my 99 old dirty cloaks for money.. and use that to purchse health potions or something. It really gives me the feeling that all those acquired items are being wasted.. and that irks me to now end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fastlane69    248
How a Star Trek system could work:

Assumptions

1) There is no currency of any kind; no prestige and no credits
2) Replicators can create any thing at any time
3) There are levels in this world; for the time being we'll stick to star fleet and it's navy based levels (ensign, captain, admiral, etc)


How it would work

There are restrictions to what you can replicate based on energy available, pattern availability, and level of character. Furthermore, some request to replicate require multiple confirmations from character or NPCs


How it could be fun

You start out as a private citizen. As such your needs aren't great, but neither are your demands. Food, clothes, basic protection and transportation (through the transporter) are free and you can get as much as you want. You can request more from your local NPCs (such as a space shuttle) who will give you quests or you can collaborate to make items (some replicator requests require the approval of 2 or more citizens to create such as a new transporter pad)

One day you look up to the stars and wonder "what's up there for me?"....this takes you straight into the offices of Star Fleet where you promptly sign up. Now, with your new level of ensign, you have more rights to duplication...a uniform...a type I phaser...etc. As always, if you have need for more you can go to your captain to request it (but don't go silly on your requests or you will be demoted)

After many adventures, you are promoted to captain. There is no limit to what you can replicate on your ship (energy willing) but you must have the designs on record. You find out that star fleet has just come up with a new design for your ships phasers, but unfortunatly the Ferengi have stolen them. After a series of encounters with the Ferengi (non-violent and often funny), you finally manage to upload the design into your computer, replicate and install your new phasers.

After many game-years, you have seen the stars and are sick of command...you want to effect a greater change on the Federation. Thus you work and ultimitly are promoted to admiral. Here you have true unlimited resources and your only obsticles to replicating a mass armada of galaxy class star ships and start to explore the Beta Quadrant is a) politics (it takes 4 Star Fleet admirals to approve the constructions) and b) energy (you have to make sure your planet has enough energy for it's needs before you can divert for your needs)


Conclusion

You don't need money; you can give the player the illusion of ultimate freedom and still give them a sense of achivement at the same time. All that is needed is a set of restrictions that make sense within the context of the world and that the player must overcome to acheive their personal level of freedom....for eg, some people (like Kirk) will never like being admiral and thus may be quite content with the freedoms and restrictions therein. Others, like Janeway, go straight for the top and don't stop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by fastlane69
How a Star Trek system could work:


Nicely thought out! I like the idea of approval from others, which might work well in both an MMO or single-player context.

One of the interesting things your post made me think of is how reward comes in many different forms. What you're suggesting could be a reward in terms of experiences the player gains access to. Ironically, it's a little like console level unlocking, which I hate, but made palatable because it has a plausible premise.

Quote:

There are restrictions to what you can replicate based on energy available, pattern availability, and level of character. Furthermore, some request to replicate require multiple confirmations from character or NPCs


Access protocols, or command protocols, I think Trek called them. It makes sense that you earn multiple protocols as a result of both your ranks and past achievements.

If you have an underlying loyalty or NPC opinion system, you also get politics for free. That possiblility is VERY intriguing, because what if you find yourself in the position of wanting something from two people, both from which you need approval, who are at odds? (I'd like to see a freeform way of improving relations, though, which could also be fun.)


Quote:

You start out as a private citizen. As such your needs aren't great, but neither are your demands.


When I first read this it worried me. But it's a classic sociological problem, brought to the tiny universe of game design: Are people motivated because of scarcity, or motivated because of deeper drives that, when scarcity is eliminated, can come to the fore?

I was going to be cynical and suggest that traditional RPGs have set our expectations, but thinking about it carefully, I'm not so sure. One of the first things many of us seem to do in an RPG when we start is go looking for the action. Our motivation is wanting something cool and fun to do.

Quote:

One day you look up to the stars and wonder "what's up there for me?"....this takes you straight into the offices of Star Fleet where you promptly sign up. Now, with your new level of ensign, you have more rights to duplication...a uniform...a type I phaser...etc. As always, if you have need for more you can go to your captain to request it (but don't go silly on your requests or you will be demoted)


Demotion would work, but I think an even cooler nuance would a virtual community's regard for you. Give the player the opportunity to make any request, because it just might be the crazy plan that works. But if it's too out of bounds, or you fail, those in charge are going to stop listening to you. This makes it progressively harder and harder to win your way back into everyone's good graces, yet the option would always be there.

(Then, of course, there are those transfers to the arse end of space if you really goof up, which I think should just be an easier area that you can rebuild your rep in.)

Quote:

After many adventures, you are promoted to captain. There is no limit to what you can replicate on your ship (energy willing) but you must have the designs on record. You find out that star fleet has just come up with a new design for your ships phasers, but unfortunatly the Ferengi have stolen them. After a series of encounters with the Ferengi (non-violent and often funny), you finally manage to upload the design into your computer, replicate and install your new phasers.


It's risky because it interrupts / alters the cycle of attaining, but this might work because your main interest at this point would probably be the choicer assignments. And maybe attracting the best of the best in personnel.

Quote:

After many game-years, you have seen the stars and are sick of command...you want to effect a greater change on the Federation. Thus you work and ultimitly are promoted to admiral. Here you have true unlimited resources and your only obsticles to replicating a mass armada of galaxy class star ships and start to explore the Beta Quadrant is a) politics (it takes 4 Star Fleet admirals to approve the constructions) and b) energy (you have to make sure your planet has enough energy for it's needs before you can divert for your needs)


For this to be possible, you'd need a uniformly consistent system (to serve as foundation for the code). So at the citizen level, there'd have to be something involving politics, to both set expectations, give players a taste and allow them the time to train themselves on how to play it. If things weren't uniform, you'd have to develop separate AI and game dynamics to back each new phase, which would be harder to create.
Conclusion

Quote:

for eg, some people (like Kirk) will never like being admiral and thus may be quite content with the freedoms and restrictions therein. Others, like Janeway, go straight for the top and don't stop.


If you were Kirk, hopefully playing the game would be its own reward.


Wow, I wonder what it would feel like to play a game where both the traditional money / resource system was in place, and this opinion / reputation system. It would model the difference between working for yourself and working for some large body. I wonder which most would prefer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dark Elf    122
After reading all this, I have come to the conclusion that with the exception of having a barter system that an RPG without money would be next to impossible. Sure everyone has other ideas such as using prestige and ranks. But really all they are doing is turning prestige and ranks into another form of currency, so in a way all they are doing is renaming "gold" to "prestige."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Terlenth    300
I have a thought as to how you might accomplish this well, and that would be the idea of access levels. If you look at Star Trek, not everybody can replicate everything. Certain access levels are required to do things. Also this would add a level of attainment for when someone achieves the next access level they are able to get such and such an item.


And just as a general interest point not everything is replicated in Star Trek. If I recall a lot of their weaponry, etc. is actually built either by hand or by manufacturing due to the complexity.

--Terlenth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fastlane69    248
Quote:

Ironically, it's a little like console level unlocking, which I hate, but made palatable because it has a plausible premise


When I was thinking that up, I was thinking in terms of an MMO. And in an MMO, if you really think about it, it's one big "console unlock". Sure you can go to the dragons lair at level one....but you'll only make it to the doormat! To "unlock" the dragons lair you have to have level equipment and other stuff perhaps.


Quote:

Are people motivated because of scarcity, or motivated because of deeper drives that, when scarcity is eliminated, can come to the fore?

This is why you choosing ST is so great. I think that was the underlying philosophy of Roddenberry: that mankind struggles and fights due to limited resources, but take that limitation away, and now we have an entire race of peoples "chasing their dreams"...which sounds like a hell of a game to me! :)


Quote:

It's risky because it interrupts / alters the cycle of attaining, but this might work because your main interest at this point would probably be the choicer assignments.

The way I set up the Ferengi example, you ARE attaining...the new phasers. And since the designs for the phasers are ship specific, sadly every captain must find them from teh ferengi (the quest system again)


Quote:

For this to be possible, you'd need a uniformly consistent system (to serve as foundation for the code). So at the citizen level, there'd have to be something involving politics, to both set expectations, give players a taste and allow them the time to train themselves on how to play it.

Ok, don't want to make it sound like this is a carefully thought out idea or anything, but I had thought of that at least. :) Notice that as a citizen, you still have to collaborate to get things. I choose a trasnporter pad explicitly because that is something that a new city, town or planet might need....or not...you need to convince the right people...hence the politics even from day one as a citizen.


Quote:

Wow, I wonder what it would feel like to play a game where both the traditional money / resource system was in place, and this opinion / reputation system.


Reckon you'll have to wait for the REAL Star Trek "Galaxies" to come out. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by Terlenth
I have a thought as to how you might accomplish this well, and that would be the idea of access levels. If you look at Star Trek, not everybody can replicate everything. Certain access levels are required to do things. Also this would add a level of attainment for when someone achieves the next access level they are able to get such and such an item.


What could be cool about access levels is the whole idea of how you attain them. What if you could get them via coercion, kidnapping, hacking or seduction?

Quote:

And just as a general interest point not everything is replicated in Star Trek. If I recall a lot of their weaponry, etc. is actually built either by hand or by manufacturing due to the complexity.


You're right. I actually think that you never want to get rid of building, just because the whole idea of parts and pieces means things you can trade, find, reuse, upgrade, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by fastlane69
This is why you choosing ST is so great. I think that was the underlying philosophy of Roddenberry: that mankind struggles and fights due to limited resources, but take that limitation away, and now we have an entire race of peoples "chasing their dreams"...which sounds like a hell of a game to me! :)


[smile] Of course, the real challenge is, as we see, that most RPGs are about getting stuff, whereas most ST episodes are about character and relationships. Yet if you look at how ST games are made, like Elite Force, we're right back to normal conventions (and just fighting, which I'm sure Roddenberry wouldn't have approved of).

Of course, we don't yet have a flexible, complex means for interacting with characters, so interacting with monsters and enemies is always more interesting.

Quote:

The way I set up the Ferengi example, you ARE attaining...the new phasers. And since the designs for the phasers are ship specific, sadly every captain must find them from teh ferengi (the quest system again)


Well, I think the quest system, if there's nothing better, is at least some improvement if you ditch money.


Quote:

Ok, don't want to make it sound like this is a carefully thought out idea or anything, but I had thought of that at least. :) Notice that as a citizen, you still have to collaborate to get things. I choose a trasnporter pad explicitly because that is something that a new city, town or planet might need....or not...you need to convince the right people...hence the politics even from day one as a citizen.


Yes, I REALLY like how this idea might scale. That's the greatest potential, because you get used to mastering it at the "build a hydroponics farm" level, and by the time you're at the "expand shipyards at Utopia Planitia" you're comfortable and into the whole social / political strategy that would support this. Very cool!


Quote:

Reckon you'll have to wait for the REAL Star Trek "Galaxies" to come out. :)


[lol] I expect LOTS of combat if they ever get this done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fastlane69    248
Quote:

I expect LOTS of combat if they ever get this done.


Sadly...and a good thing Roddenberry isn't here to see it... :(

I would rather live in a universe (ala UO) than constantly fight within it (ala Eq).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sure it could be a moneyless RPG. Just change the nature of value away from an economic sense. Perhaps manifestational power, which provides that which one or the collective wants or needs instead of the necessity of acquisition through currencies of common exchange value. Or a mana power, mayhaps, where with enough mana or spiritual value collected through good deeds, and you are never hungry, never without thirst or never without what you need or want when you want or need it.

The trick, representationally, so to speak, is that the value of this thing you make is acceptable as a substitute for preferred (sounds a bit like marketing, and in a psychological sense it is) medium of exchange the audience values symbologically or otherwise by demonstrating that this value is preferred by, or of value to, the inhabitants of this world design. This can be done on the setting or circumstance angle, or the action angle, or in the forshadowing or backstory, whichever works best with communicating the value. You have the escape value working for you, so if your player psychographic indicates this flexibility, you could reliably make it work.

Adventuredesign

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sandman    2210
One thing that always bothered me about the ST moneyless society was that it wasn't particularly realistic - the socioeconomic aspects of it were largely ignored, and it was just assumed to be some kind of utopian society. That, and the fact that it wasn't truly moneyless, at least in the later series where they had plot devices like gold-pressed latinum and replicator rations.

How for example, does trade work? Do traders simply donate their goods out the kindness of their heart? Do they barter for them? (bartering is a rather inefficient form of transaction) Or is trade entirely obsolete with the existence of replicators?

How would such a moneyless society interact with a moneyed society? If the currency can be replicated at will, wouldn't that have a terrible impact on the less advanced society's economy? If it cannot be replicated, then how do you work out any kind of exchange rate with goods that can be replicated at will without having an equally disastrous effect? Plus the fact that if replicators have such limits, then maybe they aren't sufficient to eliminate the need for currency after all...

There's also the issue of productivity to address. How does the society motivate it's citizens to productivity? Or is it so productive already, it doesn't need to, content to let the vast majority slob around in holodecks while a few more adventurous people do useful stuff just for fun?

None of this is to say that a moneyless society is impossible, but I think the deeper social ramifications of infinite supply are well worth considering if you're planning on developing such a world. This is the sort of thing that makes really interesting sci fi in my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this