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TechnoGoth

Cash or Trade?

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How do people feel about barter systems in games? How would you react to a game that a two teir economy? Money can be used to purchase mundane and common items. But if you want anything value or rarity then you have to trade for it. For instance you want to buy an AK47 which is an illegal firearm, the arms merchant doesn't take cash but he will trade it for a set of forged identity papers, an uncut diamond, or 1/4 kilo of herion. This means that player will have to obtain one or more of those items in order to complete the transaction, that would stealing, trade, building, or acquiring them in some other mannor. Does an interesting economic and reward depth to a game? Or would people prefer the simplisity of cash?

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I don't know how sophisticated the barter system should be, but I like the general principle. In Fallout, you can trade goods and "bottlecaps" to get new stuff, and your "barter skill" decides the rate you get. (If you had a huge barter skill, you could sit down at a table, make a few trades, and wind up with all the other guy's stuff. Ha!)

But the really hardcore items, like the .223 Pistol, the Power Armor, and the Turbo Plasma Rifle, could only be had by doing quests. You help a guy get back his farm for the .223, the Brotherhood of Steel sends you to The Glow and some other places before you can score the armor, and you have to save Adytown before the smith will juice up your rifle.

Really, there's not much difference between that and "Well, if you can score me a fake passport, I'll let you have this Kalashnikov." After all, I doubt that everyone with a fancy gun will be interested in your heroin. It would have to be character-specific, which turns it into a FedEx mission. You can have three or four different possible trades, but that's just three or four different fetch jobs.

I think that this would be a good system for "hiding" rare and powerful items, but it would probably wind up being more closely related to a mission system than to any real kind of economy. Although I was always a fan or the "trade" systems some of the Zelda games had, where you'd get a shiny rock, and be able to find someone who really wants that rock, but all they have to pay you with is this old rubber stamp they found. Then you find a guy who lost a rubber stamp, and all he has to give you for it is a can of grease. Then there's a guy with an underlubricated auto-foundry, and he refines ore for you for free if you give him that grease, and on and on and on. Finally, you wind up with something really kickass, like the Biggoron Sword in Ocarina of Time.

I know that's not quite what you had in mind, but the idea of a hidden "second economy" made me think of it. It would really appeal to the card gamers who go to conventions and swap cards.

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I dunno, I think it would be an awesome idea to have a full on bartering system. I mean alot of quests are merely go fetch me this item, but you have to fight through a dungeon to get it.

So you could give merchants a list of wanted items, stuff they value more so than normal. Than give the merchant some dialog saying why he wants it, where you might get it and a numeric value(or some value) of what he would give you in his store of goods. Perhaps even make some of the items they offer only bartered value, making the only obtainable by 'questing' for items. This would create some easy to add quests in your game, also it could create a sort of string of bartering for items through different people to obtain the best items as the AP said above.

On top of that you could give every item a money value(different for the one you'd merely sell for cash), and maybe a desired by value(that way a spell salesman wouldn't really care much for a dull broad sword you know). So you could litterally take all your armor and trade it in for the best chest peice the armor dealer has, as an example.

I think this could work in a two teir economy, or own its own possibly(with tweaking and other ideas).

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AK-47s are not illegal here. I know how to make systems for rpgs but not shooter games sorry there. I guess have a black market for illegal stuff or just have them drop.

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I thought about implementing something similar at one point. I actually got it from an MMORPG (therefore going back on my stance that everything about MMORPGs is awful), which had plenty of enemies, but none of them ever dropped cold, hard cash. In order to get cash, you had to sell the other things that they dropped - typically pelts or other animal parts. Aside from a few quests that required them, they were essentially useless. Like most MMORPGs, many commodities were overvalued or undervalued, and in general anything of actual worth to your character took an entire weekend of monster hunting to afford, which is something I neither had time nor desire to do.
</rant>

The point is, its not really realistic for non-human enemies to be dropping cash, and the typical 'monster horde of treasure' excuse that was started with The Hobbit gets old fast. You should probably implement some primitive form of supply & demand. Enemy item drops that are common to a region should be considered less valuable to a buyer in the same region, while an item from a rare monster from a far away region would fetch far more money.

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Alot of games use cash/item hybrid barter systems, like Ultima Underworld, Ragnarok online, ROSE Online, etc. A straight barter system is good, but having money is also a good way to help balance the system.

For instance, lets say i'm carrying 50 pieces of plate armor, and i have nowhere to put them. I could trade them to someone, but i don't really want 50 daggers, or bannana's either, so in this case giving 50 small lightweight coins to keep track of what he owe's me is good enough. Of course, you could make it so that players could have a secret "Stash" of goods and stuff that they can later trade anyway, thus circumventing the need for money.

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I like the idea because it sends you on scavenger hunts, but I only ask that you make it make sense (e.g., good story/world reason). If it looks like I SHOULD be able to buy it, and you're inconsistent, then I'll feel cheated that I have to do the extra work. However, if throughout the game & story & worldbuilding you make it very clear, then I'm okay.

You MAY want to make it optional, too. What do I do if I can't find a diamond?

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Well a lot of replies so I'll just comment on them as a whole.

Item quests
The barter system won't be a quest for items systems at least I hope not it won't be the case that if you want Item X then the you have to go on a quest to get item Y for the person who owns item X. Although for some jobs you will be paid in items rather then cash. The idea is that for the barter system to be the flow of rare and valuable goods through the criminal underground and people with power. Some of the barter items could be purchased for cash but those would be more common items or hard to find. For instance you might be able to find a petty snitch that has blackmail film he wants to unload for quickly for cash. That blackmail film is of value to certain other NPC you can trade it to. The blackmailed politician will trade you a set of fake identify papers for it, which you could then trade to the arms dealer for the AK47.

Item drops and substitute currency
I really want to get away from the idea of item drops and substitute currency so it won't be the case junkies drop packs of heroin instead of cash. Although the player should be able to mug junkies for drugs or money so it’s a bit of a problem. But it won't be the case that you pick up 50 hand guns and then go to the pharmacy and trade them bandages. Legitimate businesses only deal in cash so if you want bandages then all the handguns in the world won't help you purchase some. Pawn shops would be able to turn small numbers items into cash but not mass quantities in short periods a fixer could also turn items into cash but the quantities and price you get depends on your relationship with the fixer. Don't expect to turn up at a fixer you've never met and expect to sell off 100 handguns at good price.

Quote:

You MAY want to make it optional, too. What do I do if I can't find a diamond?


Well, hopefully you have something else you can trade. If not you'll have to work through the flow of goods and services until you obtain a diamond. Remember the old saying for thing of value there is someone who wants it.
There is also item construction in the game. So if you have the skills you can build a set of forged identity papers. The thing I have to decide though is should buildable barter goods have barter good component or should they be buildable entirely from nonbarter goods. Meaning that if you have the skills do all you need is paper and pens purchasable from any stationary store to make a set of forge identity papers. Or should you require say some special inks or paper that you would have to trade for in order to build a set of forged identity papers?

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