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Mission design: How to drive away customers

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Sorry, this isn't a grand theoretical post... it's quite literal. [grin] Let's say that in a game there are two competing shopkeepers, and one hires the player to drive the other out of business. What would be some creative ways for doing so? What dependencies would you set up for the mission? What setbacks? Special conditions? Triggers? Let's assume that this is in a civilized city, and that the law will respond to the player's actions. What branches do you think would make your mission interesting to the player, and why? Any ideas appreciated...

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My ideas of how to drive a store out of business:

1. Frame them for some huge crime that would force them out of business.
3. Snoop in their files for their bank account information, and make them go bankrupt.
4. Plant a nuclear device in the store.
5. Plant a nuclear device in the home of every person who is in any way associated with the store.
6. Find the store's supplier and track their product shipments, sabotaging their delivery to the store.
7. Get a job working at the store, and wreck havoc in as many ways as possible (change pricetags, etc.)
8. Send all of the employees on a cruise to the Bahamas, and hijack the plane.
9. Bribe a reporter to lie about them in the news.
10. Intercept the bill payments to their supplier, and also bribe the supplier to ignore any phone calls from them.
11. Have 50 friends send letters to the store demanding a change in their business that would, in actuality, drive away customers.
12. Every night, release a chemical into the home of every employee that keeps them asleep, causing them to consistently miss work, so that nobody is there to serve the customers, and everyone will eventually get fired.
13. Bribe several employees to lie to the customers, making them think badly about the store.

[Edited by - riltniqaz on January 28, 2006 11:00:42 AM]

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Let's see if I can think of a few ideas:

1. Burn the target shop to the ground.

This approach is fairly direct, but is likely to attract the attention of whatever law enforcement is in the game.

2. Threaten the shopkeeper with various types of violence.

Similar to the first option. Simple to do, but harder to get away with if the police get involved. You could also just kill him, I guess, but the police is much more likely to get involved if you do that.

3. Provide a smear campaign.

Write unflattering opinion pieces in newspapers, get a few reporters to bad mouth the business, start a word-of-mouth campaign to discredit the company. This would be easier to do if the company had some skeletons in their closet that you could exploit, but you could plant some false evidence of misdeeds in order make the company look bad. However this could backfire if you are caught.

4. Undermine the business from within, or provide bad advice.

You could gain the shopkeeper's trust, or get hired as an employee, then subtly ruin the business with bad advice or other shenanigans. This involves a level of subterfuge, as if you get caught then the whole plan would be ruined. I'm presuming that you could either do this "legally", by providing bad adivce, or with various degrees of "illegal" behaviour, such as not locking the doors up to burning the shop down.

An alternative to this is to just provide bad advice, such as making up news of an upcoming threat. Convince the shopkeeper the sky is falling (metaphorically), and they might move their shop somewhere else.

5. Ruin the business as a bad customer.

You could be the worst possible customer the shop has ever had. Make use of every possible return policy, take up all of their time, and make life unpleasant for the employees and the other customers. A variant of this would be to act as a business partner and trick the shopkeeper into a bad deal. This is a more long term approach, however: it might take a while to ruin a business that way (except for possibly the dodgy deal approach).

6. Offer the shopkeeper a better deal.

Maybe the target shopkeeper doesn't really like selling things, and would prefer to explore with you? An easy approach (from a legal reprecussion point of view) would be to offer the shopkeeper something else to do rather than run a shop. This is trickier if the shopkeeper is happy selling things, however.

Hope that's of some use!

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(1) Place rats or some kind of pests into the shop at night; very effective if selling food.
(2) Steal goods to increase the opponents ware costs.
(3) Sell the stolen goods to decrease the own ware costs.
(4) Place ill reputed goods into the opponents shop.
(5) Exchange the price labels.
(6) Influence the suppliers.
(7) Fake marketing brochures.
(8) Be stealth enough to avoid being caught by the law ;)

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Mainly the player should have a number of ways to do so, like in the Hitman games.

I'd suggest that the player could not be seen doing any suspicious act. E.g, Someone said unleash rats, the player must not be seen by anyone as a customer could report what happened to the shop owner, who will realise that he is under threat. Player should not kill anyone, or use any severe weapon, as it is a civilized city.

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Hmm... You could pay a bunch of homeless folk to browse and or hang-out in the store. Pay a drunk or debutante to ralph on the sidewalk of the entry. Place a small sign on the side walk, "curb your dog here. Courtesy of blah-blah co.", put a noxious mixture of offal (maybe the thrown out scraps of a Korean restaurant)next to the air intake of the building. Put backpressure on their sewer branch to back up the flow into their store. Replace their storefront mannequins with S&M, leather and spikes models. Tape a sign on the outside window saying it under new management then giving a name of an undesirable subculture. Advertise in the locals that for one day only all merchandise is free to motorcycle club members that wear their "colors" and bring shanks. Hang a banner over the entrance "We Support Pedophilia. Free Childcare for Shoppers". It could get tacky.

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Find some popular online swingers/phone sex forums and post pictures of a hot bitch with their phone number. Invite them to personally call you anytime. Repeat ad nauseum with alternate forum types.

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You should probably have both the mostly illegal, destructive options that are most of what has been suggested as well as legal business ways of driving the comptetion out of business. These can include offering lower prices, advertising better, getting special deals from the supplier, buying the supplier, lobbying your government for tax breaks, hiring away your competitor's most talented employies, or simply buying your competitor.

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