Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Kris Schnee

Trade Game: Feedback Requested

This topic is 3653 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Screenshot I've built a simple game in which you travel to various ports, engaging in barter. The idea behind it is that a typical RPG shop is basically a dull vending machine, not interesting in its own right. In contrast there's a conversation in Neil Stephenson's "Quicksilver" in which two 17th-century traders have to haggle over even the value of the coins they're using. What if trading itself -- outside such acts as picking a destination or surviving pirate attacks -- could be made fun? What I'd like advice on is in actually making the activity fun! In this system you make an offer, the trader makes a counteroffer, and you accept it or modify your offer. Each trader has an internal estimate of how much he values each item, and how much he thinks you value each item, so it's possible to arrange a deal such that both of you can profit. (Unadvertised feature: Hit "N" while trading to look at a value estimate.) The demo is kind of frustrating because although you can indicate that you do/don't want particular goods, you're still likely to (say) have a trader keep trying to offer you back the bricks you just sold him. Also, there's a social aspect missing here; I was thinking of a "potlatch" system such that you gain some sort of social status by making a deal that the other side perceives as generous. Unlike other projects, I've focused this one completely on a single game mechanic. This could be built into a more elaborate game where you try to trade up to a bigger ship so that you can carry more stuff, or given full RPG mechanics so that you're exploring dungeons and fighting pirates between trading runs, but before I try any such thing I want to know that the basic idea of these trading sessions is enjoyable, and that's an elusive thing to achieve. Do you have any thoughts on how to do that? Windows EXE Source version (Python; requires Pygame)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Well, here's an idea I have for you. If you look at First-Person spaceship-shooting games such as Privateer 2 (old one) or Freelancer, or even something more similar to your game's style such as Fairy Godmother Tycoon, they use news or random-generated circumstances to which affect the resources or demand for resources in their various different cities/regions. For example, you might have a type of sickness suddenly occurring in one of your islands to which will create a high demand for medicinal leaves or medicine-related goods. A city might suddenly discover a gold mine (they now have a surplus of gold) to which now their gold is much cheaper for you to buy and sell to other cities for loads of profit. A city might experience in a wave of immigrants from "Gem-Land", and because they like working on gems to make jewelry, that city's demand for gems might go up. Etc.

This would require you to implement some sort of news forecasting system in your game, to which could be like a newspaper, or Harry Potter magical bird delivery express system, etc.

Here is another thing to make trading from port to port more challenging, factor in food-upkeep of your ship, as well as the well-being of your crew (sickness, scurvy, health, entertainment). For example, ports might carry a variety of edible goods, or toys such as chess, or beer, to which you consume each time you set sail. The farther you go, the more food you would use for that trip. Additionally, the more cargo you carry, the more crew you would perhaps need to maintain it (loading it and unloading it), so your food/health/entertainment upkeep also becomes more expensive. This sort of forces players to consider how far they want to go in their trading routes.

You could have different kinds of ships that have different kinds of speeds or cargo capacities. A fast ship won't eat up your upkeep as much, but a huge ship could carry loads of things from one port to another.

If you want pirates in your game, you could also include weapons goods such as cannons, cannon balls, gunpowder, cutlasses, and things.

And while on the subject of pirates, the encountering of them could perhaps be a part of the many different random events that could occur as you sail from one port to another. Other random events could include storms, or monsters, or whirlpools, or discovering a treasure-island, etc. These could all spice up the game and improve its replayability.

Nice game you have there btw, I really like the style and the animal-people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The concept's really intriguing. It's also my favorite design mechanic, so hopefully there's no such thing as too much feeddback!

Along with what Tangireon said about randomizers, I'd suggest:

Trade barter styles - They like to bargain a little or a lot. Perhaps you have a meter indicating how much patience they have, and how far you're into exhausting it. When it's up, they close for the day or you lose favor with them or something.

Scarcity = Value - I like the way the old game Gazillionaire Deluxe does this. You have a simple screen hinting at where things are plentiful and where they are cheap. This changes as you travel, however, and as rivals alter the supply and demand at ports. You could make this random, but I'd suggest cycles interrupted either by events or competition. I'd like it if I could make some determination based on what they have and what they need / consume. If I see someone who has lots of bread, selling bread probably isn't a good idea.

Desired Items Get Removed - I'd like to see some things disappear off the table as a sign of success. For instance, if the shopkeeper takes gems off the table, you know they REALLY wanted gems. You could turn this into a pattern, so that if they keep doing this, you know to offer more competitive trades.

Multiple Traders At One Port? - If you put in the potlatch system for social status, consider adding it on a trader basis and a community (port-wide) basis. Raising your value community-wide could be the result of special trades at critical times (medicine after a bad storm); whereas trading with a single trader and being not necessarilyl generious but fair gains you a better rep with them (at the expense of another trader in the same port who might be a rival?) I'd definitely give them different valuation levels and quantities they could tolerate, such as the merchant who pays REALLY well but only buys a handful of your goods.

Time Pressure / Item Decay - What if those apples spoiled? You could have a quality level attached to the merchandise (maybe different graphics, say browner or mushier looking apples). Even in a turn based game, turns could last a variable amount of time in order to reach different ports.

More Flavor Text + Moods - I'd like it if I entered a trading shop and the owner said, "Oh, it's YOU again. Come to swindle me out of more bricks?" Flavor text is a great low investment / high return way of making the traders stand out. You could even indicate moods using text ("Have just a moment" versus "how can I help you today?"

If you used Tangireon's idea of resource limits / needs for your ship (which I think is excellent) you could add in time as an important factor. Maybe you wait for a trader to open.

You could also really jazz up considerations for the route-- are you going with the current / tradewinds, into storm territory, pirate infested waters?



(btw, I couldn't figure out how to switch ports once I'd bought by stuff... is that in yet? I could only go to a different port by restarting.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This makes me think of the classic Taipan, which seems to be quite similar to your idea, at least in principle.

I've never found the actual trading portion in games to be that entertaining, my first thought was perhaps a mini-puzzle like you'd see on Puzzle Pirates representing your attempt to haggle with a merchant. Various factors like supply, demand, etc. can influence it but the puzzle aspect as a front-end could make the whole thing more palatable for the player. Something like these perhaps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Switching between ports: Hit Escape. That takes you back to the map. Since each port has one or two items obviously in great supply and low price, you should be able to profit.

I agree that it'd be good to implement having different qualities of ship, partly because that's a tangible way to measure your success -- can you trade up to a big, fancy, well-defended ship and do well enough to pay its upkeep? Taking that idea far enough would even let the player have a kind of trophy room to show off just how rich they are. Having variable city events for supply/demand would also be good, and would require some kind of news system.

What about the core mechanic of doing the haggling, though? If that's not fun in its own right, then I'm basically just recreating Wing Commander: Privateer with a different setting and minus combat, or any other trading game where the act of buying and selling is just a spreadsheet activity. All the stuff about pirates, disease outbreaks and ship upgrades is built around that key activity, so I really want that core to be fun. I could see having an abstract puzzle like those in Puzzle Pirates, but then the game would be more about the puzzle than the idea of trading; the idea doesn't satisfy me.

About having "desired items get removed," do you mean that traders should sometimes take the initiative to accept offers before you do? That'd make sense and be interesting. The idea of traders having different personalities in terms of, say, numbers of offers before they get frustrated and leave could be useful.

More flavor text would be good. I'm worried about screen real estate, though! As the screenshot shows, I've divided the screen into "you" and "them" with the "trading mat" in the bottom-center. I think the portraits are important for making the experience less spreadsheet-like, even though I'm just using one piece of art at the moment; don't you? How can I squeeze as much useful info as possible onto this screen and still be able to do flavor text? You may have seen the text already overflowing the box. Maybe have a dialog box for text appear and disappear after each action, to free space for a "mood meter" or something? My inspiration here is the amazing city-screen interface from some versions of the Civilization games.

Maybe something can be done with the social aspect of gift-giving, as part of the act of trading? If it's just "I offer X for your Y" maybe that's too simple.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!