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Cirrus95

Money and your Character, how would you make earning money fun?

14 posts in this topic

So, I've been tossing some ideas back and forth in my head recently on how to make a game that requires you to get money to buy items in a fun way, rather than just beating the life out of enemies and having money drop from them.

 

Most games I have played seem to follow a very basic, and somewhat boring way of:

  1. Kill a enemy, it drops some money, very common and while it isn't just handed to you it isn't that thrilling.

  2. Doing Missions, this way may sound cool, but if the missions are cheesy then it becomes a real pain grinding them over and over.

  3. Finding it in objects or lying around, this way isn't too bad, in the way it helps you show the player where to go. But it also makes it seem like the money isn't worth that much in the world.

 

Now, one idea I had would be something like this:

 

The player starts with a base amount of money from a “loan” of sorts at the start of each chapter of the story in the game, this amount will lower and increase depending on how much progress you make, and how well you do. If the player runs low on money before the next chapter, the player can get more in one of the following ways:

 

  1. There is a mine shaft in a cave that is full of crystals, the crystals are used as money in the game. The player will get to head into it and explore the caverns and mine out the gems while fighting some cave creatures and avoiding hazards. It would be like a large level that expands through a huge cave system, with exits leading to connecting towns.

  2. Another way to earn money is by going around and fighting enemies, like mentioned above. But they would drop it the gems rarely, but in large amounts. Making it not the best way, but it could help add that extra little bit of money.

 

The idea behind number one is to make getting money more entertaining, rather than feeling tacked on to missions or just dropped from enemies. But I am curious on what other ways could be done to make money collecting more fun in games.

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Money without things to buy are just "points"/"score", and that never interests me. Example: Mario coins. Even though they are 'coins', and golden, they bore me because I can't spend them on anything.

 

If I can buy things with money, then I can't have so much money that I can buy anything, or money becomes pointless.

 

I need to be able to earn money, without explicitly grinding for it, but also I need to not have enough to buy the awesome item I want the second I see it. I need a forced opportunity to anticipate the acquiring of the item before I actually acquire it - any seriously good item I want to buy needs to be out of my immedient reach financially, but not out of my permanent reach and not so absurdly out of my reach that by the time I can purchase it it is no longer worth it.

 

That said, here are some other methods of earning money to consider - I'm not arguing that these are fun, but I'll mention them anyway:

  • Breaking items, digging in the ground with a shovel, and chopping up grass in the hopes there is money in it (the Zelda method).
  • Killing monsters, acquiring nigh-useless monster loot (spider eyeballs and websacks, beetle legs, whatever) and selling them into for the actual money.
  • Killing monsters, and each monster killed automaticly gives you a monster "token" for that monster with that monster's picture on it. Different monster tokens are worth different amounts, depending on the strength of the monster. Returning to town, you sell your entire collection of monster tokens, converting them to actual money (Threads of Fate used that method)
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Games that have monsters drop money are usually about killing monsters, and not about earning money.
(They "reward" the player for using the game's core-mechanic)

Any game that is about anything else, add a store to the game, then reward players for finishing levels , et voila earning money the fun way.

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I've observed a fairly large amount of methods to inject money into your player. You will never really get around "the grind" unless you add passive elements to your system.

Active:
-Bounties(similar to monster coin idea)
-Missions
-generic loot
-special monsters who drop very special and expensive loot
-monsters dropping actually money
-through npcs(via gifts/random quests/jobs)
-Trading (buy low in one town, sell higher in the next)

Passive:
-Owning specific items and "renting" them out.
-Bank accumulating interest
-Giving loans to npcs
-Owning stores that accumulate the money npcs spend at them
-Owning a crystal mine or any other form of raw materials producer to make money.

There are a lot of different options, and it really all depends on how in depth you want a character to be within your game world.
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I see that most of the ideas mentioned are ones that I have listed above, although some other ones I didn't think of that I quite like too, like the loan idea. But the real issue I have is, I do not want to make the player feel like earning money is slowing them down, or feel like it was pointlessly tacked on in order to squeeze more time into the game.

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If money isn't earned and doesn't slow the player down - why do you want money in the game? What gameplay-related purpose does it serve?

 

There are many possible purposes money can serve, but what purpose is it supposed to serve in your game's gameplay?

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I had this game idea some time ago. 

  • You go on a shopping spree (press a button). You buy everything on credit.
  • Then you return to your castle, where you pile up your loot. 
  • The debt-collectors come and attacks your mansion. The amount and difficulty of the debt-collectors depends on your dept. To defend yourself you shoot your loot at them. More expensive loot (cars, trucks) are better then smaller loot (shoes, phablets etc.). When you shoot the debt-collectors they die. 
  • Then it's time for a new turn, start over!

The goal of the game is to balance debt, loot quality and the difficulty of the debt collectors. Thus - the more money you have the more ammo you have, but it also makes the game waves more difficult. 

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Then currency could come by the amount of time passed. Every second could be worth 1 gold coin, at first, collected as "taxes" from the "land" (never visible) that the Castle protects. Some of the items you buy on credit could help improve the "land" to produce more taxes each second - things like more plowhorses and barns and things like that.

 

If the game is going for a comical feel, your "currency" could be brought in and measured in sheep and bundles of grain.

For extra challenge involves, your taxmen might be unable to reach the entrance of your castle because of all the debt collectors trying to get to the entrance, so instead while you're shooting loot at debt-collectors, your own taxmen might be trying to lob sheep and bundles of wheat over the castle walls, and you might need to click the thrown wheat and sheep to receive the currency as an additional bonus to your per-second income. This is similar to the balls of sunlight you grab during Plants vs Zombies, except the sheep and wheat bundles would be larger in size (and easier to click) but be thrown in arcs over the wall (and so harder to click).

 

Each clicked sheep comes with the obligatory "baaaaaahhhh!" bleating of sheep. For extra extra humor, very rarely the taxmen might throw over a peasant disguised as a sheep, who cries out, "BLEATING NOISE!" instead of "baaahhhh!". (That might sound too much like "bleeding noise", so maybe just make him yell out "baaahhhh!" in a very-obviously human voice).

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I've seen something like this. Try designing a game that can be completed however you wanted it to be without any unintentional grind, then add your loot system, or in game shops to cater to added flavor. 

 

A grind to earn a self-assigned goal such as buying out the entire avatar shop after the game is over is then the player's own fault. Unless you dump a load of cash on them every time they finish the game... which may appease their collection OCD faster.

 

There's always going to be 5% of players who dislike any one thing 95% of the time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution

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The most fun earning money mechanic I enjoyed was in Capitalism II. You were setting up factories, retail, R&D, decide which goods to produce, where to get resources, make vertical or horizontal integration. It was a lot of fun.

 

My point is, you can't beat it and you don't need to. RPGs will always have inferior money system than tycoons (which were designed with one and one goal in mind only, to make earning money fun). Because RPG are more about story, NPCs, locations, equipment, artifacts, dragons, princesses, evil lords, treasures.

Instead of fixing a weak point of  a genre, highlight its strong points. If you made all the important RPGish stuff very fun, no one will care if the money earning part is lame.

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Have you played Cookie Clicker?  A simple blend of active and passive resource acquisition methods can be intelligible and rewarding without taking a lot of time and attention on the part of the player.  The addition of myriad upgrades can further deepen the earning process.  Put something like that in the background of your game, where players can choose between scooping up money with their hands or running an enterprise on the side or robbing trains or something.

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A couple games that come to mind that do money right are Recettear and, I think a couple of, the Assassin's Creed games. Recettear makes an entire game out of the merching aspect of economy, and has some sub mechanics with customer satisfaction and some top down action rpg aspects as well. Assassin's Creed did it with a property based system, where you would buy shops and buildings that would earn capital after a certain amount of real time had passed, and was integrated into other mechanics of the game.

 

Both kind of take the Idea of making a game or mechanic based around something real world of the time period. Merching (buying low, selling high) or playing with property. I think what Acharis says is pretty smart, the only games that have a real need for the money system to be fun is ones where it is a large, or the main gameplay mechanic (Recettear). Assassin's Creed's was good because it didn't interfere with gameplay, you set it up and let it run while you stabbed stuff.

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So, I've been tossing some ideas back and forth in my head recently on how to make a game that requires you to get money to buy items in a fun way, rather than just beating the life out of enemies and having money drop from them.

 

Most games I have played seem to follow a very basic, and somewhat boring way of:

  1. Kill a enemy, it drops some money, very common and while it isn't just handed to you it isn't that thrilling.

  2. Doing Missions, this way may sound cool, but if the missions are cheesy then it becomes a real pain grinding them over and over.

  3. Finding it in objects or lying around, this way isn't too bad, in the way it helps you show the player where to go. But it also makes it seem like the money isn't worth that much in the world.

 

Now, one idea I had would be something like this:

 

The player starts with a base amount of money from a “loan” of sorts at the start of each chapter of the story in the game, this amount will lower and increase depending on how much progress you make, and how well you do. If the player runs low on money before the next chapter, the player can get more in one of the following ways:

 

  1. There is a mine shaft in a cave that is full of crystals, the crystals are used as money in the game. The player will get to head into it and explore the caverns and mine out the gems while fighting some cave creatures and avoiding hazards. It would be like a large level that expands through a huge cave system, with exits leading to connecting towns.

  2. Another way to earn money is by going around and fighting enemies, like mentioned above. But they would drop it the gems rarely, but in large amounts. Making it not the best way, but it could help add that extra little bit of money.

 

The idea behind number one is to make getting money more entertaining, rather than feeling tacked on to missions or just dropped from enemies. But I am curious on what other ways could be done to make money collecting more fun in games.

 

The Shenmue games handled this well. There were 2 main ways to earn money in Shenmue:

  • Acquire a part-time job: This was the most reliable way to earn money. You would play a skill-based mini-game for a few minutes and receive a reward based on your performance. This option costs the player time that they could have spent honing their martial arts or progressing the story.
  • Gamble: This was a riskier way to earn money that cost less in time than the part-time job but carried the risk of losing money. The player would play a luck-based mini-game.
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