# baseline value of items in a RPG

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baseline value of items in a RPG

the game: Caveman 3.0

fpsrpg/person sim hybrid

paleolithic setting

emphasis on realism

seamless, open world, sandbox, survival

so i'm trying to balance the trade value of items in the game.

for resources you gather, i started with value = time required to gather 1 unit.

but this doesn't reflect supply (resource scarcity) or demand (resource usefulness), just the time cost of gathering.

so then i was thinking  value = demand / supply + gather cost.

or perhaps value = demand / supply * gather cost

unless i can come with some formula, i'm left with trying to assign arbitrary values that seem to make sense, which is a rather touchy-feeley way to muddle through.

even with something like demand / supply * gather cost, i'm still left with assigning numbers for supply and demand somehow, perhaps by assigning values on a scale of 1 to 10, for example.

FYI, right now i'm only concerned with determining base price of items, not modeling variable supply and demand or economic systems. a base price for items is required first.  and i'd like a method of assigning pries which is a little less haphazard than  "ok, a dagger is 20 gold, so a sword is, uh...100. yeah - sounds ok to me".

so its a matter of how much is a unit of wood, stone, nuts, fruit, grains, veggies, meat, hide, bones, tendon reeds, vines, water, etc worth? or a tool you can find such as a one hand hammer stone, a grinding slab, a throwing rock, a sling stone, etc?

once i have prices for raw materials, hopefully i can use those as a basis for the cost of manufactured goods.

surely there must be a better option than just making up numbers that seem to make sense. making up numbers tends to require a lot of play testing and tweaking.

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No matter what, it's going to require play testing and tweaking. Even if you try to make the whole thing automatic, you still have to make something up for the time it takes to  harvest an item, and the equation may need some tweaking so the supply and demand mechanic can't be ruined.

That said, some kind of base cost*demand/supply makes sense, so that demand/supply acts as a modifier to the base cost. If you don't want it to go under the base cost you might say base cost*(1+demand/supply). And maybe something to smooth it out, like the root of 1+demand/supply so it doesn't get too insanely expensive when there's a low supply.

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I'm only starting to approach this sort of thing myself so I don't really know what the best methods are.

I would start with the food. If you know how much energy (this is something your characters have have, right?) it takes on average to hunt for enough for one typical meal using a common set of resources, then set an arbitrary value for that to use as a base. If you have the same hunter under the same parameters resulting in a poor meal and a really good meal, then perhaps you can look at the energy expenditure vs gain from the food to calculate the value of his labor relative to the base. Also, look at how much energy it takes the same hunter to produce the same kind of meal with both good and poor resources. This might give you a starting indication of the value of the resources themselves. These values would all be in some arbitrary unit that I would suspect you'd want to scale appropriately for whatever form of currency you intend on using.

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Are you using a barter system?

Just curious how you compare two items. Are you calculating this base value, storing it internally against the item and then comparing base values (e.g. "two plucked chickens with a value of 30 equals one hare with a value of 60"?).

Will the player be able to see these values?

I'm no expert and don't know if currency was around in neolithic times (I doubt it though?)

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Price (different from value) is often based on how much time/effort spent to make/obtain the item - thats for items with utility

For items beyond utility (aesthetics) then its often how rare  is more emphasized.

Costs == time, risk, distance, crafting materials/tools required, skill to make, rareity, profit of middlemen   to get the item into your hand

Something you can pickup off the ground is gonna start out cheap, if it needs alot of crafting to turn into its final form it gets most limited to obtain and if the crafters are few then that restricts its availability.  Again if a cheaper simpler object works just as well for utility, then guess which will be more used?

----

neolithic   - I learned recently that one of the seperating attributes between old and new stone age was the presence of the stone tools being 'polished' (which meant more specialization of crafting and a rise of aesthetics).

For currency even 'civilizations' well past neolithic for a long time didnt have currency (but in a game, barter is a complication - yet might be a flavor 'point' for such a game)    I suppose value could be expressed in a personalized count of 'wantz' metric (with a seperate magnitude 'Wantz Wantz' for more aesthetic/desire-priority driven acquisition)

Edited by wodinoneeye

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No matter what, it's going to require play testing and tweaking.

actually, i just got done balancing the hp. xp, meat, bone, hides, and tendon for all animal types with no play testing or tweaking. all the testing and tweaking was done on paper while i came up with formulas relating animal weight to hp, xp, meat, bone, hides, and tendon. once i had the formulas, all i had to do was crunch the numbers for each animal, enter them into the animal types database, and i was done. its only when you "first pass best guess" stuff that you have to futz with it a lot. that's what i hope to avoid here.

you still have to make something up for the time it takes to  harvest an item

historical simulation.  wanna see a youtube video of how to make a stone knife or a stone cutting tool?   gather times  turn out to pretty easy to determine, partly in thanks to experimental archaeology.

making stone knives for survival:

and the equation may need some tweaking so the supply and demand mechanic can't be ruined.

That said, some kind of base cost*demand/supply makes sense, so that demand/supply acts as a modifier to the base cost. If you don't want it to go under the base cost you might say base cost*(1+demand/supply). And maybe something to smooth it out, like the root of 1+demand/supply so it doesn't get too insanely expensive when there's a low supply.

yes, but first you need a base price. that's what this thread is about - at least to start.  variable supply/demand modeling comes later. not that resource scarcity and item usefulness (a form of supply and demand) don't apply - it seems they definitely do.  but i do have a feeling that formulas of the form you presented will be part of the solution.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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I would start with the food. If you know how much energy (this is something your characters have have, right?) it takes on average to hunt for enough for one typical meal using a common set of resources, then set an arbitrary value for that to use as a base.

energy....

well, there's sleep, water, and food like in the sims, and combat fatigue like in skyrim.

but if your talking about energy spent to collect food, that would be food most likely.

so lets say you can gather 5 food points worth of nuts in the time it takes you to burn 1 food point of energy - more if the nuts are higher quality.

how do you get from there to how much a nut is worth?

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Are you using a barter system?

yes.    and a form of "currency" as well: trade-able trinkets.

Just curious how you compare two items. Are you calculating this base value, storing it internally against the item and then comparing base values (e.g. "two plucked chickens with a value of 30 equals one hare with a value of 60"?).

that's the basic idea.  the question is "how much should a plucked chicken be worth?". IE the baseline price before any supply/demand modeling.   there's got to be better way than "we'll make a dagger 10 and a sword 50 and see how it goes". yeah, right, like that's a real good plan.

Will the player be able to see these values?

most likely, yes. otherwise one would not have the innate knowledge of the value of things in the game world that their character would normally have.  but things like quality and relations would affect the baseline price when trading.

I'm no expert and don't know if currency was around in neolithic times (I doubt it though?)

paleolithic, not neolithic. neolithic was after the hunter gatherers, when we started to domesticate crops and animals and therefore settle down in one place.

during paleolithic times, the closest thing to currency was probably "trade-able trinkets" such as beads, feathers, shells, etc.  there's evidence of bead manufacturing on an almost industrial scale at one site. so beads are a likely contender. similar to shell money: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_money

Edited by Norman Barrows

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neolithic   - I learned recently that one of the seperating attributes between old and new stone age was the presence of the stone tools being 'polished' (which meant more specialization of crafting and a rise of aesthetics).

i suspect new stone age is still paleolithic, not neolithic, i'd have to look it up.  the game has a strict cutoff at the end of the paleolithic. no neolithic allowed.

actually, it appears to be mostly about keeping the blade from chipping, cracking, or fracturing.  and yes, i do need to lookup polished stone tools and see if they need to be added, or if they're too new.

i never did understand what good a polished axe head would do until i saw this video:

from raw stone to polished artwork in a handle, and the thing is WICKED BAD against trees!

and people say cavemen weren't smart....

Edited by Norman Barrows

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ok, thinking it over here's what i came up with so far:

there are two types of items in the game, stuff you find, and stuff you make.

for stuff you find, the value would be a function of:

tools required

skills required

resource scarcity - basically what % of the map squares in the world have the resource (on average). a number between 0 and 1.

usefulness - a subjective rating, perhaps on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale.

average gathering time required to gather one unit

i was thinking a "hazard pay" modifier would apply for things like meat, but they are available from easy to hunt prey at low risk - so no hazard pay or risk related costs to speak of for anything.

for stuff you make, the value would be a function of

parts required

tools required

skills required

average crafting time to successfully make one unit

usefulness - a subjective rating, perhaps on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale.

scarcity of parts would already be reflected in the base price of the parts.

i've determined that it takes 12.3 hours on average to learn 50 xp in a given skill. so i can assign a time value to skills required.

so i have something better than just made up numbers for everything except the subjective usefulness rating.

the same way you can start in the game with nothing and make or find anything, i can also start in the code with no prices and determine the prices for basic resources first and then for all the things made from them.

so it looks like there will be two formulas or functions for the value of an item, one for gather-ables, and one for craft-ables.

so gather-able value = f(tools,skills,scarcity,gathertime,usefulness)  and craft-able value = f(parts,tools,skills,craftingtime,usefulness)

setting aside the "subjective usefulness" issue for a moment, assume workable values for usefulness can be determined somehow.

what form might these formulas take?

gather-able value = gathertime*usefulness/scarcity+toolcost+skillcost ?

craft-able value = craftingtime*usefulness+partscost+toolcost+skillcost ?

and then the second question, is there a way around having to assign subjective usefulness values via trial and error?

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