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Parameters for pricing upgrades

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Hey all,

 

I come here quite often to find answers to design related problems, but never posted before. So here it goes...

As the topic title indicates, what are the parameters for determining the cost of upgrades for an item? Also how to

ascertain the scale at which the costs increase with every level of upgrade?

For example,

 

A manufacturing equipment produces an item within say 10 seconds and selling the item earns you 15 gold.

Now how do you determine the cost of upgrading the manufacturing equipment as well as the item it produces?

 

There is another topic similar to this one, http://www.gamedev.net/topic/647556-scaling-upgrade-cost/

but it does not really specify what factors you should consider while determining the cost of the upgrade.

 

It's a level based game, where you have to produce and sell items within a time limit and meet the target earnings.

 

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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Well, that is a very broad question to a very specific problem.

 

Maybe go into more detail about your game design.

 

Then, did you do the Math on it? I guess the question is how to balance the ingame economics... you most probably will do a lot of calculations on how the Cost/Gain balances given different setups and choices.

And then there is testing. Do you have the means to create a simple prototpye that can be tested automatically by unit tests? This way you could write a test case that test different setups, basically "plays" the game through for different choices multiple times and then compares the results.

Such an automated test could verify that your calculations are correct, and point out any potential problem with balancing.

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@Tom: I believe this is in-game economics using no real money currencies.

This should probably belong in Game Design as a Game Balancing question.

 

And this happens to be my field of expertise.

 

Sadly, as Gian-Retro pointed, there is insufficient information provided by the original poster. It's like asking "how do I get home" without specifying whether you intend to go on foot, by car, in an airplane, and if time or money are limited.

Game Balancing is a science that is very similar: I see that you're trying to achieve a fair progression system where the next thing becomes relevant after a while and kicks in as the best bang for your buck (and time) but only in a sweet spot, and you want to have that happen, but don't know where to start, but even before you jump down to Maths, you need to have a general idea of what it is you're trying to do.

 

For example, in Cookie Clicker, you'll notice that this is not a linear progression (it scales rapidly). But even from the player's vantage point, the progression sometimes shifts its pacing, you don't just move to the next cyclically at regular intervals. Sometimes its faster, and sometimes, well, it's a lot more daunting of a task.

That's where maths fail you, and where you need to consider how to spice it up and need to refer to your original plan: how you want to balance your experience, how you want it to "feel" like.

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If you have a time limit, it can be used to calibrate the price of an upgrade: at an higher price, the upgrade is bought later and it provides less value because it is active for a shorter time. Increasing the price shifts the upgrade from overpowered to good to unimportant to counterproductive; make it competitive with other ways to spend money. You can also make the upgrade cheaper and weaker, or stronger and more expensive, to assign it an early game vs. late game role.

 

For example, if the factory upgrade lets you create a widget worth $10 every 8 seconds rather than the normal 10 seconds, it's worth $10 of additional income (one more widget made) every 40 seconds of production. If it costs $200, it costs 20 widgets, i.e. all income from the first 200 seconds of the game, and it will be amortized to a net value of 0 after 800 more seconds when it yields the 20th extra widget. If, as plausible, the game lasts less than 1000s, $200 is too much. On the other hand at $100 the upgrade would be bought 100s into the game and amortized at 500s; with a longer time limit it would be slightly useful (e.g. a maximum net value of $20 with a time limit of 10 minutes).

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