Montag, 21. Dezember 2009

Hey I see you got a shop, wanna buy all the old shit I collected?

Did you ever wonder why every damn shop on the whole world/in the entire universe/multiverse buys all the crappy shit you've looted from slain enemies? Usually, I don't think much about it, either, but when I thought about the problem of the player becoming the richest man in the world at the end of most RPGs, I looked for the source of the problem. And usually it's because you can sell everything you loot from slain enemies to shopkeepers, because every single shop does not only sell but also buy. Weaponsmiths gladly pay you 5 gold pieces for a rusty old sword, even though they don't really need it since they got a much better stock to sell and they probably have other sources of buying iron, too. Heck, some shopkeepers even might give you a single gold piece for a bunch of useless rags that have no practical use whatsoever.

Of course, if you sell really useless shit you also get a really low amount of money for it. But since you find a LOT of that stuff over the course of the game, you can earn a small fortune by selling it to various shopkeepers. Usually, if you raise your bartering skill, you can even get quite a good price for your useless shit.

Solution? Make shopkeepers tell you to fuck off when you try selling them stuff they don't need. Or make not every shop in the whole country buy stuff from you. It's completely unrealistic, anyways, that one guy goes into a shop and sells about 50 swords to the shopkeeper and he shells out all the money he has to buy these swords from you. Even though he already has 100 swords on sale and nobody ever buys them. So, just make not everyone buy everything, and make some people buy nothing at all because they're just selling. You can't go into a supermarket and sell them a bar of chocolate, either, even though they do sell chocolate. They already have someone who delivers it to them, so they don't need random people selling them things they looted off anyone's body.

And even if you try selling them something useful, they should pay you less than it's worth. If you have a high haggling skill, most games allow you to sell a chainmail shirt to a shopkeeper for 100 gold pieces, while he sells it for 110. He'd make no profit at all from a deal like that. Nobody would do that in real life. He'd maybe pay you half of what he sells it for. And since 90% of the things you sell to shopkeepers in RPGs are used and also show signs of use (if you kill someone in a fight, both his weapon and armor should show some signs of damage), most of them shouldn't be interested in them in the first place, except if the items are high quality or magical. There could be some second-hand stores, sure, but you wouldn't get that much money from selling things to them. And all you could buy would be cheap worn-out stuff.

So generally, the problem of players ending up with more money than they can spend is not the fact that they can loot so much. It's the fact that shopkeepers buy everything you want to sell them *and* don't offer items of higher quality than you can loot. This should be ideally combined with equipment deteriorating when used, and bang, you got a more realistic system and don't end up being rich.

1 Kommentar:

  1. I think the problem lies deeper then just the fact that every shopkeeper and their dog seem livid about buying every single piece of junk you offer them. In games these days most items are nothing more then money in disguise and this catters to the "grinding" playstyle in which working for your money means killing everything in sight.
    "Damn I can't afford that armour. Well lets just kill some random people and sell their stuff."

    But what are items really? Usually they are nothing more then stuff in your inventory with a little icon, a name and most importantly a pricetag. But to be honest this is gamedesign of yesterday.

    If you look at games like Morrowind and especially the Gothic series you'll see that items have a use first and a pricetag only second. A tablecloth covers tables in the game, a lamp illuminates dungeons and kitchen tables alike and no anvil gets worked without that hammer. Remember finding a spoon in Gothic and finding out that you could cook with it? Sure it was just an animation of your character stirring a pot but from that moment on I never sold a new item I found again, just to see if it had a purpose.

    And purpose is what I think items lack in games. If items have a purpose and then given a pricetag according to their purpose in that gameworld's economy everything falls in place. Sure a merchant would buy a wooden spoon from you. But if even a million spoons would pay for a fancy armour no one would bother with exploring dangerous dungeons. The prices should reflect the use and demand that they have. Even the simplest of leather armours is a hand-crafted product that protects against the dangerous world whereas a spoon is a common household item that is easy to make and everyone needs.

    Secondly to give items more of a feel and place in a world we have to look at what they mean to a player and give them a hint of mystery. We have grown used to identifying items and seeing all their stats laid out for us and taking them for granted. This is not a bad system by any means (An adventurer could easily judge the weight, sharpness and balance of a weapon he finds. And the flames shooting out of the tip are sort of obvious.) but it reduces items to nothing but a bunch of numbers. And just like an item should have worth beyond it's pricetag, it should have worth beyond it's stats.

    That rusty sword you found in the crypt? Why was it there? Surely the person buried there was someone important to have been buried in such a structure? A warrior perhaps since he was buried with a sword. And such a warrior would have not had just any old sword. Now the item has a story. (And I don't mean a page from a history book that you get to read when you click the item.)

    Now imagine selling that rusty piece of crap to the blacksmith for a few copper (He could smelt it for some iron) and a few days later hearing a rumour in town that the blacksmith discovered an ancient heirloom weapon of a honoured warrior house. You'd never look at those rusty swords again.

    The item which was originally just a useless rusty sword has transcended into a rich item with purpose, a place in the world and a story to find. And the immersive player that story can mean infinitely more then +1 damage.

    (The original version of this reply was better worded and more elaborate but it got eaten when the page failed to load after posting...)