Earning money and passive income mechanic

_mcowen

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Hey guys, I'm hoping for some input on a mechanic I'd like to introduce in my RMMV game.

A lot of things in my game such as upgrading skills, buying crafting recipes, upgrading items or weapons etc, all require spending gold. And a lot of gold at that. However, I don't simply want to just increase the amount you earn from battles or anything. I want to encourage the player to try other ways of earning gold.

Essentially, I'd like some ideas on how I could enable a player to earn money not just through quests but also through some sort of passive mechanic. For example, items that you have crafting go in sale in shops (behind the scenes) and you earn some money from that (similar to Star Ocean 3).

What do you guys think of a mechanic like that? What could I do to implement this any better or is it not worth the trouble?

Thanks!
 

Andar

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has been done in a lot of games, but it is a problem with balancing - have the money gains too small and no player will bother, have them too big and it will be used to break game balance (waiting for money for best weapon before going into first dungeon)
 

_mcowen

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Yeah I thought that would be a problem. I considered implementing new ways to make money as the story progresses. For example, item crafting isn't introduced from the start. Recipes for more valuable items only appear later in the game etc. I was hoping to introduce a relatively deep system so that even if a player were to exploit it early-game, that would still take a fair while. Maybe having certain ingredients for the crafting only attainable from certain enemies etc?
 

Kes

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@_mcowen Please note that Game Mechanics Design is not for feedback on individual, specific games. Nor is it about implementation - that belongs in the Support forum for the engine you are using.

This can be a general discussion about such an issue, but that would mean that replies might be on topic, but not relevant to you. Nor should you steer the conversation back to your game.

If, however, you want this topic to be entirely about your game, I can move this thread to Ideas and Prototypes. Please post to say which you would like.
 

Basileus

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As a mechanic, passive income is a bad idea unless there is something the player must do to earn it. Having money just given to you on some kind of timer leads to easy accumulation of money in the background and pretty much makes the in-game economy pointless since the player only needs to wait a bit to afford anything they want. And this is bad because the optimal solution should never be to just wait as that is the least engaging thing your game can do.

I recall Final Fantasy VIII used this in the form of the SeeD Salary where the player periodically gains Gil based on their SeeD rank. This absolutely destroyed any sense of balance in the game due to the effect of Gil on other systems. It became trivial to buy so many items that the player could just convert stacks of items into a huge amount of spell charges which could then be used to junction the spells to their stats for massive stat gains.

The problem you are having is that players can't afford upgrades in a reasonable amount of time, which is probably causing a need for excessive grinding. Your solution seems to be to throw a lot more money at the player. But have you considered why the player needs so much money? Is there a reason all of these systems require the same resource? Why are the upgrades so expensive if the player isn't getting that much money? It sounds like you could fix everything just by lowering the prices to match the player's expected income from regular gameplay.

Alternatively, you could just make new resources for the player to acquire for certain types of upgrades. By creating non-gold costs for these upgrades you could give those items as rewards for quests and bosses so the player gets their upgrades by playing the game instead of waiting around.
 

JosephSeraph

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I like what these Auto-Chess games have been doing; if you don't spend your money, it'll automatically increase by 20% per turn, up to a hard cap of 5G/turn. Now the thing that makes it interesting here is that you're taking a risk; by not buying a new unit and have their gold value in the reserve, generating more money for you, that might punish you with a lost battle which means less gold income or maybe even losing the game (as well as playing into another player's win streak and increasing their gold reward) so there's an element of choice here.

This system wouldn't straight up work on any RPG though, obviously. Say you increase your gold by 1% after every battle. If you're not sacrificing anything for that (say, you could be geared up much better if you had spent that money so now you risk dying and losing half your total gold and autosaving) then there's no element of choice. So IDK, that's a nice base. I like how Azure Dreams lets you invest money in upgrading the town, granted that doesn't give you any actual extra money but it gives access to more plot beats. That could work together with that... etc
 

kairi_key

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Hmmm.... how about this?

Passive income can come with requirement such as selling your item off-screen like you said (which I cannot comprehend how but let's just accept that it is). You spend time in game and the money will come into your pockets. But there is a catch: it is not permanent. What I mean is that in order to keep the passive income going, players need to keep fulfilling the prerequisite requirement for the income such as keep on crafting those items to fill up stock. If, however, players do not fulfill such requirement on keep refilling the stock, the passive income will decrease with each payment received. If players just let the passive income decreased to 0, it will go into negative, unless the player do something to cancel the income, such as telling the merchant to stop your business to a while or something.

I'm just throwing a random and unorganized idea tho... not sure if it's worth it or not.
 

somenick

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I have been playing with the idea of having some real estate stuff in my game. Like, you buy an inn, and over time it accumulates gold. You can also stay for free. The catch? You need to visit the inn periodically to collect.
 

lianderson

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It may seem like the player is not doing anything with passive income, but they actually are. They're combating instant gratification within themselves in order to gain a greater reward within the game.
 

Wavelength

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This is a wide-ranging topic, but if I could distill it down to a single thought, it would be: If your game's Challenge doesn't come from its real-time elements, don't award Income based on real-time elements, either. This runs a great risk of breaking your game's balance, and even worse, of encouraging your players to Idle (do something else while leaving your game on, so they have a load of money when they come back).

Games like The Wall Street Kid, The Swindle, or Recettear, which have a fixed number of in-game days you have to complete your goal, could get away with this kind of Passive Income mechanic, because the lifetime amount of passive income you'll receive is not infinite, and you may need to spend (limited) resources or tie your money up for a tangible portion of the in-game days in order to increase your passive income. As @JosephSeraph mentioned, Passive Income mechanics can also work in competitive round-based games like the Interest mechanic in AutoChess, because every round you don't spend your money is a round where you're weaker than you would be (in comparison to your opponents) and risk putting yourself closer to elimination - essentially, it's a risk/reward mechanic and you can't gain the interest forever.

League of Legends
and many other MOBAs, not to mention lots of board games, award passive income over time to the players (1 gold each second, etc.), but these Competitive games force players to keep making moves against each other, meaning that they don't discourage action/engagement, and the fact that your opponents are also receiving passive income means that the mechanic doesn't change the game's difficulty.

In a narrative-based RPG (or a Platformer or a Puzzle Game or really anything else that doesn't have some kind of Time/Turn Limit or an Elimination mechanic), you are very likely to hurt your game when you add Passive Income to it. These games are all about engaging with the game world at your own pace, and it's far more fun to actually engage with the game world (defeat monsters, find treasure chests, craft items) than it is to passively receive money. In a game with Passive Income, players who are struggling will often Idle (or do whatever is necessary to get the passive income, like run around in circles) until they have enough money to buy the power they need - and that's massively unsatisfying.

Final Fantasy 8
is one of the most infamous games for screwing up its balance and gameplay with its Passive Income system ("SEED Rank"), but the history of gaming is littered with examples of games that massively screwed their own design with some kind of Passive Income mechanic, and I can't think of a single example (outside of time/turn limits or competitive games) where it worked well.

I think Star Ocean 3 only got away with it because Money and Items in SO3 (aside from the basic, super-cheap Blueberries/Blackberries) were more of a luxury than a core game mechanic, and because it felt so damn cool to patent an item and feel like you were profiting from it. These both helped reduce some of the "unfun" from the design, but there were probably much better ways those rewards from inventing new items could have been implemented than passively gaining money (royalties) over time. Perhaps you could have evangelized the spread of your items to different planets throughout the universe, and each time a planet started selling one of your items, you'd receive a large one-time royalty payment.
 

JosephSeraph

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If your game's Challenge doesn't come from its real-time elements, don't award Income based on real-time elements, either.
Now that I think of it, this could probably work if inserted straight up into, say, Romancing SaGa, as that game had a sort of "real-time" challenge in the form of tracking the game's events through battles (with quests opening up and closing based on how many battles you fought)

I do think it'd play well into that sort of design because of the risk / reward of having to complete your earlier quests at no equipment to get an advantage in money later and not being able to stall for SEED Rank rewards :>
Or the option / risk of straight up skipping quests if you DO opt to stall for money rewards...

Besides that, Wavelength said pretty much anything I could want to~ Still,this is a mechanic I really do want to see used more often. It just needs to be very well thought and be aligned to enhance the experience the game's trying to deliver.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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One thing I've done in my own game is implement a way the player gets paid for mobs they kill. Due to my game involving working for a guild, depending on how the player chooses to resolve a task, will determine the type of reward received. In addition to this, if the player chooses to fight the mobs that are present (I'm using sprite events to indicate battle processing) then a variable will increase. When they turn in the quest, they get money based on the variable for defeating mobs.

I think there are lots of ways to give the player money in a game. You don't have to concoct some intricate plan to make it happen. Keep it simple.
 

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