Mouser

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I could speak more about this issue, but its hard to do so in a void. Perhaps you can name a game and what is the money sink that infuriates the players - then I could give some proper answers as to why the game designers did that. 
Anything you put in your game is going to infuriate somebody. Especially boss battles ;)

Money sinks in a single player game are simply part of the "time" equation - you don't want characters getting too powerful, too fast and just facerolling the game. When you have many players in a persistent world (whether MUD or MMO), you need to be much more concerned with the game's economy.

Look up faucet-drain economy sometime, there's a whole branch of economics with a growing body of research and case studies dedicated to it. Understanding the basics of the ideas can help with any game, but unless your doing some super-economic sim I wouldn't get too hung up about it.

One of the things (out of many) I hated about Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (easily worst in the franchise history IMHO) was taking away the option of doing a bit of grinding. You got to fight ten battles, then you moved on. Your experience capped periodically (XP is just another commodity to be purchased with Time). There may have been wandering monsters somewhere, but the whole game was on rails to the extreme.
 

Eschaton

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YMMV.  I personally think grinding is symptomatic of poor design.  If the player can spend time rather than play with superior skill to advance the plot, then your player is exploiting your poor design.

As long as there are infinite random encounters, then the maximum level is the only level.

As long as these random encounters drop currency, then there is infinite money, and therefore money is useless.

To me, the ability to grind is no different from the MISSINGNO. item cloning glitch from the original Pokemon.

To me, grinding isn't a gameplay staple of RPGs, it is a design loophole that can and will be exploited by players.

#twocents
 
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Curia Chasea

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Anything you put in your game is going to infuriate somebody. Especially boss battles ;)
1% of the people you meet will be angry at you for whatever reason they can possibly find. However if more than that number is frustrated when playing your game, you are probably doing something wrong. Unless your aim is to create a game that is intentionally frustrating. 

If a Boss battle is infuriating, that simply means you've done something wrong.

As for grinding in RPGs - it either serves as a spacing tool to make sure your 3 hours of story are a 40 hour game OR its used as dynamic difficulty. If the player finds your encounter too hard to deal with, he can spend some time to level up and approach the target with a better chance of success.

Personally I am not against grinding, although FORCED GRINDING is a design flaw. Usually it just means your main activity (battle) is boring and poorly designed. 

(I get the feeling I am going too far from the original topic so I will stop now)
 

abluescarab

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I like item tiers when I'm playing. Variety in types of weapons is good: some swords being better at parrying, others at pure damage, others with critical hits, but I want to know when I'm playing that there's better stuff out there, waiting for me to find it. I think I'd get bored pretty quickly with a game that didn't include some sort of item progression (at least for 'standard' combat based RPG's).
I do, as well. It kind of gives me a feeling of progression. The thing I think is preferable about not having item tiers is the seemingly-limitless choices--like there's no ceiling on your stats. With item tiers, if you reached that final tier, it's really end-game content. However, having an end-game is also not a bad idea. I don't think I'd like a game without an end where I could sink literally endless hours into it doing the same things.

This is debatable since, depending on the game, a money sink is either used to balance economy in a game or to screw players over. 

Let's say I would add durability into equips that drops as they are used in battle. Repairs can only be done in towns or if you have the right item and both are not cheap. This has no function for the player - its only a hindrance since he cannot grind without coming back now and then and fixing his gear. 

However, imagine using durability with items that have skills. Let's say that durability of the weapon never drops in normal usage, however if you use the skill it bestows (which has no MP cost) the durability drops. This is also a money sink, however the player now treats it as a buff. "The weapon just has its own MP" - the player will think, and treat it as an extra resource in combat instead of a hindrance. And since all party members can equip it, he now can customize the party by giving this extra move to anyone, since it runs on its own resource. 

In both cases you drain away the player money. However one is an arbitrary limiter, while the other is a gameplay feature. I suggest developing money sinks with the mindset of "Does this enhance the gameplay?". 

I could speak more about this issue, but its hard to do so in a void. Perhaps you can name a game and what is the money sink that infuriates the players - then I could give some proper answers as to why the game designers did that. 
Great ideas. I believe I was more thinking of the "arbitrary limiter"-type money sinks. It's such a frequently-used game mechanic that the phrase "money sink" brings to mind unnecessary limits to gameplay. Some money sinks I can think of, for example, are the Construction skill in RuneScape: unnecessarily-high prices on materials and new rooms in your home. Player housing is usually a money sink, actually. Bethesda seems to manage it fairly well by making the houses expensive, but also giving them great benefits like all the crafting stations in one place and plenty of safe storage to put your crap.

One of the things (out of many) I hated about Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (easily worst in the franchise history IMHO) was taking away the option of doing a bit of grinding. You got to fight ten battles, then you moved on. Your experience capped periodically (XP is just another commodity to be purchased with Time). There may have been wandering monsters somewhere, but the whole game was on rails to the extreme.
That sounds incredibly arbitrary and useless.

YMMV.  I personally think grinding is symptomatic of poor design.  If the player can spend time rather than play with superior skill to advance the plot, then your player is exploiting your poor design.

As long as there are infinite random encounters, then the maximum level is the only level.

As long as these random encounters drop currency, then there is infinite money, and therefore money is useless.

To me, the ability to grind is no different from the MISSINGNO. item cloning glitch from the original Pokemon.

To me, grinding isn't a gameplay staple of RPGs, it is a design loophole that can and will be exploited by players.

#twocents
I do hate grinding. I absolutely hate it. It's the reason I usually follow quest lines in MMOs rather than exploring my environment--because I want a constant story with constant goals. I am also of the opinion that grinding isn't a design choice, it's an exploit used by players to artificially gain levels. Some people like grinding; I am not one of them.

1% of the people you meet will be angry at you for whatever reason they can possibly find. However if more than that number is frustrated when playing your game, you are probably doing something wrong. Unless your aim is to create a game that is intentionally frustrating. 

If a Boss battle is infuriating, that simply means you've done something wrong.

As for grinding in RPGs - it either serves as a spacing tool to make sure your 3 hours of story are a 40 hour game OR its used as dynamic difficulty. If the player finds your encounter too hard to deal with, he can spend some time to level up and approach the target with a better chance of success.

Personally I am not against grinding, although FORCED GRINDING is a design flaw. Usually it just means your main activity (battle) is boring and poorly designed. 

(I get the feeling I am going too far from the original topic so I will stop now)
I also feel as if I might be getting too far from the original topic. Oops. So to bring it back a bit, I don't really want my players to resort to grinding to make money and buy items (unless, of course, they're just that kind of person that wants all the top equipment right at the beginning).
 

Eschaton

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As for grinding in RPGs - it either serves as a spacing tool to make sure your 3 hours of story are a 40 hour game OR its used as dynamic difficulty. If the player finds your encounter too hard to deal with, he can spend some time to level up and approach the target with a better chance of success.

Personally I am not against grinding, although FORCED GRINDING is a design flaw. Usually it just means your main activity (battle) is boring and poorly designed. 

(I get the feeling I am going too far from the original topic so I will stop now)
All grinding is forced. The player should be able to progress by just playing naturally without stopping to grind.
 

Curia Chasea

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I also feel as if I might be getting too far from the original topic. Oops. So to bring it back a bit, I don't really want my players to resort to grinding to make money and buy items (unless, of course, they're just that kind of person that wants all the top equipment right at the beginning).
You can make other renewable sources of gold, however the main question I would ask is "Why would the player need gold?". If there is nothing to buy, the player will not grind for Gold. 

Like I said, the trick with the Boss Gold + quest Gold to buy all the equipment you need is enough in most cases. Unless the game introduces other things than equipment to buy, you will not have to worry about player gold grinding. And by now, you already know how to calculate your prices. So... I guess you only have to think about what you want to be purchasable in shops now. Remember that consumables should not go into the Boss Gold/Quest Gold equation, as these can be grinded for. 

All grinding is forced. The player should be able to progress by just playing naturally without stopping to grind.
Let's say that I created a room that has a relatively hard puzzle in it. It also contains a switch that is a Monster Dispenser. To exit the room, you either have to solve the puzzle or beat 150 monsters. Whenever you fail the puzzle, you will fight one monster, which means your second option is either 149 monsters or try the puzzle again. 

Your grind is not forced here. You can take your time to solve the puzzle OR if you for some reason cannot beat it, you can just grind it out. 

Now imagine that the Puzzle is a well-designed boss fight that you can win if you think it entirely through. The grinding is going through the dungeon. Dying to the boss simply throws you back to the start of the dungeon, so you can accumulate more experience and level up to make it easier to beat. I give you a choice here - either showcase your ability to come up with the best strategy OR just level up and have it be a breeze. 

The grind is not forced here as you CAN get through the boss. It is however an option in case the battle is too hard for you. Reading a guide about how to beat the boss will immediately let you pass, meaning the grind was never forced. 

Now, if I put you in a room and just said "slay 250 monsters to exit the room" - that is a FORCED grind. You have no options other than sink time into the game. 

An equivalent of this is basically a Boss Monster who has no strategy other than Stat dominance to beat it. Your HP and Damage have to be high enough to tank the monster and slay it. That is a forced grind scenario, since no matter how well you think the battle through, all strategy guides on the net will say "You have to be X level to beat this guy."
 

captainproton

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If you don't like the idea of monsters like slimes or spiders carrying cash (unless, of course, it's undigested coins from the traveler they just ate), you can have only human-type enemies drop cash (bandits, enemy soldiers, etc) while animal-type enemies drop items like horns, shells, pelts, etc, which can be sold for money.
 

Knightmare

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I'm one of the seemingly few gamers that actually likes grinding in most cases, even forced grinding.  Many call it tedious and boring, I think its kind of relaxing and fulfilling.  The only time I don't like it is if there is no real reward for doing so.

As far as the topic.  Pricing is something I usually do in a formulaic way.  For instance let's say the weakest equipment piece is 100g, I would use a formula of 2.5x increase for the next 3 weapons so the next best would be 250, 625, then 1565 (rounded to the nearest 5 or 0), then 2x increase for the next 4, then 1.5x increase for the 4 after that and so on.  Then I will make the amount of gold received scaled in a certain way to reflect the cost of buying for everyone and how long it will take and how much needs to be done for this.  So to get halfway decent equipment you can just play through, but to get the better equipment either a little grinding or quests or another alternate way to make money. 
 

Cosmicrider

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money is a symbol of trade , and tool of item gathering, the items generally make gameplay easier for the player , trading overcoming harder diffcultily for item harvesting or money harvesting, its generally a placebo for diffculty passivly placed into the game the amount you get isnt what matters but rather how and what you get

Chrono trigger and rpgs I actually play generally treat money like this

At first, you can only afford very little , that basic weapon, maby a potion or 2, then later on better gear is more costly takes time to gather extra money, sometimes a player feels justifed in getting more potions, then towards the climax that comes rolling in you need every bit of money you can get and youve got a fat wallet and inventory,

this methiod works, It teaches you how to use the items to the max before your able to just buy your way out. Its merely a matter of the values you want the gamer to have for the in game items.
 

Wavelength

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If you're looking for a good "method" by which to price your items, for balance purposes, you could probably learn a few things from this tutorial, particularly pages 5, 6, 7, 14, and 15.  Check out the way they decided how much EXP to award in each battle, and do something similar for party gold.

The way you should be designing your prices on a grand scale, though, really differs based on several other game design decisions that you make.  In a game that I'm working on, there's one main town that you spend time in throughout the game, so I need to make the better weapons (armor, etc.) expensive enough that the player would be unlikely to buy one early on in the game.  But most of the money in the game is obtained from quests and other activities rather than random battles, so it was important that I used a fairly even curve on the weapon prices (e.g. 100-500-1500-3000-7500) rather than a highly exponential one (e.g. 100-500-2500-10000-50000).  The way you shape your game economy is very important and it shouldn't be the same for every game.
 

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