Is being able to sell keys a good idea?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Professor_Q, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Professor_Q

    Professor_Q Villager Member

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    My current game project has a number of doors and gates that can be unlocked with specific keys. In most cases, the areas that involve them are visited only once, and need not be revisited again by the player.

    So, here's my very intelligent (ahem) question....

    Would it be nice to be able to sell these keys to make a little cash and reduce clutter in your inventory? Or is this a dumb idea?

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated. ^_^
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Why not make the key gone after visiting the place?
     
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  3. Mystic_Enigma

    Mystic_Enigma Envoy of Silliness Veteran

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    Sure, why not? If selling them reduces clutter in the player inventory, and the keys won't be used anywhere else after using them in that particular area, then I don't see why not!

    Well, either that or just remove the keys once they're used...
     
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  4. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    there is only one problem with this idea:
    if the player sells the key before opening the door, he won't ever get through it.

    of course that is the player's own decision, but a lot of players may not remember if a key is already used or not and keep to them to be sure.
    to prevent that I wouldn't make them sellable at regular shops but create an event that offers to buy them but checks if the key still has uses in it before accepting them.
     
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  5. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I personally prefer (and use myself) the option of removing the key from the inventory when it is used. That way inventory clutter is reduced and there is no chance of the player getting rid of it before it is needed.
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    It would be a big problem if the player sells the key before visiting the room, and would also force more onus on the player to manage which keys they've used (and don't need anymore) vs. which keys they still haven't used yet. That's more "mental clutter" than simply having the key sit around in the 'special items' inventory forever.

    If you're worried about having lots of keys cluttering up the inventory, simply have them disappear the first time you unlock the door, and keep that door unlocked forever afterwards. And if you want the player to get gold for finding and using the key, try to put treasure chests (or whatever) behind the doors that tend to contain some gold.
     
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  7. xoferew

    xoferew Veteran Veteran

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    If you have tons of keys that only need to be used once, couldn't you upon using them delete them and add to a variable such as UsedKeys, and then when you go to a shop or smithy or whatever, have the NPC say "I see you have (however many) keys you don't need anymore. I'll give you 5 gold for each of them."
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    This is a very good suggestion for getting around the "sold before you need it" issue, even though it would probably be a bit weird for an NPC to know what keys you have and haven't used. So it's probably best for a game that doesn't take itself too seriously.
     
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  9. xoferew

    xoferew Veteran Veteran

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    Okay, I didn't think that out too clearly. ^_^ How about this: Smith: "Sell me any old metal you don't need." Hero: "Oh yeah, here are (eleventy billion) keys I'm done with."
     
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  10. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    You could make the key unsellable before it's used.. and when it's used, remove that key from inventory and replace it with a "Used Key" item that can be flagged now as sellable. It's a little extra work, but if you want to sell keys and prevent your player from locking (pun intended) themselves out of advancing, this is probably the best way to do it.

    -MIA
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
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  11. Professor_Q

    Professor_Q Villager Member

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    Thanks for all your replies! ^_^

    I had thought of the "removing keys" trick, but I'm trying to blur the lines between magic and (weird) science a bit, so having things disappear is a bit of a stretch.

    As for getting locked out of the game - pun intended! =) - the merchants in the game appear only in certain towns, and the cave / dungeon portions are fairly linear, so the player can't really backtrack, sell them, and then get stuck.

    I think I shall try out the idea in Act I (of four!) and see how it pans out during testing.

    Once again, much gratitude to all of you! =)
     
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  12. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I would implement this differently. Because these locations can only be visited once, I would offer the keys as a "bonus" upon completion of the location. Here's what I mean:

    You finish the Fire Temple, but you've got two leftover keys. You didn't find the rooms they go to, so you likely miss out on some treasure. At the exit, a new adventurer to the location says, "hey, would you sell me your keys to this place?" and so you do. You do not get an option, you just get bonus money/loot for having them with you by the end of the dungeon.

    In this way, a player could choose to ignore extra content in these locations in order for a boon of a different kind. I'd likely offer two sets of useful equipment. Especially since you are sacrificing one set of it for the other.

    Maybe I missed out on the room with 10,000 Gold Pieces in it, but the key itself is worth 7,000 Gold pieces. Maybe I missed out on the Infinity +1 Sword, but maybe I get 3 copies of the Slightly Less Than Infinity Sword in exchange for the keys. Maybe I missed out on the Ruby Ring of Elemental Immunity, but I get the Emerald Ring of Status Immunity from turning the key in to the adventurer instead.

    That's how I would handle it. I wouldn't make it optional. For two reasons:

    1. The player has the potential of accidently selling keys they need in order to complete the location if they can sell them to any random shop.
    2. Items you can never use again in your inventory are pointless clutter. If a player comes back to your game months later, they may not remember that "Red Keys" were used 3 dungeons back, and might be confused on if these are still needed or not (unless your game is strictly linear). An event which removes these from your inventory upon completion of a one-time visited location cuts out that clutter immediately and saves possible confusion later on.
     
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  13. xoferew

    xoferew Veteran Veteran

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    @Tai_MT If the player doesn't know the value of what they missed vs. the value they get for the key, they might be just as happy with 50G from the adventurer. ^_^
     
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  14. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    @xoferew That might be true. But, this is the day and age of the internet. Where people will look up guides for things. It is also the age where a lot of gamers are also completionists. That is to say... they might just stay in the dungeon until they've used all the keys and never have spares. They'll likely never see the loot the adventurers would give them.

    But, if you make the loot given by the adventurers just as valuable, or different entirely... then you give some players a reason to hold onto keys and not use them. You also get players who don't feel like they actually "missed" something either. You'll always wonder, in the back of your mind, what was in that room? Was it worth more than what I was given? Was 50G really good compensation, or should I have stayed in the dungeon until I used the last key?

    If you are given something outside the dungeon of equal value to what you missed, then it won't weigh on the player's mind so much that they missed a room. They won't spend hours in a dungeon looking for those final doors that keys go into. They can choose to skip the content in order to just get the reward for those rooms at the end.
     
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  15. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    No, I wouldn't make keys sellable unless they're also buyable and consumable (such as in Dragon Warrior 1). But for quest item keys and how they work in most games, these are what I'd consider to be the "best" approaches:

    Option 1: Remove the key on use, then flag the door to always be unlocked. So you needed the Ancient Key to open the Ancient Door. Remove the Ancient Key upon use, set the Ancient Door's self switch to an "always unlocked" event page, and you're good to go. No clutter, no chance to screw the player over by them selling it prematurely.

    Option 2: Just leave everything in the inventory. Key items have their own tab (even in most custom setups) so unless you're using some weird limited-inventory mechanic (in 2019, why?) leaving the Ancient Key in the inventory after unlocking the Ancient Door isn't going to do much cluttering. I actually like this approach better because it lets your key items tab act like a sort of trophy list. It doesn't (or shouldn't) interfere with your potions or other items in any meaningful way.

    Also note that, with Option 2, you can spice things up a bit by taking the Breath of Fire approach--give some of your key items special battle effects when used. Just make sure they're non-consumable!
     
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  16. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    If I was playing a game in which keys were sellable, I would never, ever, under any circumstances, sell any of them. If I did by mistake, I would probably very strongly consider reloading to get it back. Just in case they might still open something else in the future. Even if the game created a pop-up every 30 seconds saying "Any key can only be used once". I wouldn't keep track of which one was used or not already, because that's not always super obvious and it's simpler to just keep them around 'till the end of days. Just sayin'.

    So no, I don't think this is a good idea. At all. I think basically any of the other suggestions in this thread are better in every conceivable way. But that's just my opinion, you do want you want with it.
     
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  17. EthanFox

    EthanFox Veteran Veteran

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    It always cracked me up when the old Resident Evil games would have you open a door with a key, and bring up a message saying:

    "You will never need this key again. Would you like to discard it? Yes/No"

    It just always seemed so pointless.
     
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  18. Diretooth

    Diretooth Lv. 23 Werewolf Veteran

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    ATtleast with Resident Evil, it's justified since you have limited inventory, and is something of a necessary weasel since knowing that you no longer need this location-important item and can just get rid of it.
     
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  19. xoferew

    xoferew Veteran Veteran

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    Hero: "Crap! Badly Corroded Key 7 has broken off in the lock!"
    Sidekick: "What a surprise. Just like Rust Covered Key 3, Flimsy Plastic Key 6, and Glass Keys 1-14." ^_^
     
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  20. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    This is why I prefer to just keep the items in the key item area. Will they need Rust Covered Key 3 again? Probably not, but hey, it makes a nice souvenir. Although actually, a few superbosses I have planned will involve the use of key items that have seemingly outlived their usefulness.
     
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