Chaos Avian

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What do you think of handling multiple currencies in games? Too complex, too tedious, too annoying or could it work if used well? Personally I think it would/ could work well. Especially in games that have civilisations that hate or war on one another. It also serves as a type of identity also. Like some goods can only be bought by one currency, one might use a combination of currencies and some use exchange rate value, i.e. A Copper Dagger costs 10G, 5S or 8B.

If I were to use this, I'd have enemies (not human enemies) drop material that can be traded for the multiple currencies to help keep a balance and give players a choice of exchange.
 

??????

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I think most games could benefit from a multiple currency system. Farming games and the like are obvious games that would work well with such a feature, but even things like having both gold / silver as currencies in normal RPG games. Obviously the richer folk would carry gold, the common gutter snipes - silver, or worse, bronze...

You could take it another route and have things like mana potions are very rare - in some cities and can be used as currency in them. :)
 

Napdevil

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I think it'd be ideal to have currencies that are completely different in style and function.

Alternative currencies can be pretty much anything you want. For instance, you could fashion an entire civilization that only accepts decapitated heads as a method of payment, which is morbid but offers some interesting dilemmas.

A more common example would be black market goods that are outlawed in civilized society, but are in high demand by the criminal underground.
 

Curia Chasea

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Different currencies in games are already utilized on a wide scale - even in the standard RPG Maker with no additional scripts. Let me show you the technical aspect of what you are asking here, ok? This will be long, so sorry in advance. 

In every single game you played, a player has "resources". These resources can be anything, as long as the player has the option of making a choice to increase/decrease them with his/her actions. It all depends on the game. For example:

- Ammo for different weapons in FPS games.
- Gold, Wood, Sulphur, Metal, Quicksilver, Jewels, etc. in Strategy games.

- Actions per day in Cow-Clickers

- Health, Mana, Gold, Experience, Skill Points, items, etc. in RPG games. 

- Health, Energy meters in Fighting Games.

- Pawns, Rooks, etc. in Chess.

- Cards in card games.

These resources allow you to do different things as a player. But you could ask "Wait, why not just have 1 resource all the time?" Well, different resources are used for game balancing. Lets take an FPS game as an example. 

Imagine you have your standard Pea-Shooter that has 1200 bullets in it. You have a Shotgun that is very close-range, but has 28 shells but the damage up close is pretty much one-shot kill. And you have your Rocket Launcher which has 3 rockets but they kill anything and lock-on to a target so they will hit even at a huge distance. 

The player has these 3 resources + their Health. If your Health is low, but the enemy is weak, you will probably go with your Pea-Shooter since its the safest bet you have. If your Health is high and the enemies are strong, you might try rushing the enemy with the Shotgun. If your health is low and the enemy is strong, you might either Rocket them for an easy kill OR attempt to dance around with the Pea-Shooter, wasting tons of ammo. 

Depending on the resources you have, the player strategy changes. If my Health is high and am low on rockets, I might just go out with the Shotgun and save up Rockets that are a precious resource for tougher opponents. However if my Health resource drops (and Health is the most precious cause I want to stay alive), I will use my Rockets, even though they are rare. 

Introducing different weapons with different ammo types will increase the choices I give to the player, however will also affect game balance, complexity and depth. That's why adding resources is a very delicate process. You have to make sure you understand what will happen when you introduce it. 

-now onto your question since we are on the same page now-

Different game currencies are basically just different resources. Let's say you have 3 Kingdoms -> Gold Empire, Gem Empire and Beast Kingdom. Their currencies are respectively Gold, Gems and Food. The question we have to ask now is -> what do we gain from these 3 currencies?

The obviously TERRIBLE way to handle this would be to just go "its just flavor - you can buy anything anywhere". What you did is screw the player over. Every time he passes into a new kingdom, he has 2 resources that are unusable. What is worst - he must accumulate wealth in all 3 nations. This means that he spends 3x as much time to get anything OR he stays in one kingdom that has the best grinding spot for money to get his gear in that kingdom before moving on. 

The obviously POINTLESS way to handle this is put some kind of "exchange counter" between kingdoms where they count over your money into the kingdom currencies. But this only takes player time with no gameplay. The player will resent the game for having him do "something pointless" each time he passes to a new kingdom. If it happens automatically, it will only confuse the player OR the player will not notice this change at all. So its not worth putting the effort at all. 

That's why a lot of games simply stick to one currency in all kingdoms and nations in a given game. 

But if we have Gold, Gems and Food, how do we grow on these resources?

One option is simply changing what can be purchased - paired with different ways of gaining the resources. Imagine this scenario:

Gold Empire:

- You can only get Gold by "Selling your Items" and "Completing Quests for which you are paid Gold".

- The Gold Empire sells the Best Armors and Weapons when it comes to sheer stats.

Gem Empire:

- You can only get Gems by "Mining them in a Mini-Game" or "Gambling for them with Gold". 

- The Gem Empire sells the best consumable recovery items in the game. 

Beast Kingdom:

- You can only get Food by "Killing monsters/animals in battle" or "Keeping a Farm"

- The Beast Kingdom is the only one that sells status effect weapons/items and armors. 

Now we also add these global things:
- Gold Empire sells items for your farm to help you improve Meat Production. 

- Gems can be used in crafting Magical Equipment.

- Food can be used for cooking recipes and Taming Monsters.

What happens here is you simply create a unison between the Kingdom Currencies and Game Functions. There is never a moment when you disable two other currencies.

- If I am leaving the Gold Empire, I can just spend my Gold on Farm Upgrades or Gamble with it.

- If I am leaving the Gem Empire, I can always use my Gems for crafting Magic Equipment. 

- If I am leaving the Beast Kingdom, I can still use the Food to Tame Monsters in any part of the world or Cook out-of-battle recovery items. 

The more currencies you add, the more options the player needs to have to use them for something other than buying at shops.

Otherwise there is simply no advantage gained from splitting resources. But I will stop here for now.

(if you want to - Curia can explain why we have different currencies in the world and how to implement that logic into a game)
 

Chaos Avian

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^  @Curia Chasea

Yes please~
 

Ghaleon

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I plan on having multiple currencies for my game if and when I start it (I am learning ruby atm, almost done, then I'm going to try and start scripting the basic framework.... if and when If inish that, I know I wont ever stop, but I'd rather do the hard stuff first to waste less time if I eventually give up...I never give up, but I know that like 99% of people who start making games seriously for a first time, not casually...eventually give up).

That said, I LOVE the idea of multiple currencies in theory. However most RPG games IMO don't even get one effing currency done right. Oftentimes gold (or whatever) becomes near-meaningless as you can often just buy absolutely everything you need as soon as you find a new store to buy stuff with. And if you can't, it's often only 1 piece per character at most (or just one piece period) that you cannot afford, and everything else is trivial, causing you to do the same thing (buy everything you need), and save up for one piece (what choice, what depth!) later on!

I want to make (or play lol) and rpg where stores have great equipment, the good equipment isn't just handed to you via quests or chests in dungeons, but you can't have it all. you have to pick and choose, wisely. Every gold you make is exciting because every gold you make leads to a meaningful and significant choice of upgrade of your choice.

That said, the idea of multiple currencies, and successfully making each and every one of them THAT "deep", is a good thing imo.
 

Curia Chasea

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That said, I LOVE the idea of multiple currencies in theory. However most RPG games IMO don't even get one effing currency done right. Oftentimes gold (or whatever) becomes near-meaningless as you can often just buy absolutely everything you need as soon as you find a new store to buy stuff with. And if you can't, it's often only 1 piece per character at most (or just one piece period) that you cannot afford, and everything else is trivial, causing you to do the same thing (buy everything you need), and save up for one piece (what choice, what depth!) later on!

I want to make (or play lol) and rpg where stores have great equipment, the good equipment isn't just handed to you via quests or chests in dungeons, but you can't have it all. you have to pick and choose, wisely. Every gold you make is exciting because every gold you make leads to a meaningful and significant choice of upgrade of your choice.

This is usually caused by bad item pricing. I talked about it a bit in this topic.

The problem with picking equipment in shop wisely is that you are trying to introduce customization options with a "limiter by purchase" in a game that "enables grinding for money". These two are at odds with each other. If the pricing for the items is too high to get everything, making you choose what to buy - the player can just go grind for cash. And by that - overlevel, making the future encounters too easy by sheer stat gain. 

Plenty of ways to go around this, but that is a topic for a different discussion. 

(if you want to - Curia can explain why we have different currencies in the world and how to implement that logic into a game)
As I tried writing out the reasons, I noticed it would end up too complicated and more confusing in the end... Sorry, I will have to skip this part. 

Let's just talk a bit about game implementation and problems in games.

You see, the first question you should ask is "Does my game gain anything from this mechanic outside of flavor?" You do this, because Strawberry Frustration will not really be better than just Frustration caused by a game mechanic. In most games - multiple currencies are simply a USELESS feature. 

Now, if your game is about being a Merchant that travels the world through different countries and choosing what to buy and what to sell in a given country to acquire their currency, selling when its high and buying when its low but will be coming back - you create an interesting mechanic. "If people need Wood - Should buy from X country or Y country? X has a higher tax rate, but I have no money in Y, yet the Z country will buy any wood I got for a hefty price...."

On a different side - a Harvest Moon type game where you could choose where you sell the grown vegetables to what country is also a game enhancing choice. "X country pays more for Corn, but they only sell Fall seeds. Y has a lower price on Corn, but if I sell to them, I will have currency to buy my Summer Vegetables and that Double bed...."

Now - these two games share one common trait - you can acquire each currency at any time. 

What about RPGs? If your RPG is standard and has a storyline where you travel, you will get frustrated by different currencies, since once you are somewhere - you are stuck there with their shops and currencies. If he cannot shop for something you need there - the player will be annoyed. If he has to GRIND to get stuff - the player will be annoyed. If he has money he cannot use OR gets taxed because of exchange rates between countries - the player will be annoyed. 

That's why games go mostly for Gold or some other global value for all countries instead of USD, PLN, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, etc. 

If you need some extra resource akin to gold - its mostly to limit what you buy from a certain group of items. For example, you can have Gold for standard equipment and "Gems" to buy special accessories. Having gold shops everywhere but Gem shops only in select places will let you limit the access to these special items. Its used as a balancing tool this way.

On the other hand - try reversing the question. "What multiple currencies give me in my game?" If the only answer is "flavor" or "realism" - do not attempt adding them unless your game is a Simulator. Adding any kind of feature into a game will take you time and effort + it can create problems. Unless you are sure you need the feature, it is generally better to skip it. 

I know this might sound like I am against multiple currencies. I don't want you to feel its the case though. I am mainly asking for the reason you would want them in the game. If they serve some purpose, implementing them might be a good choice. But if you are thinking "it would just be cool no?" then the answer would be "if you will purposefully annoy the player by it - no". Some games are just not fit for certain features. 
 

Ghaleon

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This is usually caused by bad item pricing. I talked about it a bit in this topic.

The problem with picking equipment in shop wisely is that you are trying to introduce customization options with a "limiter by purchase" in a game that "enables grinding for money". These two are at odds with each other. If the pricing for the items is too high to get everything, making you choose what to buy - the player can just go grind for cash. And by that - overlevel, making the future encounters too easy by sheer stat gain. 

Plenty of ways to go around this, but that is a topic for a different discussion. 
Some players LIKE over leveling and trivializing content though...I don't myself but if that's what they wanna do, that's what they wanna do.

That said I do intend to have suggested level labels in my game (it's a dungeon crawler, not a story-based game, soo.. yeah, wont be too odd), so it should be pretty obvious to people that if they go out of their way to grind gold to afford everything in stores, whether or not it is "over grinding" more than intended.

I also forgot to mention something about multiple currencies. I like the idea of them being done much like tokens rather than currencies for different nations or whatever. That just doesn't sound fun at all. But like make it so a secondary currency is magic stone or whatever (original I know), shops in town will have a special shop which has several items which cost a magic stone AND gold per purchase.

I also like systems where you get the usual gold and experience points, but you also get other points which can be spent on your characters without a shop to upgrade their stats or spells (lunar: eternal blue for the sega cd is the first game to do this that I know of, Final fantasy tactics also kind of does this with job points, etc).
 

Curia Chasea

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Some players LIKE over leveling and trivializing content though...I don't myself but if that's what they wanna do, that's what they wanna do.

That said I do intend to have suggested level labels in my game (it's a dungeon crawler, not a story-based game, soo.. yeah, wont be too odd), so it should be pretty obvious to people that if they go out of their way to grind gold to afford everything in stores, whether or not it is "over grinding" more than intended.
There is a difference between the player wanting to grind and a player required to grind. If you construct your game so that the player is always required to grind, then an arbitrary "equipment is below your level" will not do anything outside of annoying the player.

Of course, I am speaking about the general rule here. Its hard to say whether this applies or not to a specific game without seeing the game itself and what mechanics it presents.  
 

Eschaton

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^This.

I think multiple currencies are fine, so long as the economy is balanced. I place emphasis on balanced, because if there is an infinite source of money (GRINDING) then the economy is not balanced.

Doesn't matter how many currencies you have.

Doesn't matter if grinding is optional or forced.

Doesn't matter if certain players get positive feedback from grinding.

Control your economy or economies or players will subvert your intended difficulty.
 
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Cutie Mark Keldeo

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Multiple currencies is a great way to add a touch of realism to a game world, though it depends on your function and whether or not you are theming a game to a specific region or era.  Using the standard GP, short for "gold pieces" as a universal currency is accurate in a medieval European setting, where chunks of gold, silver or other metals were used to pay for goods and services.  While different regions used differing measures before the system was standardized, gold and silver were accepted as payment almost everywhere, if one wasn't directly paid in crops, services, etc.  

In a game world however, having a standardized system is easier to program and simpler for the player.  However, having multiple currencies can still be implemented when each has a different function, or to keep a player from abusing something.  Super Mario RPG for example as "Frog Coins" in addition to the standard coins.  Frog Coins were only obtainable via minigames or certain enemies and events, and thus were far less common than regular coins.  They were redeemed through shops which sold highly useful items but only accepted the coins.  This ensured that the player went through these challenges to get the items rather than regular level grinding.   
 

captainproton

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One of the only games I've played with multiple currencies was Secret of Evermore for the snes. In the prehistoric realm, you used beads as currency, gems in the classical era, coins in the medieval kingdom, and credits on the futuristic space station. When you went from area to area, you had to convert your currency or grind to earn the new money. If you converted, some banks and traders would give you better exchange rates than others. In the classical bazaar (too long ago, can't remember the specific names for the areas) there was a complex barter system, where you traded rice for chickens, spices for amulets, etc. Some stalls had better deals than others and part of the challenge was getting the special items for the best cost. It was almost like a minigame.

Multiple currencies adds a lot of realism to a game, and I think can be enjoyable if done right, like in SoE.

Monster drops, like horns, pelts or shells, are a good source of income, too, and also believable. An alchemist might give you a better price for spider fangs than than the desert trader, but the trader would be interested in gryphon feathers. And a town official might pay you well for the mutant rat tails you bring him, even if the trader and alchemist don't want them, much. This can add a bit of money to your purse aside from the gold drops.
 

Probotector 200X

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@captainproton: Secret of Evermore! It's one of the main reasons I love the idea of having multiple currencies in my projects. But you got one thing wrong! The Prehistoric currency is Talons! (also, Antiquity has Jewels, and Medieval is Gold specifically...) Yes, it's highly important that I memorize the exact names of Secret of Evermore's currencies...
 

captainproton

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That's right! The beads were one of the bazaar items. Like I said, it had been too long ago.
 

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