Supplied by popular Demand: How do YOU balance money and other economic matters in your game?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by FirestormNeos, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. FirestormNeos

    FirestormNeos Veteran Veteran

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    Over on the "Things to Avoid in Your Game" thread, there was an interesting conversation brought up-- starting somewhere around here --about in-game economies that had to be cut short due to it derailing the topic at hand. Namely about the matter of the player's currency piling up towards endgame from non-use, currency sinks, consumables, making currency useful to the player, currency starving, and other adjacent matters.

    I'm curious to hear other peoples perspectives in this topic, especially considering the relevancy this topic has to the project I'm working on: When balancing your game's economy, what are your goals and priorities? Or what goals and priorities do you look for in other games? Do you prefer games where the player eventually outgrows the need for money, or do you prefer it when money is always on the player's mind from install to end credits?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    This is experimental that I'm still wondering whether it works or not, but at least I'm trying:

    - I removed all free item drops. All drops are the currency, no freebies. You have to spend the currency to get the items.
    - The currency is to purchase equipment (permanent) or failsafe item aka consumables (temporary).
    - Between the equipment type, they're not a direct upgrade of each other. They just offer different playstyle. Or just for collection.
    - Generally, you would need 0 ~ 2 item usage per battle. 0 most of the time, 2 if you really have no idea what you're doing.
    - Consumables are not tiered. I use percentage, so whatever HP you have, it always be the same no matter how much is your hp.
    - That said, the currency drop is going to be the same from the start of the game and at the end of the game.
    - Currency sink that is featuring random gacha item (experimental) when you spend it here in case you managed to pile up some currency. It drops a rare consumables item with extra effect (generally a little bit overpowered). The amount of currency you need to spend is increased based on how many you own these rare items in your inventory. So you wouldn't hoard rare item that much.

    ---------
    Also as I've said in the thread linked above. Having basically unlimited currency at the late game was never something that irritates me. It just a matter of questioning "why is it even exist?", but I ignored it by thinking "It does not even interrupt me playing the game, why even bother?".

    As a player, I never really care about it much. Sure, I do wish the dev put some currency sink. But is it urgent? not really.
    As a developer, it's really a valid point if you think about how to make currency sink. Just don't overdo it.
     
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  3. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I make it so you can buy the minimum necessities by taking the shortest route through the game. You can buy slight upgrades if you do some extra exploring and combat. And add some expensive luxury items (like stat+ items) for those rare type of players who will grind however long they can stomach in order to overpower themselves beyond imagination.
    I expect the average player to afford at least some of the extra upgrades on top of the necessities. Not enough to buy all of the higher gear at once, but enough to like fully equip their favourite character or whoever they think needs it the most.
     
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  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    In my game one of the first 4 party members is rich, so you get a nice influx of money from her as well as potions when they join. In fact I even give the party 1 of a very rare potion which will restore all HP and MP to the entire party. Basically it's a chance for the player to fix getting themselves into a bad position once in the entire game, and they know it when they get it based on the discussion of the characters.

    Through out the rest of the game the party gets more money coming in too. I found this made more sense due to their connections than making you have to worry about money all of the time. Usually the money they get is enough to buy the next tier gear for the main characters, and some potions, or next tier gear for all characters and no potions. You can explore or do quests to make up the difference if you feel the need to, though I have tested and my game can be beaten doing the bare minimum, though it is *not* easy if you dare to try that.
     
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  5. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    one of my key features is that you can avoid combat, or force the enemy to surrender, but the only way to get loot (90% of it, the other 10% or so being obtainable from the environment) is by killing enemies, and you need loot to improve your characters.
    so, I made it so that you can trade whatever surplus you have for coin, and use the coin to buy whatever you need.
    all coins are items as well, and they take space in your inventory.... so, having a little bit of everything is better than having a lot of a single item.
    limited inventory that caps the amount of items and coin, limited skills that force the use of items and coin, and limited enemies that force the search for battles, to get items or coin.

    the one way to beat that system, is to take note of the drops of each enemy, and plan the battles in advance ("we're going this way, potential this enemy ahead, we might be able to trade their drops for this other item, and avoid going that way, where the enemies are tougher")
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    In several games that I've made, money hasn't been a resource per se so much as it's either your Score (a simple "how much can you make before the game ends), or a Goal. For the "Goal" usage, you need to make X amount of money in Y in-game days - failing to achieve that is the only way to get a game over. In some of those games, you can spend your money, if you wish, to buy equipment, items, access, or abilities - making it into a risk/reward mechanic, where the money you spend better help you make more money, or you've put yourself in a hole. Recettear is a great example of a popular game that uses this kind of mechanic, and it was a big inspiration for me in the design of my game How Badly Do You Want It?.

    As far as more "traditional" RPG economies are concerned, the balance you want to hit is that the player can buy everything they need, but not necessarily everything they want (unless they grind a ton for it). This can actually be exceedingly difficult to design, because games generally have items that need to be affordable early in the game, yet will remain useful all game ("Phoenix Down" is the classic culprit here), while enemies drop exponentially more gold throughout the game (so that endgame equipment can cost far more than early equipment).

    How would I go about trying to avert this pitfall? It depends on the type of challenge inherent in my game:

    If the game's challenge is mostly Acute (any given battle presents a credible threat to wipe my party if played poorly, but I can reasonably expect to have most of my resources, like MP, available at the start of each battle, and especially for the boss), then I would design consumable Items as "trump cards". I would design battles around being reasonable to beat with no items, if played well - and the Items' role is to get you over the hurdles that seem a bit too high, or to fix things when you've screwed up. Items therefore would need to be powerful, but also expensive enough that there's no point in the game where you can buy 99 of lots of things. To that end, I would make the economy "flatter" than most RPGs I see - late-game monsters might drop 5x as much gold as early-game monsters, rather than 100x or more. Equipment prices would need to follow a similar curve as well, although this kind of economy would play well with something like a crafting system for equipment, or even a gacha system where equips can be turned into "dust" to roll for more equipment.

    If the game's challenge is mostly Chronic (most battles present no threat to wipe my party, but they do drain my resources little-by-little, and those resources are hard to restore without leaving a dungeon/losing some progress), and the game is long enough that characters will significantly progress in power, then I would not trust the economy alone to limit the player's pool of resources. Instead, I would have caps on the inventory a player is allowed to bring into a dungeon (allowing them to store their other stuff in an unlimited Storage or whatever). With that mechanic in place, it's perfectly OK to have cheap consumables like a basic Potion (and basic Ether) that costs 50G - because when each slot of dungeon inventory is valuable, players will be perfectly willing to spend 500G for a Hi-Potion that heals twice as much. With this in place, you can make endgame consumables absurdly expensive by early-game standards - enough so that the player has interesting decisions to make between springing for better gear, or stocking up on powerful consumables. Equipment prices and enemy gold do not need to be flat when using such an approach. Battles would be designed around enemies dealing enough damage to squander the player's resources throughout a dungeon, and dungeon length would be balanced around a moderate challenge for a player who starts the dungeon with "adequate" gear and items for their level and uses most/all of their items throughout the dungeon. The player needs to make more gold during a successful run (in most dungeons) than they spend on items that they need to get through that dungeon - that's an important point in this dynamic, and the system falls apart if it's violated.

    This is a lot more unchained than my usual thoughts on Mechanics. I think that's because Game Economy covers so many different aspects (items, equipment, enemy gold, difficulty curves, grinding, battle design, and challenge form), and every one of these aspects can put ripples into a game's economy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  7. CraneSoft

    CraneSoft Filthy Degenerate Veteran

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    I make it so enemies do not drop any money whatsoever and the player had to either sell off vendor trash and taking (optional) quests or part-time jobs to earn them. From a clearing standpoint, money is not used aside from restocking consumables which they won't have problem in affording from just natural progression.

    At the same time I provide plenty of luxury items and features that can only be bought with money but are not necessary in beating the game. They are there to make the game easier or for completion purposes. This way a player gets to decide how much money they want to spend based on their own preferences and earn it at their own pace.

    Other than that I think money can also be used as an obstacle: such as in a story where you have to pay off a debt to continue - this adds a money management mechanic to the game.
     
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  8. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not really sure it matters at this point, since I've touched on it a bit in the topic. While I was using fairly "broad" terms of what I was doing and how I was doing it, I will probably go a bit more into detail here.

    My Goals
    *Make currency useful beyond the first hour or two of gameplay.
    *Make extended lengths of time battling enemies a larger drain on resources than most "standard" RPG's.
    *Not have to scale purchasable equipment prices to the freakin' moon and back because the player will have a ton of Currency by this point.

    What priorities I look for in other games:
    *There is still stuff to spend my currency on just before the last dungeon. Things I can buy that can help me or grant me extra utility.
    *Games that don't frequently reward me with a ton of Currency by either Treasure Chest or Quest Completion, when there is nothing to spend the money on.
    *Games where having a lot of money by the mid-game or end-game are a result of my skill or prudence and not a result of just being rewarded too much.

    Examples of what I've done:
    *No Dedicated Healer class. The two reasons I removed it were: 1. Healing via MP tends to be extremely overpowered and puts all consumables to shame. It makes games very, very, very, VERY easy for me, so I have no doubt that with my status as "scrub" and finding games to be too easy as a result... other players are finding these same games to be easy as well. 2. There is little use in spending Currency on consumables if you have the ability to erase all combat mistakes and combat fatigue (the natural loss of HP/MP through baseline combat) by expending an easily replenished resource for next to no cost (MP).
    *HP and MP Restoring Consumables "scale" with effectiveness and the more effective versions cost substantially more Currency per point restored. State Curing Consumables retain their prices all through the game. As the characters gain HP and MP, they will certainly require the higher tiered Consumables to "more effectively heal" and "heal in a more economical way". However, the State Curing Consumables retain the same price so that I can have a lot of enemies that inflict states on the player. You may be able to afford 99 Antidotes, but in a long dungeon, you may need at least 30 of them without proper equipment.
    *Created a Special Consumable Shop that takes all of these items and adds on a bonus "effect" of using the item. This is a combat buff. As an example: "Antidote" just cures Poison. "SR Antidote" cures Poison and gives a 25% Agility Buff for 3 turns. The price of "Antidote" is 15 Currency, the price of "SR Antidote" is 30. "SR" versions of every item always cost twice as much. However, regular versions of items can be bought in nearly any shop of the game world. "SR" versions can only be purchased in 4 locations... and you must invest into these locations in order to get access to all the items. More on that in a second.
    *The player can open up "special shop options", which allow them to spend more Currency. There are 80 "Guild Certificates" in the game. They're in Treasure Chests, as a Quest Reward, etcetera. None are missable except the first, by skipping the first two or three Tutorial Quests. Most every shop in the game can have their stock "upgraded" by spending one of these Certificates on them. There are more than 80 Shop Upgrades in the game. The "SR" stock can be upgraded 8 times. You would invest into a single of the "SR" shops, and the new stock is available across all the SR Shops. No other shop can be upgraded 8 times. Most will upgrade once or twice. A few of the more rare ones might upgrade as many as 4 times. They offer you gear to let you "get ahead". Gear you can obtain nowhere else. Items you can obtain nowhere else. This gear is usually more expensive (only rarely is it prohibitively expensive) than what you can obtain for the location you are at in the game.
    *Inns cost more money, the more party members you have. Your party members do not "wait" anywhere. The most you can obtain is 9 total characters. Depending on where the player is in the game, it might be far cheaper to stay the night at an Inn than it is to expend the Consumables. Baseline price of the Inn, with just a single character is 20 Currency (or, the price of 4 of the most basic HP Recovery item... which only restores 30 HP. For this price, you can also get two of the most basic MP Recovery item... which only restores 30 MP). The price of two characters is 50 Currency. 110 for 3. 230 for 4. 470 for 5. 950 for 6. 1910 for 7. 3830 for 8. 7670 for 9. The formula is simply "multiply by two, then add 10 Currency". It's simple, but scales effectively according to Currency Drops.
    *Inns are used to "interact" with your party outside of cutscenes/quests. These are places of "downtime" for the party. They will do some light ribbing, talk about themselves, express points of view, give the player Personal Quests at certain levels, and even interact with each other instead of the Main Character (the Main Character cannot be swapped out at any time. This is who you are playing as). Events in the game or the world will trip Switches behind the scenes to enable new conversations. This is a reason to stay at an Inn even if you are fully healed. If you have some spare cash just laying around and want to see if they talk about anything new, you can do so. None of what is on offer at the Inn's is "necessary" to the game at all. It is all optional dialogue and content.
    *Limited the amount of money that can be earned from combat. All combat rewards Currency, though it may be far lower than a player is perhaps used to in other RPG's. The standard I've used is "10 combat encounters need to be completed on the weakest enemies of the area to buy a single HP Restoring Consumable". This means, the baseline slimes you will encounter for much of the first area will drop exactly 1 Currency. Just one. Defeat 10, and you can buy an HP Restoring Consumable. To put this in perspective, the baseline "Knight" of the final area will drop 500 Currency on death (the final HP Restoring Consumable costs 5000 Currency). Stronger monsters drop more. The ability to hold onto your Currency by mitigating damage or causing a lot of damage in combat will mean the player gets to hoard more Currency. Playing poorly results in spending a lot of Currency on Consumables and Inn Visits.
    *Ability to sell nearly anything. A player may find themselves in desperate or dire need of Currency. As such, I allow them to sell pretty much anything. Yes, even their Collectibles. I don't recommend you sell any of the 3 kinds of Collectibles, but you can. In fact, one of the Collectibles was designed to be able to be sold. "Diamond". There are 430 in the game. A lot. Each one, when sold, will net you 50,000 Currency. You can get your first one at Level 1 in the game. Sell it and you won't be hurting for Currency for quite a while. However... you also trade Diamonds to a "Relic Hunter". You can obtain Relics in no other way. A "Relic" works much like "Traits" in Fallout 2 or other RPG's work. Huge specializing bonus... and an equally terrible drawback for that bonus. If you sell just a single Diamond, you cannot obtain the final Relic in the game. A relic which doubles one of your stats and halves another. A choice you pick. Each Diamond sold removes your ability to get Relics at the end of the list. Relics start off cheap, too. They cost 1 Diamond at first. As they scale in power/utility, they start costing 2 Diamonds... then 3... then 5... then 10... If a player does not care about Relics, they can be rich beyond their wildest dreams. But, "min/maxing" may be beyond their abilities from that. But, if you like, you can also sell "Key Items". These are usually Quest specific items. The first Quest the player takes up has them gathering a fair amount of "Slime Cores". These each sell for 5 Currency a piece (yep, if you sell 4 of them, you can afford the first Consumable). These Cores are a drop from Slimes. Easily replenished. Being able to sell whatever you have on hand allows the player to get themselves out of a bind if they've misspent their money.
    *Towards the end of the game, the player can actually purchase stat increasing items. There is a shop that will literally sell power. The player can spend 500 Currency for raising a single stat by 1 point (or HP/MP by 5 points). The player can also spend 50,000 Currency to raise a single stat by 20 points (or HP/MP by 100 points). This is one of the shops that can be upgraded 4 times. Each upgrade drops the price by 10%. It's the final "Gold Sink" before the end of the game. Want to max out your stats? Spend all your cash! To put the stats into perspective: The baseline slime of the game will deal 2 damage to the player that is wearing no armor. The first character has only 20 HP and only 10 Defense. It is a "low stat" game. Even with 999 Attack power, they will not deal 999 damage to an enemy. Not without exploiting an elemental weakness or using a DoT state.

    That's basically what I've done to balance my "Currency". As well as "why" I've wanted it Balanced.
     
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  9. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    I'm playing Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne. No matter how much I grind, I always seem to need items. I'm playing on normal and it's pretty hard... well, not so "hard," but it requires a dedicated grind, though I'm not too experienced with the demon system so maybe there are more efficient ways to progress. However, to have higher level demons you do need a higher level main character.

    See, in Nocturne, there is almost always demons appearing to fight in almost every area. To get to the demons that give good experience, you often need to do a bit of traveling. When you get to the spot, those demons can do strong effects and damage, so if you miss a needed attack or use the wrong skill, it can easily switch to the enemies favor and take a huge chunk from your party.

    MP healing items are way more expensive (the basic mp healing item costs 6x more than the basic hp healing item). That means you can't use your skills to cure and heal everything, since you also need them to effectively clear when grinding and if you want to level fast you have to stick to one spot with an attraction effect active. Otherwise you'll be running back and forth from the healing rooms room which in some circumstances you have to use the portal to get to, or go through a couple areas to get to.

    So even when I accumulate a lot of Mecca from getting my levels up, I still end up spending a lot to replenish my items and end up almost running out, plus healing from the healing fountain lady costs Mecca as well.

    In terms of money management, Nocturne is a very good example of how to balance the "economy," since I'm many hours into the game and still feel like I have never had too much money. Also, there are items that you can't get with money but with gems, so even though those separate items exist, I'm still running low on items after every restock.
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Tai_MT I like a lot of what you've done there, especially the "SR"/Upgraded Items, the use of luxuries like extra scenes and endgame stat boosts as gold sinks, and to some extent the sellable Collectibles (just be sure that if you're tempting the player to sell Collectibles due to the tight economy, that they know there are other uses for these limited pickups!). I'm looking forward to trying those SR Items out!! :D

    I'm going to assume that "The player can spend 500 Currency for raising a single stat by 1 point" should actually be 5,000 Currency, as it makes much more sense in the context of your other prices. If it is indeed 500, then we need to talk ;)

    While you've undoubtedly seen me as a proponent of "healing shouldn't be cheap and reliable" around the boards, Inns are the one place I make an exception and fully embrace the "easy heal" design philosophy. If the player is at an Inn (in a narrative RPG - this can be different in a roguelike or a strictly strategy game like Slay the Spire), it almost necessarily represents one of two things:
    • Either they completed the last dungeon/mission, in which case it's a good show to let them start with full resources for their next dungeon/mission (regardless of their current economy),
    • Or they've failed to complete the dungeon (presumably starting with full resources), meaning that they're currently struggling. It's good that they can earn some EXP and gain some knowledge along the way - this is an intended dynamic - but if they have to spend their limited Currency on the Inn, they may have a hard time replenishing the supplies they exhausted in their first attempt, putting them even further in the hole than in their first, unsuccessful run (or even worse, can't afford the Inn and need to start their next attempt with 15% HP!).
    For this reason alone, I find that cheap (or even free) Inns back in town tend to be a really nice feature that don't take away from the Acute challenge of battles nor the Chronic challenge of dungeon runs. :)

    If the aspect of extra character development scenes as a gold sink is important, you could divorce the Restoration aspect of the Inn from the Character Development aspect (perhaps have that be at a Tavern, where you need to pay a cover charge for your party to get in).

    The other thing I wonder about with healing is whether you have a system in place to discourage the player from healing up using dozens of basic first-level Potions outside of battle (or even in town, given the expensive price of the Inn in the late-game!), since your late-game Potions cost 1000x as much as your basic Potions. Buying all these basic Potions and needing to spam them on the menu would suck (Auto-Recover interface conveniences could help though), but if your game's economy is tight players will absolutely do this. (In my own game Food items, which are the cheap way to heal up mid-dungeon, sap your Appetite, and when your Appetite is gone you can't eat any more until you battle again, so the "efficiency" factor is in play even outside battle).

    I have a vague sense of your game's general stat levels from your post, and it sounds like the purchasable Stat Boosts probably dominate the (late-game) Relics. I'm going to conservatively assume the final Relic costs around 50 Diamonds, which could also be used to boost a character's stat by 20, 50 times. That's a boost of 1000 points! Compare that to the relic, which doubles one stat and halves another. Even ignoring the "halve" effect, the character would already need to have 1000 points in the stat (100x the first character's initial stats) to make this a break-even proposition!! It doesn't sound like this will often be the case.
    • My instinct is that the stat boost items are OP, rather than the Relics being useless. One design tool you could use to get around this is having the cost scale up for each point you want to raise - e.g. the first point you want to raise of AGI for Harold costs 5,000, the second costs 7,000, the third costs 10K, the fourth costs 15K, and so on. If you then purchase a point of STR for Harold, or a point of AGI for Therese, those will start back at 5K.
    Something I've found out from experience is that the more moving parts I add to my game economy, the more ways there are to screw up the design despite my best intentions. I remember watching a Let's Play of How Badly (where you need to pay off loans before certain mid-game deadlines to avoid a Game Over) where the player walked into the game's town and noticed the game's Equipment shop, which featured all of the armor in the game (most of it currently too expensive to buy), and proceeded to spend 90% of the money you start out with on armor that was intended for mid-game.

    I was shouting at my screen as I watched in horror - no, don't do that! You're screwing yourself over!! But of course he would do that - buying the best equipment you can afford is the smart and expected thing to do in most RPGs. Predictably, after putting himself in a hole like that, he missed the first payment deadline. It's something I never even thought of until I watched the LP. So now my design quandary is how to ensure that equipment isn't a "trap" that I'm unwittingly setting for the player. Some of the options I'm considering are:
    • Starting the player out with only a trivial amount of money, rather than almost half of the first deadline's requirement (and lowering the first deadline accordingly)
    • Only opening the equipment shop after the first deadline is met, and only selling cheap consumables in town before the first deadline (opening up more expensive ones as the game progresses)
    • Only offering equipment through "gameplay" (quests, drops, etc.), rather than allowing the player to buy it, muting its impact on the player's economy
    • Perhaps even removing equipment entirely, cleaning up one big moving part that I have to manage
     
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  11. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Note, this is an experimental approach and will probably need refining, but it's where I plan on starting:

    I plan on dispensing enough gold to buy about 8 gear upgrades in the next town into chests, in fixed encounters, and on bosses, for all those combat dodgers out there. Then, I'll sprinkle enough gold into the common enemies (visible encounters) so that winning roughly 2 battles is enough for 1 more gear upgrade. This is because I want to reward people for winning those extra battles while not making them feel like grinding is compulsory.

    Note for reference, the game is mostly a party of 4, with a 5th member toward the end of the game where most of the best stuff is found, not bought. Each character has slots for weapon, shield (or bow), head, and body. There are 4 accessory slots and 4 materia slots as well, but the accessory slots are more for strategic customization (blind resistance, X% extra hp, etc) and the materia slots are for bonus spells that are mostly found, and since spells in my game scale, they generally aren't something you replace with a better version.

    So that's mainly just 4 gear slots to upgrade x4 characters, for a total of 16 gear upgrades needed per town if you want to be fully upgraded before heading into the next dungeon. With 8 upgrades being basically automatic (you explored the area and got all the gold chests, right?) that's 8 slots left to upgrade, and at 1 extra upgrade per 2 battles, that's 16 optional wandering battles in addition to the minimum route needed to clear the dungeon, which I think is reasonable. Since the game isn't going to require that you fully upgrade everyone's gear at each new town right away the player shouldn't feel like they have no choice but to earn gold for those extra upgardes. I'm not that mean.

    Also, I figure that if each new area's wandering encounters are worth roughly 3x as much as the previous area, gold flow should be balanced enough that grinding the previous area is doable, but they're better off in the current area or they're being well-rewarded for tackling a more advanced area early. Sample rewards per fight, or per foe, or whatever:

    Area 1: 1-2g
    Area 2: 3-6g
    Area 3: 9-18g
    Area 4: 27-54g
    Area 5: 81-162g
    Area 6: 243-486g
    Area 7: 729-1458g

    ...and so on.

    I'll have to see how it actually pans out, but that's my starting point and I thought I'd share it.

    PS: I also plan on adding chances for the player to "get lucky" so to speak--rare monsters that drop lots of extra gold, monsters that rarely drop gear roughly on par with what's in the next town, and of course there's also the option of finding gear in chests, random consumable drops/chest rewards, etc.
     
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  12. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    @Wavelength

    Some of what you're talking about is roughly how it's already designed. Some of your assumptions probably come from my somewhat "nebulous" and "vague" way of talking about certain aspects of my game in order to avoid having to elaborate on connecting pieces.

    Hopefully, you don't mind my quoting you here so I can sort of keep myself on track rather than scrolling up and down a bit.

    To be honest, I'm not sure if players will want to use the SR Items (SR is the shop name. Sweet Retreats. The basic story of which is that normal medicine tastes absolutely atrocious, so this woman decided to open up a shop where she adds flavorings to regular medicine, and she's so good at it, that the flavorings actually add benefits all on their own). I wanted to add something in, where I could "sort of" make more powerful and sometimes "game breaking" consumables, but require the player spend more money to get them, and do a little bit of leg work as well. I also wanted them to only be used in combat, so the player would need to sacrifice a turn to use them. My thought was to make them "only usable in combat" were to add buffs to them. Once I decided on that, I also thought it would be kind of fun to reward a player who cures a State in game with a status buff.

    So many games simply have "removal of the state" be its own reward. Those states, in turn, often aren't all that threatening or undermining to what the player is doing. Plus, since these aren't "normal consumables", the player has an option to strategically use them to a small extent. Maybe, they don't always need the 50% extra Attack power, so they use the regular and cheaper consumable instead.

    But, no matter what they choose, they can always obtain more.

    To curb the player attempting to sell their collectibles all the time, I have a "Quest Log". Unfortunately, I've had to make each of the 3 Collectibles into a "Quest" all on their own. When you first obtain a "Diamond", you get the corresponding quest that tells you to go talk to the collector and where he is. Once you talk to him, he tells you that if you trade him the Diamonds, he'll give you a Relic (this is the only way to obtain Relics in the game, after all), but he also tells you that you can sell them if you want.

    After doing this, fewer of my test players immediately sold the item (so many of them have played Pokémon and thought it was akin to the items that exist simply to be sold, so that's what they did). The Quest Log updating the player and telling them, "Hey, you can trade these for items" seems to stop most of the issue.

    That being said, I also had to alter the Quest in the Log from "Turn in all the Diamonds" to "Find all the Diamonds", as one of my players realized too late that they had locked themselves out of "completing" the Quest a bit later (they didn't read the Quest Log beyond what they had to do, then forgot about the Quest Log after the NPC told them how they can be used).

    I've had to do the same for the other two collectibles. You need only find them. You need not use them.

    Nope, it's 500. :D Let me put a little more context on it. By the end of the game, these items that cost 500 Currency are what you were receiving as quest rewards when you first started the game. However, these items have their impact "nerfed" by the point you can actually purchase them. It's nerfed in two ways. The first is simply that you're getting 1 stat point, when a regular Quest at that stage is more likely to drop you the 20 stat point item (or multiples). The second way it is nerfed, is it has less of an impact since you will have to choose which of the 8 or 9 characters to give it to. Early in the game, when you have 1 to 3 characters, this stat point is insanely powerful, especially when you're likely to be only giving it to a single character in order to "specialize" them or "shore up their weaknesses" (for example, giving all the Magic increasing stat items to your only Mage class. Late game, you have 3 Mages to choose from).

    Another piece of context... not sure if you'd like it or not, but I'll give it to you, is that these items come in 5 Tiers.

    HP/MP
    5 points
    10 points
    20 points
    50 points
    100 points

    All other stats
    1 point
    2 points
    5 points
    10 points
    20 points

    Tier 1 is 500 Currency, then 2000 Currency, then 7500 Currency, then 20,000 Currency, and finally 50,000 Currency.

    Sure, you could buy a ton of cheap "Give me 1 point" items. However, you can only hold 99 of them at any given time. You'll only gain 99 points out of a single stack of them. If you want to spend a lot of time mucking about with your inventory and distributing each individual item just to save money, you are welcome to do so. You are exchanging time for money. It's an intentional design choice.

    Someone looking to "min/max" will exploit it. They are welcome to do so. If that's what they want to do, to maximize stat point per Currency spent, they are welcome to do it. I will ignore complaints about how "inefficient it is". Because, honestly... it's the player deciding to waste a lot of their own time for the sake of so many stat points. Other players will probably just want the "bulk stat" items. Extra points, in hurry, so they can get back to playing the game.

    I can see the point. Ideally, the player is meant to come back to town and use the Inn to heal up. However, it isn't really my plan for them to use it as often as seems implied.

    My experience with RPG's and people who tend to play them, tends to go like this:

    I've noticed that players tend to avoid "backtracking" to the Inn if at all possible. They tend to complete a Quest and then check to see if anything else is nearby or could be completed before returning to town.

    However, when you make the Inn "too cheap", you run into the issue that so many Pokémon games have these days. That is... never buy a consumable, because the "Inn Stay" is 100% free. It is also never further than 150 steps from the last location you were just at.

    So, a Cheap or "Free" Inn would make dungeons in a very small radius around it fairly easily conquered.

    Likewise, it also somewhat interferes with other design aspects. I want the game to communicate to the player that they should always have Consumables on hand. If I start embracing design aspects which keep the player from needing to stock Consumables for every trip, they may run into issues later where they don't know how deep a dungeon is, and may push on regardless. After all, the Inn is just right nearby. The dungeon can't be more than 3 or 4 floors, right?

    With the inherent design being that the player should "always be prepared", it is difficult to balance the pricing of "Heals" in order to get the game to naturally convey this aspect. If the prices are too high, the player will grind just to be able to survive. If the prices are too low, the player will become complacent to the point that dungeons or lengthy overworld treks are a huge spike in difficulty.

    To that end, I've decided that "overall" an Inn is cheaper than Consumables. But, it still costs enough of an amount that to use it as a "hub" to grind for money would require the player spend a reasonable amount of time doing so. At the point a player has 9 characters, all of whom may be fairly injured, the price of the Inn stay could be extremely cheap in comparison to using the Consumables to recover that HP/MP.

    For the price of an Inn Visit with 1 character in your party, you can buy 4 Basic HP Consumables or 2 Basic MP Consumables (or the combination of 2 HP Consumables and 1 MP Consumable). Effectively, for 20 Currency via Consumable, you can get 120 HP Recovery, 60 MP Recovery, or 60 HP Recovery and 30 MP Recovery. But, that Inn? Even if you have 6000 HP... if you still have just the one person in your group... you just got 6000 HP Recovery for 20 Currency.

    As for scaling with party members... It's a necessary function since old zones will need to be revisited with new party members who have new content to be run at higher stats. With using Party Members to scale it, I can have an "absolute floor" of effectiveness in terms of HP/MP Recovered per piece of Currency spent.

    So, basically... when you get back to town to turn quests in... you'll probably go to the Inn for some cheap heals to save Consumables. That's the idea behind the design.

    I just want the player to have to commit to X amount of combat between Inn visits.

    The problem with a Tavern is that the atmosphere is quite different and doesn't tend to lend itself well to "moments of heartwarming" or "soul baring experiences". Taverns tend to lend themselves well to... brawls... drunken behavior... guarded thoughts... etcetera. The "Inn" is a place to relax. The "Tavern" is a place to have fun.

    But, if it helps, downstairs, there's pretty much always a Tavern. So, you know, maybe you get some of that "Tavern Conversation" there.

    The way it works with an Inn is like this:

    Pay for the room, black screen. Call event to heal up everyone, then teleport to the upstairs rooms. Game then "rolls a dice" for what to pick from a list of Conditional Branches. Screen fades back in, with the doors to the rooms open (these doors cannot be gotten into unless you've paid for the rooms). There's a "lobby" type area outside the rooms where most of your Party Members will be. Gathered around tables, looking at a fireplace, watching you sleep, having a conversation in the other room together, etcetera. The player can then "talk" to the party members. Once they do, the "Scene" that was chosen for those party members plays out. Maybe you step up to them in time to hear the middle of their conversation. Maybe, they've got something new to say to you. Etcetera. When the player is done interacting, they go to the staircase to leave and get a prompt: "Gather your party and venture forth?". I may change the prompt later. I think it's a fun homage to pay, so that's what it is right now. If you select "yes", you are teleported back downstairs and can move along (while also resetting the switch that holds the changes to the area, if the switch is off, no party members appear, if on, you get the events). If you select "no", then your character backs up a space and allows you to interact with party members some more.

    The idea is that the Inn is a place of soothing contemplation and reflection. So, it's a great place to put these character moments. These Lore building moments. These Personal Quests that your party members want you to help with.

    I do not. To be honest, I'm sort of counting on "menu fatigue" to accomplish what I need. I mean, even with 99 of the baseline potions, the most Recovery you're going to get out of that is 2,970. It will cost you 495 Currency to get that. If you want to spam it, go for it. Just another Gold Sink. Likewise, it keeps previous Tiers of Consumables valuable. But, once you're pushing 4 characters in your party, who have a combined HP Pool of more than 2,970... Well... you're gonna be visiting town quite often to recover that, and spending small increments of cash to get that recovery (By the way, a party of 4 would only need 743 HP each in order to have more HP than could be healed with a full stack of the Basic HP Recovery items).

    Heehee… I'm glad you're finding one of the fun things I've left in there, for players who think like that. "I could sell my Diamonds... and then buy huge stat buffs! I wouldn't need the Relics then!". It's trueeeeeee…. to an extent.

    However, that largely depends on what you value as a player. I'll get back to that in a moment.

    Relics, by and large, offer the player something different to tinker with. Few offer a straight up stat boost. To give you a flavor for what they actually do, I'll give you the first few Relics in my game. Keep in mind, every so many Relics purchased, the player is asked to make a choice between two of them. The first one obtained is a choice.

    1. Fear Totem - Encounter Rate = 0%. All stats cut in half.
    or...
    Lucky Coin - Encounter Rate = 50%. Money dropped doubles.

    2. Silvered Anti-Venom - Immune to all 4 levels of Poison. 3x more likely to be inflicted with any Sleep State.

    3. Spider Grips - Hit Rate = 300%. Disable Hand (armor slot) and Head (armor slot) Equipment Slots.

    4. Blue Bottle - +5% MP Regen. -5% HP Regen. -5% TP Regen.

    5. Red Bottle - +5% HP Regen. -5% MP Regen. -5% TP Regen.

    6. Green Bottle - +5% TP Regen. -5% HP Regen. -5% MP Regen.

    7. Monk Doctrine - ATK stat +300%. Disable Left Hand (armor slot) and Right Hand (weapon slot).

    8. Sheriff's Badge - When equipped, character will have "Substitute" Feature (take damage for low HP allies). User takes 200% Magic Elemental Damage and 200% Pierce Elemental Damage.

    9 Executioner's Glaive - Allows any character to equip a Battle Axe (highest damage weapon type in the game, Hit rate of only 75%). -25% Hit Rate Penalty.

    10. Rainbow Shard - Item Drops Doubled. -1000% TP Regen. Attack, Magic Attack, and Agility (the three attacking stats) are halved.

    The list goes on and on like that. Weird gameplay gimmicks. Things that can be used to specialize characters. Utility equipment. The final four sets of Relics are purely stat based. All are a choice. Do you want x2 HP with 1/2 MP, or x2MP with 1/2 HP? Do you want x2 ATK with 1/2 DEF or x2 DEF with 1/2 ATK? Etcetera. Each one costs 15 Diamonds to get.

    But, here's the catch. It's in a Relic Slot. A piece of equipment could give you an immediate 200% boost to a single stat. If you have one of those Relics equipped... if you buy a 20 Stat Point increase item... you're getting 40 points instead. These Relics are effectively boons to your Quest Rewards. Boons to your Stat Gain items (since every Quest awards a stat gain item or several). Effectively, you are paying half as much for specific stat points with these Relics equipped.

    So, it begs the question: Which is more valuable? Buying a bunch of stats... or doubling the effectiveness of stats through usage of an Equipment Slot? I look forward to seeing what players decide.
    Oh yes, I have a lot of moving parts myself. It is difficult to get them all to work "correctly" with each other. I've found that tying them all together as the same "gameplay loop" tends to work a little better. It isn't perfect. Players continue to surprise me.

    More often than not, I have to decide whether or not something is a "fair" amount of frustration or the "correct" amount of frustration.

    There are instances where I've just had to draw the line at "it's acceptable". Can the player entirely muck up their whole playthrough by mismanaging all their money and inventory? Yes. I try to make it more difficult to do with decent warning signs... but I can't plan for everything. At some point, I just need my player to accept responsibility for their own short-sighted behavior. Yes, even if that short-sighted behavior results in them getting angry about losing 20 hours of gameplay to start over, because they did not heed all the signs to not sell a Collectible, and they decided too late in the game that they wanted to know what they could get if they managed to turn in every last one of them.

    I find it more difficult to know where to draw that line than anything else. I want to protect my player from being insanely stupid. But, I am not willing to put in the effort to babysit them to keep them from ever doing really dumb things.

    Sometimes, where I've drawn this line is in a "harsh" place. Sometimes, it's in a far more lenient place. It depends on what sort of behavior I'm trying to promote.

    And, hey, sometimes, I do learn a thing or two from being "too harsh". Starting the player off with zero money, zero armor, zero weapons, and zero items... and then expecting them to get themselves into a good loop of "monster killing" to get their first sets of Consumables was stupid. So, now, they get 10 of the baseline HP Restoring Consumable to start with. It gives them plenty of "wiggle room" to get into the primary gameplay loop. Or, at least, get their first sets of equipment without dying... unless they're doing REALLY dumb things.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2019
    #12
  13. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Tai_MT Fixed a bit of broken formatting in your post.
    (and P.S. no problem at all about you quoting blocks from my post - I don't mind it one bit)

    I still think the SR items sound quite cool. (BTW, I assumed they probably meant "super rare". "Sweet Retreat" is cool, but I like the acronym SR even more!)

    Oh God!! :p

    So, with some of the extra context you provided, it sounds like character stats will get into 4-digit numbers, or at least close to it, by the endgame. Is that right? If so, it's not as big a problem as I initially imagined, but:
    • For the price of staying at an Inn, you could permanently increase a character's stat by 15 (or their HP by 75)
    • For the price of a single endgame consumable, you could permanently increase a character's stat by 10 (or their HP by 50)
    What I'd worry about here, as a designer, is that even very slight differences in battle outcome (needing to use a single extra consumable in every 3 battles, for instance) will lead to big swings in power. This is most true in the very endgame (the only place you allow "buying stats" directly), but it also may be true in other areas (such as equipment if its cost is not much higher than that of consumables).

    And speaking of that 500 price point for a repeatable +1 stat, versus 50,000 for a repeatable +20 stat...
    Unless you are designing the shop or menu to be intentionally onerous (for example clicking through 10 lines of dialogue every time you want to buy one), no players are ever going to spend 100x as much for 20x the effect unless:
    • (a) they're oblivious to the fact that it's mathematically terrible value (I can't imagine anyone who gets to the end of your challenging game will be this dull) or
    • (b) they are already completely awash in cash and don't know what to do with it
    Given that you expressed avoiding Scenario B as a major goal in designing your game economy, I have to conclude that neither one of these should ever happen. You describe it as a "tradeoff between time and money", but is it really? After all, the player just needs to click the buy button one more time, and the use button (and target of the item usage) one more time, to save a whopping 2,000G per point (2500G per point vs 500G per point). Given that the basic endgame enemies only drop 500G (using "G" as a general shorthand for currency; I know you're not using actual Gold), the Time is far better spent spamming one-point buys than doing anything interesting, like battles.

    This argument is essentially "if the player wants to deprive themselves of fun by spamming one-point items, why not let them?" But I think that the difference in gains (for the player's time or money) is so drastic that nearly every player will do this. Why not align "what's beneficial" with "what's enjoyable"? In this case, it would be giving the player the incentive to spend less time on shop/menu screens, and more time doing whatever is most engaging in your game (probably battle or exploration).

    On Inns - I generally notice players (including myself) head back to the Inn after completing a dungeon (especially if that's where the Save Point is!). It's possible we play different games which encourage heading straight back or hanging around for longer, though. Regarding your Pokemon point, though, Pokemon differs from most RPGs in two ways - first, it's intentionally easier than most RPGs to appeal to an especially wide audience including tots; second, a majority of the action in Pokemon takes place outside of dungeons, making its Chronic challenge factor nearly zero. You're usually near an Inn; you rarely need to run a long dungeon without needing them. Just head into deep brush or the ocean, walk around 'til you find what you're looking for, and try to capture it.

    In a game like yours (if I understand your game correctly), I don't think a nearby Inn being cheap would make the dungeon any easier to conquer than that same Inn costing 7000G. It will just provide the safety net (against a nearly-unwinnable situation) for players that have gotten too far behind your intended curve.

    Indeed, this is a pretty tough aspect of design (and one that I obviously haven't mastered yet based on my little vignette about How Badly above). How do you communicate the "proper" or smart general way to interact with your mechanics?

    In your case, I'd hazard the guess that you are giving your player enough communication that they need to be prepared - the way you have NPCs mention that enemies in a dungeon tend to use certain statuses, the way you are setting up earlier dungeons to build up in length,... I don't think you need Inn Scarcity to get the point across that they'll need consumables. :) One additional thing you could do to communicate this is to make the early-game consumables especially cheap and good-value, to get the player in the habit of buying lots. By mid-game, they'll know they "want" consumables, but they'll also see the reasonably expensive prices and decide how much is worthwhile.

    One unrelated place you might be communicating the wrong message is with your Diamonds. If I find an item in my inventory sells for a whopping 50,000G in a shop, and there has been no obvious use for it so far, and its name is that of a rare, expensive gem - I'm going to assume that's the developer's way of telling me "this is an item whose purpose is to sell it". And I'm going to sell it, because that's what the game is signalling me to do! You never want to "invite" the player to do something that will screw them (unless their character is also being tempted in-universe to screw themselves over). That's why explicit communication for this kind of thing is so important, especially when the action can't be "erased" (by finding a 431st diamond, for example).

    What if they're taking enough damage that they can only fight "Half of X" battles before they need a restore?

    "Tavern" was just an example. It could be a lounge instead to achieve the intimate moments; it could even literally be a different function in the Inn! The point is to divorce the luxury "gold sink" of the Inn's extra character development, from the bare necessity of the Inn's healing (which can also be a gold sink, but I've explained why I feel that's a poor idea in this post and the last).

    Any time you are relying solely on frustration to stop the player from doing something that is optimal, I believe you're doing something very wrong with the design. That goes for something like these consumables, but it also goes for the buying stat points paradigm above. Any emotion you can evoke from the player (or audience in other media) is good - joy, grief, power fantasy, powerlessness, intrigue, flow, comfort, creepiness, love, hate, inspiration, trial, determination... sometimes even confusion... the only two emotions that are always bad to inspire are Frustration and Boredom.

    This is not unique to your game - I certainly spam basic Potions in some games. But in your game, with your tight economy, it seems like it would be more necessary to use this un-fun and arguably exploitative form of recovery. In other games, where I'm awash in cash and the challenge usually isn't so high that I'll need every last one of my higher consumables, it definitely feels more comfortable to just squander them for a less efficient (but quicker) heal.

    I love the idea of it!! My worry is whether it's really a decision, or just an obvious mathematical question where one choice dominates the other.

    You said these endgame Relics each cost 15 Diamonds, which could instead be sold for 750,000G. At 500G per point of another stat, that means the Diamonds could instead be sold to purchase 1500(!) points in a stat of your choice. If a character's stat is less than 1500, then adding 1500 to that stat is always better than "doubling" it. Once the character's stat crests 1500, it starts to become a much more interesting decision - is, say, a 2100 point boost (600 more than buying the stats with no drawback) worth halving another stat?

    The above analysis doesn't take into consideration that if you sell the Diamonds, you'll never get the Double effect (therefore making it a live option to take the Relic if you think the stat will ever cross the 1500 threshold), but I still think it's a general design argument worth considering.

    A really good north star to follow when deciding this is "Is this frustration necessary?". Bits of frustration can sometimes be necessary evils in a great system. Any time the frustration can be streamlined out without destroying your desired dynamic, streamline it out.

    I know I've been engaging you and nit-picking on a lot of your very detailed posts recently, and I hope you don't think of that as a bad thing. I just like to delve into deep design discussion whenever I can, and your posts usually include a lot of content and detail that offer the "meat on the bone" that's necessary to start a good, practical discussion from. :D Much respect, man.
     
    #13
  14. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    If you'd like to consider them "Super Rare", you can. They are all labeled "SR [Item Name]" though.

    Also thanks for fixing the formatting. I was sort of trying to cook at the same time I was typing and didn't bother with my usual "post preview" to make sure I got all the "Quote" code and everything all correct as I usually do.

    I expect HP/MP to get into the 4 digit numbers. It's why the highest restoring items are 1,000 Recovery (effectively paying 5 Currency for 1 HP restored). Though, the high price of 8,000 Currency to restore 1,000 MP might seem excessive on the surface, it tends to balance better with the "decently low" cost of skills for MP (the most excessive I think I ever get is 100 MP for a cast of something truly powerful).

    As for other stats? I don't think many will breach much beyond 500 without equipment. I think RPG Maker MV tops you out at 999 for those stats, but I haven't checked for sure.

    I could probably go through all my characters and all their stats to calculate Currency Spent to max them all out... but I think we might find it's a lot of money to do so.

    Just using the stats from one character:

    HP - 20
    MP - 10
    ATK - 10
    DEF - 10
    MAT - 5
    MDF - 5
    AGI - 10
    LUK - 10

    Utterly average across the board. MAT is utterly useless to this character. No skill he has uses it. Everything else has some value. AGI could be skipped once the character is fast enough to act before every enemy in the game. So, let's say we top out AGI at 500. We would need to buy 490 of the first item to get there. 245,000 Currency. Let's say, we just spend that many stat points on each stat (because if we're going for maxing out a stat, something most players are unlikely to even want to do, we're going to be insanely unrealistic). Let's just assume we're adding 490 to every stat except MAT, since it doesn't matter to this character. 1,715,000 Currency.

    This is, of course, without equipment on. Since equipment is usually 66% of your stats in my game, we'll just reduce that number by that much. 565,950 Currency. This is, of course, using the cheapest method. For one character. Multiply by 9... We've got some serious Currency Sink going on here. 5,093,550 Currency to get everyone to the point where we've increased each stat by 490 of that item (and assuming every character has a dump stat... some do... some don't).

    How many Diamonds is that?

    102 of the available 430. That's more than just 4 Relics you're missing out on.

    Still, I understand your point. Equivalent pricing matters in a lot of cases. I don't think it applies to the stat boosting items in this case, however. Not because of the massive amount of Currency you'd have to sink there, but because of the placement and interaction of this vendor.

    Specifically, the vendor sits fairly close to the "final boss". It is a vendor that is never alluded to by anyone else in the game. You come up to the final dungeon, and right nearby, a man sells you stat boosts. The decision to place the Vendor here was to prevent the sort of abuse you were getting it, as well as to drain any "last minute funds" the player may have. Likewise, the decision made to have this vendor be "upgradeable" with another Collectible (The Guild Certificates) was to give the player better pricing options before the final dungeon if they had saved a few of their last Collectibles up to this point. A reward for maybe holding onto a little extra before the end.

    So, with this Vendor being where they are... the player has no idea they exist. They have no idea they can ever buy stats. Their only method of obtaining stats in the entire game will be from Quest Completion or Equipment. Or... at least... most players. I suspect you might do so, since you know this Vendor exists. ;) But, other players, without a guide or walkthrough, they aren't going to know. Likewise, it's so late in the game, that most walkthroughs (if they ever exist for my silly little indie game) won't tell players to save money, sell Diamonds, etcetera.

    It is also worth noting that my "baseline" enemies for an area are simply the first enemies you encounter and probably the most frequent you will run across. The "baseline" Knight at the end game that gives you 500 Currency per kill is the minimum amount of money you will receive. Numbers go up when you step into Dungeons, kill enemies during a Questline, defeat bosses, etcetera. The reason the Gold Drops are balanced around the Consumables in these areas like this, is to encourage players to do a little bit more than walk around outside of town and grind the easiest enemies to come across. If they want a potion, they'll have to kill 10 of these knights. But, they could likely obtain a potion every 3 or 4 encounters in a dungeon. Maybe, even less than that, depending on equipment.

    In fact, if you have the "Lucky Coin" Relic, you could effectively only be forced to fight 5 of those Knights and win, and get enough Currency for a single Consumable. Fight half as often, Currency enough to get the consumables you may need anyway.

    Well, unless you're doing insanely poorly.

    But, they could swap out characters, swap out equipment, pick up a few more Quests to get their wanted stats... or a few other things to help mitigate battle if they find themselves getting a "spike" of difficulty in combat.

    My "armor" is meant to be swapped out as necessary. At least, for most characters. Players aren't meant to "equip the best thing" and forget it. But, that's more about the combat system than currency, so I won't go any further into details on it.

    I just expect players to be completing enough combat to get them to the next set of consumables. Until they get good enough at combat to not need so many consumables, or their stats outgrow the enemies and not need so many. I expect the dungeon crawls to be where the majority of Consumables are used. Or, in an immediate sense, a Boss fight.

    I hope that makes a bit more sense.

    That depends. Click the buy option, arrow to 99, click buy, confirm, exit shop, open item menu, scroll to item you want to use, select it, select character, click character until done. Repeat for every stat on every character.

    The process itself, without my doing anything to it, is already fairly tedious. It's money efficient, but not time efficient. By the time the player gets to the end of the game, if they want to waste time in this fashion, I simply allow them to do so.

    I think most players would get tired of it fairly quickly. If they don't and it becomes a problem of too many players doing it, instead of a minority, I'll likely revisit the issue.

    Still, the goal is for players to be spending their money, managing Consumables, and only coming out VERY FAR AHEAD by being good with their money and good with the game.

    I don't expect too many players will reach that Vendor much more than 100,000 Currency if they've managed everything well. I have no playtest to prove they won't arrive with more or less, but that's the goal at that point in the game. The early game is already mostly balanced for the Currency sinks that already exist.

    It's a valid point. In normal cases, I would align them better to do that. But, the shop itself is meant as a "last hurrah". If it makes sense, think of it as "buying the best equipment in the game" in most RPG's. You know, there's usually that town just before the boss where you can get all the best gear possible. At least, best gear without grinding drops for it or doing some massively annoying and time consuming quest.

    Except, in this case... It's just a guy who sells you some stats.

    You spot him, you can buy his wares, and then proceed to the final location to complete the game. Or, if you really want, you can spend 30 minutes navigating menus, trying to get the most out of your money, or grinding for more money, to absolutely maximize chances of obliterating the entire dungeon and boss.

    The decision is left up to the player. I'm comfortable leaving that decision up to the player. Whether they want to waste a bit more time before the end.

    I allow players to save anywhere. I find it's easier to "pick up and play" as well as "put down anytime" if they can do so.

    Most of the RPG's I play don't really necessitate visiting an Inn quite that often. Most of the ones I've watched my friends and YouTuber's play also don't seem to necessitate that much Inn Healing. You probably do play a different kind of RPG. I think the last game I used the "Inn" regularly in was "Seiken Densetsu 3", where there were reasons to actually use it. You could set the time of day by sleeping until that time of day, you could grow some items in the Inn, and you could heal up very cheaply right next to a "save point". In every town in that game, my first stop was the Inn. I'd heal up, use any growables, save my game, and then begin wandering around to talk to NPC's. I'd only use it again if I came back to the town later, though. The game was fairly linear, so there wasn't a lot of "come back to this town later".

    Some of the earlier Pokémon games had a much further distance between it's "Inns". I think there were two noticeably more difficult routes in the first Generation of games. The first, on the way to "Rock Tunnel" at close to the midpoint of the game was so difficult that they put an "Inn" right outside the cave. Without that "Inn", it would be nearly impossible for most players to tackle the very lengthy dungeon after the difficulty spike of the route before it (and inability to backtrack on that route after a certain point, so it becomes a marathon of combat in which the only options are lose to go backwards or push forward to the Inn at the end of the route). The second was close to the end of the game where you need to travel a very long route without combat or a teleport point up to a dungeon... and then travers the dungeon, all its combat, and do its puzzles... before you come out at the end, with the Elite Four. Victory Road. Newer games to the series have had such difficulty toned down quite a bit by shortening routes by a significant margin so that the Inns are much closer together. Dungeons are also much shorter in newer generations (Sun and Moon, in particular, are very small worlds with excessive amounts of places to heal up for free within a 30 second walk of each other).

    I want to avoid something like that with my own game. Inns are generally placed at the "center" of each of my Hub maps. As you gain levels and unlock shortcuts, eventually it isn't very far to get into Town from anywhere in the map. At that point, if the Inn is "too cheap", it risks making dungeon clears much easier than they otherwise would be. Essentially, it would lead to players carrying less Consumables and spending less money. Rather than 6-8 encounters to reach a location, the player may get 1 or 2. The Inn prices are balanced around the Dungeon content (if you finish a dungeon, you'll probably have plenty of cash to spend at the Inn if you want) as well as the initial amount of encounters to get to the location of the dungeon (which adds more money to your pocket until you open up a shortcut). It has the added benefit of not rewarding players a lot for just walking outside of town and then walking in circles right outside the gate to build up their Currency easily to spam "stay the night" at the Inn.

    I'm not sure I'm explaining it right. It's sort of hard to see without seeing how several of the systems interact together.

    The prices were fairly difficult to balance. I'm not sure the endgame prices are what I'll use, but the formula I was using (basic as it is), balances well up to a party of 4. The prices are simply extrapolated out to the 9 Party Member limit since the prices are well balanced up to 4 members.

    It may get changed later. :D

    It simply needs to drain enough cash that the player isn't grinding money right outside of town, but not so much that Consumables are preferable and much cheaper.

    If you're in town, stay the night at the Inn, buy some consumables, save your game, head out of town. Rinse and repeat for every dungeon you clear or bunch of quests you complete.

    Depending on how "intuitive" the mechanic is, I do things differently. If the first dungeon a player runs takes them roughly 20-30 minutes to complete, and drains X amount of resources, most players will tend to think this will apply to most dungeons in the game. Or, think that they'll scale up in length and difficulty.

    So, not a lot of communication necessary in such an instance.

    With "the player needs to always be prepared", I ramp up difficulty after setting expectations. I know I've probably spoken about this before in another topic, but it might be worth repeating.

    The first enemies encountered in the game will deal 2 HP damage to the player. If they avoid the tent they are placed immediately in front of and do not get their first weapon and complete at least the first quest in this Tent, they are going to be missing some vital supplies. With 20 HP, your character is going to be dead in 10 hits. I communicate this to the player by putting them immediately outside the tent. First instinct is to walk inside, right? It's a doorway. You started right next to it. Facing it. You go in, you talk to the NPC, he tasks you with murdering slimes. He gives you a sword to it (it would take you 5 hits to kill a slime without this sword, it takes you 3 to do it with this sword). He shoves 10 of the basic Potion into your backpack as well. Tells you to use them if you need them during your hunt. Once you turn in the first portion of this quest, he gives you the first set of armor you will likely ever have.

    In this short instance, the player is being taught that Consumables are valuable. They can get more stat points by completing Quests. They can get more rewards for completing these Quests (like armor!), and enemies can deal a lot of damage to you if you aren't prepared with equipment and Consumables. It's a short lesson with few consequences.

    I later expand on this lesson with the first dungeon. You can't enter it unless you've got your first party member, or you're carrying enough Antidotes. Without looking to be sure, I think you are required to have at least 5. Antidotes cost 15 Currency. They're highly expensive this early in the game. Basic Healing Potion is 5 Currency, and an Antidote costs 3 of them. The prices alone, should indicate to the player that they need to be more prepared to enter this dungeon. It will not deter some players, however. The first few battles inside this dungeon will quickly run the player out of 5 Antidotes if that's all they have. The dungeon is meant to teach the player to be prepared in a subtle way, using Poison. Poison, in a low stat game, is dangerous. Even at doing 1% of your HP in damage, it will still tick 1 HP of your total 20, in combat. The player isn't likely to get very far with just 5 Antidotes, without an ally. They will need plenty more.

    The amount of Currency dropped in this dungeon is close to 5-7 on average per combat. With a few battles, you could afford a single Antidote. You could also afford a single HP Restoring Consumable after pretty much every single battle.

    Initially, the player will find it more cost effective to just use the Potions instead of curing the Poison.

    Which is why Level 1 and Level 2 Poison exist in this dungeon. And stack.

    But, either way, the player will learn they need to be prepared. They will need to bring Consumables with them. A decent amount of them.

    Ideally, I'd like the player to intuit: "Hey, half my resources are expended and I have no idea how deep I am into the dungeon, I should leave, get more, then come back and try to go deeper". I don't think there's a way to teach that beyond an NPC giving the advice. Especially since so many people on these forums have said, "I just keep pushing forward, even if my resources are almost gone, 'cause I might be close to the end!".

    But, the idea is, you expend half your resources, you leave, buy more, come back. The length of the dungeon and frequency of use of the Consumables gives the player a proper measure for "how prepared" they should be, and how much they should be spending on Consumables.

    Difficulty slowly ramps up in this way. As such, the player will be conditioned to buy consumables before going into the next dungeon with its unknown threats and length. Their initial dives will be expected to be 'rough' where they are learning the new mechanics and gimmicks, and then become easier where they take less damage and can stockpile more Currency and more Consumables.

    It's not that the Inn is "scarce". I don't want the player relying on it heavily by making it too convenient. The relationship between Inn Usage and Consumables is often "proximity" and "price" of both. If the Inn is fairly close by as well as cheaper than Consumables, then it will be relied upon heavily.

    Let me put it this way... The closer your Inn is to the locations the player needs to travel to, the longer that dungeon needs to be in order to necessitate Consumable usage. With my Inns being close to the center of the "hub maps", the player is never truly that far away from them. They may, at some point, have to take a while to get back to the Inn because they haven't yet unlocked the shortcuts by leveling up enough, but once those shortcuts are unlocked, the Inn is fairly close to nearly every dungeon in the area.

    So, if you come back to this hub area (and you will, if you want to do more quests with new party members, backtracking for new content is a major aspect of my game), the new dungeons will need to be far longer than the ones at the beginning were. I can tack on the "travel time" and "travel encounters" as part of the actual dungeon distance. I can use the beginning enemies and beginning dungeons to provide enough combat to easily afford the Inn on every trip back into town. But, when you come back into these initially low level areas again, I can no longer count the "travel encounters" as worthwhile. They are no longer "part of the challenge" of the dungeon. The player will have to go into the new content areas to make money. Then, to get the player to use their Consumables, the dungeon has to be long enough to use them. Or... deadly enough. But, tougher encounters give more money.

    Small point of perspective. The average "dungeon" in an RPG is about 35 total encounters. Some RPG's, it's less. Some, it's a lot more. But, 35 is about what you hit in an average sized dungeon. By the time you exit, you can usually afford the next set of equipment as well as hoard the rest for later usage (this is usually why we end up with 500,000 Currency by the end of the game... the dungeons are giving us too much cash, with very little to spend it on). So, if you traverse the whole dungeon, fight everything, you should walk out with enough money to buy the next set of equipment. You will also have enough to spend the night at the Inn on top of that. What's left over could be spent on buying new Consumables for the next dungeon.

    I want to Retain the consistency of "If you're in town or near it, just stay at the Inn. It's cheaper than spending your Consumables. But, if you're out in a dungeon or something, use your Consumables and learn to fight well so you can walk out with more money to spend on things you want/need".

    This is why the player is signaled the moment they get their first Diamond, "Hey, there's a Quest attached to these. There's a guy looking for them, go talk to him. He's at X location". Then, I rely upon the guy to tell you they're worth something. The Quest Log itself tells you that there are only 430 of them. It tells you how many you've found in each area as well (to make it easier to tell where you've missed a few).

    Likewise, I have other "signposting" in place.

    The first Collectible you are given has a "yellow background" on the icon. All the Collectibles have this yellow background. Whether the player infers this or not... I hope they do. But, the item description also says, "The most valuable of all gemstones. Some collectors might exchange valuable goods for one of these."

    Whether it's enough or not... no idea. But, the player is generally told ahead of time their options. At which point, I can only assume the accidental sale of one of these is from the player not paying attention or caring.

    Depends. Might be bad balancing on my part. Might be bad gameplay on the part of the player. Might be unclear signposting. It depends on the particular way they arrived at that point and whether it remains a frequent occurrence for that player.

    In the instance of an Inn, that amount is purely enough to get them the amount necessary to use the Inn. If you're by yourself and want to use the Inn, you need to defeat 20 of the first enemy in the entire game. Or... you could defeat 3 or 4 of the enemies in the Poison dungeon to afford the Inn visit if you're solo (or, if you're with a companion, you'll need to defeat 8-10 combats to stay at the Inn).

    It isn't really a "Sink" until the player is spending a lot of time and money at the Inn. For example, you'll still get your moments with the characters if you use the Inn through normal means. Get a heal and get to talk to them.

    It becomes a "Sink" when the players are staying at the Inn to get the extra moments instead of the Healing. Maybe that seems unfair to some players. Maybe some players will want to view absolutely everything in the game. I don't know. But, I feel like tying these "early morning" moments to the Inn stay works the best. After all, the player won't know if they've viewed all the scenes until... well... they don't get a new one. They also have no way of knowing what events and quests would trigger more of them being available.

    It could certainly be frustrating. However, none of them are "necessary" content. They are little optional extras. Uncover them through normal gameplay, or spend a bunch of time grinding out Currency to see them all back to back.

    Honestly, I'd consider it a problem to have them linked when most of my players are spending too much time and money at the Inns to see cutscenes. I think most players will simply enjoy a little extra something for staying at an Inn, at the end of each Quest/Story moment.

    I think it largely comes down to player preference. A "Completionist" type would probably never sell a Diamond, no matter how dire their need. They would want every Relic in the game, regardless of usage. A "Min/Max" type player might want both the Relics and the stats, and thus wouldn't sell the Diamonds either (a large stat gain could be easy to obtain without spending a lot of money, after all). A player who has decided they don't like the idea of Relics, however, will probably decide to just sell every Diamond they get. Maybe, buy a bunch of stat points at the end of the game. A player just interested in completing the game, itself, may not worry all that much about either aspect of the game (Relics or selling Diamonds) and simply use what it is at hand to beat the game with as little time spent as possible.

    The value of all these things is meant to be somewhat relative.

    The reason to buy the larger items is to pump up stats with few clicks and fewer time in the menu. Buying convenience. The player is allowed to decide what their time is worth to them.

    Personal example: If you put a puzzle in your RPG, I will pause your game, look up the solution, and input the solution, to avoid mucking about with your puzzle. I do not care to waste time with puzzles in a story driven game that does not revolve around puzzles. But, I will spend time grinding a resource or XP in an RPG and not actively engaging with the story, if the rewards are worth it in my eyes.

    In such an example as you're using, we also have to ask ourselves, "at what point would a player even consider themselves 'powerful enough' and not want to waste time buying a bunch of stats?" Very few players are going to max out a stat. I doubt many would even want to get a full 1000 extra points into any single stat.

    At some point, most players are going to say, "this is probably enough for a stat to beat the game" and move along. Whether they've spent all their money or not. That number is probably closer to 200 points than it is 1000.

    I think it only makes sense to design a system for what you need and what is realistic. Is mine exploitable? Sure. Absolutely. Is there a point to exploiting it to such a degree? To going so far beyond "overkill" with stat purchases? At some point, buying those stats is a waste of time just because you already outclass everything in the game. There's nothing to gain for maxing out your stats. No achievements. No special equipment. No different ending. Your stats are just maxed.

    I think at some point, we have to admit that worrying too much about something just leads to "overdesigning" an aspect of our games. If the player wants to buy 1500 stat points in my game, at the end, go for it. They aren't going to need that many to win. If they want to waste that much time in menus and maximizing Currency per point trade-offs... Let them. After a certain amount of stat points and player skill, every single point purchased into stats is just blowing your Currency for the sake of blowing it. For the sake of seeing bigger numbers.

    As for Relics doubling a stat... It depends on what you value. There are already special sets of equipment in the game that increase stats by raw percentages. In game, they're referred to as "Legend Sets". They don't increase anything by a set number, only increase it by a percentage. The Relics at the end would simply be another piece of equipment that could be used to push the stats even higher than that. If you have multiple pieces of equipment that double a stat, and then you can get Relic that doubles that same stat again... It can add up quickly. If you have 200 Attack and two pieces of equipment that double that... you're looking at 800 points right there. Add the Relic to it, and you've hit "stat cap". Didn't need to buy a single stat point.

    But, it's largely up to the player what they'd like to do. Buy a bunch of stat points... or get all the Relics... Whichever works. Relics typically just add new options to combat. That is their only purpose. If the player doesn't like them, isn't curious to see what they would get at each stage of turn in... they can sell the Diamonds and never worry about money in the game, ever again.

    I don't mind. I like discussing game theory and game design, even when it has nothing to do with my own personal game. A lot of it is very interesting, especially in the way it all kind of connects together. I like conversing with you and hearing your nitpicks (as well as allowing me to nitpick your own ideas) as it lets me see things from a different perspective without it being condescending or antagonistic.

    Many people get very upset when you criticize their game design or the things they've designed. For me, that criticism is a chance for someone to point out to me something I hadn't considered or planned for before. "No plan survives contact with the enemy". It is also a chance for me to refine systems I would've otherwise never considered. For example: Our talk a while back about Visual Encounter Systems Versus Random Encounter Systems. I still prefer my Randoms... But, I have a very clear idea of how I'd implement a Visual Encounter system in the future, if I decided to. A list of features and systems that would interact together to make the act of evading the enemies an experience all on its own... before you even got to combat.

    But... to be really quite honest...

    I probably just really enjoy that you're willing to write me long walls of text back and actually engage in thought-provoking conversation with me. One of the few that doesn't say "tl;dr" to me or complain about my post length and will instead dish it right back to me. Making me take an hour or more to read your post, reread your post, quote it, reread it again as I'm replying, and think about what is being said. I appreciate the amount of detail you give me as well as lengthy explanations and examples. :D

    Okay, I'm up way too late at this point. I've spent several hours typing a reply to this by now, ha ha. I'm going to go to bed. :D I'll check back in tomorrow to see if what I wrote still makes sense in my own mind, and see if you've made a reply.
     
    #14
  15. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    TL;DR



    ...Just kidding!! :guffaw:

    Based on what you said - do I understand you correctly when I infer that characters only gain stats from Items (gained from Quests and Enemy Drops), rather than from Levels?

    Your explanations about why it's "okay" for permanent stat boosts at the endgame vendor to cost only 500G (as compared to consumables and inn stays costing far more) seem to center around the very late placement and obscure role of the vendor. You know what? I'm inclined to agree. (I think this covers my protestations about the value of Diamonds in currency, too.) I still feel like the balance is a bit out-of-whack, but based on the placement and role, it won't do a lot of damage to your game, and maybe players will even find it fun to turn their characters' stats up to great heights for their final hour or two of "postgaming".

    However, I do want to continue picking at your design on the "500 vs 50,000" thing:
    Whatever their time is worth to them, they are saving a lot more time by going through the inconvenience of clicking a bunch of times on the menus in order to save 2000G per point, because I guarantee it will take far longer than that to grind battles for that much currency!

    Think of it like this - if you get to the dealer with around 55,000G in your coffers, and you see you could buy a +1 Boost 100 times, or spend the same amount of money for a +20 Boost 1 time, isn't it obvious which one you'll go for?

    Or from the designer's point of view, let me ask you this (and please answer it; it is not a rhetorical question): it seems like you think 500G is a fair price to charge for a +1 stat boost. Taking that for granted, what purpose is there in punishing your player with a whopping +400% surcharge for the convenience of not having to mindlessly go through the same menus and press the same buttons over and over again? Like, what about the game becomes better for the +20 boost costing 50,000G, instead of the "fair" price of 10,000G (20 x 500)?


    Picking and choosing lines for context here, but responding to your entire explanation.

    While technically it's true that having your Inn far from the dungeon can necessitate more consumable use, I've seen a lot of success cases where the Inn is right next to the dungeon (or there are no encounters between the dungeon and the Inn). If you think about the 35 encounters you might meet in a dungeon - if those encounters are reasonably challenging (and have at least a good chance of laying some damage on your party), and it's not easy for characters to just use healing spells to top off their health, then you're going to need consumables as you run this dungeon.

    Worth emphasizing is that this isn't 35 encounters that are all within a stone's throw of the Inn, where you can heal any time and then continue. Unless the player is just walking around the outskirts of the dungeon (usually a sign they feel the enemies inside are too strong for them), they are going to need to beat 35 encounters in a row in order to come out with anything. If they need to turn back and heal at an Inn, they will then need to do another run where they beat 35 in a row. Most likely, they are going to be challenged, and they are going to need to burn some consumables. It doesn't matter that the Inn is nearby, or cheap to stay at! This will ring true in the early game (the first time you throw even a reasonably-long dungeon at the player), into the mid and late game.

    With that said, I don't think there's any reason to hesitate about giving the player the "economic safety net" of a cheap, reliable, easily-available Inn outside of dungeons, unless you're very worried about players spending lots of time grinding enemies on the world to get way ahead on the power curve. I can see where you're coming from, but I think that if the dungeons run deep (and battles are challenging and in-dungeon healing isn't given for free), the design should inherently take care of creating a need for consumables.


    And that's true. It might be the player's fault, or it might be yours. But my point here is how important it is to appreciate that this lack of a safety net introduces a lot of (IMO unnecessary) design risk into your model. Essentially, you need to be far better than most designers need to be at balancing and signposting things, to create a playable end product.

    Something I've been trying to do lately is to give myself the widest possible "balance target" to hit - that if I mess up a little in balance or signposting, it's something the player can overcome at any point by playing a short segment of the game well.

    Your model doesn't make it impossible to get a satisfying play experience or anything, but it sounds like you're balancing on a tightrope!


    Your signposting with the items sounds decent. Not sure the "different-colored background" will do a lot but it's still a nice touch. Having the item description mention that collectors may trade you nice stuff for it, is a great idea.


    Thanks for the compliments at the end there. I enjoy our back-and-forths too and I really like how we make each other think through the details. I like your quote about plans, and to add another (compliments of Mike Tyson): "Everyone's got a plan until you punch them in the face." :guffaw: I don't know why I like that one so much. The Random vs. Visual Encounters discussion was neat (and I just started implementing a randomized-dungeons mechanic, though in another engine, so I'll get to attempt to put my VE ideas into practice there). Looking forward to more good discussions with you!
     
    #15
  16. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Each Quest completed awards some of the stat gaining items the player can then use on their characters. Enemies do not drop the stat increasing items. Though, in some cases, defeating a boss will count as the same as "completing a Quest".

    In case you were wondering, I did this for a few reasons. The first is that I want the player engaging with the story. So, they are rewarded in a tangible way when they do. The second is to dissuade players from "grinding levels" as a means to overpower a boss, which would really muck up my combat system that relies a bit more on gimmicks than stats in order to provide interesting encounters (stats that are too high, can and will break an encounter and prevent a player from learning a lesson with my design). The third is to make it easier to balance the combat around the stats the player may have at any given point (I can track how many items I have given out as well as which equipment they may have access to at any point in the game).

    Before you ask, yes, I did worry about players dumping every stat point into a single character and being unable to win as a result. For this reason, I made Equipment more valuable in terms of gaining stats than I did the pittance of stats you get from Quest Completion. Basically, it's a seesaw effect. Buy equipment to get stronger. If you can't find any new equipment to buy or in a chest, complete some Quests to supplement current equipment. It seems to work well enough.

    No, there's no safety net to prevent a player from dumping all their stats into a single character. I just try to make sure that at the very least, having the equipment for the area can get you through the fight (even if the bare minimum of stats that equipment gives you makes that fight hard won).

    Anyway, back on topic.

    If they choose to grind for more currency for more stats. ~_^ They're at the end of the game, it's up to them if they want to spend extra time on something so frivolous.

    Rest assured, I do understand the point. I have deliberately ignored engaging in that sort of design for these items in particular. The massive difference is intentional.

    Convenience does not just extend to avoiding menu time. It extends to your inventory management. You can hold 99 of an item. Any item. Only 99. So, at any one time, you can only hold 99 points of a stat. At least, at the lowest tier. At the second Tier where you're getting 2 points, you can hold 198 points of a stat in your inventory. When we reach 5 points per item, you can effectively hold 495 points in your inventory. When we reach 10 points per item, we're holding 990 points in our inventory. At 20, we're holding 1,980 points in our inventory.

    You are paying for the ability to store those stats in bulk as well as use them in bulk.

    Though, admittedly...

    It's the end of the game. It's meant to sink your money. I'll get your money either way. You either waste a lot of time maximizing your stat gains with all your money, or you don't care about maximizing stat gains and buy what you need/want/can afford and move along. I don't expect a player will spend much time, if any at all, grinding some money nearby in order to buy more stat points.

    Just my thoughts on it. I'm charging people for the ability to store these items in bulk. Especially if they decide only to use them once they get to the boss and want to know what to put their points into in order to win more easily by the end.

    That's sort of the interesting part about making them an item. You can use them on anyone. At anytime. There's no need to use them right after buying them from the vendor. After all, if I wanted you to use them immediately, you'd just buy the stat point through a dialogue box instead a shop menu. It would just be immediately added to the character, rather than letting you choose the time, place, and character.

    I might not have made my point very well. I'll try again. If your Inn is close, your players are not likely to use a Consumable until they get deep enough in that they cannot easily just return to the Inn in lieu of expending consumables.

    I've played a few RPG's with the Inn "right outside" the dungeon. I used it to grind the crap out of mobs, get their money, get a lot of XP, and break the difficulty of the dungeon. Distance and price of the Inn matter quite a lot. Especially to maintaining difficulty of a dungeon. With an Inn right outside the dungeon, I need only return when my HP gets to about half. That will be the "halfway point" of my resources. Then, I just need to keep doing this in order to maximize XP/Currency gain.

    But, if it's further away... and is pricy enough to eat a little bit of the gold you had grinded for in the first place... You'll use the Consumables to beat the dungeon, rather than excessive repeated trips that fill your wallet.

    With an Inn so close by, a player need only "brute force" the dungeon. If it's a bit further out, it requires a level of commitment from the player. A level of expected preparedness.

    I want to prevent the player making repeat trips back to the Inn to heal up before completing content. I want it to be used when content is completed. The price reflects a little bit of that design philosophy. "Beat 4 spiders before you come back here to heal up". "Oh, there's two of you? beat 10 spiders before you come back here to heal up".

    It scales upwards since the player effectively has a lot more power with more party members. Or, access to each party member's unique skills.

    The Inns are in the center of most of the maps. The earliest dungeons in each map are relatively close by in order to provide the "safety net". However, if you want to continue to use that safety net, you need to complete more and more content. Go to dungeons further and further away. Collect more XP. Unlock new routes back into the center of the map, where the Inn is. Even then, some dungeons may still be pretty far away from the Inn after all the shortcuts are unlocked.

    You get your "safety net" only at the beginning. For the first one or two dungeons. Then, it's gone. Time to stand on your own two feet... or find a way to be clever and "cheese" the game.

    The distance to the dungeons is scaled so that the player is required to use Consumables more often.
    The prices of the Inn is scaled so that as the game gets easier by acquiring more characters and thus, more power, the price reflects that ease of difficulty (you'll win more combat and need to visit the Inn less often, so you will have more money sitting in your pocket as a result).

    I try to protect the player as much as I can. At least, within reason. If a safety net on a feature would compromise a behavior I want to enforce in a player, or teach the wrong thing, or emphasize the wrong sorts of skills... I just leave the net out.

    We also can't protect the player from everything. As much as I would love to sit over the shoulder of every single player and explain to them exactly what to do and how to do it... I don't think that will be near as much fun for them.

    Sometimes, there's fun to be found in finding yourself in a bad situation you created and then finding a way to get yourself out of it. And learning how to not end up in that situation again.

    It sounds that way to a lot of people. The problem is that when it's played... it's rather forgiving. Many of my skills are "overpowered". The gameplay loop is easy to manage once the player knows what is expected of them. Enemy gimmicks are what require a level of mastery and not enemy mastery (it is important to learn what to do for given situations rather than try to memorize the stats of each monster. If a monster freezes you solid and then hits you with a Blunt attack to deal 400% damage, you should be learning to quickly counter being Frozen by removing it, or doing something to the enemy to prevent the next Blunt attack. Doesn't matter if this is a basic enemy or the boss. Once you see it, just remember the tactic used. it's a tactic the player can even use against the enemies).

    I think it sounds like my game is walking a "tightrope" because I've got all these systems with a bunch of raw stats and ideas in mind. I haven't mentioned something being "within tolerances" yet. The way I talk about my game, it is these very sharp and concise goals and I don't talk about "margin for error" about them at all. It is very much "this is what I want to do, this is how I'm doing it, this is why I'm doing it". I don't talk about the "close enough" moments. Or, the expectations that players will outsmart me. I don't even talk about the ways in which I attempt to teach the player ways to outsmart what I'd designed.

    I always look forward to our discussions. Hopefully, this time, I cleared up some of what I was talking about. I tend to get kind of vague when I don't really have the ability to show someone what I'm talking about.

    I hope you get to experiment a bit with your Encounter System. I also hope I get to see it in action at some point. :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  17. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    I just wanted to chime in here that I’m having trouble imagining situations where you’d actually want to wait to use those stat boosts from this particular vendor, given that you only get access to the vendor right before the end of the game.

    You mentioned that the player could choose to wait to use these items until right before the boss so they could spend the points more effectively (I’m going to extrapolate that this involves losing to the boss once so the player has an understanding of the fight and what characters/stats should be prioritized). But can the extra knowledge of how to spend your points really outweigh the benefit of just having 5x as many extra points to hit the boss with on the first run? It’s the end of the game, so presumably players already have a good idea of what stats are best for which characters/builds. Unless your boss has some sort of paradigm-breaking mechanic that makes the player’s previous understanding of stats irrelevant, I just don’t see the practical benefits of prioritizing inventory space above cost efficiency here.

    I’ll admit that I do personally favor optimization when playing RPGs, so that does color my perspective. However, I think the difference in the power/cost ratio of your highest and lowest tiers is so great that even more casual players will have trouble ignoring it (assuming they’re paying any attention to the math). If the ratio only gave players, say, a 10% advantage in efficiency by exclusively purchasing the lowest tier boosts, then I think many more players would go along with your logic here. But when it’s 500% as efficient to buy the lowest tier compared to the highest, min-maxers aren’t the only players who will decide it’s worth spending the time on the better value.

    Finally, from what I’ve read about your game’s design, my understanding is that some of your goals involve consistently challenging players and keeping them from becoming complacent. These are definitely worthy goals, but the more challenging a game is, the more players will be willing to spend time on optimizing their performance. And if the benefits of optimizing are significant, more players will put up with immediate tedium for the sake of the long-term reward. Similar reasoning probably led you to design the anti-grinding measures you’ve already implemented in your game, so I think it could be worth applying that approach to this case as well.
     
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  18. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Well, when you've got 3 defense stats you have to use, and not just one... and three attack stats and not just one... and every enemy has their own individual stat distribution for which sorts of attacks will work best on them...

    There may be some instances of the game where holding onto the items is more worthwhile. At least, for a little bit. Though, I suspect most players will just drop them all immediately.

    At which point... oh well. It's the end of the game.

    Battle does not have to be a "slug fest" as you seem to imagine it might be. My combat is often not that straightforward. Enough stats could break an encounter, or make my Final Boss very easy. Combat can be anything I imagine it to be. Rules set up elsewhere in the game for what enemies could do (and with RPG Maker, there are some very versatile things you can do here) and then expanded upon or revisited by the final boss.

    Attacks at the end could hit you across 3 different defensive stats. How effective those hits are could depend on any number of factors. This is, of course, not even getting into easy ways to nullify your stats by just dropping States on you. Doesn't matter what your defense is when Poison saps a percentage of HP. Doesn't matter how strong you are if you are hit with Paralyze and can't act.

    The items themselves, exist so that the player can decide who, when, and where, the stats are gained. The player must decide between "shoring up weaknesses" or "making my advantages even more exaggerated".

    But, again... it's the end of the game. I'll get your money by hook or crook. Optimize if you like.

    If I had the price per point always be equal, what would be the point in buying the low stat gain items? Do you really want to buy 99 of the "gain 1 point" items if you can spend the same amount of money by buying 5 of a different item? At the end of the game, is there a point to only spending money for a single point when the option to get more exists?

    Even if the highest Tier only cost 505 Currency in comparison to the 500 Currency, the Tier 1 item is still the optimal price route. Making the price per point equal across the board only obsoletes anything under the highest Tier stuff except if you couldn't afford the highest Tier.

    Then, we get into a whole new Can of Worms in which we have to figure out which is the better method of optimizing stat gain across a whole party... Spend all your money on items that give out high amounts of stats... or split it up into single stat points in order to distribute points equally or to "fine tune" the way the characters play.

    Which inevitably... sort of just devolves into, "then why are these given out as items to begin with? A text prompt could give them to me just as easily and have me pay for each point I say I want".

    My logic is just two things:
    1. It's a Currency Sink. Spend your cash to get rid of it.
    2. Time or Money. Feel free to spend extra time to maximize your money. Or, just spend your money on some quick boosts to save your time and move along to the end of the game.

    Casual players might buy the low tier stuff to start with. I doubt they do it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Because that's not fun. Efficient... sure... But, fun?

    Likewise, at which point do they just realize extra stats are for the sake of them? Is 200 extra points into a stat enough? 300? 500? Maxed out? Where does each player personally draw the line for "necessary"? An enemy with only 50 HP is killed whether you do 50 Damage to it or 6000 damage to it. With a final boss, the extra stats are likely to only grant you a dozen or half a dozen fewer rounds of combat than you would normally have to engage in. Is it worth it to spend so much time to maximize your stat gain via conserving so much money... for 6 less rounds of combat? Or to only need to heal every 5 rounds instead of every 3?

    That's up to the player to decide. However, by this point in the game, I hope I've drilled into the players that stats aren't everything and don't matter so much as what equipment you've brought and what strategies you're using.

    The "Challenge" of my game is finding ways to defend against what enemies do to your party and in finding the most efficient ways to defeat those enemies. It isn't about keeping the player consistently on the "back foot" and "always about to lose".

    Normal Encounters in the game exist to teach the player mechanics they can use against bosses, or how to counter specific strategies used against them.
    Boss Encounters in the game are meant to be a test of those lessons. How well a player learned them and maybe got creative after learning them.

    The "Anti-Grinding" features implemented are largely to prevent players from breaking "Normal Encounters" so that they never learn these intended lessons. A Normal Encounter is designed in such a way that on first interaction with it, it should take roughly 4 actions to kill each enemy. Subsequent encounters of this enemy should move the amount of actions downward. Higher stats remove the necessary "should be using skills in combat instead of mashing Attack" aspect of combat in order to provide "expediency" to the player who already learned the lessons and the enemies are beneath them.

    It's another reason the Stat Gains are tied to Quest Completion. You are at least shown what you should've learned up to that point and are then given stats as proof that you have learned it. Proof that the lesson is no longer necessary. Giving you the keys to bypass the previous lessons.
    --
    Put simply, I know what people want me to do and why they want me to do it. I have deliberately ignored it in this single place of my game. I did that for the two reasons I listed above. It does not impact Final Boss difficulty significantly (or in some end states of the game... at all) that I worried about implementing it. The extra points will help you survive if you make mistakes (allow you to make more mistakes, essentially) and allow you to finish combat more quickly than you otherwise might.

    The theming of the final battle is less "I am saving the world from an massive threat!" and more the "cap stone" to the game's overall experience. Almost a formality of getting to the end. A victory lap, if you will. One last battle to let you show off what you've learned.

    So, by all means... spend a bunch of time and money min/maxing. I don't mind at all. The vendor is doing what it is intended to do. Take your money. Provide the player one last avenue to spend anything they have left by the end. Provide a sense of "mitigating danger" through doing it (even though it may not necessarily help all that much, depending on End State of the game). Or, perhaps, a location to base from so that you can go back and knock out any Quests you haven't yet completed by rofl-stomping the challenges.

    The prices matter very little due to the placement of the vendor.

    But, if it helps... think of it sort of like the traditional "Level Up" system in most RPG's. Most players... despite having the ability to easily grind to obscene levels before the end boss... don't. Not unless they've already fought the boss and had issues doing it. They reached the end of the game at level 55, so they'll fight the boss with the current amount of power they have. They usually even forgo getting the "best equipment" in the game for such an event, because it isn't necessary.

    Now, with this vendor... you can still grind for your stats. For your endgame equipment. Sit there and max out all your stats if you like. Just like you might with the toughest monsters in the game that give the most XP. Except, I make that experience a little faster and better. Spend your money, instant level ups. Do you want to do a lot of grinding? Buy the low tier stuff and grind out a lot of levels. Only want to do just a little extra? Buy the high tier stuff and move along to the end of the game.

    The prices are the player deciding how much "grinding" they want done before the end of the game.

    And, we're not even taking into account how powerful or useful equipment can be at this stage of the game.
     
    #18
  19. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    @Tai_MT

    Even with 6 different offense/defense stats, you’ve still got a problem. Simplified scenario: I have enough money to buy 100 stat points via high-tier boosts or 500 stat points via low-tier boosts. By sticking to the low-tier boosts, I can put up to ~83 points in all 6 offensive/defensive stats at once. High tier boosts have me cap out at 100 points in a single stat for the same money value, so they leave players at a disadvantage if the boss requires more than one offensive and/or defensive stat to beat. As such, I believe my point stands that the difference in efficiency is undermining your intended design. In most scenarios, the player who purchases the low tier boosts will still have an advantage over the player who loses once to the boss and then targets specific stats with expensive consumables. The only way the low tier boosts don’t come out ahead is if the player happens to spend the majority of their points on just a couple stats which aren’t very important for the boss. However, at this point in the game, they should have learned that it’s often not beneficial to put all their eggs in one basket.

    Though since you haven’t said otherwise, I assume targeting the best stats to boost would require purchasing the consumables after you’ve fought the final boss once and seen what it can do. This would mean returning to the vendor outside the final dungeon to purchase the “correct” consumables based on what you learned, and then going back to the boss again. Unless I’m missing something important, this kind of defeats the purpose of the high-tier boosts letting you hold more total stat boosts at once in your inventory. If you’ve seen what the boss does and know which stats will help most, you might as well use the boosts while you’re still in front of the vendor. I can’t see any reason to wait to use them until you’ve gone back to the end of the dungeon for the second time.

    As for what value the low-tier consumables would have if the ratio was equal...I mean, do they need to be there at all? Just selling the highest tier or couple highest tiers still achieves your general goal of having a currency sink, right? Why not just take them out?

    I didn’t say this, so I don’t know why you put those particular phrases in quotes. All I said was that you’re aiming to challenge players and keep them from becoming complacent, and that as a result, you should expect your players to look for opportunities to optimize.

    Finally, your description of how you’ve made your game’s version of “grinding” much faster than usual via this vendor is exactly the point I was trying to get at. In typical RPGs, most players won’t try to grind up dozens of levels before the final boss because it would take hours to do, and most don’t want to play the same battles for that extreme length of time. But by expediting the process of “grinding” and making the efficiency gap between stat boosts so large, you’ve lowered the entry barrier for players who might consider participating in that sort of behavior. The players who normally don’t bother with grinding before the final boss may decide that stat boost “grinding” is worth the much smaller time investment required.

    To give an example from a published game I’m very familiar with: in Bravely Default, near the end of the game you get access to a special passive ability that automatically KO’s (almost) every normal enemy in the game at the start of each battle. It’s designed specifically to speed up grinding at a point in the game where it doesn’t dramatically affect balance anymore. A significant number of BD’s players opt to grind for the hour needed to max out their party before fighting the final boss. This is largely because the game put in a mechanic to make it go by quickly and because the end of the game is somewhat challenging. It’s not remotely necessary to spend that hour grinding in order to beat the game (strategy is far more important than levels in BD), but players regularly opt in anyways because they like the idea of having that small advantage. Would as many still grind to max it if it took 6+ hours, like a more typical JRPG endgame grind? Definitely not. But since the game lowered the entry barrier for this type of behavior, many decided it was a worthy investment.

    So yeah, I’d still recommend re-examining your price ratios and the larger decision to sell low tier stat boosts at an endgame vendor. I think the incentive to buy the low tier boosts is just too high, especially because players who do the math are going to feel like they’re outsmarting you (even though you’re actually aware of it). Players are more likely to behave like you’re hoping if you bring the prices more into line, even if there’s still some advantage to purchasing the lower tiers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
    #19
  20. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Except it doesn't undermine my intentioned design, as I've already stated twice.

    I'm getting your money regardless. You're spending it regardless. By hook or crook. If you want to be silly about it and waste a ton of time to get a bunch of low Tier stats... go for it. Zero guarantee they will help you as you intend them to do in the final battle of the game.

    The goal with the vendor in this location and with these prices is to get as much of your money as possible. That's all. Nothing more. Nothing less. If the player wants to "feel clever" and like they're "exploiting the system" or that the big things "aren't worth the effort", oh well. That's by design.

    I don't care whether you spend 500,000 Currency on 5000 bottom tier boosts or on 200 top tier boosts. I still got your money. Whether you feel clever about it or not is up to you.

    If this vendor were anywhere except the very end of the game... the last 15 minutes of gameplay, I'd consider "balancing for efficiency" in order to better screw over players like yourself. Alas, it's at the end of the game, the last 15 minutes, and it's only purpose is to get you to spend your cash. It doesn't exist to give you extra stats. It doesn't exist to help you balance out your party. You can certainly use it for these things, but that is not its purpose.

    It's purpose, pure and simple, is to give you a final vendor to spend your money on. Something that feels incredibly useful and powerful and important.

    That's it.

    Nope. You can purchase an equal amount of stats if you like and use them on party members who take extra damage from specific attacks after the first fight. No trip back necessary. But, if you don't want to hold onto those items and want to use them immediately... go for it.

    I propose it as a possible strategy for a player to take. It is not the intended course of action. It's a strategy I would use, myself, to "min/max" my own characters. I've done it in a great many games. Hoarding my stat points until I absolutely had to have something to progress or mitigate some issue is a common behavior for me.

    The stats in item format exist for several reasons.
    1. Use them anywhere, anytime, on anyone. If you have no character that uses "Agility" as a primary attack stat yet, it can be worth holding onto these items until you get one, in order to buff them so they are more useful in combat. If you have a character that you have decided will wear only Heavy Armor, you may have found it very useful to stockpile the "Magic Defense" increasing items to shore up that particular weakness of that particular build.
    2. The stat points can be distributed however a player likes, making builds as they please. It is possible to turn mages into Physical Attackers, or Glass Cannons, or Debuffers. Putting stats where necessary to capitalize on those builds will likely require "holding onto" stat point items for instances where you would want to use them.
    3. If I just awarded stat points for completing a quest instead of items, it would be far more difficult to keep track of which party members are in the party, changing rewards based on that, or mucking about with the "Open World" aspect of the game to keep players from overpowering themselves through some other system I'd probably have to design in its place that is less controllable and trackable.

    What "correct" consumables? Why do you assume there are correct ones to buy? If the player simply decides they would like to mitigate damage from a specific source later, to avoid having to heal up or what-have-you, they buy stats to do just that. If, however, they decide they don't care about mitigating that damage, they can buy whatever else they decide is valuable.

    The vendor is absolutely not necessary to the Final Boss at all. The stats gained from it are largely "redundant" at such a point in the game. You can win without buying a single one.

    This assumes you don't buy any the first time around and have to trek back to buy the ones you want. Which, you probably wouldn't do as a player. There are two options here:
    1. You see the vendor, purchase what you want, use it immediately.
    2. You see the vendor, purchase what you think you might need, use it if the boss beat you pretty good with a single tactic that a few stat points could counter on a second attempt.

    A player would likely not skip this vendor, run the last dungeon, and attempt to defeat the boss... then lose... and trek back out of the dungeon to buy the stats that would work.

    If having them exist at this vendor or not having them exist at this vendor accomplishes the same thing... why does it matter how I decided to do it? You are given the option at this vendor, you can choose whatever you prefer.

    If you're asking me why I would personally prefer having all the items available... it's fairly simple with no grand design behind it or anything. Nothing amazing or intelligent behind the decision. Nothing groundbreaking.
    1. I like to "fine tune" my characters. I don't just want to dump the maximum stats into anything possible. If I only need 3 points into "Attack" to accomplish what I like, and I can invest the rest of the money into items that boost another stat by 20, I'll do it. I prefer the option, so it's there.
    2. If I didn't offer all the Tiers of items, someone would whine and complain they didn't all exist at this location. "I can only buy the highest Tiers and they're so expensive! Why can't I buy a few stat points for cheaper?". So, the option is there.
    3. Personal preference. It doesn't hurt anything. It's an option I provide for the sake of providing the option. I don't even need to put one of these vendors in the game at all. I could simply have the entrance blocked off to the boss of the game by an event that simply takes all your money and gives you nothing in return. I could simply have it be a "point of no return" and charge 6x the amount for consumables from this vendor that you would use to heal with. Lots of other ways to get you to spend your Currency. I thought it would be "good form" to reward the player with stat points. I thought it would be great to have one last "make a choice" in a game about making choices through the vendor.

    Sure, they're meant to optimize. But, they're also meant to have their optimizations challenged. As for the quotes... they are what people mean when they say "challenge players" most often. It is not what I'm aiming for. I'm not aiming to "challenge" players. I'm looking to "engage" players. If they become complacent, they are no longer engaged. If they stop learning new tricks, they become complacent and disengage. If they can rely on the same thing again and again, they become complacent and disengage.

    So... regular enemies teach lessons. Bosses require you to prove you understood those lessons. Engagement.

    There's the difference though. The one you cited as the reason people "opted in" to the behavior. The one that proves my point. Currency is difficult to obtain. If you have saved up so much currency by the end and you buy a bunch of stat points just to get a bunch of extra power... you get it... and then you're done once the money runs out. It is not a "permanent" feature as in Bravely Default which makes it easy to max out forever and ever until the end of time. There is a limit. That limit is how much Currency you have once you get to that vendor. That limit is whether or not the player decides they want to spend every single piece of Currency they have to be as "efficient" with their money as possible, or if they just want to get a few things and move along to actually finish the game. That limit is the grinding of money that would be necessary once the player has spent it all, with the intent to max out all their characters.

    And, if we're looking at prices from several posts ago... just buying 490 points in 7 of the 8 stats for one character... 565,950 Currency for a single character. Would the player really have that much Currency by the end? My goal is to get them to have maybe 100,000 by the end. They'll have more if they sell the Diamonds, for sure, but that's player choice as well. Even with 100,000 Currency, they will obtain a grand total of 200 Stat items, total. Which they would either all plow into a single character, or have to spread across the party of 4 that they are using (50 points per character). So, even with "efficiency", you're looking at 200 points into a single character or 50 extra points across 4 characters. That's what you get for 100,000 Currency. You need 500 Currency to even get a single item.

    The "endgame grind" if you choose to engage in it... is simply buying your last few stat items. Whether you want to just buy a few to spend your last little bit of money or attempt to get the most out of it, the goal is still the same on my end. Getting as much of your Currency by the end of the game as I possibly can. Giving you value for that Currency in return.

    What's wrong with players feeling like they've outsmarted me? They can have that if they want.

    Players are likely to do exactly what I predict them to do with this vendor: "Spend everything". That's the goal. That's the purpose. That's the behavior I want to get out of them.

    I'd consider rebalancing the prices if the vendor mattered more than it does. If those stat points were necessary. If its location was not at the end of the game. If it's very existence and exploitable nature didn't tie into the themes of the game. Then again, I'd have simply designed it properly to start with, if I were looking to do something more with it than simply "Drain your Currency as close to 0 as I possibly can". I'd have made the bulk stats be a "slight discount" after all. Or, all of them the same price per point, but higher tiers unlocked via the "Guild Certificate" currency spent instead (so you're buying more efficiency).

    But, that's not what I did.

    I made the conscious and deliberate decision to design it the way it is currently designed.

    For the purposes of this thread... It's a Currency Sink. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else it does... is beyond the scope of the topic.
    ---
    If you're curious, I spent quite a while deciding on whether or not to even include the vendor at all.

    The idea behind it was, "I need something to get players to spend money at the end of the game, before the final boss fight. I'd like them to want to buy it, want to spend every penny, and feel good for having spent it all. A final Currency Sink".

    Selling stats was the easiest solution.

    How much do I sell them for? After all, the items in the Database have a value of 0 so that players don't sell them to vendors for cash that they then use to buy equipment or Consumables. A weapon that adds 50 extra points to a stat is worth more than an item that adds 20 extra points to a stat, after all. So, what do they cost?

    I have no idea what they should cost.

    So, I look to tie it into the rest of the game before deciding on a price.

    Where, exactly, should this vendor be? Final town? Probably not. It would invite a lot of excess grinding. It would also allow the player to more easily break remaining Quests fairly easily, and they've still got some of the game to go once they reach this town. A good place would be as close to the boss as possible. If I put it inside the dungeon, the player will just grind the area nearby and revisit the vendor repeatedly. But, if I put it outside of the dungeon, maybe just a bit outside... the player is less likely to leave the entire dungeon just to come back and buy more stats. They are more likely to grind the first room of the dungeon, maybe, but not the middle or end of it. At some point, they will be committed to the task. I can convince them that their power is enough by just letting them see how much more powerful they are in the final dungeon before ever reaching the boss. It will likely convince them they don't need to grind.

    But, what if they want to grind anyway?

    500 for 1 stat point seems plenty to keep the excess grind on. If the baseline enemies in this area give you 500 Currency, you have to fight 99 of this enemy to get 99 of a stat. Even if they show up in pairs, that's 50 battles to get 99 of an item. Perfect.

    Okay, but the enemies in the final dungeon will likely be dropping more money than that. I'll just have to balance the Currency gain in this dungeon. Maybe, it doesn't dip much above 600 Currency per enemy.

    Okay, so just scale up the other items to offer the same "currency per point" the original offers, so they can buy in bulk when they first arrive instead.

    Then, what reason do they have to buy the smaller versions except when they can't afford the largest versions?

    Maybe that's enough though? Offer the smaller versions just to take as much of the currency as possible.

    I like the idea of getting all their currency. As much of it as I can get. 0 them out if I can.

    That's the goal. Get all their money. All of it. Every single piece. I can't forget that. That's why I decided to do this to begin with.

    But, selling stats is so boring. Can I do anything more interesting with this?

    What if I allowed players to spend remaining "Guild Certificates" at this vendor? I can do that, but what on earth would they even do? Unlock higher tiers of the items if you have them? But, if I did that, there'd inevitably be some complaints about people having spent all their Certificates already, and this shop is the best shop in the game that they didn't know existed or would ever exist, so how could they have known to save 4 of these certificates?

    Okay, so the Certificates need to do something different for this shop.

    How about a discount? An extra X% off each Certificate used? What about 10% off? That sounds pretty good. Get 200 Currency off the Tier 1 item, and 4000 Currency off the Tier 5 items. A final reward for players who managed to save just a few extra items towards the end.

    What else can I do with this? Anything? It's still kind of boring.

    What if I tied it into the themes of the story?

    How could I do that? It's a shop.

    What if I go back to the point of the very first Questline? What if this vendor is a "Bookends" to that very Questline? The same point made to the player in a different way? Okay, how do I do that with a vendor?

    Easy!

    The point of the first Questline is that it doesn't start out as "busywork", but quickly devolves into it. The point is that it's super tedious. The point is that it is the player making a decision for a "meta reason" and not for a "story" reason. They get a great reward whether they complete the quest or fail it due to never completing it. It's not the same reward. But, the point of the reward is the same. "If you grind a game for gameplay rewards, you only get gameplay rewards. If you grind a game for story rewards, you get story rewards".

    I need to alter my prices to accomplish this same thing. Okay, so how do I do that? How high do the prices need to be?

    What if I use the selling price of a "Diamond" as the upper limit for a Tier 5 item? You can sell a Diamond for the same price you can buy a Tier 5 item for. Okay, pretty reasonable. Few players would ever buy it at that cost. Not when they could get 5 times as many stat points for the same cost. Okay, the "grind" is in place.

    How do I scale these items? I've got five of them.

    Do the prices in between really matter? Yeah, probably to a small extent.

    I'll scale them by "500 extra gold per stat point" a piece. Easy enough to manage mathematically and the prices between the two extremes won't matter near as much.

    Okay, book ends done. Final vendor mirrors the first Questline. A play on the themes of the game to cap it off. The player gets a final "hurrah" by buying stats... they are rewarded for holding onto some extra items at the end... they are rewarded if they decide to spend a lot of time grinding out stat purchases... and... the points are basically unnecessary to the final boss.

    Wait, what was my goal with this again?

    Oh yeah. Currency Sink. I want every single penny they have. Does this still accomplish that?

    Yep, it still seems to. The player actually might be very willing to engage with this vendor and spend every last Currency they have. Spend it on just a few boosts or a lot of boosts. Trade their time for power.

    I'll have to test play this at some point to make sure every player is spending every single piece of Currency they have at this vendor and that they feel good for doing it. But, I think it'll work.

    Thanks for playing, dear player. You arrived with nothing, you leave with nothing. You can't take it with you. Man, that sounds good. I wonder if I could put that at the end of my game. I'll write it down and see if it's still appropriate after my final boss.
    ---
    There ya go. My entire process for doing it the way I did it. More or less. Paraphrased and abridged. I don't think I could remember a month of agonizing over this single vendor in its entirety.
     
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