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. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Me personally? I usually remove money to avoid this issue! :L

    I don't know how to balance money. What I have done in the past is just make money equal to exp gain (as a based, I can change specific enemies), then decide non-consumable prices based on that. I honestly haven't found a money system that's better than "it works" for most games (although Gratitude in Dragon Quest Builders might be slowly approaching better than that). Consumables are just bizarre. I don't even like MP that much and prefer the idea of prices being tied to a given combat. I've been tinkering with 'consumables' being items you can use a limited amount of times per battle and skills having cooldowns.

    Really, I don't get money. I've taken classes on economy, I've learned taxes from multiple sources, I've studied historical currency set up for roleplaying, and I feel like I know less than I did a decade ago about this.

    As a related thing, I do like the idea of removing MP>HP skills. It was something I thought Paper Mario did great and then never really saw again. Then again, extremely limited inventory with a flow of items coming in was another good part of that game, if not done fantastically.
     
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  2. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    @kirbwarrior Honestly, knowledge of taxes, economics, etc really isn't going to do you much good in terms of money in a single-player, finite-duration game and, if anything might only cause you to overthink things. Money in the classic-style RPG is really just a bit of a math game: Once you know how many fights roughly will be fought in a given area, you can allocate money among foes and chests accordingly.

    Somewhere near top of the great wall of WTFspam on page, I posted what I think is a good way to look at money allocation from a mathematical standpoint. Feel free to give it a try.
     
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  3. kairi_key

    kairi_key Veteran Veteran

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    Imagine a game where government limited the number of monster hunt in a day to prevent people from money grind.
     
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  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @kirbwarrior That's one of the most refreshing admissions I've heard in a long time!! I think that given how rarely we look at an RPG's economy and say "wow, this made the game so much more compelling", it's likely that very few (if any) designers have really mastered its design.

    Perhaps it's something we need to learn more from other genres (particularly 4X strategy games) on - even if the answer is not to replicate what's there. Or perhaps we need to do more of what you mentioned - leaving out money entirely!

    You mentioned that you like when games eliminate spells that essentially convert MP into HP. I tend to agree with you about that, as it makes it harder to erase mistakes and encourages quicker combats. What do you consider to be the major effect of that decision on the game's economy? (And, in the same breath, what do you consider its effect to be on the divide between players who are sailing smoothly through combat, versus players who are struggling?)

    @Aesica Please be respectful of my giant walls of text; I swear there are one or two really useful bits of advice in my Old Man Wave rambling! ;)
     
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  5. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Oh I've seen all sorts of weird tricks to get around the money grind, but I'm not sure I like most of them so far:
    • Finite encounters: Obviously finite encounters means you can't grind, but it creates another problem--gotta catch 'em all syndrome. Some of the games that did this also had a lot of points-of-no-return which only made things worse.
    • Enemies don't drop money, or really anything. Gold is in treasure boxes only. Same problem as above, but it also adds the problem of fights being even less desirable. (The game I'm thinking of in particular didn't have levels either, so random fights really were a waste of time)
    • You get a stipend every so often: Hello FF8. Anyone who's played that game can probably remember money being pretty lame in it.
    • No money, everything is in treasure chests or drops. This is probably the the best approach of the ones I listed.
    Honestly, I don't see the need to prevent people from grinding. I may not care for it, but I know some like/are okay with it, so it's nice if the option is there for them. If money is balanced enough that your players never really feel like they need to grind for it (at least not beyond a few extra fights) then that's probably good enough. I also think it's okay if money becomes less useful toward the end of the game, but that's just me.
     
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  6. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I never overthink things! I always overthink things.
    Generally speaking, treating money this way is pretty easy. Make money equal to exp, figure out levels/exp/money gain, cost nonconsumables around it, don't care about anything making sense, consumables are basically free (this last part is very Final Fantasy).
    At some point I'll go read over all of that. It does look interesting.
    Limited max money, limited inventory space, good item flow, I feel Paper Mario did it well. The main thing is that money's main concern in that game is healing the player. Badges aren't ever super expensive and usually found other ways, and primary equipment is found through story events.
    I really like what Fire Emblem 6 did and give you the ability to (find the secret shop and) buy stat up items with all the money you accrued.
     
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