Author Topic: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes  (Read 15097 times)

Styg

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Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« on: December 24, 2013, 11:08:16 AM »
The level design is mostly complete for the new areas, but there's still some scripting and lots of dialog to be done, so it'll be a couple more weeks. Alongside working on the new content, I'm also doing major re-balancing of some game mechanics in order to improve the game economy, both in monetary sense and in other aspects. I'm going to talk about the former now and we'll leave the latter for another dev log.



The first big change I made is I limited the type and amount of goods merchants are willing to buy from you. Merchants will now only buy certain type of goods depending on what their store deals in and they will require only a certain amount of each, with exception of certain goods they will always be looking to buy (such as bullets for example). The type and amount of goods they require at the moment is randomly selected from that merchant's "market demand table" so to speak and it's reset every time the merchant restocks their inventory (typically every 90 minutes). So you will no longed be able to sell all the junk you hauled from your latest raid to the first merchant you see.

And speaking of hauling junk, I've also implemented item weight system. You'll get the progressively higher movement speed and movement point penalties the more you carry above your capacity and if you carry way too much you will actually get rooted into place. This is something I've put off implementing for quite some time because I wasn't sure it'll actually add any value to the game. I dislike these mechanics in most RPGs, especially the party-based ones because more often than not they only result in more inventory management chores without having (or needing to have) much impact on the game economy. But in certain games where exploring and scavenging are the main concepts of the game and where economy actually matters, and I believe Underrail to be such a game, I feel that liming the player inventory in some way (either through weight or space) is beneficial to the overall gameplay experience.

And finally, to go along with these changes, I've reduced the price multiplier when purchasing items. I'ts currently at 175% (down from 350%), but might change further by the time the update is ready depending on how it works out when I get the time to do a real playthrough. I've also reduced the item durability penalty to its cost and have increased the durability range of items looted from corpses (they won't be near broken all the time now).

So why all these changes? Well here's my take on it.

The way the economy works in the live version of the game is like this: loot everything, get every piece of junk. No matter if you need it for crafting or not, no matter the price, just as long as it can be sold - pick it up (basically always hit "loot all" on every container). The more people you kill, more loot you get which directly translates into more wealth so you're always encouraged to handle every situation by killing as many as possible. And if you do not play like this you will get way less loot, and because the merchant prices and item durability penalties are balanced more towards this "optimal playstyle", you can easily run into money problems.

In the new system, you'll only want to hold onto the valuable stuff and the stuff you actually need (for crafting or consumption) because you can carry a limited amount and because can only sell so much in a given time frame. You might wonder won't the weight system just encourage power gamers to make multiple trips to a dungeon to get all the stuff out and store it somewhere to be sold later when the market demand resets? Well, they can do that, yes, and it will work to a degree, but in the time it takes to make multiple trips to the same (possibly remote) place you can do more fun stuff such as exploring new areas, doing new quests, gaining XP and by doing this, you will also get new loot to sell for when the merchants reset.

There will still be more efficient and less efficient ways to make money - it is not my intention to try to prevent that. Accumulating wealth is one form of power gaming and for a lot of people power gaming is one of the major motivations for playing RPGs. I believe this new system will be more fun to play with for everyone. People who want to get as much money as possible will now try to find the most expensive stuff to sell as opposed to as much stuff, while those who take the more casual approach to the economy won't be left hopelessly behind either just as long as they scavenge intelligently.

In any case, let me know how you guys feel about these changes.

Sakuragi

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 11:50:58 AM »
Do not underestimate the power of loot. I for one cannot allow one single piece of loot left around for the dust to make their home. Anyway. I like what you are planning right now because for me i hate unlimited inventory space.
Good work on the progress, have a nice Christmas and New Year.

Banggunner

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2013, 12:07:39 PM »
Looking good! I really like to loot stuff, but as long as the overall value of looted stuff is average/high + there is enough loot to loot (at the moment there isn't that much but as announced in previous dev.logs that will change in the next patch), I won't mind leaving some loot behind. Also extending the durability time on equipment and reducing the price multiplier will make up for leaving my precious loot behind.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone ;)
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Ivan Bajlo

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2013, 05:43:24 PM »
I would rather prefer some side quests which requires absurd amount of cash as solution to excess money (so hoarding money would make sense) or maybe ordering custom gear from merchants? Maybe even some high level robbers who will follow you around if you start to make huge amount of money from the loot and carrying cash with you... forcing you to either hand over most of your money or get killed (or stash your money and loot somewhere and go back for it when needed).  ;D

Instead of merchants refusing to take same type of loot the price should drastically drop for each extra item making it pointless to sell it but if you want to get rid off it quickly for some reason... basics of market economy.  :D


Maybe option of buying store from some merchant in financial trouble (tons of extra cash gone) and then using it to sell loot you gather (via merchant who now works for you) but that would naturally be a slow process and you get small amount of money from time to time (what is left after paying salaries to merchant, store guard(s), loot quality and quantity you offer = more quality loot more money...) but in total more then selling directly to merchants.

This way you get yourself nice storage facility in which you can set which items you want to sell (aka selling shelves which you stock with your loot and won't get shot by guard if you take something back ;) ) and which items you want to buy (buying shelves on which you place money you want to spend and single piece of items you want to get i.e. 12,7mm round and in few days money is gone and some rounds "magically" appear which you can collect or just add more money) or just store for later (classic storage shelves in separate room), also some expensive item could appear from time to time which is being offered to you (either via merchant or special shelves).

Maybe even option of expanding store with repair shop (which naturally costs tons of cash) but you get repairman and shelves on which you place items you want to recycled and items you want to be repaired (which you can pick up fully repaired in a few days)... this would solve need for recycle en masse and lot of micromanaging with recycle and repair after early game and player had lots of money and loot.


But as long as feature is added allowing us to recycle items en masse it shouldn't be a problem, one of the main reasons for gathering tons of crappy lot is to convert it to repair kits, also if any junk left behind never disappears I have no problem with multiple trips (few extra containers to store excess lot in one place wouldn't hurt)

Limiting inventory size (instead of just weight which can be carried without penalties) would be bad since that one is always a nightmare to work with.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2013, 05:35:43 PM by Ivan Bajlo »

JohnyCrown

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 06:43:01 PM »
I like all the changes except one.  Limiting what the merchants buy I think is fine but limiting the amount I think is a little too extreme.  An alternative that I don't think would be too extreme and still retain some exclusivity would be to brand certain shops and have them always be willing to buy an amount of those.  If not that then bonus money for what the shops are currently looking for but are still willing to buy other things within its type. 

For instance have certain shops have labels (seen or unseen) for instance medicine shop, tool shop, weapon shop, armor shop, weapon/armor shop, item shop, general store, etc. make anywhere between 5-10 shop 'types' and have them willing to buy whatever is in their type with no limits.  For example a weapon shop will buy anything classified as a weapon but will pay more for what they have in demand.  This I think will also pander to the economist who only wants to sell things at top value to hold on to their items until shops have them in high demand.

I think this will be a restriction that isn't too severe but will still have limitations in place and give extra incentive to hang on to things for people who want to get the best prices available but the cost in doing this means they will have to manage their inventory better also with weight limits and such.

LazyMonk

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2013, 10:13:54 PM »
Great, awaited, changes Styg.
Looting and shopping will feel much more rewarding from now on.
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Headcat

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 12:30:20 AM »
I really dont like a weight system. I hated it in Fallout 3, when i was slow as f**k when i picked up too much stuff from the envirement. It destroyed a lot of fun and i spend most of the time carrying things from one place to another to get them all. it happend alot that i earned more heavy weapons from a mass fight than i could carry with me and it was stressfull and annoying bs to walk like 20-30 minutes back to the "homebase" several times to get everything.

please delete this feature, seriously. its more realistic i know, and i bet you spend hours and hours to develope and attach it into the game, but it will slow the game down and drastically lower the fun in one of the things most of us love to do in underrail: collecting, collecting, collecting, getting every single peace from every single shelve, enemy and so on.

at least make it effect the motion speed less. please. its going to hurt the game alot.

sry for my bad english.
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Eliasfrost

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2013, 12:19:29 PM »
I like a weight system that rewards you for thinking ahead and only picking up what you need and the most valuable items. With the scavanging nature of Underrail I think it's a very good implementation to only pick up what you really needs and skip the junk or the items that your build don't use. Great changes!

And merry christmas everyone!

LazyMonk

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2013, 05:13:31 PM »
Without a limited inventory you have less choices as a player.
You don't have to chose which items you take with you in mission, neither what items will you loot and neither which items are you going to have to spend your hard earned credits to get. You can bring everything with you, loot everything and buy almost everything you desire.

And to me choices and living with its consequences are the best part of any RPG.
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epeli

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2013, 12:48:40 PM »
Ooh, a major economy change. I also spy the new compass item.
Will be interesting to see how this plays out... this combined with the earlier repair/durability value changes and the upcoming "other aspects", the next version is going to play very differently!

Item weight system is going to add a nice bit of RPG feel to the game without being too restrictive, I hope. Looting & loadout choices, a reason to store extra valuables in your room instead of lugging them around everywhere (by the way, are all containers secure or will items disappear if you leave them lying around god knows where?) and less inventory clutter in late game. Styg doesn't like weight restrictions, so he wouldn't punish his players with an annoying weight system.. right? ;)


Instead of merchants refusing to take same type of loot the price should drastically drop for each extra item making it pointless to sell it but if you want to get rid off it quickly for some reason... basics of market economy.  :D
Seconding this, I was just about to suggest the same.
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screeg

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 04:19:17 PM »
I understand that developing a viable economy has been a goal for Underrail all along, but you've gone way too far on player restrictions.  Here's what we've got so far:
  • degrading items (dislike this, but only because I'm going to be spending so much time on the excellent crafting system)
  • weight limit (hate this)
  • merchants won't buy everything (creates busywork for player, ie. you can get the same end result, sell everything, it just takes more time)
  • if you find the right merchant,  he will only buy a limited quantity of the few items he actually wants (makes sense at least)

Most games are happy with one of those restrictions.  You're bleeding the fun out of looting and turning it into a junkyard management sim.  :) Proposed changes:
  • Have a "junk man" in each zone who will buy anything you've got, but at 50% of the going rate.
  • Make all junk components like scraps of fabric and metal, saw blades, computer parts, empty syringes, worthless to sell.  This would make balancing A LOT easier, and will save the OCD gamer from spending 90% of his time staring at his inventory.  Probably prevent a couple of suicides too.  You'll be saving lives!!
  • Get rid of the weight limit.  Ugh, I can't decide if I hate that more or having to visit four merchants to clear my inventory.  If you have to do something like this, make it a size limit.  Then at least we don't have to do the weight/value math in our heads for every worn out pistol and leather armor we pick up.
If you're going to stick with disposable lockpicks (another ugh), can the game auto-select the lowest bonus lockpick to do the job, and also give you an instant result if the lockpick isn't going to work?  What would be easier and even better is if we went back to non-disposable lockpicks.

Happy New Year!

Styg

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 06:11:52 PM »
Restrictions (at least in this sense) are one of the things that make games fun for me. They are a part of the game's rules that you need to learn and adapt to, keeping them in mind as you make choices in order for those choices to actually be meaningful.

For those suggesting that merchants should still accept all items but at reduced price - the main idea is not to make your junk less valuable, I could have done that with a couple of lines of code, but instead to force you to loot smarter.

People need to abandon the notion that they need to pick up every item they come across. As LazyMonk suggested, having no limitation on looting and selling means no choice, no involvement from player's side except pressing "loot all". Now, I guess some people are a bit crazy like that and picking up everything that's not nailed down is an actual need, but for an averagely sane person hunting down really valuable equipment and necessary components instead should be more fun (and much more like actual scavenging). Or at least I'd like to think so, we'll see.

Now, as I understand some of you are concerned about HOW restricting this system will be. The actual amount the merchants will buy with each reset and the player's weight limit is something that will be tweaked over time, just like other parameters. The idea is not to make it harder for player to get money or equipment he desires (though for some hoarders that might be the effect). One of the reasons I made these changes is also so I could ease some other restrictions that were (crudely) used to balance the economy, such as merchant price modifiers and damaged items value.

screeg

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 08:50:29 PM »
Yeah, restrictions are absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately, you're suggesting that using every type of inventory restriction known to the RPG is the way to go.  How many parameters does the player have to consider now when contemplating a single item on the ground?

How much is this worth?
Can I use it for crafting?
If it's useful, can I repair it?  Will it cost more to repair than to buy?  How about crafting a new one?  Maybe I should recycle it.
How much does it weigh?  Is its weight:value ratio superior to this other item's weight:value?
Will I be able to sell it?  If I know someone who buys guns, will he buy both of these guns?
Am I willing to carry it until I find the merchant who wants it?
Is it worth sacrificing 10% of my Dodge in order to go overweight with it?

This is aside from managing your useful items which are constantly degrading, the number of lockpicks you think you need, your schematics, etc. etc.  Players need to make significant decisions, that's what the RPG is all about.  In my opinion, too many player decisions are going to be inventory related, to the detriment of the core game.  It's too much.

Eliasfrost

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 11:03:58 AM »
These changes are going to be in the next version, I guess we have to play it and then decide whether it's excessive or not. I agree that by the sound of it, it feels like the inventory management is a bit out there and not what we are used to but I'd like to try it out and see how it blends together with the rest of the game.

Banggunner

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Re: Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2014, 01:16:06 PM »
Some people seem to forget that you also got a room, and I don't know about you guys but I ALWAYS use my room as storage in any RPG. So if you wanna sell something later, store some extra supplies that you can't carry or have some neat amours or guns that are too heavy: USE YOUR ROOM.

And yes, I am the type of guy that locks his room with the keycard after I leave.
Gameplay, that's the reason why I PLAY a GAME