Post news RSS Dev Log #25: Game Economy Changes

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.

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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.

Underrail - New Trading System

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.

Blackhole519ed - - 7 comments

I've always been more of a pack rat myself, and I /know/ I'm going to be one of the guys making several trips to either store or sell the things I found. Except in other games, there's usually a console through which I can suddenly grant myself the ability to carry ungodly amounts of loot. I feel like it's going to be a very tedious experience for me, here ... Ah well.

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baszermaszer - - 446 comments

"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)."

Not fun. I hate when shopkeepers say: I don't want to buy that from you.
Anything found should be sellable in shops.

Best to let the player open the inventory, hover the mouse cursor over the item and press "S" or a customized button to quickly sell out lots of unneeded hoard from the inventory.

Players love to hoard, steal, amass great amount of stuff and be pleased just to look at the loot.

Designers had a bad idea to limit
- shop money
- only these types of goods will be bought

Better solution:
- Shopkeepers should buy anything, but if they don't need something they simply buy it for a low price so they can sell it 2x 3x that amount.
- There should be specialist shops: magic, adventuring goods, radio shack, weapons, alchemy, food shop etc.. and taking the time to go to these shops the player can sell specific types of goods for a very good - high - price.

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Lacedaemonius - - 510 comments

I like those ideas, and the notion of being able to sell an item for a tiny fraction of its value b/c the merchant has almost no interest in it would be the perfect solution to keep players from having to burden themselves with old loot they've been unable to sell (see: Morrowind, Fallout 3/NV). To see a terrible implementation of the selective interest by merchants, play "Caravaneer", a free flash game (that's to you, Mr. Dev Man!) and see what happens to all the katanas you accumulate when the shopkeepers lose all interest in them.

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baszermaszer - - 446 comments

"And speaking of hauling junk"

Let the party have the obvious hauling-cart: doesn't need a pack-mule.

- Player carry capacity based on STR. ~ 110lbs = 50kg
- Hauling-cart capacity: 660 lbs

- "You can't carry anymore stuff. Would you like to put it in your hauling cart?"

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Toyotame - - 302 comments

Oh noes, not that pesky "weight limit" again. I really dont understand why some developers so want to "match reality" in some areas while being 100% ok with ignoring it in others.
If there is weight limitation, then there is should be permadeath too, right? there is no retries in real life.
There is should be "head shots" deaths too, character should eat, sleep, take a dump...all for "teh realistic gameplay".
All that "realistic artificial limitatins" have only one meaning - unfair hardness. Is Underrail already too easy and casual to play? i dont think so.

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lorenzo_bobe - - 1 comments

Excellent, as if shooting giant man-rats through a fence because they were to ungodly hard to kill wasn't enough, now I can't make money of the treasures they were guuarding? It could be that I'm horrible; but your game is pretty hard as it is; I can't get a drop on an enemy, I can't kill things my level and now I can't make money off the loot I so pain-stakingly died over an over for? Should things have weight? Should there be a limitation on your inventory? "Yes" Should you discourage people who are good at looting (Therefore making them good at the game, as the selling point is looting) from being good at the game? "No" Too many games today cater to players who aren't good, which dumb downs the experience for other players. Players who are actually inerested in the genre, and are happy to see someone put time and effort into making something of it. I'd (personally) like to not see your game get even a TICK worse because someone didn't understand the direct correlation between "Kill" "Loot" "Sell" "Money" "Power". This game was damn hard for me, and I loved it. Anyways, far be it from me to ask this; but would you roll that over in your head a little more?

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AceKisser - - 2 comments

Despite the others commenting this as a negative, the weight limitations is a great idea. I hate "Magic Pockets" games. I hate gamers that play Realism based games and complain about those features that make the game great to begin with.

These people complaining about various attributes of the game in this regard would have made, for example, Ultima 7 a lump of cr@p had they their way years ago. I hope besides a few tweaks here and there the Weight limits stay in the game. I mean think about it(as you have), just how stealthy would a character be slinking around in the shadows with 20 large metal objects crammed into her pants?? Thats absurd lol XD

Amidst the sarcasm from Toyotame's comment. I do actually think that adding a few other things could make the game very detailed and like Head shots. Permadeath mode is good. Eating, Drinking of various degrees of how fresh food/drink are. Sleeping would limit how active your character is and how capable your character AND NPCs can be if those stats drop to high or low.

These elements make for great games that last years. Bethesda games(some with modding) have done this and have turned into some of the greatest games in game history. Ultima series had these features, even using Timers for NPCs and they out last the naysayers. Fallout too!

Keep up making a good game and good luck =D

To those not understanding Realism in gaming:
PS- Realism in games, does not make a game real. It merely adds elements of what IS real(such as jumping with fake gravity) to simulate something to make a game better. No hard feelings if you do not want to play games with such elements, but don't play the game if you don't want such elements in it, duh! =)

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markelphoenix - - 1 comments

I played one of your original Alpha Builds. I loved it. Then you started 'fixing' what you thought was wrong, which really just became artificially inflating the difficult by adding mechanics that were more of an annoyance than any true tactical adjustment to difficulty.

I am, as of now, completely disappointed with every direction you seem to be taking. You seem to be preoccupying yourself with tweaking things that were enjoyable and fun as part of the initial Alpha release. The resources and time you make to 'fixing' the difficulty/weight-system/economy is time you could be using to, I don't know, create content and complete your game.

Sorry for sounding kind of like a jerk about it, just really hate when I see something good start going down what I believe is a foolish and needless path. The style/mechanics of the game are attractive, you do not need to make it artificially 'hard core' when the style it self is considred 'hard core'.

Hope you escape the design death-spiral you are currently traveling. I hope to look a year from now and find a game that focuses on strategic character development, story, and reactivity. I do not want to look at inventory manager extreme, or 'second guess every item you come accross because you don't know if the random # generator gods will allow it to be sold or used'.

:sad face:

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