Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Economy in Roguelikes - Part 3: Ideas and Plan

After part one of this series where I laid out my thoughts on economy systems in RPGs and part two where I set out some goals any system should try to accomplish, here is where I'm to lay out my profound revolutionary system (sarcasm), or at least what I'm planning to use in Magecrawl. A bit intimidating of an order to say the least.

Quintessence, a silvery weightless goo of compressed arcane power, is my current idea for the primary currency. The destruction of non-magical items wrought be sentient beings would provide a small amount, with larger amounts coming from harvesting magical items. This allows us to somewhat easily convert items that the player finds that aren't useful into something that is, albeit at a low exchange.

To prevent the hoover problem (needing to pickup every single item for optimal play), I'm planning that items that aren't "masterwork" or would be wrongly sized for the player to be automatically converted to Q. This gives a great fluff reason why many monsters would drop "gold", unlike in many games when you kill a wolf and it drops gold.

Due to the properties of Q, we could have skills that allow the mage to convert it into magical items, recharge wands, or create enchantments. This also could allows us to have "shops" in the dungeon, either areas that have the correct equipment or some other form. This makes more "fluff" sense then a shopkeeper just chilling in the dungeon of doom.

Since it's the mage who is creating and using Q, unlocking new equipment and such can be based upon skills. You can take "Enchant Equipment III" when you hit level 12 at the earliest, as a made up example, or you could delay to take some other awesome skill. There could be skills to increase efficiency in creating or using Q, allowing some builds to be more artificer (awesome equipment, average skills) while others more fireball down the door and blow everything up (who needs equipment beyond what I can find).

Since in essence this system is points based, balancing could be done by changing Q costs and skill level requirements. It allows on average people to get the equipment they need, without reducing the awesomeness of finding just the equipment item you need in a chest. I think it also brings a unique "feel" and "fluff" to the game.

So, that's the idea. I'm at least 2 iterations away from implementing even a basic version of some of the concepts. However, fleshing it all out now gives me something to think about and plan around. Thoughts? Questions?


Nolithius said...

You know-- the whole inventory management trope is just one of those things players love to hate, but are up in arms when radical alterations are made to the formula. I'd like to see how your implementation turns out-- though I'm a fan of traditional inventory management ;)

that_robot said...

Solutions to the hoover effect:

1. don't drop so many items.
2. don't drop so many useless items.
3. don't have useless items in your game.

An annoying aspect of the Diablo games has been the sheer volume of item drops. You start out scavenging for everything you can, but eventually once your character has a decent set of equipment, you tend to just leave junk in the dungeon where you find it, because trips back to town get to be kind of tedious micro-management.

I thought Shiren the Wanderer did a really great job with item drops - practically every item is valuable (unless it's cursed or comes with some other negative effect).

I guess I'd rather see less items that carry more weight/utility and put less emphasis on selling stuff for cash. There are lots of tough choices in Shiren once your inventory is full and you find new, equally valuable items that you don't have room for.

In short, I think the items in your game should be better designed to be used, not sold. Unless you design an item whose specific advantage is to be sold - A gold sword for example, might be a crappy sword, but it sells for a ton of money because it's made of gold.

Interesting articles here, though. Keep at it!