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Author Topic: Trading and haggling, bartering and bargaining  (Read 13090 times)
Gaspard
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« on: March 04, 2009, 05:50:52 PM »

Whether playing fallout or other cRPGs where there's the bartering/haggling skill I always found it kind of strange that when you opened up the trading menu/board the haggling itself was already done for you. As in when I tried to sell my "three kilos of ripe apples" and trade them for a nice worn-out revolver. So the total value for those apples was 75 bottle caps/coins and the revolver was 80 bottle caps/coins I would have had to add a "carrot" to offer the full 80 bc/coin value of goods.

I'd think it would be cooler if the trading part would involve you a bit more, it being more.. interactive ?
Example:
Let's say I first offer him a kilo of apples their value being 25 bc/coins and he asks for his piece a full 100 bc/coins. Then I'd offer 50 bc/coins worth of apples and depending on my haggling skill he'd either lower the revolver's price from 100 to 95 or 90 or  shake his head and say something like "No-no girl, you're being too cheap, look well - it's a well cared-for gun!" and thus stay with the original price.

Essentially you wouldn't do that many more clicks back and forth so it shouldn't become too tedious BUT while trading it's also not going to be just something you do to get the gun - 'Oh great here's your apples give me the gun thank you good luck and good night'. Actually your thought would be involved in the process and a bit more of your attention invested in it.

So there. That's my two pennies
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Kukkakaali
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 06:18:07 PM »

 So then players would use save hack and get confused with the trading, it would also be a lot more complicated to do.
Simple things like trading and stuff should be a piece of cake for the player, not something you will need few hours to buy an apple with the right price, althougt trading could be in a smaller role than its in games normally, since in post apocalypse trading wouldnt be in a huge role when there isnt even anything to trade and everything you have is for your own use.
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Gaspard
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 06:46:08 PM »

Thanks for the reply. Hmm. I don't think I agree on either count.

First the waste of time part - I encountered the 'my version' of haggling actually in the wasteoftime Neopets (see neopets.com) in it's stores. The storekeeper gives you a price and will lower it to a certain price. He tells you 300 you tell 150 he tells you 275 you tell him 200 he tells you 250 you tell him 250 he stops on 250 you try 240 he's still on 250 therefore he most probably won't go down any more. You try 245 and actually get him to give you 'a bargain' for 247. It's quite fast if you can type in the amounts you want to offer. THAT only when using the currency in the game. Using items it would actually make the trading process easier. When you lack some 5 coins from the actual price for the guns then you don't have to go and scroll down to your coin pile (fallout) to dig out the extra 5 but the shopkeeper might give you the very 5 coins worth of a discount. Depending on your haggle skill.

Eventually at the end of most games you have enough money to buy anything, so if we also want to make a game where at the end stages you have a lot of money then my change would have the biggest impact on the beginning stages of the game where you have to swet blood and tears to survive in the game and to advance (equipment-wise)

Secondly what you're saying about there not being anything to trade at all - that would make an agreed-upon currency in the game obsolete. If there's nothing to trade then why would there be a currency (which actually kind of left me wondering in Fallout games). Most of the things would be either scavenged stuff that's degraded and close to breaking down or newer self-manufactured low-tech items.

as in NATURAL ECONOMY which would be dominant in a post-apoc world, no ?

I would think of interactive trading an investment in the idea of SURVIVAL in general. It doesn't happen, you work for the valuable valuable items.

Which brings me another thought. Then (if such trading is involved) you can actually make the choice in game whether you'll be combat-oriented or a charismatic trader. As many have said that they'd like to see more low-tech equipment, weaponry. Instead of using your reflexes and strength to get close to the home-village-raiding yeti to skewer it on your wooden sharpened pole, you'll take the time to trek to the nearest trader to use your charisma and wit to get the best price for a revolver and after some practicing you'll just position yourself strategically and next time the yeti comes on a night-raid you'll shoot it's small brains out

EDIT:
Sorry if I sound really aggressively defensive about any of my ideas - that's not the case, I sort of like argumented discussions plus it might open up some new doors ideas-wise
« Last Edit: March 04, 2009, 06:51:21 PM by Gaspard » Logged
zenbitz
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 01:27:46 AM »

First the waste of time part - I encountered the 'my version' of haggling actually in the wasteoftime Neopets (see neopets.com) in it's stores. The storekeeper gives you a price and will lower it to a certain price. He tells you 300 you tell 150 he tells you 275 you tell him 200 he tells you 250 you tell him 250 he stops on 250 you try 240 he's still on 250 therefore he most probably won't go down any more. You try 245 and actually get him to give you 'a bargain' for 247. It's quite fast if you can type in the amounts you want to offer. THAT only when using the currency in the game. Using items it would actually make the trading process easier. When you lack some 5 coins from the actual price for the guns then you don't have to go and scroll down to your coin pile (fallout) to dig out the extra 5 but the shopkeeper might give you the very 5 coins worth of a discount. Depending on your haggle skill.

Fallout prices also depended on your barter skill.    Basically it changed how many "caps" traders' stuff was worth (higher barter skill = lower value).  "Price" of your stuff always remained the same.   Also could change based on some dialog options (whether or not they "liked" you).  Actually I think it depended on the relative barter skill of you and the NPC!  That's why if you had a "bad" barter skill you would always "lose money" on a transaction.  When I played FO1 I had an awesome barter skill (like 85) very early - I could trade a stimpak for 2 stimpaks! 

From a game perspective - we want to reward barter skill (this is a given if we have the skill).   In the example above - when shopkeeper says "300" he really means 300 scaled by some factor X, where  0.5 < X < 1 and depends on your barter skill, random roll, how much he likes you, etc..   He's a computer NPC - so he can't really change his answer except randomly.    If you make it so the final X depends on whatever number you OFFER - then it becomes a "player" skill of guess-the-algorithm.   If it doesn't, then just skip the middle man and have him offer 300*X = 245 or whatever.   Otherwise it's just extra typing and clicking for no change in result = tedious game play.

The problem with making bartering a "sub game" is that characters who are not good at bartering will still have to barter to survive... and they are already punished by high prices, why punish them with extra clicks as well?  And they will make the clicks.

I think what might be interesting from a game perspective is to make TRADE a viable "character path".  That is, instead of haggling with a dude, you buy apples in copenhagen and trade them in Trondheim for gas.  Then take the gas to Oslo, etc...  so player could profit from trading/merchanting in a realistic way.  This would require some form of cargo transport though (Dog Sleds and Reindeer!).

The question of currency is interesting too.  Barra mentioned the possibility of using cigarettes.  So far this is my favorite.  I would not be opposed to "No currency" - if the values don't match, just eat the difference (NPCs never eat the difference, player always have to go over).


Quote
Eventually at the end of most games you have enough money to buy anything, so if we also want to make a game where at the end stages you have a lot of money then my change ...

Ugh, I hope we don't end up like this.  So broken.
It's so prevalent that I can only conclude:
1) bartering is very hard to balance
-or-
2) commercial games are like this because they sell better

Quote
Sorry if I sound really aggressively defensive about any of my ideas - that's not the case, I sort of like argumented discussions plus it might open up some new doors ideas-wise

I would pretty much expect it. However, the important thing is to not get offended when people criticize your ideas (goes for everyone).

 
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DK
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 03:16:51 AM »

on the actual mechanics of the trade I have little opinion (currently)..

most in favour of no currency and hidden value... even personal value judgement for each trader...

The thing I am concerned most with on this is that haggling is a skill which the player might seriously consider taking as part of is character bulding strategy.

I would say the player should be punished with prohibitively high prices if they have no to little haggle skill.
Ours being a world in which if you don't have the right equipment you die they will quickly see the benefit of learning haggle skills.


one other thing..
should there be negative effects of using the haggle skill and potentially positive effects of not using it?

that is..
If the npc thinks they are getting a good deal then they will be happier dealing with the pc, think the pc is a mark etc...
If the npc thinks they are getting a bad deal but your haggle skll dazzles them into it they are going to feel not so great about you..

it's a tough world and getting ripped off could mean life or death for someone.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2009, 01:20:02 AM »

on the actual mechanics of the trade I have little opinion (currently)..

most in favour of no currency and hidden value... even personal value judgement for each trader...

Very hard to do this and not punish the player.  Think of it this way - barter interface is a short cut for a very long discussion.
PC: What will you give me for this apple?
Shop:  That apple?  Looks like old.  I'll give you this bit of string
PC: Well what I really want is 3 12 ga. 00 buckshot shells, you got that.
Shop:  Oh, yeah, I got, I got.  But it's gonna cost.
PC: Hmm.... This apple plus this cool hat?
Shop: Throw in that bic lighter you got a deal.

The problem is that both PC and Shop have LOTS of items... and a priori player has no basic knowledge of their relative value without playing a long time.
So, the interface takes  a short cut and assigns a known numerical value to each item for each side.  It could change based on several factors - but  during that barter session, it's constant.  That lets you swap stuff without taking all day to do it.

Quote
The thing I am concerned most with on this is that haggling is a skill which the player might seriously consider taking as part of is character bulding strategy.

I would say the player should be punished with prohibitively high prices if they have no to little haggle skill.
Ours being a world in which if you don't have the right equipment you die they will quickly see the benefit of learning haggle skills.

I actually did this for my first fallout char.  But it worked TOO well,  my barter skill outstripped most shop keeps so I basically just stole from them. (steal was another broken skill in fallout...)  I agree barter skill should be important - but no more so than a number of other useful non combat skills (persuade, sneak, forage, etc.)


Quote
should there be negative effects of using the haggle skill and potentially positive effects of not using it?

that is..
If the npc thinks they are getting a good deal then they will be happier dealing with the pc, think the pc is a mark etc...
If the npc thinks they are getting a bad deal but your haggle skll dazzles them into it they are going to feel not so great about you..

A simple way to do this is if PC intentionally gives NPC a better deal, then the NPC likes him more (or at least, likes trading with him).
I am not sure the contrary example works very well... I don't think it's practical to make "don't use haggle skill" a player choice.  He should auto-use the skill - which sets the relative prices (or functions as a discount/penalty on all goods).  But he can always choose to pay more for what he's getting - to generate good will.   Maybe the exception would be a case when PC is "profiteering" i.e, selling food at inflated prices to a starving populace.  That would require setting/showing a "global" price for everything.

it's a tough world and getting ripped off could mean life or death for someone.
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eleazzaar
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2009, 04:08:01 AM »

Add my vote to the "Don't make trading a complex mini-game list."

As to what the currency could be, cigarettes is one good option.

Essentially "money" needs to be something:
* that lots of people want
* of limited supply
* easily portable
* easily divisible
* relatively non-perishable

One-on-one barter is very limiting since it's entirely possible that while Bob wants to sell a horse, and Sam want to buy a horse, that Sam doesn't have anything that Bob really wants.  So some convenient commodity becomes "money", thus Sam can give Bob 10 pounds of salt for the horse.  Bob doesn't need that much salt, but he knows that it is easy to carry, won't go bad, and it will be easy to trade the salt for something else he wants.

Things that have been used as money include the obvious precious metals, and cigarets, coffee, drugs, salt, spices.

Since we are dealing with a cold area, i think tea/coffee might be a slightly more plausible candidate for money status, unless there's something local that is an equally good substitute?
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zenbitz
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 08:35:02 PM »

Since we are dealing with a cold area, i think tea/coffee might be a slightly more plausible candidate for money status, unless there's something local that is an equally good substitute?

That's kind of cool... I was going to put coffee/caffiene in the game anyway.   I can't see either cigarettes, coffee or tea being produced or imported to Scandinavia 20 years after the apocalypse...   So there would be a finite supply. 

Hmmm... we don't really need to pick one.  We can pick a set of things that:
a) everyone ~equally values
b) are "atomic" i.e., can be partitioned to a value of (1)
c) are effectively trivial to transport.

Actually - valuable (and now RARE) dry goods (coffee, salt, pepper, sugar,  tea, tobacco, other spices, gunpowder, even sugar) seem to all work well here.  A cigarette could be like a $10 (or Euro) note.   Just establish that everyone has a little scale for weighing this stuff (since it's common currency).  I think I might draw the line at making the relative values of the above things vary (like copper, gold, silver, platinum).
These things seem to weigh in at .3 (tea, coffee) to .9 (white sugar) g/cc.  so 0.5g = $1 seems like a reasonable estimate.  You could easily carry $10,000 (5 kg) - and a fortune on a mule or sled (200+ Kg)

A big town might even have ACTUAL money and a bank.... I would imagine that the money would not be so good in another town unless they were well known trading partners.

(in case it's not obvious here I am using $1 to refer an atomic amount of currency.  No relationship to $US or any other currency.  It obviously has no meaning with out setting prices - like AK47 = $500 = 250g of salt.)
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Gaspard
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 09:08:22 PM »

dry goods is good idea for currency, all for it !
salt is also important for storing food, meat for example. although with the cold cold weather it's of a slightly lesser importance as that
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DK
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 09:31:20 PM »

trading in "salted fish" currency?
hm

Am against the cigarettes idea.. who is still making cigarettes? where are they growing the tobacco? there's war coming.. *smokes all my cigarettes in nervous tension*

(on second thoughts *notes down potential storyline*)


My only concern with currency then is that it be light whch is why I hmm at dried goods, will be heavy, unless we remove weight from currency items which ok, many rpgs do. Am not sure where I stand on it. *thinks some more*
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Gaspard
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 10:09:54 PM »

cigarettes, man. they produce so many of them, even back then. there's bound to be stores filled with shelves piled with cartons of cigarettes
warehouses.
my hmm with cigarettes is that you'd have to carry them in oilcloth or something - wet cigarettes are wet cigarettes. we could have cigarettes as a currency in a more military-based game. cigarettes are a currency of sorts among soldiers on patrol 'cause cigarettes are scarce and in.. well.. jail, where cigarettes are scarce too.
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eleazzaar
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 01:39:07 AM »

My only concern with currency then is that it be light whch is why I hmm at dried goods, will be heavy, unless we remove weight from currency items which ok, many rpgs do.
A pound of coffee or tea could last you a very long time if you were stingy and reused the grounds/leaves.  And if the supply is limited the value of a pound would be very high relative to much more readily renewable stuff like fish or leather.

Another thing i didn't think of earlier is commonly useful pharmacy items like aspirin.  I.E. basic modern medical supplies.  Though they wouldn't be used as much as dry goods, when you need them, you really need them.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 01:42:20 AM »

google is your friend.
in 1990, Norway imported 1.5 billion cigarettes.    How many would be left after 20 years?   
Lets assume we start the war with 3 billion.  per capita consumption is 900.  Initial population is 3million, 90% are killed leaving 300,000.

300,000 * 900 * 20 = 5.4 billion.

There are no cigarettes left, or very few.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2009, 01:47:53 AM by zenbitz » Logged

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eleazzaar
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 02:02:33 AM »

google is your friend.
in 1990, Norway imported 1.5 billion cigarettes.    How many would be left after 20 years?   
Lets assume we start the war with 3 billion.  per capita consumption is 900.  Initial population is 3million, 90% are killed leaving 300,000.

300,000 * 900 * 20 = 5.4 billion.

There are no cigarettes left, or very few.
Probably if you do the math most dry goods would have similar problems, though it is possible that Norwegians simply aren't big smokers.

But on the other side when something is suddenly valuable people start conserve it.  It would no longer be possible for the vast majority of people to continue smoking at their regular rate... or drinking tea/coffee etc.

That gives us a fudge factor.


Though i wonder how self-sufficient Norway is even with modern tech?  The loss of tech + even a mild nuclear winter might be expected to kill 99+% (besides the Sami) in a few years.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2009, 08:34:21 AM »

I had the same thought about other dry goods.  Except salt.    Denmark produced 610,000 tonnes of salt in 2006.   Nothing listed for other scandinavian countries... but the could always get some from sea water (takes energy though to boil it off).

"Salt Mine" is a *brilliant* quest location too..

 
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Denmark's first industry, salt, brought boom times to this island until residents used up all the firewood to produce it a couple of centuries ago. Now the trees are back, salt is flowing and visitors flock to the isle for pure pleasure.

Also http://www.visitranders.com/international/en-gb/menu/turist/oplevelser/attractions/themeparks/denmarkssaltcentre.htm
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