Shop Shop Shop!


Driftmoon Merchant

What would a roleplaying game be without those little shop and their curious, possibly useful merchandise? I'm speaking metaphorically of course, the plain truth is that removing the shops from most games means you'd have no place to sell your loot, and no place to get a refill of health potions. Sound familiar?

From a typical game design perspective shops are money sinks. The player gets money and items for killing monsters, and they need a way to spend that money, otherwise the money is worthless. And nearly always, the only way to spend the money is to get better gear and more health potions. As far as game designers go, health and mana potions, and other single use items, are the best invention of all time. The player spends their money and they don't get anything more than a bit of health for it. I don't want to do it like that.

You see, the point of a game designer is to make sure the player has an incentive to keep playing. You have to take away his money, so that he feels the need to find more money and play more! This is especially relevant in massive multiplayer games, where you really have to force the player to give up their money, otherwise you get problems with inflation. But the constant deprivation of value from my character always feels like daytime robbery me. In any game I play, I never use single use items. I don't use health potions, I don't use single use wands, I don't even use arrows! I'm the kind of guy who likes to amass a fortune, and never use it before the game ends. Driftmoon must do better than that!

In recent games I've also found an increasing trend in game economies towards more expensive items. Normal items that are prohibitively expensive, or luxury items as some call them. The idea is that once you get it, you can show it to a friend and see their envious looks. I don't really see the point of this in single player games, but they seem to be creeping down from multiplayer games. Well at least you have some place to put your money in. Obviously the items cannot be very useful, just expensive and pretty, otherwise it'd throw off the game balance. But where's the fun in all this? Showing off your fancy character sounds, well, pretty unfun to me. There won't be any useless but expensive items in Driftmoon.

So how are the shops in Driftmoon better? First of all, some types of items can only be found in shops, such as powerful magic armor. Sure, you can eventually find an equally good item on your travels. But it might not be a bad idea to buy that Murdered Man's Helmet the shop owner is showing you. You get a long lasting benefit from buying it, since it'll take a while for you to find a better one, not just a few minutes like it does in many games.

Secondly, some items like ingredients can always be found from the nature, you just have to collect them. But you can also buy them from shops for a pretty cheap price, you're not getting swindled by a merchant selling health potions for a million gold per piece. But if you're like me, and could never think of buying something you only use once, you might still want to do the extra work of collecting the ingredients yourself - it's even a lot of fun since you never know what you're gonna get.

For those of the Modding persuasion: You can open up the shop interface with a simple script in our Incredible Level Editor. Also, you can change the shop prices easily with just + and - when a shop is started through the editor.

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