Think of this like a gaming version of the random thoughts thread, for those random gaming issues that might not deserve their own thread.
The main thing that prompted me to create this thread today is my growing dislike of in-game store merchants. More and more I find myself dissatisfied with their inclusion, and the gameplay loops they encourage. Some of the biggest offenders to me are those merchants that sell absolutely nothing you would ever buy. They’ve got pages of utter junk that players will never have an actual use for. I mean, sure, technically those weapons might have stats on them, but they’re still only half as good as the generic loot you could get from level 1 spiderlings in that very first infested basement quest you tripped and fell into the moment you talked to that NPC running the tavern.
In some games the entire player economy all comes down to forcing players to frequently stop adventuring while they make a loot run back to town. Then they have to spend the next 5-30 minutes running place to place restocking supplies and emptying their bags. And because the game’s economy might be balanced around players regularly making these sorts of runs in order to have enough money to go and buy these supplies or upgrades, a player must continuously and actively take part in this repetitive loop of kill, loot, teleport, sell, teleport back, rinse repeat. And limited bag space is a huge contributor to my dislike of these types of requirements, as it only increases the frequency with which I must return. But most of the time I’m just not ready to return, because I’m having fun, damnit. Screw town!
Even worse are those horrible games that have merchants that won’t simply buy all the junk I bring in. Oh no, because that would be too easy. So the weapon guy only buys weapons. The armor guy only buys armor. And the butcher guy only buys human cadavers (yea, I don’t get that one either). And even worse from here is when they each have extremely limited gold on their persons, forcing me to teleport and run around trying to find some jerk that has enough gold on his person to pay me for all the damn yeti snouts I busted my ass collecting.
Why, oh, why must they do this to me? Cant they just balance the economy around my adventures, instead of forcing me to balance my adventures around the economy?
I understand that a lot of these issues are put into games for ‘flavor.’ Those games that load me up with hundreds of useless spoons, buckles, candlesticks and such that can all be sold by slamming a big fat “SELL JUNK” button in the store? All horrible. If this shit is all junk, why even itemize it? I hate picking up a bunch of crap I later find out has no use at all, and is worth a whole lot of 0.0 at the damn merchant. GAH. The only flavor this adds is regret.
And don’t even get me started on those games where, I, the heroic-yet-ill-equipped protagonist who has been commanded by the King himself to go out and save the world, is stuck haggling with a stupid poop farmer over the price of rusty weapons.
My favorite new merchants are the ones that aren’t really merchants at all, but glorified skill trees. The player goes and kills shit, goes back to town, and doesn’t have one damn thing to trade or sell because every single thing they killed just gives them some sort of intangible monetary unit. Then they take this unit to the ‘merchant’ and go train in some new weapon class or eating style. My only complaint here is that I’d rather just have an experience bar and skill tree, so as to cut out the oft-sagely middle-man.
All that being said, I don’t hate all merchants. I was always fond of Wirt in the original Diablo game because he would give me a peek at some of the huge and fantastic items that I could look forward to as I progressed through the game. And though I could never seem to get enough money to buy any of his crap when it was actually relevant to me, I did manage to somehow grow tolerant of his greedy opportunism.
But aside from a few instances where mercantilism didn’t just get in my way all game, I could totally do without most of this stuff.