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Shopkeeps: How can we do this differently?


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I've been thinking a lot recently about how I want to handle the concept of Shopkeepers within this game. It is likely that every game you've played where you acquire goods or services from an NPC has involved this fairly standard concept. That game could be a science fiction adventure that takes place a thousand years in the future, or a fantasy game that takes place in another world entirely. No matter where you go the idea of coin carries on. It might have a fancy name but really it is always there.

You could argue that what I'm about to describe is just currency with extra steps but a part of me finds that a bit reductive. It is a bit like the joke in Magic that everything is kicker. You can make the argument but I think it really misses a lot of nuance. With that weirdly preemptive defense out of the way let us get into it.

Living NPCs

I've built a somewhat robust state machine system for the game already. This will allow me to give each NPC a series of states, shocking I know, that they can switch between based on needs and desires. I'm not going to make any bold claims about them being truly sentient or any of this modern AI nonsense. However they will have schedules of one kind or another by the end of development. This means that they will have time to help you with things and they'll have time that they need to spend relaxing, eating, or who knows what else.

This means that each NPC's time will be a finite resource for you. We don't need to balance things with a currency to keep people from getting out of control. If building up resources for an NPC takes time, and that NPC has finite time, then we can balance around that.

So can I just take everything?

Conceivably, and I'm sure people will figure out how to game the system. But the actual raw materials will likely be provided by you or other NPCs that are gathered on the island itself. NPCs will be providing you with refined materials based off the materials you provide them. Raw wood could be given to a woodworker to provide lumber or other goods. All they would ask in return is the time to finish the request and that you supply them with enough materials to help other people in town.

The more you do this the more you'll build up a report with them and become friends.

How do you gate what I can get?

Simply enough, the more someone likes you the more they are willing to do for you. More complicated requests become available as you provide them with more resources and they get more excited to help you. Happy people tend to really put their full effort behind relationships and that'll be a big part of this experience.

So is the currency in this regard the materials or friendship?

I do think you could make this reductive argument but it is clearly a different relationship. People are doing what they are doing in the game because they love doing it. They *need* materials in order to do those things. You can't work wood that doesn't exist. And I would hope that most people don't feel that their relationships with other people are purely transactional. That buildup of trust and love is a beautiful thing. All sorts of animals do it and don't give one another a single cent.


So that's that, my plans for getting things like build materials, fancier food, toys, possibly even help around the manor grounds. People and Moosecats gathering to share their passions with one another and create something better than what any individual can muster.

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