Merchant Play - Questions and Ideas!

One of the coolest things about player-driven virtual worlds is the potential that lies in economic gameplay!

For the most part, though, that's typically been relegated to "gathering", "crafting" and the "auction house" - but there is the potential for so much more (as I know the AoC devs are ware! :) Some of these ideas may (hope?) reflect some of the design thinking of the team... this is just me spitballing ideas I've had over the years.

While crafting and gathering are key components in the economic loop, I feel two others deserve their own spot on the stage: the Merchant and the Trader.

<strong>Merchant</strong>

In my mind, this the fantasy of owning a storefront of some kind. That general store on the corner everyone relies on, or maybe that herb shop that always has rare, hard to find seeds in stock. Or a restaurant -- but that deserves it's very own post, because it ties in so nicely with a cooking system I've been dreaming about ;)

A merchant may also be a craftsman - say, a baker with a storefront (or that restauranteur above). But they don't have to be, instead a purveyor of goods acquired through other sources. A retail establishment, if you will.

Gameplay for the merchant lies in the procurement of goods and finding a market price allowing him/her to make a profit. They should always have the goods in stock that their customers are looking for. It also could involve marketing their store, drawing more customers.

I was very excited to see these two screenshots, where we can see signage indicating a bakery and a tavern - and I wonder if these can be player-run? How will players acquire the right to run a bakery in a given node, for example?

<img src="http://i.imgur.com/LhEZxF0.jpg" alt="Bakery" />
<img src="http://i.imgur.com/2Wjhgn1.jpg" alt="Tavern" />


<strong>Trader</strong>

To me, a trader playstyle involves transporting goods from point a to point b, dealing with all of the dynamics that happen in-between. They have to worry about transportation costs, logistics, security and more. He is interested in supplying his customers with the things they need, when they need them, based on their order.

It is the trader that facilitates rare goods traveling safely across long distances... in the case of food, for example, the reason we can have genuine dwarven ale all the way in the elven high peaks :) And have it still be fresh! (Note: I am hoping perishability of goods is a mechanic, as it adds tons of logistics for a trader and value to the economy!)

<strong>Wholesaler</strong>

There's a hybrid of a merchant/trader as well... I call the "wholesaler".

The wholesaler works with farmers, fisherman or other raw materials or finished goods suppliers, buying from them in quantity, and offering a place where local merchants and craftsman can come to buy some of their needed goods.

AS an example, let's think of a fish market... I might go down to the docks in the morning, buy several hundred pounds of bass from fisherman A, and a few hundred points of mahi-mahi from fisherman B... This saves the fisherman from having to deal directly with retailers, and a guaranteed easy way to sell their catch each day. I have a wholesale market set up near the docks, where local merchants and restauranteurs come early in the morning to pick their fresh catch of the day.

Ok, I'm getting rambly again. Obviously at this point, we don't know much about any of the economic systems in the game, so this is pure discussion at this point. But given the kind of world AoC aims to be, I hope to see some real economic gameplay come about!

Comments

  • i love these ideas, hopefully the dev's will expand on the plans for the marketplace/ economies soon, cause i would love to open up a tavern in-game :P
  • Isnt the trader more or less what the caravans gonna be?, Otherwise great ideas :) Although kinda hard to realise I think :(
  • The trader could be in charge of caravans.
    Like kings and queens no doubt rule.

    I like these ideas. Nice work.

    Trader = bulk tranport.
    Wholesaler = bulk store.

    gatherer > export wholesaler > trader > import wholesaler > shop fronts

    Thus the wholesalers and trader are for node-node business rather than local business.
  • It would be cool if guilds can post quests in player own taverns. Maybe a place to put notices in advance to hire mercenaries for an upcoming caravan. I think it would be better than just spamming trade chat.

    But back on track about the merchant play, I like these ideas!
  • [quote quote=2422]It would be cool if guilds can post quests in player own taverns. Maybe a place to put notices in advance to hire mercenaries for an upcoming caravan. I think it would be better than just spamming trade chat.

    But back on track about the merchant play, I like these ideas!

    [/quote]

    Indeed the WTB WTS chat spam should be a thing of the past.

    People need stuff, they place an order and stick it on an order board.
    Crafters goto the order board and fulfil the contracts.
    That way the game design can ensure goods and cash are transferred without any funny business.
    Those con merchants are in every game.

    It would be good to perform transaction safely.
  • These ideas are <strong>great</strong>, and honestly, something I've wanted to see in an MMORPG for some time now. I am glad there are like minded individuals who have similar ideas. There are games out there that have some merchant play features, and all have their faults or lack in a robust system.

    That being said, I cannot wait until more information is released by the devs, however, I do have a few questions. I will check to see if it has been answered already, and update this post if it has been.

    Storefronts - What are everyone's ideas on the setup of them? I understand some things like the bakery and tavern are part of the village/city/etc so those will be there. And I have the same questions as to if they will be able to be player run or not. But what about market stalls or other means of setting up a storefront? Do these stalls, for example, stay up/open when the player is offline? How would customers interact with the stalls? Or would there just be a limited number of static storefront buildings per node and based on the node's stage?
  • [quote quote=2477]
    Storefronts – What are everyone’s ideas on the setup of them? I understand some things like the bakery and tavern are part of the village/city/etc so those will be there. And I have the same questions as to if they will be able to be player run or not. But what about market stalls or other means of setting up a storefront? Do these stalls, for example, stay up/open when the player is offline? How would customers interact with the stalls? Or would there just be a limited number of static storefront buildings per node and based on the node’s stage?
    [/quote]

    The talk I've seen around and about regarding storefronts is basicly that people want them ;) But there no real confirmation on whether or not things such as bakery/tavern will be player run. However there was one thread a while ago, where people thought it would be cool if you could setup a shop, and then try and make regular deals to keep the store stocked. Basicly running a shop like you would in real life, choosing your own price and trying to compete with other. If we imagine this how its gonna be done, then I'd guess that you hire some sort of NPC to do the trades in your stead, so you can go about your normal life :) (Naturally you could go there yourself for a while).
    But as far as I know theres no confirmation on any of this (if anyone has some insight like discord Q&A, which I miss regularly, please share it :) ).

    Regarding the "static number of storefronts", then thats probably a yes no matter what, since we know this about node/towns so far:
    In the towns themself theres gonna be limited spots at the start, more will come as the node progresses, and the old ones will grow. At the later tiers apartment areas will start opening up, so you can get a home in a city. Since most of the other housing options are static, I'd imagine storefront would be to.
  • I think one of the problems is often that gameplay is fashioned as supply drives demand.
    Perhaps store front could have a list of stuff they are buying and for what price (rather than just selling and at what price).
    And the shop owner can limit how much they want to spend per item and total (whichever comes first).

    That way the shop acts as a proper middleman...buying raw materials from gatherers/hunters and selling finished goods in the same place.
    As long as sales are more profitable and common than purchases, their will always be cash available to buy from players.
    The shop can pretty much run itself in effect once you have set up the ingoing/outgoing products, prices and limits.
    This gives you time to craft/make finished products rather than deal with all the buy/sell transactions too.

    Actually opens the market for gatherer tools/clothing/energy as well as hunter weapon/armour/energy.
  • Beware of oligopoly and monopoly! With a static number of store you can easily take control of the economic system. And with all those middleman the cost will pump up anyway.
    I like this caravan system but I think we should make it simple and efficient for all the community and not just for the merchant
  • [quote quote=2886]Beware of oligopoly and monopoly! With a static number of store you can easily take control of the economic system. And with all those middleman the cost will pump up anyway.
    I like this caravan system but I think we should make it simple and efficient for all the community and not just for the merchant

    [/quote]
    True true, but you could just run to another city for normal supplies. I think true monopoly will be hard to do, since if its like irl theres gonna be competetion between cities, areas of town etc. But you are right its a definite worry.
  • Would be really awesome if you could starve out a node/city to gain a advantage with sieging it.
    But i do recall reading that you woudn't be able to trade with city's before a siege...
    It would be awesome if we had a few ways to take over city's or gain siege buffs :p
  • [quote quote=2959]Would be really awesome if you could starve out a node/city to gain a advantage with sieging it.
    But i do recall reading that you woudn’t be able to trade with city’s before a siege…
    It would be awesome if we had a few ways to take over city’s or gain siege buffs :p

    [/quote]
    Makes alot of sense actually, kinda like a long time siege. Maybe some NPC caravans start showing up with supplies, if you take them out the defending NPC guards get weaker?

    Idk about player trading/stores though, but it could be "forced shut" like "bring you children inside and hide" -style. Maybe I'm just rambling now...
  • If everything degrades.....perhaps an ongoing suplly of raw materials is a requirement for nodes to maintain their state.
    Maintain the grounds/infrastructure so to speak.

    Cut the supply lines, starve the node of materials.
  • I debated on making a new post of this vs. necro'ing this one, but since there was already some discussion, I went with the necro :)

    Since there are so many new community members that have joined, and we have some more information than we did back in January, I thought this might be a fun topic to discuss again!
  • Nice topic.

    I dont mind the necro.

    I think the most important aspect to the merchant is convience. What made other games void of true merchants was that mmos have create a market of pure convenience. Players could not beat the convenience the game has already implimented so things like owning a store or being a merchant was not fesible.

    Whats great about AoC is no fast travel and limited realistate. These two factors is what drives merchants to provide convenience to their customers.
  • As a small business owner i know,

    You are not just selling a product for a good price.

    You're selling convenience, an experience, and a brand.
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