The Great NPC Merchant Debate

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Sorgin Txakal, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. Sorgin Txakal

    Sorgin Txakal Avatar

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    So, Atos announced in his stream with the BMC, if I understood correctly, that the intention of Catnip is to eventually phase out NPC merchants completely, starting first with doubling the price of NPC merchant produce goods and then eliminating all produce goods that can be grown by players:

    Expanding on these moments outlined by @Wilfred a little bit more

    18:34 - Ezekiel Cooper, "I have wondered. I have tried to rationalize in my mind and come up with a logical reason why, but I am sure that you can probably touch on it and explain it a little better... Since we have such an uptick on farming you know, like 25 year whiskey and more implementations in farming, my question to you is why.... why do you still sell produce on NPC vendors?"


    19:56 Atos, (The original purpose behind NPC vendors was new player accessibility to these items), "The plan would be to first double the price on NPC vendors, and after that, remove them completely. That is coming [next release]".


    30:32 - Ezekiel Cooper, "There are a lot of helper scripts out there, that help people with the grind of mass producing widgets. What is your official stance on ... using 3rd party aides to burn up resources."

    31:26 Atos (Item number ~273 on Atos' why we can't have nice things list), "the other thing I found was when I started digging into the guys who were [making potions] is that they were botting, like 24 hours straight type things... we're gonna have to start cracking down on it again because it is getting exploitive. the things they were making can be bought almost 100% from NPC vendors. [As a more systemic solution] I want to get NPCs to not sell stuff, so everything has to come from the economy. So [dynamic player-economy driven gameplay] will create shortages, and those shortages will put botters out of business."​



    So, given that this is a change that is coming, how do you feel this will impact the player/game economy? What problems do you foresee, and what solutions to those problems do you propose? If you are on board with this idea, what steps need to be taken next?
     
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  2. Sorgin Txakal

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    My first question is what becomes of NPC merchants that were purchases for POTs? At the very least they should become conversationalists that can be programmed via inky, but if they don't sell produce anymore what is their purpose?


    If the goal is to create a more dynamic player-driven economy and put botters out of business. Shouldn't NPC merchants have the ability to buy items eliminated too? Cotton is currently the main way farmer players make money, selling to NPC vendors, because diverse and consistent demand for produce has not existed previously and is only just now being tentatively created with the new overhauled food buffs and new recipes. The only way that player-driven shortages can be mitigated is if there is a cost to storage. Since there is no associated issues with storing a near infinite amount of goods in a single barrel, let alone a single lot, eliminating the option to sell items to NPCs will make it to where items have to find a place in the economy where they can be routinely consumed - if they can't be consumed faster than they are produced, then it will cause prices to go down as players slowly get rid of their excess while moving on to other items, if given enough time items don't deplete even at low prices, then the problem is with the rate of consumption within the player base. (This is the problem I have outlined with Dragon Stew where it is literally impossible to deplete dragon stews faster than they can be created, so the only answer is more uses for dragon meat or dramatically cutting buff time. The same seems appropriate for crafted items, if cotton can't be depleted anywhere near the rate of the average farmer growing 1 modest crop per IRL month, then more uses for cotton and/or degradation of items created with cotton is warranted.
     
  3. Anpu

    Anpu Bug Hunter

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    When they did this change to reagents and then food, for the most part, it seemed to work really well. Just read messages in the trade channel to see that.

    But since items are still on vendors I think some people are still purchasing from the NPC’s.

    If they slowly remove some of those items from NPC’s that we can grow or acquire that would then be interesting to observe.....
     
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  4. Cora Cuz'avich

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    I'm not completely against it, but I do think it might be a bit confusing to newer players, who will sort of expect these things to be available from npc vendors, and might have some difficulty until they venture out into the world awhile and encounter market towns.

    Sorta kills any notion of the game still having a single player online mode, though.
     
  5. Lained

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    I'd be interesting in seeing the data comparing farming goods sold by NPC merchants vs player vendors, are players really shopping at merchants? Though having a good reason to not grow cotton would be preferable.

    This really should have a data driven solution that pops up potential infractions for a dev to quickly interpret and follow up with a ban if needed.
     
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  6. redfish

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    It would be ridiculous if it meant a player couldn't get an item necessary for adventuring gameplay, like a basic sword, or a reagent, from an NPC merchant if he wanted to, and had to hunt down a player vendor.

    Besides putting a cumbersome requirement on players just to play the game (especially new players), the current player marketplace also isn't intuitive enough for that. Nor would the global item search people are asking for be a good solution: Go to a item search UI to find a basic sword just to be able to go out and play the game -- that's just stupid.

    If the plans are more limited then suggested, then obviously, that's a different thing entirely.

    But honestly, I think I need to restate my view that SotA always needed to be designed with the single player experience in mind first, because most people play MMOs solo most of the time. Its putting the multiplayer experience in mind first that has made the game bad for new players, who aren't going to be jumping into parties or into the player marketplace. Then when players have a bad experience, rather than focusing on making the single player experience better, the solution always tends to be to find a bad multiplayer solution to solve the problem ("we need global chat, so players can just ask for help in global chat!"), and this drives players away.
     
  7. Net

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    Well, it is only slightly related, but from NPC vendor, I can buy 1 garlic or 10000 garlics or anything in between. From player vendors I can often buy 1-10 stacks of 1000.
    I would love option to put 10000 garlics on vendor for 2 gold each and let players buy as much as they want. Or ask players to sell me up to 10000 garlics for 2 gold a piece and let them sell me as much as they are comfortable with.
    Bonus points if I could set more specific price (e.g. 1.85 gold per piece) and it was rounded up, so if player bought 10 garlics, they would pay 19 gold.
    Extra bonus points, if I could put another 10000 garlics for 3 gold each so if players buy the cheap garlic, others can still buy some garlic and do not have to search for another vendor.
     
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  8. Cora Cuz'avich

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    I saw the stream in question, the conversation appeared to be limited to farmed produce/reagents, and not equipment. But maybe that is there intent as well.

    Regardless, I think at least npc vendors should remain in Solace Outskirts; players will be in there a lot early on, and may not encounter player vendors for a while.

    Though, I think increasing npc prices is and leaving it at that is probably the better solution. Experienced players will have no issues; and if they want to be lazy, it also becomes a gold sink. New players won't be struggling to figure out how to get carrots, and by the time they need to buy them in large quantities, they'll probably have figured out player vendors.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  9. redfish

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    Then the people botting can always bot buying from Outskirts vendors.

    And it doesn't solve the problem that getting basic goods from the player marketplace outside of the Outskirts is going to be a bad player experience.

    I can think of many other solutions to combatting botting. Not everyone would like them, because they're not grinding-oriented and more built around good solo gameplay, and a lot of people seem to like grinding-oriented gameplay, but IMO refocusing the game around good solo gameplay is what would actually make the game good. Though, probably too late for that, too.
     
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  10. Sorgin Txakal

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    I also wonder if this will apply to reagents that can be farmed easily in bulk, like spider webs and serpent scales.
     
  11. kaeshiva

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    I think its been a long time coming.
    A big part of the reason why there's a lack of demand for things is that they are infinitely available on the NPC.
    And we need those NPCs, because there is no ability for players to obtain items in sufficient quantity for use, with a few agricultural exceptions.
    Look at reagents for example - garlic, nightshade, and mandrake are all available in large quantity via agriculture. Those could go.
    But if we had to rely on black pearls from the handful of nodes in the game, or serpent scales from only killing dragons/wyverns or the handful of scales nodes that exist, and spider silk only from killing spiders - the handful of sulf ash nodes in 1 or 2 scenes and the few you'd get killing elementals - well, with the reagent burn rate that currently exists you could easily spend a week just getting enough reagents to play a (pure) mage for a day, or less. Same thing with things like coal, when you need sooo much of it, getting it 3 at time from a handful of nodes is just not reasonable. When I stopped playing some months ago, I was spending more on regs than I was getting in (value of) loot, and that was buying the agricultural ones at cost from a farmer.

    I'd LOVE to see a coal mine with node after node after node and few /easy monsters, give lower level miners something that they could get that would be in demand and that they could sell. But hitting 1 node every couple minutes, with 15 minute respawns, and getting 3 coal out of it , isn't going to cut it. Realistically, you can't get rid of the NPC crutch until you have reasonable availability, and we're just not there yet on a lot of things.

    Reasonable availability means: a coal mine, full of nodes, packed to the brim with nodes, with no waiting for respawn, and none of this 1 or 2 at a time. Same thing with salt, wax, creosote. We need reliable, sustainable ways to obtain these at rates that approximate what a player can earn (gold value) in the same time frame.

    I am in favor of the direction, but admit I'm really dubious about the ability to balance it properly. And I think its being done for the wrong reason.
    Sounds like its time to go buy 100,000 of everything before this change....

    Also really going to make crafting areas pretty inconvenient now, having to stock everything tediously in little stacks on a player vendor or put them in containers and give everyone permission unless you expect them to bring their own fuels from wherever they can find them for sale.

    While I'd love to see a stronger player to player resource economy and fluctuation, I think the reasons - ie, stifling botters or even legit players trying to make exp in crafting by actually crafting items, is not the right reason, and if that's the aim, I'm concerned that the result will achieve the goal but create a world of inconvenience elsewhere.

    Honestly, the ability for players to buy things from player vendors as they do from npcs (by choosing quantity to buy) really should precede this change.

    In fact, I'd say no, global market needs to precede this change.
    Are you telling me I'm going to have to come back to town to get regs and spend 2 hours going through dozens of player vendors to find someone selling what I want before I can go back to what I was doing? Or spend hours shopping and trying to 'stock up' just so I can actually go play the game? Pass lol
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  12. Cora Cuz'avich

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    The other issue with removing items from npc vendors is having to rely on players to list items at reasonable quantities, especially for new players. That new player looking for carrots to make stew is going to be put off when he can only find player vendors selling carrots in lots of 100.
     
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  13. Cora Cuz'avich

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    I would hope not, they can't really be farmed in bulk until higher levels.
     
  14. Cora Cuz'avich

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    True, but I would presume that in that scenario, items would cost more. But that is far from the ideal scenario, I think eliminating items from npc vendors is probably a bad plan.
     
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  15. kaeshiva

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    I think its workable IF they add sustainable methods to obtain items in necessary bulk, especially in low difficulty areas to add a niche for commodity trading without combat. This would require a good understanding of utilization quantities however that I'm not convinced the people making the decisions possess. I don't mean this in an insulting way, but evidence has shown us with other implementations to crafting that things are often pointless, wildly uneconomical, or poorly balanced. I mean, I've gone through 10,000 coal in a single sitting before - if I can't gather that in a reasonable amount of playtime, then I'm screwed. Yes, I could buy it from someone else, but if the scarcity is such that gathering it seems untenable, you can bet the pricing is going to be far too high to make whatever I'm going to do with that coal economical. Considering you already make a loss on all crafting even paying npc fuel prices.

    As a side note, buying crafting fuels and/or regs from NPCs is one of the only cash sinks. I worry what will replace it. I know I'm jumping the gun a bit, but full scale phase out of all NPC buyable things is going to require a LOT of planning and implementation of alternative sources, its going to require new cash sinks, and its going to require some sort of change to the current player vendor system since you'll now be forced there as the only source.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  16. Sorgin Txakal

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    This is why I am very for, instead of being forced to buy the entire stack, allowing players to list items into a single stack (store) that can be purchased against at that vendor. Will make it far easier to manage your vendor if you just list a sell price and load up that stack over time - would also advertise to players who check out the vendor what you normally carry even if you just sold out (the date timer could then change over to when the last item was sold, instead of date listed so they know if you just sold out or have been out of that item for months and have abandoned the vendor).

    Edit: Would be even better if you could set discount price break points per quantity purchased.
     
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  17. Cora Cuz'avich

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    Well, of course. But I wouldn't expect that tech anytime soon, whereas the npc inventory changes can happen next release. What are the odds they'll wait?
     
  18. Wilfred

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    -
    Laz and Jack also had some good discussion about this topic on NBNN News today.

    - About 00:24:30, start of BMC video clip
    - About 00:29:35, start of discussion

    Season 6 LIVE! Lunch With Laz & Jack.
    https://www.twitch.tv/videos/945448952

    ----------
     
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  19. FBohler

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    For any gathering outcome, a simple commodity marketplace with interconnected vendors in each town and outskirt would be really helpful.
    You list your commodities and price range, the vendors sell them from cheapest to dearest.
    For starter's gear, I think regular NPC would do just fine.
    Now what to do with the hundreds of shoddy bows and rusty spoons we collect every day?
     
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  20. Elwyn

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    Buying partial stacks is something that's been talked about since forever. Hopefully the New Guy Dev will be able to get into the UI issues necessary for that. Even though it's not at the top of my own list, I think this is the single most necessary change the game needs need with player vendoring.

    But yeah, either removing significant categories of items from NPCs entirely, or making them have less stock that slowly "recharges", along with a stronger version of the demand price increase mechanic, could have some interesting effects.
     
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