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September 18, 2019, 08:23:44 AM

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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignWhat are the effects of adding a 2nd currency vs only having one?
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AoF
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« on: April 07, 2019, 06:42:41 PM »

Hello!  I just got a large round of feedback for my game.  The way it works is, every time a character levels 3 times, you get a "skill point."  You need a skill point to purchase major upgrades for the character.  I also have money in the game, which is also used to purchase the same upgrades.

I received feedback saying something like, "I have a ton of money but nothing to spend it on [I'm still trying to balance this], why don't you just make it so that there are no skill points, and you buy everything with money?"

And I thought, "Hmm, yeah why don't I do that?"  Making this change would probably take half a day or less, but I really want to understand the ramifications of this, because my gut instinct is... shrugging.  I don't know if this idea will make the game more or less fun, and I certainly don't know the theory behind multiple currencies.  I did it, because I wanted to give some reward for leveling up the characters, and it's the first thing that came to mind.

I want to be more intentional about this now and in the future.  What are some signs/reasons that a game should have multiple currencies vs a single form of currency?  I'm so lost on this, you can feel free to answer in any way that comes to mind: A pros/cons list, articles, blogs, etc.  Anything will help.  Thanks
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Lares Yamoir
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2019, 06:26:17 AM »

The money currency you are talking about is purely virtual right? You can't turn real world money into your currency?

If that's the case I don't really see a problem with the change, except for maybe play session time. Players will be less inclined to play "just a bit longer", because there is no more free skill point as an incentive. Of course that could be offset with different features, if necessary.
However I think this change is more of a band aid for the mentioned problem. Your currency only has one purpose. There is no reason not to spend the money on the skill points. But at some point the characters are probably good enough, so that even the spending becomes unnecessary. So I would argue that you should try to add interesting options for the player to spend the money elsewhere.

Maybe I don't understand the whole problem correctly, but in my opinion this has nothing to do with having multiple currencies in the game or not. Instead you have one currency that is not needed (or not considered needed) by the players. Your problem isn't the free skill point, that's just the symptom. Your problem is the money currency.
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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2019, 08:04:53 AM »

I've always felt like the presence of currency in a game implies a somewhat loose design ideology. There are some unconventional implementations where the amount you can earn is finite, given at specific points, and acts essentially as a lock and key mechanism, but the usual pattern seems to be that you can repeat a task to infinity to earn as much as you want, and you'll potentially earn more for taking greater risk. This creates the potential for a grind.

Whether grind is a bad thing or not is subjective. I've encountered players who like having the option to spend an extra resource (their own time; their own money, in games where it's an option; their other game resources, if they can be sold) to overcome an obstacle that they can't pass with their skill alone, and I've encountered players who abhor the idea of doing a repetitive action to make progress. Both are valid playstyles.

With careful balancing, it's possible to create a situation where normal play will tend to result in always having just enough currency for what you'll end up needing. Doesn't this seem like making your systems work against each other, though? If you require a resource for progress, but you also make sure that that resource is available by the time it's required, what does the requirement really accomplish? Think also about different possible playstyles and how they'll interact with the system - a speedrunner who's skipping as much as possible will come up short when currency is required, and have to find another way to get it. Are there skill-based options for them, or do they just get blocked from using their preferred playstyle and have to stop and grind? The opposite might happen with a player who does a lot of extra work along the way - do they have a good time when they have way more currency than they need at points where they'd be gated by it, or does it ruin an interesting experience they could have otherwise had if they weren't so far ahead of your planned resource curve?

A bit more on topic, it feels to me like having multiple non-interchangeable currencies gives you the opportunity to design different dynamics around them. Having a choice of actions where one earns more of one currency and the other is the other way around gives the player an incentive to do some long-term planning, and choose whichever is more appropriate for what they want to accomplish. If you want to create scarcity, you can require a hard-to-get resource for a particular thing, while still having a more common one for something more freely available.

There are potential ethical considerations in what sort of gameplay dynamics result from the system you implement. Anything that amounts to gambling is always especially questionable. Be mindful of what could happen if someone with an addictive personality plays your game, and is unable to resist the impulse to try to earn as much as they can. Putting limits on how much you can do at a time could help discourage degenerate behavior.

This is a great topic, and I'm not sure how coherent my ramble above ended up being, but maybe there's something worthwhile in there?
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DjangoDurango
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 09:54:13 PM »

I've been thinking a lot about this lately 'cause I'm making a PAYDAY 2 clone. One of the changes I wanted to make to the design was having only a single currency (money, obvs). I think, unless you're doing something very interesting with currency, it's preferable to have as few as possible.

Way I see it, you've got two problems.

1. Skill points aren't really that exciting to work for, if money can buy the same thing because...

2. Your players have an abundance of money and don't ever feel grateful to have that free skill point because money is functionally the same as the skill point but not as rare. They never NEED that skill point to get what they want.

If it were me, I'd just get rid of the skill points entirely.

Then, a two-prong solution for the cash:

1. Make the payouts smaller. Not punishingly small, but enough to give the player a little more sense of desperation.

2. Put in something that's always eating into their cashflow.


One concern about this that was raised to me about having a single currency was that, beyond a certain point in games like this, money stops being an object. Once you get things just how you like them, you run out of things to spend on. This isn't a problem for my game per sé (the point of PAYDAY is replaying the levels and getting different playthroughs every time, not buying things) and there's some value in getting to the point in a game where you ain't even gotta think about throwing money at things. It'd be more elegant though if you weren't just Scrooge McDuckin' it after you got all the shit you want and there was still some cash-in, cash-out happening.

One of the ways I was planning to combat this in my game (and this is a thing that GTA Online does) is by making it so each heist costs a certain amount of money to start. In my game, each player would front 25% of that cost. So if one of your players doesn't have enough money, you all have to do a smaller job first. There would be at least one job that has no upfront cost, just to prevent people from permanently bankrupting themselves, but the more extravagant the heist and the higher the difficulty, the more it costs upfront to start. So maybe you have enough money to do the heist, but after your upfront costs, you won't be making the advertised profit. Aside from that, buying weapons and mods also costs money and I'd like to make a lot of other variables doshable.

Basically, you could just have one currency but put in more operating costs. A stable full of monster girls has to have tons of insane overhead.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 10:01:05 PM by DjangoDurango » Logged

AoF
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2019, 02:56:29 PM »

The money currency you are talking about is purely virtual right? You can't turn real world money into your currency?

Correct.

Quote
I would argue that you should try to add interesting options for the player to spend the money elsewhere.

I think you're probably right.  I'm doing that now.
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AoF
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2019, 03:00:24 PM »

2. Your players have an abundance of money and don't ever feel grateful to have that free skill point because money is functionally the same as the skill point but not as rare. They never NEED that skill point to get what they want.


I'm not sure why you're saying that.  This is not true in my game.  The only way to buy certain upgrades is to own a skill point AND money.  You can't do it with just money. 
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Aghko
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2019, 08:32:53 AM »

Hey,
One designer from the dark side here! Yep... I work on Free 2 Play Smiley

So, creating two currencies is something one does in F2P to have a better control of your monetization and making sure that no broken balancing floods the game with your main revenue source. That is why you use a second one which can be used by the player on the parts of the game that are not targeted to be monetized and you expect the player to engage on farming a lot.
By the way, when you boil this down, currency is not only "money in the game" but anything that can be accumulated and traded for goods and progression. For example, XP is kind of a currency on many RPGs that is used to be exchanged for skills and stats, and this will probably quite in the core of your design ideology. And the same could be told regarding stone in Minecraft.

But to the point:
As long as your game is not free to play there is no need to have a second currency. Unless, as they told you before, those different currencies make your game specially interesting.

Whenever adding a currency just make sure that you create a drain of the resource that is attractive to be acquired, stronger than the source of the currency and self-sustained (for example consumables, like ammunition). If the things you are selling for the currency are all permanents you will get some inflation issues at the end.

Cheers!
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DjangoDurango
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2019, 04:11:40 AM »

2. Your players have an abundance of money and don't ever feel grateful to have that free skill point because money is functionally the same as the skill point but not as rare. They never NEED that skill point to get what they want.


I'm not sure why you're saying that.  This is not true in my game.  The only way to buy certain upgrades is to own a skill point AND money.  You can't do it with just money. 

I apologize. The way I understood it, you could use the skill point OR the money, not that both were required.
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