Wishful Thinking: An Ur without Vendors Part One

Introduction

Now that it’s the third time I’ve used Wishful Thinking as a header, I can officially call it a series of posts where I look at an aspect of a game I play and consider ways to make it awesome, without simply trying to cater to my own play style and while attempting to remain somewhat reasonable, but without any idea of how practical it would be to code or what code is anyway.

I cracked it!

This time, we’re going to talk about an Ur without NPC vendors.  We’re going to imagine it in such a way that evades the nightmare scenarios some have created in their odd little minds.  That’s right, I’m going to take away your street spirits, take away your tool vendor, and you’re going to like it.  But we’re going to need to do this in parts — for both Tiny Speck, and for this series of articles, there’s a lot that would need to happen, ideally, to have an Ur without vendors.

First, we’re going to need alternate supplies of items that are currently only available on vendors.  Second, we’re going to discuss the importance of buy orders, and how those could be implemented via either the auction system or player vendors (henceforth PVs).  Third, we’re going to talk about the importance of in-game support for marketing and advertising for PVs.  At some point, I’ll even sum it all up in a neat little package that erases some of the nightmare scenarios.  Let’s do this.

Ur without Vendors Part One: Content & Other Assorted Ponies

While it may or may not be the first step toward an Ur without Vendors that Tiny Speck plans to take—and I’m willing to bet it’s something that will happen slowly and not in a single step—one of the biggest barriers to removing NPC vendors from Ur are the many items that are currently only available via vendors.   Although not an exhaustive list, some of the ones I’d like to touch on are beer, salmon, honey, and light bulbs.  

I mention beer first because it’s one I’m surprised has yet to enter the game.  When distilling became a skill and hooch moved from a vendor provided item to a player produced item, I expected brewing to follow shortly.  For all we know, perhaps it would have but was delayed when the game went back to beta.  Ideally, I’d like to see brewing be more involved than distilling — not that I want the task itself to be involved; however, as a former beer aficionado, I would like to see several beer recipes enter the game, perhaps moving the seasonal pumpkin ale to the brewing skills.

Salmon often comes up in the ideas forum.  Off the top of my head, I can think of two reoccurring proposals: bear hugging and fishing.  I’m really not the biggest fan of bear hugging.  I’ve always felt the idea was just too simple, just an extension of the same mechanic used to harvest existing animals.  Especially since the introduction of new mechanics with sloths and foxes, I’d prefer to leave hugging to the crabs.

Fishing would at least be a new mechanic, but as I pointed out in an idea thread months ago, straightforward fishing wouldn’t be all that Glitchy.  Right now, no animals are actually killed to provide food products.  And while it’s hard to avoid that salmon are, well, salmon, and the only food players can eat in game that has eyes, I still would love to see the basket fishing I proposed in that thread.  MMO players love fishing — I think Ur needs it too.

Honey: bees! comments on this blog, and out of twisted gratitude, I say we need bees with his face.   I think bees with my face would give me nightmares, so I’m not sure if that would be a good or bad tribute.

Light bulbs are the newest vendor only items.  The solution for an alternate supply could end up being grouped in with things like machine parts and the other tools that are currently not crafted.  But I think light bulbs provide an opportunity for interesting content.

I can imagine a region where light is important, levels in which most of the background or resources are imperceptible and do not even highlight unless there are enough light bulbs present. The bulbs could either grow on trees or be in nodes scattered about the environment like barnacles or jellisacs.  There would need to be something else attractive about the region as well: perhaps non-economic like really impressive, detailed background art.  Here, my ideal would be some other competing resource, only available in these light bulb caves, but only accessible if light bulbs were nearby.  If the resources were designed appropriately, demand for light bulbs—currently not that high as they are only needed to craft lamps— would be in competition with the other resource.  Such a setup would regularly prompt whiny forum posts, but it would at least provide an interesting game-within-the-game beyond simple harvesting.  And light and dark mechanics are just cool.

There are other items only available on vendors, but since inevitably I will miss some, I won’t bother trying to be exhaustive.  I think tools and machine parts are rather important though.  Although an Ur without Vendors would always have its population of vets that were able to buy tools and parts directly before the game changed, I think tools and parts should enter the game in such a way that they could all be created even if the game were reset.  Some basic versions would probably need to enter the game via the tutorial, to ease new players into the economy, but otherwise the materials should always be obtainable without the tool we are trying to craft.

Tune in later this week for Ur without Vendors Part Deux: Buy Orders -or- How to Get Tool Vendor Addicts to Ride this Train.

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