The Elder Scrolls

Proposal for a New Economic System TES 6

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TLDR: I want to be able to flex my huge piles of treasure in TES 6 AND feel the impacts on the world around me from my legions of companions and followers built up by the Mid to End Game. I want all of this, and I want it implemented in such a way that people who don’t care about this shit can ignore it and still love the game.

That out of the way…

In previous ES games money and treasure ends up feeling meaningless as you can’t do much with it once you reach a certain point.

To make TES 6 last us another 12-20 years of fun, I posit 3 core areas of improvement/ new mechanics can significantly stretch the replay value. (Functioning Economy, Hireling Enhancements and Commands, Assets Influence and Gold sinks)

  1. Functioning Economy

Let me lead with this, I don’t want TES 6 to BE an economy simulation. I do however want TES 6 to have a simulated economy hard wired into the game mechanics.

It should work something like this…

a. New Game seeds every dungeon, ruin, barrow, NPC and Home, business and city treasury, everything with an initial hoard, total savings, all the wealth in the game. Some items and wealth can be hard wired into the game, but much of it should be randomized within parameters to create pleasant variety.

b. International Trade, an invisible game mechanic will generate a certain number of new NPC immigrants or returning expatriates from (presumably Hammerfell, but wherever) and international merchants to consistently add additional items/resources into the economy independently from the Domestic Economy (see below).

It is important to generate new NPC into the game to backfill jobs, roles, responsibilities of those NPC that inevitably meet with an “accident” or whatever as well as a mechanism to both bring in, and cart out currency and goods from the ecosystem.

c. Domestic Economy will generate the vast majority of resources and trade goods into the economy. I envision total production sources for the Domestic Economy: Mines (ore and ingots), Logging Camp/Mill (various wood resource additions), Farms (meat and produce), Meadery/Brewery/Winery (alcohol), Trapping/Hunting Camp (furs, meats, unique goods), Restaurants (in towns, prepared foods), Fishery (fish), Tinker (common goods, home goods), Alchemist Lab (ingredients and potions), Arcane Coven (soul gems, magic items, scrolls and tomes), Print Shop (paper, books).

Additionally, although not raw resource producing roles, two important parts of the DE would include the Inn(outside towns only think roadside in between, prepared food&drink and lodging) and the Mercenary Company (NPC & Hireling which traipse about the map on paid orders or searching for treasure).

d. Each one of these DE types would have multiple competitors and ownership. Let’s say 10 total production sites from each category, and a random number of competitors within each category. For example 10 total Farms, 10 Mines, etc would equal 120 total unique Domestic Economy sites for any play through.

e. Each unique site can be purchased, or otherwise acquired by the Player through quest means or cash money. The player would have various options and tweaks that could be made to customize, optimize, or manipulate their business.

f. Through an easy interface NPC assistant the Player will be able to adjust production/quality standards, hire labor, obtain sales agreements, and coordinate distribution. It’s important the Player is given a wide range of freedom to control inputs/outputs for each unique location, but also for the NPC Assistant to be able run things more or less on autopilot. A new Merchants Guild(s) Faction Quest line would be a wonderful way to introduce the system to Players and practice all sorts of fun options this would create.

g. Specific baseline production questions like how much wheat and honey and iron can xyz produce would be dependent on the total number of estimated NPC end up in the finished game and backed in after much testing and fiddling, let’s set those aside for the purposes of discussion and hope it could be executed well.

Let’s summarize and recap. The goal is every NPC is a living part of the economic ecosystem. They would consume a certain number of food and drink resources every day, desire certain crafting or unique items/resources as determined by some invisible profile stats, stay in a house or inn, be driven to acquire those resources, save and spend and produce, a real regenerative economy, bolstered by incoming foreign trade to provide a safety net and mechanism to funnel in and export out additional resources into the ecosystem. The Player can interact, take ownership, and push a bunch of buttons that viscerally shape and impact the sandbox, or ignore the whole thing completely if it’s not their cup of tea.

I think it would be really dope to encounter Yuri the Miner. He eats twice a day and enjoys a bottle of mead every night if he can find and afford it. He prefers salmon, and dislikes rabbit if he can avoid it. Given the current state of the Mine, he and his 4 co workers produce about 50 iron a week and make 150 Septim a week each from their boss, the Mine Owner Tevanni Pogglestrum. Pogglestrum has contracts to sell to 3 or 4 smithing foundries in various cities as well as the occasional Khajiit trading caravan that stops by and is doing very well. The price of iron has been strong lately, as everyone seems to want to be armed, and he has been making some huge profits. Pogglestrum is a pretty gross boss, he hasn’t raised wages or improved the Mine Site at all instead opting to pile up Septims in a chest in his house. If he saves another 20,000 he might be able to acquire the Mine down river. Yuri and the Boys at the Mine are considering striking. Pogglestrum might concede and improve conditions and wages, or maybe hire the Mercenary Company upstream to come break the strike by roughing up the boys.

  1. Hireling Enhancements and Commands.

One thing that I always found lacking in TES games was once you’ve achieved great power in whatever Faction, you never really can leverage it beyond some radiant quests that create more “gofer” tasks and more useless gold. If I’m the head of the Merchants Guild, let me manipulate prices. The Dark Brotherhood, mark victims for a hit and have the contract executed. Fighters Guild, direct guild members to patrol or explore a certain region, dungeon, even right down to a plot of real estate.

Here is what I would like to see in terms of a big improvement to NPCs and the expansion of hired help…

a. Big expansion to the unique invisible profile of each intentionally scripted NPC as well as the procedural generation of fresh NPC. This profile would include a few material likes and dislikes, a primary driving desire, perhaps some minor goals or motivations, possibly one or two behavioral tendencies as well as a very simple Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’m not asking for a miracle here but it seems like a few keenly edited tables dialed in and applied to every NPC would be possible and keep things super fun.

b. Each NPC would have a stat in their invisible profile which would define the type of jobs or tasks they would be willing to attempt. You have your off limits plot armored NPCs who won’t do anything for you ever, your specialized NPC who are various levels of good but also only work in their field, and your less specialized laborers who might be open to anything.

c. NPC which are specialized labor will have field specific options for hire. For example, the Player has the companionship of a Restoration Mage and a Two Handed Fighter from various quest lines who serve them at no cost. Additionally they have hired two other One Handed Fighters from a Mercenary Company for a reasonable fee of $1,000 septims a week each.

d. The Player may group companions/hirelings both Specialized and UnSpecialized into a Brigade (or some other such nonsense) and issues a command relevant to their possible labor type.

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e. Examples of Specialized Labor type commands might include, Combat commands to “Defend”, “Patrol”, “Explore”, “Scavage”, “Attack”, “Disrupt” or any number of potential commands.

f. Examples of Unspecialized Labor type commands might include commands to “Work ”, “Transport X to Y”, “Manage X”, “Sell Y”, “Buy Z”, or any number of potential commands.

g. Although the Player should be able to issue commands to single or Brigades of Companion/Hirelings, and equip and supply them to bolster their chances, success should never be guaranteed. Laborers can have a bad day, the Mine and Farm could be raided by bandits or attacked by wild animals killing the staff and stalling production. Brigades of soldiers sent out by the Player to patrol a certain region, or defend their Fishery could be overcome by a Thalmor Patrol or overrun by Mudcrabs.

In summary, let me be a crazy power character not only in my personal abilities, but let me flex my accumulated wealth and influence to direct an army of my loyal retinue or Winery empire to accomplish my goals and screw around in the sandbox. I want not only to own a Restaurant that people come to, I want the occasional brawl to break out. When it does, I need my Patrick Swayze hired cooler to deal with that crap before they smash up some nice bottles of inventory that need replaced, or kill one of my best patrons. I might not want to become the king of the Thieves Guild, but I do want to hire a few Rogues to disrupt the operation of my competitor. Ideally my competitor might just hire some goons to come waylay my shipments and we got ourselves a good old fashion feud my friends.

  1. Assets, Influence, and Gold sinks

An infinitely playable TES game requires the ability for Players to have unprecedented control to shape the world around them to produce infinite outcomes. The ability to acquire control over more areas and plots, people and goods of the cities and world map as Assets coupled with the ability to apply new levels of Influence over those Assets are in my view the best way to provide a sustainable and rewarding Gold sink.

Here are a few of my final thoughts on new Assets the Player should be able to acquire, how they can influence them, and other various Gold sinks…

a. Many new plots of real estate should be available for the Player to purchase. This includes but is not limited to the aforementioned 120 Domestic Economy sites from topic #1. Additional swathes of unused tracts of land should be available for purchase, buildings or other city infrastructure.

b. Player Owned real estate of any type ought to have at least somewhat if not fully customizable upgrades and construction options to apply. From building some company housing for your logging operation, to fortifying a bridge at an important crossing with a small tower for your crew to post up in and lookout for bandits. Let the player sink hundreds of thousands of those sweet sweet coins into changing the particulars of the map.

c. Being able to interact more meaningfully and deeply with NPCs both important or procedurally generated will make radiant quests a lot more rewarding. Having radiant type conflict events end up interacting with Player driven choices will be a hell of a sweet spot for replays.

d. I’d like to see some other major gold sink options in addition to what I’ve proposed above, that are maybe more traditional boosts to gameplay (combat, spell creation, enchantments, training, abilities, gear, quests, rares) so that players really have the system above AND a host of other attractive directions to be pulled in on how to spend their treasure.

So what do you nerds think? What other gold sink ideas do you have? What other systems have you thought about to enhance the economy, to increase replay value in general? How else could companions be used? How else could the Player interact with the physical world and get a response? Can significant improvement of the economic system be implemented in a robust yet tasteful way thats enjoyable for fans not into that facet?

Here are the other threads I could easily find regarding the economy for anyone interested:

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