Taking money out of the gangster economy

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Richard Nunes, May 27, 2011.

  1. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    I've recently picked up an old gangster RPG design and I'm still on the economy. It's very easy to add money into the economy, players steal from NPC players and businesses (hijacking, extortion, loansharking, etc.) but I have no concrete way to get money out of the economy. Players can purchase guns, get-away cars, bodyguards, renovate and fortify their hideouts. A player doesn't need to buy more than a handful of guns and a single gun can last for months in-game. There aren't enough fast consumables, items that are used once or twice before they leave the game. Ammunition is quickly consumed but it's relatively low-cost. Are there high-priced, quickly consumed item I can add to the game?

    Currently, a players cash reserve grows geometically; their money doubles faster and faster the longer they stay in-game. I need a players cash reserve to grow linearly.

    Adding bigger guns and faster cars works to a point but a player buying a Ferrari at ten times the price of a Cadillac will expect it to perform ten times better in-game. I can't trade cash for an equivalent item. I need to literally take money out of the game. I can increase the likelihood a Ferrari will be seized by police but players will catch on and look for low-seizure vehicles like a Fiat with a V10 under the hood.

    Examples from other genres would be appreciated.
     
  2. mwtb

    Original Member

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    Does the law have any role in this? Perhaps the players should need to pay off officials or find themselves at risk of having assets seized? What about money laundering? If you're generating large amounts of illicit cash, the problem becomes how to turn it into money that you can spend outside of the black market.
     
  3. Nexic

    Indie Author

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    This is where you're going wrong. You could easily sell a car that was only 50% better, but cost 10 times more. In my MMOG people are always paying huge sums of money just to improve their character by a few %. Make getting more powerful exponentially costly to balance the exponential increase in funds.

    As for ammo and guns you should have different types that use the above exponential cost model. Buying a slow firing pistol that uses basic ammo will be far cheaper to use than a minigun that fires 1000s of high calibre rounds a minute for example.
     
  4. Roman Budzowski

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    Doctors, doctors... each little wound has to be healed "under the table" and there is no medical insurance. Isn't it easy to get wounded in fights?

    The other one would be lawyers... monthly fee just in case...
     
  5. Allen Varney

    Original Member

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    Meanwhile, the Feds keep seizing the player's bank accounts, unless the player moves his accounts to successively more corrupt and secure banks. But this means the player pays successively higher kickback percentages of his take.
     
  6. pjeigh

    pjeigh New Member

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    How about regular or scheduled Bribes (low-level cops to high-level Feds)? Don't forget about salaries (good bodyguards ain't cheap, uh, as far as I know) and paying for utilities for your resources (HQ, buildings, vehicle maintenance, etc.).

    And, of course, you can always raise your rates (either en masse or for items as it becomes more risky to deal with a better known gangster).
     
    #6 pjeigh, May 27, 2011
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  7. infocyde

    infocyde New Member

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    Cost of Living

    It's all about sinks and sources, you can google to get some ideas, but maybe adding lots more bling sinks beyond just cars and guns.

    - Rents
    - Payoffs (cops, bureaucrats, politicians)
    - girl friends, mistresses, wives (we all know in RL those are big time sinks)
    - Mob hierarchy (you are just a spoke on the wheel, as you go up, boss men take bigger cuts).
    - Cloths, watches, furniture, customizing cars
    - Diversify into legit businesses (cost of initially establishing)
    - Putting money offshore / assets
    - Hospital bills (as suggested)
     
  8. Artinum

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    Perhaps the obvious approach is PvP. Players farming each other will both limit the cash coming in from NPCs and make them spend a lot of cash on attack/defence upgrades. A few percent more protection can make all the difference, so making your top level armour cost billions for just a few percent more than the millions of the next one down is entirely justifiable.
     
  9. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    I was considering allowing some players to serve as FBI agents and judges but keeping them as faceless money pits works far better. I could allow players to rat out fellow gangsters by actively recording conversations behind closed doors which would give the feds enough evidence to seize assets and pursue prosecution. That immediately increases the costs of bribes and lawyers.

    PvP has to be an option between gangsters, robbing eachothers businesses, firebombing them, etc. Encouraging players to be rats in another PvP tactic.

    Mistresses and wives are a very good way to pull money out of the game economy. I'm picturing Sharon Stone's character from Casino greasing everyone's palms. I can have kids regularly trash their parents high-priced SUV.

    Laundering would be a great way to siphon money off the top. Besides a percentage cut there are also police and government seizures to worry about.

    I've also put more emphasis on skill points rather than just money. A player with 20 driving skill points will demand a higher price than a player with 5. I considered having players lose skill points over time as well. As an enforcer moves up the ranks they stop taking jobs as bodyguards so they lose those skills and hire bodyguards. They would earn respect points as they move up the ranks which offsets any skills they lose.

    These are some great suggestions. I'll have to pop some numbers into Excel and see if it balances the economy a bit more. I know I can't rely on spreadsheets to predict player behaviour but it was projecting exponential growth. Adding regular expenses should level things out.
     
  10. Bram

    Indie Author Greenlit

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    Virtual hookers of course! Treat the player with some hot animations :)
    Just do not let players rob the girls.
     
  11. Artinum

    Original Member

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    Perhaps the open ended gameplay is the problem - aside from money generation, what IS the aim of the game? Putting the money into that should be the ultimate goal - if a player wants to become increasingly rich for no reason other than "because", then fine. But most people will get bored of that eventually.
     
  12. CousinGilgamesh

    CousinGilgamesh New Member

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    I would definitely focus more on costs that are necessary for advancement in the game. You don't want a game that suddenly becomes easy once you discover you can do just fine without buying swanky clothes, hookers, and fancy cars. I would consider making things you need to use constantly more expensive (like ammo). That way, players will need to be more resourceful if they want to do more than break even from a given heist. If they just go in spraying bullets on the walls, they better hope they score at least enough cash to replenish their ammo. You don't want to regulate your players' cash flow solely by things that they can opt out of. I really like the payoff idea because the people you're paying off can start wanting more when you have more money.

    Keeping your players slightly unequipped in RPG's has always seemed to me like a great way of keeping things interesting. This has been a strong point of games like Fallout 3 (for example) because you find that you can't gain anything without losing something too (ex. looting a sewer costs ammo, damage to your weapons/armor that require costly repairs, etc.). Once you're rolling in cash though, things become easy and pointless.
     
  13. TheMysteriousStranger

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    I've often thought about doing a gangsters/crime management game myself, and I came to two main conclusions:

    1) Money needs to be hard to come by. To achieve this, make it so the "staff" (ie, the characters that will be performing jobs) take a decent sized cut of the profits each. This introduces a balancing mechanic - players can either create a large team of highly skilled characters that will breeze through the job, but take a huge cut of the profits, or they can try for a lower skilled, smaller team, but reap greater rewards at the risk of failing the job and getting nothing.

    2) Job availability needs to be heavily staggered. The fun in games like this tends to come from unlocking new features, or in this case, new job types. To help stagger this, I would make the characters very RPG heavy - lots of attributes and traits/skills to be levelled up and unlocked. Each of those skills would then unlock job types - eg you need someone with a very high charisma skill to try and bribe a senator, etc. This also has the benefits of players becoming attached to their guys as they spent so much time improving the,, they don't want to risk losing them (either to prison time or death).

    In addition, if money is too readily available, consider having the characters have wages. This way the player is constantly bleeding money and has to keep doing jobs to keep the staff paid and happy. Again, this is another balancing choice for the player - do they field lots of staff but have to keep working like a dog to pay them, or go for smaller teams, but have no backup characters if someone valuable should die.

    In short - try and find consistent, repeating costs. The consistency is important - players don't like random popups that say "the feds took your money, hard luck". The players will want to know when the money is going to disappear form their account, so they can try and make enough to cover the costs.
     
  14. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    That is a good point. The goal is to build a crew by offering well-paying jobs. Perhaps I should develop an "Italian Job" or "Oceans Eleven" MMO. Players assemble a crew to commit heists. Each job has a high payout but players compete for bragging rights. The money shows on the scoreboard but it's not used in-game.

    This is the stumbling block for me. It's fine to add judges on the take and mistresses but I need costs that align with the player's goals. Unless a mistress has a very important use in-game, players won't bother because it is a waste of money.
     
  15. CousinGilgamesh

    CousinGilgamesh New Member

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    This seems like an interesting idea to me. Instead of quests or objectives like normal MMO's, you could have Jobs. I would not get rid of money in the way you suggested, because keeping money in the picture, you could make this pretty interesting. You may even have to pay off a tipster to get a tip for your next "job", like they do in heist movies. The better the job, the more expensive the tip. Then while you're assembling your team, different "jobs" will require that you assemble a team with different occupations. Some examples could be acrobat (good at scaling walls, fitting in small places, etc.), lookout (perceptive to possible threats), weapons expert (knows how to use guns), security hacker (self-explanatory), financier (you know how there's always that guy in the heist movies that doesn't really do the dirty work, he just fronts the money for the buying the tip, paying off the guards, financing any lack of equipment? Well you could be that guy too!), etc.

    This could get really interesting because, since everyone brings something different to the table, some players will be more important than others in a given job. Perhaps the security system is a bigger challenge in one heist, so the hacker on your team has leverage to ask for a bigger cut. Or maybe on another level, there are armed guards that need to be tranqued, so your weapons expert will want a bigger cut out of that job. So before each job, you could have a negotiation session, where everyone decides how the pie will be split up. Of course, the financier would get the biggest cut (that's usually how it is in business), which would give him room to finance the next heist. Everyone else can make a case for how much they deserve based on their importance in the heist. Then, using the money, they can invest in whatever they want, including equipment and training for advancement in their occupation.

    I think this would be a pretty cool way to go. This lets you incorporate an occupation system that allows each player to play the way they want (it's always important in MMO's to give a lot of different options). It also really captures the essence of the "heist movie" atmosphere. And since things are inherently unequal (everyone brings something different to the table), things are bound to get dramatic.
     
  16. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    This would a tough MMO to develop. It would be a great table RPG using d20 Modern rules.
     

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