FaeDine GameDev

Crank Trading


One thing that's been a weak spot in the experience for Crank has been the trading. While the text can get repetitive, I don't think the text or anything is bad so much as the lack of trade options.

The system in place attempts to actually make favourable trades for the player (more on that later), but despite that, a majority of trades end up being declined.

Since I've implemented trading there have been a total of 250,431 trade events completed. 86,536 trades approved, 138,058 trades declined, and 25,837 traders attacked.

Here's a view of the current trade screen as it appears in the game now. It looks pretty simple from an initial glance but the mechanics behind it are actually fairly robust.

All the player sees is what looks to be two random items with two random values. Behind the scenes there is a few things in place to make this happen:

  • Items are chosen based on random availablity to the player (if they haven't unlocked Solar Panels, they won't show up).
  • All items are given a value based on the relative cost to fabricate them.
  • A "trade value" based on the player's current progress is in the game to set the item quantities.
  • Additional "trade modifiers" are put in place based on the type of trader they're dealing with. Refugees for example more desperate and will trade at a loss. More smarmy or arrogant traders will try to profit off the player. About 80% of trades are actually in the player's favour based on these values.
  • Every sector has a random "high value" and "low value" resource based on their rarity in that area.
  • Based on these values, items are added to each side until they each run out of "trade value".

The intent was to add another layer of depth to the game, and possibly have some spaces where players can find good deals. For example, buying Scrap Metal cheaply in one area and jumping to a new area to sell it at a huge markup. Unfortunately, the way this system is presented, that possibility isn't even made clear. It's also greatly overshadowed by the player being able to boost research and make trading a pretty moot point.

I've always loved barter systems in games. I prefer them over any sort of currency (though Fallout's caps still hold a special place in my heart). I'm planning to overhaul Crank's trading into more of a barter system where players can pick from a pool of items they want, and trade extras they don't. Being forced into a single, random trade is, I think, the biggest deterrent to trading at the moment. This should give trading that extra flexibility to make it more useful to the player as well as expose some of the other existing systems.

It's a bit tough to tear apart systems you've spent a lot of time on but it's a hell of a lot better than leaving them broken and not fun.