Choose My Adventure: Failure to trade in Black Desert
This may sound weird and almost nonsensical, but additional context sheds some light on that statement. One of my repeated points which I harp on over and over is that I want systems to have complexity equal to the amount of time you’re expected to devote to them. If you want me to work hard at establishing trade routes, I want that system to be as complex as clearing out high-level dungeons or engaging in siege warfare.
In other words, it shouldn’t be something I can master or even do much more than brush against while I’m on a high-speed tour of the game and what it has to offer. And while I was a bit disappointed with the game’s gathering mechanics, the trading system seems to offer exactly what I wanted to see.
The one part of it that I don’t much care for – and this is purely a personal thing – is the fact that it relies very heavily upon contribution points, which you level up via questing. That is… not a nonsensical system, but it’s one I don’t care for as much simply because it involves getting better at System A purely by engaging in System B. I’m fine with System B improving your performance in System A, but if you’re only interested in System A, you ought to be able to level up and engage in that while leaving System B for other people.
It did, however, get me more involved in questing and the game’s knowledge system. I hadn’t really played around with the conversation system before now, but I had the opportunity to do so while running around to up my contribution points, and it’s… not exactly great, I think, but it’s at least an interesting attempt to try gamifying knowledge. It comes down to a lot of finding out people whom exist, then playing a brief minigame.
Simple and rather perfunctory, perhaps, but I like that there’s at least the effort made, and it does encourage you to go about and talk to NPCs you might otherwise avoid altogether. It does have a certain degree of elegance to it in that regard.
But enough about that! First step of the trading process (getting contribution points was step zero) is getting a horse! Or a donkey. I guess there’s a quest where a donkey can… oh, huh. There’s a horse license. I already have a horse.
Why do I have a horse? I didn’t know I had a horse. That seems like something I would have remembered. “Do you have a horse, sir?” Apparently horses just, like, show up sometimes.
I named it Mistake.
With step one complete, we can move on to step two, which is finding a node I can use for trading. That’s the basics of how trading works, you see; you invest Contribution Points in nodes, and then you can buy various trade goods in one place and ship them off to another place. Concurrently, the demand and need for those various things are affected by how many people are using these nodes and providing these goods. It’s like, well, any economy, except focused chiefly around trade goods rather than finished products.
I like this, actually. Most MMOs run off of some degree of player-focused economy, which makes sense but also tends to divorce players from the actual economy the world has to be working around. The markets in Final Fantasy XIV are chiefly oriented around high-end crafted equipment, furniture, and some rare or annoying-to-get ingredients, which is logical from a game mechanics standpoint, but it doesn’t brush against the large-scale logistics of things like food or normal clothing or blankets or other things which are kind of important to actual people living and working here.
What stymied my progress here (or success, more accurately) was the fact that I’m a low-level nobody who has just started the game and have been focusing on a high-speed tour through the whole game. As a result, the only trade routes I could actually form are the ones everyone can form as a low-level nobody who has just started the game, which means that those trade routes are more or less stuffed.
There’s clearly a lot of complexity with the system under the surface, though. And it’s not something you can just let sit forever; demand and supply will be shifting, and that means you have to constantly shift as the market shifts behind the scenes.
I like that. I like it a lot. I can’t really exploit it at this point in gameplay, no, but I can see the bones of how it works, and if I need to say it again I like that the system is complex enough to actually stand up to long-term play. You could, at the end of the day, focus most of your play time around just maintaining hubs of trade and going back and forth with goods. That’s a valid way to play, and it has worthwhile implications.
It’s not the way I would personally want to play (I’m more of a trade dilettante), but I appreciate the existence of it. Perhaps even more than if it was either mandatory or the sort of way I like to play. (It may be a de facto mandatory aspect of play at higher levels; I will trust on the commentariot below to say so.)
Along the way to finishing step two here, I managed to level my horse, weigh myself down with too much silver coinage, see a few more (underwhelming) bits of story, and explore a bit more of the landscape. I think I even leveling a couple of times, although I wasn’t fighting much of anything, so it didn’t really matter because my combat level stayed the same. That’s one of the downsides to having everything be segmented off into different progress lines; rewards don’t mean as much when you are more or less leveling each little thing completely independently from every other thing.
But that’s a minor complaint in this case. I enjoyed myself, on a whole, but I was ready to stable Mistake and hop off when it was time to stop. And that means I’m tasked with summarizing the entire experience, which is…
Well, that’s my topic for next week, isn’t it? Of course it is. So there’s no poll this week, but you can of course leave your feedback down in the comments or mail it along to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, a summation of my experiences, our next destination poll, and a lengthy diatribe about how pseudo-fantasy games that want to put everyone in heels should really put men in heels too.