Choose My Adventure: Failure to trade in Black Desert

Despite my best efforts, I walked away from my trading attempts in Black Desert having been wholly unsuccessful. I consider this a good thing, and it left me with a very positive impression of the mechanics involved, with maybe one exception.

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.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

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.

Apparently 'Terrible Life Choices' wasn't an acceptable name.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 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.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Seriously, the history of high-heeled shoes is fascinating, it’s historically been in-fashion for both genders. I have a pair of cuban-heeled boots I wore to my wedding, I love them.
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17 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: Failure to trade in Black Desert"

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Melissa McDonald

The game has a depth I will probably never fully explore, but that’s not a bad thing.


I was very lukewarm about this game when it came out. It gives almost no direction so I just wander from place to place doing quests hoping some would give me experience. I finally stopped playing about a month in because I just wasn’t having much fun and I’m not a life skill type of guy.

About 2 months later I was on another mmo and some of my guild members were talking about BDO. They were going to go back for a bit and hooked one of the guild member I play with often to go over there. I decided to join and we were able to level. This was a few months before the map showed the leveling areas so I just follow him around leveling with me.

I hit 50 and thinking, wow grinding mobs isn’t too bad, it was only about a week. For years grinding mobs to level was like a negative view in the mmo community and I was condition to think it was bad.

Since than I was immersed in the game and made like 5 alts which helps to switch to place to place. I still don’t do life skills but I’m having fun in the game for now.

Mr Poolaty

Console port please come soon

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Paragon Lost

What a hit the game would take graphically to port down to console gpu hardware standards. Ugh, those fifty to hundred dollar gpu’s are crap.

Melissa McDonald

Scorpio can handle it

Sally Bowls

While we all have much better graphics cards than that – laptops come with 1080 – the current PS4’s GPU is about a RX480 which benchmarks nearly six times as powerful as the minimum PC GPU speced for BDO, e.g. 6770.


Everything in BDO has multiple connections. It’s less like straight paths (IE: System A is there to support System B) but rather it’s a web where System A, B, and C all connect to system D, E and F. In this case, contribution isn’t only gained through quests but also through activities such as Alchemy and Cooking byproducts. Questing often times will lead to (a little bit) of XP through the things you have to kill. So on and so forth.

The trade system is far more complex than you understand. Your understanding is the basic trade NPC which, on the whole, isn’t that deep. The most complex it gets is buying high amounts of valuable goods then waiting for an Imperial Trade window to pop (IE: Makes certain people want a particular item more) then selling during that boom.

Where the player economy aspect of trading comes in is through crafted crates. While you loose the boom of NPC trading, you trade it in for steady and reliably high income. This process is, essentially: Worker gathers resources, you process resources, worker makes crate with processed goods, you travel with crate to far away and turn in for money. This means items can never bottom out on price cause someone will always buy them to process once they reach low enough.

There’s more to it than all that, but such is the nice thing about BDO: Everything is a thing. Every system is, more or less, a fully fleshed out system that has multiple layers. Maybe you want nothing to do with trading but still want to make money? Sell those raw goods to traders that the workers gather. Done. There’s something for everyone depending how far you want to take it.

Mr Poolaty

Sadly I can only like this once


I don’t get it. Is each trade good package that you transport actually consumed by another player, or is it just roleplay? What makes the markets “shift” exactly?

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The more a particular trade item is sold to a particular trade manager, the less they’ll pay for it.

In practice, however, there’s so little active trading happening (and the active trading that does happen is spread across dozens of channels) that it doesn’t really have an impact on profitability.

The bigger impact is built into the system itself—prices steadily climb and drop throughout the day without being affected by players.

The type of trading being talked about in this article is purely NPC items being bought from and sold to NPCs specifically for the purposes of making money and gaining trading XP.


When I did my one big trade run from Iliya to Calpheon by fully upgraded fishing boat I had to make multiple trips from the boat to the trade manager to sell all the stuff. When I would make a second trip to the trade manager with a particular trade item the value would be lower the second time. I made money but not enough to justify the time and effort.

They should have trade managers on the docks, they really seem to try and discourage naval usage from horrid pathing at sea to no pathing on rivers to boats “sticking” to things. Or at least when I played it seemed that way.