Topic: Improved trading system  (Read 2613 times)


flibbo

« on: July 03, 2019, 11:29:35 AM »
Hi there.

I've recently been getting into URW again after a rather long pause and there's something that cosistently bugs me, it has from the beginning but for some reason I forgot to mention it in my first forum post where I already gave some feedback.
I've been a gamer a very long time and I'm sorry to say that URW's trading system is probably the worst I have ever seen in any game. I don't mean to be rude, it's just a fact. This is not because there is no currency and it's purely barter based, that part is completely fine - it's all about the interface, the usability and accessability. I'll list the reasons point by point.

1. At no point anywhere does the game ever actually inform you about the trading values of items. The only way you can know is indirectly by "faking" a trade, i.e. offering or taking the item in question and then adding / removing reference items step by step until the trade is accepted, at which point you have the value of the item in terms of the number of reference items (say, arrows). Even then, you still can't be 100% sure if that value is correct, it may be worth a non-whole number of arrows... so then you have to take a lesser value item, like staves, and repeat the process. Needless to say this is slow and tedious and of course you have to then write down what you learned so you even remember. I have a rule of thumb: if you feel the need to make a spreadsheet for a game, then the game is badly designed. The larger the spreadsheet, the worse it is. I have one such spreadsheet for URW that lists values of items in terms of arrows, staves, turnips or meat cuts plus quality modifiers etc. Can you guess how many hours that took to compile that could (and should) have spent actually playing the game instead? Just because the game doesn't list these values anywhere? It doesn't matter that there's no currency, just use squirrel furs as basis, which I believe was commonplace back then, or some other item, I don't care. And those values HAVE to exist at least somewhere on code level otherwise the system wouldn't work at all.

2. Closely tied to nr.1 like I mentioned, you always need to slowly add (or remove) items step by step in a transaction until it is accepted, ideally in as small steps as possible if you don't want to just give loads of your stuff away for free (keep in mind any "gifts" like this if trades aren't balanced add up, your character is going to trade many times). Unless of course, you have the values noted down and can do the math ahead of time... and that's a prime example of something the game should take care of for you.

3. There is no way to just remove one or a few items from an offer you have made, you always have to start over from scratch! This is outrageous, especially when combined with the previous points. How can you even design such a thing in your mind let alone have it be like this or something similar since the early 90s (I assume)? I just don't get it.

4. If you want to know (and of course you will want to know) what items a village has available for trade, you need to go through every single house and look at every single floor tile - and then remember the items of interest in your head, or pick them up and move them to a separate spot. For every single village. Even then, you don't have the information about what any villagers have in their personal inventory that they are willing to trade. Also of course, the "items of interest" can and will change over time. You're not always going to be interested in a woodsman's axe for example, so when you look for something else you need go through everything again? Why not just be able to talk to a villager and say "I'd like to trade" at which point you get a list of all the items that village (and any villagers in it) has available?

What I would like to see is a trading system similar like the ones in Gothic or Morrowind for example, they did both a very good job with that. It doesn't matter that those were AAA that didn't care much about realism like URW does, none of what I mentioned had anything to do with realism, it's purely interface convenience. We need something like a screen with three lists: your inventory, the village's (or other person's) inventory and the list of items that should change owners. At the bottom, show the current value balance - how many more items need to be offered by either side to make it fair, and an indication whether the trade will be accepted as is or not. Of course you need to be able to add or remove items at any time *without* being forced to start over from scratch and the values of items have to be listed somewhere.

I really like this game, I much appreciate its realism and attention to detail, I spent nearly 200 hours with it until now even though my "ancestors" list keeps getting longer... While I can think of several things that could be improved, I believe the trading system should be at the top of the list. It's something that consistently annoys me quite a bit and needlessly so if only the interface was done a bit better. At the absolute bare minimum, we need to be informed about the values of items.

Anyway, just my two cents.
Best regards.

PALU

« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2019, 12:11:24 PM »
UrW isn't geared towards min/maxing, so spreadsheet activities are really a waste of time. It doesn't really matter if you can squeeze out every squirrel pelt's worth of value from every trade, because it doesn't take very long before wealth ceases to be an issue.

I'm not saying the interface can't be improved, only that it's not vitally important.

It doesn't make sense from a realism point of view to walk into a town and ask a random inhabitant for a list of goods sold by every other inhabitant in the town as well as its stores, and have that poor bugger act delivery boy for you.

It can also be noted that the value of items really should differ depending on the individual (and village) you trade with, so prices shouldn't be fixed if realism is the primary driver. However, it would be rather tedious to find the individual who need a new slightly used axe (especially the one who needs it the most, and thus is prepared to pay the most), then the one who needs a new spear, while nobody has a need for a spectacle helm. Thus, the trade system has to balance realism and tedium against gameplay.

flibbo

« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2019, 01:27:37 PM »
UrW isn't geared towards min/maxing, so spreadsheet activities are really a waste of time. It doesn't really matter if you can squeeze out every squirrel pelt's worth of value from every trade, because it doesn't take very long before wealth ceases to be an issue.
Completely disagree. Survival is the name of the game and it's hardcore, death is final and there are no reloads. I don't care if in the late game you can afford to flush your wealth down the toilet. Early and mid game you have to maximize your chances of survival and yes that also includes being efficient with your resources. If you are talking about realism (as you do later in your post) then please also mention that there is no way you would waste anything in an actual survival situation in real life. You need to *get* to the late game where you're filthy rich and that alone is reason enough to do trading properly.
Also, let's make this another rule of thumb: if a game tells you "It doesn't matter that this is extremely inconvenient because if you just ignore it and play as you normally wouldn't play then it's not much of an issue" then the game is also badly designed. A good, fun game allows you to play how you like within the boundaries of the game's setting and doesn't penalize you for not doing what you subjectively believe "makes sense". Doing that is just a lazy cop-out of investing the time and effort to do a mechanic properly. Just as I have the right to be more efficient with my finances in real life than other people are, I have the same right to play URW efficiently.

I'm not saying the interface can't be improved, only that it's not vitally important.
When you have to spend hours to deal with an inconvenience that only exists because the interface is done badly, then yes it kinda is vitally important.

It doesn't make sense from a realism point of view to walk into a town and ask a random inhabitant for a list of goods sold by every other inhabitant in the town as well as its stores, and have that poor bugger act delivery boy for you.
Or you could look at it this way: the game just removes the tedium of actually looking for that person who is responsible for trading, and for other people who are willing to trade what they currently have on them, getting the information, going to pick up the items and wrapping up the deal - yourself. You don't have to interpret it like the poor poor NPCs have to do all the work for the lazy player. Another aspect of a good, fun game is that it abstracts away the tedious and inconvenient aspects without compromising it's setting (which is perfectly possible in this case). Forcing the player to do endlessly repeating, tedious actions just to satisfy an again, subjective sense of realism, is just absurd.

It can also be noted that the value of items really should differ depending on the individual (and village) you trade with, so prices shouldn't be fixed if realism is the primary driver. However, it would be rather tedious to find the individual who need a new slightly used axe (especially the one who needs it the most, and thus is prepared to pay the most), then the one who needs a new spear, while nobody has a need for a spectacle helm. Thus, the trade system has to balance realism and tedium against gameplay.
Agree with that last sentence. Somehow this doesn't fit to the rest of your post though...?
Anyway, in the first part what you are talking about is haggling. Haggling is a nice bonus which many games chose to implement and it's fun if done properly (for example it should include a separate skill and/or a charisma stat). I don't think it's necessary for URW. In any case, haggling is built on top of a trading system where every item does in fact have a fixed price - so your business partner can say "what you offer is worth slightly less than what this is worth but I will accept it regardless because I like you, or because you are very convincing or whatever." And like I said, these fixed values obviously already exist in the game at least somewhere on code level, otherwise you just can't have a trading system at all. In code, things need to be precise, you can't have an item be worth one-ISH squirrel fur or something like that. Items have a value, when you offer that value or more, the trade is accepted and that's it. I just want that information to be available to the player.

JEB Davis

« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 04:08:16 AM »
For me, the game is all about role-playing, and my imagination tells me that Iron age villages would not be "convenient" trading centers for any stranger (the PC) who happens to wander by.  So from this aspect I believe the game hits trading just right.

I see learning the values of items (approximately) as part of the "growing up" of the character, who is, after all, a teenager who just left home. Perhaps the teenager should not have much knowledge of exact values of barter items (in my mind anyway).

I do agree that the mechanic of the actual trade could be improved, especially the "start over" part of trading.

Having the game tell the player anything like the value in squirrel hides of a list of items would be just flat wrong, IMHO.  Learning this for ourselves is part of the charm of the game and part of what separates it from the rest of the "pack".

Like you, I did keep a spreadsheet for a while so I could remember values of typical items. But it did become tedious and so I decided to simply quit doing it. Doing that was a liberating experience for me and afterwards I found the game's enjoyment increased.

koteko

« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2019, 01:08:07 PM »
I have to admit it - initially, years ago, I was on your same boat. Instead of manually compiling the list, though, I looked for one (there's plenty available, search on this and the old forums, ask on reddit or discord), then I learned how to extract the values from the game objects and produce my own spreadsheets.

After playing a bit longer, though, I warmed up to the barter system. For me now it's annoying that stuff has the same value anywhere. I was extremely happy when Sami patched the board selling "cheat" recently.

What I really want is dynamic prices depending on village needs. It doesn't have to be by individual, but surely it must be by village (we can assume that they share enough so that they have the same surplus, and the same needs).
So it would make sense to go around from one region to the other, becoming a travelling merchant for example.
Or even just a trapper that hunts somewhere in the summer, somewhere else in the winter, and sells the right furs where most appropriate.

This would make knowing the base prices pretty useless, which helps immersion in how the game is "supposed" to be played.

flibbo

« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2019, 02:08:19 PM »
Thanks for all your input on this, but I don't see how life in the early middle ages having been "inconvenient" has to mean that trading in URW today needs to suck. You can perfectly well realize a primitive bartering system in a way that doesn't make you want to plant your face into your keyboard on a regular basis and still have it be realistic. I'm not talking about changing the basic idea behind it, like I said it's perfectly fine, just the interface has been done horribly wrong. By the way - we do also get precise information about item's weights and their condition in form of a bar.... I'm not aware of there having been any precision scales around at that time, so how come that's okay but information about an item's value wouldn't be? The exact weight (down to fractions of pounds...) wouldn't even be available to you *at all* as a real person in this setting, but the value of items would be.

If your character should learn values of items first before you as the player see it I suppose that's fine, but this is a lot of extra effort for something that I believe wouldn't add much depth to the game. Dynamic prices would be along the same line as haggling (again, you are just modifying static base values that still need to be there), and I agree it would be awesome but it's not a critical issue, just a bonus for when trading is actually properly usable with the current, static prices. It's just icing on the cake.

If informing the player about values is out of the question for whatever reason, we need at least a trading screen that informs us about how far the current offer's value balance is off of a fair trade. Do it with a scale or thumbs up / down if you have to because you don't want numbers for some reason but convey it somehow. And please for the love of the spirits allow offers to be adjusted without having to start over every time. This alone would already go a long way to making it properly usable and fun.

Dungeon Smash

« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2019, 06:30:00 PM »
Although I think the language is a little harsh, I agree that the trading could use some significant overhaul.  Trading is a real chore in the game for the reasons that the OP mentioned.  It turns trading expeditions from a fun and exciting endeavor, to a dreadful and tedious experience of searching house to house, adding small items, starting trades over and over...

I agree that URW villages should not be like modern shopping malls, but perhaps there is a happy middle ground that could be reached.  Surely a traveler could stop into a village and ask someone, "Hello sir - are there any woodsman axes around which you might part with?"   rather than having to search house-to-house, for example.  And with bartering, I agree it should be possible to "haggle" and little more and say "Ah ok, well then I will take back my 3 arrows and offer instead a knife?" 

However, I don't think it's necessary to have a built-in "cost" for each item, because I don't think this is especially in keeping with the Iron Age spirit.  The ideal would be a dynamic economic system where, for example, a farming village with a full crop of turnips in the fall season would not have any need for turnips, and a Driik village with plentiful iron might place less value on iron tools, a Seal Tribe village might pay a high price for iron but a lower price for furs and dried meat, etc.  However, that's a long way off and I think the current system of pricing works fine for now.

Valor

« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2019, 01:35:13 AM »
I would like to say that I agree the "Browsing" system is not optimal and would like something more easier mainly when I am searching for one specific item. Even the ability to order a specific item from local craftsman would be great addition (this already happens in punt quest, so could work in general sense).

I also think that items should have different values for different tribes. Kaumos will not value furs as much, but might value iron armour. Seal tribe would be interested in furs, but would not value meat as much, etc. I think it would not be hard to come with a list of what is more common for that tribe and what is more valuable for them.

Lastly I think, you character should have general knowledge of item value. When inspecting he should know what general value of item is. This could even be tied to skill, that would be used for better prices when bargaining. (It would only increase by making trades.)

Tom H

« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2019, 12:51:56 PM »
There already exists in the game a mechanism that provides a pretty accurate system of valuation- that used by the Foreign Traders!

It is made very clear what they believe is a fair trade, i.e., 'x' number of those furs and 'y' number of those furs. If you've traded much with them, you'll also have noted their valuation sometimes is merely a starting point. That's because your available furs are insufficient in value for the trade items you desire.

Anyway, I'd suggest, if it is possible, that the player has something like a 'trade blanket' (an inventory section) upon which he'd lay out all that he desires to offer for trade, from which VILLAGERS could determine what items they consider a fair trade. That would also put an end to villagers saying they'd be happy to trade for the Masterwork items I'm wearing/using, never gonna happen!

So, the 'Trade Blanket' would display, say, a dozen wooden bowls, ten paw-board traps, a few furs, some dried meat, jewelry, extra weapons, etc. Then, instead of the method described by the op of laboriously adding/subtracting items, the villager would give a quick initial valuation of the desired item. 

Labtop 215

« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2019, 10:37:26 PM »
Actually, one thing that would be nice would be a bartering skill itself that goes up over time as you trade, along with semi-randomized prices based on mood and regional scarcity (very small variation, not enough on it's own to potentially generate lots of wealth).

Basically, the higher your bartering skill, the more likely the value of an item is to be known to you, and even if you don't know the value of the item, you get a ballpark estimate instead.

Then add to this, a limited number of chances (which you get more of as your bartering skill increases) to actually get a trade for an item to go though and you would eliminate more of the issue.  Probably not in the way that you would like though.

flibbo

« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2019, 02:56:01 PM »
There already exists in the game a mechanism that provides a pretty accurate system of valuation- that used by the Foreign Traders!

It is made very clear what they believe is a fair trade, i.e., 'x' number of those furs and 'y' number of those furs. If you've traded much with them, you'll also have noted their valuation sometimes is merely a starting point. That's because your available furs are insufficient in value for the trade items you desire..
What...? This is exactly the same system any other NPCs use too, except traders always want furs. So then you have values expressed in furs, great, but that doesn't change anything. Besides, when you ask the NPCs what they would accept they will tell you anything that would outweigh the value of the item, in the process they'll also choose things that are worth way more and thus highly inappropriate for the trade. Again, doesn't change anything about the problem.

Anyway, I'd suggest, if it is possible, that the player has something like a 'trade blanket' (an inventory section) upon which he'd lay out all that he desires to offer for trade, from which VILLAGERS could determine what items they consider a fair trade. That would also put an end to villagers saying they'd be happy to trade for the Masterwork items I'm wearing/using, never gonna happen!
So they would not choose masterwork quailty or other items that you want to keep any more, but other than that it would be exactly the same as it is now. Your "trading blanket" just happens to be your entire inventory and you can get the same effect you spoke of by simply dropping items you want to keep temporarily. Again, don't see the point.

Actually, one thing that would be nice would be a bartering skill itself that goes up over time as you trade, along with semi-randomized prices based on mood and regional scarcity (very small variation, not enough on it's own to potentially generate lots of wealth).
You speak partly of a supply/demand system - it's been mentioned before, I agree it would be great but only as the icing on the cake, the cake being a good basis for the trading system. A foundation that is actually properly usable and not so tedious. But also you mention "semi-randomized" prices? Based on "mood"? Absolutely not, please. It makes zero sense for item values to be random and also contradicts the supply/demand idea you yourself mentioned in the very same sentence. What would make sense, in addition to supply/demand, would maybe be a factoring in of bartering skills of *both* involved parties. So if the NPCs skill sucks, you could take advantage of him by shifting prices in your favor and vice versa.

Basically, the higher your bartering skill, the more likely the value of an item is to be known to you, and even if you don't know the value of the item, you get a ballpark estimate instead.

Then add to this, a limited number of chances (which you get more of as your bartering skill increases) to actually get a trade for an item to go though and you would eliminate more of the issue.  Probably not in the way that you would like though.
Sounds good, but again I think people misunderstand my point. Things like this are a good bonus on top of a simple but well fleshed out system that is actually enjoyable to use. The point of my OP was that this is not the case at all - as it is right now, trading is slow, tedious, inaccessible and the opposite of fun to use. It is the single biggest chore in the game and it won't be fixed by things like this. You cannot fix an open fracture by putting a band-aid on it.

Labtop 215

« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2019, 04:58:59 AM »
You speak partly of a supply/demand system - it's been mentioned before, I agree it would be great but only as the icing on the cake, the cake being a good basis for the trading system. A foundation that is actually properly usable and not so tedious. But also you mention "semi-randomized" prices? Based on "mood"? Absolutely not, please. It makes zero sense for item values to be random and also contradicts the supply/demand idea you yourself mentioned in the very same sentence. What would make sense, in addition to supply/demand, would maybe be a factoring in of bartering skills of *both* involved parties. So if the NPCs skill sucks, you could take advantage of him by shifting prices in your favor and vice versa.

First, the mood of the villagers overall (moreso tied to reputation but if you read the responses it is represented as mood) already affects not only their willingness to trade with out outright, but a bad mood will increase the villagers valuation of their goods vrs your own, while a good mood makes them more generous (they value their goods less than yours slightly).  If you really thing traders being moody contradicts a supply and demand system then you haven't thought about it much.  They still need or want something, but they don't necessarily want to source it from someone who steals, vandalizes things, or is generally unpleasant to be around.

Furthermore, the random prices from village to village would simulate the demand portion of the supply and demand.  Sometimes people just want certain items more than other, even of the same variety.  For example, the villagers in that area might want elk meat more than stag meat, or vice versa.  I don't see how this is contradictory.

While you may be discussing a trade with individual people, you are still trading with the group.  I'm sure the village elder, or somebody else who's worldly and experienced might have something to say about you trying to trade a few handmade clubs for a spear for instance.

Basically, the higher your bartering skill, the more likely the value of an item is to be known to you, and even if you don't know the value of the item, you get a ballpark estimate instead.

Then add to this, a limited number of chances (which you get more of as your bartering skill increases) to actually get a trade for an item to go though and you would eliminate more of the issue.  Probably not in the way that you would like though.
Sounds good, but again I think people misunderstand my point. Things like this are a good bonus on top of a simple but well fleshed out system that is actually enjoyable to use. The point of my OP was that this is not the case at all - as it is right now, trading is slow, tedious, inaccessible and the opposite of fun to use. It is the single biggest chore in the game and it won't be fixed by things like this. You cannot fix an open fracture by putting a band-aid on it.

*sigh*

Well I'm sorry that my suggestion didn't add the magic bullet you seemed to be looking for, but sustainable changes happen in small increments.  The change I was focusing on was the lack of an item value being displayed to you.  I understand that this is annoying, and I agree that this is annoying specifically because these items do have exact values.

However, you need to explain how somebody without the internet and without real world experience would know what these items are actually valued at, and yet you have not explained how this is possible.

Similarly, you seem to be shooting down everybody else's suggestions for improvement and feedback as well, which is a quick way to doom an idea, and prevent it from gaining any traction.  Obviously if you disagree with somebody or something they've said in principle then you should let everybody know however.  But as an example, turning down the suggestion of a trade blanket because it doesn't mend the "fractured" trade system completely doesn't help your suggestion gain any momentum.



From what I can tell from this discussion, your problem seems largely to be due to the user interface.  Perhaps it would help if you drew up something and posted it.  It would need only be functional and labelled with what you had in mind, and not particularly pretty.  I'm sure people would judge your idea based on merit and not the prettiness of your drawing so you could even do this up in mspaint or something if you felt like it.

Lastly, the bit where villagers will accept a trade and not let you alter it without starting the trade again from scratch comes as a compromise between reality and what would be fun to deal with.  Normally in the real world if you over-promise or over-offer for something, people will get fixated on that offer and will stop being reasonable.  If you offer 40 dried bear cuts for something when 20 would suffice, no-one would be okay with your going, "Well, if you would take 40 cuts for it, then why not 35?  Why not 30?  Why not 25?".  People would get very angry, very quickly.  Obviously though, nobody wants to give away massive amounts of wealth either or save scum if their attempts fail either though.  The option to start the trade over from scratch is a compromise here instead.  Not a great one, but maybe you have an idea how this could be changed?

flibbo

« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2019, 01:42:22 PM »
First, the mood of the villagers overall (moreso tied to reputation but if you read the responses it is represented as mood) already affects not only their willingness to trade with out outright, but a bad mood will increase the villagers valuation of their goods vrs your own, while a good mood makes them more generous (they value their goods less than yours slightly).
That's just the effect of your reputation on trading prices. Sure, you can say bad rep gives the villagers a "bad mood" when they see you but that's a rather flimsy way of putting it because mood usually refers to day-to-day fluctuations which is how I interpreted your original comment. If that's not what you meant then I misunderstood. The effect of your reputation however is an experience value of your previous interactions with that village, if you've been helpful to them then of course they will have a friendlier disposition than if you've been a dick, which makes sense to affect prices but like you said it already does so the discussion is moot. In any case, there is nothing random about it nor should there be, we're not talking about random mood swings but learned experience of the interaction between player and village, which the player has entirely under their control.

If you really thing traders being moody contradicts a supply and demand system then you haven't thought about it much.
Really? I mean.... really?! Even considering a potential misunderstanding between us, "moodiness" effects have nothing to do with a supply and demand system...

Furthermore, the random prices from village to village would simulate the demand portion of the supply and demand. Sometimes people just want certain items more than other, even of the same variety.  For example, the villagers in that area might want elk meat more than stag meat, or vice versa.  I don't see how this is contradictory.
Supply and demand is the fundamental law of economics, there is nothing random about it. Why would you try to remove one of the factors and randomize it? In this particular example, if a village is short on food but has a lot of mouths to feed, prices for food go up. If a village has a large stack of boards and not much use for them right now because there is no construction happening, prices of boards go down. If a village has only one particular kind of meat, prices for that meat go down, prices for other meat go up (also modified by the abundance of food overall). This can easily just be put on top of a system of fixed prices, because these are just multiplications with various modifiers and none of those are random. At what point does it make sense to randomize anything? Imagine you are playing in such a game, where the prices of items are governed by dice rolls... you are then of course just completely at the mercy of the dice when it comes to trading, if one price in a village is particularly bad, do you move on to the next and reroll? How often do you do this? Is the price fixed for one village forever or does it eventually reroll, if so with what interval? Is it even going to be rerolled for every potential transaction? Do you then wait for it to reroll or just accept whatever is offered? Don't you see that this removes any brain or skill on part of the player? You always just either accept whatever the dice gives you or try to improve, which would mean nothing more than re-trying. Did you ever go through the stat screen in the character creator and frantically re-roll your stats because you just weren't happy with any of the rolls? Now add this for trading as well, another huge frustration level coming from all the reroll attempts. If your goal is to frustrate the player to the point where they uninstall the game and never give it another look then this would be a great idea indeed. We need sensible, realistic mechanics, that actually require some thinking and can be adjusted to, not yet another altar to RNGesus. And the whole supply and demand thing has already been mentioned by others and I agreed it would be great to have IF we first get a solid base, a functioning and fun to use trading system, that this builds on (and of course, none of it is done randomly....).

While you may be discussing a trade with individual people, you are still trading with the group.  I'm sure the village elder, or somebody else who's worldly and experienced might have something to say about you trying to trade a few handmade clubs for a spear for instance.
Yes. What's your point? Obviously spears have a much higher value than clubs.

*sigh*

Well I'm sorry that my suggestion didn't add the magic bullet you seemed to be looking for, but sustainable changes happen in small increments.  The change I was focusing on was the lack of an item value being displayed to you.  I understand that this is annoying, and I agree that this is annoying specifically because these items do have exact values.

Similarly, you seem to be shooting down everybody else's suggestions for improvement and feedback as well, which is a quick way to doom an idea, and prevent it from gaining any traction.  Obviously if you disagree with somebody or something they've said in principle then you should let everybody know however.  But as an example, turning down the suggestion of a trade blanket because it doesn't mend the "fractured" trade system completely doesn't help your suggestion gain any momentum.
OK perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough there: I did think that your idea of getting to know the value of an item based on some skill (personally I think it would make more sense to call it "Appraisal" because "Bartering" refers to the actual act of the trade but whatever) is a good one. Obviously, this requires the display of item values in some fashion though, which is one of the big points I originally made so I would be all for that. With my criticism I was referring to the second part of that quote where you made another suggestion of how bartering should work in particular, but also to a lot of the other comments by other users that asked for features that IMO come on top of a sound foundation for a trading system that needs to be put in place first. So, while part of that criticism was directed at you, it was more of a general statement which I see now could have been misunderstood. I still wasn't attacking you personally but if this offended you somehow then I apologize.

What I explicitly will not apologize for however is calling an idea bad (and explaining why, which I believe I so far did every time, including the "trading blanket" thing you mentioned again) if I feel that is the case, which of course goes for your ideas too, and also not for trying to keep this discussion on point - that is, a good basis for a trading system. I appreciate every contribution to this discussion, including yours, and every time I have heard an idea I thought was good I have said so, not just when I think ideas are bad, but most of those good ideas were nice "bonuses" that should come after the massive issues with the current system have been fixed (by the way, this also goes for the whole appraisal thing which you are not the first to mention). A lot of people, including you, were putting the cart before the horse here. In fact, all of that stuff should be part of another thread. My goal with this thread was to address trading as horrible as it is right now and why, and give some suggestions about how to fix it.

However, you need to explain how somebody without the internet and without real world experience would know what these items are actually valued at, and yet you have not explained how this is possible.
"Without real world experience"? It's fair you ask for an explanation I suppose so I'm going to give it to you but I'll ignore that part because it just makes no sense. So, story time:

Let us consider a young man living in Finland in the early middle ages, some time between 800 and 1000 A.D. - let's call him Timo. Timo has just turned 16 years old, he is a young man - he may not have much experience yet but he is not a baby or a child either. In fact, back in those days people had to face the responsibilities of adulthood a lot sooner than people centuries or even millenia later might have to. It was common for people of his age or even younger to already be married and have children, although Timo himself is/has not. For all intents and purposes, Timo is an adult.

Timo, not being some kind of wild child, was of course raised by his parents and his tribe. He was taught a lot of things, including tracking, hunting, fishing, hideworking, some herbal medicine, getting a feeling for the weather and the seasons, how to know when not to walk on ice, how to best try to get out if you do fall through, some handcrafts like making staves and javelins and much more, including of course more mundane things like language and cultural customs common in the area. Timo was by no means a master in any of these trades of course but his tribe made sure he got a good start in life and he wasn't a lazy good-for-nothing either.

Timo has since left his home to travel the lands on his own. The particular reasons for him being on his own or his motivations, what he intends to accomplish, do not matter here. Timo decides at one point to go through his pack and create an inventory of what he has with him. He pulls out an item - it is a squirrel fur, decent quality, a very common item among the Finnish tribes. Timo remembers when some foreigners visited his village a few years back, they offered exotic items in return for furs, which are very much sought-after in the southern lands where the animals do not have such rich pelts like here in the north with its harsh climate. Timo listened to their stories, and as he understood, many other peoples use precious metals pressed into some sort of discs as the basic medium of exchange for trades. There is no such thing here in Finland though, he couldn't imagine why anyone would create such items that have no practical use at all. The closest thing to it however would be these squirrel furs like the one he is holding in his hand right now, as they are so common in Finland and their value is low enough but not too low to be used very widely in any sort of trades. Many values of other items are thus expressed as a certain number of squirrel furs.
[side note: "oravannahka" is Finnish for both "squirrel fur" and a colloquial term for "money" still used in Finland even today.]

He pulls out another item: an arrow, very standard make, a straight, thin piece of wood carved from a branch with some feathers at the back to stabilize flight and a head made of a sharp piece of rock, skillfully tied to the shaft with a cord. Another very common item among the Finnish tribes. He knows that an arrow and a squirrel fur are of the same value, as he has seen them exchanged 1:1 in trades many times when he was young.

The next item he examines is his hunting knife. A very useful tool but not as easy to come by because as he well knows in Finland iron-working is not yet as established as in other parts of the world, tools like this are therefore often brought in by foreign traders like the ones he just thought of earlier. The hunters and woodsmen of his tribe loved to use them and therefore traded for them, and so he knows that a price of about 20 squirrel furs would be fair for such an item. Of course, a particularly high quality version of a knife would command a higher price, 25 or even 30 skins would be fair for those.

Another very important tool in his pack was his woodsman's axe, and it was also so popular among his people that he knew its value to be the same as that of a hunting knife, meaning 20 squirrel skins for a decent quality version.

Then he pulls out his fishing rod - now this is another thing entirely. A fishing rod is so easy to make that its value is not high at all, in fact one squirrel skin would most likely even get you two fishing rods. This doesn't mean it is useless however, it's just that getting one of these is much easier than even hunting a simple, harmless animal like the squirrel and Timo has often witnessed the people of his village making these without much effort.

Speaking of skins and hunting - Timo thinks back to all the hunting trips the men of his village used to do, which were frequently celebrated upon a successful return. They brought back skins that could be used for clothing or trade and meat that would keep the village fed. He remembers, that a single pelt of an Elk, if it wasn't too beat up, was mentioned to be even a little more valuable than a decent hunting knife, or of about equal value than a high quality one - that is to say, around 25 squirrel pelts. One particular type of fur, the lynx fur, however, he remembers especially well because this was considered to be the most valuable type of fur you could obtain: it is worth the same as two full Elk furs and still almost twice as much as a bear fur, even though those furs are a lot bigger and heavier than just one lynx fur. This is because lynxes have such rich, thick and soft pelts that everybody would prefer them over the pelts of the other animals and they are also harder to find and hunt. The winter variant of this fur, if tanned by a skilled hideworker, would be considered one of the most valuable items one could ever hope to obtain, potentially worth more than one hundred of the small squirrel skins or four high quality hunting knives. The foreign traders would be more than willing to give you a high quality piece of jewelry made of a precious metal like silver for it - or perhaps two or three made of bronze. Returning with a lynx kill was always special cause for celebration in his village.

Now Timo may not know all the values of every single item he could ever hope to come across by heart, but his experience is already enough to make very well-founded estimates. If he were to collect some more experience, however, he would become even more confident about the value he owns and that people would not take advantage of him in trades. For now though, he just continued on his way.

See? No internet required and still a very plausible story for this setting. You can expand this with your idea of an appraisal skill but it's not stricly necessary because, like you said, sustainable changes should come in small increments. Do you disagree?

Now it's your turn: if I were to turn on UrW right now and load my character, then open up the inventory screen, it would look something like this: masterwork northern bow - 3 lbs, northern spear - 7 lbs, masterwork handaxe - 3 lbs, masterwork hunting knife - 2 lbs, 20 fine arrows - 2 lbs, all my clothing yadayada... a partially eaten dried elk cut, 0.7 lbs, a wooden bowl partially filled with elk stew, 3 lbs etc. etc. (forgive me if any of the values are off, i can't actually load the game right now)
Now I leave the inventory, take a look at the penalty screen to the right: it says "110.8" lbs or something like this, which gives me a penalty of 11%.
I open up my skill screen: among others, it says tracking: 83%, bow: 92%....
So let's see, my character knows at any point the exact, and I do mean the exact weight in pounds of all of his inventory combined down to its first decimal place. He knows the weight of individual items with less accuracy because for some reason those values arrive in his mind rounded to the first significant digit but it's still pretty accurate - and even if he wanted to know precisely, he could always just drop everything except that item and magically get the information because like I said, somehow he always knows the exact weight of his whole inventory down to the first decimal place. He knows that every kind of item, disregarding any use or wear/tear effects, always have the same weight. He knows that on a scale of 0 to 100 where 0 is completely unskilled and 100 is a grandmaster, his archery skill is currently exactly at 92, his tracking skill exactly at 83 and so on. He knows every time these values improve and he knows roughly at which values he started his journey when he was 16 years old. He also knows, that at his current condition due to the weight he is carrying his skills are reduced by exactly 11 points on that scale. He also knows, if he were to receive an injury due to a fight or even just some frostbite, that his skill would be reduced further and by how much exactly depending on the injury. He knows the exact effect of starvation on him currently, if he suffers from it at all, and how much it would reduce his skills further. He knows exactly how long he can do a particular job before his exhaustion reaches this mystical value of "100%", assuming he suffers no other penalties, and adjusted accordingly if he does, at which point he would be forced to take a break. He knows exactly, down to the minute, how long he needs to rest for his exhaustion to go back to zero. He also knows his body's current nutrition level at all times. Heck, he even always knows his speed in km/h (without decimal places) at every possible moment. His name is Floki Kaumolainen... he lives in Finland some time around 800 A.D... the fanciest tool he has ever seen was a heavy crossbow....

Now, you tell me which one of those two scenarios (Timo or Floki) makes more sense and why. Please tell me how someone without the internet, without precision scales or even crude scales for that matter, without any kind of measurement instruments at all would have access to this kind of information? And of course in particular, how in light of this and Timo's story earlier the idea of a simple display of trading values is so outrageous? And, seeing as how this seems to fall into your original question, "how would the character know item values", how do you suggest to remedy this obviously absurd flood of information we get? Are you going to uninstall the game because of this, I mean, this is obviously completely ridiculous...
Sorry for the sarcasm, I just can't resist here.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 01:54:42 PM by flibbo »

flibbo

« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2019, 01:45:55 PM »
From what I can tell from this discussion, your problem seems largely to be due to the user interface.
Correct.

Perhaps it would help if you drew up something and posted it.  It would need only be functional and labelled with what you had in mind, and not particularly pretty.  I'm sure people would judge your idea based on merit and not the prettiness of your drawing so you could even do this up in mspaint or something if you felt like it.
I already made suggestions regarding the UI in the OP:
What I would like to see is a trading system similar like the ones in Gothic or Morrowind for example, they did both a very good job with that. It doesn't matter that those were AAA that didn't care much about realism like URW does, none of what I mentioned had anything to do with realism, it's purely interface convenience. We need something like a screen with three lists: your inventory, the village's (or other person's) inventory and the list of items that should change owners. At the bottom, show the current value balance - how many more items need to be offered by either side to make it fair, and an indication whether the trade will be accepted as is or not. Of course you need to be able to add or remove items at any time *without* being forced to start over from scratch and the values of items have to be listed somewhere.
and another one later:
If informing the player about values is out of the question for whatever reason, we need at least a trading screen that informs us about how far the current offer's value balance is off of a fair trade. Do it with a scale or thumbs up / down if you have to because you don't want numbers for some reason but convey it somehow. And please for the love of the spirits allow offers to be adjusted without having to start over every time. This alone would already go a long way to making it properly usable and fun.
I think this should give a pretty good picture. If you still want me to draw something I suppose I can do that too.

Lastly, the bit where villagers will accept a trade and not let you alter it without starting the trade again from scratch comes as a compromise between reality and what would be fun to deal with.
I don't claim to know what goes on in Sami's head but I really don't think that's the reason. It's probably more of a technical reason, like UI / code limitations (that need to be fixed ofc).

Normally in the real world if you over-promise or over-offer for something, people will get fixated on that offer and will stop being reasonable.  If you offer 40 dried bear cuts for something when 20 would suffice, no-one would be okay with your going, "Well, if you would take 40 cuts for it, then why not 35?  Why not 30?  Why not 25?".  People would get very angry, very quickly.  Obviously though, nobody wants to give away massive amounts of wealth either or save scum if their attempts fail either though.
Sure, but does every single modification to the list have to be interpreted as an offer? If you want to buy something expensive for several less expensive items that doesn't make any sense, your intention is to build up a list of items you are offering and then ask them if they agree not in between every single squirrel skin or whatever that you add. The fact that UrW forces you to make an offer after every modification is rooted in one of the big problems with its trading system - the UI simply doesn't have the capability to do it otherwise. If you have that information and a usable UI, you would move items over and then hit the "offer" button. I agree that on this button some kind of limit would probably make sense, but not before, and this would only become relevant when there is a haggling skill as well that would allow you to shift prices in your favor, and if that system had a degree of random chance involved like it did in Morrowind, offering over and over again would then be "pushing your luck" until you hopefully succeed. Not the best system but it's possible. Personally I'd rather not have a random element as you've probably guessed and in any case - haggling is another bonus feature that has already been mentioned... if there is no haggling, prices can't be shifted anyway so offering more than once is pointless.

The option to start the trade over from scratch is a compromise here instead.  Not a great one, but maybe you have an idea how this could be changed?
Like I said, also with the other suggestions I have already posted and re-quoted above, when the UI is done properly this isn't even necessary any more because then you can adjust your "items on trade" list at will before making an actual offer so if you overshoot the target you can simply remove an item from the list again. The fact that now, if you overshoot, you have to start over and re-create that last list (except for one or two items...) you used previously is one of the biggest flaws of the current system. It's incredibly tedious and annoying.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 02:00:03 PM by flibbo »

Tom H

« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2019, 04:33:49 PM »
There already exists in the game a mechanism that provides a pretty accurate system of valuation- that used by the Foreign Traders!

It is made very clear what they believe is a fair trade, i.e., 'x' number of those furs and 'y' number of those furs. If you've traded much with them, you'll also have noted their valuation sometimes is merely a starting point. That's because your available furs are insufficient in value for the trade items you desire..
What...? This is exactly the same system any other NPCs use too, except traders always want furs. So then you have values expressed in furs, great, but that doesn't change anything. Besides, when you ask the NPCs what they would accept they will tell you anything that would outweigh the value of the item, in the process they'll also choose things that are worth way more and thus highly inappropriate for the trade. Again, doesn't change anything about the problem.

Anyway, I'd suggest, if it is possible, that the player has something like a 'trade blanket' (an inventory section) upon which he'd lay out all that he desires to offer for trade, from which VILLAGERS could determine what items they consider a fair trade. That would also put an end to villagers saying they'd be happy to trade for the Masterwork items I'm wearing/using, never gonna happen!
So they would not choose masterwork quailty or other items that you want to keep any more, but other than that it would be exactly the same as it is now. Your "trading blanket" just happens to be your entire inventory and you can get the same effect you spoke of by simply dropping items you want to keep temporarily. Again, don't see the point.

The point being that the Foreign Trader mechanism already limits one's available trade items to a single field, that of hides, whereas the Villager's trade mechanism includes your entire inventory, NOT a single field. Lastly, my consideration of a 'trade blanket' would avoid the necessity of unequipping and/or dropping every quality item desired by the Villager, a clumsy make-do solution.