Sunday, January 11, 2015

Joobachi Planning : Drug Dealing System

Honestly, it's quite frustrating having to do all of this planning.  When you plan, there is a worry that the planning will end up amounting to nothing, and never get off the page.  When you're actually doing the coding, you at least feel like you're accomplishing something. 

But the reality of game design is that planning is a requirement.  If you don't plan, you end up with bugs, especially in a game like the one that I'm trying to make.  I was thinking about the dependancies that are being written into this game.  In order for the party system to function, the clique system has to function.  In order for the clique system to function, all of the BLTP denizens have to be set up.  In order for them to exist, I have to build the BLTP map itself. 
I'm reminded of a quote from Alpha Centauri here.  The quote comes from the character, Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, and goes,

"Technological advance is an inherently iterative process. One does not simply take sand from the beach and produce a Dataprobe. We use crude tools to fashion better tools, and then our better tools to fashion more precise tools, and so on. Each minor refinement is a step in the process, and all of the steps must be taken. "

 What a great quote, and what a great game!  I can't start making my game until I have built the bones of it, and I can't build those bones until I draw up the plans for those bones.  And that's just the way it is.  1000 game projects get started, for each one finished.  I've already finished two projects, at this point, so I've at least got the experience there.  Anyway, let's plan.


The Drug Dealing System, or DDS, is a way for the player to make money, and affect the BLTP in various ways, most of which involve specific missions.  The 'Change of DJ Guard' bit in the party system is a specific mission.  The missions themselves can be worked out later, but the Drugs themselves need to exist in the overall game system before the missions can be coded. 

So, what kinds of drugs do I want in my game?  Well, there's the 3 drugs that tie into the cliques, so I'll start with them.  LSD, MDMA, and BHO.  I should also leave room for 3 more, though, because I might end up using them later.  I'll earmark them as, weed, meth, and shrooms.  I might end up having  a mission track where you make your own drugs, and tell Jenni to go fuck herself.  Let's just pretend that heroin doesn't exist. 

The drug system, like many of my systems, has the potential to break the game.  If you can push people towards Eugene just by giving them drugs, than the endgame becomes just a matter of flooding the BLTP with drugs.  If you can buy votes, the endgame becomes a matter of flooding Billings with drugs.  Clearly, there needs to be a limit on the amount of drugs that you can buy and sell at any one time.  The limit on selling is covered with RICO.  I've decided that you can't sell drugs within the BLTP, so, in order to get money from the drugs, you have to risk the entire game, by racking up a RICO score.  So the selling will be balanced.
But what about giving the drugs away?  Well, there are 2 ways to limit the player's access to drugs.  The first method is a time method.  In order to get the drugs, the player has to go back to Eugene, and ask Jenni for more drugs.  This costs money (gas) and time (travel time) to do, so that's a limiting factor.  But there should also be a limit on the amount of drugs that Jenni will give the player per week, or per month.  Because all of the drugs will come in pills, this can be a specific number, like "150", that can be coded into a variable, that resets right before, or after, the monthly rolls.  This will be calculated when the purchase happens. 
When you go to purchase drugs from Jenni, the system checks the 'monthly drug purchase' variable.  As long as it's below the 'permitted' amount, you can go to the next check.  The next check determines how much you can buy.  This is where it gets a little complex, but where the RPGMaker system simplifies things for me.  I can only put 3 options for purchasing, here, because there's 4 options, and one needs to be a cancel option.  This simplifies my life, greatly.  The second check works out which amounts will be displayed.  If the player can purchase 150 pills, the system will display options of, '50 pills', '100 pills', and '150 pills'.  If they can only purchase 100 pills, the options are, '25 pills', '50 pills', and '75 pills'.  The main issue here is that the player might have to go through this multiple times in order to get the exact amount that they want, but each purchase can realistically give the player the option of going back to the purchase menu, and doing the checks again.  It will be more streamlined in-game than it looks like it will be here.  But yeah, this is why we plan.  That would have been a fucking nightmare to deal with in the engine, when shit's already calling back to it.  It's bug heaven when you don't plan.

So we know that we're going to be limiting the amount of drugs that the player can purchase per month.  Another question remains, however.  Well, many questions remain, but for now, let's focus on this one.  How much will the drugs cost?  It's a big question, because it's not something that can be changed on the fly, at least not very easily.  It's also a question that is difficult to answer specifically, because nothing else has been given exact values yet.  But we must perservere, and do our best!
So how should this be balanced?  Well, the gas needs to be taken into account.  There needs to be a minimum amount of drugs that must be purchased, in order to make the trip worth it.  Of course, there are other things that you'd be going to Eugene for, other than the drugs, so it's not an exact science, but I need to consider the price of gas when I figure out how much the drugs should cost.  There's also the differences between the drugs, themselves.  BHO, MDMA, and LSD are all very different drugs, and serve very different purposes in-game.  BHO is made from weed, and is relatively simple to make, it's butane, weed, and some plumbing equipment, essentially.  Anyone can make it, so it wouldn't really push people towards the Eugene Temple as much as the others.  The BLTP denizens don't need Eugene to get that drug.  It's used for the Downtempo clique, which is the 'middle' clique on the slider.  It's much easier, in game, for people to end up in the middle, than it is for them to end up on the extremes, so BHO could end up being a game breaker if it's not balanced. 
I'm thinking that BHO will cost slightly less than the other drugs, but that it'll sell for substantially less than the other drugs, and that its effect on the parties will be lessened, and its effect on the BLTP as a whole will be lessened.  Basically, DownTempo parties have a lower modifier to their 'convert to drug use' rolls, and DownTempo parties don't boost the extremism variable as much as other parties. 

Theoretically, I could make the drug use variable actually describe which drug the person uses, with 0 being no drugs, 1 being MDMA, 2 being BHO, and 3 being LSD.  That's probably what I'll end up doing, because it would allow me to limit the effects of BHO on the overall BLTP.  It also limits the amount of different variables to deal with.  I just have to make sure that I never modify that variable with + or - modifiers, and only use the 'set to' option.  That's very, very, important to remember. 

As for the drug use variable itself, and when it triggers, I'm thinking that the parties will end up controlling that.  I don't want to have a game where the player goes around and tries to push drugs on individuals, because that's unrealistic, and tedious.  I want the player to give specific people drugs, and then have them, in turn, give those drugs to the partigoers.  So, at every party, a check will be made, probably when the partigoers are rolled and picked, to determine whether the partigoer becomes a drug user.  This roll will be modified by the amount of drugs that have been given to the DJ, and the clique/nature of the party.  House/LSD will have a specific modifier, DownTempo/BHO will have a specific modifier, and Trance/MDMA will have a specific modifier.  These modifiers will be balanced by the both the ease of finding sets, and the cost of the drugs. 

The actual selling mechanic is quite simple, and straightforward, compared to everything else.  You go to the traphouses in the housing projects, and sell the drugs, through a message/choice system, similar to the one used to buy the drugs, and you get money.  A RICO increase gets rolled upon the completion of each individual transaction, and the chances are modified depending on the amounts that you sell.  So if you sell 1 pill, you get, say, a 1% chance of RICO increase.  If you sell 100 pills, you get a 100% chance of RICO increase. 
What I might end up doing is having the amount that you can sell to each traphouse be rolled at the beginning of each week, and have it so that you can only sell to them once a week.  This would keep players from just save scumming or rerolling each time, and it would be far, far, more realistic than having the traphouses essentially just be pawn shops for the drugs.  It also gives the player a type of strategic decision, balancing the money with the RICO increase, when one traphouse wants 25 pills, and another wants 60.  Will they take their chances with the 60, and get more money, or will they stick with the 25, and try to fly below the radar? 
The drug orders themselves, once rolled, would be variables, exactly like Jenni's monthly sales variable, except that these variables would get rerolled each week, instead of resetting each month.  Also, there wouldn't be the option of partial sales, like with Jenni.  You either fulfil the entire order, or you don't.
Selling will be done with a couple of checks.  First, the game will check to see how much the order is for, then it will check to see whether the player can fulfil the order with the pills that they have in their inventory.  Then it asks whether they want to sell, and if they do, it deducts the amount of pills listed as the variable's value, and then takes the value of the variable, multiplies it by the cost of the pills, and dispenses that amount in cash, to the player.  It's actually a somewhat complex series of scripts required for that.  I might just use the 'choices' system, and have multiple RICO rolls, instead.  I'll keep that as a last resort, though, if my script-fu isn't up to snuff. 

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