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Shops for RPGs: Yay or nay?
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Shops for RPGs: Yay or Nay?

I remember when there was a time that shops weren't a thing, that we were allowed to just make characters how we wanted from the get go. 

There was a point in the horse rpg niche many years ago that you had to buy every item that wasn't natural to make your character be a certain color, have a horn, wings, etc., and I hated it.

So for funsies and data, what do you like? 

For the admin side, it can be difficult to govern what to put in it (I decided to do away with a shop since in my rpg, it was pretty useless since exploration was more focused.)
For the player side, it can be either an annoyance or you like it to work towards something.

Tell me your reasons though on why you voted yay or nay since I love to hear different viewpoints Big Grin
I’m actually not sure I have enough experience with shops to make an overall judgement! However, the general concensus I’ve seen around is that they’re a huge hassle both on the player and admin sides.

That said!! Coming from a game design background (and I really love game design so please bear with me I might start babbling) I know it’s pretty essential to give players something to strive for, and that can take a lot of forms, depending on what the game requires. We went for a light dice system for our game and since we wanted to encourage actively playing, we went with thread prompts and leveling opportunities. However, I can see a shop becoming a really fun meta-ish all-in-one way to level or get new stuff if you can ease the admin overhead. Probably comes down to implementation!

The most important thing would be balancing earning currency with prices, along with managing what’s in the inventory. It couldn’t be an afterthought, it’d have to be fully implemented into the game system overall. But I do understand that’s not something everyone wants to fiddle with! Maybe this is all obvious to everyone with experience with shops but I can see it being used in creative ways haha

Anyways tl;dr: I can see shops being fun but tricky to implement into a game’s system.
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As someone who played with inventories from time to time, it really does depend on how you're using it, how often it's used, and what the system is. Sometimes it can be really redundant, sometimes it adds some spice to a RP.

I used to run a Star Wars RP, which can be equipment heavy. I always did prefer just being able to say "My character has x, y, z in their regular equipment, with changes depending on the mission they're on" and that's what I started on. There were some limitations, based on group membership and such, since not everyone could have lightsabers. Eventually, there was a desire for inventory, shops, and buyable things. This is easy for SW, since there's so much stuff and lore, and people can just request that something be priced, and we put it into our list of items (god bless Wookieepedia). So we did a shop, consumable items mostly, adding in some high-tech stuff that people wanted and the ability to buy new ships. It was a slow expansion, first just consumables, then to weapons, ships, pets, etc.

Players earnt credits by completing missions, which was a huge part of the site, so it worked for everyone, and I don't recall anyone complaining about it. It helped people think tactically about their missions, saving credits, and adding a little more to their development route. However, it was maintenance-heavy. I came to hate managing the shop. A mod put together a database using code and all that to streamline purchasing, which helped ease the load, and there was a simple honour-based approach to using consumables and all that.

When that site switched hosts from IF to Jcink, I did away with the inventory and shop. It wasn't really necessary, and we wanted to loosen things up a little. I'd say it was a good choice at the time since we wanted to be less strict and just enjoy ourselves after... six years, maybe? But I also can't say it was a bad choice for the site before that since people enjoyed it or didn't mind it.

I've seen some places that seemed to have a shop simply for the sake of having it, which turns it into a gimmick. That's pretty pointless, and I feel it doesn't add much other than players differentiating themselves based on what they've "spent money on." That's a sort of danger zone I'm very interested in avoiding.

TLDR; shops can have their place in RP if they make sense for the universe and setting. The best is when there are some obvious items to put in there that players would want. The chief thing is making sure players are having fun with it as well as having fun earning the cash needed to buy from the shop. If it has a real impact on play, that's ideal. If it's used as a gimmick, it can risk introducing some possibly troublesome social dynamics to the member base if it's all about buying perks.

I guess my answer is ultimately, "yay, but..."
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This is the kind of feedback I wanted to see Big Grin since we all have mixed experiences and wants for our sites, thank you Indy and sluggy

It's indeed tricky at times.
overall i have come to hate them x:

in my experience, shop systems built towards buying mutations/colors/character enhancements.... sort of breeds this idea of "i need the flashiest, most exciting character" and sometimes the "plain" ones will go by the wayside.

at this point, i have decided to get rid of any shop for my site. characters are entirely 100% freeform and we're going to focus on actually writing and developing instead of buying the prettiest characters/children.

it's worth noting that i spend my time in animal RPGs, not human, so they would likely be different experience-wise in a human site
Yeah, I second this spu. Granted, I haven't really had any experience when actively playing on forums with shop systems. The overwhelming majority of my memberbase was very against adding in shops, so I never even considered adding one. They are sometimes used on animal RPGs to limit the number of specific species, colours, mutations, etc., but IMO aren't that effective in doing this and restrict players for no reason.

Instead, I implemented a "skills" system where players can earn points when their characters perform certain actions. This does zero for the actual writing/gameplay, they have no actual effect, but my members seem to really like having "badges" and awards to strive for. It's also entirely optional, so not everyone has to participate.

I could see them working well depending on the implementation for a forum that was equipment-heavy, though.
Shops have always been a huge thing in Pern rps - we literally had to put it in our rules that you didn't need to 'buy' a token to have blonde hair or blue eyes or whatever. I am not sure what the average Pern site does now, but we do sell some things in the shop; extra firelizards (pets) since we give a 'freebie' to each new character but if they want more then one, they have to cough up the cash. Also secondary, tertiary, character ranks for those that are limited in number -- eg, most sites won't let you have a gold dragon unless you sell your soul; we give one to anyone who wants them, but if you want more than one, you have to buy the additional slot(s).

Honestly, though, our points freaking add up, and I've tried to make them impossible --
New post: 10 points
New thread: 20 points
Per character after 500 characters: 0.01 (eg, number of written characters, not character accounts xD)
New Registration: 50 points
Per Reply: 2 points (every time someone replies to a thread you started, because people hate starting threads ahaha)

My main character has 34,143.3 points. Most characters are sitting upwards of 2,000 points, even the new ones. I don't know how they do it. B'jin is over 10 years old, lmao. But there is literally nothing to spend points on, most of the time. Like, everything we sell is for additional copies, not the first copy? So if you don't want a second goldrider, you have nothing to spend your points on, you know?

But I refuse to become one of those sites where you have to 'buy' everything; no. just no. I do wish I had more ideas of fun things to spend points on, though?

On my other site, we sell the achievement badges for 1 point each, lmao, so people can choose to collect them or not.
On BT they earn a lot less;
New Post: 1
New Thread: 3
Per Character: 0.001
Minimum Characters: 1500
New Registration: 10

My top 4 characters all have 95 points. Lyric would have more, but I actually bought a ton of badges for her, haha.

Overall, I hate the shop system. I think they should be fun, and add to the site, but not be required. I shouldn't have to RP with this character, in order to create that character the way I want them. I should just... be able to? Which is the primary reason behind using the shop system to sell the badges on BT. It's fun. It's optional, and you start with enough points that you should be able to buy right away any you want or need.
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I actually didn't mind the stores on the old websites I was on. But that was because it was outter image of the character designs you made. So you could bring in any color/mutation/species you wanted BUT if you wanted armor/necklaces or some sorta perk - THAT was what I loved. I can't tell you how much bones/orbs/talons i spent on various websites to get my characters with Tiara's, Necklaces, Lace outfits, smaller bits of jewelry etc.
I’m also of the opinion that I don't mind shops if they fit with the genre of the site, and aren’t super restrictive. I stick to mostly animal RPGs and like spu said, so many times I’ve seen shops that are character appearance-oriented turn the games into breeding sims and that’s not what I’m after in a writing game. I’ve personally decided to nix currency from my site entirely and just use the awards system (and eventual skill tree) as a means of giving players things to work for.

I also have been on the admin-side of these so many times and always they are a lot of load on the staff team. Fully automated would probably be the way to go if I ever did use a shop!
Big bias here since it's my own site and I just filled out our shop, LOL - but I really like how we've ended up implementing it. We use it as an easy way of converting "amount of writing" into character progression & loyalty rewards. Since we have no post length minimum, we can award points by number of characters in the post - so people who like to write long posts can get rewarded just as much as people who do many short ones. (It's not perfect since someone may spend a very long time crafting their post, whether long or short, but it's a proxy for "amount of stuff your character does", I guess - and good writing can be rewarded in other ways like WOTM).

Basically, our last site ended up with such a complex points system (much of that was my own doing!) with caveats and post requirements and uugghhh, it was a lot of work for members to keep track of. I love that we've just kept it simple here. Posts mean points mean prizes.

So we have stats and magic tiers purchasable by points, so the more experience your character has of being on the site, the stronger they are. It's fairly easy to max out stats, which means even new characters don't feel like it'll take them ages to catch up. Beyond that we have a slight additional ramp of skill by awarding secret extra skill points (to boost you from 20 up to 30, in each stat) from completing a hunt or a fight. It's small, but a nice reward for doing specific things.

For mutations, everyone gets a pretty generous limit, then extra (major & medium) mutations are purchasable. But there's no gatekeeping of the *type* of mutations. Everyone can have wings from the start, for example.

Then the other items are mostly connected to the dice roll and RPG elements. For example, re-rolling during a hunt, or trying out extra magic for one thread out of combat. Nothing game-breaking; just something to have fun with and a reason to spend those extra points - because I do think we will end up with people having a lot of points floating around and nothing to spend them on, which is a concern, especially when members can send points between accounts.

Breeding is something we're trying to keep very low, since otherwise a lot of pups go unclaimed, so our dice rolls are quite harsh for pups, but then we have some fairly pricey items that can net you extra pups or a re-roll. It just makes breeding another mechanic for the site, and you can choose to put your points into that if you want.
I have always been torn on it. I've only ran domestic dog roleplays, and we used ours to add in wild dogs so they didn't end up being over populated and unnatural eye colors. I think they have a spot if implemented correctly - but I also kind of miss the days of not having them.
Oh got some new replies in here that I missed out on XD

I'm thinking of doing away my own shop as well, since it's just gotten to the point of "well if i want them to have whatever design, then what's the point of those" and rather go with achievements. Everyone loves those to work towards and not just post just to rack of currency. Only currency in the game will be in game/lore wise which will be player honor system.

I love the idea of a skills system! Badges omg yes, why didn't I think of that before?!

Thistle took the words out of my mouth and far better than I did. I don't want to "earn" my character when I already HAVE the oc and want to play them. Loving this badge system people have mentioned!

Shops are indeed a lot of load on staff and its why I'm like "I don't need it, it must perish" lol.

It seems like it depends on the site and as admins, we know the site best. It's great to see everyone's viewpoints for those yay or nay or torn with it. Thank you everyone whom has shared so far and if you're reading this and haven't yet replied, please do share! Every site is different and it's quite fun to see who uses it still and why.
My only thoughts on shops has always been not wanting to lock character development behind them. I've not ever used a shop but any time it came up in discussion I've always thought what could go inside them that isn't directly going to prevent someone making their character how they wish to. Usually this is full of ideas on things members can buy that are not going to stop them making their character, but things to help promote, or boost their profile in some kind.

Stuff like character or wanted ad promotions, aesthetics or other collection items like badges.
I really enjoy shops when they're integrated with the IC experience. Inventories, for example!

What I don't like about shops is when they're used to purchase appearance items for characters - like special colors or forms or whatever. I like things to be laid back and freeform, and I don't want to be limited in what character I create by an OOC system that is primarily used as a status thing? Like the more expensive your character is, the higher you are on the community ladder.

It's just off-putting.

I do really enjoy using shop systems for items, spells, etc. My brain really enjoys the dopamine that comes from earning points and being able to spend them! I just don't want to see it become an OOC-focused thing. Let people have the characters they want to have, and focus instead on the IC development / immersion!

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