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Introducing Vendor Stalls

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Man, I gotta stop posting solely on the forum and remember to post on this blog more often! To that end, let me detail the next big feature that's coming soon: vendor stalls.

We already have several ways for players to sell their items, including consignments with NPC shopkeepers, dispenser machines, and of course good old-fashioned in-person trade. But these don't make it easy for a dedicated crafter to sell their wares, and everybody has occasional spring-cleaning days when they want to get rid of a lot of stuff. Vendor stalls help with that.

They're stalls manned by NPCs, selling whatever items you want them to sell for you. You hire the NPCs in 24-hour blocks. These stalls aren't intended to be permanent shops, but more like a flea-market: you can rent a table when you have stuff to sell, or maybe each weekend (or whatever) in order to take special orders, but you wouldn't rent a table 24/7 forever. So the salary for the vendor rises each time you hire them during a given 30-day period. The first day's fee is pretty cheap, the second day is a bit more expensive, and so on. So dedicated crafters will want to be somewhat tactical about when they rent a stall -- but at the same time, the first few days of rental are cheap enough that anybody can afford to occasionally set up a table for a day.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_vendors1.jpg

 (Pictured above: one of the rooms in the prototype vendor hall. There's well over a hundred NPC stalls for rent in there, broken up into rooms with suggested categories, such as the "food and potions" room. But the categories are just suggestions -- you can sell anything from any vendor.)

The Serbule Keep has a large indoor area that hasn't been used for anything until now -- that's where we've implemented the first bunch of vendors. We'll use this area to shake out the bugs, fix confusing things, and add requested features. When the vendors are working well, we'll add more stalls in other cities.

So what do you get when you rent a stall? First, you can name it, choose a decorative motif, and set up signage and notes for your customers.

b2ap3_thumbnail_vendors2.jpg

Decorating is done by picking an item that best exemplifies what you want to sell. Then an appropriate table will materialize in front of your vendor. In the picture above, I gave my vendor a shield, so it's an armor-heavy table display. There's several others to choose from, and we'll add plenty more over time -- and perhaps find a few more ways to personalize things, too. (Graphical performance restrictions keep us from letting you free-form decorate your table, but there might be more room to be creative within the limitations.)

 

Next you add items to your stall's inventory. Each item -- or stack of items -- can be configured separately in a bunch of different ways. You can set a price, of course, but you can also set how many get sold for that price -- for instance, "2 for 100 Councils". This gives you a bunch of pricing flexibility. A simple example is giving a discount: you can have one stack of items that sell at "1 for 10 Councils", and another stack set to "10 for 90 Councils". This gives the buyer a discount if they buy in bulk.

b2ap3_thumbnail_vendors3.jpg

 (Pictured above: the shop owner GUI screen -- intimidating and kinda clunky -- a work in progress!)

You can view detailed logs of every purchase to see who's buying what and at what price. Logs are very useful when you're experimenting with prices. You can set several small stacks to different prices, and then review the logs to see how quickly differently-priced items sold.

A more advanced feature is item reservations. For each item in the shop, you can name an individual player who is the only person that can see the item. Nobody else will even see the item in the shop. With this feature, crafters can fill special orders.

And what's a special order without communication? Shoppers can leave notes for you at your crafting stall, and you can reply to their notes. There's a new NPC who keeps track of all the notes for customers, so even if your stall rental expires, the customer can still get your message -- and vice versa.

There's a cost associated with these messages -- a small one, but one that slowly grows if you send a lot of messages in a short time window. This helps to keep "spam" to a minimum and keeps communications focused on trading. (There will be other ways to communicate with offline players, such as carrier pigeons and telepathic message bursts... each with their own pros and cons. This particular communication method focuses on trade.)

Like most everything in Project: Gorgon, vendor stalls are associated with a skill, in this case a new skill called Retail Management. You will need level 25 in the Industry skill to unlock Retail Management and be able to hire vendors. As you raise the skill, you'll unlock perks like larger shop inventories, better shop logs, and discounts of various types.

There's lots more details and a few other little features, but that covers the gist of it. Once these basics are tested and we see how you like them, we'll add some more features to broaden vendors' abilities. I've been considering how to let vendors BUY stuff for you, as well as sell your items. I expect we'll eventually have a limited way for vendors to do just that.

When will this arrive? Well, I'm still debugging and optimizing things, and my fingers are crossed that it will be ready by this weekend, but the safe answer is "soon". The update also has the usual batch of bug fixes -- including aggro fixes -- and a smattering of new content -- including a new way to make fertilizer for gardeners. Stay tuned!

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