Trade Dungeon: A Mental Exercise In Achieving Trade Goals For EHG and the Community

In another forum post @moxjet200 asked for suggestions for trade that would not harm the goal of making killing monsters the primary acquisition method of acquiring loot. I’ve also seen a ‘trade dungeon’ suggested before but not fully fleshed out. About 3 months ago I made a video that talked about the goals of both sides and gave a theoretical framework for how an Auction House could be used to hit both EHG’s and the community’s goals for a trade system. In this post I’m going to lay out a framework for a Dungeon trade system that also hits the goals of both sides with the goal being to show that multiple systems are capable of accomplishing these goals. I am not explicitly endorsing a dungeon system (I still prefer an AH) but the intent here is to establish that either of these systems would be far better than the current gifting system at appealing to both Trade and SSF players while still hitting EHG’s own trade goals.

Before I begin let’s lay out the goals I identified in the original video:

EHG

  • Limit RMT (Real Money Transactions)
  • Don’t devalue item acquisition through gameplay
  • Don’t create an ‘economy simulator’
  • Don’t require a 3rd party app to trade (i.e. poe.trade and its successors)

Community

  • Make trading relatively convenient (not too much ‘friction’)
  • Make it meaningful (items traded for are actually worthwhile)
  • Make it so players who don’t want to trade don’t have to (balance for SSF)

Not every player has the three goals above but I believe if all three goals are met then the vast majority of players will consider the system at the very least satisfactory to their own trade goals. Sure, there will be players that want a completely open economy but since that goes in direct opposition to EHG’s it’s not a realistic option.

Trade Dungeon
I’m going to list out in bullet point fashion how the dungeon will work and then layout the purpose of each aspect of the dungeon and consider possible objections:

  • Trade tokens drop in the world like keys. They work just like keys insofar as the player needs to reach a certain location on the map in order to use them.
  • Just like a key, the token opens up a dungeon that players will need to complete. This includes a boss fight that is thematic to the trade vendor.
  • Completing the dungeon leads to a vendor where 1 item can be listed for a price chosen by the player and 1 item can be purchased from the existing inventory. The existing inventory consists of items that have been listed by other players who have cleared the same tier of dungeon.
  • The existing inventory can be rerolled at an increasing gold price.
  • When a player lists an item and that item is purchased by another player, a portion of the gold goes to the player who listed the item.
  • The Dungeon has 4 tiers. Lower tiers only allow players to list less valuable items like basic crafting materials, while tier 4 allows for the very best items like exalted items and/or uniques with LP. Each tier of the dungeon is progressively harder.

Purpose/Possible Objections

  • Why is trading locked behind a dungeon? It creates scarcity for trading, limiting how much it can be done even at the highest levels. Players can only trade a maximum of once for every key they have (and are unlikely to trade that much due to dungeon failure and not finding an item they want).
  • Why only one listing and trade per dungeon? Just like locking it behind a dungeon this creates scarcity. It ensures that there aren’t too many items listed at any given time and items that would bloat the market are unlikely to be listed since players will prioritize high value items. It also adds QoL since players don’t have to think about trading every single item in their inventory that has even a small amount of worth and can focus on big ticket items instead.
  • Why increasing gold price on rerolls? So it’s not easy for players to find exactly what they want, but they still have some control over it if they’re willing to invest. If rolls were infinite people would spend an inordinate amount of time at the vendor trying to find the perfect item instead of playing the game, but having no rerolls presents a strong ‘feels bad’ if the initial offering is poor. Being able to reroll but at a cost that gets higher over time is a good middle ground.
  • Why have a gold cost for purchases? Why not just be required to place an item to receive an item? It would be way too easy to defeat the system by placing a bad item in to get a good item out. There has to be an opportunity cost for listing bad items and a reward for listing good items (getting gold for selling the item) or else the vendor would quickly get overrun with bad items and become useless. Also, we still want to have an economy while keeping it limited and not letting it overtake the primary game loop of killing monsters and getting loot, so buying and selling at the vendor is a vital part of the system.
  • Why lock the best items behind difficult content? EHG wants the primary means of gear acquisition to be through killing monsters. By locking the best items behind difficult tier 4 content it requires players to already have a build that’s good enough to complete the content before having access to the best stuff. This means they already had to farm good drops through other means than the economy in order to reach the vendor with the best inventory. However, by still having some trade opportunities at lower tiers players can still engage in the economy from relatively early on so people who like to trade still get to do it. Also, by requiring players to defeat a dungeon in order to trade, we are actively working within the framework of killing monsters to get loot even when we are trading. I don’t think it can be overemphasized how cool it would be to see LE be the first game to have trading become a distinct part of the monster killing/looting loop instead of a way to bypass that loop.

Does a Dungeon Meet Everyone’s Goals?

Let’s start with EHG

  • Limit RMT - It would be very difficult to RMT in this system since there is no way to list an item for sale to other players and sell it directly to them. This functionality is similar to how the bazaar would have handled it. The difference is we’re incentivizing players to put only the best items up in a predefined area (tier 4) so that looking through the inventory remains exciting and rewarding even for players with well geared builds.
  • Don’t devalue item acquisition through gameplay - The best stuff is kept from the player until they have a build that can already handle difficult content. Best of all, using trade through a dungeon system means trade becomes part of gameplay, so item acquisition through gameplay is preserved even in extreme cases where it might otherwise override gameplay. Trade tokens also require players to hunt them in the world.
  • Don’t create an ‘economy simulator’ - Limiting trade through Trade tokens that are required in order to make a trade and limiting buying and selling to once per token makes it effectively impossible for someone to just ‘play the market’. Having the best stuff behind tier 4 also means the most exciting trade items don’t even open up until players have built their character up to a reasonably high level.
  • Don’t require a 3rd party app to trade (i.e. poe.trade and its successors) - A third party app won’t even work since there’s no way to list items for other players to find.

Now the community

  • Make trading relatively convenient (not too much ‘friction’) - While there is friction in the system (you literally have to run through a dungeon to trade) I believe this is the right kind since it is actual gameplay and not some sort of system whose sole purpose is to make trading harder. Mind you, it would be up to the devs to make the dungeon a fun and enjoyable experience, but that’s something that absolutely can happen. Once a player finishes the dungeon the actual trade experience is straightforward. List one item for a price the player wants to sell it for, and then choose to purchase an item from the vendors inventory for the price that is listed (no haggling, no messaging the seller, no meeting them at a hideout). Reroll if they can afford it. Once a purchase is made, we’re done. Most players will be in and out quickly and the ones that aren’t will be having a good time looking at all of the cool stuff and trying to choose between several good options.
  • Make it meaningful (items traded for are actually worthwhile) - T4 dungeons will only be accessible to people who already have really good items to sell and are looking for really good items in return. It would be a waste of time to run the dungeon for a minor purchase or to list a basic blue item. A player finally getting to the point where they can run the T4 dungeon would be exciting since there’s now a possibility of getting an incredible item that has been hand picked by another high level player who thinks they can sell it for a big profit. Even lower tiers present possible upgrades or crafting materials that would make running the dungeon worth it while not making it potentially game changing and ruining the loot grind.
  • Make it so players who don’t want to trade don’t have to (balance for SSF) - A system like this goes with the pre established flow of balance and loot grind, fitting in nicely at every stage of progression instead of potentially ruining it. The only stage where players would get a significant advantage is deep into endgame when builds are already strong enough to run the highest tier of dungeons, meaning there’s no reason to ever reduce drop rates in a way that would harm SSF. SSF players would actually be very closely linked in power to trade players until very late since at most people would run the dungeon a few times on their way to T4 content and only get relatively small upgrades if they’re lucky.

I know this was a ton of text but I really wanted to detail how a system like this could work for almost every type of player as well as EHG.

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Well, I was just writing a post that had the same exact proposal.
I will just post it here, since it has some common points, but also touches on some different issues from the same basic premise.
For instance my version has a separate trading currency, and is designed to also be available in SSF.
PS - I have no intention of highjacking the discussion, if you want I will edit this out.


As prompted by @moxjet200 in another thread, here’s my trade proposal.
Despite the prompt, I am under no illusion that this will actually be used, this is just to have a bit of fun with the process of game design, and trying my hand at tackling the trade problem.
This would be primarily targeted at players that enjoy trading but do not enjoy party-play, which is something that all proposed solutions I have seen seem to lack.

I will take things very slowly in my discussion, but here’s a TL;DR.

  • Make the bazaar a dungeon with a difficult boss fight both for posting and buying items.
  • populate the bazaar with both items from players, generated loot, and bazaar specific uniques, so that a SP version of the bazaar is also available to SSF players.
  • Classify groups of items in different tiers, common uniques on the easier tiers of the dungeon, rare chase uniques and legendaries on the last tiers.
  • Tune the rarity of the dungeon keys to make trading a special and rare experience.

Basically the idea is that you should prove that you don’t need trading to beat the endgame before you are given access to trading.

Back at the beginning.

As a first step, let us discuss what functions a trade system can serve, and the main problems that it carries.

Trading is one of the most deterministic forms of item acquisition in any game it appears. This facilitates the acquisition of any build-enabling unique as well as upgrades.
This has several advantages but also several problems:

  • trade can completely destroy character progression, as powerful items can be easily accessible for small prices if there are better alternatives available.
  • trade dominates all forms of item acquisition, making it so all gear is acquired by trade
  • trade flattens all items to a flat value (how much currency is this worth)
  • trade makes the game revolve around currency, and gives a very high importance to farming efficiency
  • trade makes items so easy to obtain that it forces devs to nerf drop-rates
  • convenient trading is abused by bots, but inconvenient trading is annoying for legitimate players
  • trading enables RMT

The proposed solution

The proposed solution involves making a version of the bazaar as a dungeon.
The key to the bazaar would be a very rare drop that can only be acquired from slain enemies.
The bazaar is then a normal dungeon, where the item filters are decided by the dungon modifiers (the options that you get when changing floors).
So an example doors would state
the bazaar only sells unique belts, 150% increased damage....
the bazaar sells 6 additional exalted items with level of skill affixes, 150% increased damage....

Upon defeating the boss, the player enters the bazaar, with a selection of items following the specified requirements and would be able to buy one of them.
Items would come both from players, generated loot, and bazaar specific uniques, so that the bazaar could make sense also for SSF players.
Trading is conducted using a separate currency that is exclusive to trading and is dropped by the monsters and boss in the dungeon.
Players can post a limited number of items for trade from be bazaar.

Items have tier restrictions, common uniques are available at the lower tier of the dungeon, but rarer uniques are only available at the highest tiers.
A good proxy for this is the effective level for legendary potential.
Legendaries and crafted exalted items are only available at the highest tier.

Lore-wise, this could be some form of magical black market, used by spirits/ghosts/whatever that is reached by defeating its guardian.

implications and advantages

Making trading as a dungeon has several implications, most of which I consider to be advantages.
First and foremost, it makes trading incredibly convoluted, but hopefully, it makes it convoluted in a way that is not annoying but rather engaging (because it is attached to more gameplay and not copypasting whispers from your hideout).
This complexity makes it very difficult for bots to engage in the market, as they need to be able to beat the dungeon before being allowed into the bazaar.
The difficulty of the dungeon should be designed so that trading cannot be used as a replacement for item progression, instead, you will be allowed to trade only after you have successfully proven your worth.
The keys of this dungeon should be rare. This ensures that the trading volume is very small, and prevents players for only using trade to itemize their character.
Ideally, this will not force the devs from having to nerf droprates, since the volume of items traded should be fairly small, and using one of the very limited trade keys for an individual item is a very big commitment.
By the same coin, since players trade few items, most items will never see the market, which makes sure that not all items are being considered with respect to their worth in the market.
RMT is also fairly complex in this system, as there is no way of guaranteeing that a posted item will appear in a bazaar and not in others.

Problems with the system

The main issue with the system is kickstarting it.
Low trade volumes imply long times before an item is sold, which makes it look like it is not worth your time to sell your items. Due to long trade times, players will not put their truly valuable items in the market, which would cause the offering of the bazaar to be low quality. This in turn causes players to not value doing the bazaar as an activity, which would in turn further decrease the volume of traded items. This creates a vicious cycle where the economy never starts.

To address the issue, it will probably be necessary to populate the bazaar artificially, at least at the beginning, by generating valuable and rare loot and posting it alongside the postings of other players.
This is a crucial step, as it will prime the prices of the items being sold, and can be used to put an upper-bound on the prices of some uniques.

Populating the bazaar artificially would also have the advantage of the bazaar being available to SSF players as well.


If you arrived at this point, you have my congratulations.
Thank you for reading. ^^

I absolutely love this idea. It provides value incentive for big drops that you can’t use while also keeping the feel of the game centric to playing the game. It would be nice for SSF characters to have the ability to run the dungeon and instead sell a certain number of items for much more gold than a normal vendor rather than locking them out of the reward incentive entirely.

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Really like the idea of keeping it relevant by being able to sell stuff for a lot more money and maybe it also has a really good selection nearly on par with trade items to buy from but at similarly high prices. The only worry I would have is some people like the extra challenge of SSF so trying to match the advantage might be seen as a negative. But otherwise I think it’s a good idea.

I’ll ask some questions again:

  1. If someone needs 10h to gind an item and someone else farms 10h to buy said item for the farmed currency… who is hurt? Noone but some folks neglect the time needed to farm because reasons.

  2. I think you made some good points but there is still the good old problem: If I play with a friend and said friend is afk for an hour and eats dinner with his significant other and meanwhile I drop an items he needs that is vendortrash for myself I have no option but to trash the item because I can’t give to my friend who wasn’t in the zone it dropped. It’s STUPID!

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  1. Yeah this isn’t to say there aren’t valid reasons to want to have open trade. But we know that’s not on the table and never has been with EHG so I’m looking for a compromise that generally gives both sides what they want (mostly).
  2. Yeah that’s a separate issue that also needs to be resolved. This suggestion doesn’t touch on that. In this exercise I’m focusing on adding a limited economy to the game. It would probably take an alteration to the gifting system to solve your issue.
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You realy should read their kickstarter take on trading and what they advertised because back then free trade was something important to them and they did a 360 on it.

Make items tradable once 24h after it dropped with people who are your friends for at least 25h… not very elegant but restrictive enough.

I’m well versed with the kickstarter. ‘Free’ trade was never important to them. Trade was important but they were very clear from the beginning that it would be restricted and they didn’t want to overshadow acquiring gear from dropping loot. The very first bazaar concept was restricted trade.

https://imgur.com/hrf4nlk

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“Fear not, friends will be able to freely gift items between each other as long as they have been friends for a reasonable amount of time.”

I’ll still quote that because that’s the only important thing to me. Freely gift items with my friends. I can’t do that right now and only have very restrictive gifting with anybody in the same group and zone.

I don’t care if there is free trade, gifting or whatever but I want it to be made in a meaningfull and good way and not a dumped down D3 trade.

I agree with you that this isn’t currently addressed by EHG and needs to be. I also think it needs to be handled by the gifting system side of things and not the economy side, so it’s not super relevant to this post.

That’s a good idea. I think you can see here how much potential the dungeon system has for expansion.

I just hope we don’t have to fight bosses in each dungeon with full screen one shot telegraph and artificial damage reduction. Instead, i would like a dungeon with tough mobs that matches the difficulty of high arena or corruption. It could even be something like finding and defending a caravan or merchant.

Isn’t that what the higher tier dungeons provide?

Well, I mean instead of a boss fight.

I wonder if this is still on the table and they’re just waiting to see feedback from the 0.9 drop. I mean, theoretically it seems to me a common thread I’m seeing is ‘playing with FRIENDS.’ The friends part is what’s important. Not, I wanna be able to trade willy nilly with anyone, but just the people I hang out with and play with on a regular basis. Would it be that difficult to say, implement some sort of ‘FRIENDS GUILD/LIST/CLUB’ that you could simply designate THESE 12 people are in my CLUB. Maybe a requirement is they have to be in the CLUB for at least, say a week, and then you can just freely trade with them. That would cut down on cheesing it and if it really IS someone you game with regularly, you can just hold onto the item until the week passes and then bam.

I’m not a programmer so don’t shoot me if I oversimplify, obviously the ‘tangible parameters’ are just me spitballing and some tweaking would be need for fine tuning (like 15 instead of 12) or 72 hours instead of a week. I don’t know.

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I think the key issue in the many things they tried to develop is that they were still exploitable, and they could still be scaled to cause a majority of key loot to come from trading rather than drops. Similar to all these great suggestions. It certainly is not an easy ask.

That’s something I talked about since the first feedback threads about trading.

  1. Join a group/guild/befriend someone (call it whatever)
  2. After a week you can freely trade ion said group
  3. If you leave the group for whatever reason you have a 1 week CD before you can join another group.
  4. Join another group and still have a week CD before you can trade stuff.

That’s the trade system in a nutshell I think about. If you restrict the number of members for each group to 12 maybe you are fine. Think about RMT… at best you need to wait a week to get the item you want but I met noone in the past who was willing to wait for RMT so long.

To be real you can cheese every system because with a small enough brain and a big enough wallet people throw enough money on RMTers to get what they want as soon as you can trade ingame in any capacity.

I think we very much think alike when it comes to it. I think it’s easier to implement such groups and the timers then another currency or dungeon or whatever. Sadly you don’t please the elitists who only care about their dRopRaTeS and you don’t please the people who run an economy simluator but in the end you please small groups as well as guilds or friend circles all arround the planet and let’s be real… most people joined because they heared good things about EA or because they watched their favorite streamers playing the game but I think most people want to enjoy a new hack and slay with their pals and have a good time and that’s why a lot of people are alienated by the trade abomination the current gifting system is.

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I imagine they’re more interested in HOW exploitable because you’ll never be able to complete stop it unless you don’t have anything. Just SSF.

I know it’s a conundrum for them. But they listen. And it’s 0.9 so they’re dropping it to a much bigger group and they’ll get a whole lot more feed back. Coupled with whatever they may envision for the more ‘serious’ side of the gaming, they’ll come up with something.

I don’t really have much of a dog in the fight. I don’t play a lot of multiplayer anyway, (my gaming habits are weird and I almost never have 4 hours set aside to game so groups usually get tired of me :D) and I’ll never be a real ladder climber. I’d be perfectly fine with just a 12 person checklist that I approve for my “CLUB.” But I am also fully aware that there are people out there who really get into stuff.

I’m hoping they find a good common ground to cater to as many people as they feel is a good demographic.

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I suspect that they’re busy trying to find a more palatable way to square the circle for 1.0.

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More ways to get loot are always fun. I think this is a neat idea.
I don’t think the majority of the people who are upset about the current decision would be much happier.

BTW trade dungeons… one question came to my mind: How are trade dungeons explainable from lore point of view?

Other games had free trade and soulbound systems to make items they don’t wanted traded untradeable. Some games have free trade other have no trade but the least game offered an explanation why it’s not possible to give an item from player A to B.

It’s maybe easy for LE to say you can only trade stuff that hasn’t LP on it because this would lead to a time paradoxon that implodes the timeline. Same gos for the dungeon because it’s the only save place to trade without making stuff explode or tunring you into an old man or a baby but monsters are attracted to this place at the same time.

I realy want games to have explanations why stuff isn’t working that isn’t rocket sience and even we rather stupid humans make use of for thousands of years.