Monday, October 21, 2013

Gaming By the Numbers - Rune Factory 4

As I near my natural conclusion with Rune Factory 4 (by which I mean a point where I can comfortably pick up and start Hometown Story) I started looking back on some of the stuff in the game, new stuff, returning stuff because I am honestly thinking of doing a review on it.  Or rather, I already started one, but my words just came out sort of over-the-top kissing the game's ass, so I decided to step back until I could reasonably ground myself.  One way of doing that that helps, as always, is by pushing my sleeves up and rooting around inside the mechanics of certain things.  As we all know by now, I have a fair fondness for crafting systems in games and Rune Factory 4's is by no means no exception.  In fact, for my purposes (see:  breaking the economy in the name of Capitalism) it does very well, especially with some of the improvements to the system 4 added, so I thought it best to do what I do really well.

The video above so helpfully describes the method you need to actually get to a point where you -can- craft in Rune Factory 4 and it is just as simple as the video makes it seem.  You purchase a License for whatever you're attempting to get (Cooking License, Advanced Cooking License, Chemistry, etc.) which gives you a little mini-quiz (where the point is to teach you things by making you guess) and then blam, you can buy the piece of equipment so long as you have the materials.  Then you take it home (or, honestly, wherever the hell you want) and muck about with it so you get items.  Recipes are obtained (again, as per the video) by Recipe Bread or you can just be a jerk and look up the recipes and use them instead.  (Since you can just throw things together without a recipe)  It takes a -little- extra RP depending on your skill level, but what you can and what you cannot craft are fairly easily gauged.

One of the biggest boons of Rune Factory 4's crafting system is that almost everything can be procured for free in some fashion - some items are drops, whereas others are mined objects or fish, or things of that ilk.  The only investments you generally make (beyond the crafting pieces themselves which are a small investment all-told) are the costs of seeds to grow crops for cooking recipes, or flower seeds for pharmacy recipes and those are minimal.  What this means is that profit margins are generally huge.  As in, most all of it.  To counter-balance this, a lot of lower-tier items don't have a very high retail price which means you can't craft 15 Claymores and be rolling in theory.  This is where the additions of Rune Factory 4 specifically come into play and make things a lot more tantalizing.

Quality levels of crops are nothing new to the series or even to Harvest Moon proper, but the thing is, they didn't generally affect too much beyond the price of the crop itself, and I was never sure just how much.  Since I never bothered with it since it was never a necessity really.  However, in RF4, the quality of your items really friggin' matters and it affects the price in a -huge- way.  For instance, any recipe that calls for an egg will accept any size of egg, which helps because if you take care of your Chicken monsters, they will eventually lay Medium and even Large eggs which, naturally, sell for more and more at base, not even counting the level of quality because the more affection you have with a monster, the better quality the item itself.  The size of the egg -and- the level of quality both directly have an impact on the end-price of the dish or weapon or medicine, etc. that you craft.  It's easier to just explain with an example.

Take the basic Fried Eggs recipe which is literally just an egg in the Frying Pan.  A small egg sells for 280 G at base, and the Fried Eggs dish, at base, sells for 335 G.  However, if you make it with a Level 10 large egg that sells, alone, for 960 G, well, it shoots the sell price of the dish all the way up to 1,005 G.  That's a rather large increase of what is, more or less, an item that doesn't cost you a single G unless you really pedantically add in the cost of the brush, the monster barn and fodder (which you grow multiple harvests out of a single seed -anyway-).  That's a really simple example, obviously, and the hikes only get more and more ridiculous as you go along.  Take a Cake - the recipe is Flour, Butter, Sweet Powder, Strawberry, Milk and an Egg - and just -imagine- how it works with top-of-the-line ingredients.  At base, a cake sells for 4200 G, but if you have Level 10 Butter (900 G versus 300 G), Level 6 Sweet Powder (212 G versus 170 G), Level 10 Large Milk (1000 G versus 260 G for a Small Level 1) and a Level 10 Large Egg, then it goes for 5880 G easily.

It does get even better, however.  While I did whinge a bit about the Shop System (in that it's not really a shop) the fact of the matter is that it's really damn handy.  You sell everything at above-retail price in your Shop (rather, they offer you more than retail) for some reason or another and hand-made things with high-quality ingredients go for a ridiculous mark-up.  Case in point, the 5,880 G Cake I made just got an offer of 8,518 G with absolutely no insistence or extra pushing on my part.  (You can do things to try and push the price of an item up, even, if the mark-up wasn't delicious enough.)  This is how you make your mad bank in Rune Factory 4.  The only item I paid money for in that recipe was Flour which was a paltry 320 G, and the Sweet Powder, were I to buy that (because I often do, I just made a couple to try and bump my Pharmacy up a level) would just be an extra 450 G. 

So, for a full investment of 770 G (which is the -normal- cost, since I generally buy those two items) I make 7,748 G profit and that's just one item.  That Cake costs 108 RP to make at my current level, and I have a max of 1433 RP.  That's 13 cakes for one full RP bar (technically 14 since I can make one more and take an HP hit) which means 100,724 G profit (or 108,472 G) if I wanted to go that route.  Of course, that's assuming all my Cakes sell for 8,518 on the open market and know, more than that.  Even if I just sold them through my shipping bin for regular price, that'd still be 5,110 per Cake, 66,430 per 13 (or 71,540 for 14) per RP bar.  I can, of course, head to the baths and get a full RP refill for 300 G (the first time), 500 G (the second time) and so on and so on.  At no point would it definitively eat into my profits and it simply allows me to continue making madd bank so long as I have the items to make the Cakes in question.  That's not even the most cost-effective recipe, no no no.  I haven't even looked for the most cost-effective recipe yet because I don't have to.

It will not surprise you to know that I have basically run out of things to buy at this point and thus I don't really feel a need to 'grind' out crafted items for a bunch of money since I'm sitting on 150K now that I don't even need.  I mean, technically, I could build up a lot, buy material pieces (if I could find them for sale), build up more money and expand all my things over and over again (get a whole new room and another farm space, for instance) but it's unnecessary.  It's almost unfortunate.  But making a ton of fucking money, even if it's fake money in a video game, is almost always its own reward because it gives you hope that someday, somehow you get to put all this terribly nerdy logic into play in a real-world scenario and make actual mad bank.  One of these days, maybe...

of course, I would be a lot less evil in pricing and such in a real-world scenario....probably

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