Friday, November 1, 2013

Path of Exile (Part Six)

Barter Economy

Path of Exile - Buying from NPCPath of Exile - Selling to NPC
Contrary to other run-of-the-mill games, Path of Exile does not actually employ or utilize any sort of currency system within the game. It instead adopts a sort of bartering-styled trading whereby items are directly exchanged into/for other useful stuffs without going through a medium of exchange (like gold and/or silver).

In my opinion, this is actually rather fitting for the setting of the game, since the premise is that the character, being a victim of circumstances, ends up exiled to a faraway island. And on this island, there isn't much of a judicial system in place...only a rudimentary form of social structure exists (in the form of some standalone and pretty much isolated towns) and hence having any form of currency would be meaningless to be honest.

However, because of this bartering-styled economy, it is actually that much harder to "price" something...let alone trade it with other players to be honest. For instance, I almost nearly got into a trade with another player when he asked for 1 chaos orb for a very common "Summon Skeleton" skill gem of 0% quality just because I didn't quite appreciate the value of items within the game yet.

(And for your information, that skill gem was actually quite easily attainable if you simply just create an alt "Witch" class character and progressed a little in the game. You will eventually get it as a quest reward selection after clearing "The Caged Brute" in Normal Difficulty.)

But regardless of how much of a hassle it may be to trade, it is still the system that is being put in place and so we will just have to live with it I guess. Nonetheless, it would still be a good idea for me to somewhat convey to you the value of some of the stuff that exists in the game so that you don't trade it off without knowing its relative value. And to do that, let us establish some sort of a "measuring system" for convenience-sake, I shall use the list of items which we can easily obtain or buy from the NPCs as a starting basis (since their exchange values would be fixed).
Path of Exile - Orbs and Scrolls
So within the list of easily obtainable/buy-able stuffs, if we take the "Scroll of Wisdom" (which is the most easily obtainable) as a basis, we can then extrapolate out a "relative value" for all the rest of the items (as shown above).

As you can see from the chart, one can instantly tell that a "Portal Scroll" has a value of 3x that of a "Scroll of Wisdom" since it would take three of them to exchange for/buy a "Portal Scroll" from the NPC. An "Orb of Transmutation" on the other hand is worth 21 "Scrolls of Wisdom" because it would take you 7 "Portal Scrolls" to purchase one of those from the NPC.

And as we go along the list of items, we can see that towards the end of the spectrum, we will have the "Orb of Regret" and the "Orb of Alchemy" worth a shocking 21504 "Scrolls of Wisdom" each! So can you imagine how scary and time consuming that is? Luckily though, we don't really need to work for them starting all the way from the bottom. There is always a possibility of looting any of those so long as we continue to farm monsters appropriate to our levels.

But...(hahaha)...this only applies to that which we can easily get or buy from the NPCs. So the question is, what about those that we can't? Well, for those I guess you will just have to gauge for yourselves then...according to their purpose of use, the difficulty in looting them, their demand within the league's economy and how much people are willing to pay for them...though it will at least be safe to say that those items' worth should ought to be more than that we've just established.

Are you still following me so far? Good...and here comes the part that "wrecks" it all up. Ah....the "beauty" of a bartering system...

Even though the relative values that we've just establish ought to be good enough, however the reality of stuff is that those relative values are only what the game's "system" perceives of them and not how the players value them.

Why? Two words - "Vendor Recipes".

Vendor Recipes
Vaguely speaking, what we meant by "Vendor Recipes" is actually a set of specific stuff which, when sold to any NPC vendor, will give us back something specific in return.
Path of Exile - Selling Stuff to NPC
Like for example,
  • if we sold any normal rarity item to the NPC, we would get 1 "Scroll Fragment" back. And 5 of these when stacked together would turn into 1 "Scroll of Wisdom".
  • if we sold one unidentified, magic rarity item to the NPC, we would get 2 "Transmutation Shards" in return (an unidentified rare item would give 5 "Transmutation Shards"). And 20 of these would turn into 1 "Orb of Transmutation".
  • if we sold an identified item to the NPC, then depending on the modifiers found on it, we may get "Alteration Shards" and/or "Alchemy Shards". And 20 of these would get you an "Orb of Alteration" and an "Orb of Alchemy" respectively.
  • if we sell any item with at least a red, green and a blue socket linked together, then we would get 1 "Chromatic Orb" in return.
  • a six socket item would give us 7 "Jeweller's Orb", while a 6-linked item would give us a "Divine Orb".
Now because these are specific items which we can now get from the NPC instead, due to the vendor recipes, so therefore their relative worth (for these items) would now instead hinge upon the ease of looting the items responsible for obtaining them.

In other words, due to the relative ease of obtaining unidentified magic items in large amounts, the worth of an "Orb of Transmutation" as perceived by the players is actually less than the 21 "Scrolls of Wisdom" as seen by the system. Likewise, since its quite easy to come across an item with a red, green and a blue socket linked together, hence a Chromatic Orb's worth is also correspondingly lowered.

Yet, on the other side of things, if we took the trouble to identify all of the magic and rare items that we loot and then sell them to the NPC, we would get "Alteration Shards" and possibly "Alchemy Shards" (which are of higher value) instead of "Transmutation Shards" (which is of a lower value).

And due to this reason, stacks of "Scrolls of Wisdom" might actually be quite valuable to some players and you can use them to barter for something decent.

For more information:
Path of Exile - Vendor Recipes

How The In-game World Works
Unlike Scarlet Blade where everybody just dwells and interacts with one another within one common persistent world, the world of Path of Exile actually runs in such a way that everything is instance-based. Everything down from the dungeon areas to even the town areas.
Path of Exile - Lioneye's Watch TownPath of Exile - World Map Legend
And because everything is non-permanent, progress within the in-game world only comes in the form of collecting the various waypoints that lie throughout, in the town maps and dungeon areas in all the different world difficulties and acts.

Furthermore, how this game world functions is that you are pretty much all alone by yourself and the only cases where you will ever meet with someone else is if they are within the same instance as you. But of course, that will only happen if you guys were in a town area where the instances may be shared. If you were out questing in the dungeon maps, then the only way for someone else to barge into your instance is if you guys are in a party.

Anyway, every time you log into the game, you will only spawn in one of the town area instances...usually the one where you've last visited. From there onwards, you may then travel into the other areas either by using the orange "portals" found at the edges of the instance your in (which acts as a link between connected areas) or you can teleport into one which is further away from town (via an activated waypoint if that particular location has one).

Upon first loading into an area, the system will create a fresh instance of that area and allocate it to you. If you are in a party, then that instance will be allocated to you and your party members. Appropriate monsters that is supposed to inhabit that instance will then be spawned and the position/orientation of things within that instance will be determined.

For as long as you stay within that instance, everything will stay as is...whatever you've killed will stay dead, whatever you've destroyed will remain destroyed and whatever that is dropped within that instance will stay there. However, once you leave that instance, then a timer (usually 8 to 15 minutes) will start to countdown and once it expires, the instance will be closed and everything that is in it, lost forever.

The only way to prevent that from happening is if you reenter that instance to refresh its timer. This same rule also applies for party instances so if you wish to keep it up, then one of you will have to stay in it to prevent the timer from starting.

Managing Your Instances
So since everything is instanced, it is actually pretty important for you to know how to manage them...which one you would like to enter, how to abandon an old copy to get into a fresh one and how to invite others into your instance.
Path of Exile - Managing Instances
Well to do that, all that you would need to do is to simply hold the "Ctrl" key before you left click to enter into a new area. By doing just that, the game would allow you to call out a particular window called the "Instance Manager" if the area that your about to enter already has an existing copy assigned to you.

Through this window, you can see the instances of that area which are assigned to you so that you can choose which copy to enter. Alternatively, you may also click on the "New" option to enter into a fresh copy without having to wait for an existing instance to close (which is useful if your grinding).
Path of Exile - Party Member's Instance
And if you wish to enter into a particular party member's instance, then perhaps the quickest way for you to do that is to wait in a town area and then ask if he or she can open up a portal (using a portal scroll). In this way, you can instantly teleport to wherever he or she may be.

Previous: Path of Exile (Part Five)