Localized banking: Feature or hassle?

Localized banking is something DarkFall originally had on its list of features, but at some point this was changed and now banking is global. On a recent preview of the October patch, the idea of localized banking was mentioned, and has since caused some debate among players about its functionality and purpose.

First let’s try and define the different banking systems. Global banking means any bank you go to contains your entire bank contents in it, and you can freely deposit and withdraw anything you want. Most themepark games like WoW or WAR use such a system, and currently that’s how banks work in DarkFall. I can go into an enemy player city and use their bank to pull out a cannon to help with a siege on that very city. Local banking, which is what EVE has, means each bank location is its own account, and you must travel to each location if you wish to use its content. For DarkFall, this would mean that if you go to an enemy city and kill some players, you would also have to either travel back to your bank to deposit the items, or you would make the deposit locally but at a later point have to travel and retrieve them.

Some of the drawbacks to local banking are reduced convenience, increased micro-management (which bank did I put that sword in again?), and increased hassle when relocating. Anyone that has ever switched locations in EVE knows all too well how painful it is to fly from station to station picking up all your stuff, especially if you don’t have access to a mass-hauling ship. Localized banking adds another layer of complexity to anyone new to such a game, especially those coming from global banking systems, and it’s easy to envision a scenario were a new player goes to access a bank for some gear only to realize he has to travel 20 minutes to get it from his local bank. If you know the system you can plan ahead, but it’s another step on the learning curve for a new player.

The benefits of local banking are a little more difficult to quantify. For starters, local banking means players will spend more time traveling from one bank to another just to get all their stuff organized. At face value, that sounds like a bad thing, as you would rather be fighting mobs or players instead of traveling from point A to point B. But if we dig deeper, more traveling players means more PvP targets for PKs, more regional activity as you watch traders ride around to deliver goods, and more risk/reward during a siege. With local banking a clan will no longer be able to pull out the needed hammers, cannons, warhulks, and/or ships from their enemies’ bank. If you think you are going to need something for a siege, you need to take it out of your local bank, carry it to the siege location, and deploy it. Defenders can now try to intercept such deliveries, killing a warhulk driver/carrier before he arrives. Attacking players will also not be able to fully loot defenders and immediately bank the loot. As in a true battlefield, the winners will be free to pick among the bodies, but they won’t be hauling away every scrap of armor. In addition, gone will be the silly tactic of FIXING an enemy bank so your attacking force can re-supply, and instead the attackers will be encouraged to take out the local bank in order to cut off the defenders from resupplying. Localized banking opens up more tactical decisions for all players, and such strategic depth is what makes an impact PvP game so much fun.

Another benefit of local banking is that it makes things, well, more local. Currently in DarkFall you can head out to a far-away mob spawn, and as long as it has a bank nearby you can farm away and bank whenever you need. You then return home and bam, all your loot is right there. With local banking, location will play a much bigger factor in the value of real-estate. If a city has great mob camps nearby, that makes it much easier to farm and bank than a more isolated location. Sure you can still travel to that far-away location and farm, but if you bank near that location, then at some point you have to travel back and retrieve it or not bank as often and become a bigger/richer PvP target. Also cities or hamlets located in far-away spots force the owners to gear up and travel further to reach their destination, rather then the current norm of traveling naked and pulling out gear once you arrive. The more people traveling around fully geared, the more active the world feels, and the more motivation for others to also head out and look for a fight.

I’m sure this topic will come up again once more details are revealed, especially once we know how player-run vendors will work (also coming in this expansion) and how they will related to the banking change. Also mentioned are caravans for transporting goods, so clearly Aventurine has some extensive plans brewing for all this rather than just adding a feature for the sake of adding it.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in crafting, Darkfall Online, EVE Online, Housing, MMO design, Patch Notes, PvP, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Localized banking: Feature or hassle?

  1. Dickie says:

    I think in a game like Darkfall, this idea makes complete sense, mainly because it would fost the things you mentioned (more PvP, more risk/reward, more challenge and strategy in seiges) which are the focus of the game. In games like WoW, that’s not the focus of the game, so the idea wouldn’t make sense.

    You make a compelling argument for it in DF though.

    • syncaine says:

      Oh I in no way am suggesting localized banking be considered for themepark games, it would add nothing but confusion/frustration in that type of environment.

  2. Bhagpuss says:

    I’m a huge fan of localised banking. Hardly surprising, since I would generally rather be travelling from point A to point B than fighting mobs or players, and I absolutely love inventory micro-management (or micro-mismanagement in my case). It’s only going a tiny bit too far to say that inventory management is why I play MMOs in the first place. I also, perversely, like a fair amount of inconvenience in my non-combat activity. I like a lot of fiddle and fuss.

    In a PvP game based around holding actual player-run settlements, like Darkfall, local banking would seem to be not just preferable but downright essential, for the reasons you list. In a PvE game, other than for atypical players with my odd predilections for making life difficult for myself, localised banking has fewer obvious attractions. The one obvious benefit is that it keeps players coming back to their racial/faction home city or cities, thereby keeping them alive even when the higher-level activity has moved to other lands.

    Games that have used local banking generally also have localised broker/Auction House set-ups and that’s much easier to argue for. Localised brokerages foster varied markets with price differentials and local specialites and create a whole new level of economic gaming for those that like to play trader.

    Vanguard had local banking, which I loved. It’s now so long since I played VG I forget whether they changed it to global – they were talking about doing it.

  3. adam says:

    lack of localized banking was one of the main things that kept me from jumping on the darkfall ship months ago. if they decide to implement it, i might actually play. not because i’m hardcore. i’m not. but i am all about the depth such crucial, potent basic game design decisions bring.

    not totally sold on the rest yet, though.

    • syncaine says:

      I’ve seen the same thing repeated on the forums, and I always assumed people were just writing it like they write ‘slap in the face’ about minor issues or changes.

      But I’m coming around on the whole thing, and the more I think about it and how it effects EVE, the more I realize localized banking will have a HUGE impact on day-to-day life in DarkFall. Like full-loot, it’s a ‘hardcore’ feature that goes far deeper than it would appear at first glance.

      • adam says:

        yep. games like darkfall need to go in that direction. fast travel is something else i’m not a fan of in a game like darkfall. i think the map should be absolutely massive and largely “inaccessible,” as in travelling somewhere to deliver goods or find new hunting grounds is actually an undertaking in and of itself. this comes with consequences, because friends can’t gather up at will, but if you set a precedent for it and people know that’s how it is, they’ll eventually warm to the depth it brings. actual player cultures tied to territories will develop and people will come to find a sense of togetherness and camaraderie with the players in their area. a whole host of amazing emergent behaviors and opportunities arises when you make bold, ballsy design decisions like this. local banking is a start.

      • adam says:

        when you take a game in directions like this, like with localized banking, eliminating fast travel, allowing full loot and at-will PvP, a lot of people immediately pass judgment and assume it’s because the people behind the game and the people that play the game are “hardcore,” that they’re all pimply juvenile basement dwellers with nothing better to do than to teabag their victims’ faces after an unfair battle. not hardly. WoW is the most carebear game in existence and the number of complete douchebags that populate that game is just staggering, not only in sheer number but in proportion.

        no, these kinds of design decisions are about creating a unique, amazing, surreal experience that you can’t find in any other entertainment medium. to provide people with a world in which they can act out an experience completely unlike anything in reality or in other mediums is something to aspire to, not to mock. hopefully soon someone designs a game that not only has the polish of something like WoW, but has the design genetics of something like darkfall/mortal online, delivering something not hardcore but unique and challenging and continually, eternally fun–not just because of the content delivered by the developers, but by the spontaneous creation of new content delivered by the behavior of the players using the free-form tools provided by the game’s creators. that is what i’m waiting for.

  4. Fortuente says:

    Localized banking is a massive, gargantuan, time-consuming pain in the ass. And in a game like EVE I wouldn’t have it any other way. For basically all the reasons you list.

    From your description of banking in Darkfall, it sounds like it is a must-have.

  5. Malakili says:

    It would definitely be something that would make me highly consider the game, if for no other reason that I like the idea of starting a caravan service. I love the value of traders, haulers, and otherwise economic focused characters in EVE, and it would definitely add value to that kind of play in Darkfall.

  6. evizaer says:

    Darkfall is a carebear game until it introduces local banking. And real life penalties for death. A local DFO practitioner should go to your house and hit you on the head until you forget a few days of your life. Now THAT is an XP penalty for death!

    But seriously: Local banking is crucial to darkfall being a serious PvP game. Without it, DFO is a pretender, IMO.

  7. I’m on the fence on this one. I haven’t played EVE so I don’t have any real experience with local banking. It just seems like a hassle and an inconvenience. I can see the arguments for it, but knowing the Darkfall community, the majority of players will do whatever they can to circumvent the system.

    I think you could add in the siege changes you mention (ie tactical decision to destroy the defenders bank) by giving guilds the ability to limit access to only themselves and their allies.

    • syncaine says:

      The problem with limiting bank access is that instead of using the city bank, attackers will use the closest NPC city. It would be better, but not a full solution. Localized banking AND clans having control over who can access their cities bank would be the best solution actually.

  8. Wintersdark says:

    In a full loot pvp game, localized banking and realistic inventory managment are crucial. If it’s very easy to safely transport goods and supplies (and with global banking, it’s completely safe) a huge portion of the ‘danger’ feel vanishes. Also, it’s too easy to ‘combat loot’ safely, resulting in excessive player looting (player looting=good, one player able to FULLY loot 30 bodies of everything and store all the good securely in minutes=bad). Finally, global banking creates highly ridiculous contrived “tactics” like you mentioned too. Running to a seige largely naked for safety, then magically pulling your ‘big guns’ out from a local bank? That’s just silly. Intercepting your attackers supply trains is a critical element of warfare. Without it, well, things just aren’t the same.

    No, if there’s no player looting/pvp loss in the open world, then global banking is the way to go. When there is, though, the location of goods and supplies, and how they are moved, is crucial.

  9. Stropp says:

    Local banking has also has a major PvE purpose in Eve.

    There are quite a few missions in Eve that require a player to travel a long way from the quest giver to either deliver or pick up some item(s). Global banking would allow the player to simply drop it in the bank at the pickup location and simply travel back home with no risk, get the item from his bank and complete the mission.

    And as you’ve mentioned the biggie for me is trade. Instant transfers of mined ore or components would completely destroy local or regional economies. Just travel to whatever system in the cheapest shuttle, buy that 20000 units of locally cheap ore, stick it in your bank and head back; no risk, no economy.

    Personally, I think some of the theme park games could stand to implement some of these ideas if it matched the games style.

  10. Dblade says:

    I think they could fix the bank siege thing without localized banking, just a series of permissions would work if a bank is under regional control.

    However this is a very large “be careful what you wish for.” It sounds nice in the abstract in terms of promoting regional economies and pvp opportunities, but you don’t want players to feel discouraged from travel and stick to hub cities and trade routes, or only travel between them with a full guild contingent to avoid ganking.

    You also don’t want to be forced to travel cities and put yourself at pvp risk just to buy something.

    • Derrick says:

      Discouraged from travel? Sort of. You DO want some players to be discouraged from carrying lots of goods around due to the danger.

      Why? Because then it actually becomes a profitable venture for others to do so. You *want* goods moved between cities, and they will be so long as there’s reason to do so.

      It’s fairly self balancing. If too many players stick to cities, and noone ventures out, then the risk of ganking drops – why stand around looking for someone to gank if there’s noone ever there? But if no one is there farming mobs, shipping goods, then there’s good pickings for the adventurous folk.

      It creates a much more vibrant player ecosystem, for lack of a better word.

      • Dblade says:

        I dont think you understand, no one is going to hire guards to help them get back from a day of small-group or solo farming, especially in darkfall when the guards can just as easily kill you and take all the loot you have.

        You are thinking of more of a caravan system, but that really only works on a large level, and the problem of trust is going to confine it to in-guild anyways. Problem with local banking is less on the trade level as on the individual player action level.

  11. Scrung says:

    If they keep up with the interesting updates the only thing this game will need is people playing, and not being douches. The current community is the only thing holding the game back.

  12. Crito says:

    What about cash? I think it would be cool if clans could make agreements with allies to allow access to a players cash from other banks. This could even be done with a small fee for the ally clan.
    This way item transfer is not abused, but one can buy something off the cuff without hauling around a chunk of change. It also increases the benefits of named allies, strengthening clan relations.

  13. Rem says:

    I’m a themepark-loving carebear, but I’m all for local banking. Back in LotRO, it was somewhat justifiable to have access to the same bank space from Thorin’s, MD, Bree, Esteldin and Rivendell – after all, there are travelling salesmen in Eriador, and all of those locations can be reached without fighting (chicken quests anyone?). Just a little bit Suspension of Disbelief regarding time delay, and we’re good to go. But in the 21st Hall, in the middle of freakin’ Moria!? I mean .. what? We’re playing “new frontier” and godforsaken deep dark place with supply shortage and unthinkable dangers here, but the bankers are getting through in no time? Seriously? Let’s not even talk about Caras Galadhon, where you need to grind rep for a week to even being allowed to enter, but once you do, your bank is right there. And, sure, Lady Galadriel entertains an auction house in her domain *facepalm*

    For a PvP game, everything you said is totally true (in my opinion, of course). But even for a “themepark” game, some consistency within the theme wouldn’t hurt, to make “returning home” actually have some meaning at least.

    • Dblade says:

      You say that, but how would you like to have to take twenty minutes to ride back home before an instance because you forgot a pop item and left it in a far-off city bank? Or have to carry every possible thing you need on you because Moria has no bank?

      Thematic consistency has a place, but localized banking in pve sucks.

      • Rem says:

        “No bank in Moria” is not quite the same thing as “localized banking”. Also, I don’t think there are many located at instance entrances? So, when you forgot something, you’ll have to lose some time anyway (Carn Dum keys pre-keyrings anyone?).

        You’re basically saying that anything that stands between the login and the raid is bad – and even as a passionate raider, I don’t subscribe to that notion. PvE says “environment”, and environment does not just consist of mobs, but also of landscapes, geography and, well, distances.

        Not saying localized banking is always a good thing, but sometimes it can be.

      • Dblade says:

        It is bad though, let me give an example about how distance works against you.

        It isn’t raiding, but in FFXI we had Kazham. It used to be only accessible from the main city of Jeuno by about a ten minute or so airship ride. So lets say you were an average player with your flag up, and asked to come to there.

        You get there, the airship has an eta of 5 minutes. So its going to take 15 minutes of travel time to get there. You get there, and realized you left your food in storage.

        Storage is only accessible in your home nation (about as closed to localized banking as FFXI gets.) You could warp back, but it would take you a half-hour easy to get back here. So you decided to hit the local auction house. However, its linked to windurst, and not jeuno, and is dead, with little on it since most people shop at jeuno or its satellites.

        When they introduced outpost warps, all of that went away, and very few people missed it. Because the appeal and need of environment and distance really doesn’t help when you need to level the twentieth time in a far away place. Its usually in practice you see the flaws of it.

        It’s localized too, there are 4 AH’s in FFXI, 3 in the starter cities, one in jeuno, with satellite ones linked to one of the above

      • Dblade says:

        oops, reversed the “its localized” and “when they introduced” paragraphs, sorry about that.

  14. It’s a complex topic. Personally I’m tempted to say that the frustration off it outweighs the gains but then EVE Online does implement it well. I dunno. I think it would need to be something I try out before I can cast a vote on it.

  15. Derrick says:

    It’s definitely something that should only be considered in a game that’s specifically designed to work with it. It’s NOT something to cram into any random MMO. It only belongs in an open world centric PvP game where the location of goods is of critical importance. Player driven economies definitely benefit.

    PvE games as a rule just don’t work well with it. In a PvP game, moving goods entails an amount of risk, which inherently increases the value of the task, but in a PvE game it’s just a senseless time sink and even if initially intended, it’ll nearly certainly get pulled later due to QQ (whether you view that as justified QQ or not).

    And, yeah… caravans, caravan guards, etc? Never works out. In-guild, sure, but overall? Everyone loves the idea of merc guards etc, but the reality is that it never actually pans out as dblade notes. You can’t trust anyone, because due to the inherent nature of MMO’s they can act with impunity, betrayal is easy. Point in permadeaths favour there.

    • syncaine says:

      Actually merc guilds work really well in DF, and I believe in EVE as well. The current big merc guild on the NA server in DF are a very respected force, and honor their contracts. If some big trader needed a caravan protected, hiring some mercs would indeed be a wise choice.

      The idea of merc guilds in something like WoW or WAR is laughable, because what exactly are you going to hire them for? But in a sandbox, mercs are a very serious option.

  16. Solidstate says:

    Ignoring the “in-game consistency” issue mentioned(*) by one of the previous replies, does local banking represent any benefit to PvE games in your opinion? All the benefits you mention are for PvP which is nice but not the focus of all games out there :)

    (*) Ignoring since RP (role-playing) and “ingame world consistency” are important to a different segment of players and are in fact orthogonal to the PvE/PvP axis – you can have RP-PvE and RP-PvP players.

    • syncaine says:

      A heavily trade-based PvE MMO might, but overall I just don’t see too many benefits for PvE MMOs. Most of those games have a trash economy, gimmie-now gameplay, and they bend over backwards to cater to the player. That’s just not a formula you want to insert localized banking into.

    • Crito says:

      I think it comes down to the importance of a player driven economy. I admit this is practically a dream because gold is always pumped into the marked and you seldom have to spend any, but the very thought of supporting a true economy is exciting.
      As for the PVE’er, it depends on what he means by pve. If you mean getting to the endgame and winning this is a hassle, but for questers and adventurer, moving between cities with gold or equiptment is just another adventure with more risk because you could lose something. Also, someone could go searching for a certain bow/axe and finally find it. Yes, this sucks because you won’t always get top dollar for your stuff, but you could get some sick deals.
      Banking can’t work alone, it has to be considered in the whole economy including trading systems and agressive npc’s. It could add fun adventures if you are willing to see them as fun. It requires some thought and is not forgiving which does not cater to most gamers.

  17. Centuri says:

    Localized banking works in EVE, but without everything else that EVE offers to industrialists and traders, will DFO really have a thriving economy. Instead will it have a handful of main trading hubs with vast commercial wastelands of price gouging and markets dominated by a few guild crafters? You seem to not touch on the fact that EVERY one of the major trading systems in EVE is in high security Empire.

    Also, how would it work when you loose your guild city’s bank? Is everything stored inside just shot out onto the city square for the victors to loot? Does it all remain safely stored inside waiting for you to sneak/fight your way back inside to reclaim your possessions?

    • syncaine says:

      It will certainly be a little different, because DF does not have Empire space like EVE. But even if it does end up being a few trade hubs and the rest of the world is slow trading, is that bad? What’s wrong with a few cities being known as market hubs?

      For the clan bank it could work in a few different ways. One would be to ‘close’ the bank account until a clan gets another holding, and then allow them to once again access the bank. That would certainly motivate people to siege another holding. Another option would be to have the clan bank accessible at the capital of the guild leader/founders race. That would cause some travel issues, but would be an interesting penalty for losing a city, especially if the clan leader is red and can’t enter the capital city right away.

  18. Derrick says:

    Mercs as caravan guards have never worked in the past – outside of darkfall and eve, at any rate – because of relative value issues.

    A common game design problem with this is that you cannot move enough goods/valuable enough goods to make the cost of hiring “known-good” guards worthwhile for both you, and the guards.

    Now, I don’t play Darkfall or Eve – I’m absolutely against sub-based MMO’s, and boycotting ALL of them – but that’s been a common fault in the past.

    Not to say it can’t work, but it’s not an easy thing to set up.

    Note, I mean hiring people as guards to assist in moving goods for economic purposes, not hiring guilds to help in general/siege PvP. It’s a much smaller scale, and far more difficult to make work.

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