Sunday, December 05, 2010

If I Was In Charge: Persona 5

Whoa, look who's come crawling back. To the blog world. Sphere, if you will. So I was thinking the other day about how I would change one of my favorite RPG series, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (or Persona for short) to make it even more to my liking, to the possible detriment of many of its other fans. Because screw those guys. Here's what I came up with:

Now this blog article assumes you have some knowledge of this series, and of the last two entries in particular. Go look up some videos or reviews or Wikipedia info on it or, hell, just go play them. I'll wait.

So anyway, my biggest gripe about this game and the source of many hours of pointless and non-entertaining grinding is what a lot of MegaTen fans love the most: The Persona fusion system. Taking its cue from various Mons games, including its predecessors in the larger MegaTen franchise as a whole, the fusion system allows you to raise two monsters, merge them and create a new hybrid monster with the abilities of its parents, usually at the cost of the parents themselves. While you are left with a superior monster type, it is weakened by its current newborn state, and you're out of the two powerful monsters used to create it. This is where the grinding comes in. Especially if your real target is a monster that is several more generations down the line. Adding to your woes is the necessary "ability inheritance", where part of your perfect creation requires that certain abilities from the parents are passed down, which means constantly refreshing the creation process for the right assortment before finally committing to the fusion process. The whole shebang often takes up far more of your game time than playing the actual game itself.

I'd like to stick a disclaimer here: When coming up with a new system, you have to check it at every angle to make sure it works. While I am just one person, prone to blindspots, I'm fairly sure this is bombproof. Fairly sure.

My proposal is for a single, malleable Persona, one that befits the Fool Arcana's "wild card" status. The idea is you have the one Persona for the whole game but you're allowed to change its abilities, resistances and statistics to suit the circumstances on the fly in battle. For instance, instead of having one Physical-focused, one Ice-focused and one Buff-focused personae, you could have separate "builds" to switch between with the same Persona. You'd modify these builds before battles, either in the Velvet Room or at any point while exploring when not in direct combat, keeping in mind the properties of the bosses and typical enemies you're about to come up against. With this system, you'd have much greater freedom to create a Persona ideal to the situation you'll face. There will be limitations based on the dungeon you're on and the level you're at (e.g. no giving away Victory Cry on the first dungeon), but otherwise you'd have full mastery of the material available.

So where do the other Personae come in? The Compendium, Arcana and Social Links are such important aspects of the Persona game world that you couldn't really lose them. Well, you'd still obtain Persona in much the same way you did before: After random battles. Acquiring a new Persona for the Compendium grants any of the following bonuses to you and your static Persona:

1) A new ability. Abilities are meted out to you upon acquiring certain personae after battle. So a low-level ice-based persona like Apsaras might grant you the use of the entry-level Ice spell "Bufu". Abilities earned in this manner will need to be equipped to a build before you can use them. This way, the player doesn't receive the more high-level abilities until they have conquered the higher-level battles that grant them.
2) A stat boost. Your Persona gains a small amount of stats when leveling, much like they did in the previous games. However, to stay at a competitive level with the tougher enemies, they'll need larger boosts from time to time. These are also earned from certain personae found after battles. Stats like Speed, Luck and Endurance get individual increases, but Strength and Magic (the two stats that determine damage based on what attacks you use) get a shared pot which can be shifted from one pole to the other when editing the build - this is so a build that focuses on magic attacks can be given a stronger magic-attack stat, and vice versa for a physical-focused build.
3) Character bonuses. These go directly onto your character instead of the Persona, increasing health, mana and the three stats important for creating social links: Courage, Intellect and Charisma.
4) Cosmetic Items. In even rarer cases, you'll be given an item for display in the player character's room, such as a Jack Frost doll on a shelf somewhere. Though they'd have no practical applications, these items may well be sought after by completionists.
5) Money and XP bonuses. These are given for duplicate personae, if no new ones show up after a battle. As this may often be the case if you're on the latter floors of a dungeon or are specifically looking for a rarer persona, the frequent instances where no new Persona occur will at least have some small benefit.

Social Links, when increased, grant you various bonuses to how often Personae of that Arcana type appear. The highest type of that Arcana only appears if you've successfully completed that Social Link, much in the same way as it was in the past. If you have a certain predilection for physical attacks, say, it might convince you to follow the Emperor's Social Link for sooner access to its more physical-based Personae.

As well as changing your build's abilities and focus on physical or magical strength, you could also shift around its resistances. Occasionally, you'd be given a new resistance point from an acquired Persona but most of the time you'd have to shift around what you already had. This meant as well as increasing resistances to various elements, you could also drop your resistance to one element (becoming "Weak" to it) to buff up a more critical one.

Ultimately, you'd have the full customization options to create whatever builds you wished, including possible options to customize even the look of the Persona builds to help distinguish them. You'd have all the strategic variations for the difficult battles ahead with none of the endless fusion experiments and wasted cash and time. Plus, this system allows the developers to add a lot more Personae to read about in the Compendium, since they don't need to balance them and assign arbitrary stats for each - just a single bonus.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Difficulty Cont.

Continuing the theme from last update, I'll be going over which genres should and should not employ some sort of difficulty system. In the case of the latter, I'll suggest what alternatives they could use (if most of them don't already).


1. FPS/TPS - Essentially for reasons the blog (and elsewhere) has gone over already: Tactics vary at higher difficulties. Whereas you can charge through most areas on Normal like an action hero, higher difficulties will require more cautiousness, a deep understanding of the level you're on (regarding where enemies and items appear, which is why a previous Normal playthrough is beneficial) and some degree of stealth. In certain types of shooter, ammo conservation is also important for the harder modes, since bosses often require an awful lot of it.

2. Survival Horror - Like mentioned last post, Survival Horror uses a difficulty system to basically save people from having their spooky experience too bogged down with fighting and bosses. Ideally, a low difficulty setting will make the same number of enemies show up but make them far less aggressive, heightening the creepy tension by all the weird monsters stalking around without forcing you to destroy them all to progress. Of course, a good deal of survival horror requires that you don't fight the enemies anyway - Siren and Clock Tower are examples of this sort. Perhaps in those cases, where you're not expected to fight, the difficulty could be raised for additional challenge in getting past them.

3. Stealth - Similar to the above, a modern stealth game usually offers players two ways to progress: to make as much noise as possible and defeat the enemies standing between you and your objective, or to sneak past without a whisper. Ideally, there would be a slider bar of difficulty, with "Stealth" on one end and "Action" on the other. A Stealth-oriented game would increase the enemy force's deadliness (perhaps one-hit kills under almost any circumstance) and drop their attentiveness, making stealth a viable option. Inversely, setting the bar far along the Action side could make stealth very difficult but enemies far more accommodating to dying from gunshot wounds to the face.

4. SRPGs - This only applies to the "chain of story battles" SRPG, like Fire Emblem or Vandal Hearts, instead of the more open and less specific battles of the Nippon Ichi SRPGs like Disgaea. The best way to incorporate a higher difficulty setting in these games isn't (only) artificially raising the stats of enemy combatants, but to insert additional battles throughout the story that are far more difficult than those found in the normal setting. This can be done either as a post-game set of "challenge maps", that might provide backstory or a previously non-player character's viewpoint to some scenes earlier in the plot, or it could be on a completely new playthrough with the extra battles inserted as and when they occur in the story.


1. RPGs - The difficulty in these games are usually self-imposed: You could decide to fight the Ogre at a low level, or simply avoid him for now and come back later. This is a little more applicable in Western RPGs (which tend to be less linear) than JRPGs, though with the latter there is always the option for any player to attack the next boss along the story route as they are, or to spend a few minutes grinding in the current area. RPGs work because players go at their own pace, and fighting a boss under-leveled is much more rewarding for any expert player than to simply let the CPU boost the enemy's stats, as it is a self-imposed challenge. A decent alternate is the New Game+. In this instance, enemies are upgraded (or often not) and the player is allowed to keep some or all of their equipment, levels, cash or anything else they've earned on their first playthrough. This assists with achieving 100% on a game (especially one with branching paths that makes 100% impossible for a single playthrough) and the game can also unlock some difficult side-missions, dungeons and bosses for the second time through. Players are once again advised to go at their own pace.

2. Roguelikes - Roguelikes don't require a difficulty curve, because they're largely random. Of course, it wouldn't do to put the hardest monsters and best equipment on the early levels (unless there was a way of evading the first and enforcing a minimum level limit on the second) but in most situations, a Roguelike's difficulty is defined largely by luck.

3. RTS - This is a purely subjective standpoint (as opposed to the others, which are only mostly subjective) but I believe RTS games work best when they provide players with multiple factions to control. This is pretty much true of any modern RTS of course, but when relating these factions to the game's difficulty is where things might get mildly controversial. Ideally, each campaign has its own difficulty setting - this way, you have a difficulty curve to progress through and each faction's campaign is different enough to warrant a playthrough of each based on originality alone. There are a few problems with this: the "easy" campaign might move too slowly for experts (maybe shortening that campaign and making it more of a "tutorial" of sorts might fix that) or maybe that someone's personal favorite faction might also be the hardest, forcing them to learn the ropes with a group they didn't want to play as. Nonetheless, this is a good way of incorporating a difficulty mode of sorts without forcing the players to play through the same campaign multiple times with a slightly tougher opponent.

4. Platformers - Kind of obvious, this one. A platformer's difficulty is inherent in its level design - to increase the difficulty would be to rebuild the entire game world. The more shooter-based platformers (like Ratchet and Clank) are exceptions though, provided the difficulty is based on the shooting part.

5. Sandboxes - Really, this includes any large, non-linear game (most of which are now known as sandboxes). Generally, you have the story missions - which are of a casual difficulty - and as many harder, optional missions as you'd like to take on. Another reason why difficulty shouldn't apply to sandboxes are their size: After fully exploring some five square miles of real estate for hours of gameplay, why would you want to go through all of that again on a slightly harder setting? Better they follow inFamous' example and have the second playthrough be subtly different based on something like an opposing morality (though that game has a redundant difficulty setting too, if I recall).

6. Sim Games - I'm a proponent of variable difficulty for games like the Sims, or any game where you assume the role of some developer or creator. If you're doing well the game should create challenges for you, but if you're struggling they should hold off on dumping extra trouble on you and offer help instead. Any other type of simulation game (say, flying a plane) should only be as difficult as the real life activity you're simulating, since realism counts.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Updates? Trying Not To Be Quitty McQuitterson For A While

Back to making a concentrated effort on this Design blog, for no discernible reason. Good enough, right?

So today I'll talk about difficulty, since Yahtzee Croshaw brought it up on his Extra Punctuation blog thing - this won't be a recurring "rip-off that Yahtzee fellow" thing though, don't worry.

Difficulty is an odd thing for me when relating to games. As regular readers have probably figured out, I pretty much abhor anything that resembles work, including updating a blog more than once a year. So naturally, Easy would be the preferable setting. Yet a game without conflict has no purpose - with no challenge, there is no reason to keep playing. A narrative draws its power from conflict. At least, this is what I've been led to believe from any other media.

Because a video game derives its narrative conflict from the in-game story (i.e. a cutscene depicting a reversal of fortune or the irreversible death of a major character) rather than your own actions (i.e. dying for the twentieth time, because it will reset itself by returning to an earlier save anyway) the difficulty setting does not really provide that necessary narrative feature.

So what about fun? A game has to be somewhat challenging to maintain your interest - if you were to waltz through every stage without a scratch, the enjoyment would be minimal. Well, yes and no. In a lot of situations, that is indeed the case - an action game specifically needs to keep your interest by throwing catastrophe after catastrophe at you.

[ This is where we get the precarious balance of in-game and cutscene ("cinematic") set pieces, wherein a dangerous situation beyond simply "there are a dozen guys shooting at you" or "there is a boss" is presented to the player, and to resolve the situation requires a design choice: you can give the players the capacity to beat the situation with the usual controls (jump, shoot, what have you), go the half "cinematic" route with an annoying Simon Says Quick-Time-Event, or just go fully cinematic and solve it for them in a cutscene. Obviously, the first option would be preferable to the player, but it's difficult to pull off and still keep the whole experience tense and perilous. A good example would be the Uncharted games, where climbing a collapsing bridge or running from an explosion can be easily performed with the game's Tomb Raider-esque acrobatics. Talking of which, Tomb Raider Legend goes pretty much the QTE route, only the buttons you press correspond to in-game controls of Lara - e.g. if the scene requires you to shoot a rope support to lower a bridge you're rushing towards, the QTE will prompt you to press the button that normally corresponds to Lara's guns. So in a manner, the QTEs and in-game controls kind of merge to allow players to quickly react to these split-second decision dangerous scenarios. It's not perfect, of course, but I feel the reign of those annoying QTEs is coming to an end as games find ways of prompting a player's quick response without just flashing buttons at them. ]

It's not always true that a game needs to constantly challenge you to stay fun. A game like Animal Crossing thrives due to its complete lack of challenge. It also has no momentum, save the slow introduction of all the game features that are available. A player is free to create and meet their own targets, or to simply hang out in a danger-free environment. Games that focus on exploration and development, such as sandboxes and building sims, shouldn't require a difficulty curve. I dare say even some games like Oblivion or Fallout were more fun when enemies stayed a low level and just let you explore. It all depends on what elements of a game appeals to you the most.

Some games realize this, and provide difficulty options that reflect this insight. If a game is action-packed, there's no reason not to just stick with the usual "easy, medium, hard" options - once players are experienced enough, they can tackle the next category up. Other games enhance their longevity (something I talked about last time) by making the harder modes not only more challenging, but a substantially different experience. There's two ways in particular where this happens - A) What was a survivable melee is now an impossible-to-survive massacre, and thus requires a different approach (usually stealth, or simply aversion) and B) allowing the player to keep what he's earned in previous playthroughs, and provide even greater challenges to match this advantage (i.e. the "New Game+" trope).

But there are games that take this even further. Take, for instance, survival horror games. The main focus of these games are to frighten you, and thus are more dependent on telling a scary story (that you experience first-person) than the interactive elements that make them games instead of just movies. Subsequently, survival horrors can often focus on puzzles [puzzles are a great way to introduce story elements while giving the player something to do - e.g. figuring out the furniture in a dollhouse based on the haunted house you're in forces the player to learn more about the setting before they can solve the puzzle and continue] (like "The 7th Guest") or action (like "Resident Evil"). In most ("Silent Hill" being a good example), there's a smattering of both. Often, there are two difficulty scales - one for the action and one for the puzzles. A higher action difficulty makes the various monsters harder to kill and more dangerous to you, creating a more rewarding experience for those who want to fight the darkness, whereas a higher puzzle setting makes the puzzles more complex and harder to solve creating an overall more cerebral playthrough. Depending on what kind of game you'd prefer to play, you can choose to make one of those settings easy (pretty much removing that aspect of the game, almost) and the other difficult (to make that the focus). If you're indifferent to either mode, you can focus on one for one playthrough then switch focuses for the second creating two very different experiences. Or you can simply set both to highest and go full "hardcore".

So imagine if you could do that with, say, Sandbox games. A hypothetical GTA-esque Sandbox might have a mix of driving vehicles, shooting enemies and fighting enemies hand-to-hand - each category, though mostly using the same reaction-based gameplay, requires a different type of skill from the gamer. The game could feasibly just give you a relatively easy time with all three categories for the main story, with harder challenges for any of the three categories as optional asides (such as optional street races, gang takedowns or cage fighting tournaments respectively). Or the game could allow you to choose the difficulty of each categorically separately, once it has let you test-run all three modes. Not only will making one category "easy" make those segments of the game less difficult, but it will actually remove some of them and replace them with something else - perhaps a non-interactive cutscene, or a lengthier sequence involving either of the other two categories. If you decide you suck at fighting armed & unarmed both, you can just set the driving to "hard" and the others to "easy" and spend most of the game performing driving-based challenges.

In other examples of a dual-genre format, like the Metal Gear Solid series, you can decide if you hate stealth more than the usual action or vice versa and change the difficulty settings accordingly. Of course, in that sort of game either option would be equally viable, but occasionally one or the other is impossible to avoid. This was the case with the recent Alpha Protocol - forcing players into a combat with the game's final boss with little recourse from any non-combat approach that they had previously focused on.

Other examples, from one of my favorite genres:
Battle Complexity/Difficulty - Not only making monsters stronger, but increasing the complexity behind the strategy required to defeat them - such as a stronger emphasis on elemental classes or weapon types. A "Difficult" setting will be equivalent to a standard MegaTen battle - victory is only assured by being properly prepared. An "Easy" setting, however, might simply auto-fight the battles for you and tell you how you fared, allowing you to focus on something else.
Dungeon Complexity/Difficulty - If you prefer the fighting to the exploring, setting this to "Easy" will simply line up a series of random battles before a boss battle with between-battle prizes that basically consist of "gold", "health potion" and "mana potion", instead of creating a dungeon to explore. A "Difficult" setting will give you various dungeon puzzles to solve (usually involving keys, switches or pushing blocks), maze-like corridors and a more varied treasure haul that might require inventory micromanagement.
Story Complexity/Difficulty - If you're the impatient type who skips cutscenes, setting this to "Easy" will simply weed out any unnecessary character-building cutscene and leave you with the bare essential exposition needed to tell you where to go next. Of course, setting it to "Difficult" will just unleash every minor piece of chitchat between the characters for you to enjoy. Actually, this is more of a gag suggestion.

As games continue to "casualize" and find audiences from absolutely any walk of life, it'll grow more important that video games can be both challenging to the twitch-reaction hardcore crowd as well as approachable to the casuals alike, without dumbing it down so much that it becomes "Baby's First Video Game". The basic "Easy, Medium, Hard" system won't suffice forever.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A New Update Draws Near

So today, I'm going to discuss a game's Longevity.

Longevity is a tricky virtue to apply to video games. Obviously, to sell your game, you will need to advertise some sort of 'replayability' factor: No-one will shell out full price for a game that can be completed in a week and have no further surprises in store. Some, but not all, video game reviewers will feature a "Longevity" score alongside their usual "Gameplay" and "Graphics" to emphasize the importance of this feature.

But longevity has its dark side. Because of its aforementioned importance, the developers will need to implement some manner of expanding their game's total playtime so it can be advertised gleefully on the back cover's blurb about containing "X number of hours of gameplay". Briefly (lol), I'll go over just some of the methods this expansion can be achieved, and discuss the relative merits of each.

1) Unlockable Difficulty Modes

Simple enough: Allowing players to unlock a harder version of the game AFTER the fact is simply stating "we weren't sure you were ready for this mode, but after completing the game, we're now fairly sure you are. I mean, unless you're chicken..." Provided the harder mode has, in fact, something to offer the player besides a frustrating time, it can be both the easiest and most effective way to give players a reason to play the entire game over.

2) Collectibles

This feature can be hit-or-miss. If there's a point to the collectibles (they might unlock bonus features like concept art, or power up the player's character in some way) then they can be a worthwhile pursuit during a quiet moment of any RPG or Sandbox game (where this feature is most common). Generally speaking, though, most people will prefer to use a guide to find these little MacGuffins rather than waste hours searching every nook and cranny themselves - or simply abandon the search all together. In this situation, it becomes a case of artificial longevity, and is of no use to anyone. The best instances of this feature usually give the players some way of finding them beyond checking everywhere - usually an item acquired late in the game that points them out on the map.

3) The Almighty 100%

Somewhat nefariously for those obsessive completists, a game will include an overall progress score somewhere in the game's interface. While a nice gesture from the developers to tell the player how close they are to seeing everything in the game, it's not always crystal clear what constitutes the grand total. It can mean different things for different games: Map Completion (Castlevania), Bestiary Completion (many recent JRPGs), Item Completion (JRPGs again), and Achievement Completion (any recent PS3/360 game). Sometimes it means leveling up a character or skill to its maximum: often a truly immense amount of time. Worst of all, there may be a few percentiles that were missed and will require an additional playthrough to chase down. And really, the only people who will dedicate themselves to this percentage are the die-hard completists - a regular player will probably not bother (or at least be sated with a lower number).

4) Mirror Worlds!

Oh fuck off.

5) Branching Paths

RPGs and Bioware in particular love this one. The usual format is to have a "good" and "evil" path, and strongly telegraph any choices a player must make that could fall into either one. Handled appropriately, the major decisions between good and evil usually boil down to a simple moral dilemma - though often, it's hard to tell which was the "right" option. Handled inappropriately, your character will often have the choice to give away large quantities of his money to a random hapless NPC, or tear their arms off, with scant middle ground. Unless the main character is a noted schizophrenic, this rarely comes off looking anything like a normal decision-making process and is therefore painfully obviously linked to the branching paths feature.

Sometimes the branching paths will simply be due to a random choice the player makes without them knowing the consequences of their decision, or indeed the significance of the decision when they made it. Mass Effect deserves special mention for having decisions made in the one game only come to fruition in the sequel (and presumably in the second sequel as well): It may well lead to a player having to play through the first two games to unlock a special mission or plotline in the third.

** Bonus Longevity Feature - Achievements **

Some lip service must be paid to this recent phenomenon - perhaps possibly the best recent example of a game-extending feature. Achievements are earned through various tasks, programmed into the game to recognize a milestone and given to the player to do whatever it is they like to do with their achievements. Gaze at them longingly? I don't know.

Generally speaking, they fall into five categories:
Progression - Kind of missing the point, since that's ostensibly what the person who bought the game intended to do with it - play it through to its end (or before then if they get too bored with it). Generally speaking, anyone who cares about achievements is someone who intends to play a game through to its completion.
Discovery - These are achievements, given sometimes effortlessly, that prod the player into trying something new. It can range from a special new move the player learns during the course of the game to a different type of game mode to any number of side- and sub-quests. The goal is, as stated, to raise awareness of everything the game has to offer and is therefore one of the better uses of the achievements system. It's usually the most common after the Progression type.
Collectibles - See "Collectibles" above. Usually a pain and often dealt with quickly with the help of an online guide, though some people love the scavenger hunt aspect of it all.
Black Holes - The worst type of achievement, these are rewarded for completing some huge target number of singular tasks. Most infamous would be Gears of War's 10000 online kills. Many games will feature a "Do X Y number of times" for no other reason than to keep the player playing for the length of time it requires. The Black Hole of the title simply refers to where all your time goes while completing these cynical attempts to pad out a game's longevity.
Whimsical - In my opinion the best kind of achievement, these are awarded for bizarre (and sometimes quite tricky) tasks. A prime example is escorting the gnome in Half-Life 2 Episode 2 to the rocket towards the end, or Borderlands' The Lonely Island shout-out "You're On A Boat!". They're usually very rare in Achievement sets and are often enigmatically hinted to in their descriptions instead of plainly explained.

Indistinct from the above, and falling into any of the five categories, are the Online-Only achievements and Secret achievements, both generally hated by most. Not all players have access to online content (or simply don't enjoy the anonymous hostility of online gaming) and Secret achievements usually have no point to their secrecy (with the one exception being to hide spoilers).

I may well come back to this article and add any other design feature intended to increase a game's longevity if I find any more. So you may have to come back from time to time to get the full caboodle.

(Heh, see what I did there?)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


After I started using Twitter I remembered how much I enjoyed having opinions on the internet that no-one will read. However the 160 character limit (you only have 140 you say? Oh. Well, keep at it and they'll make you "Elite" too) isn't always sufficient for my verbose ranting. Any casual reader to this blog (I just made myself chortle) knows I use fifteen squillion words when one (or any real number) would suffice.

So instead of trying to come up with content every week like some moron with motivation and dedication, I'll just occasionally update with whatever pops into my head.

Just to verify, for those wanting the full Mento internet experience:
My Twitter ( ) will be used for updates on what I'm playing and my opinions thereof, therefrom and wherefore. In that order.
My Backlog ( ) is what I own and will intend to play in the future (pretty unimportant, unless you want to read some random internet stranger's playlist and recommend something. Why would you do that? You're weird.)
(I Love) My Dead Gay Blog ( this one ) which I will be about anything else. Nagging mostly.

I will christen/baptise/"anoint with unguents to appease Baphomet" this resurrected blog with a Game Design Observation. What a thrill ride. This is. This blog. Read on already I'm dying up here.

~~ Game Design Observation of the Week ~~

I lately tried the freeware game The Untitled Story (try it here: ) and, while a very decent effort from a single dude using Gamemaker software, there were a few design choices I took issue with. Please note that these design decisions aren't exclusive to this fine (and free!) game and that I'm not picking on it because I'm a resentful hack. *Cough*. These could all be tropes already, in fact, on that TV Tropes site that I waste too much of my time on (though I haven't spotted them as of yet) due to how common they are. What design choices am I talking about? And why do I dislike them? Let's make a list, those are always received well by internet article places:

This Week - Money Glitch or Money Farm Conundrum.

A common instance in any RPG as well as Action/Adventure variants like Zeldas and Metroidvanias (especially the latter genre, where money and numbers in general aren't as relevant) is the appearance of a store where several useful items often necessary to the adventure can be purchased. As the Designer, you have to anticipate that the player will want these items as soon as they're available.

Common convention dictates that you should simply provide your player with sufficient funds to purchase everything available. You could do this by making the usual drops (from enemies or barrels or wherever else you think video game NPCs are likely to hide money in, like toilets or loved ones) plentiful enough to easily buy everything, making the whole money/shop element largely redundant. Or you could simply make the game's currency finite and a secondary collection subquest (such as the Red Jewels in Illusion of Gaia). Finally you could just withhold items until later in the game when it's more likely the player can afford them and are less able to break the game with them. This requires additional scripting flags and some consideration towards balance, so that's extra work the designer isn't interested in. Which leads us, inexorably, to the case below.

Unconventional wisdom dictates that you should present all the game's inventory in one spot and then make some of the items ridiculously expensive in the hopes it chases the gamer away until later on in the game when they have the funds. It will not. Today's crowd are a very anti-authoritative bunch, and if you tell them they're not ready to buy this item they will defy you even if it irritates the heck out of them. But not as much as missing out on something in the present would irritate them. The path of lesser irritation, if you will. So we come to the Money Glitch vs Money Farm decision.

You have anticipated that your players won't take no for an answer, so you can present them two options: Go fish, or a subtle hidden option that allows them to "break" the game's bank with a glitch. The "Go Fish" option is a fine decision if incurring the resentment of everyone who plays the game is your objective, but on the strange off-chance that it isn't, let's consider the glitch option instead. The best place to hide a money glitch is in some kind of nearby gambling mini-game that can be exploited with a little forethought. Don't make it too easy - you want the players to earn this money one way or another, so why not present a challenge that will make them feel superior over the game - even though their "cheating" has only really saved them some farming time. My Case Study example (see above) chooses not to do this - it will provide a gambling mini-game but that game will automatically deduct funds and save the game before you can reload. Forcibly quitting the game to get around this unwanted save will cause the game to kick your PC's RAM in the balls and run off. It very much wants you to earn vast amounts of currency the hard way.

With the Glitch option, the resulting "player confidence boost" costs you nothing as the designer, but it heightens the enjoyment of the player considerably. And if you believe that giving the players that much power will disturb the almighty "balance", just sic something horrible on them as the next boss. This is a battle of the egos after all, my friend.

As an end note, TVTropes does have something about measures a game may take to prevent players from having to endlessly farm gold or items or what have you, charmingly called "Anti-Poop Socking". The idea being that a player will remain fixed to his (I would make this pronoun gender neutral but I honestly don't believe it applies in this case) screen as they farm for hours, necessitating the need to poop in one's own sock rather than take a bathroom break. Ah, to proudly bear the mantle of "Gamer".