Black Desert Online – Interstate Commerce

Black Desert Online – Interstate Commerce

I don’t “do” guides, as I’ve said before (repeatedly, sometimes in bold, all caps). Except when I absolutely must, like with Black Desert Online, because in this case I have to admit defeat: this game kicked my ass in the sheer amount of “things” it has to teach. With MMOs, combat is more or less self-explanatory and as per my previous post, the first thing BDO teaches you is how to beat up forest critters for profit.

What I really needed, and what I am really interested in, re: BDO, is the crafting and trading system. Why? Well, we need to look back a wee bit to a little known MMO called Star Wars: Galaxies. One thing you didn’t get to see in any of the Star Wars movies (although which the prequels came close to offering what with their “trade union” crap) was exactly how people made a living in their hives of scum and villany. SWG helped fill that gap by allowing you to more or less play the entire game from the merchant perspectiv. My brother and I chose this avenue because of reasons I either can’t remember or don’t want to remember. But I do remember how it was done. You had to survey the landscape for materials of certain types, certain quantites, and certain qualities. You would put down a harvester, fuel it up, and check on it to empty it or refuel it. The materials you pulled out would be used with blueprints to make components of larger objects — weapons, armor, vehicles. You could experiment with those blueprints to coax out some additional stats, or risk blowing it all to hell. You’d produce items and could then sell them from your very own house. We spent literally all of our time with this system because it was a complete system. It wasn’t a half-baked harvesting from occasional, re-spawning nodes or pushbutton assembly that passes for “crafting” in most MMOs. It was uphill both ways, twice on Sunday and in the driving snow. That kind of thing.

That MMOs have been stale in their feature set is an understatement, and as much as I am loathe to admit it, it’s a Korean MMO that’s made me care about looking forward to them again, and it’s because in BDO I can become a Teamster and force NPCs to work for peanuts while I reap the benefits of their labor. Capitalism, ho!

The first thing you need to know about the — well, it’s a whole universe of parts, but I’m going to call it the “commerce system”, so — commerce system is that you need to invest in nodes. What’s a node, and what do you invest in said node?

Getting to Node You

A node is represented on the map with an icon that signifies it as either an adventure or resource node. Adventure nodes are usually towns or other centers of civilization. Resource nodes are areas which provide harvestable resources like potatoes or wheat or iron. Although the map pinpoints a node to a very specific location, the actual node benefit extends well beyond the pin. Think of that pin as being the “center” of the node, and remember that the node actually includes the area surrounding the pin.

Nodes are connected like a really large, really boring game of leapfrog. One node doesn’t connect to all other nodes; it only connects to a few other nearby nodes. And those nodes connect to other nearby nodes, and so it goes, forming a continuous chain across the map.

When you start, you have no access to any nodes because in order to take advantage of a node, you need to invest in it.

Investment Strategies

Each center of civilization has a lot of things for you to do. It’s an MMO after all, so there’s NPCs who need trivial tasks taken care of by someone else so they can spend their day standing on the street corner impersonating a lamp post. Doing things for NPCs, talking to NPCs, and TCB in the town limits nets you contribution points. These are some of the most valuable currency in the game, only it’s not currency, and the points are not transferrable between towns. Soak in that for a second: contribution points are not transferrable between towns. What you earn in one town is only usable in that town or it’s surroundings.

Contribution points allow you to buy housing or rent items from NPCs, but unlike currency, you don’t spend the points, you invest them. That means that should you decide you no longer want to invest in an apartment or in a pair of shoes (yes, you can rent shoes, like bowling shoes only…not bowling shoes), you just cancel the investment and get the points back.  You do have a limit to the number of points you can carry in town  at one time, but you increase that by doing things around town for those lazy citizens.

Opening For Business

In order to open a node, you need to invest contribution points in that node. You do this by tracking down the node manager. This helpful NPC is usually hanging around the node, and has a button in their conversation window that says “Check Node”. Clicking on this allows you to spend your contribution points on that node using the UI in the upper left corner of the map window that opens. The more points you spend, the better the return.

There’s three reasons why you want to invest in a node. The first is because nodes are sequential, and you’ll need to unlock previous nodes before you unlock future nodes connected to that previous node. You can’t just open nodes willy-nilly. That’s absurd. The second is because investing in a node increases drop rates in the area. If a node goes supernova with investment, then the drops will be awesome. The third reason is because if you want to Do Commerce with NPC workers, you’re going to need to have somewhere to send them, and workers only work between nodes.

Unionizing

NPC workers take a lot of the drudgery out of single-person harvesting and production. You can still do these things on your own if you like, but if you want the money and XP that comes with being a production powerhouse, you’re going to need to hire minions to do the harvesting, trading, and production.

In order to hire an NPC, you need three things: a place for NPCs to live, the NPC manager location, and open trade nodes. Additionally, if you want the NPCs to produce, you’ll need a production facility, but we won’t be talking about that here because I haven’t done that yet and would be talking out of my ass more than I already am.

The first step is to acquire a room for your workers to live in. It needs to be in the town you want to hire them from, and like all housing, you need to have the required amount of contribution points. You’ll want to select the purpose as Lodging (not storage or residence or production) because SURPRISE! You’re electing to become a slum lord.

The NPC manager is how you hire NPCs. Looking through this person’s Rolodex (is that showing my age?) costs Energy, so for each worker you examine, you’re going to have to pay. Staffing services IRL wish they had that kind of clout. There’s a lot of different considerations for which workers to keep an eye out for (work speed, movement speed, luck, stamina, etc) which we won’t cover here. But it’s important! It’ll also cost silver to hire someone on top of additional energy. The silver cost goes up based on the quality.

Got your lodging? Got your minion? Now open the map and select a node you’ve invested in. You can either pick a production node (for harvesting) or an adventure node (for transport). If you want an NPC to harvest on your behalf then you select the resource at the node of interest, and then select an NPC from the window that will pop up. Away they go to their new life of back-breaking labor!

Unlike AFK activities such as fishing, you can’t wander off and expect your NPCs to know what to do without your steady hand to guide them. They’ll finish off their current task, and will then slink off their lodging to play video games and watch Internet porn. Capitalism, ho!

Care and Feeding Of Your Workforce

You’re not (totally) heartless! You’ll need to provide food for your workers because as they work and move about, their stamina will deplete. Eating is how you can keep your workforce in tip-top shape, so you’ll either need to buy food for them or make food for them. This requires — you guessed it! — materials either bought or harvested, but also requires production facilities. Production facilities are a separate house rental (requiring more contribution points invested) as well as the purchase of cooking materials. Although your NPCs could be set up to take the goods they harvest from the warehouse and produce their own food, that closed loop wouldn’t help anyone (you don’t get to be the 1% by helping people help themselves, you know).

To feed your workforce, they have to be idle due to a lack of stamina, or you have to cancel their job cycle and wait for them to complete their current run. Once you have food for them, click RECOVER in the NPC UI, and they’ll get down to the pub to wind down.

Workers are no good if they keep producing at the same rate, so as your workers continue to slog through their average 14 hours work days, they’ll be earning interest that can be applied to a promotion! Promoting a valid candidate takes 24 hours and the timer continues to tick when you’re offline, so don’t think you have to hang out while they take those standardized tests! Go enjoy your newfound wealth while they’re sweating through their exams!

Depth Charge

Now you’re armed with knowledge (not Knowledge, which you need for BDO‘s conversation system), you can go forth and earn The Big Bucks!

This is just a skim of the commerce system, and was compressed from several guides I’d been reading in an attempt to understand the node system. It’s by no means comprehensive and probably isn’t providing enough information for you to use as a step-by-step blueprint, but I tried to cover some of the more scattered bits of information that stymied me during CBT2.

That this just scratches the surface of one part of one system shows how deep BDO can be. Although a lot of folks are no doubt turned off by the mention of “oPvP”, or that it’s an Eastern MMO that conjures images of…well, Eastern MMO tropes, I’m finding that there’s a whole lot of things to do that aren’t just running from PKers and complaining about gender locked classes.

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