The New and Exciting World of Exchange Shops!
I’m Anna Murchison, one of the Technical Content Designers in the content department at Flying Lab. I like to think of myself as the department’s Swiss Army knife—one day I might be working on upcoming mission content, and the next I’ll be working on hooking up animations to NPCs in towns. One of my bigger tasks this milestone was implementing a new interface for those times when you want to trade in one or more items in exchange for one or more other items. It’s called the “Exchange Shop.”
The Exchange Shop is a new and simpler way to handle those ever-popular turn-in missions. Turning in Pennants or Marks of Victory used to involve looking through many different missions and keeping track of what mission offered which kind of reward. For example, you might have five Commendations for Courage, but the only way to find out what you might get in exchange for those commendations entailed accepting a mission, which could cause problems if your mission list was full and was a little laborious—a “shopping” experience that was certainly less than ideal. But with the new Exchange Shops, finding items that you really want will be more transparent, and much less of a chore.
Instead of a list of missions that offer categories of rewards, we’ve moved to an interface that looks very similar to the shops we already have in-game. Each row in this shop interface is an exchange. On the left hand side, you have a column showing the specific items—and the quantity of those items—you’ll need to make the exchange. On the right-hand side are the items and quantities of each that you get for this particular trade. Some exchanges have other requirements—you might need to be a certain level to even be eligible to complete a certain trade. And when you’re looking for a specific item, you can use the pull-down menus on either the left or right side to restrict what items you’re viewing at that time, just like the Auction House. This makes it much easier to only look at exchanges for Gold Seals at the Exchequer (for example) instead of the full list of all Pennant exchanges. And to find the specific type of exchange you can make before you even enter the shop interface, you only need to look at the name: A “Commendations Exchange” is the place to hand in commendations, for example.
The first place you’ll probably notice the new Exchange Shops are on the Prize Agents that reside in the Admiralty Office (or Crime Lord’s Office) in the four capitals: Port Royal (Britain), Pointe-a-Pitre (France), San Juan (Spain), and Tortuga (Brethren of the Coast). Instead of a list of missions that offer different rewards, all of the rewards are consolidated into one big laundry list of cool things you can buy. The cost is up-front and easy to see, and there are no dialog boxes to click through just to see your potential reward item. Just select and exchange! Mind you, certain items are still only available to certain careers—Freetraders will see some different items on the list than Naval Officers, and vice versa. Sometimes you may not be eligible to buy an item yet because of your level, but these will still show up in the list of all the available rewards so you can plan ahead for what you want to get in a few levels (instead of asking around to learn what you’ll get when you hit a certain level).
Another case where we’re moving from turn-in missions to the Exchange Shop model is European Traders. These NPCs can be found wherever there is a Regional Auction House—specifically the four capitals as well as Oranjestad, Barilla, Pensacola, and Rosignol. These Exchanges work a little differently than those attached to Prize Agents. If you’ve ever fallen into disfavor with a big trade company (perhaps by capturing one too many Spanish Treasure Fleets) you know that certain people will stop offering you missions. In the European Trader’s case, he will give you worse deals. Conversely, when the trade companies like you, the European Traders give you a much better deal. This reward-and-punishment system is still in place for the European Traders, except that now the Exchange Shop automatically updates the cost of trades.
Ultimately, we wanted to make the act of exchanging tokens, goods, and other items that aren’t doubloons into a much more transparent and easy to use system. Unifying the list of exchange items is one of the first steps for us in making more of these systems easier to use and understand, and we hope you find them a big improvement.