Making it "harder" doesn't fix anything. In games like these, players will figure out a way to do anything that's technically possible. Adding some artificial layer of difficulty to things like stealing just creates a situation like the one in BG2, where new players are tricked into thinking they can steal from shops because the button is there, then they wonder why it fails 100% of the time, while experienced players know that it simply requires 250 in pickpocket to effortlessly plunder everything that can be stolen. It's not suitable game design for 2020. In a single-player game with savescumming, making something "harder" fixes nothing whatsoever. Might as well have a thing that goes "if you can solve this math equation, you do double damage from now on."
Why does economy matter in a single player game? Because RPGs survive in the long term via people discussing the game, strategizing, discussing the merits of this and that approach, reading and writing guides. That requires a relative uniformity across gameplay experiences. Otherwise you get discussions like this:
"Why is class X so bad?"
"It's not bad, you're bad, all you need is item 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5."
"But those cost a combined 6 million gold and I made 1.5 mil in my entire playthrough."
"What, you didn't steal everything from every merchant?"
"No, was I supposed to do that?"
"Well, that class only works if you do that. If you don't like doing that, restart with a different class."
"Why is this game so easy?!"
"It's not easy, I'm having a super hard time!"
"No, the game is definitely too easy, this is a joke. I soloed it without armor on."
"Did you use hacks or something?"
"No, all I did was steal everything and make 500% more gold than the developers intended."
"Well, then how can you say the game is too easy?"
"Because the game let me do it without telling me it was wrong."
It's really important for games like these that players can discuss them from the same general premise. People are more than free to play the way they want, but the fundamental balance is necessary even in a single player game, otherwise it becomes impossible to share ideas and guides and experiences. If the game is only balanced when you deliberately choose not to do something that your party would benefit from doing, that's flawed design. For the same reason that there isn't a button at character creation that says "click to start with 20 in all stats," there shouldn't be some trick that lets you undermine the game's intended economy. That should be something you need to deliberately cheat to do, not something you have to opt out of in order to avoid.
When an unmodded, unhacked game offers options that, when taken, ruin the game's intended balance, the design is wrong. Making it more difficult to carry out does not fix anything, it simply makes the game more annoying to play. Players will break the balance with cheats if they want to. Don't make it something they have to choose not to do. Make it something they have to choose to do. To many players, one of the most interesting aspects of RPGs is figuring out how to optimize and make your party as strong as possible within the rules of the game. That means those rules have to be reasonable. Don't make it trickier to break the game's economy, make it something that simply isn't part of the normal gameplay experience at all.
Last edited by Clawfoot; 04/11/20 07:15 AM.