The root of all evil, the wealth of the nations: money is sometimes needed in civilized areas.
There are three main ways to represent money in a game:
- Exact bills and coins. Each bill and coin is a distinct object in the game and can be used individually.
- Exact lump sum. You have a single object representing your money, and looking at it tells you how much, e.g. $15.26. But you don't know or care how much of it is in paper money or in coinage or what denominations. In some games, you don't have an in-game money object but just a line of credit; the $15.26 is just a global value in the status bar or displayed by a special command like "WEALTH".
- Vague lump sum. You have a single object representing your money, and you're never told exactly how much it is. Maybe it's a credit card or roll of bills that has enough money in it for all your normal needs. Or your cash description could be variable, but not precise. E.g.: "You have [plenty of|a modest amount of|a small amount of|very little] cash in your wallet. Enough for [a really nice gift for your parents|a dinner and a movie|some fast food|bus fare]."
- EXAMINE MONEY
- BUY <object> (FROM <npc>)
- SELL <object> (TO <npc>)
- ASK <npc> FOR <object>
- <npc>, GIVE <object> TO ME
- <npc>, GIVE ME <object>
- GIVE MONEY TO <npc>
- COUNT MONEY
- FLIP COIN or TOSS COIN
- WEALTH or MONEY
- Bank. The two obvious (legitimate) ways to get money from a bank in a game are from either a teller or an automated teller machine (ATM). Normally you'd withdraw money from your own account, but sometimes the money is in someone else's account. The third way is through compound interest; time travel will help with that.
- Teller. The teller will probably want to see some ID first; give it or show it. If you have a cheque or bill of credit, hand that over. If you need to fill out a withdrawal slip, it'll be there, or the teller will give you one, but I suggest bringing your own pen. If the teller wants to give you a free toaster or flashlight, take it.
- Bank Machine. You will just need a bank card and need to know its PIN; that is, its code number. Futuristic bank machines may not be so trusting; see impersonation.
- Compound Interest. Travel back in time and deposit some money. Make your withdrawal in the future. Easy, no?
- Finders Keepers. You might just find the money. Of course, money could be anywhere—I once found a nickel in a wastebasket—but some places are more likely than others:
- Searching the Sofa. The sofa is the classic place to find lost coins. If "search sofa" doesn't help, try "look under cushions". Also try searching the sofa more than once; it might be hiding a lot more than you think.
- Coin Return Slot. Always push the coin return button on a public telephone or vending machine. Look in the coin return slot. If there's a quarter in there, it's yours! Take it! Stubborn machines might need to be hit or kicked to give up their coin.
- Under the Sewer Grate. Oh look. There's a coin or bill fallen underneath the sewer grate and out of reach! You might be able to open the grate with a crowbar, but more likely, you'll need a long thin pole and some chewing gum. Chew the gum to make it sticky. Put the sticky gum on the end of the pole. Take the money with the pole. (The gum on pole trick might also work on coins on the bottom of a deep river.) See also out of reach objects.
- Fountains. A public fountain might have coins in it, and maybe you can take them without anyone raising a fuss about it. It's worth a try, isn't it?
- Glint. No adventurer ignores a glint. A glint in the sand or a glint in the bushes means there's something shiny to take. Maybe it's a key, a needle, a fishhook, ... or maybe it's a coin. Examine the glint, dig in the sand, or search the bushes and find out what it is.
- Crack in the Pavement. Examine any suspicious ground or floor. It's easy to miss seeing a crack in the pavement (or sidewalk or floorboards) in the first place, and there might be a coin hidden inside the crack. If you can't take the coin with your fingers, you might need to take it using tweezers or a magnet.
- On the street. There's no trick in picking up money on the street, but if it wasn't there on your first visit to the location, you might be fooled into thinking the location isn't worth visiting again.
- Gambling. Gambling is a big topic by itself, and in real life, it's only a money maker for the house since the odds favor it. In an IF game, however, either the gambling favors you because you're the hero, or game will allow you to cheat somehow. Cheating can take many forms. For example, with a slots machine: (1) have a good luck charm, like a four-leaf clover, (2) put a magnet on or under the machine, (3) open the machine, and fiddle with its settings, (4) get an accomplice to enter the machine, (5) find and use a secret panel in a nearby room that controls the machine, (6) knock out a too tall support pillar from underneath the casino so it isn't 'crooked' any more, (7) use SAVE and RESTORE or UNDO until you get a favorable result.
- Job. Sometimes you're just not going to find money. You have to earn it. Typical jobs:
- Assembly Line Worker. You might be able to apply for a job in a fast-food restaurant and make hamburgers for a few turns, or work in a factory and put together several widgets. This is most likely to be implemented as an arcade sequence and not as text. Do a good job and get paid.
- Street Performer. Find a likely public place like a park or street corner where another street performer is working. What works for him or her might work for you. Try singing, playing an instrument, or juggling. Just walking around in a clown costume at an amusement park might work. If your performance is any good, some random spectator will give you some money. You probably don't need to put out a hat or an open guitar case for the money.
- Photocopier. This probably wouldn't work in real life, but if there's a photocopier in the game, copy a bill. Use scissors to cut the copy into a counterfeit bill. Most NPCs will spot a fake, so be careful. Try giving the phony bill to a machine, an NPC with poor eyesight, or an NPC who isn't paying much attention to you.
- Stamping Machine. Some stamping machines press ore into coins. For example, put a gold nugget into the depression in the bottom plate, then pull the lever: you'll get a gold coin.
- Money Changer. If you have a bill, but need coins, you might be able to find a machine to make the exchange. Money changers might be found near vending machines, in bus terminals, or in laundromats.
- Piggy Bank. Sometimes piggy banks refuse to open. You might need to hit it with a hammer, brick, or other heavy blunt object. Or throw it. Or drop it from a great height. Good luck.
- Selling. Some shopkeepers, merchants, or other NPCs will offer money in exchange for certain goods. Maybe they'll only buy pearls, or just photos of naked women. Or maybe they'll buy almost anything in your inventory. The hard part is finding a buyer. Sell what you don't want, and use the money for what you do want.
- Theft. It's not very heroic to steal, but maybe you have no choice. To be a successful thief, you'll want to disable any alarms and traps. Alarm noises might be masked with even louder noises. Your victim and his/her guards should preferably be asleep, tied up, on a wild goose chase, or otherwise unable or unlikely to interfere.
- Buying. Most money is used to buy goods and services. Maybe you'll need to buy lunch so you don't go hungry. Maybe you'll need to buy a flute charm a snake, or buy shark repellent to protect you in an underwater section of the game. Maybe you'll need to buy a plane ticket to get to another city. There are many possibilities. Some games include a way to haggle with an NPC; this is to let you buy something at a lower price. (Some stores don't use money; see pawn shops.)
Some typical syntaxes:
- >BUY FLUTE FROM SHOPKEEPER
- >ASK SHOPKEEPER FOR FLUTE
- >SHOPKEEPER, GIVE ME THE FLUTE
- >GIVE MONEY TO SHOPKEEPER. TAKE FLUTE.
- Ferryman. According to legend, Charon is the ferryman for the River Styx in the land of the dead. The price of passage into Hell or Hades will always be two coins, usually pennies, one for each eye. Charon will not let you board his board his boat until you give him two coins. Some games don't bother to explain this custom and assume the player knows the legend; other games might have a sign nearby. Since Charon never speaks, he just holds out a skeletal hand for the coins. If the game doesn't understand the syntax "GIVE TWO COINS TO FERRYMAN", try giving just one coin at a time. Passage is almost certainly one-way; you'll very likely need to find some other way to return to the land of the living.
- Coin as Tool. Some games don't care that the coin has a money value; they only care that it's a small metal disk.
- Coin as Screwdriver. Many games let you unscrew a screw with a coin, and you'd be surprised how many of those screws are fastened to vent covers that hide ventilation tunnels large enough for you to crawl into.
- Coin as Fuse. In real life, it's a big no-no to replace a burnt fuse with a penny, but you might get away with it in a game.
- Coin as Battery Element. In Science 101, we learned that you can make a weak battery with a stack of disks of alternating metals in a acidic or salt solution. If you come across such a setup, maybe all you have to do is put another coin on the stack to get it to work.
- Coin on Thread. If you come across a coin with a small hole punched in it, there's an excellent chance that this puzzle is in the game. Find a long hair or thread and tie it to the coin (through the hole). Find a machine that requires twice the amount of money that the coin represents. Put coin in slot; pull thread; put coin in slot. Of course, the thread will break, but you'll be able to use the machine at half the price.
- Strippers. Some strippers may be more friendly with the gift of a bill inserted into their g-string or garter. Don't try this with a coin, though.
- Treasure. If you have found a bag of gold doubloons, a collection of rare coins, a $100,000 bill, or any other item of money that's a lot more than what a typical person might have, then you've found a treasure and not something to use at the tollbooth or the general store. You probably have to put the treasure item in some special receptacle to get full points for it.
- Vending Machine. This is usually straightforward: just insert the coin in the slot, push the button that corresponds to the item you want, and the item falls into the lower receptacle where you can take it. Drink machines might be out of cups, though.
- Wishing Well. Any well described explicitly as a "wishing well" is possibly exactly that. Put (or throw) a coin into the well. A simple wishing well will gift you with something instantly. A trickier one may require that you "wish for <object>", and you need to be a good guesser what to wish for or it won't work. It's rarely a good idea to reclaim your coin from the well; that's just asking for trouble.