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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:45 pm 
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The real reasons for ditching the current economic model are 1) it's broken, and 2) it's not fixable. Basically, it's a miracle of programming for a 32K game, but that's as far as it goes: with all the ship and equipment prices based around it, and around the assumption that you're in a Cobra III, "fixing" it would involve rebuilding from scratch.

...

Computers from low-tech planet A, next door, earn the same as Computers from high-tech planet B, from way over there. It's part of the ultra-basic trading system. As I said, it's a miracle of programming for its age, but …
First, it is fairly easy to fix, using the existing lore of the game. As demonstrated earlier in this thread.

The game already adjusts prices, but based on only the economy type. Changing this to different factors for each commodity is a bit of work, but entirely in keeping with the original method. Let us start with the most obvious. Luxuries.

Currently they are traded from rich industrial worlds to poor agricultural. This makes zero sense. These should depend much on the wealth of the planet, not its agriculture/industry type. Rich planets should pay well for luxuries. Poor planets would not pay well, but also not have them for sale, so they are not a source of luxuries. You might have rich industrial planets trading luxuries to rich agricultural, but why would a rich agricultural world be mostly devoid of any luxuries a rich industrial might lack?

A better way is to have low prices at rich, HIGH TECH worlds of both economy types, with plenty to sell, and have high prices at rich, LOW TECH worlds that want to buy them.

Or what about Minerals. the manual states that they are produced in agricultural type worlds. Lower tech industrial worlds would have a good price to be worth sell them to, while higher tech worlds would not. Lower tech industrial use the minerals to produce alloys perhaps, so have Alloys be cheaper and plentiful at low tech industrial, and to be in demand at middle tech industrial.

Mid tech industrial produces shall we say... machinery. Which you want to sell to the richer agricultural worlds.
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Computers from low-tech planet A, next door, earn the same as Computers from high-tech planet B
Is false. The superior quality of computers from planet B are represented in the lower BUY price from planet B, not any higher sell price where you offload them too.

So, who buys computers? Well the best price would likely be in richer, lower tech worlds.

If you do this for all the commodities, spreading the best purchase and sale types around to give an even spread of planets you want to trade with, you now have a system where instead of just 2 types of planet you jump back and forth between, and 1 best commodity to trade every time, you have a couple different viable options to buy or sell goods at every system.

If you do it right, you stop any 2 systems being perfect matches for trade between each other, encouraging the player to search for their own more complex production chains between systems, such as:

Minerals from an agri world.
Sell those at a poor industrial, buy alloys.
Sell alloys at a mid tech industrial, buy machining.
Sell machining at a rich agricultural, it is high tech, so buy luxuries.
Sell luxuries at a lower tech rich industrial, hmm what do I buy? well its not that safe a place, so maybe those firearms look inexpensive...

Do you see how this can work? :)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:08 am 
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Link to another thread (from before 1.82 was released) that has some interesting discussions about an 8-commodity cycle, rather than the current 2 (ie. computers/furs). Starting from the bottom of page 1.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:07 am 
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Can't seem to get that to work, spara - am I missing something?
Bugger. Works fine with my two computers. And with 1.84 and trunk. It _should work_ just by selecting a "Normal Start". It checks the game time to see if it's a new game, and then shows the help text. Maybe there's some variation with game time or something? I added a couple of seconds to the clock, maybe it helps.

Version 0.2: https://app.box.com/s/mq60q433qj5j4qfxcxc91vrf0oyf7pge


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:35 am 
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First, it is fairly easy to fix […]
No, it's not. It's really not. The thread that phkb links to, above, shows some of the complexities involved.

The purpose of the in-game economy is not to simulate an economy: it's to give the player a mechanism to earn money, so the ship can be maintained and upgraded. Attempts to create a simulated economy are, as in the real world, staggeringly complicated: worse, in-game, it is all but guaranteed to produce money pumps.

I'm all for a more complex and satisfying trading system, but with just 16 commodities to buy and sell, the very best that can be hoped for is to turn two obvious trading choices into maybe four or five obvious choices, at best. (There's more scope here in limiting quantities available: Computers might be cheap at planet A, but there aren't many on sale, for example - but this has huge ramifications for players flying bigger ships). The whole issue of profitability needs to be dealt with - because as I said, the point of the economics is to let the player play the game: the earning potential needs to avoid financially bumping the player along the bottom, or shooting them off into the stratosphere. What "makes sense" doesn't matter: sense is always secondary to what makes the game playable.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:28 am 
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Thanks, spara - version 0.2 works fine!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:05 pm 
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I'm all for a more complex and satisfying trading system, but with just 16 commodities to buy and sell, the very best that can be hoped for is to turn two obvious trading choices into maybe four or five obvious choices, at best.
Disagree.

I did not mean to attempt to include a dozen different factors in the pricing of each commodity. I was trying to explain how the original game lore would fully support a more complex system than:

Agricultural <----------------------------------> Industrial.

Looking at it last night, I came to the same conclusion that a loop of 8 types would make the most sense. I'm a bit surprised that this has all been discussed before but seemingly no progress was made. :?

One problem might be in keeping just the agri <--> indu scale that includes both rich and poor systems. Fine for then but it doesnt make sense that a 'poor' industrial is higher than a 'mainly' industrial.

I made a rough sketch myself, but splitting systems up into agri/ind, poor/rich, and low + high tech worlds.

This gives us 8 system types to match the 8 commodity types we have.

Image

Agricultural or industrial would only have a small affect on the price of commodities.

Each of the 8 types would have 1 product they sell at a much lower price than others, and 1 import they will pay a lot more for.

Buying food at a low tech, poor agri world and selling it at any industrial world would still make a profit. As would buying food from any agri world and selling it to the poor, low tech industrial. But the margins would be a lot less than the prefered route.

Then reduce the margins for safe worlds, while keeping the margins or perhaps even higher for the most dangerous, and you have a working system that both rewards the player exploring the map finding new trade routes, and avoids the milk run back and forth between 2 safe systems.

The highest margins are in a full loop, so while you might make a good profit from systems A to B, jumping back to A to trade would be at best a much reduced return.

All currently using the existing commodities list, the open market buy/sell, the existing definitions of planets (mainly industrial/agricultural systems may need to be defined as one of the others I guess...) and that uses the existing code, just in a different way.

How is this 'impossible to fix'?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:28 pm 
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I'm a bit surprised that this has all been discussed before but seemingly no progress was made. :?
It's a very complex task to try to balance all this, so it works in the early game as well as later on, and so it works for small ships as well as big ones. But your grid is an interesting approach, and might perk things up a bit if implemented. Better, it should be OXPable, and testable.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:55 pm 
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I'm a bit surprised that this has all been discussed before but seemingly no progress was made. :?
Welcome to the forums :lol: :lol: :lol: . Seriously folks around here sometimes have trouble finding consensus. Showcasing with OXPs is the best approach so that people can test the changes out.

That said, that web you've sketched looks very promising. Some examples (commodities) of all the links would be nice. Making the loop of 8 natural and logical all the way seemed to be quite a challenge.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:20 pm 
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I'd like to submit an alternative "mission zero" that brings a bit more context. It's actually based on an idea from Spara. It assumes starting with the "Hauler start" from his Start Choices OXP. The text (I'll pretend my english is good enough for this):

---
Hello Commander,

As agreed, your mission is to taxi our Python to Zaonce for repairs. We've already transferred your 100Cr payment.

You've seen by yourself that the ship is really not in good shape, so avoid trouble as much as possible. You'll receive a 100Cr bonus if it doesn't arrive in worst shape.

We've also ordered an equipment upgrade consisting in fitting a beam laser and injectors. It's far from safe enough for the return trip though, so you should hire an escort with the bonus. We'll refund you on arrival.

Good luck, Commander

---

On arrival at Zaonce:

---

Commander,

We've just lost our Anaconda with its whole cargo to a pirate ambush while she was en route to Lave. This spells the end of my company. Right now I'm facing a huge debt with vultures as creditors. They are probably even behind the ambush. So my best option is to vanish.

I don't want to give those vultures any more money and I owe you something, so before I vanish I'll transfer ownership of the Python to you. You told me you want to make a living as an independent trader, just like me at your age. I hope you'll succeed.

You should get enough from her carcass to buy something like a Cobra Mk I. I advice you to fit injectors ASAP and then a beam laser if you can afford it. Even with this, stay away from trouble, and fight only when you have no other option left. Buy computers at Zaonce, sell them at Isinor and trade them for food, then back to Zaonce. You won't make a fortune overnight but it'll get you the equipment you need to go find better opportunities, one piece at a time. If everything goes well.

Good luck Commander.
---

Besides that I think the "Golden age" idea is good, but can't really be justified. So if we're going for it it, we should just silently manipulate the system populator.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:24 pm 
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Thanks. Having 'Furs' as a rich high tech export was the one commodity that at first didn't seem to fit in. But if you interpret it more as high priced fashion, exotic furs, luxury house furnishings and furniture, it might make a bit more sense that way...

This still leaves the systems that don't quite fit in:

Mostly agricultural and mostly industrial.

Average wealth systems.

'Middle' technology systems, and the point at which one is low, middle or high.


One way would be to just leave them as they are, keeping them as rarely visited locations just like before. :p

Or we can reclassify them into the other types, effectively removing them.

A more interesting approach might be to keep them labelled as they are, but with a hidden status classifying them as one or the other. Perhaps they could occasionally flip over from one to another, resulting in a changed commodity price on arrival.

An average mostly industrial world at a middling tech level might be found to have a quite volatile market as a result. :P What do you think?


Anyway, with those 8 being used in the loop, this leaves us another 9 to use:

Alien items are not a normal trade good.

Gold platinum and gemstones are not conventional either, taking no cargo space.

Minerals can be player created, so having them part of the loop would create some obvious 'mine then sell' systems.

This leaves radioactives, and the 3 illegals of slaves, narcotics and firearms.

Slaves: sold cheaply at low-tech, agricultural, lawless systems?
Narcotics: sold cheaply at high-tech, agricultural, lawless systems?
Firearms: at low-tech industrial and lawless?
Radioactives: at high-tech industrual lawless?

Illegal goods fetch a good price anywhere, but even more in other lawless systems because of the lack of traders?

This would encourage illegal trading as a way to 'fill the gap' in your trade loop.

Sadly radioactives doesn't quite fit in with the 3 illegal goods. :( I would not be too unhappy to see it reclassified as illegal anyway, given its connotations.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:43 pm 
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Gold platinum and gemstones are not conventional either, taking no cargo space.
Mostly, yes... but above a certain amount (499kg), they do take cargo space.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:16 pm 
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I really like the idea of Disembodied to ditch the market in favour of a transportation market. It's an audacious idea that deserves a closer look. Maybe there's a way to make it work on top of the current Oolite by implementing a transportation market that would be slightly more profitable than the commodities market (maybe increase a bit the price of fuel in order not to shorten the progression ladder - if needed at all).

I also like the "golden age" idea, except it is difficult to come up with a believable story to justify it. So maybe just manipulate silently the populator. The shipping market could also be a bit favourable at first. Conversely, both can become more and more unfavourable as the player acquires ranks.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:46 pm 
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I really like the idea of Disembodied to ditch the market in favour of a transportation market.
That removes the critical genre defining feature from the game: the open sandbox nature of trading that allows the player to discover the system themselves.

What some of us would like to see is the trading system refined into what could be said was the original vision; but which wasn't quite implemented at the time.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:00 pm 
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I also like the "golden age" idea, except it is difficult to come up with a believable story to justify it.
From the Oolite homepage (with some part underlining added for emphasis):
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The two thousand star systems of the Cooperative once enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity, and perhaps the wealthiest of them can still pretend to. The trade ships that once safely travelled between planets now have to be well armed and escorted to fend off pirate attacks, from small-time criminals desperate for their next meal, to powerful robber barons extracting tithes from everyone who passes through their space.

The Cooperative's police force, concentrated near a few influential planets, can no longer maintain order. The mercenaries they hire for a few credits a kill are too few, too unreliable to do so either. And in the darkness between the stars, an old enemy lurks, fearless, perhaps waiting for order to collapse entirely.
From the original eite manual this time (again adding some underlining):
Quote:
The Thargoids are humankind's deadly enemy, and throughout the 8 galaxies there are at least 50 war zones between humanity and Thargoid. This highly technologically advanced insectoid race is also at war with 17 other space- going life-forms.

All Thargoid combateers are ruthless in combat, and some may be comparable with elite-status human combat pilots.

Though most of the Thargoid Space Fleet is currently engaged by the Galactic Navy in InterGalactic Space, a few of the smaller battle ships make occasional destructor-raids into human space. These ships are extremely fast for their size and invariably have anti-missile (ECM) Systems.

Additionally, most Thargoid battle ships carry several small, remote- controlled "thargons", killer-craft each equipped with a single, but highly advanced, pulse-laser. The Galactic Navy are developing their own deep- space RemCraft, and pay a large bounty for any thargon craft that are brought to them.

(N.B. Bounty on Thargoid invasion craft destroyed is very high. Thargoid battle-cruisers believed to be able to "hover" in Witch-Space (hyperspace) and destroy through-coming craft.
  • Possible interpretation:
  • The 'old enemy' are the Thargoids and they are desirous of the collapse of order in cooperative space (this is all but explicitly stated in the first quote)
  • The Galactic Navy is busy and so can't help directly with galactic order
  • The Thargoid war is sufficiently new (at least in terms of escalation/technology) for the Navy to still pay high bounties on scooped thargons
  • Thargoids making raids into cooperative space and hovering in witch space are acts of terrorism
All it then needs is for Thargoid activity to have escalated sufficiently sharply, and recently, to either:
End all Galactic Navy counter counter-piracy involvement
Result in significant police ship losses in dealing with their incursions

We then have the end of a 'golden age' even in one precise moment:
The Galactic Navy regrets to announce that it can no longer support GalCop's counter piracy operations due to our ongoing commitment to the intergalactic war with the Thargoids. We would like to stress that we will continue to provide strategic advice and intelligence to GalCop's efforts and we have great faith in their ability to maintain order and also in the bravery and skill of their highly trained personnel...

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:05 am 
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I really like the idea of Disembodied to ditch the market in favour of a transportation market. It's an audacious idea that deserves a closer look. Maybe there's a way to make it work on top of the current Oolite by implementing a transportation market that would be slightly more profitable than the commodities market (maybe increase a bit the price of fuel in order not to shorten the progression ladder - if needed at all).
A test version could probably be OXP'd, if players testing the concept were prepared to just forego the commodities market. There would need to be lots more transport contracts on offer, with lots of small, local jobs.

On the issue of trading more generally: part of the reason it's - to be blunt - dull (and will remain dull, without radical surgery) is that it's all about buying a commodity from planet A, taking it one jump over to planet B, and selling it. Even if you then buy a different commodity and take it one jump over to planet C, it's all still ridiculously close-range and short-term. What makes merchant-adventuring interesting, and risky/exciting, has always been distance. The 17th-century trade in salt fish from Great Yarmouth to London - although it undoubtedly had its hazards - is not noted for its Tales of Romance and Wild Adventure; the 17th-century trade in nutmeg from the Spice Islands to London, though, has exotic ports of call, pirates, waterspouts, big blank areas marked "Here Be Monsters", and so on. The salt fish trade allowed people to scrape by; spice merchants could hope for tremendous profits (if they survived).

That's what we need, I think: a trading mechanism that supports beginners hauling salt fish between neighbouring systems, and working their way up to shipping strange cargoes from distant worlds. The first allows for low but rapid profit: perfect for climbing the first few shallow career steps; the second means putting down a big stake on a long-term gamble which might pay off big if you bring it home, or put you in a heap of trouble if you fail. Which of course would need a system where new players' running costs were low, and rich players' running costs were high, to avoid the game hitting a plateau. Maybe a Merchants' Guild, with ranks admitting the player to juicier/more lucrative trade goods - but with an increasing scale of Guild fees on top?

How that can be achieved is worth considering, I think. The trade model is one place where the game can safely be made entirely player-centric: all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff could be pulled to cook up exotic commodities on the fly, and to reward the player for bringing them a long distance where they're very rare and highly valued. Cim's [wiki]New Cargoes[/wiki] is a great step in this direction, but it's still using a set list of items. If there could be classes of items (e.g. [exotic spices]) that certain planets produced, and certain other planets paid big money for, and then the game could generate all sorts of [exotic spices] on a whole bunch of planets, then the player's selling price could be calculated based on the item category with a multiplier for distance to point of origin and/or some factor based on size of shipping route …

Needs work. :) But it might be worthwhile!

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