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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:17 pm 
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I've been thinking about different ways of trading, especially in a hypothetical situation where e.g. the Co-operative has broken up, or the player is exploring non-Co-op space. In the game, the universal Credit makes things very easy and straightforward, but if it wasn't there, what would fill the gap?

Barter would be possible, and players could haggle - offering to exchange X TCs of Food plus Y TCs of Liquor and Wines for Z TCs of Machinery, and so on. This might make trading a bit more interesting, but in the absence of the Credit it might also be hard to know whether you were getting a good deal or not. And paying for repairs, upgrades, and new ships would be hugely complicated.

But there's another option, which would allow barter, but would also substitute a pseudo-universal currency (albeit one whose value might fluctuate a bit from system to system): gold. Or, more specifically, grams (and decagrams, and kilograms) of gold. This "currency" could also include platinum as a form of higher-denomination coinage, and maybe grams of gemstones as loose change (or, perhaps, as the really big denominations, if that was what was needed).

There would obviously need to be some in-game changes: the amounts and values of gold, platinum and gems on offer would have to be altered, and the amounts any player could carry with them at any time would have to be fixed, too. The cockpit safe would be much more important if it held all a player's wealth …

This is just a notion to kick around: I'm not suggesting it should be taken seriously for Oolite. But are there advantages to this setup? Are there any other games people can think of which take a similar approach to currency? A lot of games, Oolite included, use "work" from time to time as a form of currency: do this job and get this piece of kit. And there are a lot of games that use gold, usually in the form of the standard D&D Gold Piece, but to all intents and purposes that's just the Credit by another name. I can't think, offhand, of any game that doesn't have a universal currency - which may be a clue that it has problems as an idea! How about E:D? Are there different currencies between the Federation and the Empire?

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:25 pm 
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I like the idea of the cockpit safe becoming all important, and bartering would fit nicely with my game-in-the-head dealings with rock hermits.

If I remember correctly, the ED universe has the ubiquitous credit. I doubt that's changed, but a current player would know.

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:37 pm 
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bartering would fit nicely with my game-in-the-head dealings with rock hermits.
That's a point … this might have some practical possibilities after all, if the Credit could be made near-ubiquitous, and barter was the norm in off-track places like Rock Hermits. I'm not sure how it would work, though, in GUI terms anyway: the game might need to display a standard average Credit value (or current gold value, if there was no single currency at all) of goods offered/asked for, to give the player a clue as to whether something was a good or bad deal.

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:55 pm 
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... to give the player a clue as to whether something was a good or bad deal.
Whether something was 'a good or bad deal' could come down to player experience - one soon learns if one gets burnt enough times.

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 1:16 pm 
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Whether something was 'a good or bad deal' could come down to player experience - one soon learns if one gets burnt enough times.
True … that's how barter works in the Fallout games, iirc (they have a form of universal currency there too, to augment trades: bottletops). In an ideal situation - in Oolite II, say - haggling could have a graphic interface with an animated merchant, complete with body language clues … like the original Elite manual says,
Quote:
In dealing with any alien life-form, for the purposes of trade, there are three cardinal rules:
  • Learn the body language of the alien race.
  • Cover up your body scent.
  • Beware of Carapace concealed weapons.

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 2:09 pm 
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Beware of Carapace concealed weapons.
Damn lobsters - dodgy critters!

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 2:40 pm 
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In dealing with any alien life-form, for the purposes of trade, there are three cardinal rules:
  • Learn the body language of the alien race.
Of course this can be a bit tricky with shape-shifters. :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:51 am 
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I think that as soon as you have the concept of currency, be it coins, gold, or a number in a computer, having one currency or many is the same. Because as soon as you have multiple currencies you have exchange rates, either officially or informally.

Bartering is not about the value of the currency, but about the value of the good. In a perfect world with perfect information it could be a large equation. But in the real world with imperfect information, the value is partly subjective and a function of the relationship between the seller and the buyer. In RPG games sometimes you can have better prices at shops when your charisma stat is high.

I used to play a game that had at some point something like 40 currencies. It was an open world game with different zones per level, one currency per zone and shops that would take only the currency for their zone. Later they moved to a per-zone reputation system. Increasing your reputation would let you buy (with global credits) better items. The system felt very artificial though, from the perspective of the lore of the game.

So in my view multiple currencies are mostly artificial complexity (although a gold-based shadow economy could make sense because one would assume that Galcop is watching credit transfers - but once you've swallowed that the Elite Federation cynically records and rewards murders you can swallow anything). Reputations, on the other hand, are much more "believable" and interesting. Oolite got this right and I think that it's an example to be followed and expanded in OXPs. So for instance if you want bartering at rock hermits it could be based on charisma or reputation. One could increase reputation for instance by trading often with them; perhaps bringing illegal or rare (alien items) goods could earn you reputation faster, etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:53 am 
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In the 1970's Star Trader only Class I and II worlds (Cosmopolitan & Developed) have banks on them.
Classic Elite simplified this to a universal currency of credits with your account available at all GalCop worlds. One could treat them as only valid at GalCop stations, so trading at other places in future Oolite needs to be done using one of the standard commodities as a currency. This would motivate carrying usually ignored commodities, such as tons of radioactives. Market screens would be listed in that site's preferred currency, along with an (abysmal) exchange rate for GalCop credits if the preferred currency is different from that anticipated.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:29 pm 
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the universal Credit makes things very easy and straightforward, but if it wasn't there, what would fill the gap?

Barter would be possible, and players could haggle - offering to exchange X TCs of Food plus Y TCs of Liquor and Wines for Z TCs of Machinery, and so on. This might make trading a bit more interesting, but in the absence of the Credit it might also be hard to know whether you were getting a good deal or not. And paying for repairs, upgrades, and new ships would be hugely complicated.
Is bartering really more desirable than bargaining? Because if it is the latter that is appealing then it's only set pricing that we need to remove not the currency itself, right?

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I think that as soon as you have the concept of currency, be it coins, gold, or a number in a computer, having one currency or many is the same. Because as soon as you have multiple currencies you have exchange rates, either officially or informally.
Agreed. It might be more realistic but it's more complex and in my opinion if it is to be more complex then it needs to be much better.

Having said that, I do like the idea of trading being different between the various inhabitant groups.
A simple way to do that might be to get paid in goods (not necessarily of your choosing). If you're being paid in platinum then that's a lot of food that you need to sell but then not every good needs to be traded at every station.

For a very quick (and not entirely thought through...) example:

Birds - gold/gem stones
Felines - narcotics/platinum
Frogs - gem stones/narcotics
Humanoids - gold/liquor
Insects - luxuries (organic perhaps)/slaves
Lizards - platinum/food (maybe slaves are food :twisted: )
Lobsters - minerals/alloys
Rodents - firearms/food

Food is quite interesting as a currecy: cheap, universally useful and potentially species transferable if it were broken down into it's most base constituents (it needn't be perishable).
Likewise fuel could be quite interesting as a currency (although that could have more serious game ramifications...)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:02 am 
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Quote:
Is bartering really more desirable than bargaining? Because if it is the latter that is appealing then it's only set pricing that we need to remove not the currency itself, right?
True, although I think the presence of a universal currency makes bargaining less interesting, as it supplies a direct, absolute numerical score to every deal. It's similar to preferring fuzzy verbal ratings/rankings to hard numerical ones.
Quote:
I think that as soon as you have the concept of currency, be it coins, gold, or a number in a computer, having one currency or many is the same. Because as soon as you have multiple currencies you have exchange rates, either officially or informally.
Agreed: multiple currencies are too confusing. But this is the appeal of using gold, platinum and gems as a de facto "currency". Although their value might shift from system to system - a process kept hidden from the player - they would always be acceptable trade items wherever you went. Local merchant not prepared to give you that extra TC of Computers for the Radioactives you have to offer? Add a few grams of gold to the pot. Plus, gold, gems and platinum are much more portable, and can be used to concentrate value into a smaller physical space. The maximum bulk cargo value a Cobra III can carry in its hold is roughly C*3,500; without an abstract currency, we'd still need to allow the player to amass much larger amounts of wealth.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:14 pm 
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"You don't need credits, you only need debt."

:lol:

In a small community where everybody knows everybody, there is no money. And there is no "instant bartering".
Peoples fates are linked, and property is... theoretical. In our societies, property is enforced by the state (police if needed).
In a small community, it is enforced by agreement.

That said, in a small community, what replaces money is Debt. As in "I'm in your debt".
People give others services, and thingies, to lessen their debt.

The debt can't be calculated precisely, and everybody young is in the debt of the elders for their care, so finally debt is mostly psychological ; but continuous gifts, services and thingies, are real.

A small gift which is really needed is more interesting than a big gift that is currently useless. This part which is ignored in our current money system is taken into account in a psychological debt system: "my neighbour is ill today, I'll bring him some honey".

So...
A no currency system could be based on psychological debt, gifts (services or thingies), and current needs...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:54 pm 
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Quote:
In a small community where everybody knows everybody, there is no money. And there is no "instant bartering".
Peoples fates are linked, and property is... theoretical. In our societies, property is enforced by the state (police if needed).
In a small community, it is enforced by agreement.

That said, in a small community, what replaces money is Debt. As in "I'm in your debt".
People give others services, and thingies, to lessen their debt.

...

So...
A no currency system could be based on psychological debt, gifts (services or thingies), and current needs...
Money / credits is debt, as explicitly stated on some bank notes.

When you give someone money you pass on a bank/state/goverment's debt to you so that it becomes a debt to them.
So on that (admittedly, enormously simplistic) basis, currency is simply debt, to be used as you describe, but for larger communities.

...but I do like the sound of these 'thingies' you speak of :wink:

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:42 pm 
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Money / credits is debt, as explicitly stated on some bank notes.

When you give someone money you pass on a bank/state/goverment's debt to you so that it becomes a debt to them.
So on that (admittedly, enormously simplistic) basis, currency is simply debt, to be used as you describe, but for larger communities.
Exactly :)

The only thing is there is no interest rate in a small community; and there is a moral imperative to use surplus to lessen your debt, ie solve the need of your fellow community members.
Quote:
...but I do like the sound of these 'thingies' you speak of :wink:
Me too ^^
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:52 pm 
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Exactly :)

The only thing is there is no interest rate in a small community

It's called exaggeration and slowly increses over time from helping a friend to lay a few bricks into building his entire house for him :wink:

Quote:
and there is a moral imperative to use surplus to lessen your debt, ie solve the need of your fellow community members.
As opposed to a financial one where you would pay interest on a loan.

I think we're in agreement here, I would just add that a currency acts to formalise such arrangements.
I'm not suggesting that is the only difference that having a currency creates as various floodgates are then opened once you can do that...

My point being that we're already using debt as a currency/exchange method in the game.
Disembodied's point re
Quote:
preferring fuzzy verbal ratings/rankings to hard numerical ones
is, I think, the real difference concerning the two methods of exchanging debt.

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