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Request For Comments: Trading and Economics.

Apr 14, 2009 Scuba Steve 9.0 link
I'm going to make a post on this after only reading Incarnate's posts and BlackNet's ranting in #vendetta, so bear with me. I'm also going to state that I dislike any arbitrary caps on anything and would rather would rather see a more flexible model based on supply and demand.

However, I think it's good that trade traffic is starting to be forced into grayspace. It's important to note that from my perspective the proposal seems like an interim trade model that'll do as a stand-in until a much more dynamic trading system is put into place. At this time, the system is fairly workable for trade goods.

The problems with the current system are twofold. Firstly, not all tradeable goods are trade goods. All tradeable items need to follow the same rules, otherwise no matter how balanced against risk and reward the trade routes into and out of gray space are, nobody will take them because it's so much easier to complete a nonexhaustable trade route between stations in the same system.

Secondly, intrasystem routes are obviously broken. While I very much dislike artifical caps, BlackNet's constant rambling of a per-hop profit something something blah blah ugh it never ends THING could be more reasonably implemented in the short-term as a variable distance modifier of profits. So widget A bought from station A sells at station B in the same system with a raw profit of 8k/cu. Because the stations are so close, simulated NPC trade activity will create a modifier of, say, 1% of the raw value. This causes the profitability of the intrasystem route dropping to 80c/cu(seems reasonable to me). Until a truly dynamic economy springs up, an artifical cap like this seems to me like the best way to regulate trade.

I'll probably post more stuff later, but that'll do for now.
Apr 14, 2009 blacknet link
To all, I am sorry about the posts that I made in this thread. I was in great error for making them in the hopes of helping everyone in the long run but I see now that is not the case. So instead I am going to withdraw and delete all the ideas that I have attempted to communicate which was poorly executed on my part and in which caused more confusion to everyone and no one could understand what I was posting.
Apr 15, 2009 PaKettle link
As much as I dislike profit caps they shoud be related to distance. For example goods purchased in system should be limited to say 200 per cu but be allowed to earn 400 per cu in the next system and 800 in the system after that.
Apr 15, 2009 ryan reign link
My only problem with trade is for example...I drop x million on 200cu of weapons and every where I go if I sell 1 I see a profit of about 200 if I sell 2 I see negative returns and if I sell 200cu I see negative 1.5 million return.

Thats after taking the cargo from Serco to UIT to Gray space. It seems almost punitive.
Apr 15, 2009 Scuba Steve 9.0 link
This is only slightly related, but I'm going to go ahead and say that we should get rid of premium ores and make everything just the same ore widget. This way, higher end ores can be located only in grayspace and have a high demand in nationspace. In a fully dynamic economy, raw materials such as ores are always the origins of everything. Moving very much required higher-end ores deeper into grayspace will cause miners to mine in grayspace(Pirates could use better methods of hunting down individuals in a system, by the way. Espionage and scouting out prospective ore belts is all well and fine, but it's still quite safe for miners to sit in a system and mine between that and some station in grayspace. I also advocate that corps with small outposts in grayspace don't bother to man them with strikeforces except to clean up mines(should not time out when I leave the system) or something, but this is offtopic) and traders to transport those materials from grayspace to nationspace, and then produced goods back down to grayspace.

And I'd really really like to stress that arbitrary caps are not the best solution for a long-term thing. I'm hoping a dynamic/player-driven economy will have the necessary complexity to regulate itself without such caps.

Edit: While I'm yelling at BlackNet to be more clear about things on IRC, by "same ore widget" I mean there should only be one ferric ore. Not a "normal" ferric ore, and a premium ferric ore. And how does premium ore come out of rocks anyway? It's like you sell it to the station, they beat it up a little, and sell it back to you as lower-grade ore.
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
Umm, you guys realize that we have arbitrary caps on everything in the entire game already, right? I'm not talking about setting everything to "500" for intra-nation, so much as scaling the existing limits to be within the new range. Even in the case of a full-dynamic economy, I'm still going to be capping things, to keep anything from running away too far (more complex caps, so a blockaded station can far exceed normal prices if the demand goes up, but not like.. 10 trillion credits per cu, no matter how long you blockade it). A totally uncapped system leads to massive exploitation potential, and has little benefit. The "real world" has caps too, as historically demonstrated by hyperinflation in past economies.. once you need a wheelbarrow full of paper to buy a loaf of bread, people just reject the whole system and fall back on barter exchange and other currencies.

So, when I talk about "caps", i'm referring to "ballpark ranges" that existing pricing will be re-scaled within. It'll be no different than the current game, just won't climb as high.

[EDIT]: Also, Blacknet, is it really necessary to delete all your posts? I mean, yes, some of it may have been a little confusing, but there were some good thoughts and ideas, and now the response posts make no freakin' sense.
Apr 15, 2009 everman7 link
wow, this thread is a lot to read...

"While I'm yelling at BlackNet to be more clear about things on IRC, by "same ore widget" I mean there should only be one ferric ore. Not a "normal" ferric ore, and a premium ferric ore. And how does premium ore come out of rocks anyway? It's like you sell it to the station, they beat it up a little, and sell it back to you as lower-grade ore."

I would just like to voice my opinion on this matter. I will agree with this. Thinking like pulling a diamond out of the dirt isn't going to fetch the price of a finely cut diamond in a retail store. Mined ore should be the basic ore and taking it to a refinery should produce the premium version that would sell at higher prices.

I have a lot to digest with this thread, there are a LOT of great ideas here. I don't want to be stealing ideas, or stepping on toes or making others think I stole their ideas, so this is a collective of my thoughts after reading everyone else's posts...

I'll word this with an example.
I think that Deneb Manufacturing Tools should have their own trademark so-to-speak. Where perhaps greyspace prefers Deneb's version and they are a higher quality, so they will pay more. This doesn't have to be universe-wide, this could be a few (or a lot) of widgets that are trade specific items. This would also work with weapons (smuggling) as nation- or faction-specific weapons will fetch better prices the further they are from the factions' station. This may be an easier way to adjust profits based on longer trade routes.

I like the idea of being able to purchase only the base model of ships and if the supplies are in stock, then I can purchase the upgraded version. But, I think this would be a very large redo of how things work. Not to mention if the upgrades are housed by the station, I would just go drop off X number of Y items and buy however many ships I could and let them sit there instead of stockpiling a station full of what they need to let some rat or serco buy them instead.

my $0.02

Apr 15, 2009 Death Fluffy link
Personal opinion: Traveling half an hour, half of it through hostile territory to make a paltry 720,000cr is not my idea of fun.

Knowing when I get there, that even 'if' the item is at the stations maximum sell value that I'll be fortunate to get 700,000cr due to the rapid profit decline?

With, based on a poll of active players I did earlier (deducting bots) 15% of the active players either pirates or griefers? (the bots accounted for 17% of the full population btw)

And I'm going to want to hire either an npc or player escort to protect my moth?

Knowing full well, that I am going to have to figure out another trade once this one is completed?

No thanks. I've tried your 'honey bee' style of trading and it does not work for me. If I'm still around when this is all said and done, I'll be making my credits by "new means of money generation" or maybe the older ones.

This is one trader lost to VO.

Now don't get me wrong. I think piracy is a valuable aspect to VO. There are some still on this board that can vouch that I even enticed them to come try and find me. And when I was active, my complaint was often that I'd rather be pirated than hit another gd ion storm. What is written above sums up why I quit trading months ago, and also why after trying the 'enhanced' routes, I am still inactive.
Apr 15, 2009 Surbius link
On the topic of the difference between ore and premium ore, I believe that if you were to mine ore from a roid, then that ore is basic ore; to turn that ore into premium ore you would have to take it to a Mining Station for refining. The refining process of ore into premium ore can contain more complexities such as 10 cus of basic ore refined comes out as 8 cus of premium ore, noting a loss in material to refine into a better product.

Ore should be the base building block to materials/products in VO, no magic infinite station stores of ores or products. A basic layout of how the production line of materials/products can go is as follows:

Miner mines ore, hauls ore to Mining Station, sells/refines ore, if refined then craft the refined ore into a material/product (depends on the station), either sell the material/product at the crafting station or haul said item(s) to another station for sale.

The above layout is really simple and can have more variables to allow more freedom to the miner/crafter/trader.

About trade routes and their profit gains, Nation Space should have a decent niche for traders to make mid-level amounts of profit compared to long distance trading. An example of profit levels:

Newb Trader, Trade Levels 0-3, trades between stations in one system, 100,000c-1,000,000c a hour.

Intermediate Trader, Trade Levels 4-7, trades between systems and Nation Space (not Gray Space), 1,000,000c-5,000,000c a hour.

Expert Trader, Trade Levels 8+, trades between systems and uses Gray Space, 5,000,000c-20,000,000c a hour.

Of course some of you may think the profits look above par or maybe under par but the more profit one utilizes on these examples would have more "toys" to help in securing that profit, such as mid-level capital ships or in other words freighters with cargo holds greater than that of the XC, more armor than an Overseer, slower than an EC-89, enough defenses to fight off a few Guardians or lone pirate newbs, and a price tag close to or on 8 digits. Not to forget the other side of the equation, pirates/combat pilots will have their own "toys" to help in countering a miner/trader in their "toy".

Fixed price caps, as mentioned in this thread, is a short term fix so the majority if not all items must be dynamic based on their availability. Examples can be stations selling Neut IIs at greatly varying prices dependent on what the station's cargo holds contain of the item(s) or players putting their material/product on a universal market database with their own set price and options for different price offers and how much one player can buy. A great amount of detail can be dedicated to an auction house based trade market. (Note: Hyperinflation could become a problem.)

Back to mining and trading, it sounds logical to have the majority of high profit routes and rare ores in Gray Space as it is the least exploited among the Nations/Corps but to keep all rare ores and high profit routes in Gray Space alone is not logical. Rare ores and high profits routes should exist within Nation Space but they should be hard to find and not always available, such as an Ion Storm clouding and greatly hindering the location of rare ore roids or a high profit route is tanked and wont recover for months.
Apr 15, 2009 Aticephyr link
In response to Death Fluffy's "honey bee" comment: I think a lot of the problem is how utterly long it takes for one to find a good (not even golden... but just good) trade route THEN complete it. I think the rewards for the "enhanced" trade routes will probably be increased or the like, but that is not the point I am driving at. Rather: we need some sort of announcement system or global communication system so that stations (or at least some stations) broadcast is near-live-time what they need.

By the time one discovers a trade route... one then has to go back and complete it... and there is no guarantee that someone won't have tanked the route before you get to it. I dunno, I never really tried trading because I don't have the patience for it. Patience should be rewarded, and some trade routes should be left for people to discover... but for the rest of us there should be some way to have an inkling what a station wants before we start traveling to it. Honestly... I have no idea how one even discovers a trade route. Does one take some luxury cargo in a wartII and fly around the universe until one finds a good sell-point? I just feel like there should be an easier way to find a trade route (not the best trade route, but a decently profitable trade route) than to join the trading guild with the biggest database. Stations want the goods they want... and will do what they can to get them; I see no reason why they wouldn't post what they want somewhere other than their own news, as it benefits them to tell everyone to bring them things.

On the premium/normal ore point, I'm all for the change.

Responding to everman7's point about buying up all the ships so that a rat or smurf couldn't use that stockpile you just brought: if you were being paid a lot to bring the cargo, you might care less about the use of the cargo itself and more about the large profit sums you got from the run.
Apr 15, 2009 Death Fluffy link
Atice: Before traders had the advantage of using something like Trade Assistant, I would fill my ship with promising items and then run to every other station in the system until I found the post profitable link. I would then take items back to the original station until I found the best return trade. After that, I would milk that baby until I was broke. Sell. Move on to the next system. And I enjoyed it. Then I joined TGFT, and they helped me find trades as good or better than I was finding on my own more consistently. And I continued the process, building my bankroll. Some of these trades were same system, some were adjacent system. And every now and then I'd get pirated. Getting pirated was ok, because the million the pirate got, was a fraction of my overall expectation. I considered it merely the cost of doing business. Of which there should still be more.

I have two problems with the current model. 1) I do not want to be jerked out of my game experience every time I finish a trip by having to work out another trade- often I might add, some distance from my ending point. And 2) the so called 'enhanced routes do not adequately reward the effort and risk I put into them, plus reason number 1.

For serious traders, I think something like Trade Assistant would do better than a broadcast system, as long as you update it before looking for a trade. A global broadcast would alert not only trade competitors to the opportunity, but also the pirates and griefers.

I hope this helps with understanding trade a bit more Atice :)
Apr 15, 2009 missioncreek2 link

The Critical shortage trade announcement would be for a single high value item with the intent of drawing both traders and pirates. Traders will need an escort.

Question for Fluffy:

1) How high would the profit per cu have to be to draw you into gray. (Enhanced trade routes)

2) If the route were announced to all, how high would the profit have to be then? (Critical shortage)
Apr 15, 2009 ryan reign link
On the subject of premium ore...

"pulling a diamond out of the dirt isn't going to fetch the price of a finely cut diamond in a retail store."

Fail. Wrong. Incorrect. Inaccurate...etc...etc...

An uncut diamond as with most precious stones is worth significantly more than cut stones. Hence the value of diamonds in criminal enterprise. Its not as if diamonds from conflict regions are mined, polished and cut before they are used as currency or sold to diamond or jewelers.

Any ways, enough diamond education and bringing real life into it. "premium" ore is premium because it has yet to be processed and there fore can be processed by different techniques for different purposes. Hence "premium" ore must be mined.
Apr 15, 2009 PaKettle link
Ore renaming....


Profit per cu to draw traders to grey ?
Its the risk factor and not the profit that matters. It is silly to try to take a moth through sedina b8 when there is a lot of griefers on. Why try to make a trip when you only have a 50/50 chance to make it? If the profit per cu was high enough then I suppose one could attempt an escorted trip but then the profit would need to be split.

So figure about 4 million profit for a nation to deep grey trip as minimum for 2 people and a half hour trip. Trader risk would be about 3 to 4 million invested and 20 minutes to replace an xc depending on homing.

That is all assuming there is a decent shot at actually making the trip....
Apr 15, 2009 Aticephyr link
Thanks Death Fluffy :). I'll stick to commenting on the rat/anti-rat angle (though funding is very important to the anti-rat angle... as we cannot rely on donations to fund our efforts).

One more question though. I believe I understand the frustration with having to plot another trade route near immediately after completing a couple rounds on one into Grey. What would be the best way, do you think, to offset this burden? I figured the global announcements might help... but then again I have no idea what I'm talking about. Of course, nothing can really offset the burden as much as not having the burden (and not have traded items sale-values tank after making the run multiple times)... but as that seems to not be an option, I seek expert advice! :) Is trade assistant the only thing you see as countering the burden?
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
1) Fluffy, how does my saying:

"I think some people aren't aware of it, but some of the existing, new gray routes already have drastically reduced falloff rates, compared to the rest of the galaxy. I would potentially be altering this even more, to allow routes to stay inflated for a reasonable number of loads."

In this early post, somehow add up to your reading in:

"Knowing when I get there, that even 'if' the item is at the stations maximum sell value that I'll be fortunate to get 700,000cr due to the rapid profit decline?"

Not to mention what I've said (here, and elsewhere) about the mission-base trading with guaranteed pricing.

2) Aside from that, I'm all for creating additional trade tools, and have been for some time. The Jettison menu was a first step, but I expect to expand on that considerably, to make finding routes less time consuming.

3) Can we drop the Premium vs Non-Premium Ore Thing? It is not the topic. It was set up this way for a reason, and yes it's confusing and a bit stupid, but I need to rip out some of our missions and redo some parts of the game before we can consolidate them. I support a separate thread on that topic, but it is not the topic at hand.

4) The subject of "desired profit per hour" is a very valid discussion point that I'd like to hear more on. This is because, as I said in the beginning post, I am NOT aiming to make the basic trading system very profitable at this time (I mention "conservative pricing" due to "new means of money generation"). But I would like to hear more on what people consider the "desired point of profitability", because this will be useful in determining the improvements gained from said "new means", which are trade related. Like, say, player-owned Tridents flying back and forth with massive loads of stuff in them. Things like that which throw all our "historical" trading perspectives into a cocked hat.

5) Keep in mind, my proposal is based around changes that I can do without a lot of work. Completely re-designing the trade system and economy of the game, on the server side, is a lot of work. Regionally re-scaling price min/max/falloff.. is not.
Apr 15, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
If you think that 3/4 of a MILLION credits is a bad haul for 30 minutes work, you can stay gone.
Apr 15, 2009 PaKettle link
I can pull down 2 million an hour without leaving dau so relatively yes 3/4 is a low profit considering the risk...

Perhaps a few high profit group mission with a return trip included might be an interesting method perhaps with 1000 cu loads?

Incarnate,frankly I am of the opinion your chasing your tail trying to avoid rewriting the econonmy. It just seems to me no matter how you change things it will never be right because the player base is always changing which will skew everything else. I also realise that Capships and so on is a lot more fun to work with but a few quick tweaks just isnt going to cut it and the economic problems are really starting to become an issue.

it does not have to be done all at once and there are a lot of small prepatory steps you could be taking.

Reducing the availibility of weapons to certain stations would also be a good way to help traffic in grey. Making people haul flares and missles to Latos,sedina and odia would be a start.
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
Ok, if we could reel this thread back in, that'd be good. I asked for specific feedback relating to a specific series of ballpark changes. If the answer to that is "It's not a lot of money compared to other existing means of generating income, but aside from that it seems fine".. then please say so.

If you have an idea for another way to generate traffic in grayspace, or commentary on my project management goals, feel free to post those.. in a different thread.
Apr 15, 2009 Whytee link
Ryan...why the hell do we cut them then? If they are more valuable uncut? The argument does not compute. The reason that uncut gems are valuable is because they are untraceable. They are not more valuable by far...

Back on track:

How much money would make something worthwhile is not an argument either. It must be taken in context. The problem here is that we can remember how it USED to be with mega millions made. If the options are for making a mere few millions, but nobody had that much, it would still work. That aside, I fully understand Fluffy's argument.

Making the purchase of ships dependent on what has been delivered to it is a good idea. It takes us away from the very prohibitive superlight model but still allows for crafting of a fashion. If you let demand and price fluctuate freely as a consequence of blocking for trade to a station you can in effect let trade to some grey space stations be ludicrously profitable but also extremely dangerous. So, unrats in, fluctuating economy, ships availability dependent on items.

I'll wait with my replies regarding mining (my only occupation..) for THAT thread:)