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Request For Comments: Trading and Economics.

Apr 15, 2009 Death Fluffy link
Pretty much Atice. For me, the value need not necessarily be a hard set 10 or 20 million per hour. As Lecter pointed out the rewards are relative. I expect to make enough to pay off a pirate or two if necessary, lose a load or two if necessary, and still show a significant increase in my bankroll. I expect the reward from trade to overall to be significantly higher than other forms of income with the possible exception of mining, which I think is severely underpaid for the work involved.
Apr 15, 2009 drazed link
Fluffy covered my post with a new page :(
Apr 15, 2009 Surbius link
The profit per hour suggestions I made are "ballpark figures" and making 20mil per hour sounds like a ton of money but if the system is balanced where making 20mil per hour would require something with more cargo capacity than a XC and requires absolute dedication to finding the route and exploiting it within a hour avoiding Ion Storms, paying off pirates if they're willing to be paid off, and making multiple round trips with more than one item giving incentive to double-back and when all is said and done the route will take at least a month to recover. The route alone would be one of a kind and possibly exploited weekly driving the price down.

EDIT: 20mil was an absolute max suggestion, imo, 5,000,000c to 7,500,000c a hour would be the average for multiple Nation/Gray Space trade (6 wormhole jumps minimum?)
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
(Note: I posted this while Surbius was also posting his..)

Yes, rewards are relative. Yes, I am re-balancing all ways of getting money in the galaxy, I'm just doing one at a time. I'm also adding new ones, and some that have multiplicative effects, but I am trying to get a handle on "methods of monetary income" throughout the game, and nail them down to some sort of sane, common ballpark. We're just discussing trading for the moment.

I left escorts as-is simply because I didn't want to mess with more than one area of income at the same time, because I expected we might screw something up ("Oh, woops, items are all insanely underpriced now? Sorry!") and I wanted another, unaltered means of income in the meantime. When we changed the ship prices and fixed the mass-sale bug, we also started heavily graphing the escort payouts, and a lot of other things, to accumulate data.

I expected to finish up with the trade tweaking and get back to other areas (like escorts) more quickly, but stuff happened and drew attention away. So now, some months later, I'm left in a position of defending underpriced trade routes against overinflated escort missions that have only ever been temporary. This current economy was not any sort of intended "finished product", I just had to stop and work on other stuff.

20 million credits per hour strikes me as a bit obscene. And what are you going to do when you have a shielded Trident with 1000 cargo? Make a 100 million per hour? That level of income generation is way out of proportion with anything you can spend it on in the game. I don't care if all the zeroes give you a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment, I'm trying to *avoid* excessive, simplistic incomes.

Discussions of wacky income taxes are interesting but belong in another thread.

Gramps said: "I enjoyed this game when I could mine and trade and make a decent profit". So, why don't you TELL ME WHAT A DECENT PROFIT IS? I'll bet it isn't 20,000,000 credits per hour! Seriously, people, I posted this to get feedback on that exact concept, and while I appreciate those who did respond on-topic, there's been way too much drama over "the direction you think the game is taking". How about a little freakin' faith? Just because the most profitable trading takes place in gray, doesn't mean we can't have a bajillion little solutions to help mitigate all the problems; whether it's free periodic Factional-capship escorts or stealth addons or any number of other things. That's how games are made. They don't just stop in their tracks because "that isn't how it used to be." I'm not getting rid of "safe trading", I'm simply saying it's more profitable where it's less-safe, and asking what you think those relative differences should be.

The real irony here is that I have more long-term "endgame" gameplay planned for Traders than for any other group. Hopefully this statement doesn't immediate piss off all other groups, there's plenty to go around; but I am using economics to drive a lot of gameplay, and I think that traders will be very happy once stuff settles down and they get a chance to play with some of things I have planned. But I'm not here to talk about those things. What I was here to talk about was simply:

A) Trade in grayspace is going to be more profitable than protected/defended nation space.

B) Given "A", what relative profit ballparks should we assign to various regions?
We could even leave out "credit" quantities and just speak in terms of relative factors. Ie, Intra-Nation is 1, Inter-Nation is 2, Nation-to-Deep-Gray is 6. So trading to gray caps out around 6x the profit levels of Intra-Nation. That form of discussion at least sidesteps all the assumptions based on Escort missions, past income levels, so on and so forth.
Apr 15, 2009 Dr. Lecter link

You just agreed that "decent" trading profits are relative, both to alternative activities and to the "cost of living" for a VO character.

So how can we give any sort of reasoned answer to your question without knowing (or debating) (i) what other income producing activities will give in the way of rewards, and (ii) how the prices for things pilots need/want will be set going forward?

If all you want is a gut check on ratios, I think you've gotten plenty of them--it's not like anyone should have more than three words to post in response to that question, since you're just counting heads.

Here's my suggested ratio: 1:2:10. But even more important than the flippin' ratio is the relation between the "1" and the "cost of living"--If "1" equals any sort of decent level of profit, people will not take the risk of going to Grey. Traders in VO are a pathetically risk adverse group, because they CAN BE.

"1" cannot equal enough credits to fully enjoy all the gameplay aspects that VO has to offer, and "2" better only equate to enough wealth to enjoy gameplay if you're so good you don't burn through many losses, be they death or sale at a loss based.
Apr 15, 2009 Aticephyr link
I'd say 1, 5.5,11.5. Trade between different nations leads to some pretty darned obvious choke-points, and traders should be rewarded heavily for that danger. See my above comment about dividing profit due to teamwork etc.

'2.5' should probably be the about the amount of money necessary to afford throwing money at advanced ships for combat or trade without thinking that much about it.
'4.5' should be about the right amount for being able to have decent stockpiles of goods and weapons around the galaxy.
'9.5-10' should be the amount necessary for affording cappies and the like.

also, there might be one or two goldmines of '3' or '4' in nation-space... but these would have to be depressed quickly and stay depressed for awhile. The ratio I gave above are more averages than anything else.

slightly off topic... but I'd think that fighters would have income generation around '5', with possibly some advanced means of income around '7.5'. The category of 'fighter' probably only applies to those who venture into grey space (and take missions only in grey space and the like) to begin with. Nation-space should be something of a nursery for fighters (and no one gets rich in a nursery) in my mind.

EDIT: my 5.5 for inter-nation travel does not include Itani-Serco travel... that should be less (how many baddies will be there anyways?), more like 3, 4 max.
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
Lecter: You can do so by listing what the cost of living is for a given character you play, what income is necessary to offset those costs. That would be vastly more useful than, say, a post saying "I used to like trading! I don't anymore! I'll leave if trading always sucks!". Actually, pretty much anything is more useful then the latter.
Apr 15, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
Inc.: the current cost of living is so negligible, relative to available income sources, as to be ZERO. Hence the forward-looking aspect on which I focused.

To put it in concrete terms: I can hop in a basic moth with Mk. II mining beams, go mine in near complete saftey any rock within 1000m of a Serco station, and then go sell the cargo. The profits acheived would be enough for me to burn through half a dozen combat rigs (Greyhound excepted, which should also be the case for Valks and Proms, which are still way too cheap). If I took my moth and spent 10 minutes trading in Sol II (very safe), I could finance a week of heavy combat operations.
Apr 15, 2009 incarnate link
And that's fine, but my "TELL ME WHAT A DECENT PROFIT IS?" comment was not directed at you. See referenced post.

Cost of "living", or gameplay, can vary pretty widely by play-style, even if all of it is still fairly low compared to current income methods. But most variance is simply in how often you have to replace expensive ships, which in turn implies combat, which is probably not as common amongst many of our traders.
Apr 15, 2009 Azumi link
Costs of living:
well, repairs for Rev C: Apx ten fight per day evens out at some 200k. Rev's are expensive
Clothes and make-up at around 15k
Drinks at the bar: 12 credits
Sleazy hotel room: 120 credits.

4-5 moths with a load of goodies: 600-1200k
Traders who pay: good day: 2 mill. Bad day, none

All in all, piracy pays and pays well.
Apr 15, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
Understood, Inc., though I actually do a large bit of trading, too--when I'm not looting and pillaging other traders.

I'm just saying that it is hard to set these ratios without acknowledging that the current cost of being a pilot in VO is so low as to be nearly irrelevant to all but the newest of the new and/or the most profligate of spenders--and, knowing that isn't what we want, what profits will allow one to afford in the future.
Apr 15, 2009 Death Fluffy link
Inc, your plans are why I'm mucking around doing other things while I wait for them to become reality.

I do not think making huge profits should be out of the question. They should require a lot of work, and be difficult to accomplish, but still possible. This probably goes beyond the scope of the discussion (again) But it should be possible to spend a month working on project X and come away with a profit of 100,000,000cr. or so. This is the sort of thing that would get me excited.

I've already posted my general sense of how the trade variances should work in an earlier post. I'm not going to try to nail down specific numbers since the environment is changing.

My suggestion, since the only real purchasable item by players at the moment is their ship. That taking an average ship price should form the basis of any wealth generation scheme.

For example my 12 million credits, allows me to buy 200 more moths. If I continue to trade Corvus Holo Disks to Sol 2, then I have 12 lives left before I reach the point of being broke. At roughly 600,000cr profit, I need 2 sucessful trips in order to support the loss of one ship to the likes of Peytros or Teeth, and still show a slight profit. At a mere 200,000cr profit in 2 1/2 runs I'm inclined to question the long term value of continuing this route.

If I meet someone like Retractile, Fusionburn or Azumi, then I'm likely to only have a small cost of doing business expense. My apologies to VPR, but paying these folk off may occasionally be better for my business than the delay caused by trying to evade them, because time is money. I end up with a healthy profit in the end.

Also, these two examples assume I'm working alone. If I have people running escort for me, then they should be entitled to a fair share of the profits I make. 600,000cr in the current model falls very short in this scenario.

So, my goal is to build up my savings in order to withstand such economic drains as losing my ship and cargo to a pirate, or some bot in an ion storm I missed plotting around. And also to be able to afford other credit sinks that will hopefully be added to the game, in the form of luxuries.

also, never forget: Trader = Greedy Bastard

Edit: Also remember, that players may want to do a bit of up front trading in order to have a week or a months worth of combat funds available without having to be sidetracked into another round of trade.

I hope this is the sort of answer your looking for Inc.
Apr 15, 2009 iry link
Whatever values are chose the longer routes need to be more profitable over time not just per unit. If in system routes max at 500c and there's say 6 stations then even with just one load per station a dedicated XC pilot can likely make 1.5 - 2 million in the hour or so it takes to tank the better routes in that system.

All other routes will need to have a noticeably higher yield than the in system route to be used actively. It doesn't matter if a pilot can make 6 times more in a single trip to a distant station if that one trip takes more than 6x the amount of time 6 trips can be made on a shorter, safer route. For the longer range routes, even more value at destination may be necessary to make the route worthwhile if the pilot is required fly a more survivable ship, or the goods are particularly heavy or both.

Rough guesses for a behemoth loaded with goods both ways

In system round trip : 3 - 5 minutes
1 wormhole round trip : 5 - 10 minutes
5 wormhole round trip : 30 - 40 minutes
10 wormhole round trip : 45 - 70 minutes

In the few money making runs I've done since the item sell change to be right around 500-800k per trip for a good run. A "run" was one way and required crossing 1 - 3 systems. Essentially I took an escort mission and loaded my XC to the brim with ore I had mined locally to another system which also has mined ore stockpiles. Typically ore profit would be roughly equal to escort mission payout. I'd need to dig through the guild bank logs but I believe profits were 4 - 6 million per hour with this method, all within the confines of Itani space. A downside to this is that once the routes become tanked it's a week or more until the process can be repeated.

I'd imagine plain traders would want something at least equal to the 4-6 million per hour rate without an escort mission. I can see the routes which require wandering around grey space earning more than three or four times this amount per behemoth trader once the need for an escort is guaranteed. Profits would ideally be split with the escorts lowering the per person profit to something more sane yet much higher than the solo nation space runs.

For now though up to twice the profit per hour of a nation space escort aided run for nation - grey space routes would be good, there needs to always be an available route though.
Apr 15, 2009 missioncreek2 link
My cost of living fighting heavy ships in b8 is 1m/ hr. It doesn't really matter if I win or lose because the repair cost is high. In a good furball I can burn thru 1.5 m/ hr. If I run escorts simultaniously I can't quite keep up with my expenses when b8 is busy. I can't run escorts during furballs because I'm grouped. If escort income goes down I will be unhappy because I am unwilling to waste time trading for cash. There must be a significant income source that involves fighting other players.

Incarnate should further categorize profitability in gray space.

1) high risk trades (critical shortage) thru a choke point (b8) and corvus station.
* Profit Possible 20M/ hr - actual with significant losses 6M/hr
2) low risk trades (between Xi stations).
* Profit Possible 6M/hr - actual 5M/hr
Apr 15, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
My cost of living fighting heavy ships in b8 is 1m/ hr.

Hello VO 2.0, goodbye SpaceQuake.
Apr 15, 2009 ryan reign link
Didnt want to go off topic.
Apr 15, 2009 zamzx zik link
flying rags, I used to spend at least 1-4 mill a day :(
Apr 16, 2009 genka link
I'd guess I spend around 60k on ships per hour on my most violent character.
Which is sort of sad, because I've got 120k left on teeth, and it's a real pain in the ass to get more money without getting the trader badge.
Apr 16, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
You could just ask for money. Enough of us find you amusing that you'd probably get some help.
Apr 16, 2009 Lonectzn link
In reading this I can't help but pick up on what appears to be an overlooked general assumption about the amount of money pilots need.

Most ships don't cost 100k. In fact really only special variants and faction ships are higher than 20k. If you go one step down from the universally-agreed best of each ship hull (and equipment), your combat costs just plummet. And realistically, it is not good for the game when almost everyone flies best-variants.

Income should be low enough those ships are not seen as a 'given'. Ideally people should be largely flying upper/mid variants, maybe pulling out their faction ships for certain uses but not as a furballer. So a good player may decide to stick with their rev c, but accept that they can't afford to lose a lot of them.

Even earning around 500k an hour is more than enough to keep a non-faction fighter playing well. I think it is important to keep a low cost of dying to promote pvp, but focus this around the mid range ships, not at the best-of-line. Earning anything more than a couple mil per hour would be highly disproportionate given the current cost of living and lack of money sinks.

Even at 2mil/hour, that is enough to afford 70 or so fitted vulture IV's in odia. I just don't see how so much money is needed with these low prices. I think people may have spent too long flying the very best, and assume that is how it is meant to be. A good game promotes variation, and forces people to make tradeoffs. If you want better ships, you have to accept dying will have a lot more impact financially. If income is too high - that tradeoff becomes negligible.

To take the porche example, if everyone could afford one, it would mean a lot less to own one, you might not treat it as well and it would no longer be a mark of privelage. And, sadly, a whole market of other cars would sit unused. It is better to have some things if not out of reach, then at least involve a tradeoff enough to mean something.

People will not like this step back, but over time will adjust. I've been here what, 3 days? I have a few mil and can expect to easily afford flying only Rev C - I've already been able to completely ignore all 'inferior' ships because there is almost no noticable tradeoff in using this ship. As a result it's completely devalued the experience for me - I've nothing further to look forward too, no reason to put effort into making money. And having this amazing ship means very little because everyone flies good ships and they're the accepted minimum needed to pvp.

To summarise, take your figures and drop them further. I think under current pricing structure even 1mil/hour is on the high side. If you want to have bigger income generators for new high end content, enscapsulate these within the mission system and make it group only - this would keep such ships revolving around group play.