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Request For Comments: Trading and Economics.

Apr 16, 2009 incarnate link
I imagine your point will not be popular, but it is correct. We did have such a balanced economy, once, during Alpha. Most of our current base doesn't remember that time, and has only experienced our totally-inflated economy.

Still, I am leery of shocking the hell out of everyone, or creating too massive a difference between the haves and have-nots (as some people have saved up billions of credits), so I expect the road back towards a better balance to be.. gradual. I'll need the time to be able to diversify our forms of moneymaking (specifically, more combative income methods) so everyone isn't forced into mining or trading that they don't enjoy. Then new sinks will be added to attract those who have saved up their cash, and eventually we'll get back to something that approaches a balance.

Plus, fluctuations on the expense side can be expected as well, as we tie the build tree of manufacturing into item price/availability, and then the Hive impinges on the raw materials. Pushing back the Hive becomes much more important when the most popular ships suddenly start to climb in price due to resource contention ;).
Apr 16, 2009 toshiro link
Maybe make the top-of-the-line ships hideously expensive (from 300kcr upwards), and the same thing with high-powered weaponry.

Oh, and, I agree with Lonectzn.
Apr 16, 2009 vskye link
Aye, agrees with Lonectzn also.
Apr 16, 2009 davejohn link
May I make a few simple points ?

Firstly, the players with large bank balances tend to spend a lot of time in game. They have become rich not because the economy is massively imbalanced ( though it certainly needs gradual adjustment ) but because they play productively rather than just hanging about space chatting .

Secondly, having extensive resources gives a player no advantages in pvp, nation wars , bp, bs or pve such as hive skirmishes. Players do not get high combat levels because they are rich, they get them because they engage in a lot of combat.

Thirdly, the players who have made large amounts from mining have done so because they have spent time learning the locations of the best roid fields, done the master prospector to get HD beams, and invested a lot of time in actually mining ores. They can still mine profitably by finding where ores are in demand and being able to locate suitable resources to fill the demand.

Fourthly , trying to create a money sink to erode the bank balances of more affluent players is to a certain extent a fruitless exercise. Simply, if the money sink is balanced across the playerbase people who spend a lot of time in game will still end up with more resources than those that don't.

I agree with Inc that the development of a more coherent economy should be a gradual path. I totally agree with Inc that access to player owned resources such as stations or capships should be via missions and the application of resources, not just by cash purchase.

I see no reason why some players should not have very high bank balances and 20 + levels, so long as it does not of itself give them massive advantages over players with fewer resources. At the moment that is observably the case; I see no reason to rush into making drastic changes to the economy just because some players are rich.

Apr 16, 2009 Lonectzn link
The problem is not inherently with the size of their bank balances, more the generally disproportionate income generation potential against cost of living. It takes a long time, but the issue of super-rich players works itself out in the long run when you fix that basic problem. So those people aren't the primary problem being addressed.

I certainly agree that it's a difficult problem incarnate. It's a lot harder to take something away from players than give it. And the extent to which I see it needing adjustment would possibly be enough to turn some of those players used to the current system off the game, or at least make people unhappy, which you want to avoid if at all possible.

I can't honestly say I know how you can best get to your ideal point. There's probably enough information from the people who responded to get a feel for how far you can go for now without creating an uproar. Since I'm not an old player I'd have no idea what everyone would accept.

As an aside - how about some really left-field income sinks. Maybe make combat levels directly affect ship ability (0.5% to armour/light dmg/heavy dmg for each combat/light/heavy level) and allow players to purchase very very expensive licence upgrades (ie bribes, price scales with the level).
Apr 16, 2009 Aticephyr link
Maybe make combat levels directly affect ship ability (0.5% to armour/light dmg/heavy dmg for each combat/light/heavy level) and allow players to purchase very very expensive licence upgrades (ie bribes, price scales with the level).
No. Furthermore, such comments should really be taken into their own thread lest this one be sidetracked.

your other points are good ones, that last one wasn't.

and davejohn and others, it's also worth mentioning some players aren't that rich because every time they make any significant amount of money they donate it to a guild bank. Since those banks tend to have access limits on them, it does a nice job of stemming some inflation.
Apr 16, 2009 Lonectzn link
Fair point, I'd really hate to derail this thread for the sake of an idea which was just randomly off the top of my head =) I didn't really intend it to mean anything or steal focus.
Apr 16, 2009 incarnate link
Ecka, there's nothing inherently wrong with people who have obtained a lot of money. I knew you've worked hard for your money. The issue stems from the perceptions of other players, who do not have money, as it becomes that much more difficult to acquire. At present money has little impact on anything, but if we were to regain the sort of balance that Lonectzn is talking about, even things like big B8 furballs would become more expensive propositions. Everyone would still be able to participate, using lower-end configurations, as he states; but "rich" people would essentially be able to "drive porsches all the time", per his analogy, or more specific to our gameplay.. have a competitive advantage in combat due to usage of better and more expensive equipment. This, in turn, breeds some degree of resentment amongst have-nots. I have no inherent problem with affluent players, it's something that will always be around.. even as I (hopefully) re-balance the game to achieve a better economic state, I will still be adding more "endgame" gameplay that leads to the possibility of riches, so we'll eventually have "new" rich players regardless. I guess, in the meantime, my concern would just be the disgruntled angst of the players from different eras. Hopefully that wouldn't be too great.. but as far as development time goes, little saps my energy more than dealing with the player base over a contentious and dramatic issue.

Anyway, this really isn't the bigger problem, I was just clarifying so Ecka doesn't think I'm out to get him or anything. The bigger issue is just the "shock adjustment" of the player base, as everyone has to alter their gameplay style to compensate for change (like we went through when I re-priced all the ships last fall). Most people don't like Change, at least of this kind. Hopefully gradual change will be easier to deal with than my simply doing it all at once. I have mixed feelings either way, as I'd really like to get it over with in some respects.
Apr 16, 2009 davejohn link
Och, I realise that it is a very hard thing to keep all of the people happy all of the time Inc. Although I would prefer a gradual change I appreciate that if by making more drastic changes to "get it over with" would free up more of your time to make other significant advances in gameplay then I would fully support you doing that.

Personally, I would ignore much of the angst from the playerbase and just do what you think is best for the game.

Apr 16, 2009 PaKettle link
The problem is obvious Incarnate.... Your way underpaid. Add a buck to the subscription price and you will feel a whole lot better.

I have no problems with major changes. So far as I know the game is still in beta....As to the screaming, Smile, it wil be over soon one way or the other. My vote is to use your time as efficiently as possible.

Apr 16, 2009 everman7 link
Here's an issue with this thread that I can't seem to get around.

We're trying to balance trading? It seems to be like balancing ships. No clear correct answer can ever be given by the players.

If INC is adding profit-making alternatives for combat players and miners, then we are strictly speaking of what profits trader-only players should make. That's like nerfing what CEOs make in private business. GO SOCIALISM! (sarcasm!)

If INC is speaking of ways for the casual trader to make a bit of cash, I think we're fine where we are. I personally can make enough profit to keep my MaudX's exploding all over grey space and it doesn't effect me too much. I keep about 18 mil around and if I start spending a lot, I'll take a break and mine or escort or run a trade or two. I think that is currently expected of combat pilots. Are we trying to "change the economy" so that combat pilots have an easier time with getting back into the action? Or is this a nerf to profits and how much more time off combat are we going to have?

If we (the players) do not know what the endgame is, how can we figure out what kind of profits we need to make as traders or combat pilots or miners? Until we know what new ships are going to cost (assuming there will be an adjustment), we can not give accurate feedback on how long it takes us to make the kind of money we need to stay in the action. Until trader-only players know what kind of money-sinks they are going to get, how much profit-over-time they need can not be answered.

I don't think what INC has proposed is ludicrous at say 6K/cu profit in grey, but if we need 100mil for a trident then it seems a bit low on profits as a pure trader will need to put in some serious time on those rare and exclusive 6k/cu runs. This, of course, doesn't even factor in the danger of losing 6k/cu of widgets to a rat.

How difficult is it to set the 1:5:10 ratio on the inter-:intra-:grey- profits and then make a change? If it's a small tweak, let the player base test it out. If you change something it will get hammered out in no time. And by hammered out, I mean the boards will be full of complaints. If it's a massive redo I think we need more info that you may not have yet.

...or as Ecka just said "get it over with"! :)

Apr 16, 2009 Death Fluffy link
Git R Dun.

If its ready to go great. If not, as you have been doing. If its done, I'd rather get the full impact now than strung out over months.
Apr 16, 2009 genka link

Just an idea.

(That is, rather than have the new routes pay out 200-300c in-system with ships costing 20k, have them pay out 200-300k and ships can cost 20mil. That way, no need for a reset, no-one's money goes away, but the playing field's a little less up-hill for the people that didn't have a chance to make billions exploiting the shortcomings of the early economic system.)
Apr 17, 2009 Dr. Lecter link
I think Genka may have a point w/r/t hyper-inflation's potential value to VO. A 100 million credit Greyhound might be a tad excessive, though.
Apr 17, 2009 Aticephyr link
If I'm understanding you two correctly, you're both insane.
If I'm not... learn to communicate better.
Apr 17, 2009 missioncreek2 link
I think the purpose is to find the setpoints which successfully draw traders to gray space where they can interact. De-valuing the assets of rich players is off topic.
Apr 17, 2009 Whytee link
one of the ways of allowing the dedicated fighters to keep shooting each other without doing something as tacky as trading could be to pay them for their war efforts. However, if you are in sedina a lot and pvp's, stop whining. If you can't afford your current ship, learn to fly with something you can afford. Ally yourself with a trader who will sponsor you. Exploit your guild. But please please please, to quote yoda, stop whining!

Inc, just get it over with. If that is the way we are going you can either have a gradual move towards that goal with the murmur and (sorry) bitching that it brings on. On the other hand, if you just do it, get it out of the way there will be a shitstorm of "I AM LEAVING, KTHXBAI, I'M GUNNA PULL A MECHA" etc but we will still be here, neh? At least then the bitching will be over quicker and we can then discuss more important things. Like MINING!

Your choice naturally, I know what I'd do:)
Apr 17, 2009 Kierky link
I agree with Whytee. Totally.

Apr 18, 2009 Phaserlight link

edit: someone had to post it

I think Lecter is closest to the mark with his 1:2:10 ratio on the profit/cu caps.

It may be somewhat irrelevant to talk about making a certain number of credits per hour, as Inc's original post was about credits per cu. I think it's more interesting to consider what happens when one stockpiles items at a station over time, the actual sale only takes a few minutes so in that sense you might earn 20 million inside two minutes. The key is variable pricing based on supply and demand, with appropriate price caps that might be approached asymptotically (e.g. a log function) as supply goes down and demand goes up.

Just my opinion but 100 mil for a Trident strikes me as being too expensive, as a team of a dozen or so well coordinated cents could take one out. For a hundred mil I'd expect something like a HAC, with the expectation that the economy will eventually be deflated.

One other thing I don't think we've covered is the topic of overhead. How much capital do you need before you can begin trading at the nation-deepgrey level? The different categorizations of trade routes might make useful tiers to the economy. For example, one could begin trading intra-nation with an overhead of just a few dozen credits (buying a couple of the cheapest widgets), however in order to be profitable at the international level considering the increased risk and distance, perhaps 100,000 credits would be the minimum reasonable overhead. For nation to deepgrey routes maybe it wouldn't really be worthwhile unless you had 1 million credits to work with. Above this there may even be a higher tier involving black market items requiring an overhead of 10 million or 100 million creds.

The reason I suggest this is so that it take a while to break into each tier (international... nation-deepgrey etc.) while one builds up the necessary overhead. Then the stakes are raised a level. This could give strategic players something interesting to work toward without requiring obscenely priced items like player owned cap ships. In a sense, this is kind of already in place as filling a moth with the more expensive cargoes takes over a million credits. However I think it could be organized based on the descriptions of the different types of trade routes in the first post which could make for a more intuitive experience.
Apr 18, 2009 Whytee link
My heart bursts with pride. Real macro economy. As taken from the book by Mankiew himself:)