[WIP] Midway step in refactoring trade

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[WIP] Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:55 pm

In one of the numerous threads about what is lacking in the life of a trader in VS at the moment, I offered to work out some preliminary base/planet resource data. I am nearing completion of my first data set, which at this point is only a rough whit kind of goods do they make and use and in what quantities. To this end I have a few questions and the results will appear here.
1: what is the best format to share this data here?
At present I'm building the data in excel, but I see no way of posting tables/spreadsheets.

2: --Related to #1-- Is there an o0nline whiteboard/collaboration site that is free that someone can recommend for the eventual every base x every item table so that all interested parties can update it?

3: Who would be interested in rounding this direction out a bit, or am I flying solo?



---stay tuned!---
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Hicks » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:57 pm

2. Google docs
3. I might, have a bit of spare time at the moment
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:16 pm

The rough outline is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At1NfOPN27oQdEg1YUZiQ29zQlZJRVNLVHlzYlhIQUE

It's open to anyone with the link to edit

Now do we want to have ships and equipment to cost diffrently with this as well?

Once there has been some comment time on this outline we'll work on speciffics.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby pheonixstorm » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:07 am

blank ships should cost less, maybe stock as well if you buy them from a shipyard. If we had a way to sperate established worlds from newly colonized or even those that have not been established for long we could set a new priority on what good they would import. Maybe that can be dealt with whenever the economic code is built for the game. Would be nice to see a thriving dynamic econ with full trade routes and not just a random simulation of a universe econ.

As fro what format to use.. anything you attach to the forums should be in csv I guess. excel spreadsheets are ok so long as they can be loaded into openoffice or any other spreadsheet program, thats why I say csv as its a universal format.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:42 am

Did a quick review of the Master Parts List (MPL) there are presently no .blank variants for sale. The stock ships do cost less then milspec. So do we want to add them?

I agree that a dynamic economy is what the end goal should be. That, however, requires coding and lots of it. So, baring a coding genius who has yet to be assigned a task here I think baby steps would be best. It is that end goal that is partly behind my developing production and consumption rules as a base for our prices.

"If we had a way to sperate established worlds from newly colonized or even those that have not been established for long we could set a new priority on what good they would import." Assuming that adding planets is as easy as entering them in units.csv, we could follow the example of ships and have planet-type.new and define rules for them.

I'm also finding it difficult to construct a proper table to do a every planet x every item listing as It would seem that classes of items are needed as well. On another note is the primary devel team aware that cargo is not it's own grouping like starships and upgrades are?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:50 am

Just tweaked the table to display a bit better. If you can't open it just post, but I was hoping to have somthing that we could all work on.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby pheonixstorm » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:25 pm

Fits perfect on my screen (1440x900)

What files are you using to get all your pricing info?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:21 pm

Think I'll leave the base price in MPL alone --for now-- and making my own relitave prices up for now. But all of my data is coming from the SVN versions of the data files. Thats why I'm leaving it wide open for disscussion, see if my thinking is agreed with.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:27 pm

I'm guessing the ######## is you pheonix? Mentions a change, just wondering if it was data or formatting.




Edit: Name removed due to private contact.
Last edited by travists on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby pheonixstorm » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:42 pm

no, didn't make any changes, just gave it a quick looksee
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:31 am

Looking at the outline, some of it is intuitive, but it will still be very difficult for the player to remember all these crazy amounts of location types and categories of goods and the correlations between them.

And what enjoyable gameplay did the player gain from having so many different trade items and oddly categorized planet and station types, is there a reason for all of this complexity? If not, then all of this does is force him into some low grade memorization gameplay, until he abandons trading altogether.

Trade item bloat has always been a problem for VS, but with a dynamic economy it could become a big problem since this stuff will suddenly matter.


For example, if I buy housing materials, I need to think about what kind of destination will want to buy them. If I guess a 'dirt planet' I am right but if I guess 'snow' or 'desert' I am wrong, why? And even though I might assume trees make good housing materials, the overgrown forest planets have demand for the stuff.

Or robot workers, useful in agricultural operations but not mines.

AI cores, useful on agricultural stations but not agricultural planets and not on research or military stations where I might expect them to be assisting with the more complex tasks like R&D and strategic command.

Seafood, is it just food and can be sold in the same places or will there be vegan planets?

How is a molten world different from a lava world in its demand and consumption? How is it different at all? :?:

Etc...
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:57 am

Just trying to make it make more sense. Why do mining bases pay so well for planitary atmosphere maitanance equipment as they do now? The present prices, and production make little or now sense. To my mind the life of a free traider is keeping track of whow makes what and where is it worth the most. If you see something that makes more sense change, post and we'll hash it all out. as to the diffrence between lava and molten? My best guess was that lava is cooler, but I have no idea why both are there. My general process is what does this base/planet make? what do they need? What is the population like (big/small, stable/growing, etc)?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:48 pm

travists wrote:To my mind the life of a free traider is keeping track of whow makes what and where is it worth the most.


As far as the dynamic economy goes that is true. But the values you a presently designing aren't dynamic, they are static.

If you set it so that industrial worlds in general consume a lot of food, that is static. The dynamic economy then takes that value and modifies it for each industrial world based on local events and local randomization and such.

The player should have to keep track of and predict food prices on a specific industrial world so he can go and sell there when it makes sense to, that is good and dynamic gameplay.

But he should not have to keep track of how industrial worlds in general usually treat food prices. That information should be obvious, simple and intuitive. Otherwise you end up with static, simple memorization/notepad/constantly-refer-to-manual gameplay. And if you bog the player down in keeping track of this static economics, will he still have enough brain cells to keep track the dynamic economics?

travists wrote:My general process is what does this base/planet make? what do they need? What is the population like (big/small, stable/growing, etc)?


For an endeavor as aggressive as adding a dynamic economy, I think a more aggressive top down process can be justified.

The process I suggest is:

1) What goods should there be and why?
2) What planets/bases should there be and why?
3) What items do planets/bases produce and consume and why?

Steps 1 and 2 need to be answered first, IMO. Because if we can't answer them, the player won't either. And then Step 3 is very messy.

travists wrote:If you see something that makes more sense change, post and we'll hash it all out.


Alright I'll post later with more details and perhaps an illustration.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:26 pm

This is a mid way step. While full on dynamic is great, and every thing here should be based on rules that can be fed into the dynamic economy engine, this is more of a make the static price system currently used feel like it is based on a dynamic production and consumption factors. Here is the thread where I have more fully discussed my thoughts on the VS economy.
In a nutshell
  • Everything must some from somewhere
  • The law of supply and demand must be followed
  • Every item is dependant on the cost of the resources needed to make it
  • Transportation risks and costs are included

Anyway, unless we have some people with the skills to build the dynamic engine we must make the static system work better.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby pheonixstorm » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:48 pm

@Deus

At least this looks better than the current mess in VS. The current system doesn't make much sense and is supposed to be somewhat dynamic in the pricing department but it isn't. I have yet to see any variation in prices between bases from what little I have played. The prices are supposed to change by a certain percentage but they don't. I think that is the biggest irritation to me. The backend is there but the code doesn't seem to process it correctly if at all.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:06 pm

Well, I have seen some planet to planet (of same type) has minute variations, atlease for specified items. however there is no day-to-day flux on a planet, and most items trade at their base cost regardless of demand on a given base/planet.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:58 pm

I have added A table for items, their descriptions, and uses. Maybe that will help?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:38 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:@Deus
At least this looks better than the current mess in VS.


It does but we can go further still. My feeling is we should start redesigning the static elements of the economy from the top down and starting from where we want to end up and working our way back. The task will be simpler and the results more solid if we have a well defined goal for how the economy should function before we meddle with the hoards of individual items, locations, etc.

So for starters here is my proposal for what the economy could look like at the highest level:

Image

The blue titles represent the sectors of the market and the green arrows show the flow of the goods from a producing sector to a consuming sector.

Basically manufacturing and agriculture ship goods to every sector because everything needs equipment and replacement parts and everyone has to eat. This includes trade between these two sectors. Both of these sectors also need raw materials from which to produce their goods and this is where mining comes in. These three sectors form a kind of triangle of mutual trade.

But then you have the two end use sectors, research and military. These are the only two sectors which produce nothing in the way of goods and also have no use for the raw materials produced by mines.

I propose that if we can decide on this or another rule set for sector level trade then we can move down to the finer details of the economy while upholding these rules. Thoughts?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:38 pm

Visual thinker? That is not as far off from what I was thinking as it seemed at first. Three thought though.
What direct use does agriculture have for mined goods?
Are you presently having refining and manufacturing as one stage?
What about the civilian consumer market?
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Deus Siddis » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:59 pm

travists wrote:Visual thinker? That is not as far off from what I was thinking as it seemed at first.


Aye, but the night is still young. :wink: We're still getting to the point where I commit mass genocide against the masses of trade items VS currently has. :twisted:

What direct use does agriculture have for mined goods?


In short, chemical fertilizers. Sunlight is free, water can be extracted from food for reuse and to save on shipping weight on great journeys across space, but you still lose the nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, etc. For stations (who also need carbon BTW) and food exporting planetary environments these elemental nutrients must be constantly replaced.

Are you presently having refining and manufacturing as one stage?


Refining can either be merged with manufacturing or mining. The only difference is whether refined materials come out of factories or mines.

Free floating refineries light-years away from both their input and output makes no sense to the point of being bizarrely comical. And they offer little to trade game-play, since they are basically just middlemen.

What about the civilian consumer market?


I eliminated it for the same reasons as the refineries, basically. It is a middleman with little game play value to trade, since in this case there are no price extremes to turn a real profit on. And having a lone walmart in deep space is far from realistic in an economical sense. Also as something purely IMHO, it detracts somewhat from the game's Dystopia-in-space atmosphere.


Tangentially it is worth noting that subtracting two stations times however many factions the game has, takes a real load off this project's content creation/maintenance. Because stations are the largest and most detailed human made graphics in the game they take a lot more work from skilled artists than say, a strike fighter does, and the present models are well past retirement age already.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:47 pm

Refining is a distinct step, but no reason why the mines can't do it. Civilian consumer would be a major consumer on large worlds and resorts. Don't think about supplying a Wal-Mart, but rather an area where house for Wal-Mart. As for refineries being light years away from mines and factories rather space as well. There is so much on this side that needs work that we might as well be talking about rewriting the game! However, if we cut out middlemen, and assume that cutting bases = better game then why have different basses at all? We have a production base and a consumption base, nothing else. While trimming items we have food, water, raw material, and finished goods. Hey two bases and four items this is going to be easy!
Seriously, we can't just cut something because it is incontinent. In RL every raw material has it's own refining process with a separate facility. The consumer market is a huge force (Apple, Magnavox, Kraft foods, etc.)

As for a Mass of trade items, well possibly but at about 204 items scattered about 8 major groups and a total of 43 sub groups, maintaining the illusion of a real economy with less would be difficult.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Hicks » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:59 pm

Is there an option to put in a decription for a planet/station? Is it work having a description about each planet, with a brief list of the main goods produced and consumed?

We need to look at the basic resources to satrt of with. Every station/planet needs food, water, and air. So either they need to produce their own or import it. With water and air you can always recycle it, but we should have food for all inhabited places. For air, is it work importing CO2 to agricultural stations if they produce grain? As the plants consume the carbon, producing oxygen which could be transported back to planets or to stations, then they ship out CO2.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:20 pm

In my first chart Last collom I started with descriptions, they need work. The wiki has little or no info on bases and planets so such is desperately needed. The real question is how much can be put in-game. Perhaps the terminal <can> has an information section for such? I think that parring or expanding the resources and resource types needs to come first. Well second, first is a very general production/consumption list.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:55 am

travists wrote:Refining is a distinct step, but no reason why the mines can't do it.


Exactly, if it is cheaper to have refineries on site and ship only concentrated product across vast distances, then separate, centrally located refineries no longer make economic sense.

Civilian consumer would be a major consumer on large worlds and resorts. Don't think about supplying a Wal-Mart, but rather an area where house for Wal-Mart.


By space walmart I meant the free floating commerce center which I think is pointless and should be eliminated.

But I see what you are saying about large earth worlds which in your model are basically trade independent, neutral price zones. My suggestion is that these be considered part of the Research sector. They are like the developed nations in today's world, producing and consuming mostly within itself. But they still have some special political influence in the larger system and also produce research (which is not a commodity, you don't trade it, but it is valuable). These advantages allow it to draw in manufactured and agricultural resources even though it doesn't produce many tangible resources for other sectors.

So in short I would take trade center stations and "university" worlds and merge them into large earth-like worlds, and then classify it as Research sector in the larger economy.

However, if we cut out middlemen, and assume that cutting bases = better game then why have different basses at all? We have a production base and a consumption base, nothing else. While trimming items we have food, water, raw material, and finished goods. Hey two bases and four items this is going to be easy!


Actually a sector can have more than one base. And each base can have a few commodity categories, one for each sector it trades to. And then each commodity category can have any number of commodities seems appropriate for realism and gameplay.

I have seen a number of good space games that have only eight or so "commodities" that you trade, but you can also have eight hundred and I think we can agree that somewhere between those is what's preferable for VS. But whatever the case, everything can be organized into the five sector system described earlier, so that at least at the topside the system is clear and describable to the player.

Seriously, we can't just cut something because it is incontinent. In RL every raw material has it's own refining process with a separate facility. The consumer market is a huge force (Apple, Magnavox, Kraft foods, etc.)

As for a Mass of trade items, well possibly but at about 204 items scattered about 8 major groups and a total of 43 sub groups, maintaining the illusion of a real economy with less would be difficult.


Then that leads us to either have tens of thousands of commodities for everything from iPods to Mac&Cheese, or that the player has no commodities to trade and simply takes missions from various vendors that say deliver iPods from a specific manufacturing plant to a specific distribution center. Either way hurts gameplay I think we can agree.

And as far as realism is concerned, remember that this is a not a normal 'real' economy, it is a space economy. It only needs to create the illusion that it is handling the resources valuable and flexible enough to be worth exploiting in and transporting through deep space. Because the player's perspective and the things he can buy and sell, is all based on space going commerce, not the intra-planetary commerce we are talking about when we discuss the real world today.
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Re: Midway step in refactoring trade

Postby travists » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:12 am

I'll admit that the commerce center is odd. As the three primary races in the game are not exactly friendly with each other, and sometimes down right hostile, there is no need for a border "crossroads" type trading center.

A refinery, however, is where I see gasses and mined metals as well as silicon, carbon, etc. combined into alloys glass and other developed commodities. Those used by factories to make useful stuff.

I was not intending to imply that we have every manufacturer of every device, but rather that the consumer is as large as government purchasers. In fact I see places like the Caribbean worlds as huge commodity dumps. They make little, but all the trader needs to know is that they use almost every consumer good out there. Especially the luxury ones. It dose not matter as much what brad or type of entertainment system your shipping, just that that's what it is.

Universities mainly produce intellectual property. But they consume what would be expected of a mostly young population. And thus differ from a research station proper.
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