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EU server's attempt at economy roundtable

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 5:05 pm    Post subject: EU server's attempt at economy roundtable Reply with quote

please note this was an old post back in beginning of september 2002...i'll attempt to collate all the suggestions given in that thread into some kind of poll for easy voting, but since i've got three major projects on the go i'll forgo this one for now

GMHollis wrote:
Increasing the importance of non-combat people

This will be a fairly long posting, but necessary.

A while ago, on the german board, there was a discussion started about increasing the importance of miners, haulers/traders. The thread can be found here. The poll result can be found here. A whooping 90.32% (93 votes) are currently in favor of increasing the importance. (Of course, votes on the MG board are open to manipulation.)

The motivation was based on the fact that at the moment, traders are just a big "target". They have no important role, as there is lots of the top equipment produced in abundance, with commodities available in abundance. Thus, it doesn't hurt anyone if tows get shot down (examples have also been posted in this forum), nor is there a real necessity for allies to escort a tow hauling vital cargo, because there most often is no vital cargo. The only thing that differs from this rule is (aside from the Hyperial production being partially shut down), at the moment, the production of Purgatories.

Additionally, changes we propose must be realistic in the way that MG can influence them. We send proposals to ND, but given past experience, it looks more promising if we rely on the things that we can do, rather than waiting for new additions or alterations.

A few points brought up in the discussion by players:

  • Compared with heavy fluxing, the experience you can do by mining or hauling is ridiculously low. (Perhaps aside from cargo missions to unreg station, which are, however, counterproductive to the economy environment.)
  • Proposed was an increase of the role of miners, and the importance of mining (targetting at spawning of raw commodities. See also: "aluminium bug")
  • The known problems of prices not having enough flexibility (that would be open for exploit, of course. But realistically, Alu would cost a lot more nowadays.)
  • Restructuring of mining missions. Payout per amount delivered ore, not fixed (not that critical, one just has to mine the required amount, then. 50x10 units have the same effect as 1x500 units sold)
  • Taking proposals made on the ND-Board (by Muffy, I think), of multiplying the delivered ore with a number, let's say 10, and spawn that not immediately (plausibility), but over the day. Similar to the current spawn of raw commodities, but player influence, without any credibility problems.
  • Changing the extraction rates of raw materials from ore.

A lot of the things that were proposed, however, can't be done by MG.

  • Alterations of paid exp/credits not possible for normal missions. Only Faction Missions (more on FMs later).
  • Alterations of the roid extraction rates are not possible.
  • We can't switch off commodity decay selectively.
  • We can't alter the influence of Staple Life commods (Foods, Water, etc.)
  • We can't switch on the use of armor/ammo like advertised on JOSSH (i.e. armor is only used when a ship needs an armor repair, and if no armor is there, no repair. Same with ammo).
  • We can't alter production rates (like, 1 elecs needs .05 alu instead of .1 like now).

Things MG can do:

  • Altering the spawn rate of pure roids. (We already did a while ago, as was posted here.)
  • Only FMs can alter the exp/credits paid for mining.
  • We can alter the spawning of raw commoditites on stations.

One thing is clear, and was announced quite early in the thread: Increasing the role of miners/traders will not be a "win game" button. Attached to this will always (and automatically) be an increased responsibility and skill. You need to learn until you can do PvP(-combat), so why should econ be easy? The casual trader might find it more difficult in some areas, while dedicated mining squads/traders would have very good profit opportunities. (This is where I foresee lots of complaints. While people voted for "yes, we don't want to be an easy target just because we're not vital to the game", there are a lot of other postings where "traders" complained about the alu shortage, or during the Hyperial invasion the magnesium shortage, without getting creative to get some. You can't have increased importance without increased time investment.)

So, what is the current situation?

  • raw commodities get spawned. Miners are unimportant.
  • Only exception: A bug causes the automated production of aluminium to cease. Only aluminium created by mining gets into the econonmy system.
  • Low exp/credits for mining do not help for the motivation of actually mining, if you don't have a specific goals. Additionally, the extraction rate is quite low.
  • Most of all fluxing creates a much higher payout with respect to exp/time or credits/time.
  • As mentioned above, it's more reasonable to concentrage on things that MG can alter.

The above list of what MG can do, combined with the current situation is our workbase.

First, it seems that we have to create a stimulation to get people mining. The necessity to mine alone was not sufficient to make them mine. An exception are dedicated people who did that, but never let the alu get on the open market, but used it right up for the production of elecs etc., to finally get Purgatories, for example.

How can we create such a stimulus? The only thing where we have influence on the paid exp/credits are FMs. You might have noticed the two mining FMs that were in Quantar space. We were quite happy with the results as, especially during the first one, aluminium was available quite nicely. (ND started mining FMs on their own servers as well, in the meantime.) The second FM already showed a decay in participation. This is where increased exp/payouts might bring people back, without making mining "uber", in comparison to fluxing.

So, FMs might be a way to get people mining.

The situation, however, would be that right now, we would get people to mine, yet, their importance is still neglectable due to the parallel spawn of raw commodities. So, these spawns need to be altered as well. The question is how.

Switching off the spawn of all raw commodities would be a bad idea. Everything would need to be mined, which is very expensive (time wise) and frustrating, and in the end, won't work. The gaming fun should be there for all players. Including casual traders who just want a quick haul.

We could alter the spawn rate a bit. This will be a very complex balance problem. You either down it not far enough, then mining remains unimportant. Or you do it too far, then you can switch it off right away as well. Finding a middle ground is difficult.

Alternative: We switch the automated spawn of a few selected raw commodities completely. Preferably, raw commods which are easy to access and which provide low interdependence for critical commods. This means that there should be only few (at optimum 0) commodities which need both of them.

So, we start with two raw commodities and see where it leads us. Baby steps, on which we can expand, or reduce, if necessary. Which two raw commodities should that be?

It's reasonable to use raw commods which can be found in common roids and are easy to extract. This limits the needed "creation" of raw commods to a single mining trip for both, and using common roids reduces the effort. There was a table at the ND-Board, here, which shows that Iron and Aluminium are these two commodities. Aluminium is currently, due to a bug, not produced anyway, and iron has a better extraction rate than aluminium. Watching the mining FMs, alu and iron did appear at QD quite nicely indeed. (That's why we also used a depot station for the mining FM, not a producing one.)

What depends on aluminium (I only mention equipment which are actually used in-game):

None of the typical "profit commods" for money runs. As equipment, there's Hammer, Hitman, FeatherFire, Barrak, Cobra, Rockets, Radars, BCUs, Cameras, Scanners, Duelist.

That's the situation we have at the moment. Most of the above things still exist in abundance. Hitman, Purgas, Cutlass, Duelist are scarce (on the open market). Hyp production doesn't count since it's shut off anyway, partially.

What's the situation with iron?

Again, none of the typical profit commodities is affected. As equipment, we have important engines incl. Rush, Dream, Adventa, Respect, Shepherd. None of the oct engines, however (Guzzler, Burn, Burn Mk2) as these don't need iron. Additionally, the production of shields depends on iron. This includes the important Haven, (Defier), Alpaa, Makk and Mortar. Also, weapons like Barrak, Hammer, Hitman, all mining lasers, ECMs, Rotacol.

Let's summarize:

Switching off the spawn of aluminium of iron puts the further production, after the end of supplies, into the hands of the players. Engines for Sol- and Quantfighters are not affected (size 3), though. Also, laser weapons.

But the affect on shields already creates are more lively interaction between economists (= miners/haulers) and fighters.

To animate people to mine, we'll offer well paid mining FMs frequently. IC, the justification is easy, as it is exactly the need the to do them. Exp/credits will be altered depending on people's participation. This is an important difference to the alu situation we had before the 'Financier'-FM, where nobody mined and alu really was scarce.

Where are we heading with this?

We will move towards a situation where certain equipment will not be available in abundance. The situation with Purgatories, however, is more extreme, as missiles have a higher use. Compare it with radars insteads, which is more realistic when you want to compare it with shields. Radars are not really short. So, it probably won't be that there are no Haven shields at all. But perhaps not as many. Guns etc. are used more than once, and with Barraks etc., the situation would be a bit more serious than with equipment which is used once per ship.

Squads which concentrate on the economy and/or offer services (like production, delivering) will get an increased importance. Miner squads which, for example, get a contract to deliver x amount of y to station z will get an increased importance as well. Note: increased importance does mean increased security, however, it should make it easier to get an escort.

Depending on how it goes, we'd selectively cut further spawns, like Titanium (3rd on the list of extracted commods, and catches size 3 engines). If it won't work at all, we can remove it again.

There have been comments on the german boards about it and we're aware that this won't make the life of traders "safe". Enemies will have even more reasons to down tows if they transport critical things (which usually are connected with higher time investment).

Still, there are two extremas:

  1. All stations are stocked with whatever is needed, and every fighter can equip wherever with whatever is needed. Tows would be completely useless, and could be ripped without affecting anything.
  2. Nothing is stocked, everything needs to be produced.

Currently, we're in the middle, but admittedly leaning towards 1) (bare equipment transports), and the aim is to shift it a bit to be more dependent on the economy, hence increasing its importance.

We will also look at the spawn rates of other raw commodities, and maybe the production centers. Reducing production rates of profit commodities to reduce inflation somewhat will be investigated in a later phase (related to this, a situation with rare, time-intensive, expensive equipment already existing with artefacts).

This still is a proposal, and I am asking for constructive comments. Note, "constructive".
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