This thread arose out of a discussion of in-game currency on another thread:
That discussion gave rise to the idea that Artemis is tantalizingly close to being an economic as well as a military simulator. This post is a continuation of my pitch for adding the handful of elements needed to create an economic dimension within this already outstanding game. Much of what is needed already exists in the game; it just has to be tied together into a coherent economic system with the addition of a few essential trade elements.
The primary advantage of incorporating these elements is that they could be used to enhance the currently lackluster PVP game mode into a much more compelling Trade War PVP game mode that could easily become one of the most preferred modes of play. Ship commanders in Trade On game mode would need to consider the economic as well as military consequences of their actions, thereby vastly increasing the strategic depth and challenge of game play.
In this thread, I list the economic elements that already exist in Artemis, the needed modifications and additions to complete the suite of essential elements, and how these elements might be integrated to produce a simple interactive/reactive trade mechanism that will feel very much like an actual market to players.
What Artemis already has to provide a basis for trade economics:
- valuable exotic goods & ship upgrade components
- a salvage harvest mechanism
- the ability to choose whether or not to install collected upgrade components
- four distinct types of friendly base with different rates of torpedo production
- player ship consumables, torpedoes and energy, that must be replenished
- player ship torpedo storage and firing capacity
- NPC Bulk Cargo Carriers that will take orders from and make reports to Comms
- Bases that will report their statuses and needs to Comms
- the ability of NPC ships and bases to offer tasks to player ships with rewards for services rendered
-the ability of player ships to chat with each other
What is still needed to create a functional trade mechanism:
- The creation of a Trade War PVP game mode and Trade On/Off toggle on the server menu
- A system for tracking the credits and debits of each player ship (player ship Credits counter on Comm screen)
- the ability of bases to charge fixed prices for player ship torpedo reloads, energy recharges, and ship upgrades
- the ability to use torpedo tube loading/firing as a means of transferring cargo containers from player ship to any vessel or base without docking via a new category of torpedo called Cargo Container that comes in four subtypes - Medical Supplies, Machine Parts, Provisions, and Field Generators. A cargo container does not do damage when it hits its target; instead, it disappears and adds 1 of the same cargo type to the Cargo Bay of the player ship it strikes, or it disappears and adds credits to the account of the player ship that fired it when it strikes a base or NPC vessel IF Comms has locked in the target's purchase price offer (the path back to affect the firing ship instead of the target entity is through the Comms screen.) Cargo container "torpedoes" have no other effect in the game
- a new slot on the Weapons screen above the Torpedo Bay area labelled Cargo Bay that allows the selection and loading of each type of cargo container into a torpedo tube
- the ability of NPC Bulk Cargo Carriers to load/transport/unload multiple cargo containers by docking at bases and credit 10% of each cargo sale to their Escort Fleet's player ships (cargo containers sold to bases are consumed by the base that purchased them and leave play immediately)
- the ability of each base to make one type of cargo at a set rate of production for sale at a fixed price, while purchasing the other three cargo types at variable rates of return
- the addition of a player ship's Credits counter, periodic base prices & cargo availability updates, and Bulk Cargo Carrier cargo load reports on the Comms screen
- the ability of Science to scan Bulk Cargo Carriers to determine their current cargo load
- the ability to exchange uninstalled salvaged rare goods and upgrade components between player ships and bases at fixed prices, and between player ships in the same location at will
- the ability to transfer credits from player ship to player ship via Comms (the Funds Transfer box & Transfer button)
- the addition of an Accept/Decline toggle to both the Cargo Bay and Torpedo Bay areas of the Weapons screen so crews can control whether or not they purchase torpedoes reloads and/or cargo containers when docking with a base
How it would work:
In order for trade to exist, players need some way to keep track of their income and expenses, a range of goods and services that they can buy and sell, some way to determine the value of the goods and services they can offer, and a market that both produces and demands these goods and services.
To make the game strategically interesting for players, there has to be some differentiation between market actors, and these differences should shift in reaction to changing conditions in the game.
This proposal makes bases the drivers of all trade in the game. Each base is its own separate marketplace that produces one type of cargo for sale at a fixed price and buys all other types of cargo at variable rates of return. Each base also sells an appropriate suite of player ship upgrade components at a fixed price for each component - most of these upgrade components already exist in the game as salvage items. All bases sell torpedoes and energy at the same fixed rate during a game (although this rate will vary depending upon Difficulty Level,) but no base will purchase torpedoes or energy. All bases will buy any uninstalled salvaged rare good or upgrade component at a rate of 1/2 of that component's fixed selling price at the base that offers it for sale, or for a standard fixed rate in the case of rare goods that are only produced by exotics like space fauna.
Note that there are four classes of trade item:
- Money, which is tracked on a per-ship basis on the Comm screen's Credits counter
- Cargo, which are auto-docking cargo containers full of consumable bulk products that take up space in a ship's Cargo Bay but can be transferred by player ships using torpedo tubes without the need to dock. Each base produces one type of cargo. Demand for these products at bases is continuous, but it varies in intensity from Low to Moderate to High, so the price any base is willing to pay per container will vary depending upon how recently they were resupplied. A base will not accept cargo for which there is no demand at that base; in other words, a base will never buy the type of cargo it produces.
- Rare goods and ship upgrade components, which can be purchased from bases at a fixed price or salvaged in space after combat and sold at any base for 1/2 of the fixed base selling price. These are high-end, expensive, durable specialty items that take up almost no space and always fetch a good price.
- Ship Resupplies, which are the torpedoes and energy needed to keep a player ship fully operational. Bases produce these commodities and are not interested in buying them back.
Player Ships and Money
Player ships begin a Trade On game with a budget for purchasing torpedoes and energy recharges. The amount of money in the ship's account is listed in the Credits counter box on the Comm screen; each time a player ship docked at a base loads torpedoes, gains an energy recharge, loads cargo, or buys an upgrade, the base automatically deducts the current price it charges for the items purchased from the ship's credit account. Each time a player ship sells cargo, rare goods, or upgrade components to a base, the base automatically adds credits to the ship's account at its current purchase rate. If a player ship runs out of credits and its account goes negative, the Credits number displays a negative symbol and turns red. The bases will still sell it energy recharges on credit, but will not sell it torpedoes, cargo, or upgrade components; if the ship reaches its credit limit, bases will no longer allow it to dock until it earns some money. Bases will not buy back torpedoes or energy. Damage control is considered a universal humanitarian duty and bases do not charge for automatic player ship repairs.
Player ships can earn money in one of five ways:
- Complete a task for another NPC vessel or base; these will display periodically on the Comm screen and the earnings will be automatically added to the ship's Credits counter upon completion.
- Salvage rare goods and ship upgrade components in space after battles, and sell these items to a base while docked.
- Purchase cargo at the base that produces it and transport the cargo to a vessel or base that is offering the best price for it. To get the best price, it is important to be the first vessel to get to the purchaser with a High demand cargo because the price offered for that cargo will decrease or might even disappear as supply increases at that location.
- Gain credits for cargo delivered to a base via an allied NPC Bulk Cargo Carrier in your fleet. A Bulk Cargo Carrier loads up to eight containers of cargo automatically every time it docks at a base, and it automatically sells its cargo if there is any demand for it at a base, regardless of offering price. Each time a Bulk Cargo Carrier in your PVP Escort Fleet completes a cargo container sale, your ship is credited a fixed 10% of that sale, so if there is High demand for the carrier's cargo, your ship makes more money than if demand is Moderate or Low. If Comms can convince one of your opponent's Bulk Cargo Carriers to surrender, it immediately joins your fleet as a prize and you can use it to make even more money.
- Barter with another player ship for a ship-to-ship funds transfer. This could be anything from an honest cargo sales transaction to a pirate's extortion or ransom demand. Player ships cannot initiate trade deals with NPC vessels. NPC vessels only pay out rewards for tasks or services that they request completed through Comms.
Bases and Trade
Each type of base specializes in producing one type of cargo plus a few expensive specialty items. Each base will always purchase and immediately consume an unlimited number of containers of every type of cargo it does NOT produce, but will never purchase the type of cargo it does produce. There are four levels of demand for each cargo type - None, which means that the base or NPC vessel will not buy that type of cargo at all; Low, which is 20% below the usual price; Moderate, which is the usual price; and High, which is 20% above the usual price. The longer a base goes without purchasing a particular type of cargo, the higher the demand becomes for that cargo type until it tops out at High; similarly, if the base receives a large shipment of a particular cargo type, demand for that cargo type at that base may remain Low for a while.
Command Base - produces cargo type Medical Supplies, sells weapon & shield upgrade components.
Industrial Base - produces cargo type Machine Parts, sells engineering & helm upgrade components.
Civilian Base - produces cargo type Provisions, sells damage control & cargo bay upgrade components.
Science Base - produces cargo type Field Generators, sells sensor & communications upgrade components.
In Trade On single-ship or cooperative game mode, Luxury Liners and Colonial Transports will sometimes offer to purchase a specified cargo type from any player ship at an attractive offering price, but this demand is usually met by a single container of the specified cargo and disappears after it is met.
Cargo can be loaded and transported by player ships or by NPC Bulk Cargo Carriers. Both player ships and Bulk Cargo Carriers must dock at a base to load cargo. A Bulk Cargo Carrier can transport up to eight cargo containers of any type at a time, while an unmodified player warship can only carry one cargo container of each type at a time in the Cargo Bay located above the Torpedo Bay on the Weapons screen. Each cargo type (Medical Supplies, Machine Parts, Provisions, Field Generators) is listed in the Cargo Bay section exactly as if it was a different form of torpedo, with the default limit per cargo type being 1 - this limit can be increased by purchasing upgrades at a Civilian Base to convert a player warship into an armed cargo carrier, or players can create modded ship classes with enhanced cargo capacity.
To sell cargo, a Bulk Cargo Carrier must dock at a base, but a player ship does not. Instead, a player ship transfers a cargo container by loading it into a torpedo tube, targeting the purchasing base/NPC vessel/player ship, and firing the tube. The cargo container's built-in shuttle thrusters will automatically dock with the customer and deliver the cargo intact as long as it reaches its intended target, but if the cargo container is destroyed in transit or misses its intended target, it is lost. A player ship only gets paid by a base or NPC vessel if the cargo container successfully arrives "on time & on target"; if the cargo shot arrives, credits are automatically added to the player ship's account at the purchaser's current offering price level.
The procedure for player ship cargo delivery to a base or NPC vessel is as follows:
- The ship moves to within torpedo range of the intended customer.
- Comms opens the Current Prices section on the vessel's or base's submenu page and clicks on the appropriate Cargo Type button to accept/lock in the price and arrange the trade. Once Comms accepts and locks in the price, a countdown timer starts and Weapons MUST deliver the goods before the time runs out. The player ship WILL NOT be paid if Comms does not lock in the price first OR if Weapons does not deliver the correct type of cargo before the end of the countdown!
- Weapons loads the cargo, targets the customer, and launches the cargo.
-The player ship is paid immediately if the cargo arrives on time & on target, or not at all if it is destroyed, arrives too late or misses.
- a player ship may transfer a cargo container to any other player ship at any time by simply loading, targeting and launching. Comms should, however, negotiate the terms of any exchange beforehand, unless the cargo is intended as a gift. Unlike bases and NPC vessels, player ships are free to haggle and reach any form of exchange agreeable to both crews, or even attempt to cheat each other.
- whenever any player ship is "hit" by a cargo container, the cargo type appears in the Cargo Bay on the Weapons console, unless it cannot accept it. A player ship cannot accept another cargo container if all of its Cargo Bay slots for that specific type of cargo are full. One way around this limit is to load a cargo container into a torpedo tube to clear a Cargo Bay, but this means that the tube is now useless until that cargo container is jettisoned.
- To give money directly to another player ship, Comms selects the intended player ship on the Comms menu, types the amount to be transferred in that ship's Funds Transfer box and hits the Transfer button. The amount typed in will be automatically debited from the payer ship's account and credited to the payee ship's account.
Next post will conclude my suggestion outline....