Trading Profit

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george moromisato
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Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:48 am

I wrote a quick program (which I've added to TransData) which computes the maximum profit possible for each item type assuming that you buy the item at the cheapest station found and sell it at the one with the best price. This was done by simulating a full game and exhaustively checking every station spawned.

Here is the result:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... 1FHRkpRc0E

I made this analysis to better understand the trading mechanics and to set up a baseline for future changes. There is nothing surprising: We all know that ice farms are a great place to sell stuff.

[There are some amusing trades, such as buying jasmine tea at a Teraton base and selling it at a hotel. Are the Teratons known for their tea?]

Ideally, I'd like to alter the trading system to make it more interesting for the player. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the player be given interesting choices. Right now, there is no real choice: if you know that there is an ice farm, you sell. There might be a choice about whether or not to backtrack to a different system to sell, but that's not always an interesting choice.

Here are some ideas that may or may not help:

1. Perhaps NPCs are competing with the player. For example, imagine that the player finds an ice farm willing to pay 100% profit on fuel. The player might run to a fuel depot to buy fuel. But the catch is that someone else might sell to the ice farm first, in which case, the player can't sell (either because prices change or because the ice farm no longer wants the fuel).

2. Perhaps the player can buy information about prices. For example, the player can pay 1000 credits to learn that a station in the system is paying 100% profit on a certain item; or that an item is for sale at a certain stations.

3. Right now there are only a few station types that you can reliably sell to: ice farms, hotels, corporate enclaves. At minimum we should increase this set: medical centers (buy meds), food processors (buy fuel and organics), energy generators (buy rad shielding), etc. Ideally we should design this set so that it is (more or less) obvious what the station wants to buy.

I'd love to hear any ideas that you may all have.

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Song
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Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:14 am

Does anywhere buy the wrist computer? it's been bugging me for years, and I've never been able to sell one except at a nasty price to the CW stations.

Let's see. We can have weapons manufacturers that buy metal and sell guns/ammo/armor (a good place to start are the makayev/rassiermesser plants).
We can have helium regolith being made into fuel....somewhere.
We can have shipyards that buy metal and certain baseline weapons (maybe?)
We can have commonwealth/coporate residentials buy "white elephant" items that the player can peddle (Eg. Microsaur, Wrist computer)
We could have hospitals or medical centers that require medicines, or stations that have an outbreak of illness and pay for anything the player has that can help.
(Note, having a hospital right next to the Battle Arena would make a lot of sense)


Note: This would be an opportunity to make some of the "earth only" stuff less "earth only", especially if it's only found in, for example, ice farms in the vicinity of Incandescent.
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TVR
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Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:25 am

george moromisato wrote:... [There are some amusing trades, such as buying jasmine tea at a Teraton base and selling it at a hotel. Are the Teratons known for their tea?] ...
Personally, I would never do this - rins are harder to get than credits, so it's not very wise to go converting rins->credits, even for a technical profit.
george moromisato wrote:... 1. Perhaps NPCs are competing with the player. ...
A major limitation is how gates are like black holes to NPCs, they swallow them up and never spit them out the same way again. NPCs can't cross systems, thus they can't really participate in intersystem trade-route fun, actual competition for example.
george moromisato wrote:... Perhaps the player can buy information about prices. For example, the player can pay 1000 credits to learn that a station in the system is paying 100% profit on a certain item; or that an item is for sale at a certain stations. ...
At best, it'll be in-system information... which is trivial to discover given a couple minutes.

Given the current setup of Transcendence, with linear topology, totally interchangeable, non-persistent NPCs, and the otherwise static nature of systems, it's unlikely that standard arbitrage trading can be made anything other than what that trading simulator has resolved in finite time, aka boring. If say celestial objects orbited around while out of system, now that would make trade routes dynamic and navigation tricky - risk/reward.

Interesting is always about risk/reward, if there's a reward, but it's not risky, then it's grinding.

However, trading can still be fun and dynamic: Blockade running to supply a besieged station would definitely be interesting. As would something like being slipped a tracking device with a large commodity exchange purchase, and then having to fend off a pirate ambush. As mentioned, temporary shortages are exciting, because unlike static trade-routes, temporary trade-routes can't be solved - it is something that forces the player to consider survivability versus maneuverability versus cargo space as they race around, and, of course, risk/reward.
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Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:47 am

Shrike wrote:Does anywhere buy the wrist computer? it's been bugging me for years, and I've never been able to sell one except at a nasty price to the CW stations.

Let's see. We can have weapons manufacturers that buy metal and sell guns/ammo/armor (a good place to start are the makayev/rassiermesser plants).
We can have helium regolith being made into fuel....somewhere.
We can have shipyards that buy metal and certain baseline weapons (maybe?)
We can have commonwealth/coporate residentials buy "white elephant" items that the player can peddle (Eg. Microsaur, Wrist computer)
We could have hospitals or medical centers that require medicines, or stations that have an outbreak of illness and pay for anything the player has that can help.
(Note, having a hospital right next to the Battle Arena would make a lot of sense)


Note: This would be an opportunity to make some of the "earth only" stuff less "earth only", especially if it's only found in, for example, ice farms in the vicinity of Incandescent.
A few of us actually made what your talking about : I did some in my Very Bad Idea Adventures :) but THEN I learned some of what I did had already been done:(

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Song
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Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:51 am

I've also messed around with modding some of this stuff. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be the the game anyway. ;)

The problem with frozen systems is quite serious. Stuff really doesn't change, so it's kinda boring to backtrack. While simulating in the background would take up a lot of resources, it might (with a lot of work) be possible to fake it: run a timer on leaving a system that sets up a flag (or whatever it is in lisp. I'm an ecology student, so I use the wrong word) after X amount of time.....then check for it when re-entering the system. If X time has passed, we shuffle stuff around a bit: Repair/loot/replace some stations, shuffle inventories to simulate trade, have a small chance to add or destroy existing structures, remove any ships that were waiting for the player (for special stuff like the Kronosaurus, have it lurking somewhere near the gate out of the way and pursue the player once it catches up with them).....it would increase load-time on gates a bit, and take time to implement..... but with a few checks to make sure that the player can't skip back and forth grinding XP/credits/whatever, it would definitely give the illusion that stuff is going on when the player is not around..even if it isn't. We don't have to have Dwarf Fortress-esque "simulate EVERYTHING" magic, but a few tricks wouldn't go amiss.


(Removing ships that are waiting for the player would go well if you also *added* a chance for an ambush to be waiting for the player when they leave the gate.)
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FourFire
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Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:40 am

TVR wrote:
Personally, I would never do this - rins are harder to get than credits, so it's not very wise to go converting rins->credits, even for a technical profit.
Agreed.
TVR wrote:
A major limitation is how gates are like black holes to NPCs, they swallow them up and never spit them out the same way again. NPCs can't cross systems, thus they can't really participate in intersystem trade-route fun, actual competition for example.
I'd like to see a possible implimentation which saves the data on ships, and maybe even runs the systems on either side of the current one (at a slower speed), (next system over paused) with persistent ships traveling from system to system... on their intersystem missions.
TVR wrote:
At best, it'll be in-system information... which is trivial to discover given a couple minutes.

Given the current setup of Transcendence, with linear topology, totally interchangeable, non-persistent NPCs, and the otherwise static nature of systems, it's unlikely that standard arbitrage trading can be made anything other than what that trading simulator has resolved in finite time, aka boring. If say celestial objects orbited around while out of system, now that would make trade routes dynamic and navigation tricky - risk/reward.

Interesting is always about risk/reward, if there's a reward, but it's not risky, then it's grinding.

However, trading can still be fun and dynamic: Blockade running to supply a besieged station would definitely be interesting. As would something like being slipped a tracking device with a large commodity exchange purchase, and then having to fend off a pirate ambush. As mentioned, temporary shortages are exciting, because unlike static trade-routes, temporary trade-routes can't be solved - it is something that forces the player to consider survivability versus maneuverability versus cargo space as they race around, and, of course, risk/reward.
I agree.

George, may we have the program so that we can simulate these prices with mod items/mod stations?
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Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:05 pm

george moromisato wrote:I wrote a quick program (which I've added to TransData)
Waiting for the next TransData release with baited breath... ;)

KA101
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Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:39 am

Full disclosure: I use the mod that keeps everything at full price but enforces a hard cap on how much the station will buy. Gaming the pricing system isn't fun for me.

1) I'm not sure whether the idea of "NPC competition" is an arbitrary NPC having showed up "just before you arrived" <trollface> or an actual in-game ship/character. Please clarify.

Salvager Nomads are NPCs competing with the player, and last I knew tended to draw hatred for that competition. For my part, I despise them because they perfectly know every wreck as soon as it happens, never seem to be deliberately attacked, don't mark or scuttle wrecks once they've looted them, and don't interact with the player. In short, they're a loot-leech, not "competition".

If the trader-NPCs were actual characters, who have player-style limitations and could be interacted with (at least provide decent conversation in the Trafalgar Bar), then yeah, they'd be a good thing. If all they do is cheat me out of my reward for the past hour's work, then I go looking for a mod to fix the problem.

2) Basic pricing info seems like something a mining-admin might relate. "Corporate ice farms have luxuries to spare, because they never have enough of the basics: fuel rods, food, and medical supplies." Knowledge of a time-limited Special Deal might be the sort of thing one could get from a fellow trader--help someone out and later on they or their friend passes along the info.
Example of it working the other way: Maybe you're rigged for drug-running and just finished dropping off a load at the Victorian. "As the man finishes securing your goods, a customer approaches him. You aren't sure how taking Tempus would help solve his cerallox shortage, though." Since you can't mine at the moment, you pass that info along to the Miner two docking ports over.

General idea there is along the lines of the Sisters and Pilgrim's Aid: you help people and they help you later on, and vice versa. Unlike PA, though, this wouldn't be something that gets redeemed on-demand, but just happens as you go. Hopefully it makes the journey feel more alive and less like a dungeon crawl IN SPACE.

3) FWIW I thought med-centers were R&D: they produced medicines. Might want to make that more clear. Agreed that a hospital station at Rigel would make sense, and that weapon plants ought to buy raw materials. I would ask that static trade routes remain an option, though, as I've found them plenty exciting at times. (Thanks, Charon Frigate that spawned right in the middle of the Korolov route--there goes that game!)

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Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:43 pm

KA101 wrote:Full disclosure: I use the mod that keeps everything at full price but enforces a hard cap on how much the station will buy. Gaming the pricing system isn't fun for me.
Is that mod Alternative Exchange? If so, I can update that to 1.1 and reupload it. I removed it because I thought spoilers that revealed buying limits (in Hints Shown) would suffice and be much easier to maintain.

I prefer "...full price but enforces a hard cap..." because I hoard everything until I amass enough items to bypass buying limits as much as I can. The result is I struggle in the early game with low cash, then I get the big payoff later. One example is the aforementioned hoarding of helium fuel for ice farms.
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Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:11 am

I am working on an upcoming Econ Mod that changes and adjust buying limits. Removes the sell in bulk the first time issue and some other informational add ons, plus my identify before buying code.

KA101
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Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:49 am

PM wrote:
KA101 wrote:Full disclosure: I use the mod that keeps everything at full price but enforces a hard cap on how much the station will buy. Gaming the pricing system isn't fun for me.
Is that mod Alternative Exchange? If so, I can update that to 1.1 and reupload it. I removed it because I thought spoilers that revealed buying limits (in Hints Shown) would suffice and be much easier to maintain.

I prefer "...full price but enforces a hard cap..." because I hoard everything until I amass enough items to bypass buying limits as much as I can. The result is I struggle in the early game with low cash, then I get the big payoff later. One example is the aforementioned hoarding of helium fuel for ice farms.
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Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:54 pm

New Proposal for Trading in Transcendence - Replacement of Marxist Price Fixing with Supply and Demand Fluctuation.

Currently, stations of the same type are completely interchangeable, there is no difference between one hotel station and another for example - they all buy the same things at the same price! This causes trade routes to be nothing more than a back-and-forth fetch quest, from a supply station to a buying station. All one needs to do is memorize a table of suppliers and consumers, eg Tempus -> Victorian, Fuel station -> Ice farm, Med station -> Hotel. This is something that a finite state machine can solve; this is boring. Adding additional station types will be of limited, linear gain, ie all it does is add Fuel station -> Powerplant to the table of trade routes.

I propose this solution: A station's buy and sell prices should depend on the quantity of the commodity that the station already has. If the station has a massive surplus AKA overstock of fuel rods, then the buy and sell price for fuel rods at that station should be extremely low. Conversely, if there is no Stimuzine for sale at a station, then the offered and asking prices for Stimuzine should be through-the-roof high. These price curves will also factor in the amount of commodity being bought or sold in each transaction, ie you will get a lower unit price if you try to sell in bulk.

The gameplay effects of this proposal will be an overall increase in dynamism of Transcendence. No longer will the player have to deal with Marxist buy limits and price fixing - even with linear topology and static station inventories, the player will be encouraged to always explore and find new stations to trade with as older stations reach commodity saturation. In fact, the dominant trade route should become multi-hop, as the player can get the best price by evenly distributing a commodity over as many stations as possible (AKA selling retail). Of course, the player would have to consider fuel cost and time spent versus relative profitability. The commodity exchange at each CW station would also become like a real-life COMEX, making it possible to arbitrage and trade between different CW stations, rather than having them all buy and sell the same things at the same price.
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Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:01 am

You say "Marxist" like it's a bad thing.

Half of what you're describing is the default, IIUC: stations pay less for items as they get more. Mods exist to work around this because, for players of those mods, working out how best to $VERB the system gets in the way of their fun. (Hi. I'm KA101, and I use such a mod.)

If I'm understanding the proposal correctly, it adds the other half of the equation: prices go up, as in above actual-value, when an item is scarce at a given station/region/whatever. Perhaps players could buy for the same/comparable price as they would receive had they sold; that seems reasonably fair, at least.

This seems to me like it would only add more complexity, with a minor profit margin increase if the station happens to be empty. This could be modeled as basically shifting the starting price point for 0 goods in the station's stock X amount of value in the player's favor.

Could be interesting, but I think I'd stick with AltExchange.

[edited to clarify an unfinished thought process-KA101)
Last edited by KA101 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:49 pm

I'm not particularly enamored with the existing economy system either. I actually tend to use the other extreme, the 'no sell limit' mod, but that is really too much the other way.

The whole 'NPC competitors' sounds interesting. I'd suggest limiting it to a few. Most ships plying back and forth would 'disappear' when they go through the gate, but some ships are persistent. When they leave the system the game keeps a theoretical (probably very simplified) map of roughly what they are doing and where they are as they move about. If you had one NPC ship per system at game start (To allow more ship in mods that have huge galaxies like The Network) then you wouldn't run into them much, but when you do they'd change the deals present at stations etc. Actually talking to them might be interesting, but it also might be interesting if you couldn't tell which ships were generic and which NPCs. True, the later might cause more aggravation in the long run to players, but it would be an interesting persistent feel for the galaxy.

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Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:00 pm

Patupi wrote:I'm not particularly enamored with the existing economy system either. I actually tend to use the other extreme, the 'no sell limit' mod, but that is really too much the other way.

The whole 'NPC competitors' sounds interesting. I'd suggest limiting it to a few. Most ships plying back and forth would 'disappear' when they go through the gate, but some ships are persistent. When they leave the system the game keeps a theoretical (probably very simplified) map of roughly what they are doing and where they are as they move about. If you had one NPC ship per system at game start (To allow more ship in mods that have huge galaxies like The Network) then you wouldn't run into them much, but when you do they'd change the deals present at stations etc. Actually talking to them might be interesting, but it also might be interesting if you couldn't tell which ships were generic and which NPCs. True, the later might cause more aggravation in the long run to players, but it would be an interesting persistent feel for the galaxy.
And kill them, for cash cards (containing the amount of cash they have earned), but beware for most, if not all independent traders and salvagers will belong to soverigns.

(!!!Combine with RPCs proposed idea for salvaging craft, sent by stations!!!)
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