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Old 03-15-2018, 06:15 PM   #1
Face
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Question What resources would a hypothetical Orbiter:Dangerous need?

Let's imagine there is a way to create a system that puts up a persistent Orbiter online session, where all the problems with time acceleration and other multi-user interactions are solved. How this could be done is not the topic.

Let's also imagine that this system supports resource "trading" and consumption in a similar way to Elite:Dangerous. I.e. you have credits and cargo holds and markets and commodities.

What type of commodities/resources would you want in such a system? In what way would you want them see consumed? What kind of prices and economy models would you expect?

Some examples:
  • The resource "water" is cheap at Earth, but expensive on outposts, especially space stations. Unit is m, Earth price is around 10CR per unit, station price starts at 1MCR. It is consumed by objects based on the resource "population" they hold. I.e. if a station has population of 100, 2 units water are used per day (that's 20l per person per day). Similar perhaps with "food".
  • "Zero-G-Metal" (whatever magical material that may be) is cheap on outposts, but expensive on planets. Unit is kg, prices around 10kCR on Earth, but just 1kCR on stations. It is consumed by objects based on the resource "vessel" they hold. I.e. if a factory-type station has some 0gMetal, it consumes them for 1 unit of vessel.
  • "Moon rock" very cheap on moon bases, expensive everywhere else. Unit kg, consumed by university type base if resource "population" is high.
You get the idea...

EDIT:
Ideas so far:
  • "Luxury food" - Bananas, for example.
  • "Soil"
  • "Oxygen", "Nitrogen", "Hydrogen"
  • "Helium-3"
  • "3D printers" - if stations can print everything with it, they would need some to get started first.
  • "Crew" - somewhat similar to "population" above, but with a producing aspect to it as well AKA work-force.
  • "MacGuffinite" - the high-value stuff you have to get by means of getting there yourself instead of sending robots.
  • "Artwork"
  • "Propellant" - perhaps in different variants for different systems (RCS, SCRAM, etc.)
  • "Liquid hydrocarbons" - for the old world or systems that need it as propellant
  • "Phosphorus"
  • "Transuranic elements" - some example for MacGuffinite

Last edited by Face; 03-16-2018 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:56 PM   #2
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Well, Oxygen and Nitrogen are resources that are easy to manufacture, but hard to get in a spacecraft.

A pretty luxury could also be soil. Its not that easy to produce good one. A 50 kg bag of soil could be a pretty good investment in space, if you remember how hard it will be to produce food in space and how hard it is to make food survive transport long enough to actually reach another planet. A simple banana could be a pretty expensive good beyond the moon.
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Old 03-15-2018, 07:46 PM   #3
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Been thinking about an economic system for Orbiter for some time, although not in a multiplayer context. As you say the problems are very much unsolved, and I'm not into multiplayer anyways, so... yeah.

You only mention the economics, by the way, although you called the thread Orbiter:Dangerous, named after an economy-light game that also involves blowing stuff up. I'm not going to comment on the blowing up of things, as that would be a whole other thing than what I've been thinking about.

There's two basic axioms on which I'd operate, because I think they're essential for successful Orbiter add-ons in general (note that I never wrote a successful orbiter add-on, so maybe I'm dead wrong )

1) Orbiters strength is, for the most part, die-hard simulation. For an economy add-on to succeed, it must be equally realistic. The modeled economics have to be on par in in realism with Orbiters phsysics core, or not far off.

2) Must play well with others: No specific solution for a specific kind of world. A generic solution that can be configured for any solar system. Drop outer planets in and configure them properly, the economy takes them into the model and creates a new base state. Drop in your newly modded base, the economic model can integrate it and work with it. Ergo, a lot of simulation supported by procedural gap-filling.

The way I'd try to realise this would be by a generic implementation of a living systems algorithm that can be reused at every level of the simulation. A planet? Living system. A nation? Living system a hierarchy lower. A city? Living system, lower again. A company? Living system, with relations to the entities mentioned above, but not fixed in the hierarchy.

Up to this point, this would all be completely abstract without a physical representation in the game world. Sure, someone might model an entire city if he wants to, but it probably won't be a frequent occurence. Also, noone is going to land a spaceship at the city airport, just as noone is landing an airplane in a parking lot in the inner city nowadays.
The player would mostly land at spaceports, which might be nation or company property, but that's already going to deep at this stage. In any case, any base physically present in the simulation would be a living system too, to integrate flawlessly into the whole background simulation.
And if there's too little bases to make for an interesting economy, define some abstract ones. potentially hundreds of outposts influencing the economy, but not being there. Hope for a third party to write a small procedural generator to turn these abstract bases into physical presences, and then write it yourself anyways because noone's taking the bait. Anyways, I digress.

At this planning stage, it wouldn't really be appropriate to already think about specific commodities being traded. They're just data, to be inserted into the model more or less at will. They'd need to have some kind of production chain defined for the thing to work and allowing cascading reactions in the economy.

The difficult part of all of this is of course solution finding. Living systems are nice analytical tools, and everybody will know what they need. Feeding that back to let entities know what they have to produce is a first challenge, but doable. Deciding what to do when a need cannot be met can be harder, and giving companies some kind of competitive market behavior really tough. And then there's of course calculation of transport costs in a map in which the locations are constantly moving around. Big fun!

Anyways, these are the ideas I had considering the topic. I won't actually start coding anything before I don't kind of finish IMS2. And I might or might not live to see that day...
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Old 03-15-2018, 08:32 PM   #4
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Also the most overlooked aspect of an economy are the finances. Its easy to simplify things to magic transfer of credits, but you'll quickly summon Marx in your simulation then.
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Old 03-15-2018, 08:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Also the most overlooked aspect of an economy are the finances.
Of course. Currency and loan model to be implemented on top of the base architecture, but get the basics working first
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:52 PM   #6
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Just throwing that in. Should be enough to at least start compiling a list of resources.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedidia View Post
 Of course. Currency and loan model to be implemented on top of the base architecture, but get the basics working first
Well, the key question is: If every player wants to trade for a profit, how can you make sure the economy does not collapse over time.

Also, having a basic contract system might be a good idea, since there are many trade events that are handled by contracts and which works out pretty well that way.

And: Helium-3 might be a good resource to get back home - it almost only exists in space.

EDIT: But in light of the other "goods" in Lorus resource - what about having a scientific dimension in the economy as well? Like exploration being a vital resource to prevent a society from stagnation? Maybe a bit philosophical - but it could prevent players from just going for the "low hanging fruits" (I love and hate that term)

Last edited by Urwumpe; 03-15-2018 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Well, the key question is: If every player wants to trade for a profit, how can you make sure the economy does not collapse over time.
Well, I said I'm always just thinking singe player. But even so, you'd be emulating an economy of billions. A few players won't make a dent, the economy would largely run (and occasionally crash) itself, with the player participating on the fringe.
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Old 03-16-2018, 06:14 AM   #9
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I guess like many others here, I've also done my share of imagining a space economy. I'm going to present the interstellar version here, but I guess you can readily generalize to whatever scenario you have in mind.

The key parameter I've determined in my analysis is transportation cost - which consists of spacecraft manufacturing cost divided by the typical lifetime of a spacecraft plus operational cost (crew, fuel, maintenance).

If the cost per ton per parsec is low it makes sense to e.g. mine ore on a planet, fly it into space, dump it to an interstellar freighter and bring it to a place where it isn't found - because mining operations in gravity and atmosphere are going to be much cheaper than zero g mining on a captured asteroid.

The distribution of raw materials isn't hugely different across the universe - usually you can get every element nearly everywhere - but the extraction cost might be radically different. So whether you extract raw materials locally or fly them in is mainly a matter of transportation vs. extraction cost.

The same is pretty much true with manufacturing - automatic manufacturing plants, 3d printers,... can operate wherever you set them up as long as raws keep pouring in, so there's really no need to transport their output much - except there's no energy to be had in a place. So here it's the cost of running a manufacturing plant vs. the cost of flying in the finished article.

In the extreme case of high transportation cost, many outposts and settlements might not be economically viable at all - they're money sinks paid from elsewhere, not really producing anything, just consuming resources brought in from elsewhere. So here cargo might be flown only one way (and perhaps only scientific curiosity creating a modest return cargo).

I suppose the things that truly need interstellar transport are best summarizes as 'biology' and 'artwork' - unique stuff that you can't easily re-create anywhere from raws and manufacturing plants - wood with a certain grain, original paintings,... luxury items.

You really get a trade economy only if spacecraft operation cost is near dead cheap, such that transporting goods makes any sort of sense as compared with setting up a complete base with raw extraction and manufacturing in the first place.

The envisioned combination of things like 3d printing etc. and the relative cheapness of just transmitting manufacturing data to these flexible assemblies drives traditional trade into a tight corner...
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Old 03-16-2018, 08:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loru View Post
 Just throwing that in. Should be enough to at least start compiling a list of resources.
Atomic rockets is always worth a good look. Thanks for the hint!

I especially love the MacGuffinite term. Perhaps the resource should just be called like that.
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Old 03-16-2018, 09:01 PM   #11
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Crew could be be considered as a resource.

I like the idea of hiring crew based on rank, qualifications and physical properties they have. You'll need at least a pilot and create a commanding hierarchy. But it could be wise to have a doctor on board for longer trips. Docters can heal sick crew members. Unhealthy crew members would consume more more food and water and medical supplies. A fitness trainer helps crew members stay healthy. Other examples could be a psychologist which can address social problems which arise with unbalanced crews (all men or woman). A cook and entertainment specialist help maintain morale and fight boredom.

LOX, food and water are consumed by the crew over time. Heart beat rate and bodyweight could determine the amount of lox, water and calories each crew member consumes, corrected for health, fatigue and level of boredom.

The idea is that more specialists would leave less room for non-crew human cargo, like mining engineers and scientists who will pay for transport to a destination.

Crew can be hired, promoted and dismissed when landed to fit the demands for the next flight. Crew can also refuse to board your ship again if they weren't managed propery before.

The idea is that less specialists increase risk of (partial) mission failure. But specialists demand higher salaries and would cut final profit.

---------- Post added at 10:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:47 AM ----------

Another thought:

Containers can have a deposit on them. When they deplete during the flight, they can be jettisoned to save delta-v or be brought back to base for a refund.
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Old 03-23-2018, 02:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urwumpe View Post
 Well, the key question is: If every player wants to trade for a profit, how can you make sure the economy does not collapse over time.
The same way Elite handles it. Where the economy is sorta fluid and not fixed with a fixed amount of monetary ressources. So players use those to buy new ships, upgrades, and maybe hire a crew to fly them and their ship somwehere else.

Say you wanna go to mars, but can't be arsed or don't know how. Well, you pay a dude to fly you there. Basically, real, ingame objectives in the likes of missions and community goals to drive the playerbase.

For this to work however, the whole sim would need to gain a level of immersion that Star Citizen has. Meaning you can walk around bases, inside your ship etc.... It would be an entire new game. T

Which actually brings in an other issue: How do you handle long flights. Elite lets you travel long distances in days, or weeks, but a flight to mars would take months under realistic conditions. How do you handle that in a multiplayer environment? Just the moon, what do you do during the 3 days it takes to get there?

Last edited by SiriusXAim; 03-23-2018 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 03-23-2018, 02:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Face View Post
 [LIST][*]The resource "water" is cheap at Earth, but expensive on outposts, especially space stations. Unit is m, Earth price is around 10CR per unit, station price starts at 1MCR. It is consumed by objects based on the resource "population" they hold. I.e. if a station has population of 100, 2 units water are used per day (that's 20l per person per day). Similar perhaps with "food".
Water might be expensive in the inner system, but out beyond the frost line, not really. I'm pretty sure that it's the most abundant compound in the universe, given that it's made out of the two most abundant non-noble-gas elements.
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Old 03-23-2018, 06:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusXAim View Post
 Which actually brings in an other issue: How do you handle long flights. Elite lets you travel long distances in days, or weeks, but a flight to mars would take months under realistic conditions. How do you handle that in a multiplayer environment? Just the moon, what do you do during the 3 days it takes to get there?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Face View Post
 Let's imagine there is a way to create a system that puts up a persistent Orbiter online session, where all the problems with time acceleration and other multi-user interactions are solved. How this could be done is not the topic.
These kinds of discussion were done elsewhere and lead to nothing. First there has to be a prototype in order to allow more constructive discussions. From my addon history and the way I've asked the question you can infer that such a prototype is in the making and that there is a solution to the above mentioned problem. I'm not going to spill the beans prematurely, though, because IMHO one has to experience the system in order to understand it before making comments. And it will be more fun to actually play it and then bad-mouth it, instead of putting apart vaporware before it is even there (you mentioned Star Citizen ).

---------- Post added at 07:24 ---------- Previous post was at 07:20 ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusXAim View Post
 The same way Elite handles it. Where the economy is sorta fluid and not fixed with a fixed amount of monetary ressources.
I've found TextElite an interesting resource for the lean economy simulation of the original Elite game, but I'm pretty sure the current E:D is different. Is there some paper or description anywhere on how that later system actually calculates prices?

Last edited by Face; 03-23-2018 at 09:16 AM. Reason: damn grammar
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Old 03-26-2018, 11:43 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Face View Post
 
I've found TextElite an interesting resource for the lean economy simulation of the original Elite game, but I'm pretty sure the current E:D is different. Is there some paper or description anywhere on how that later system actually calculates prices?
I don't know but will look for it. I think there's a base price set by the developers to look realistic, then some fluctuations based on the type of system you're in. That's also set by the developers.

I don't think the supply and demand can be affected by players. The "power play" which can be affected by players in some ways. But power play just changes what faction controls what. Just like in GTA V, players cannot cause the price of one resource to crash, or at least this has never been observed. The difference between ED and GTA is ED has proper mission rewards that allows you to buy those commodities within a realistic time window. While GTA sets its prices really high and mission pay really low to incentive you to purchase in-game cash.

Last edited by SiriusXAim; 03-26-2018 at 11:46 PM.
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