Disadvantages of the plot system

Problem: The planets are full. This sucks for new players as they will never be able to get a base on many of the major worlds. This is a big dis-advantage compared to older players like myself who were able to colonize these worlds before they became full. Ghost plots were a band-aid solution - but I fear after we’ve had time to let this marinate, it has it’s own unintended 2nd order effects.

It’s simply veterancy within the rules and the age of the universe that prevents new players from participating. I had a conversation with someone (hi Zuul!) where this clicked - I just told them what I did, make NS on Montem and ship it to Promitor to run my HYF. This person told me they cannot do that because both planets are forever full. That will never be an option for them to participate in, and because of its efficiency, new players will be handicapped by the inability. It sucks to learn you can’t do this awesome thing because you joined the game too late.

The plot system needs to be completely removed, or at least, a complete rework to make the game fair for new people. Maybe it will be an intentional decision to have this kind of scarcity - but new players are unable to put a base on these prime worlds because of no fault of their own. And that feels kinda shitty for a new player.

Solution 1: What can be done in this universe, now, is basically just remove the plot system entirely. That’s about it.

Solution 2: Since we’re here and I have a soap-box. There are some better ways to enact the intentions of the plot system, but in a more equitable way for all players. It boils down to one very simple item:

There are no plot limits. But - you can only colonize 5 faction worlds. Everything else must be outside of faction space.

Whether this number is 3 or 5 or 10 I don’t know. It could be a fixed value, or, it’s upgradable just like the current permit system. You could separate it to different factions as well, limiting you to 3 bases per faction would be a great way to diminish the economic weight of Moria and more equally distribute the economy through the verse. And there are many other systems which could be built ontop to make more unlocks, simulate more progression. And it solves the plot problem as described above.

That’s all thanks for coming to my Ted talk :clinking_glasses:


Thanks for the feedback. I moved this into its own topic, because I feel this might start some discussions.

You are right, the ghost-plot system is a band-aid solution and does not solve every problem we have with plots and starting planets.

From the dev perspective, I want to say that we always have to think about the next universe as well (at least until we don’t reset anymore). Spending to much work on something that will be irrelevant in the next universe might not a good thing to do. For the next universe we want to significantly reduce the attractiveness of the starting worlds. Right now they are often times the best planets of their class in the region, if not the universe. This has been fine while the player numbers have been small, but it bites us know. So, in the next universe the demand to have a base on every major faction / starting world will be lower. The major advantage of the starting planets will be their short distance to the CXs.

I don’t think removing the plot system entirely is a good solution. The arbitrary shortage it creates and its consequences are still a game element I like.

Maybe a hybrid system is the way to go. Maybe we keep the plot system, but limit players to their own faction worlds (+outside planets ofc). We then could have a system in place that uses the faction reputation for example to open up the ability to settle the other factions’ planets as well. This could still be capped at a certain amount of colonies. I am not sure though if this is feasible in the current universe, or if it only works in a new universe with a different distribution of “good” planets.

@Counterpoint Looking for your input here :smiley:

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Oh hi - thanks for breaking this out.

I will let other people add their thoughts here - but have two followups I’d like to say:

The combination of being close to the CX yes, but also because they also have highly developed populations of Techs\Engineers AND their location to other good planets. Not many other worlds have all 3, so if you want a COGC alignment, you don’t have another choice many times.

My point is - I don’t think lowering the LST extraction rate or lowering the fertility would make a starter world any less attractive beyond the early development of a universe or for very new players.

As for the second - I think this system is best addressed at a complete overhaul level. A half-measure wouldn’t really solve the problems IMO. It needs a lot of love (like balancing ship parts does); so I would personally prefer to see the work done with the flexibility a universe reset would give. Adjusting\balancing planet resources\bonuses\locations. More complex permit system. Faction missions. Stuff that can’t be done now because it would involve breaking up existing empires.

As to what an overhaul would look like… let’s gather some ideas. Post them here folks!

I think plot should be cancelled. Balance the number of players on these populous planets through land rent and so on. In reality, the land is limited, the more developed the area, the more expensive the rent is, and the high rent will drive low-profit industries to places where the rent is cheaper. I think PRUN can do the same. Players should pay the rent according to the land area they occupy (Pay to the NPC to recover liquidity. Or design different systems specifically for land rent within or outside the factional space.). As more and more land is occupied by players on the planet, the rent per unit area will increase accordingly until the rent is expensive enough to make players more inclined to go to other planets. In order to ensure that new players can stand on the first base, the base where player HQ is located should be exempt from paying land rent.This will also make HQ more meaningful. Players are also encouraged to colonize a planet with fewer players.

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I think limiting players to a certain number of permits in starter planets is probably the easiest way to achieve the same scarcity effect without particularly impacting new players.

I don’t know the exact balance numbers, but allowing say 4 permits to be put into starter planets with an additional permit allowed at every 10th HQ would give players an interesting choice of how they want to structure their bases, and incentivises HQ expansion beyond the point at which players can reasonably manage bases (since it unlocks new possible bases).

And it is a good game element, but, of course only in my opinion, the plot system as it currently works doesn’t implement it in a good way.

The major downside is that players, especially new players who join the game when many good planets are full, are objectively disadvantaged compared to players who had the time to settle all planets they wanted. These new players will either be forced to stay out of an industry or to settle a second-rate planet and live with the fact that older players will always be more efficient in their production. The value of settling a well-populated planet inside a CX system is immense, a big reason for that is the price difference between STL and FTL ships. It’s not just a difference of 5-10%. You can easily run a high-input base in a CX system, but doing it outside a CX system easily increases your costs 2- or 3-fold, which significantly hampers growth. Of course the alternative is to design the base in a way to minimize shipping inputs, but then you’re giving up profits.
I don’t think players like to be disadvantaged just because they joined too late.

I think for now removing the plot system (or increasing plot counts so they don’t matter) is the way to go until the gameplay element of “planet scarcity” can be tackled in a more meaningful way on a universe reset. In a way that doesn’t feel as punishing to new players and feels more organic overall.

I have zero opinions on how to implement it in the future, I only have gripes with its current state :smiley:

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As others have said, the issue is that the arbitrary shortage doesn’t hit every player equally. Newcomers to the game face a restriction that didn’t exist for early joiners. So, for this reason, I’m on the side of “abolish plots”. Perhaps the effects that you like of the arbitrary shortage can be implemented in some other way that is independent of join-date.

In my opinion, you want starter planets to be attractive to beginners, and unattractive to veterans, at any stage of the game. You could make it so that a single small base does well on one of the four home planets, but a base that is part of a larger company is penalised with additional production taxes. Then as players grew their companies they would voluntarily migrate away from the starter planets, since it would no longer be cost effective for them to operate a base there.

Alternatively, have a base tariff tax. A player chooses the faction that they want their HQ to be in, and other bases in that faction’s space are “free”. But a base in a different faction’s space will have an additional production tax levied, since they’re operating as a foreign company. The tax will be especially high on the starter planets. This way, it won’t be cost effective for a veteran player to have bases on all the starter planets - they have to pick a faction and only settle on those, and non-faction, planets.

This is primarily an economic simulator, so economic style incentives should work well, and feel more realistic than an arbitrary plot limit or other restriction.


I don’t like the idea of arbitrary account limitations in a game like this. If you can only have 5 faction planets, and those are the superb planets that dwarf all others, then your contributions to the universe are basically just the 5 planets. The HQ upgrades already limit planets arbitrarily and I find that system to be a negative for the game. It creates a game where economic progress is a function of the number of players and each player’s capabilities are extraordinarily limited and inconsequential.

I would prefer resource constraints be on the Universe level, not the Player Account level. Right now if every new player can start on Promitor, the amount of resources that Promitor yields is C * N (Constant * NumberOfPlayers) per unit time. I would much prefer Promitor’s resources be C (Constant) per unit, divided unevenly into N plots. Resource scarcity doesn’t exist at the moment which makes the game a little dull. The only semblence of scarcity is this topic and the solutions put forward are to remove the scarcity entirely.

If Promitor is a weak planet compared to outer rim planets, players will just fly to the outer rim regions and settle there. It’ll add another layer of “Well, I started on a starter planet, I’m kind of screwed, should I COLIQ and spend 3 days flying out to the outer rim where everyone else is?” If the outer rim region has no available plots, we’re right back with the same problem.

If Promitor is a strong planet compared to all others and the resource becomes saturated (All plots are settled), then the plot value (land value) will go up. If we could sell plots, this would create a real estate economy in the game. Since we cannot sell plots, we’re just distributing first-come-first-serve prime real estate. Of course new players are going to be upset that they can’t get a plot. But if they can BUY the plots from other players, suddenly it is fair.

Henry George has entered the chat

This isn’t unique to Prosperous Universe in any way. It’s what happens when land is fixed in supply. Georgism gives us the concept of “Margin of Production” which can quantify land rent.

The margin of production is the best available opportunity, in a given place and time, for the next worker to employ her- or himself without having to pay rent.

Let’s take a simple example. There are 4 planets A-B-C-D all 1 system away from each other. A consumes H2O while B, C and D produce H2O at the same rate to simplify things.

If A requires 1 planet worth of H2O, then the value of H2O on A will be equal to the value of H2O on C + value of transporting H2O from C to A. In this case, B has land rent equal to the value of transporting from C to A minus the value of transporting from B to A. Put simply, the value of transporting H2O over 1 solar system.

If A requires 2 planets worth of H2O, then the value of H2O on A will be equal to the value of H2O on D + value of transporting H2O from D to A. The land rent of B becomes the value of transporting from D to A minus the value of transporting from B to A. Land rent has increased to transporting over 2 solar systems.

Back to the current universe. The concept of land rent wasn’t present in the game in the first year because there were available plots on all planets for free. Rent appears when the next best free option is worse.

To create an even playing field, the solution is to eliminate this rent one way or another. A tax increasing based on plot count is a simple solution. Limiting the number of bases on good planets is yet another. Requiring buildings to use higher tier materials to account for increased density is another. All of these seek to reduce the profitability of the better planets.

The problems with this, however, is while it’s a great concept for the real world, it’s horrible as a gameplay mechanic. The main reason for this is land rent, beyond the value of extractable materials on land and POPI infrastructure, is determined by other players. It’s an externality. This means if you’re in the middle of nowhere and suddenly a corp decides to settle in, their action is going to increase your rent because this area is now more desirable. It’s good for business, but it also means it’s going to increase your operating costs. If your business was profitable on that planet because rent was low, then it no longer is and you need to relocate it.

It wouldn’t be so bad is we had 3 or 4 planets at most, but since the game is about figuring out a web of interconnected planets with correct resources, then having a single planet become unprofitable makes the other planets unprofitable and that means constantly reworking your settlements to avoir going bankrupt.

The other problem is the overall productivity of the universe will be dictated by the margin of production. As the universe develops, rent will go up and players will have to settle in less desirable locations, which is going to ripple into the entire economy by making every plot on every planet have a profitability equal to the worst colony in the universe. Of course, that’s if markets are efficient, which the EDC economy shows us to be true over long periods of time.

In the end, it’s either land rent is charged appropriately, which leads to these downsides or land rent doesn’t exist, which leads to every player settling the best planets with the rest of the universe being essentially worthless.

That last one is because the universe can be solved to the most optimal configuration of bases in order to produce anything.

I see some solutions in the thread which try to tax rent away and others who try to address the solvability of the universe. I’m not sure which is the best here, but all I know is there’s no easy solution to this problem.


I think your solution would penalize the new players, since with this system the starting planets would be the most populated, thus the most expensive, and the new players would start precisely on the most expensive planets. So it would make the problem for new players actually worse. I prefer the idea of requiring some faction standing to be able to open second, third and subsequent bases on popular starting worlds.

Using taxes\rent as an incentive to keep the population of a planet under control is not the best solution IMO.

How do you fairly tax players? The entire point of starter packages on starter worlds is new players doing low-profit industries. New players probably shouldn’t have to pay 10,000 credits\day of tax I think we could all agree on that. So they will need an exception. What does this mean. Once you grow to a certain size, you will start being taxed by simply existing on the world where you started. You will have two choices then:

Destroy and relocate what you’ve built because it’s no longer profitable because of this tax, or, destroy what you’ve built and build more expensive higher-end industries which can absorb the tax\rent.

Being forced to destroy what you’ve built and relocate it so that you may continue growing is doesn’t found like a fun gameplay mechanic to me. So I’m not that much of a fan of using taxes to control the population of a planet.


I think the question comes down to - what is it about the arbitrary plot restriction that molp likes?

Is it that he doesn’t want all the players to have their bases in the same places? e.g. instead of a standard developed player having a base on Montem, a base on Promitor, etc, in a predictable way, two players might have their bases in quite different locations.

Or is it that he wants newly joining players to start in different places from where older players started?

If it’s the former, then the foreign base tariff tax could work - or at least there would be four standard base location sets to choose from, instead of just one.

If it’s the latter, then as the game progresses, new worlds have to be opened up, in a way that they weren’t opened up at the start. The pollution suggestion in another thread may have this desired effect. When the universe is fresh, the starter planets will be the most attractive. But as time goes by, pollution on those planets will increase. This will have the effect of either reducing their resource bars & fertility, OR increasing the rent, since the governor will be charging high taxes in order to feed the infrastructure that cleans pollution. So then other non-starter worlds will become more attractive by comparison.

Regardless, I think that as long as base expansion is free, the game will always have an issue with this kind of thing. Currently a company can just grow indefinitely, there is no size penalty, so of course existing players are going to open bases on all possible worlds - there is nothing stopping them. You need a tax, or a logistics efficiency factor, or something that makes choice of base location meaningful, and incentivises migration of existing bases away from core worlds. Otherwise I’m afraid players won’t voluntarily redistribute themselves just to keep molp happy. :yum:

I was thinking on this earlier after a conversation with another player. From what I can tell, the goal is that players are able to run their first industries on the starter planets and then as their company ages they get encouraged by various mechanics to spread throughout the universe to places that are harder for a starter player to work in. Some of the ideas I’ll say here don’t apply if that assumption is incorrect.

In order for a newer player to want to be somewhere that an older player doesn’t you have to require something from the player that they have more of than an older player. The only resource I can think of that a new player has over an older player is permits/base area. One way to make use of this would be to make it so as a planet gets more populated/active, it costs more permits for the same amount of area. There are a lot of ways of doing this from infinite plots that reduce in size as population increases, to land auctions where the currency is permits. There are multiple ways this could work but I’ll expand on one particular method I’m favorable towards.

  1. Inflate permits so that we can have more fine grained control over the balance involving them, for the sake of example let’s start every player with 10 permits and increase by 5 per HQ upgrade.

  2. Keep the ghost plots so that it’s always possible for a new player to start a base on their chosen starter planet and prevent punishments from simply joining the game at a bad time.

  3. Value all plots on a planet a number of permits based on population count and type. If your plot’s value gets increased beyond your maximum permit, you simply can’t start new bases anywhere. This applies to starter players as well if the permit cost for a plot on a starter planet ends up larger than the starting maximum permits.

This motivates established players to go move to less populated worlds to make better use of their permits and profit/area calculations. There’s a lot of balancing numbers you could tweak around all this, but the overall concept seems sound after a couple days consideration and I haven’t thought of how it could have the opposite result or hurt newer players overly much. If you feel this hurts older players too much, you could even give governors some control over this process or make it so a company and/or corp HQ gives a discount to permit cost on the planet it’s on.

Are you proposing that after one planet’s base count increases too much, players are prevented from creating bases on other planets?

If that’s correct, then it seems backwards, and also kind of arbitrary - what would be the in-game justification for it?

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As an offhand suggestion, there could be a different type of unlimited plot per planet: e.g. a “manufacturer’” plot where you can’t extract resources from the planet (ok, except the air maybe) and you can only build production buildings. You could still buy materials cheap locally, take advantage of the COGC programmes, and maybe even have some other major perk to balance out the lack of resource extraction.

Maybe reduced taxes? Orbital warehouses to reduce landing fuel costs? Automatic LM access even if you’re not Pro?

Basically, I think you can reasonably restrict “extraction” plots on the grounds there’s only so much unobtanium on planet X, but still have infinite “free” plots where you focus on manufacturing.

Oh, and then you could make “resource extraction” plots twice as expensive in materials to set up, or smaller, or whatever needed in order to balance them.

The plots have been introduced to incentivize the players to spread across the galaxy and not all concentrate in one place. At the same time, it is an unfair advantage for the first comers. Here is my solution to work around this problem.

  1. Remove the plot limits entirely. Like remove the very concept of plot.

  2. Make the security/health/comfort/culture/education of pops to increase super-linearly. Right now it is proportional to the size of the population. What I propose is to introduce diminishing returns. The output of a planet is proportional to its population, but the demands of the pops will grow faster. It does not need to be exponential. I can by any power larger than 1. In this way, the governors would be incentivized to raise the level of taxes on more populated planets, and the players on these planets would be thus be incentivized to switch to more marginal production.

  3. To avoid penalizing starting players, they would be granted tax exemption for a limited time. For instance full exemption for the 1st month, 75% exemption for the second, 50% for the 3rd and 25% for the 4th. No exemption from the 5th month. In this way, after some time they would need to make a decision whether to stay on the planet or move to a cheaper place.

If the one planet’s permit cost gets high enough it would make it so the only way to make a new base is to upgrade the HQ or take down the base using so many permits. Early players on their first base don’t care at all about this and it encourages players who are starting to expand outward to get rid of their old bases on crowded earlier worlds. A player’s second base probably also isn’t going to be much affected by this as early HQ upgrades aren’t that difficult to get even in the worst case where a base on a starter planet is worth more than 10 permits.

I really don’t think that being forced to destroy what you’ve built as a form of population control using more or less tax sanctions to new players is a fun gameplay mechanic. Being forced to destroy your base and move it to a (further away) planet is not fun to me.

I would much prefer being limited in how much I’m able to grow & expand on the core starter worlds. I can only put one or two or three bases on the major starting worlds (promitor, verdant, montem, etc). One or two or three bases per faction. Everything else must be outside of faction space.

This solves the population density problem, where everyone doesn’t just pile in the Promitor system and ignore the rest of the galaxy. And it does this without using sanctions that force players to demolish the work they’ve done once a clock runs out or they grow large enough.

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Another option could be to make “plot expansion” a planetary project. When completed, the planet gets +100 empty plots, and it’s repeatable, although maybe with a growing cost, or a cooldown period.

That way, you’d still have molp’s dream of shortages where certain planets are full, but it’s a temporary situation rather than a permanent situation. It will pretty much always be possible to eventually get a plot on Montem or Promitor, but the wait might mean you have to consider other planets seriously, but you will never be 100% locked out.

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We need to be careful valuing land. The result could have a lot of unintended consequences, possibly make this game a little too real, removing some of the fun. For most of this universe the plot limits were irrelevant, and now that they are relevant this is disadvantageous to new players. I vote that for the remainder of this universe plot limits are increased to once again make them irrelevant.

Now, a potential solution. (Caveat: I had this idea an hour ago and haven’t thought over potential problems)

Keep plots and plot limits, but have a mechanism to increase the limit over time.
Blind plot auctions are held once a week, the number of new plots created and awarded equal to the number of players bidding divided by ten (newPlots = #ofBids / 10).
Players need an available permit in order to place a bid, and placing a bid locks a permit for the duration of the auction.
Abandoned plots could be put into the auction pool or made available to the fastest trigger finger or burned?
The obvious problem is: auctions still favor wealthy players. Bids could be weighted in some way, I propose: weightedBid = $Bid / playerTotalPermits

Thoughts? Critiques? Iterations?

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