Faction Contract Review

Hi, been playing a month or so and I wanted to provide a string of analysis of the faction contract offers I get as I get them - so the developers can see why I accept/dont accept the various contracts. All prices from NC1 at time of post (ASK price) and ships move at minimum speed.

JEVSQ9K :: fix ship get 1,374 and 3 faction points :: REJECTED
– REASON :: need a BHP to repair minor damage, it costs 3,500 at Moria (NC1) - unprofitable

D3QMB3T :: survey XG-326c get 2,024 NCC + 303 STL + 2 faction points :: ACCEPTED
– REASON :: roundtrip :: 182 STL / 148 FTL :: FTL cost - 148 @ 19 = 2,812 :: STL profit (303-182) = 121 @ 13 = 1,573 :: so 2,024 + 1,573 - 2,812 = 785 profit (this doesn’t take into account ware/tear on ship or the opportunity cost of ship not doing other things at same time, roundtrip is 4 days 16 hours)

PG98R9A :: provide 2xBE, get 4,833 and BSE and 1 faction point :: REJECTED
– REASON :: 2xBE @ 3,000 = 6,000 cost, BSE = 1,100 :: so 4,833 + 1,100 - 6,000 = unprofitable

closing comments - while 785 profit is nice, I probably normally wouldn’t bother - it is a small amount and likely isn’t worth the hassle. Maybe if the “provision” contracts would be based on what production building the play had - like if you have FRM it would be something you could grow there - but something like BE is way outside my league to produce myself, and too expensive to buy on the open market.

-Craftsman13

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Great documenting Craftsman!

While I don’t have the same dedication to document all, too often I looked at it and it ended up being the same as the contract offering me: “Do you want to spend a net 1.2k and lend a ship of yours for 2 days and get a faction point in return.”

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If faction points were valuable, then perhaps this would be worth it. Since we don’t know what the long term plan is for faction reputation, maybe it’s too early to judge.

Another set of three:

IW9BW05 :: conduct exploration of LB-428h and get 3,327 in NCC :: REJECTED
– REASON :: At minimum speed, it takes 140 STL and 29 FTL and a little over 2 days to get there, total cost of 29 @ 16.50 and 140 @ 13.10 = 2,312.50 one way, 4,625 round trip - so a loss of over 1,300 NCC.

2GBLKZP :: provide 21 FOD and get 5,238 NCC and 261 units of STL :: COULDN’T DO
– REASON :: I don’t have any FOD and can’t create any - I tried the local market but nobody had any I could buy - again this is frustrating because while the contract is desirable to complete I literally couldn’t get the good that was requested - it wasn’t something I could produce.

AQTZNXF :: explore DW-419b, get 2,709 NCC and 18 DW (@72 = 2,160 :: COULDN’T DO
– REASON :: At minimum speed it takes 78 STL @ 13.10 and 35 FTL @ 16.50, and 2.5 days (each way) - 3,198.60 in fuel cost round trip, so trip is profitable by 1,670 NCC - but my “spare ship” was still in transit from the earlier (but worse) exploration contract.

The exploration contracts show a problem with these contracts, the player doesn’t always want to take a profitable one, because a more profitable one might come while your ship is out, exactly like what happened to me here.

-John

PS: Edited because initial fuel costs were one-way and not round-trip.

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My current set of three:

ZWGENI2 :: provide 2 GV get 3,635 NCC, 545 x STL - WANT TO DO
This is a very good contract, but getting the GV is a problem - I am accepting the contract, but I need either the local market or a quick trip to the CXL to buy the GV (for sale at 900 each for the moment)

E05NHZ4 :: ship 30.6t/51m to OT-889e, get 3,197 NCC :: REJECTED
At minimum speeds, 2.5 days each way and 77 STL / 39 FTL - with costs 13.1/16.5 :: costs are 3,304.4 round trip - so I lose money

1D6JJN9 :: 16 BTS and get 5,357 and 267 x STL :: LAUGHABLE
BTS costs 1,030 per UNIT :: total cost of supply is 16,800 NCC - so the contract is to lose 10k???

-John

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Yeah, it seems that the contract generator does not check the CX prices for fuel or materials. I don’t know, maybe the generator prices stuff at some fixed values entered manually by the devs. Then it’s bound to generate unprofitable or even sometimes ridiculous contracts. Very sad.

In the last livestream the Devs told us that’s exactly what they did - the values are all manually set.

Then this is bad game design. Prosperous Universe is a market game where the prices are supposed to fluctuate and drift over time, and fixed prices are a planned economy type feature. What will the devs do when for some products the values they entered will be wildly off? Update them manually? Compare to EVE Online. There, for each tradable item, the game compiles a moving 30 days average price per region. These moving averages are then used to determine the production fees for the items. So the fees are dynamic, influenced by the compound actions of the player base. PrUn should do something like this. Compile a moving average price for each material (and each of the 4 factions), determined by the exchanges on the CX. Then use these moving averages for the payouts of faction contracts. The devs argued that they didn’t do that to prevent market manipulation by the players. But this sounds more like a bad excuse than a real problem, given that the volumes in faction contracts are orders of magnitude lower then the volumes exchanged daily on the CX.

This would be unreliable for higher tier materials. Last week I got a contract for BL and GRA. There’s no volume at all for these, so that wouldn’t work.

One way I see it could work is to check if the market is liquid enough and if not, use materials used in its production. If any of these are illiquid, then break these down further until all materials have a liquid market on that CX. For higher tier materials, that might end up being a tiny bit of every basic materials.

There are a few flaws with this though.

It needs to make assumptions to logistics used in the manufacturing process and the more broken down a material gets, the greater this error accumulates.

It also suffers from an exponential search space for materials that can be manufactured by multiple recipes. For example, if that material is made in a building using BSE, then it needs to check both the FE and AL recipes. Granted, BSE is a liquid enough market that this should be fine, but that creates a potential time bomb if new recipes are added across the board.

Similarly to the recipe problem, importing liquid materials is a path manufacturing could take. Instead of buying FE on Benten, you could buy it on Moria instead, which makes the Benten cost of FE equal to the minimum between FE on Benten and FE + FF + SF on Moria.

Also, since the economy is ultimately set by higher tier MMs which are the same across all CXs and that higher tier materials typically have a high value per ton, the higher tier economy is almost the same as if the universe was a single point. Costs will tend to be almost the same across the universe for these materials, so having a fixed payout based on expected labor+capital value of a material will tend to create the same reward than if using dynamic CX pricing.

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I agree that there is an issue with illiquid materials. First the game should also check for the liquidity. Like compare the volumes a contract asks with the volumes traded on the CX over 1 week. If the ratio is above a certain threshold, then the product is to be considered as illiquid. Then the game could just avoid putting illiquid materials into faction contracts :if the product does not pass the liquidity test, then the dices are rerolled and a new contract is generated. A second option would be to have two internal prices for materials, one dynamic determined by CX averages, and an other one fixed, determined by the total labor cost of the material and its prerequisites. When a contract is generated, a material that passes the liquidity test would be priced at the CX moving average. If it is illiquid, then it would be priced at the labor value.

My main point is that the contract generator should be smarter than it is now, and avoid generating unprofitable contracts, or ask for materials that are barely traded and barely produced in the universe.

Okay, a new set of three…

ZMAUB8E :: ship 41t to WB-675g - get 3,678 NCC :: I can’t evaluate this at the moment because both of my ships are in transit - but given recent FF prices I don’t think it would be profitable, but I will check and edit my post later.

UYFVXEH :: FINISH A SHIP CONSTRUCTION PROJECT :: I am not even 2 months into the game - this is totally unrealistic for a noob.

N36LT0X :: conduct planetary exploration of OT-889f and get 3,044 :: as noted above I can’t review because my ships are in motion.

For the comments below, I have two things I think they should do, 1: only use liquid products in contracts and 2: put control around some of the “update your base” and “build a ship” contracts - at the moment they come out and in my example above you have 17 days to get it done. Maybe extend that to 30 days for a contract of that magnitude but also maybe don’t issue those contracts to new players, maybe someone needs to be 6 months in before they get a “build a ship” contract?

-John

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just a couple notes. You had a contract for FOD you said you couldn’t do, with FOD at MOR on sale for 250 it would have been like paying 12 NCC for the 261 STL if you were making a run anyway. Although i see the next post you got that idea for the 2 GV, so carry on.
Other thing is above you mention not being able to check trips out, buffer BLU is your friend. Test function is awesome for planning.

What’s the reward for building a ship?

I think it was 125k NCC - so it was a hefty bonus, and the turn around time was I think 25 days - so if you were big it might have made sense?

Do you know if upgrading a ship counts as a ship construction project?

No, I don’t - I assumed that it wouldn’t. If it did then I could see that being more useful - but for someone 43 days in - no way would I have the funds for that either.

I reject these every time because the rewards are so small it’s simply not worth the time. That, coupled with the lack of utility with the faction points (which is by design for the minute).

I don’t see any other way forward with these than scaling rewards to the player’s income (or whatever financial metric is suitable).

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