Feature Request: Enabling DealerSHIPs. - Changes to benefit ship traders

There have been many disparate conversations and false-starts as relates to ship trading, I’d like to use this topic to collect and refine the ideas, features, and changes that already benefit a thriving spaceship sales economy, as well as those that are still needed.
Also, buckle up because this is sorta opening Pandora’s box and there is no TL;DR.

– The Automotive Comparison –
This was it’s own section, but it got so long I think it needs to be optional reading for those who like context. So see The Appendix at the end of this post if you want.

– What’s Been Said –

Below is a list of topics related to the ship trade that have been broached in the past. It is by no means a comprehensive list and I welcome any additions in the comments below.

  • Ship Modification
  • Ship Disassembly

Suggestion for ship refit /upgrade /salvage

  • Ship Upgrading
  • The Ship Trade
  • The Trader Starting Package

Feedback ramble and some ideas to improve gameplay - #7 by Ficks_Dinkum

  • Ship Recovery

Feedback ramble and some ideas to improve gameplay - #8 by Ficks_Dinkum

  • Ship/Shipyard Specialization

Suggestions for PrUn Development

  • Ship Slots
  • Corporate Shipyards
  • Shipyard Fees

Ship trading and more

  • Ships Carrying Ships
  • Shipping Containers/Nesting Dolls

Shipping containers

  • STL Ships

Reset Proposition: Ships with no FTL capability

  • ‘Disposable’ Ships/Cheap Ships

Ship construction from the new player perspective

  • The SCI gap

Ships, and the lack of texture between technicians and scientists

  • FTL Jump Changes

Suggestion: Better FTL Flight model

  • Asteroid Mining
  • Orbital Structures
  • Deep Space Structures
  • Exploration
  • Conflict

Prosperous Universe Roadmap

– The Consensus –

From my reading, I think the things that are generally agreed upon as good ideas ( I also don’t consider this list comprehensive.)

  • Everything from the roadmap.

As relates to ships:

  • Assembly and Disassembly – Let them be assembled and disassembled at the same modular scale they are blueprinted at.
  • Diverse Ship Capabilities – There should be a diverse selection of component properties and shipyards to allow for a wide variety of ship behaviors. How diverse is too diverse is unknown but can probably be measured through how intensive it gets on the devs.
  • Flexible Ship Builds – Reduce/Remove restrictions on what is considered a valid ship build, enabling exclusively STL builds and disposable builds
  • Tiered Shipbuilding – Tiering shipbuilding to reduce the necessity for higher level populations to get into the game of shipbuilding
  • Ship Recovery – Having a system to retrieve derelicts and DNFs just seems logical.

As relates to space and trade:

  • Containers – This has popped up several times in different ways, from cardboard boxes to shipping containers that stack inside a ships hold, to ships designed to transport smaller ships, which may themselves be filled with ships or containers. Just imagine nesting dolls.

– What I Think –

I generally agree with everything in the above section as needed. From there my recommendations are:

As relates to ships:

  • Crew – It seems pretty clear from the lore and PrUn’s anti-automation stance that these ships require crew. I know it sucks for everyone and I mean everyone, but ships need to have workforce just like bases, they need to have consumption just like bases, their workforce needs to be tiered up based on the complexity of the craft they’re operating, the crew and provisions take up weight and space. Why is this important? Because the crew piloting a mining vessel will be different from a military one and because all crews need to be able to flow into and out of any of your base workforces. The crew need to be able to go on strike when deprived (they refuse to depart or just refuse to board after next making port, because going on strike in a spaceship in space is also referred to as suicide…) and operate more efficiently when given luxuries. I suggest having time spent on board be a way to more quickly tier up the participating population (but it sounds like a real fucker to implement). I suggest having a crew quarters module slot in blueprints (Which, if I’m possibly wrong or misunderstanding the nuance of the anti-automation, can be replaced with a very expensive electronics product to auto drive the ship. This could also be the default for smaller ships simulating drones vs actual ships. Could tier up the autopilot for larger ships.). These things will prove important in the future for populating non-atmospheric structures and if space combat is going to be a thing, which I feel is absolutely necessary even though it is never directly stated in the roadmap.

  • Flexible Blueprinting – As a way to reduce restrictions on ship builds, I suggest a more robust blueprinting system, where you can not only select what to put in a module slot, but what module slots will be on the ship. I suggest possibly having ‘modifier’ components rather than having a copy of each module with tweaked capabilities. So for instance right now we have 3 top tier cargo holds. Instead, we could have 1 top tier cargo hold, and 2 modifier components, one which is a reinforced cargo hull at the cost of space, the other that uses 3d printer-eque infill techniques when assembling the cargo hull to squeeze some extra cargo space in at the cost of structural integrity. This helps things be both simpler and more complex, simpler for someone who cant access or afford a component, and complex for those who need an exacting performance to maintain profitability.

  • Module Condition – Currently ships degrade in Condition over time, but they do so as a unit. Keep the overall Condition degradation, but have it also apply to the individual components of a ship, and require that they be replaced when degraded rather than repaired as they degrade, this also presents a nudge to upgrade components over time. This more closely mirrors the real world divide between vehicle maintenance (Oil changes brake pads etc. This is the generalized condition) and vehicle service (Replace a faulty electrical harness, replace a transmission, diagnose and resolve a vehicles instability at high speeds, etc. This is the component based condition.)

  • Component Failure and Graceful Degradation – Another key component of the previous point is the idea that when these components degrade - with certain exceptions - the ship undergoes graceful degradation rather than immediate failure. Ships that are undergoing graceful degradation should have some probability of DNFing their route somewhere along the way due to a critical failure (Dead on the side of the road).

  • Depending on certain conditions of the degraded components, the craft may or may not be pinging it’s last-known/current location (If your bridge is rusty, you get to go hunting because your transponder failed in the blackout), it may or may not still be in uncontrolled motion, it may or may not be venting atmosphere, it may or may not have exploded, it may or may not have just gotten a brand new X or Y put on it, it may or may not be holding valuable material or other ships, it may or may not also have a sizable ENG/SCI population onboard. We’ll return to this later.

  • Patenting – (Dun dun DUN, I feel like this will be a very controversial inclusion regardless of merit or lack there of. And, may need to be spiraled off into it’s own topic.) Companies/corps should be able to ‘patent’ completed blueprints. There needs to be some restrictions on this so one corp/company can’t patent all possible configurations of ships with an FTL drive forever. But with those restrictions, this drives a ‘space race,’ provides a feather in the cap of corps/companies that can hold, produce, and sell :wink: highly circulated ship models similar to the stats that SNF touts on their recruiting channel in Discord. I also think this provides an obvious economic warfare component to shipbuilding when the roadmapped Conflict update drops. (Patenting also lends itself directly to branding but that absolutely is it’s own topic.)

  • Prominent Production/Ownership – The company producing the ship and the ship blueprint/brand/model name should be nearly as prominent as the ship’s given name and owner.

  • “That’s not just Luceria Mersail’s flagship cattle trailer ‘The Meat Locker’, thats a PearCorp CattHaul 420,000! Nascent Mercantile’s shipbuilding industry is lit!” - Several actual customers that definitely exist.

  • Off-topic: As part of the Orbital/Deep Space Structures updates, I hope to see ships that can function as roaming bases/microplanets capable of storing, repairing, refueling, retrieving, and possibly building ships when supplied with the right support chain.

As relates to space/trade:

  • FTL Rework – This is a big topic so I’ll try to be concise. To illustrate my idea, lets say we create 3 levels of FTL drive with different max jumps lengths, each system now needs a list of valid neighbors for the most advanced FTL drive and some gates for what can be reached in a single hop by each tier of FTL drive, if the systems all have XYZ coordinates then the hard part of determining all systems in a given radius is already done. Now ships can path according to their drive. I also suggest having a toggle for whether the ship will system hop or take a straight line path. With the straight line path being worse for the condition, time, and fuel per unit of distance, also make the possibility of degraded parts failing more likely (This scales with distance on longer system to system jumps and spikes if the destination is not in a system). Trying to display all the available neighbors for all systems is obviously ugly and resource intensive, so I propose a three-fold solution. 1) Set the default viewing of the map after these changes to be a heatmap. The most trafficked routes show up as bright and thick lines when zoomed all the way out, the least trafficked routes are a thin dim grey when zoomed all the way in. I recommend having a company and a corp heatmap filter as well. 2) Have a filter that shows all valid neighbors from the current system for each FTL drive with the ability to ‘CTRL-click’ planets to show all valid neighbors from all selected planets. 3) A change to ‘Faction Space’ since things aren’t linked exclusively system to system anymore. Basically every planet has some sphere of influence controlled by it’s population, overall faction strength, etc. and this sphere is projected on the map as semi-translucent and of each faction’s colors, with a proportionally accurate radius. This way, there’s some complexity, but not so much that each ship is calculating a unique max jump distance based on their components, and the devs desire to implement a bridge-toll in faction space and a gatekeeper mechanism can be meaningfully preserved by having system hopping or direct transit through space require a fee be paid to conduct the action kind of like a fee on production where its not optional, or having the hop/route simply be invalid if the faction has outlawed that type of ship/that person/that corp/that faction. Might have the system auto-reroute in such cases. Any ship that lands in faction space after a hop must pay a fee to hop again, but if a ship flies across faction space but doesn’t land in faction space, I don’t know if they should pay a fee.

  • Ship Recovery– Between the parts degradation, increased amount of questionably reliable ships from the pre-owned trade, and the FTL reworks making space travel degradation less of a nuisance and more of a risk to profit calculation, the chances for a ship to require crew and inventory rescue, refuel, repair, scuttling of the ship, and salvaging derelicts has gone way up. This creates the opportunity for an interesting type of flexible contract I call ‘Emergency Contracts.’ When a ship’s degradation devolves into a failure mid-flight, a contract with the owner should immediately be created that has some auto-populated requirements related to the nature of what component(s) failed to get the ship running. (Here’s where that possible list of conditions comes in. For example, if the ship is venting atmosphere and there’s a SCI population on board, the time constraints could be much tighter than normal. The owner can then choose to accept this contract and handle the rescue in-house, or post the contract for someone else of sufficient rating to retrieve their ship for them in return for some reward. In the event that the needs of the contract are not fulfilled before time expires, the ship enters dereliction or is destroyed. Destroyed ships become scrap that can be brought back to a building and refined into construction prefabs. Derelict ships should have a grace period where they still ‘belong’ to their original owners and cannot be messed with (Handwave it as the time until the backup generators run out or something). After that, if you can A) repair the derelict B) store the ship in a bigger ship C) peel pieces off and store those, it’s all free game. Might want to have something where if the original owner has a second ship enter the system within the grace period, it resets?

  • Starting Package – There needs to be an expert in ships after they leave the shipyard, a dealership if you will. They can specialize in producing ships, trading pre-owned ships, or rescuing derelicts. Producers are traditional PrUn, starting with producing the cheapest and simplest ships these are less dealerships and more OEMs trying to grow the complexity and throughput of their ships. They really want to secure a patent and then circulate that patent widely. Ship Traders would function as independent pre-owned traders, this naturally grows into repairing and servicing these pre-owned ships, the holy grail for these guys is securing a Producers output for their sale and securing component replacement business from those who buy their ships. Rescuers are the First Responders and the Scavengers answering LM Emergency Contracts and scouring the universe for overlooked derelicts they can scrap, sell, or refurbish and use. They naturally tend toward being wholesalers and auctions with a large acquisition operation

Feature Request: Forum Badge for anyone who read this whole damn thing.

Thank you very much for reading what ever percentage you got through! Whether you need a spaceship, a cow, or any vaguely legal combination of the two, head on down to Luceria Mersail’s Spaceship Ranch!

Feature Request: Starting Package - Space Cowboy / Animals in Space!

–TyG | Luceria Mersail

Ships and Cows


APPENDIX

– The Automotive Comparison –

Quick Disclaimer: I work in the automotive industry and have a pretty good perspective/experience with the general industry, but over a decade of first-hand experience at dealerships as well as grew up around them, shoutout to my fellow PrUn auto brothers/sisters. I have my biases and have just declared any potential conflicts of interest. However, I am by no means an automotive sycophant, nor do I worship at the altar of Oil (LFTR Breeders FTW). I am also not equipped to directly/immediately benefit from ship trading.

What we know is that the major OEMs do not have the ability to sell their own product directly to the public at scale. Now, many vehicle startups are publicly fighting this notion, namely Tesla. And I’m very interested in seeing how and where they succeed/fail, as well as what the future holds for private vehicle ownership in general. But for the near future at least, they are ‘new’ and ‘small’ enough to disregard as a parallel venture in a different industry. Before you kill me, Tesla is not new or small, but they output almost 1mil vehicles in 2021 globally, with a hefty political tailwind at home and Iron Man at the helm. Compare that to a single OEM, Ford, with a single quarter record for 2021, in the US alone, in the midst of a gruesome inventory shortage, in the era of some of the weakest sales staff skillsets in American history, in an industry that lags 10 years at least behind any other, with disheartening training standards and employee turnover rates, horribly bungled product releases, run by committee and crusty management paradigms, with a significant political headwind at home, output .5mil vehicles. Once Tesla’s output reaches OEM levels, which is coming I think, we can do direct Apple to Apple comparisons about performance from a customer perspective. Just can’t do anything opinion or satisfaction based because fanboying is a thing for all brands.

So how do we know? They volunteered for the dealership model and have tried to put the genie back in the bottle several times across the years, yet dealerships remain. While there wasn’t always tension between dealerships and OEMs, it crept in startlingly quickly for a business model that every party involved (OEM, Dealer, Public) agreed worked better than the direct to public model (This tension was present even before comms and computer tech made d2p a possibility [again, it did start out possible, but the industry rapidly grew past what technology could support in d2p]). Tesla’s desire to exclude dealerships is an obvious profit-seeking decision in this way. One that many OEMs might take themselves if they could restart today. So what problems does the dealership model solve that keeps the OEMs from returning to a direct to public model?

I am aware that the political dealership lobby is incredibly powerful and fights like a caged animal anytime they sniff out an OEM moving certain pieces into place. But, that lobby is not powerful enough to prop up the entire industry
without some help from OEMs and the public.

Essentially the problem OEMs have today is that they are at heart a manufacturing/engineering/logistics company. They make cars and they need to sell them, they deal in supply lines, factories, material strengths, production throughput. With that skillset, it’s no surprise they can expand to logisitical/financial accounting businesses like offering their own auto loans with some level of ease and success. But their contact with the public compared to the size of the business is limited even in these tangents, and generally one-way. The public is only able to meaningfully reach an OEM indirectly and collectively.

When an OEM dips their toe into retail sales, they are forced to deal in people and the public.

The public are fickle, they take a long time considering, they back out, they vanish, they have exacting needs, they desire an experience, they desire a certain level of service, they not only want something reliable but someone to call when it breaks down, they are more informed today than ever in history, they need to know your return and refund policy, they have to do something with their old vehicle, they want to feel comfortable in their investment, they have bad credit, they saw the same thing down the street for less, they’re ‘wise to your tricks,’ they want something custom, they are loyal right up until they’re not, they want something unavailable, they don’t know what they want, they are on a budget, they don’t like X about your product, they don’t understand why your product doesn’t cost X less money, they disrespect you your product and your company, they don’t like you, they don’t trust you… they lie.

I do not hate people or consumers, this is just a list of some of the considerations and contradictions that must be taken into account when selling to the public. Contrast that list with how an OEM handles a dealership ordering 10 cars a week for 10 years like clockwork, with deep knowledge of the OEM vehicle ordering system to get what they need with minimal mistakes because inventory mistakes are some of the most costly at a dealership and a sell-or-die fuse baked into their financial statements. It just takes less from the OEM, and all the dealership needs from the OEM is strong throughput and strong branding, everything else can fall apart between these two and everybody will still move metal.

Compound this with learning the very specific subset of the public in a given area, and catering to their specific needs. Along with the laundry list of supportive departments departments that keep a dealership running. They are out of every one of their areas of expertise and spread too thin to boot.

From the OEMs perspective, much better to sell their vehicles in big batches to these businesspeople. Let them sort out the mess from there and just step in to protect the brand where necessary.

This way the OEM focuses on making good safe cars cheaply, with enough profit and competition to drive innovation and explore possible market expansion. That way the dealers can cater to the local public, with enough competition to ensure quality customer service, and enough profit to facilitate market expansion. That way the public get lots of options for reliable cheap cars which locally lowers cost of living and increases productivity which drives market expansion. I think… I’m still learning.

(One last funny for those who read the Appendix)

4 Likes

Comprehensive post
Many important points made.
Too long; didn’t read.

4 Likes

Intra System FTL Travel Issue mentioned by Fuyutsuki:

1 Like

Exploration Topic broached by dangerduck

How do you make such amazing well built posts. I seriously wonder whether you work as a entrepreneur or corporate presenter. (Welp I clearly didn’t read it cause I found out your car salesmanship) Thank you for yours ideas and their amazing depth of exploration. If I’m being honest TLDR because I am very lazy and am inspired by your dedication and creativity. If Simulogics wasn’t a indie studio and had some triple A MMO money (haha that went well for Starbase (I am utterly devastated regarding what happened to that game and community and it’s a reason I don’t trust humanity) ;-( ) you would be hired as a designer!

I like almost all of this.

Exception number 1 (Major): Patenting doesn’t make sense since there is no inventive act associated with creating a configuration of a fixed set of permutable selections. Consider - would you want to have to pay corporations because you happened to use the same base layout they did? That’s what this would do, and I don’t see it adding anything to the game. Especially given there are likely only a few “useful” configurations.

Exception number 2 (Moderate): I don’t see an immediate gameplay benefit in adding more configurations for FTL range, etc. What would the purpose be? Would it just create more churn for the sake of churn? Would it just be something that systematically favors the well-capitalized over the not-yet-well-capitalized? That is - does it solve a logistics problem that exists, or does it just create more “options”? That said - I rank this only a moderate exception, because there’s a good argument that there is already a lot of complexity just for complexity’s sake. So without knowing what the developers’ intent is here, it’s hard to say. Consider that right now there are … uh… if my math is right, almost 1.4 million unique ship configurations even with just the options we have today. This is not something you’d want to have to view in the current implementation of the CX; you’d instead want some way to search for your features. (My guess is this is why ships aren’t yet traded on the CX, but just their kits, again if my math is right, there are only 37 unique commodities to make the ~1.4M configurations).

I do like the idea of being able to dismantle / salvage ships and I like the idea of being able to trade ships - if a good way to search for them is implemented (should be feasible, you can filter on pick “must match”, “ranges” or “don’t care” for particular components). I can see an opportunity for “dealerships” where you can buy branded ships, instead of just having to sell them on the CX. But the rest… feels like noise.