Free CX Shipping

Okay, I posted this idea in the chat yesterday and the more I think about it the more I like it. One of the problems with the new player experience (and I am only 43 days in, so I think I qualify) is that trips top the CX are very expensive, so this (I believe) artificially lowers the liquidity in the market and encourages starting players to not use it often - and when using it just accept the offered price.

I solve this issue I think a “shuttle service” could be added which would move goods to/from a starter planet to the CX for free. (We could limit it to HQ size, once you have upgraded your HQ to X it is no longer free) This would give them something to do - whenever they generate say 10 FEO they could move it to market and sell it instantly, and bring RAT/DW back without having to worry about burning 2k in credits of fuel to do so (and yes, I begrudged every trip to the CX, still do).

In thinking about this, I was also thinking that maybe we can build this into the planet infrastructure -so start planets start out with a “Shuttle Service X” - but only the initial level that is limited to HQ of X and with a daily limit of Y (this can be varied based on what works best with the data structure) - but then you can build expansions of it - or maybe if a governor builds it there are fees to use it.

I think the ability to build a “free” intra-system transport system would also encourage the development of marginal planets in the same system - currently there is no “saving” by developing more than one base in a system because the main fuel expense is in landing on the surface and taking off - but if you could supply a system by landing on just one planet - this encourages all the other planets in the system to be developed as well.

All this links back to why I think the markets are illiquid - and it is a combination of two things - one is that they are expensive for starting players to access. And two is that for big players the markets aren’t worth it - in the sense that if you have the funds to fully load a cargo bay and try to make a profit by buying low in market A and selling high in market B - you could better use those funds to expand a base or start a new one. But also, by the time you are at that level - you have too many things to do in the game and thus won’t bother.

Anyone following the chat knows that I am playing Tramp Steamer right now - buying in one place and selling in another, but as I started wondering why (enough) others aren’t actively doing that (when you can buy fuel in X and profit in Y by 15% or so - there isn’t enough cross-arbitrage going on) I also noticed the limitations - the counts of products for sale (and hence the max profit) are limited.

Thoughts to chew on…


PS: I did read the free CX storage - I don’t think this should be charged because those goods serve more as emergency supplies if the market gets too wonky. They are not intended to be sold so adding fees won’t “force” a player to sell them - they will just move elsewhere. The easier it is to use the market (less fees, etc) - that is what will encourage players to use it.

What you describe is an instance where realism works against game balance. From a realism viewpoint it makes sense that shipping goods to a space station consumes fuel. But this discourages the use of the CX and incentivises to rely on the local market instead.

I have a different solution, but it would require to reset the whole universe. Instead of having several starting planets per faction, one could have just one starting planet for each of the 4 factions (4 choices for a starting planet in total), and have the CX not on stations in space, but on the starting planets. So there would be no shipping costs for starting players. For the system to work, one would need to remove the plot limits for the starting planets. But of course on can keep the plot limits for all the other planets.

For realism - it depends on the assumption - currently we have experimental materials that are strong enough to build an orbital elevator which would drop the cost to orbit to nearly zero. I don’t think it is improbably that in a science-fiction (even a Hard-Sci-Fi) setting that assuming a high-tech planet has one would be unlikely. Once you get the goods out of the gravity well, the cost to move them would be peanuts. So if you want to envision the planetary improvement as an orbital elevator, then a fleet of simple shuttles that go back and forth from the CX to the planet and back.

That being said, I do like the idea of having the CX on the planet for starting planets - but it doesn’t fix the other problem which is not having a reason to develop a whole system so encouraging people to cherry-pick individual planets because it is so expensive to land/leave a planet. Could other planets build a CX on the surface in the future in your solution?


To fix this problem, it would be enough to make the STL fuel much more affordable than the FTL fuel. So jumping to a different system would be much more expensive than staying in the same system.

Perhaps only on the planets that are outside the faction space. Corporations would be able to build CXs outside the faction space, choose the currency to use, and charge fees. But then they would also have the choice to build CXs on space stations (again outside the faction space).

In the previous version of the game, the CXs were on the four main planets. The result was that players who started on that planet had a massive advantage. So the CXs were moved off world to make it fairer for everyone.

I don’t think there is any liquidity problem with the CX in general. There is plenty of most Tier 1 materials and consumables for sale on all of them. The reason there is not much listed at higher levels is because there is not much use for products at higher levels, which is a separate issue.

Also, in my opinion, shipping to the CX is kind of a core part of the game. I don’t think we should be aiming to bypass it. Some kind of Space Elevator project to make transfers between the planet surface and orbit much cheaper could be a good idea though.

That’s why I propose to have only one starting planet per faction. Moreover, I feel like each faction space needs a planet to be a big economic and trade hub to drive the faction economy. Therefore one would also like to consolidate the potential of several planets into one single planet. Like in ANT space we have Phobos, Deimos and Harmonia. The LM for basic products on these planets is also big. Like O, ALO, AL, C, FLX and BHP are traded a lot on Deimos LM. Foodstuff is traded on Harmonia LM, and SIO on Phobos. Now imagine these 3 planets consolidated into a single one, with a CX on the planet. The CX will make the LM for basic stuff irrelevant. On top of that, the starting planet will also be a huge production and consumption hub, with very high population and lots of high tier pops.

The reason why there’s no liquidity on CXs is because it’s inefficient to use and the game isn’t setup in a way that favors horizontal integration at all steps of the production chain. Liquid markets are the ones that result in a single material needed by all players abstracting a complex supply chain.

For example, RAT and DW. I’m producing RAT and DW in the Benten space. I have my FRM on Proxion, FP on Milliways and RIG on Etherwind. If I wasn’t covering all 3 bases, I would need to use the CX as an intermediary step in this process.

The logistics of producing RAT is then :

  • H2O Etherwind → Milliways
  • H2O Milliways → Proxion
  • Agri products Proxion → Milliways
  • RAT+DW Milliways → CX
  • All the stuff I need from CX → Milliways

The other stuff piggybacks on this route.

Now this is the logistics if I was trading with 2 other players through the CX
Player A :

  • H2O Etherwind → CX
  • Stuff from CX → Etherwind

Player B :

  • Agri Products Proxion → CX
  • H2O + Stuff from CX → Proxion

Player C :

  • DW+RAT from Milliways → CX
  • H2O + Agri Products + Stuff from CX → Milliways

This seems simpler, but in reality, going from Etherwind to the CX passes over Milliways. There’s shipping redundancy because that H2O going to Milliways is doing the Milliways-CX leg twice and the same with the RAT/DW going from Milliways to Etherwind.

Since experts are per planet, the 3 players cooperating through the CX are at a disadvantage compared to the single player doing it all because the single player will have the same output, except he requires less shipping and spends less FF in the process.

Cases where production and consumption goes through a CX are rare. Proxion-Milliways is an example and it’s the only time where multiple players wouldn’t be at a disadvantage compared to a single player in a perfect world. But then you have to factor in that you’ll need a buffer because CX trading is inconsistent, which means you cannot put your resources to use as efficiently and you’ll fall behind the vertical integration setup.

So that’s why there isn’t as much CX volume as you might imagine, except for the core products that are used in multiple production chains.

As for inter-CX arbitrage, it’s because you run into shipping limitations when you settle a few bases. My 3 base setup had my 2 starter ships occupied full time. I had to do all my trading on Benten CX until I upgraded them.

To get liquidity on all goods on the CX, we would need the game to be setup in a way that makes my 3 base setup not as efficient as the 3 player with single bases setup.

Having a CX on a planet would help because you’re cutting off the CX step. To do it yourself, you either have to sacrifice expert efficiency or you need to ship your goods to another planet which are both less efficient. However, that’s a short lived solution because as soon as you colonize other worlds, doing it yourself will be more efficient.


The whole point of having different planets, with different resources, is to encourage specialization and trading. The game arguably already has a problem with this, since most players aim to build a base on each planet and vertically integrate. But at least the game is trying. The proposal to merge several planets together and put the CX on the surface, with effectively instant shipping, seems to be a step backwards to me.

The players would still have only one base on a starting planet. To expand, they would need to colonize other planets. Moreover, the starting planet would lack many resources. So there will be trade, but it will be, so to say centralized. The starting planet will act as a metropole and most of the trade will be between the metropole and the colonies, in both directions. The trade between the colonies will be much lower, at least in the beginning.

Like the resources lacking on the starting planet will be brought from the colonies. And since the starting planet will be huge, it will have many high tier pops, therefore more opportunities to develop high tier production there. And high tier products will be brought from there to the colonies. Of course the game would need to implement a demand for hier tier products. For now it is mainly a demand for special construction materials on extremal planets (INS, HSE, etc.). But the devs could expand this concept so the colonies would require a constant supply of high end products from the mother planet.

Then it doesn’t seem much different from what we have now. Except that each faction’s CX would be on their home planet, which makes CX trips free for bases on that planet, and doubly costly for all the others, with two take offs and landings in each direction.

This is the situation we had in the previous version of the game. Given that the devs want to encourage players to spread out across the universe, and currently they let players start on any unsuitable planet they want, instead of forcing them to pick one of the main four, I think the game is moving in the opposite direction from what you suggest.

The problem with this is, unless you put all the T1 resources on one planet, there will be multiple starting planets, even if only unofficially. And that would put those people trying to do something in their faction other than whatever is good on the main planet at a disadvantage. People would still settle other planets (unless you forced them to settle just one, which is even worse in my opinion), and will be at a distinct disadvantage for trying to fill a niche other than what the developers laid out.

CX Shipping is just an early lesson in resource management. It’s true that resupplying and selling via the LM is more convenient and more efficient. That isn’t a problem IMO. You have to pay some cost to go to a centralized market versus the one in your backyard.

All interesting comments - some have to do with what are the “goals” of the Dev, and how would they like players to play their game (understanding that real gamers rarely behave that nicely). If the goal is to get players to spread across the galaxy - then the question is how quickly do they want that to happen.

At the moment, the early game experience is glacial - I want multiple bases and unless I had joined a corporation, I wouldn’t be able to have one for the first 3 months of the game (even on a shoe-string) - the core module is just too expensive, even if I am picking a fertile planet for it.

A core concern for me is how many players do we lose before they have that second base and start to enjoy the “galaxy”. The free CX shipping for low HQ levels (or maybe only for HQ level 1) does give them that something more to do - and while LMs can be useful, they also don’t have the “everything for sale” balance that the CX has.

Or (radical proposal incoming) why don’t we start new players with only 1 ship, but a second core module that they can use after being in the game for 21 days? So they can start and learn the basics, then get a second base that they can operate elsewhere - and have a ship to go back and forth? That would get new players out into the universe faster, but because they lose a ship their starting package isn’t that different. (we can say this was in probate from your mythical rich aunt).

This would give them something quick to look forward to - we can centralize base 1 on a few starter planes, but because the second base would come quick then the resources can be spread out to nearby systems - then the core starter worlds are already drawing from dozen(s) of nearby worlds that players will start extracting from quickly.


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Yeah, this is something I keep telling for one year: the early game is way too slow. Patience. The game gets better as one progresses. I got my second base during my 2nd month in game.