Perfect Fungibility of Products

Everything traded is of the same quality/purity, and where it came from doesn’t matter at all.

Besides making barter cleaner than it should be, in a market and currency simulation you could argue this should be addressed somehow. It’s one of the properties of good money, after all, so it helps make currency perform its intended function.

I realize this might be difficult to implement, but this would introduce a new quality mechanic in the game where the quality of your inputs impact the quality of your outputs. So they’re a slight modifier on how well things function. You could also play with how important quality is for a given product - inputs may impact the quality of an output more or less depending on the recipe.

So a company could focus on producing junk at the lowest cost possible, or higher quality better performing products. You could also allow the improvement of certain base elements/chemicals via additional processing or filtering, i.e. water filtering to improve quality, or processing of base elements to remove impurities, potentially an entirely new building type.

This would also add to planetary diversity - maybe it’s more cost effective to get water from certain locations for example, but the quality (without additional impurity processing) is better elsewhere.

It’s a cool idea, but…

How would you trade products of varying quality on the CX? You’d need a two dimensional order book.

What happens if you feed your workforce with lower quality RAT? Do they work slower, or do you lose workers?

How do you construct a building with lower quality prefabs? Does it affect degradation? What if there is a mix of low and high quality?

What happens if I buy 50 units of low quality FF and 50 of high quality and put them in one fuel tank and then fly the ship?

You can come up with answers to each of these questions, but every single edge case would need to be handled in the underlying game code, and in the end how does it improve the game? If using high vs low quality is perfectly balanced, e.g. it costs half the time to produce low quality, but you need twice as much of the end product, then you haven’t really altered the fundamental game mechanics at all - quality is like a setting that you can fiddle with that has no effect. Alternatively, if there is a clear advantage to one or the other, then the players will quickly figure that out and then everyone will produce at that quality level. So you still haven’t really added anything, besides a massive headache for the devs.

As I said, it’s a cool idea, but it needs a bit more development than “I realize this might be difficult to implement”. :yum:

Oh definitely it needs brainstorming, that’s why I just blasted it here. I think we could come up with answers to those questions, but I agree the complexity of doing it isn’t trivial if it’s all tackled at once.

If the idea were to be approached, it would need to be added incrementally. Start out simpler so things only impact certain stages of production, and expand gradually from there as resources allow. For example it could start as a mechanic for end-products which aren’t used as an input, that only end-game more experienced players worry about.

The second part of your question I think is more significant and in line with why I post here: the “Does this add an interesting mechanic or not?” question. I’m not sure if it does yet, but maybe that’s just a matter of determining the details of how it’d work that I glossed over. Maybe a meaningful new mechanic to integrate in could be determined by someone creative. Figured I’d toss the idea into the forum waters and see if it floats at all.

One thing it should do is make currency more attractive (to be used the way currency should be used) and barter slightly less so (without eliminating it). I know it’s debatable how large a problem that even is, but it does increase realism. I like this because it increases the realism of the “simulation”, so to speak.

Another thing it does is increase the difficulty level of determining what the “best” strategy to play the game is. I’m not even sure if that would be a good or a bad thing, but it certainly increases realism as well.

If you’ve ever played one of the old Captialism games, they managed to include a quality rating like this, and it was an important part of the game. What it didn’t have (that makes it harder here) is a CX and a ton of intermediate products, though. It doesn’t need to be an infinitely divisible floating-point numeric value (even a simple A-F or A-C grade might be enough), but maybe it’s worth considering.

I think this idea came from how much it bothers me that technically there’s little stopping us from using RAT or H2O or something in place of the in-game currencies. The only major thing they’re weaker on out of the 7 characteristics is portability (see link below). But in reality almost every single one of those would be a detractor when compared to a good currency, for almost every product.

When designing a game based around economics and markets, it’s probably a good idea to think hard about making sure that the properties of money are implemented meaningfully:

(Later part when it goes into debt and money supply is a good read too, but unrelated.)

I’d just say it’s simply impossible to incorporate quality into a game like this. That’s about it. Takes a few minutes of mental activity to figure out how complex even setting up a CX system would be. Which is one aspect of many. Aside from the fact that it would add nothing meaningful to the game.

We can choose:

  1. Spend 10 years on one mechanic that might not even increase fun by a bit.
  2. Spend 10 years on developing multiple features that are within the scope of the team and will most likely increase fun.

I choose 2.

Edit: Ah, and one thing: Properties of money don’t matter if money is dictated as it presumably is (What else are our currencies? I don’t see players minting it.). There we go, fixed your problem :wink:

I would agree if that were the choices (I think that’s begging the question and assuming too much about how this could be implemented). But I agree the value added here is an open question. Like I said this is just getting an idea out to see what the problems would be. If I ever come up with potentially feasible specifics maybe I’ll follow up.

Regarding your edit comment -
I read somewhere the devs felt that currency was under-used and barter was over-used (I don’t know if this is even a real problem). Starting with tested economic theory when designing a game like this is one way to attack that problem (if it is going to be attacked). If changes are made to make currency more useful, I suggest starting with understanding known theory about the properties of money, rather than trying to solve the issue using more artificial rules (only as a last resort). This fungibility issue is what came to mind for me the first time I thought about it.

If this were a full “simulation” it would be a real problem, admittedly for a game it may be one that can’t be addressed.

I’m pretty sure our currencies fulfill all the properties money should have to an immense degree. Going through your link:

  1. They are perfectly fungible.
  2. They are perfectly durable, not one single CIS ever goes bad.
  3. They are portable to infinity since they’re not physical.
  4. They are exactly uniform.
  5. They are limited, not to a fixed absolute but tied to MMs.
  6. They are acceptable through the game’s mechanics.
  7. They are divisible.

I don’t know what more they should do to make our currencies “better money” tbh.

Well I’m not sure about #5 (when you convert from one currency to another, is new currency “minted” and the old currency destroyed?), but I doubt that has a major impact.

It’s not that the official currencies are insufficient, I’m observing that assets satisfy more of these than they usually do. Whether that matters much or not or should even be addressed, I don’t know. It’s an interesting “problem” (even if a non-problem) to ponder anyway.

I loved Star Wars Galaxies and think this worked awesome there. But you also had an entire player class in the RPG system devoted to discovery.

Maybe sometime down the line it would be cool to have similar here but instead of class it could be based on equipment like one-shot probes and scanner drones. Resources would need to (similarly to SWG) have cyclic decay/re-generation too if it were going to work. Maybe they all ultimately feed a segregated new resource chain of both procuring more of them (discovery) and (creation) utilizing those resources to make goods for a third “premium” consumable tier.

I think I like the idea of scanning, discovery, and resource deposits that deplete/migrate in PrUn.

But maybe not so much actual material quality and the complexities that come with it.


About quality, this would only work if the game shifted from a macro complexity to a micro one. What I mean by that is right now the game derives its complexity by the depth of its supply chain and the interactions between components are various steps. To make higher end products, you need a series of lower value products that each require different materials extracted from different planets. The base graph that results is where the game’s complexity comes from and that’s what we as players strive to optimize to generate profit.

A micro complexity game would put the complexity at the factory level. It would need fewer materials and shorter supply chains, but each production cycle would ask the players to decide how they want to do it to maximize profits.

Instead of having a different beverage for each worker tier, it would all be the same, except they would consume different quality levels of it. Pioneers would typically go for the cheapest, while scientists would go for highest. As a beverage producer, you would then assemble a distillery with many different components, each with their own quality rating or properties and the end result would affect the quantity and quality of its output.

It would becomes like an RPG with unique items for things that cannot be commoditized and factories would be assembled in the same way that you equip a character with items. Wear and tear means you need to replace these components regularly and you’ll spend your time analyzing bonuses to figure out what will yield the better mix of quantity and quality for the next month.

This level of complexity means it cannot be applied to a large scale supply chain unless the player count also increase accordingly.

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Seems like a good observation. Anything that can be done to make “horizontal” businesses more interesting would be good, although on the other hand there may be better ways to do that.

OTOH to my other post… if you did do quality and introduce all that complexity, it would have the knock on effect of making it organically more difficult/time-consuming to have 42 different production lines.

It would favor players with more time, but idk that is a fair criticism because it almost is kind of the same as saying the game shouldn’t be worth spending time on.

Maybe a more diplomatic way of saying it is that it is the difference between and idle clicker and something more active.

Surely it would quite simple, Just add a simple stat 1 to 100, and when people place orders it skips over order that don’t meet the required quality?

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just take the mean (weighted per differently per input) of all inputs, add +/- randomise and thats the quality of the output. Tell the production line to use the lowest or highest quality first.

Buildings could treat it differently per build depending on how the devs choose, per building. e.g. Faster cycle time or better probability of good quality goods.

So now the output quality isn’t even specified by the player - it’s random?

The more people explain how this feature could be implemented, the less I like it. :sweat_smile:

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Well I’m not sure randomizing it would be helpful since it negates the business strategy of high-end vs low-end manufacturing (an important detail for sure, at least IRL).

Again I haven’t spent much time thinking about the how details of this yet, but in the back of my mind I imagined something similar to the local market filters (buy/sell/shipping) which instead filters by quality, so you never see the CX stuff you’re not interested in that would lower your product quality or increase your product cost.

The 1-100 scale is probably the default most brains will think of here, but you could also probably reduce that greatly to 1-10 or even a letter system like A-E or A-C, or whatever. Ex. Grade A beef, Grade B, and then McDonald’s beef. :laughing:

For certain products you could also use it to introduce “entropy” :stuck_out_tongue: which would encourage holders of large stockpiles to keep product moving. I imagine how granular it is would depend on what additional mechanics (also a blank slate) are put in place to take advantage of this one. I wouldn’t call this a complete game mechanic on its own, probably more of an intermediate mechanic which should feed as an input to some other mechanic (maybe something “end-game” related or features that haven’t even been thought of yet).

But I acknowledge that adding too much realism–quality and “decay”–could be a little too much for a game to stay a game, and it’s possible that moving closer to a simulation is pushing that boundary. Or not… to be honest I was surprised to find an economic simulation/game with little more than numbers and charts even existed.

I did get carried away with the idea, i have been thinking about it for a while now, was trying to say its simple. regarding the CX. Even if they added named variants. But I do support the idea.