Player retention and the disappearing economy

As I write this, there is a grand total of 2 units of Technetium Oxide for sale in the whole universe. Now I am pretty sure that there are multiple players extracting this mineral, as it is needed for Hardened Structural Elements, without which you can build on high-pressure planets. There simply isn’t any trade ongoing with this. And this is just one example among many.

I have been enjoying Prosperous Universe a lot for over two months now, building up a base to 500 area and basic production using only pioneers. But whenever I research what comes after this, what production chains I could get into with buildings that need settlers and technicians, I always run into the same problem: There is no market, or there is no profit on the commodity exchanges. For anything beyond pioneer-produced goods, people either are self-sufficient, or they trade internally within their corporation.

Certainly many players enjoy working together in corporations, coordinating their bits of the production chain to a point where they all together can make anything up to ships. But there are also other players who prefer to play either alone, or with less coordination, and who enjoy the public player-run economy of the commodity exchanges. And it seems to me that Prosperous Universe becomes a lot less interesting for that latter group after a few months, because of the lack of an economy for advanced goods and materials.

I don’t have a solution for this, but I wanted to give this feedback, because I think it affects player retention. It certainly is the main point where I ask myself whether I want to continue playing, because I don’t see a viable path forward that doesn’t involve a more multi-player approach to the game. Large parts of the tech tree seem totally inaccessible to me, because they aren’t part of the market economy of PrUn.


If you look at the bottom of the Roadmap on the website there a lot of things still to be added to the game, some of which I have referenced here:

  • Population Development: Extension of the existing population simulation to allow growth based on satisfaction over time. This adds a more long-term component to base operations.

  • Energy: Running a base and operating production modules requires energy. Depending on the environment of your base and the kind of production process, energy requirements might differ widely. The availability of different energy sources becomes an additional criterion when choosing base locations.

  • Exploration: The characteristics of a planet are not visible to anyone anymore. Players have to investigate planets first to see what resources they offer and what the atmosphere looks like.

  • Infrastructure: Shared planetary structures that affect all bases on a planet.

  • Asteroid Mining: Using specialized equipment, players can search for and exploit asteroids.

  • Orbital Structures: Allows to build space stations in orbit around planets, allowing to use ships for transport that do not require the ability to land on planetary surfaces or fly within atmospheres.

  • Deep Space Structures: Similar to orbital structures, but these structures orbit around a star instead of a planet. Will most likely serve strategic purposes.

A lot of the missing technology will be connected to these feature, there are also updates to spaceships planned which will also have an effect of components needed.

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I would like to give an other opinion on this topic. I agree with Tobold that for higher tier products that require complex integration one needs to be in a corporation. But since I am a member of such a corporation, that’s not at all a problem for me and I enjoy the things as they are. To the contrary, an attempt to “fix” that could ruin my gameplay and my enjoyment, and would have an adverse effect on retaining the players who gather into corps.

Our corporation produces ship components with vertical integration inside the corp, and sells the components in bundles for ready to assemble ships in kits. And we trade internally a lot. The problem is that there would never be a liquid market for ship components unless the player base is multiplied by 100, which realistically will never happen. This is because a ship requires many many different components, each of them requiring many intermediaries, and most of the components have no alternative use. A ship engine costs a lot to produce but it is completely useless without all the other components that go into a ship. On the other hand, there aren’t that many ships built to support a market for the components. The volumes for each of them would be very low.

That’s a general problem for higher tier goods. A unit is very complex to produce, but the volumes needed are very low. So one wouldn’t get a liquid market for these on the CX even if one stops trading it on the LM. That’s of course related to the small player base. Vertical integration and internal trading for these complex products is not a problem, rather a solution to the problem.

That’s an exaggeration. There is a liquid market on the CX for settler level goods. Most basic prefabs are produced in PP2 (settler level) and not in PP1 (pioneer level), and there is a huge demand for these on the CX. There is an important CX demand for FLX, NAB, CL, PG, COT, NL, EPO, GL, light prefabs, PSL, MED, SCN, HMS, KOM, ALE, FF, SF, CAF, HOP, BHP, SFK, MFK, BGC, BCO, UTS, etc., and all these are settler level products.

Typically one could run a PP2, a CHP, a POL, a REF, a FS, a WPL, a GF, a HYF, a FER or a HWP (with settlers only) and meet a lot of demand.

I would agree that there is much less volume starting from the technician level.

Agreed on the REF, but that one can be run with just pioneers, and is actually a starting package. But I really, really wanted to run a HYF (because I started out as Victualler and it sounded like the logical next step) and simply couldn’t get the numbers to work. The return on investment for anything HYF in my spreadsheet was just way worse than sticking with pioneer buildings. Even if buying CAF at way above market prices, the money is in turning the CAF into COF with a pioneer-run FP, not in growing the CAF beans, or making anything else the HYF produces.

But I’ll look into PP2, that one looks like a viable option with a market behind it.

Where are you located? I am in Antares area. And here all the money is in growing CAF. Because turning CAF into COF is a very simple pioneer job. To the contrary, all the CAF on the CX is sold out, but there are still buy orders for 116 units. Basically any CAF arriving on ANT CX is sold immediately. Supplying CAF is the bottleneck for COF. One can also vertically reprocess CAF and sell COF. There is a huge demand for COF and the prices are high. Running a HYF is not difficult and expensive at all provided you have a good source of H2O. NS is plentiful on ANT CX.

By the way, everything I wrote was based on the Antares area and on ANT CX. Here we have a good supply of AL coming from Deimos. The PP2 recipes for Bfabs, with AL instead of FE, are faster (more Bfabs per unit of time). Also, AL is much more abundant in Antares area because of Deimos. I don’t know if this is still the case in other faction spaces.

There are plenty of profitable and highly liquid markets to move into beyond just the basics that require higher skilled workers.

Lfabs and Rfabs are heavily traded and in large dfemand.

The entire HAL → CL → DDT\EPO\TCL supplychain is profitable with many options to utilize those outputs, including for the production of fabs

Production of workforce consumables requires high-end workers and some have good profit margins.

These have healthy liquid markets on the CX’s.


You aren’t wrong. The larger you grow in the game, the more self sufficient you become. Perhaps you aren’t extracting all the Hydrogen on your own, but it’s entirely possible to be entirely self-sufficient and vertically integrated. You buy Hydrogen, Water, CLI on the CX and maybe one or two key items out of a hundred… you output basically any finished good in the game. There are not enough incentives and forces encouraging CX trade which kind of sucks. Part of that is sort of just how the game is setup - bringing things to the CX is sub-optimal. The more steps of a production chain you do the better it is.

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Imo the solution is not trying to make the markets more liquid but adding more content to the game. This is what Lanshara mentioned. This would increase the demand for high tier products, and as a consequence for their intermediaries. Personally I consider that the game is in a very unfinished stated with many features missing.

I don’t know if more items\markets are the solution. However, they would be part of a solution.

The health of the high-end economy increased dramatically with the introduction of the high-end marketmakers. For big ticket complex items. Though IMO they are over-priced.

At the end of the day there needs to be a massive resource sink for the round-trip economy to work. In a way shipbuilding is like that. But there probably should also be the same for currency. Balcing these things is hard without a peg (PLEX) to stablize the currency and allow the devs to maintain the economy in a healthy state.

It also becomes difficult when you have such a small playerbase. There are literally thousands of us™.


Something like destruction? Warfare?

The big thing I see is making every item be the input to at least 2 other things (ship parts maybe an exception) - but there are too many other materials that have only one use, so they are generally vertically integrated. AR I’m looking at you - should be able to use that any place HE is used for welding since that just needs an inert gas…

The other thing to address this would be to increase outputs relative to inputs; if you had way more outputs than you could reasonably use yourself, that would “force” them onto the markets and make liquidity. As it is, it’s very easy to set up balanced vertical chains that don’t produce much excess.

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Warfare isn’t the only way to destroy resources. Anything that follows a marginal benefits curve works. Planetary infrastructure is a bit like that. Pioneers consuming gin to get above 100% efficiency would also work. It could also be a rework of MM to base off total population, money supply and overall quality of life of people on each planet.

That might only shift from extraction to manufacturing. Having 2 or more types of output per recipe would work better because that’s a guaranteed half of your production you don’t need. Kind of like HAL into NA+CL.

Neon NE is also an inert gas. It would great indeed to be able to use AR or NE instead of HE in WEL and HWP.

I imagine people would just build chains that use both outputs. But that’s a subset of what I mean - the more outputs you get relative to inputs, means it would be harder (or infeasible) to balance, so you’d be sitting on piles of excess, rather than just a little bit.

From a realism viewpoint, this works for chemistry (because chemical reactions are what they are) and for reprocessing minerals and ores. But this does not make sense for manufacturing.

Realism is often at odds with game design unfortunately. The goal of game design is to create interesting choices and sometimes realism is a hurdle.

Anyways, manufacturing produces byproducts through waste or other externalities. Producing concrete releases CO2 for example.

Realism creates immersion. Purely in terms of gameplay, one could replace the names of the materials by some abstract codes, like AA1, AA2, …, AA9, AB1,AB2,…,AB9, AC1, …, AD1,…BA1, etc. This wouldn’t change the game mechanics at all. But nobody would play such a game. Because players like to imagine that the AL they produce is not just a two letter code, but is actually aluminum, and they are actually role-playing a metallurgist. The recipes have to contribute to the immersion and thus make sense from a realism viewpoint.

Reprocessing HAL into NA and CL is very immersive, because NaCl is salt, basically.

One reason why I quit EVE Online was it’s lack of realism. I was an industrialist there and I had enough of building ships from tritanium, pyerite, mexallon, isogen, nocxium, zydrine and megacyte. This stuff doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to build ships from steel, aluminum, titanium, tungsten, carbon fibers, ceramics, etc.

I think the game pushes many people into self-sufficient production rather than trade (see my CX storage threrad) because trade is a little bit broken. At those top levels of tech development, no TCO means you’ll have to become a producer first. And if you produce your own, why not use it rather than sell it. And there’s your problem in a nutshell.

One player has 60,000 DW for sale at over twice the market price. Even if he dumped it all, he’s sitting on 3m cr. He could get out of the water business and start a rare mineral business instead. He has the credits, they’re just tied up in DW that will never be sold at his price. And there’s no reason for him to do so, he obviously has enough money, there’s nothing pushing him to move into different trades.

It is actually, there’s little to no HE around, so making the MHL to build a Hydroponics plat is really hard. Which comes back to the lack of supply of resources and we’re right where we started! Its all very circular :slight_smile:

This is relatively recent. It wasn’t like that 2 month ago. For sure new people will step in and start extracting HE. Because there are many HE planets over there, and extracting HE is not more difficult than extracting H. I mean these are the same kind AEF+INS planets. Myself I am working on iodine I which is also need for MHL.

Trade is not broken. One should just read correctly the signals the market desperately tries to send.
I will write about the Antares area which is the only one I know. More fancy stuff requiring technicians and engineers is not what the economy here needs at the current stage. The economy here requires some more rare raw materials, like HE, NE, AR, AUO, TIO, CLI, BER. It requires more of some basic stuff like C, AL, iodine I, FLX, plastics PE, PG, more FE and STL, more OVE and PT. Even more hydrogen H would be great. A lot of potential revenue here.

What I try to say is that indeed for smaller solo players producing high tier goods is not an option. One has to be either vertically integrated across many different planets, or be part of a corporation, or both. However, this does not mean that smaller solo players have nothing to do in the game. To the contrary, there is a lot of in-game money to be earned just by producing some pioneer and settler level products in high demand, and even by extracting some less common raw resources. An issue that hasn’t been raised so far is that the player base of PrUn is not very responsive to market signals. I strongly suspect that the majority of players have no clue how to play this game, make wrong decisions and are very inefficient overall. Let me give an example from Antares area. Flux FLX is a settler level product produced in chemical plants CHP, according to the recipe 1 LST → 10 FLX. The price of FLX on ANT CX is much higher than the historical average. The bid is at 105 AIC. The LST to the contrary is low on the CX, just at 64 AIC ask. So with one LST at 64 AIC, on can produce 10 FLX worth at least 1050 AIC. At this stage the market is no longer signaling, it is literally screaming: “Build this CHP, buy this LST, produce this FLX and sell it on the market !”. But no, no reaction from the player base. The only sell orders for FLX is see come from the same established players who earn a lot of money with it.