Stale Economy? Are players actually trading?

Hello
I have been “playing”/choring this game for a couple of months. At first I was making progress as my local exchange needed a steady supply of Rations and my chosen starting production was exactly that. Recently the market has been flooded by a lot of players who dropped upwards of 800 rations per posting and doing so at a rate which was half of what was the going rate. In other words, rations went from 75 credits each to 40. I don’t know if 75 was high, but there doesn’t seem to be that many being sold even at 40, so I have not had any market activity for some time. Now I am starting to wonder if players can produce everything that they need, making themselves self sufficient, and therefore I have played the game wrong (gearing up to supply a market with constant demand). If this is a game that players generally don’t need to exchange products with each other, what is the point? Is everyone supposed to just expand into the void until they produce every product for their own consumption?

Currently this game feels like established companies/players can have an easy time smothering startups who do not have the ability to diversify products and insure that they are the only big players in markets. Which BTW, I don’t understand why crushing prices to keep other players from advancing is even necessary. Is this normal or tolerated by the etiquette of the gameplay? I would think that even if players feel the need to compete and “be the best”, it has to be acknowledged that by preventing growth of a playerbase, they are eventually going to smother the game as a whole and they will not have a “universe” to be the best at.

I believe that the best way to create market activity would be to create new demand. Maybe advanced companies become expected to provide more consumables to their employees than startups. Another idea would be to have non player demands like planets/governments buying supplies.

I am interested to see what everyone else thinks, I honestly don’t know if anybody else is having similar issues or has been enjoying the way things go. I am okay with the thought that this is just something that isn’t for me, and if other people are having fun / success all the power to it.

Eyyyy capitalism baby!

I think a lot of what you’re feeling has to do with the age of the Universe conjoined with no clear “end goal” or “top-tier” market maker. I personally have the opinion that PIO outputs have been too profitable for too long leading to a situation where (at the margin) players don’t see a reason to advance into higher tier industries.

Let’s use my favorite building for this illustration: the humble Weaving Plant (WPL). For those not in the know, the WPL produces 5 outputs, two of which (KV and TK) are very clearly for upper tier consumption, two of which are very clearly for lower-tier consumption (COT and NL), and one that’s specifically for consumables (Bandages and AI Assisted Lab Coats for Scientists). To be clear: three WPL outputs are clearly for mid/late game, and two are for the early game.

The WPL uses 70 settlers, and thus produces demand for PT + EXO and it outputs (in the early game) COT and NL. In the extreme early game, producing COT lets you use only 10 PG to produce 30 OVE instead of PE + PG. It is also the only way to make PWO, and required for MED (which is a level OVER Settlers). Meanwhile, the other early game recipe (NL) is really only useful for LDEs as HMS and HSS are not useful until you start to employ techs / engineers.

So, with all that in your mind, put yourself in the shoes of someone looking to make a new building. A lot of people are producing PIO consumables, so if I go to build the WPL I’m going to need to source EXO and PT (or make it myself). Additionally, everything I make is only demanded by players or is used by my own enterprise to become more efficient. If players don’t know a WPL’s outputs are available and the market doesn’t exist, I have to go into a production totally blind. I can’t guarantee profit. Again, I am either using my own outputs or selling to other players.

Thus, as a player trying to figure out “should I build a WPL?” I inherently have to ask “Who is buying or using COT / NL?” which necessitates people using COT or NL, which means the downstream demand for the product must exist. The derivative outputs of a WPL (OVE, PWO, LDE) don’t really have the problem of not being in demand which means that taking the leap / risk to make a WPL is significantly reduced.

Compare that with asking, “Should I build an EDM?”

First of all, the inputs for an EDM are advanced enough that other settler industry must exist to even consider producing some of the outputs (with the exception of the SCN). Secondly, the outputs of the EDM are mainly consumed by Tech buildings or population infrastructure that encourages tech, engineer, and scientist population to grow (again, with the exception of the SCN).

Thus, if you’re going to build an EDM the odds are that you’re building the EDM for the scanner recipe… but even if you aren’t, you will already know why you’re building it… and the answer isn’t to make money but to enable making another product.

You’ve reached the point in the game now where players just don’t have a goal that makes sense to pursue. Shipbuilding is gated behind BER (only hot planets have ZIR), and a purely PIO based company will never produce enough economic value to need additional ships. The game requires more depth as the SET/TECH doldrums are pretty bad.

Only FTL Ships need BER but this is still a good point. I think the bigger Issue is that due to there being no low tier FTL ships and due to the start pf game ships being so good ship building isn’t in demand and so no one will move up the chain. To be honest this might fix itself though corps settling hot planets eventually but for now I think all of the starter industries are both high demand and high supply and the price of a lot of the tier one resources does seem to be going down making it hard to profit from a lot of them.
Edit: I also think next universe the ships we are given should be a bit worse especially as the current starter ships would cost insane amounts of money to make and we get 2 of them meaning the most of the late game content is kind of given to us at the start. I’d suggest something like 2 starting ships with FTL and STL but with a new commodity similar to the glass based STL for FTL travel and the starting ships could also probably live with smaller cargo bays (maybe 250m/250t) at the start of the game which again would encourage ship building and moving up tiers. Also I think this has been suggested before but ship refitting would put less risk on going into ship building.

Keep in mind this game is still in alpha development and therefor is still in active development with the basics in place and higher tier stuff being explored and developed.

What we are experiencing right now is a deflationary economy. This means there is less or constant money going around while everyone is expanding production. This means your money increases in value and there is less incentive to actually produce something.
Unless you are actively selling to a Market Maker (MM) you have to hope someone is buying your products. But seeing prices drop every day most players are pushed towards cutting expenses which in most cases means creating your own inputs and getting less reliant on buying inputs on the CX. Overall this leads to your observation of stagnant markets as much of the economy shifts towards intra-company or intra-corporation deals.

Until something is changed in regards to money creation and circulation we won’t see this change. There has been plenty of good suggestions how gameplay could be improved but we have to give the devs more time as they are a small team.

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Its because all players can make all things.

In real life most companies don’t produce for more than 1 industry, and buy in everything else they need.

In conclusion players have to be guided to specialise more through mechanics, and/or NPC populations with constant demand need to exist. Cities, settlements etc. Again I can only suggest cities with the most populated becoming the capital city, because

  1. It’d look nice on the planetery info secreen
  2. It’d give corps or individual companies bragging rights for having the most populated cities. To sustain this benefits could be introduced for owning capitals or large cities at end game.
  3. There would always be a potentially infinite resource sink for new players to sell to as the galaxy is colonized.

This isn’t the only suggestion i’ve heard for raising consumers and demand to match production however. As long as one exists then anything can be balanced by the devs themselves easily and directly by managing NPC growth, potential and needs. Without the need to interfere with players directly.

*I also want to add that the pacing of the game lends itself to people who will take their time and set up their own production lines, at least until there is enough of a reason and benefit to specialise.

As Taiyi noted, this is a direct result of a deflationary economy. As players produce more and more stuff, players do not have enough currency to buy that stuff because currency is not being added to the economy at the same rate that stuff is. When players grow, the amount of stuff created increases exponentially, while the amount of currency generated is almost non-existent. This results in falling prices, and selling stuff becomes more difficult as the number of sellers greatly outnumbers the buyers. In response, players begin to diversify out of necessity to cover their own basic needs as much as possible. While this keeps their costs down, it results in less trade, and further contributes to the deflationary spiral. Every day fewer players will be buying on the markets, looking instead for ways to make themselves self-sufficient or work out back room deals to make trades with friends or corporation members.

I have heard that the same problem occurred in the early stages of last universe as well, except that after a while players began farming the electronics MMs to generate large amounts of currencies. Unfortunately those MMs have been nerfed significantly, along with others, so the deflationary spiral is hurting a lot more now with no real end in sight. This results in whacky (and unfulfilling) things like people building farms just to sell GRN to the MM. I hope that @molp and @Counterpoint are taking notice and are considering alternative ways of injecting currency into the economy, as this problem will only get worse if nothing is done.

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The interesting thing is that this should technically make starting late in the game easier as new players would be able to purchase more with the currency that they have. Unfortunately, people are not selling building modules at reduced prices yet so being exclusively food production is a loosing strategy.

I think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea if players could have a better window into the current markets when they start a new game. So if I could see that food production isn’t selling as well as another finished product, I would be more likely to make a startup for products in demand.

I do still think that player trading should be encouraged by decreasing efficiency in either production outside of your specialty or at stages of growth or total comapny size. Naturally, if trading is not supposed to be the focus of the game, this suggestion does not make sense, but I don’t understand the point of the game if there is no trading or endgame.

I think there is one more effect to players growing. Not only are we making more, but with the lack of higher tier demand, we are making more basic items. With the exception of players going for multiple bases making the same thing, not only are we each making more, we are making more items that we no longer need from the market. Thus not only is the world going deflationary, most players are becoming more and more self sufficient (with only hastens the drop in demand for T1 materials).

Everyone keeps saying that the economy is deflationary, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the constant stream of new players joining, buying some things with their 40k starting cash, and then leaving the game, or COLIQing and staying, is actually leading to a steady increase in the money supply.

I suspect the main reason that prices are falling everywhere is the other factor mentioned above - that we’re all producing more tier 1 goods than we consume. For example, a single full base on Promitor can supply 7 or 8 other full bases with DW/RAT. And Promitor itself is full. So unless there are the equivalent of 7/8 full planets elsewhere in the universe, all depending on Promitor for DW/RAT, there will be more produced than consumed. This seems to be true for all common resources and tier 1 products.

In theory, this wouldn’t be a problem if all players expanded as efficiently as possible, since all the excess production would end up in the form of construction materials for new buildings and bases. But players aren’t 100% efficient. A large proportion of the universe’s wealth is sitting on the markets at unrealistic bid/ask prices. New players coming into the game can’t necessarily see the current optimal profit path, so just end up making more DW/RAT/C/LST/FE, even though there’s oversupply of all those.

This all stems from the fundamental issue that there isn’t much incentive to move up to tier 2 production. If it were in the interest of advanced players to switch production away from the usual tier 1 suspects, then the flow of goods might even out.

I’m not sure how this could be achieved, but I suspect part of the answer may be in more efficient alternatives to tier 1 production, using tier 2+ ingredients. To take an existing example:

10 H2O → 7 DW
10 H2O + 1 PG → 10 DW

You want to arrange things such that someone at tier 2 is better off just producing PG and selling it to new players, rather than continuing to make the DW themselves. This could be done by having more of these types of recipes, also at higher tiers. Some ideas:

10 H2O → 5 DW (existing recipe but reduced efficiency)
10 H2O + 1 PG → 7 DW (existing recipe but reduced efficiency)
10 H2O + 1 BAC → 9 DW
10 H2O + 1 (Water filter made in AML) → 10 DW

1 MUS + 1 PIB + 1 GRN → 15 RAT
1 ALG + 1 GRA + 1 MAI → 15 RAT

10 OVE + 1 AL → 10 EXO (existing recipe, but now takes twice as long)
10 OVE + 1 AL + 1 TRN → 10 EXO (regular time)

1 STL → 5 PT (existing recipe)
1 STL + 2 SFK → 7 PT
1 STL + 1 TRN → 8 PT
1 STL + 1 W → 10 PT

4 LST + 2 SIO → 50 MCG (existing recipe)
4 LST + 2 SIO + 5 EPO → 60 MCG
4 LST + 2 TIO + 10 EPO → 70 MCG
4 LST + 2 TIO + 5 NR → 80 MCG
4 LST + 2 BOS → 100 MCG

6 FEO + 1 C + 1 O → 3 FE (existing recipe)
6 FEO + 1 C + 1 O + 1 FLX → 4 FE (existing recipe)
6 FEO + 1 C + 1 O + 1 FLX + 1 SEN → 5 FE

4 HCP + 2 MAI → 4 C (existing recipe)
4 HCP + 2 MAI + 1 SEN → 5 C
4 HCP + 2 MAI + 2 GRN → 4 C (existing recipe)
4 HCP + 2 MAI + 2 GRN + 1 SEN → 6 C

In conjunction with the above, it should probably be more difficult to get extra bases. Currently, advanced players are more likely to keep their existing tier 1 buildings, and add new bases and tier 2+ buildings. It should be more profitable for an advanced player to convert their existing buildings to the tier 2+ ones, rather than keep expanding indefinitely. This can be done with ideas discussed elsewhere, such as an efficiency penalty that grows with company size (which can be mitigated by running expert-specific programs in the HQ to encourage specialization) as well as making HQ upgrades more expensive (i.e. requiring higher tier materials) for each upgrade.

Hopefully, advanced players would then push to get to the SCA, so they can sell SEN to all the new players, who would gladly buy SEN for improved efficiency, etc. While the advanced players themselves don’t benefit from hanging on to their own SME and INC - efficiency penalties mean that they are now better off buying those outputs cheaper on the market.

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