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Economy system for interstellar trade.

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by rmorph, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. rmorph

    rmorph

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    I am building a spaceship / planetary exploration game and need an economic system in the back.

    Economy and trading will be quite important. I would like to have multiple types of currency and trade goods floating around and basically a simulation of buyer/seller trading and am looking for a head start. ideally some kind of stock exchange with speculation possibilities: Buying and selling shares in certain corporations, including the players own base corporation.

    This is kind of a microgame within the game: essentially the players fly huge dreadnoughts and need a corporation behind them to provide a basic income for fuel/repairs etc. At the bare minimum, their corporation will generate a default amount of revenue - and then as they gain influence it will grow. At any time trading and market speculation could give short term boosts. The system needs to be resistant to abuse so most of the major trading movement will be script-driven and based on game events, with players able to affect it incrementally.

    Easy right?

    Are there any assets out there that can help provide a framework or backbone for this sort of economic system? Anyone with some experience can throw a few pointers?

    I've been looking at Econsim - which is a GitHub project based on this:
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e933/0d06ec6a830aa1dd2cd9e6bc38daa95db6dd.pdf

    Sadly it hasn't been updated in over 3 years and breaks my unity. I'm not a programmer so I kind of need assets to work out of the box. https://github.com/omikun/EconSim

    Did anyone get any ideas?
     
  2. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    That Econsim project looks like a good start. It's probably the graphs that aren't working in your version of Unity; the actual economic simulation appears to be just three plain C# scripts, and I bet those work fine.

    Um. If you don't mind me asking... how are you doing this? Unity is not some sort of game-kit that enables you to make games without coding. I'm genuinely curious. But feel free to PM me if you don't want to discuss it publicly (or if it seems off-topic for this forum, which is probably the case).
     
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  3. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Well I think its a fair question and yeah - I am basically treating Unity like a giant game kit :)

    Years back a close late friend and I started writing a sci-fi story and.. if I say so myself it was brilliant. It was the space opera we always wanted to watch. But its better as a game than a novel or movie and we figured "how hard can that be?" Yeah. We started from totally the wrong end :D

    My friend got ill and passed away a few years ago (he was the programmer nerd type) and the project just stopped of course. Then about a month ago the PC holding all the old ideas and projects was lost in a flood so .. total loss. That kicked me in the ass and I basically started again.

    Basically we already had a few decent assets and they have evolved now to be very powerful and very cool. I'm buying a few assets a month and gradually building static scenes that represent my idea of what the game would be.
    Recently I've kind of accelerated the plan as I see more and more assets getting close to what we originally envisioned. But I'm basically relying entirely on the work of others.

    When we first started there weren't really any decent options for landing on planets for example. Now there are loads of decent examples, as well as frameworks for physics and spaceship flight.

    Examples of static scenes would be male and female character sets with 3rd person controller and building assets for ground scenes on planets. Riding round a giant spaceship graveyard is fun all on its own:



    Then I have a few of the spaceship controller and toolkits along with lots of spaceship assets. CGBulldog and the like. Together with planetary assets and general space assets: Space graphics toolkit amongst others. These can give me a very good approximation of what I would like my universe to look like.

    Over time I have a few thousand dollars in assets and I'm getting the hang of the very basics about how to manipulate objects and define basic values in scripts etc. I also experiment with Atavism, ummorpg and ummo2 as well as various tools like Playmaker.

    I begin to get to the point where I start thinking about the backend systems. Gravity, economy etc as well as shipbuilding and building an actual adventure... Basically starting to plug the pieces toigether.

    eventualøly I hope someone else will find this interesting and join up.. but for now its just to noob around until I'm not so noob any more.

    I hope that makes sense.

    tl;dr: Its a hobby that took over :)
     
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  4. Socrates

    Socrates

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    More than one type of trade good, excellent.

    More than one type of money, and your players will hate you. I have done this more than once in tabletop RPGs, and the players get bogged down into, "How much X is Y?", type issues. Sooner or later, they all want it in the same dollars, credits, or gold pieces so that it's simple.

    I love solid trading games. I love math and spreadsheets. Even I find I would no longer want to worry about stuff like, "How much Toldarian currency do I need to exchange before going to Nepth IV since they won't take my money there?"

    The exception, of course, is if you are doing microtransactions and plan on having the bought currency vs. what is earned in game. That's gotten to be standard in the industry and players accept it as normal now.


    Good luck with the game.
     
  5. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Thanks! Yeah I love a decent in depth system. And yeah I think it's not so much to facilitate microtransactions or anything (my mate would turn in his Doctor Who lunchbox) but more to give the impression of different cultures having different systems. Hopefully, it's all automated: Walk into the bank and you'll get an automatic conversion rate. For example, I think it would be interesting to rob a pirate and capture 20 Billion in Lysak Yarrs.. and then find out actually its worth about twelve quid. Could have some good NPC interactions about that ^^

    I'm thinking really there are 3 trading systems or markets that need to interact with each other:

    1. Trade goods: Raw materials, Construction goods, Luxury items etc. Bulk weight and freight of Gold Platinum, Silver Copper, Lead etc would be pretty consistent and then it's the currencies that are prone to speculation more than goods themselves which should be pretty constant.

    2. Currencies. Many different worlds and systems using their own systems that can be tied to a galactic standard and then suffer volatility depending on such things as war and famine etc. Most currency trading will happen in banks - which will be set up like shops really.

    3. Shares in companies themselves and the ability to build reputation and take ownership of storefronts on planets. Requires licenses and a decent credit rating / license to operate
    .

    I don't imagine this ever going MMO so... ultimately the "galactic standard" for the various markets never changes because it's considered like the metric meter.
     
  6. Volcanicus

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    If you want to plan out or design an economic model, start with excel.
    I am not going to make you read economics books because they are pretty much all full of crud.
    All you have to understand is:
    - finite economy vs infinite economy (infinite selling means inflation)
    - inflation and deflation (since games do not run debt, you can deflate your game)
    - foreign exchange and relative money values (a simple ratio)
    - dynamic buy/sell

    Stocks, shares and debt have no place in video games at all. If you understood what they are or mean, you'd understand how it is inapplicable in games or simply cannot make sense. Worse case, it is considered heavy gambling.

    Try it out in excel, make 100 random trades with ~5 currencies and inflation sales and see how it works out 10 times. Then adjust.

    I personally managed to create a booming economy MMO system based around X currencies and deflation models with dynamic trading and auctioning. You should be able to also.
     
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  7. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Thanks for the input: Yeah Its all worked out in Excel more or less a long time ago :) I'm a beginner in the game sense - but there's several years of backend here.

    I disagree totally about games with stocks and shares and debt features not being game-worthy. Respectfully I think you confused the game aspect from the *monetary gaming* aspect - As I said above I have no interest in microtransactions or P2W mechanics. This is a simulator only.
    Evidence:


    What is Monopoly after all? The best part of it is the metagame between players and the deal-or-debt aspects. There also plenty of mobile apps and stock market sims. I strongly believe it would be a solid backend to any game to have an economy that offers speculation and market trading - and we're not talking real money here. Its a game man ^^


    Awesome that you got an economy working for your game. I hope I have the patience and skill to get there someday.
    For now I'm looking at Udemy courses to polish my skills in this regard:

    https://www.udemy.com/course/build-a-tycoon-business-sim-in-unity3d-c-game-development/

    It's near the mark and I don't want to sit on my hands while I try to find something better - but obviously I'd prefer to find something someone else has already battle-tested.
     
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  8. Socrates

    Socrates

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    Interesting for you or interesting for the player? As a young Game Master, I occasionally did stuff like this in games. Over time, I realized that the players hate it and feel betrayed. You can have the occasional employer betray them like this, but it has to be very occasional. Even in a game like Shadowrun, where one expects the employers to hose the characters sometimes, you cannot do it often without ruining people's enjoyment of the game.

    Don't do something you think is interesting that will make the game worse for your players.
     
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  9. Teila

    Teila

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    Punishing players is a no no. I remember someone telling me that they were going to force players to use bridges by making them drown if they tried to swim across a river. Not a good idea.
     
  10. rmorph

    rmorph

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    So I don't think this is the place for a discussion on how to make a game fun - or not. The example given was to explain how the context of that specific currency mechanism might be introduced into NPC interaction.
    On a wider note adding gameplay elements such as betrayal (I lie to you about the value), ineptitude ( I don't understand numbers and tell you its a fortune), misunderstanding (I think its a different currency) or downright mystery (I heard there's a money shipment in the billions. Good luck) are all legitimate game plot devices that can add intrigue and variation to otherwise pretty predictable "shoot X for Y loot" quests.

    So respectfully I think anything goes in quest design and the devices chosen really are down to the skill of the storyteller.

    Your point is valid to the extent that anything overused can destroy fun: Most games fall back to grinding to make up for lack of content or ambition.
     
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  11. rmorph

    rmorph

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    This is a mechanism used in the PvP area of Elder Scrolls for example. It's totally legitimate in the context of PvP. Every game mechanic has a place and will fit somewhere. But this is really a discussion for an entirely different thread I think.
     
  12. Teila

    Teila

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    As this is the Game Design forum where we discuss game design, I think it is the perfect place to discuss adding mechanics that punish rather than provide fun to players. I cannot think of a better place. :) A least the vast majority of discussions are mature here. :)

    You can do whatever you want as a game developer. However, when you open the door, we will respond.

    Absolutely. Part of it is just growing as a game developer/GM. I have played many pen and paper games like this, where the players felt punished. I remember one who was so mad that we did not follow his plan, that he he killed us all off one by one. LOL It was quite a shock. The entire campaign of several years ended.

    I think though that sometimes game devs and GMs have to learn the hard way. PvP is fun...so not punishing. The real difference is....is it totally out of control of the players? Can they make it not happen?

    Can they swim across the rivers holding their breath with a chance of drowning if they run out of air...or will they drown when they enter the water because the GM wants them to use bridges? As for the currency, is there anyway players can change that? Are they in control or is the Developer in control?

    That will tell you how the player will feel when it happens to him.
     
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  13. rmorph

    rmorph

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    OK but. swimming? GM'ing in our younger days? This thread was specifically about economic systems in Unity as a backend to games. I'm not discounting your opinion or the point you're making - just.I'm wondering why it is relevant here? I can't stop anyone posting about how awesome Teletubbies are either.. Its a free forum. Just I hope everyone considers context and relevance before going in to comment and a potential derail. I'm just hoping for a bit of forum courtesy I guess.

    Please don't misinterpret my comments as a criticism: It's an interesting topic and I'd love to do it in PMs but maybe it deserves its own thread? "What makes a decent game mechanic" deserves 100 books. "Swimming rivers good/bad" is surely an exciting poll for another thread.
    I'm just here to talk about economic systems. I hope that is OK?

    ______________

    To update on the topic:

    I found a nice looking little asset which gives me a simple foundation to build from:
    https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/templates/packs/trading-simulator-140914




    Basically its an emulator for a single company trading. I will spend the next bit of time trying to multiply this across a few hundred corporations and then introduce agents to manipulate price fluctuations.

    Here is an early version describing the start conditions for the Megacorps.

    upload_2019-9-17_17-11-22.png

    Establishing values in 6 core commerce types allows introducing affecting agents that will manipulate the rates. "War in the SOL system" for example will have a negative impact on any corporation there doing mercantile or banking business, whilst Military suppliers should see increased margins. Each corporation will have its strengths and weaknesses spread out across several regions.

    To prevent player manipulations becoming too severe there are variables for "privately held" and "Frozen" stock - basically shares that will not be offered up on the market. Also, these corporations are the size of planets (and own a few) so its unlikely a player will ever really make a dent in the system at this level.

    Now I have established 100 or so mega corporations I will start making lists of holdings. Each mega corp will have a dozen or so subsidiaries under its umbrella. Volatility here will be more extreme as this is where the NPC questlines start to come in. Nexus will never start a war with Babylon - but already their subsidiaries duke it out in a dozen regional squabble already.

    Comments / opinions welcome. I will be very happy to share this stuff out with you all when it's in some stage of readibility.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  14. Teila

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    Punishing players....I know you get it. No need to insult. ;) This is a great forum full of mature people. Please keep it that way.
     
  15. Teila

    Teila

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    I would say more..but moments ago found out my mom passed away, so would appreciate no more mentions. Thanks.
     
  16. rmorph

    rmorph

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    I'm truly sorry for your loss Teila.
    __________________________





    Having done a little research I think the most interesting and player-friendly trade model to emulate would be 18th-century shipping trade: There are two aspects to it that are interesting.

    Firstly the slow speed, delay and uncertainty of shipping cargoes to their destinations.
    Secondly the nature of limited communications and information about regional events being localised.

    For example: In the time that it takes to ship Opium from Beijing to Paris, a war might have broken out in Europe, or the coast of Africa might have become unstable with piracy. A player armed with foreknowledge of these events could essentially game the system and short stocks in the Beijing shipping company, or at least sell off their shares to avoid a total loss.

    In my own interstellar game, therefore, I consider having 4 planetary systems, each with 6 habitable planets that serve as markets for several dozen corporations.

    I stagger the trading windows as follows:

    upload_2019-9-20_10-17-56.png

    Obviously modern global trade works a little differently: Markets trading windows overlap - but I think this device is reasonable and offers opportunities for emergent gameplay when combined with how information flows between systems.

    for example, planet to planet communication in a local system - say between Earth and Saturn, is going to be more or less real-time. However, between Earth and the many-light-years-away Shrike, the information will be delayed or in some cases not even arrive. The star-faring player might hold the knowledge of events in that system (a plague for example) that will affect a trading contract back on Earth that will drop shares. They have a headstart on the market.

    Thus information becomes itself an asset. Stock tips, ticker announcements, quarterly reports and newsfeeds in regional systems start giving clues that players can pick up on and then use in other systems - but this requires a latency opportunity: The information needs to move faster than the markets.
     
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  17. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    IMO, I dont think you will get a framework to implement this, without a coder, im afraid.
    It's better you write this like you are doing, test it on paper somehow and finally
    get a coder to implement it.
     
  18. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Funny you should say that - yeah that is kind of what is happening right now. I'm hopeful to get at least some of this off the ground.
     
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  19. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    Keep it up!
     
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  20. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    I don't think punishing players is a strict no no, just it needs to be handled with care. As an example, the economy of Eve Online is largely driven by the permanent destruction of player owned ships. You make a mistake, get caught without backup, and very quickly your ship and all items on board are lost while your opponents scoop up the scraps left behind. This creates a vibrant market for new ships and fittings, since even the best of players will lose ships on a fairly regular basis (caring more about their "isk ratio, value of ships lost vs value of ships destroyed than anything).

    Long story short, this is quite punishing, especially for newer players. But by the losses being so devastating it encourages team work, mutual defense, wolf pack tactics, and a wide range of player created political intrigue you won't find in any other game.

    I'm sorry to hear that.
     
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  21. Teila

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    Thanks, Joe and rmporph

    Not sure why I added the no mentions...just my need to hide for a bit I guess.

    Okay now. :)
     
  22. Antypodish

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    @rmorph
    Maybe not that helpful comment from me, yet I think you got some derived principle with above examples.
    You already mentioned however, you are on coding.
    But since you got some excel concepts, you can write down and test equations in spreadsheets.
    Then implement in Unity.
     
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  23. TheKingOfTheRoad

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    @rmorph Maybe you can add a Intergalactic TV Channel including the Stocks or something on the screen.
    Same with a NewsPaper and finally some NPC you can meet like a Stock Trader or Financtial Expert the
    Player can meet in game that guides him.

    So that will take you to create an Intergalatic Multimedia Corporation
    and you can get information on Space Bars or Cities talking to NPCS too.

    @Joe-Censored Can we have a Difficulty Setting? For example, Easy: not losing ships and cargo. Medium: your ships needs to repaired, you lose just 50% of the Cargo and you can recover some floating on space. Hard: you lose everything in a Match if big mistake.

    Sorry my english.
     
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  24. TenKHoursDev

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    If you need to design an economy, its not an economy.... just my thoughts.
     
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  25. TheKingOfTheRoad

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    How you will call to design corporations behaviour inside an Intergalactic Universe then?

    I see your point anyway. For example, in Jupiter, it's a Socialist system. While an Mars,
    it's a Fascist system. Reaching Uranus, we have a Republic.
     
  26. rmorph

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    I've been lucky enough to get some help from the developers of the stock market simulator. They're going to come out with an asset for trading simulation that gets me much further along the path :)

    So I'm thinking of making my stock exchanges a virtual room that the player will step into. This is a mockup using some nice assets - it kind off sets a cool sci-fi tone.

    upload_2019-9-24_16-1-21.png

    The clue will be to populate the room with hologram planets and trading links etc. The big orb in the middle will be the stock market clickable.

    The trading simulator is extremely exciting: I can basically scale it up to create an autonomous backend galactic trading system. I won't go into too much details: The devs can talk about it when its released. I understand they've already submitted it.

     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  27. rmorph

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    Sorry but thats a bit... wrong. As in totally.

    A sells X to B and buys Y from C with the money. C buys X from B at a slightly higher rate than B bought it for. B profits.

    This is a static economy.


    All I have to do is randomize the trade goods and values.
    Then I introduce uncertainties: Scarcity / Surplus / Supply interruption.

    Then I scale it to a hundred products with a hundred entities - constantly buying and selling.
    A player interacting with the system can choose the best buyer for their product. The best seller for an item they need.

    This is a very very simple model. And once it runs it can run forever. And I can continue to tweak it.

    This is a designed economy. Because all economies in games have to be designed. In the real world as well: "Barter" is a designed economy as old as the cavemen. What point were you trying to make exactly?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  28. TenKHoursDev

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    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
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  29. Volcanicus

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    That doesn't work at all... I wish folks would stop confusing governing styles with economics. Fascism is a governing style, communism is an economic model, socialism is a governing style and a republic is a governing style. Regardless of governing styles, trade is possible. Whereas governing styles may be incompatible, trade is compatible. This is how most of the world accepts China's slavery in their "communist" society: cheap labor is cheap! Likewise, a monarchy can trade with a republic no problem.

    What you might be onto is if a military component is part of this game where isolationist policies create static economies and development, making some planets more susceptible to raiding or losing wars.

    inb4 the dominant strategy of AnCap takes over. You should throw in random trade policies by some sort of trade federation to impose conditions and limits on the players.
    I remember when in farmville, strawberries, the most basic crop, was the best in terms of cost/time ratio.
     
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  30. TenKHoursDev

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    By god that's diabolical! Its like the Pistol from Halo CE! Grossly OP but deliciously effective for the average player.
     
  31. rmorph

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    I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out the easiest ways to simulate disruptive events in a way that could influence stock prices without being unduly random.

    RNG is not interesting... A stock simply going randomly up and down will be interesting for 3 minutes and then players will get bored. What we want are to introduce behavioural patterns that are subtle enough to be missed (don't telegraph what is going on) but that, with the right piece of information in hand becomes apparent to the clued-in player.

    So: It's not enough that I announce there is a war going on on Mars... the market needs to react to that news. Some will panic. Some will short. Some trade goods will do well. Some industries will do badly.

    Right there are 4 variables I can introduce:

    1. Agents will rush to sell stocks the moment war breaks out. Trade to and from the affected planet will be cancelled: All trade goods lost. Net losses will appear on the trading tables.
    2. A smaller percentage of agents will immediately buy the stock at a certain low point- raising it suddenly for a small dip. This is the short sellers expecting it to get worse.
    3. Corporations that deal in military contracts will shortly after find that their contracts are boosted. This means corp stock prices in the area that were tanking might suddenly find a boost as the company discovers alternative revenues and begins profiteering.
    4. Otherwise, sound industries will find their stock prices marching into a canyon. Their systemwide reputation and influence will diminish and the question will be: can they survive or will they be bought out. If a player makes a massive investment (gamble) on the off chance that the company will survive the war then its just possible by the end of it that she is the new chairman of the board.

    In the context of the above scenarios, several pieces of information become extremely valuable:

    1. Foreknowledge of the war. Sometimes war is an obvious result of failed diplomacy. Other times it is simply a spontaneous act of aggression. An informed player might pick up the news with the rest of the crowd, or might sit on vital information. Hell- she might even have caused it.
    2. Knowledge of the length of the war and end of it. Markets rebound. Companies rebuild. A player with strategic information about the state of conflict would have a massive market advantage.

    In a game context. It's easy to declare a "state of war." it is more difficult to preemptively prepare the game for it and layout the clues that war is coming. These might be controlled by the narrative or quest system or simply be player-initiated (killing 10,000 ships of one faction whilst painted in the colours of another).

    Then add Famine, Strikes, Plague, Piracy, Economic depression, Political unrest... More useful states of disruption and uncertainty. We can RNG the actual economic effects and simply do subtle hinting of the start and end states. Let prescripted agents sway the market in reaction, and then let the player observe and act if she wishes.

    Challenge: Overuse of these disruptive elements will result in the universe experiencing the apocalypse. random wars starting every day in some new system will simply add to the noise of the RNG. Stability needs to be equally predictable. An age of affluence should not simply be curtailed to mix the numbers around. So political trends need to follow an animation path that goes from a minor crisis to a big crisis before it becomes a global crisis.

    Workers strike -> riots in street -> Shutdown of industrial facilities -> Hiring of goon squads -> Death of protesters -> Assassination of political leader --> Stat of emergency -> Government collapse -> Armed insurgencies -> War were declared.

    Essentially then - it is the factors of interference and disruption to the economy which will give the economy the most true-to-life capacities. The design challenge is how to best establish them over time.
     
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  32. Antypodish

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    If you want good economy, dont make it artificial random.
    Make sure is driven by goods demand and performance of corps.
     
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  33. TheKingOfTheRoad

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    Ok. Then work in 3 layers: Economy (insert economy systems here, including trading) in layer 1 and Politics (insert goverment styles here) in layer 2.

    Finally, try to make both work independent of each other. You can't. ;)

    Now add layer 3: Press, news and events (for example a war).

    Finally you have your system in place.

    So we have: (@Volcanicus i agree with you about discerning stuff now, thanks!):

    Let's see if i get it:

    Layer 1: economy systems

    Layer 2: goverment styles (i like what you wrote, goverment style sounds good)

    Layer 3: press and intergalactic events.

    Now let's add random in layer 2: if the number it's 7, inflation in planets
    that has this goverment style X appears.

    Then do the same with layer 3: if the number it's 4, news about prosperity
    appears in some planets A, D, E, that are not ruled by some goverment
    style X in layer 2.

    And news about catastrophes appears in systems with some other
    goverment style in layer 2.

    That's the translation to coding without too much struggle,
    even a GDD will do with this sections:


    Layer 1: Economy Systems Description (for example: in Uranus is good to buy gold. There is an underground trading system.)

    Layer 1: Goverment Styles Description (for example: Jupiter has a neoliberal system.
    Uranus it's ruled by a military power. That's why they have an "underground" trading system.)

    Layer 3: List of possible Events. (for example: if the year it's 2045, war appears or not,
    based on randomicity) OR player actions to stop it. The player can defeat the military power using his power, money or influence when he reachs level 100 and XP 990.000.
    @Antypodish
    If you dont want RANDOM events, then you need to make your game trigger events
    based on factors like time, player actions and data.

    If you give the AI the "freedom" to do movements based on data,
    then you can take out the RANDOM stuff OR even mix both.

    Just like Chess AI works.

    Ok, i go back to work. Cheers
     

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
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  34. rmorph

    rmorph

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    I think there are some great concepts here.

    To go right to the top of the discussion: Why does my player need an economic system? Versus a simple quest/reward one?
    The level of detail in what I build should focus on what the player needs for a fulfilling game experience. I think it would be useless to add an overly realistic and complex economic model to an FPS for example. The same with building an overly complex political system: Very few games short of sprawling empire builders need that depth. Most games do well enough with "good guys versus bad guys."

    My needs are quite simple: My player will fly giant mindbogglingly expensive spaceships. Battlecarriers and dreadnoughts. This needs an income the size of a small country - and the only way I can see to amass a continued form of revenue that large is to *Bruce Wayne* it: Give her the opportunity to own a powerful conglomerate that exists alongside other conglomerates. Once they have spent a portion of the game learning how to play the system her income should more or less level out and allow her to focus on other aspects of gameplay, with a minimum level of followup caretaking on the money side.

    Therefore the politics and such are very secondary in my use case and I'm OK with a level of randomness and simplification: I want the player to win the money system so that they can enjoy the spaceship system - but add enough of a challenge that they cant simply override it early on and accumulate infinite wealth.

    Theory-crafting aside (which is fun to do) I think the K.I.S.S principle works best to build background systems. Rather than going to the trouble of defining and laying out every possible motivation and manipulation of a market as legitimately event-driven ts OK to call it magic and fake it: Random is OK if it hides in a mess of interesting developments, so long as the player is served by it.

    In fact, I will argue that the player is best served by not having the whole engine revealed in intricate detail - so, therefore, it doesn't really matter:

    To Keanu-fy it: I liked the first John Wick much more than JW2 and JW3t: I didn't need to see how the whole assassin world worked: It was an enticing mystery that lent a depth of surrealism to the first story. Same with Matrix vs M2 and M3: The more the directors tried to explain and justify the universe the less fun the ride was.

    An Economic / Political system in the context that my player needs it should stay in the background. The window into the world of corporations should only reveal that it is a vast looming and bleak world of corporate knife fighting that makes the player glad to return to the comfort of her dreadnought to fight battles with enemies she can understand.
     
  35. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    Sounds good!

    IMO, with "chunking" you can add detail as you progress and do iterations
    of your prototype until Alpha, then keep iterating.

    The Political aspect was threated really good in old school Deus Ex.

    The depth of the descriptions about the world and his problems
    was mind blowing at that time, 20 years ago.

    Let's see the work of Tolkien too. I will need 10 lifes to understand
    that amount of detailing.
     
  36. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Implementing a simple autonomous "rock paper scissors" system to create profit and loss variability in trading:


    So Now I have multiple planets with multiple corporations set up to trade various goods with each other.

    At the moment this is all RNG: Who trades when to where and how much.

    I need to start adding consistent patterns to trading data, and I want this to be autonomous without overly violent fluctuations. I also want the patterns to be affected by events in system or on planet.

    the first tthing I do is define Commerce types: Basically High level commodity types, and then I will define every corporation according to these 6 values.

    Industrial, Trade, Military, Banking, Property and Mercantile.

    One Corporation might be heavily focused on military goods - whilst another might be focused on Property or Industry. Since these are all multi-multi-multi mega corps we assume their portfolios are diverse: Every corporation has *some* percentage of its business in each of these six types of commerce so I assign weighted values from 1 to 6 for each commerce type per corporation.

    I weight these as strengths and weaknesses: For example Nexus Industries is strong on Mercantile (6) and weak on Property (1). with the others falling in between.

    I now have a rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock system.

    If Nexus Industries (score 6) trades mercantile goods with Primus Portfolio (score 2) it will *win* and gain (6 - 2 = 4) four times the contract value of the trade as profit. If it attempts a property contract (score 1) with Incandstar (score 6) it will have its ass whupped and see a loss of 5 times the contract value.

    I created these weighted values very easily in excel by assigning random numbers to some cells for each corp.

    =RANDOMBETWEEN(1;100000)/100000

    And end up with a table as follows:

    0,71611 0,12667 0,51636 0,81567 0,01166 0,98808
    0,74778 0,99896 0,20968 0,13127 0,13578 0,65652
    0,39886 0,42836 0,05629 0,23549 0,70045 0,42234
    0,18127 0,86025 0,63018 0,85633 0,63378 0,29785
    0,13716 0,86304 0,58756 0,97565 0,34758 0,69123


    I can then create percentages from 100% for the 6 commerce types based on those numbers in excel:

    =(AY10/SUMMER($AY$10:$BD$10)*100)

    Industrial_Strat Trade_Strat Military_Strat Banking_Strat Property_Strat Mercantile_Strat
    22,55784284 3,990171835 16,26561245 25,69403538 0,367296152 31,12504134
    25,96467349 34,68623155 7,280580835 4,558001938 4,714599703 22,79591249
    17,79203226 19,10794499 2,510939919 10,50455217 31,24512109 18,83940958
    5,239532208 24,86516016 18,21508472 24,75185423 18,31914119 8,609227496
    3,807651948 23,95855889 16,31105263 27,08468667 9,649049753 19,18900012


    This gives me basic values out of 100% for each commercial sector which i can then use to rank from strongest to weakest using excel again:

    =RANK.EQ(P10;P10:U10;1)

    Company_Name Ind_Pri Tra_Pri Mil_Pri Ban_Pri Pro_Pri Mer_Pri
    Nexus Industries 4 2 3 5 1 6
    Babylon Trade 5 6 3 1 2 4
    Incandstar 3 5 1 2 6 4
    Primus Portfolio Partners 1 6 3 5 4 2
    Systematica Global 1 5 3 6 2 4


    So what have I achieved actually? I have identified my corporations and what they do numerically at a very simple level.

    This is a basic start to defining sector strengths and weaknesses for corporations. Now when trading contracts are randomly assigned to corporations (Corp A send Item X to Corp B in system Y for *Z* amount) I have a quick check to see who profits and who loses from the deal according to a simple value system.
     
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  37. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    I highly, highly recommend playing X2 the threat. It has a very well built and fairly simple economy/trade system that kept me addicted for quite a few hours back when I played it, and I am the last person you'll be able to get to grind in a game for any length of time.

    I would advise to start very simple and focus on making the interaction fun rather than focusing on the economy features. I really like a bit of backstory added to contracts, I like when trading is tied to current events in the game world, I also liked the greetings when you dock in X2! All these things just make it more fun to do what is essentially grinding for credits.

    I agree with those who say to avoid doing random negative stuff with the economy (or anything else in the game for that matter). Who cares if the interstellar housing bubble burst or someone made a pile of rubbish look like a pot of gold? The point is that the game tricked you and there was no way to find out. It's not a simulation, a game is an interaction with a work of art (programmed or otherwise) and there's little room for anything that isn't engaging and fun.
     
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  38. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    "Who cares if the interstellar housing bubble burst or someone made a pile of rubbish look like a pot of gold?"


    I care. For example, im inside this game, im walking in the city and i see some screen on the streets telling me: interestellar housing bubble burst it's going to explode right now.


    Then as a player i can take actions based on this information.

    In your X2 example, nice graphics btw, if im in the middle of a war as a soldier,
    of course, that information means nothing. But if im inside of a Space Bar
    and some npc give me this info, and i have a proper system to do gold
    and progress inside the game faster and i can use it, that's valuable.


    Even more: interestellar housing buble burst it's going to explode right now.
    Robots in Planet Aurea are going cheap! Then you take your Space Ship
    and fly to Planet Aurea and buy this robots from corporation Babylon,
    and sell the Robots in Earth. Profit! Then you can improve
    your Space Ship Guns.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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  39. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    My point was about something you can't see coming that pulls the rug from under your feet. Maybe not the best example there, but it sure sounded good :)
     
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  40. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    Yes. I agree about not doing something that takes the player by surprise with many negative elements,
    there's no need.
     
  41. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Well, my needs and focus might be a bit different than others - I need an economic system to serve a purpose: It's not just there to serve as background fluff for an RP storyline, nor is it the primary focus for the game (Ecosim 3000). It's a means to an and -and I got to the need of it by trying to layout my player needs and motivations.


    Since this is the game design forum guess I will try and explain what I'm trying to design, and the why of it.



    My game features the system of being able to drive around in absolutely huge dreadnought class spaceships. Think "Dreadnought" or "Fractured Space" plus the 3PS aspect of being able to run around them when they're parked and do basic planetary exploration on foot. The real game is Battlestar Galactica-level boss fights.

    upload_2019-9-30_21-2-42.png

    So far so good. But frankly, I need an in-game *lore* reason why a person can not only own a dreadnought but can afford to fuel it, stock it and arm it and then risk it in battles. This is like giving the guy down the road an aircraft carrier to cruise the fjords in. Not even Elon Musk gets to do that.

    Several options:

    1. They're captain cos they're in the military and that's it. They're an officer following orders. Wing Commander with Battleships. No further exposition required.

    Meh. This story is so tired and overused. If you think about it every space game and most SCI-FI RPGs out there has some version of this. You're just the guy in the chair. I want a better story than that.

    2. They won the lottery and decided to go badass with a capital ship.

    OK: Slightly more Interesting but a little deus ex machina. Basically the gods conspired to just win you a spaceship. Bit Mary Sue. No real character storyline. And sooner or later the money will run out.

    3. Bruce Wayne it.

    Character starts incredibly rich and just has access to lots of toys. Has a corporation in the background that secures an income for said toys.

    OK. Might work if we give the character deep personality flaws to make up for the silver spoon in his mouth (Also done before *cough Batman cough*) but here we have several problems: Firstly I have to define the character in some way to balance this amazing gift - and by doing so I take away the personalisation from the player. In a perfect world, the player defines the character they wish to be without any interference from me: For example in an MMO. Be good or bad. Be short or tall. Make your own destiny. Starting off with your parents' money is so baby boomer, to be honest.

    Thing is I now created an omniscient character playboy who I can't let choose *NOT* to be batman. This doesn't fit my game. I want the players to feel that owning a spaceship is a privilege they have earned through good gameplay.


    So where is my game going?

    I want the player to get a spaceship and then earn the right to keep it and fit it out. Not by some silly quest reward system (Kill 10 bandits receive enough fuel to conveniently run a star destroyer): But using in-game mechanics. An Economic system that will provide the means for them to support themselves at a basic level: Or better if they can master the system.


    Here's the story I ended up with:

    Single Player story:
    The player starts as a scavenger in a space graveyard for derelict hulks on a crappy ice moon.
    A bit of super storyline happens and they stumble across a rogue military AI hiding in a junked battleship. On its final bit of reserve power, the AI needs to flee before it is stripped for parts. Problem is it's contained in a big brain that can't easily be moved: This ain't Cortana and the AI is tied to this piece of junk's mainframe.

    The player makes a deal to help (Stronge incentives given) and with the AI's help can get the spaceship very barely spaceworthy. Trouble is: Yada yada storyline and basically, no one else is happy with the idea of a rogue AI in a Battlestar roaming the systems. The space cops and the space pirates and the space nasties are now after you and bang we have a game.

    OK. So the player gets to where they run a fixer-upper spaceship as a legit lifestyle choice. Probably not the most badass thing out there but quite formidable if only you had the funds to keep it.
    Player also gets a friend: An AI that can do the brain work to get you started. Sidekicks are good.

    Practically we are close to finding our reason for our economic system: Because what would the AI recommend? What is a likely path to survival and success?

    That you form a corporation and using the AI's advanced capabilities build a company portfolio that will give you the vast funds necessary to finance your space fleet. If the player is not interested in finance then the AI can run the thing and give the player a modest income. If the player likes that kind of game-within-a-game they can actually use information from the systems to win profits and grow at a faster pace.

    So the result: the reason for this thread (And of course this is MY reason - I'm sure many people have their own ideas of what their games require and I'd love to hear that as well).

    The Economic system I'm attempting to put together is a result of a game driven requirement. I want it to be as simple as possible, and to offer a few extra choices and layers for the character without distracting from the primary game objectives. If I had an army of programmers or even some heavy skills myself I would love to develop a full political system on top or describe 1000 pages of lore per megacorp. Or add 100 different game variables to emulate a living economic system based on the most recent models... But it's not really about that for me. My game is about kickass sexy spaceships. Making the player feel like Adama taking a last stand. Getting teary-eyed for their Galactica because it's not just a machine dammit.

    I need the player to get vast quantities of money without feeling like the lottery was fixed for them. I want to give them a chance to earn it.

    Make sense? Also: Help required :)
     
  42. rmorph

    rmorph

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    You know. I'm a big fan of your space combat kit - and it's helped me a lot with some of the stuff I'm talking about.

    On your last point though... I disagree with you about it (the game) not being a simulator as much as a work of art: Most immersive games these days are at some level trying to simulate something - usually simplifying it but offering some attachment to what the reality might be. The art is in doing it extraordinarily well. Just like a guitar solo is a series of mathematically harmonic interruptions played upon a mechanical interface: The system is not the goal. What we do with the system is the goal. Our audience isn't overly interested in the mathematical explanation for how music occurs...- they're spacing out on David Gilmour's epic solo in "Comfortably Numb."

    Space Sims are exactly that I think: A means to an end whereby fun may be had and a story may be told on top of building blocks that may or may not be realistic but should serve the higher purpose: The player's interest.

    In my particular case, running an economy sim is the same: a necessary background system to offer a resourcing capability. Just like a political sim might offer a depth to the story.

    I like your X2 reference and totally agree but also I need to be honest about what I can and can't do: I don't have a big design team. It's me on my own working a vision I shared with a dead friend... So if I can build an automated system from simple rng building blocks I'm going to have go that way - it gives me more time to play with spaceships :)
     
  43. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Glad to hear it! :D

    I think we agree more than we disagree on that. I guess my point is that if the game is a guitar solo, there's no point hitting the wrong string just to shake things up. When a game represents a part of reality, it does so effectively when it puts meaning above realistic accuracy. The mechanism of a game mechanic (e.g. trading in an economy) does have importance, but it is still simply a vehicle for meaning. At least that's the way I see it.

    I think the X2 economy is simpler than it appears. There's a lot of content (objects to trade, backstories for contracts) but the core of it seems quite simple to me. I guess it's a question of how much content you want to produce.

    I think you're overthinking things. Don't get me wrong, that sounds like quite a good story, but its value is more as a story than as a way to justify why the player has a ship.

    You really don't need to justify anything. My personal favourite theme for space games is that the scale of human material ownership simply increases 1000x due to the volume of space, the resource quantity on all the planets/asteroids, the automation technology available, and simply the scale of human ambition. I wouldn't try to justify it at all.

    Think about Cerberus in Mass Effect, and the Illusive Man. There is no justification for why such a huge, highly advanced corporation exists. It is simply a transplant of the symbolism of large corporations nowadays, scaled up and fattened with interesting motives and themes.
     
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  44. rmorph

    rmorph

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    Yeah, we're very much on the same page I think. This particular part of your post caught my interest because I think that now we're onto player motivations (selfish) versus storyline motivators (game-driven): and that's really about what drives the player experience.

    Using Cerebrus as a case in point:
    I think that you're right in that most game logic doesn't need to be too obvious or telegraphed out. For example, Games need a big baddie and large corps are just perfect for that - Be it Wayland Yutani in Alien or Tyrell Corp in Bladerunner: we understand instinctively that large corporations can be evil in a faceless impersonal way. representatives of those corps can be arbiters of evil. No real backstory required. Illusive man is a good example: we don't care what happened to him as a kid to turn him sour. We understand he is now a zealot with a lot of money and we don't approve.

    So setting up adversaries is pretty simple. No real exposition required. Players are gonna want to put a bullet in them.

    Motivating a player, however, is not just about setting a target for them to shoot at - but getting them to take a personal interest and investing emotionally into their character. Having something at stake to lose. I feel this means we have to give them ownership to their character and the decisions and consequences they take. This is tricky and I'm very much a theory-crafter here: But I want to put to the test the idea that if you can start a player with nothing and then give them the opportunity to build an empire - corporate or military or whatever - then along the way there will be plenty of opportunities for that player to build a personal stake in the game. Versus they simply start from a comfortable place.

    In some ways, I think the journey is more important than the destination in a game sense for most players: getting to the point where suddenly you don't need to work your ass off should give a feeling of relief and comfort. I would like the player to think "Damn I wish I was this successful in real life. I wish I could do this in real life" That's a really good indicator of a successful game - when we begin to live vicariously in it, like a good book.

    So... It's not that I want to justify the why and how of a player rolling round the verse in a battleship: I want to motivate them to feel a pride of ownership and a sense of value in that achievement. By giving them systems to beat and opportunities to feel clever and that they earn their way through the game, rather than having the important stuff simply given to them.

    Does this make sense?
     
  45. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Just as an aside, my reading of Cerberus was not so black and white. Shepard needed them. I thought of them more as a sort of Jungian shadow for Shepard, a representation of the parts of themselves they'd rather not have to dig into to achieve an important outcome, but sometimes when you fall too far you don't have a choice - and there are always consequences afterward.

    I think I understand better now. Although I would be wary about building such a big game mechanic infrastructure to achieve a feeling the player might not even be particularly interested in. On top of that, generally the content cost of games where you start off with nothing is quite high, because you have to fill out the entire path to get to the top. Still, when done right it is very compelling.

    One thing I would keep in mind: you said the main point of the game is large battles? Don't make the player wait to get there. In my opinion, games that sort of change the main mechanic (trading to battles) halfway through are a high risk for disappointment, because you are often playing the game because you enjoy a mechanic and then it is taken away or put in the back seat.

    For example, to exaggerate slightly, imagine if you had a first person shooter that turned into a strategy game when you built up enough money from loot and got to hire units? It sounds fantastic on paper, but the reality is that it would be jarring and easily turn into a point where people bail on the game because the type of enjoyment from the two mechanics is completely different.

    I would have the entire game the same from start to finish, but scale it up. Maybe the player has a bathtub ship at the start, and ends up with a 10 mile long dreadnought. The trading is always there, battles are always there, but the scale is changing. That's progression, but nothing fundamental has changed.

    Also I agree the journey is better than the destination - I would go so far as to say that it would be a mistake to let the player even 'finish' the journey at all, because the ending would be anti-climactic.
     
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  46. rmorph

    rmorph

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  47. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    I just wanted to point out that this is a v.cool project. Also that trade happens regardless of war/peacetime. For example in WW2 the Allies were still paying the Axis powers for the use of their patented technologies (which interestingly also included shaped charges for penetrating armor)... this fact was revealed in a book by one of the remaining Kennedy family members, a senator in their book. A fascinating bit of information honestly.

    Source: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a220095.pdf << linked to from Wikipedia. No idea about if it contains what I am saying, I don't have time to read through it to confirm BUT this is a tidbit of information I learned of years ago on Wikipedia's article about Shaped Charges.
     
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  48. TheKingOfTheRoad

    TheKingOfTheRoad

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    This is super. I will test the PC Demo.

    Ok. I've played. Nice piece of Information about the transactions,
    smooth transitions and the map it's cool.

    I like it. Thanks for sharing!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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