This thread is to discuss my suggestion to get one of the core game mechanics fixed for those interested in other parts of the game outside of combat. This will provide alternative options of gameplay and to supplement non-trade/crafting orientated gameplay (Missions, PvP, PvE, Conquest, Exploring).
The biggest issue with the economy revolves around supply/demand supplemented by a player run economy model and low population numbers.
To address this we need to break down the economy into the different parts and address each part and how it ties together. First I will cover off on common terms used throughout, then I will identify the key areas with suggestions to fix each if needed, and finally I will provide a conclusion.
Common terms used:
Store inventory - The quantity available within the shop of a port
Raw resources - Goods produced through 'harvesting' in the craft menu - i.e: Logs, Ore, Hemp, etc.
Manufactured materials - Parts made from raw resources and other manufactured materials but are not usable themselves - i.e: Frame Parts, Planking, Rigging Parts, etc.
Manufactured goods - Finished products usable as consumables, upgrades, and cannons - i.e: Hull Patches, Turning Trim, 6pd Medium Cannons, etc.
Trade goods - All the products not usable in crafting but consumables for ports - i.e: Sussex Oak, Fine Leathers, Parisian Furniture, etc.
Goods - Encompasses all the previously mentioned goods - Trade goods, Raw resources, Manufactured materials, and Manufactured goods
Currently in game:
The supply of goods can come in three different forms:
Appears in the shop for sale
Acquisition is a static figure with a % chance of occurring to add stock to a port.
Produced by players
Production is goods produced through raw resource harvesting buildings
Populates the port inventory through the sale of goods to the store
Trade occurs when players sell goods to a store or when NPC trade ships arrive at a port (unconfirmed the effect).
The consumption of goods in a port are static transactions that reduce the port stock by a set amount every hour.
Player numbers are FAR too low to support the existing model!
Quantity of acquired goods are purely added by a static figure that does not adjust based on nation population/activity
Acquired goods are mostly only shippable from region capital to region capital, other ports are not interested in the goods
Raw resources produced by players are more expensive than NPC port prices, it is actually more affordable to source from NPC shop inventory then from player contracts
Some goods are ignored by players and therefore create massive shortages when NPC shops are not populating regularly as an alternative
No profit in shipping goods from raw resource ports to the manufacturing hubs
Some raw resources are not available through production
Goods moved from an acquiring port to a consumption port are being consumed at a static rate similar to acquisition of goods, there is no adjustment for player population/activity to increase/decrease in proportion
Limited to a small number of slots globally
Limited in number of upgrades available
Upgrade costs to increase number of slots are astronomically high
Global limit of 5 buildings
Upgrading buildings is costly for minimal gains
Minimal variations of raw resources of ports in proximity to one another meaning ports further from a hub will rarely see any activity
Needs to be port dependant, not global.
Each player with an outpost in a port should be granted 1 slot in a production port or 3 slots in a regional capital.
A player will then need to purchase the upgrades currently available at the current prices to increase their slots available that is applied globally (to make it easy to store a players data).
The UI also needs to indicate slots currently used vs total available so a player can visually see how many they have total in a port, currently there is nothing.
Outposts should remain the current model of purchasing additional spots however, the increasing pricing without a hard limit needs to be slightly more reasonable.
Building slots: (I will cover buildings in more detail later)
Limits need to be port specific, not global.
In a raw resource port the limit should be 3 and regional capitals 5.
'Upgrading' of buildings needs to change.
Speaking of buildings, it needs a different approach:
When you purchase an 'upgrade' to an existing building it should use up an additional slot within that port - A capital cannot have a level 3 shipyard, a workshop, AND a level 3 oak lumber camp.
Raw goods ports will require more careful planning, one should choose to either a single level 3 resource building OR 3 separate level 1 resource harvesting buildings if multiple resources are available within a port. This means that for someone to have level three harvesting buildings across multiple ports it will quickly become time consuming and more investment capital required in outpost permits. This will limit massive conglomerates but reward the hard working and smart investors while remaining viable for players entering the resource or manufacturing market.
Workshops should be upgradable - Level 1 to class 6, level 2 to class 3, level 3 all cannons/carronades. Again, this will force players into considering investing in a level 3 shipyard OR level 3 workshop unless they invest in another regional capital and split their manufacturing across multiple hubs.
There currently is no difference between major hubs and smaller ports while consumption/acquisition is static. This needs to change to provide the dynamic and evolving world for players to interact with. I am proposing that population be based on two key figures - Production activity and Trade activity.
As players construct outposts and production/manufacturing buildings within a port, it will 'grow' the population figure of the port with better figures from 'active' ports (players harvesting resources)
Port population increases the 'consumption' figures to reflect more people settling in the port for work at the production buildings.
Key component as a flourishing port where raw goods are purchased from NPC producers which in turn promotes increasing NPC stock availability of that good to be supplied to the port store at a price above player production costs but not cost prohibitive to purchase nor restrict player profits in port either (~50% markup?)
Sale of consumption goods to port encourages the growth through supplying the needs of a port.
At any point that players demolish their buildings and outposts or when consumption goods go unfulfilled for long periods then the population would decrease.
The supply of goods should remain with the three primary methods mentioned earlier however to address shortages and supply:
Expensive Trade goods should be exclusive to regions, not necessarily nation but will promote smuggling activity when another nation in a far port has a valuable trade good where massive profits could be made.
Lower cost nation specific trade goods appear in all regional capitals and are in demand in all non-capital ports based on population.
Raw resources specific to ports can be treated as 'acquired' as an interim measure to replicate NPC producers.
Needs to scale based on port activity as mentioned above in trade activity
Manufactured materials should appear in small dynamic quantities to replicate NPC crafters, needs to be expensive (2-3x player crafting) to provide space for player sellers without blowing the market out of proportion.
As per buildings section above, players will be the primary producers of goods
Raw resources in the shop will be populated under the acquisition section until NPC producers could be implemented in a better form.
Ports need to have far more consumption items including commonsense items such as whole fish, fish meat, and food supplies.
Ports need to have consumption of all trade goods with better prices the further they are away from regional capitals or when they are becoming larger/wealthier from player activity/trade.
This has been partially covered previously but prices are currently very confusing. There is no commonsense approach to this, when production cost for Oak Logs currently is 73 gold and I can purchase them for 42 from an NPC shop, it defies logic. This is where prices need to be adjusted and as developers you can influence the economy to ensure it doesn't stagnate while promoting shipment of goods.
Purchase prices at raw resources ports should be low but not lower than production costs with a little margin thrown in (50% markup?)
Purchase prices at manufacturing hubs should be punishing but not insane (~300% markup from craft cost?)
Sale prices of raw resources in production ports should punish stuipidity (half production cost)
Sale prices of raw resources in manufacturing hubs should be profitable enough to encourage movement of goods to restock but not out do player purchase orders (50% markup?)
Purchase prices for manufacturing materials in hubs should be expensive but not entirely cost prohibitive for basic ship/upgrade construction (2-3x crafting cost) (Oak frames but not Teak frame, etc)
Sale prices of manufacturing materials in hubs should be above the cost of materials if harvested and crafted to offer the option to supply the port when no one else is interested
Sale/Purchase prices of manufactured materials at raw resource ports should be very low to encourage moving goods from non-hub ports where a player has chosen to manufacture
Sale prices on finished products should be above crafting costs as a last resort but not enough to exploit
Purchase prices should be punishing but not insane (~500% markup from craft cost?)
All lower priced goods should be low buy prices in region capitals and high sell prices in resource ports linking in with population
All high end trade goods should be regionally priced, moving goods from one regional capital to another should be good but not insane profit with modest profits if sold to resource ports within a region, again feeding the population/consumption.
I haven't found any major flaws to the current crafting system, it's been mostly the economy that has been the flaw that is breaking the ship building industry. The one change that needs to happen is that player crafted ships NEED to have at least 2 or 3 durability to actually ENCOURAGE purchasing player ships over NPC ships. The PvP servers are dying for a few more durability or ships while the PvE server is flooded with overpriced capped ships with no effort to craft better.
Secondly, selling/breaking up ships. What is the go here? You want players to craft ships to increase craft rank, ok. But what do they do with the unwanted masses they need to make in order to progress? Selling them at 3% of the production cost to the NPC store is cost prohibitive. Swamping the market with cheap boats destroys the 'player led' model economy. And breaking up ships for a meger few pieces of scrap is an insult.
What needs to happen is breaking up a ship should yield between 25-50% of the craft materials.
NPC sale prices need to be at a minimum a slight profit from the cost of crafting the ship (~20%) to encourage people to pursue ship crafting.
*edit: Admiralty Store
One thing I didn't mention is the admiralty store, everything that is available that is not merely aesthetics SHOULD be purchasable with gold. This prevents pricing small clans/solo traders out of business and also prevents the current turn towards a P2W style. As it stands to obtain the correct marks one must either play PvE server or participate in the majority of PBs to earn enough to provide ships for the players focused on PBs and PvP.
It just doesn't make sense to force the people who choose to supply the market instead of battling with engaging in a part of the game they aren't interested in and if they never did indulge in it wouldn't make a difference to the greater scheme of it. Asking a crafter to harvest 25 conquest marks simply to produce a single SOL for other players will hugely inflate prices due to the grind cost associated with it. On the contrary asking a PvPer / PvE mission grinder to have to trade goods and craft goods as a prerequisite to sail the next ship up would infuriate the player base. This needs a serious rethink, it needs options for both sides. Combat orientated players SHOULD earn less gold but SHOULD have an avenue to BPs / Permits / Upgrades etc. the same as Crafting / Econ orientated players SHOULD be earning the most gold but also SHOULD be able to purchase everything at a premium (i.e: Victory BP for 5 mil, Permit for 200k, Crafted ships will thus sell around 1-1.5 mil on the market or less internally).
These suggestions to fix the economy are based on my experience having played many 'economy simulation' games from as early as the original Sid Myer's Pirates!, Port Royale series, PotBS, to name a few more relevant games, and many more.
These suggestions are by no means to completely resolve the economy issues but at a minimum revolve around tidying up the markets, providing a 'player led' economy model while using NPCs as a way to moderate prices and prevent abuse of the markets. It will encourage players to branch out beyond the starting regions, encourage supplying the ports they use to harvest resources, provide a more dynamic and immersive economy that can bring about more player interaction in the wider regions of the map.
I'm not looking to hear how PvP needs this or that, they have had their time, take that to your own suggestion threads, please keep criticism constructive. If you don't agree with me on trying to fix this mess before the game is completely abandoned then please, by all means spend half your own evening devising an alternative, I long to hear more people offering solutions to the problems.