Enhancing Trade

C.M. Yearsley (cmy@cs.keele.ac.uk)
Wed, 24 Nov 1993 16:54:54 +0000 (GMT)

> Are the quantities and prices of goods simply set so the
> profit is too low? Are more tradegoods essential to making
> trade work as a career? Or is some other crucial element
> missing from the design?

I really like the design. There _are_ extras we could add - some
of what you suggested sounds good - but I think readjusting some numbers
and distributions of commodities should solve most of the problem.

I want to see folks moving goods shortish distances and making
a fair living (just). I want to see some really profitable but very
long distance routes, so we have _heavily_laden_ ships travelling
vast distances for great profit. I'd like there to be so much of this,
some players seriously consider piracy as worthwhile.

Don't forget that with the 'precedence' system (which I like a lot,
BTW) many traders will have to maintain a full-time agent in several
cities just to keep their place in the queue. This great expenditure
of noble points must bring in enough so that the profit per noble
involved is reasonable.

There must be a great enough trade volume to let lots of players trade
a bit. There must be few enough super-rich-routes that knowledge of
them is jealously sought, and that possession of a couple is as good to
a trader as having a castle is to an empire-builder.

In addition to commodities the cities want, there must be enough
mages and alchemists with enough money and enough need to pay traders
to find and deliver obscure ingrediants from far away.

Bearing the above in mind, some ideas (in no particular order).

1) We need greater volume of goods. No trader can possible fill -
or even need - a roundship now. There's not enough trade to support more
than a couple of traders in an area, too.

2) The margins I've seen are not too far out, although some might need to
be raised a little. I'd there to be enough margin to allow middlemen.
For example - I make money by shipping, say, spice to one city in LA
in my ship. I sell to another trader who has most of Lesser Atnos
sewn up. He distributes the spice to cities that buy it, and I take
LA commodities that have no LA market away in my ship. The margins
must then be enough to support _both_ of us.

3) How about more city-to-city variation in prices? how about one or
two cities that are _way_ out of line in one commodity, either
paying vast amounts or supplying great bulk at low prices?

4) To get the process started, and help newbies, we could add info
to the city report. For each city, for each commodity bought or sold,
have a chance that that city's report will show a city that can be traded
with. (Not necessarily the closest, or best.)

5) Have some commodities - say wool (or whatever) that are reasonably
common, perhaps low margins, large bulk. Others, like say spice,
are only produces in a few areas, command a vast profit margin,
and are worth shipping around the globe.

The key to being a good trader is market knowledge. Unless cities
have a good deal of randomness in what they trade, when you've seen
one wool producer you've seen them all (say) and have no incentive
to explore for better ones.

Going briefly on to the ideas proposed:

> Someone had an idea where increased trade activity in a
> market would increase the location owner's taxes, thus

This makes money but does little to improve the shipment of goods. I'd rather
have something that made more money by moving more goods, not just making
more out of the same stuff.

> 3. New idea #2.
> Cities could produce new items from input tradegoods.

This seems a very nice idea. However it'd be hard to come up
with a map that had good routes, wouldn't it? I mean, if we're having
problems balancing the commodities we already have, we might just
have an unsatisfactory map with more things in it.

That said, coming up with a good terrain map is nontrivial, and I really
like the shape of what we've got, and the distribution of province
types. Perhaops, them, Rich would be able to make it work. I'm afraid
I can't think of any 'useful new commodities' though.....

Comments, anyone?


Chris Yearsley

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