Re: Floating Markets Revisited

John Morrow (
Fri, 26 Aug 94 14:29:39 EDT

>Since this is a *game*, I'd like to know what game effect you want to
>create/encourage by having floating markets.

As someone who supports the idea of floating markets (and as the
person who devised the original BUY/SELL mechanism as it pretty much
is implemented) let me defend them -- as implemented (yes, they

I feel quite strongly that if you want a model to act like reality (or
reasonably close to reality) then you need to use a system that
functions like reality -- with similar incentives and punishments. If
you try to (unrealistically) "stick down" a piece of reality that
normally moves, the rest of the system will crumple around the fixed
point as it tries to move. But the BUY/SELL system, as implemented,
unfixes the player portion of the economy by making players compete to
SELL. Although the BUY portion is still fixed, it isn't really.
Purchase price is a *maximum* price to pay so competition for sales
has a big impact on the profitability of transactions.

Look at how the cost of clay pots plumetted in IC after the market
became saturated. Does anyone still make them? What are they going
for? Less than half the original demand price? That is what is
supposed to happen and it works with a pretty simple mechanic --
players competing for sales because th players have nice complicated
human brains that factor in all the complexities of economics and
judge accordingly.

So there is little problem with the market so long as there is
competition between players. The potential problem occurs when there
is no competition. But is that a problem? If no one else is selling
clay pots in a city, shouldn't you be able to demand a high price for
each pot the peasants demand?

Even with the trade goods, there is no real problem. If there is a
profitable trade route and many players start exploiting it, they will
start underselling one another and the actual price paid will drop
with the supply (anyone know where to sell "rose purfume" yet? :-).
If someone locks up a trade route (either by keeping it secret, by
forming a merchantile organization, or by military means), that is
fine, too. Isn't that "realistic" and what you would expect?

One important thing that helps keep this balanced is that players must
produce and/or buy from other players most, if not all, of the
"strategic resources" in the games (I've only seen wood for sale and
the price was very high). If you are buying a trade good, you are
buying it to speculate and others can do the same and compete. If you
keep buying 50 units of rose purfume and then head east, maybe I want
to follow you to see where the market is so I can get a piece of the
action. If not, can I really complain that you are making obscene
money trading that way?

And the price of strategic resources is pretty much totally open. I
can sell swords in Imperial City (provided I can get them there) at
any price I want -- until another player starts selling for less or
unless no one will pay my price. Then I'll have to adjust. (I am
kinda surprised that the wood harvester aren't constantly selling wood
in IC at a profitable price which undercuts the city price so players
can just BUY it without making arangements...). I think this is good
and I think it works. And when the setting "fills out" more, I think
you will see it work better.

BTW, I think Rich has slow market price changes built in so we may
want to wait for him to comment before saying too much more about

John Morrow

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