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Civilian Trading Upgrade

Civilian Trading Upgrade

About a year ago with the roll out of Corewards, the new open to all region of space came Civilian Trading. This was simply the ability to buy and sell from Game Controlled civilian populations. The primary reason for its introduction was to fill a void, namely that players often wanted items but either they were not being sold or the selling positions were in places they could not visit.

The items on the market reflected the infrastructure of the world, both in terms of what they were likely to produce and what they would want from visiting traders. Part of the ambition was to give a means by which new players could get items that would be in demand by established players, thereby giving established players a reason to interact with them rather than simply ‘doing everything themselves’ as is often the case in a game where players have macros and multi-position control.

In principle the ideology was sound. Players that wanted to do their own thing on the wild frontiers could buy modules in order to build their own bases in out of the way places while established players would buy from them unique trade goods, providing them with necessary stellars for the cycle to continue until new player became established player.



In practice however it failed on a couple of points. It was overly restrictive in an attempt to prevent abuse, despite this it was still open to abuse… ho hum.

Essentially we had two issues, first the highly desired unique trade goods were listed and dealt with alongside less desirable common items and all covered by the same constraints. Second, there was no way of knowing how many civilian worlds had been visited by ships belonging to a single player within a given week and as such establishing constraints was problematic resulting in a system that forced ships to move in order to carry on trading even if it made little sense overall.

This resulted in three groups of players; by far the largest consisting of those that ignored the whole thing, a smaller group that dabbled with a couple of ships and a tiny minority that worked out that they could cycle a fleet of ships around the entire Periphery hovering up from all worlds each and every week seemingly without being bothered by pirates or privateers. This was not how hit was envisioned. Clearly the system needs fixing.

Things are about to change due to the latest upgrade which included Account Custom Data. Custom data is essentially a free-form blob of information which up till now could be attached to various positions and worlds in the game. The latest upgrade has extended this to player accounts. This blob of data can be used to store any information, allowing it to be read, manipulated and written as required without the need for pre-establishing fields and setting their constraints as is normally the case when writing code. Access to centralised data meant that it was then relatively straightforward to design a mechanism where each player could be treated individually and therefore take into consideration all their assets at once rather than having to store data piecemeal throughout the game on positions and planets with markets.

The upcoming changes therefore allows the separation of the highly desirable unique trade items available on worlds from the generic merchandise that is often on offer at inflated prices and easily undercut by a local player market (they way it should be).

Generic merchandise will therefore be present on a market that refreshes each week and is sold and first come first served basis, just as standard player markets. Unique trade goods however will now have their own mechanism called Private Sales which is discovered through the standard Contact Civilian Traders.

The theory is that the ships and captains representing the political speak with civilians and through their networks of contacts discover if there are any sales of unique trade goods on offer within the Periphery of known star systems. Any Private deals will be listed along with the trade deals for the world. If the Private Deals are for a different world, they will be listed in the Off-world.

Buying these unique goods is dealt with using the Buy from Civilian Traders just as before though the primary difference here is that the sales are treated in exactly the same manner as buying from starbases. Players can send multiple ships to buy the goods if there is too much for a single ship to handle, they can immediately off-load them to another position and return to buy the rest. There are no restrictions on how many buy attempts are made in a week providing there are still unique trade goods on offer.

Limits
While there are no limits to buying available goods we have designed limits within the availability of unique goods mechanism. First of all it is about scouring your contacts within the Periphery the Contact Civilian Traders order conducted to get the best available deal. This equates to diminishing returns based on time since last deal. Essentially the greater the time between asking for deals the better the available deals up to a point. There is a trade off such that doing deals as fast as possible will give the best returns (else why bother) though better individual deals will occur if no deals have been requested/completed recently. Currently the upper limit is five deals per week.

The second limit on the mechanism is a deadline for the deal. This is around two weeks which means that it can sometimes be a race to get to the market and possibly team up with another player if the cargo space requirement too large for the ship making the deal.

Beyond Corewards
Civilian Trading was only possible within the Corewards Periphery as this region of space was built using models that defined populations and their corresponding infrastructure (on which the future update proposed at the 2013 pubmeet was based). As part of this upgrade we have systematically gone through each system in the game assigning them a population class and in many places also ascribing them underlying infrastructure. This means that following the update ‘Contact Civilian Traders’ for the purpose discovering Private Deals will be possible in every Periphery, though of course some Peripheries such as those with plenty of populated worlds with reasonable populations will be more fruitful than others.




Price and Amounts
The basic premise is that larger populations have more unique trade items available through private deals but at a higher mark-up because there are more people on the world demanding the goods internally and therefore more local competition (and taxation). Further, the mark-up is also modified by the world trade demand multiplier reflecting the underlying economy. The main knock-on effect here is that unusually inflated markets with huge populations such as those in the Inner Empire are very expensive for the purpose of buying Unique Trade Goods. The amount may be sufficient to off-set the net profit/mu.

Tax
We are still employing the tax by starbases as per the original mechanics though now if the starbase owner is the same as the ship owner, no taxation will be forthcoming. The other difference is that starbases will also be able to purchase directly from the civilian markets (though outposts can’t). Again, no taxation benefits will be awarded. This does mean that in theory a starbase can clear out all civilian markets on a world every week should they so wish, though of course they cannot interfere with any Private Deals.





 
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic