Current situation and wish list
Currently the economic system is quite limited (as far as playing the game has showed me). Only the player himself (or herself of course) is actually trading goods. To create a more dynamic universe, the economy has to be extended in such a way that NPC (i.e. non-player characters, the computer-players) are also able to influence it. This will require quite some extensions. Ideas about a new economic system will be posted here and can of course be discussed.
The future economy should be more dynamic in the sense that not only the human player does trading, but the various computer players also participate. To create this, there are a number of changes required. Note that the changes described here are without any knowledge about the actual code, so there may be errors in this describtion.
The first thing needed is an improved model for the demands and offers of goods on different bases and planets. A mining base e.g. would need a huge amount of food and mining equipment, while a medical base might supply medical equipment. An indication of this system are the different prices for goods on different types of bases/planets. Usage of these goods however is not build into the game. The first task, thus, would be to create a model which describes the usage and production of goods, resulting in not only increasing amounts of goods due to production but also descreasing amounts due to consumption. Depending on the consumption and current stock, the price of the goods should be determined. This change in price can off course be used as a way to fuel trade. There are however a number of problems which need to be addressed:
1) Does a base or planet have a certain amount of money at the start of the game and does the change with every purchase or sale or do they have an unlimmited amount of money. The major problem with the first option is that this can result in bases going bankrupt.
2) Is there a limit to the amount of products e.g. a miningbase can produce as this will result in bases being abandoned when resources are depleted.
The probable course to follow for these problems is to start with bases without any limits. Introducing limits will spawn the need to add the option to start new bases on e.g. asteroids with valuable resources, which is a large project itself.
The main goal on this change is to provide a basic infrastructure to allow trading by NPCs. To achieve this the modal of a NPC has to be extended. They should be aware of prices on the different bases and should be able to figure out a nice trading route. This in itself isn't really hard as it's just calculating the profit per distance (or time) traveled of all known goods and selecting the highest. Besides this parameters like the type of the goods (and thus the space usage), the amount available on bases, etc need to be taken into account.
Reworking the Vega Strike Economy: A Three-Fold Approach
The quest to make the Vega Strike economy dynamic and hopefully more realistic has been a long one. However, it seems to be nearing an end. Mid March of 2008 “Javier” Launched a thread to try to consolidate existing economic threads that where popping up about that time. Discussions stalled with out a definitive agreement on neither features nor scope. At the end of January 2011 “Travists” tried to revive the thread. A fairly rapid-fire series of posts followed, and a general consensus was reached early in February that same year. What was determined was that there are three areas that the economy needs include: the economy responds to its self, the universe responds to the economy, and the economy responds to major changes in the universe.
There are several points in this system that underlie the three parts of development. Any attempt at a realistic economy must include Supply and Demand Dynamics. Also implied, is that the distance goods must be transported as well as the risk in that transportation influences the price. The price, availability, and faction deployment of ships and equipment depends on manufacturing sites and overall market conditions. The manufacture of goods causes prices to reflect the cost of the goods needed to make them. Manufactured quantities of goods changes with demand. Bases are simulated separately. Traffic patterns and trade levels change to indicate the current market. Factions and corporations can alter the economy by supporting various projects. A final tweak suggested is that there is a range of population densities, radiating out from core systems, rather than the current random distribution. These have several interplays leading to the three-fold approach.
Changes to the main VS program are needed for the universe to respond to economic changes. These include polling of the current economic factors in ship locations and numbers. When major economic changes evolve out of the simulation the news reports on it. The strength of factions is largely influenced by their economic standing. Likely also included here are the population distributions.
There also needs to be developed for the program a routine to calculate present supply/demand levels.
One of the major changes to the game is in the dynamic generation of the universe.
That relates to the population distribution. At present, it is all random. To facilitate the dynamic economy being usable each faction needs a homeworld. Populations than diminish as you go outward from them. Another change to the universe populating process needs to look at the number of habitable planets in a system, asteroids and nebulae to determine population and what base types there are.
The economy needs to be set up for internal responses. Ships produced at shipyards and parts at factories likely falls in here. The economic database needs an entry for each base containing each good and its interrelationship with other goods. Changes in costs radiate outwards from the affected base. After much discussion the best way to do this is generally agreed to be a flow rate number crunching system rather than simulating every ship needed to account for the transfer of goods. Also included in here are the data and coding changes for population distributions starting costs, and availability/cost of ships and upgrades being based on the location of production facilities. Should the population be set up to be fluid, then economic levels would drive any significant changes. Such population changes also would change the demand for goods. Clearly, much of the dynamics of the dynamic economy happens here.
There are also many ways that the economy needs to respond to the program.
The destruction or heavy damage of a base would change the availability of the goods that this base produces and may increase the local need for medical and construction supplies. Should a faction take over a base than production shifts to reflect that factions goods. Disasters also may be triggered changing needs. Basically anytime something happens in game that would logically change the cost and/or availability of goods, ships, or parts needs to be responded to.