Economic Expansion 2 - Overview: The Resource Economy
The resource economy is made up of the resources in game that are wood, mineral or farmed plant and animal resources and the structures that work with them to comprise an industry. The wood industry currently contains all logging camps and lumber mills. The mineral industry contains all mines, quarries and forges. The farm industry contains all plantations, pastures, and lodges and buildings that work with their products like wineries, tanneries and textile mills.
For the most part the current economy resource harvesting structures use no materials or goods (only doubloons). Processing structures such as textile mills, provisioners, and forges use the output of the harvesting structures and doubloons to turn their resources into goods. The end users of the goods are usually shipbuilders whose demand for goods is proportionate to the demand for new (or replacement) ships. This is something that has always presented a bit of a problem with the game economy. Players are always seeking to avoid ship loss. New player ships require the smallest amounts of resources in shipbuilding. With everything essentially working against it shipbuilding alone isn’t capable of creating enough demand for a healthy economy. This is the primary issue the economy revamp is intended to address – ship loss isn’t enough to drive an economy and some other forms of resource and product demand needed to be added.
Growth through increased resource demands
To increase demand we’ve adopted a philosophy that few if any structures should have zero need for goods or resources. Structures use and wear out items as much as ships and should need to replace them periodically as part of doing business. Adding requirements to structures for goods and/or resources as part of their maintenance creates a demand for goods and resources that is often local and also player driven by the number of structures players put into play and maintain. Not wanting maintenance to become too much of a time sink however put some limits on maintenance’s ability to create demand and demand by structures alone while helpful was still dependent solely on player activity. Another type of demand that could keep a level of marginal profitability while maintaining constant demand would ensure a constant market option. This constant demand is represented by NPC traders and regional buyers being added to the game.
The NPC traders that will buy player resources and some goods are represented as standing buy orders located in ports that have no resources – regional ports, capitals and the primary trader in Oranjestad. In general NPC traders will only buy items at costs marginally above production costs. They are an easy way to make doubloons but their location ensures that products sold to them must be hauled to them. NPC traders also offer some resources and products but at costs several times their actual production costs. These traders operate through the auction houses in order to keep the focal points of trade there.
These two markets – structure maintenance provisioning and NPC buyers provide a floodgate for production surpluses to a degree that players should not have any difficulty selling items. Their best prices are still most likely to come from other players but they are no longer dependent on other players as buyers in order to participate in the economy.
Another major change regarding resources with the revamp involved moving away from the old resource placement model set in the original design. Resources in the revamped economy tend to be found where they would naturally be found. For example iron is one of the most common resources found in game as it was generally considered important for any port’s success to have nearby access to some source of iron. In the revamped economy most ports have iron access. Wood types tend to be defined by regions such as all of the Greater Antilles where all ports in that region have access rather than one or two individual ports.
There is also a movement away from symmetry in resource distribution as it does not fit the natural model we are using and we feel that an asymmetrical approach will allow us to move in a direction that starts to define factions more uniquely, (currently they are all basically carbon copies of each other). We are not attempting to make sure that each nation has exactly the same number of oak resource ports. Even though nations will not have the same resources, we are balancing them so no one nation has a universal economic advantage over another.
The desire to bring more immersion to the game also prompted us to take a detailed look at the resources used in the game, how they were all actually processed and evaluate whether or not expansion was necessary or beneficial. Ultimately we were able to identify numerous new resources (10 new wood types, 3 new mineral types and 15 new farm types) along with numerous associated structures that will be explained in greater detail in each industries overview post.
The structures themselves have not changed dramatically in how they operate. Labor still accumulates, harvesting is still a recipe, and maintenance is paid at regular intervals though the intervals are no longer weekly (some structures can go longer without maintenance than others). Resource and resource associated structures have been broken down into three types. The differences between the structures are as follows:
Basic Legacy Structures – this is any structure currently in game. These structures will continue to produce the resources they currently do for the most part. A few may have had a recipe moved to another structure. If a recipe was moved from a basic structure it was moved to another basic structure. Since legacy structures had significantly lower construction costs than revamp economy structures and they also do not require maintenance beyond doubloons, both of which being significant advantages over most revamp structures their labor and outputs have been adjusted downward.
Revamp Basic Structures – these are structures that enter the game as part of the revamp that are not found in Treasure Aisle. These are the bulk of the new structures being added to the game. Their purpose is to recreate the basic economy in a more participatory manner by requiring goods and resources as part of their maintenance. In general they contain the recipes of the legacy counterparts in addition to some of the new recipes added into the structure’s industry.
Partner Structures – these represent the best of the resource structures and they are only obtainable from Treasure Aisle. In the resource economy partner structures are industry encompassing. There is only one wood harvesting partner structure for example. Its advantage over other wood harvesting structures is that it isn’t required to specialize in the wood type harvested and can harvest all wood types found within its location region. It has a higher output capacity than other structures within its industry though it also comes with higher maintenance costs as well. Partner structures represent the smallest additions structure wise to the game comprising only 8 of the 30+ structures currently in the revamp.