Chris Roberts Explains Star Citizen’s Economy

By Jim Rossignol on July 8th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.


Well, he explains what he intends to happen in Star Citizen‘s living economy, at least. Whether it will work quite like this, we shall have to wait and see. Basically: the economy actually works you’d expect, meaning that if a factory requires raw materials to produce stuff, then it produces a mission for that requirement. It’s a mission that either the player or AI could take, and then either fail or succeed, completing the mission, and fulfilling the need. But there’s a further layer: pirates stopping your supplies getting through? The game puts a request out some mercenaries. Again, for player or AI. Man. This game. Sounds golden.

Go take a look.

And here’s the super-fancy spaceship trailer, in case you missed it:

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78 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    Space is shiny.

  2. Hunchback says:

    That 300 ships design is SO awesome that … WOW

    Also, this game sounds better and better, on “paper”. Like X and EVE mixed into one, with some Freelancer and dunno what else too… GIEF PLX

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Less Eve… More Privateer please. Just with other people too.

      • distantlurker says:

        Dude, did you play Privateer 2? It was this, just this, nothing but this, interspersed with FMV sequences. If you want more Privateer, that’s all this is?!

  3. MasterDex says:

    Sounds like just what the game needs. Without knowing more details however, I’d be a bit worried that player groups might be able to exert undue pressure on the economy, akin to what can be seen in Eve – Hulkageddon for example. While I believe that’s fine in the prism of Eve, I’m not so sure it’ll work out in Star Citizen.

    That being said, I’m just a bit worried. Chris Roberts is a clever man. I’m sure he’s already thought ahead.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I love the description of Hulkageddon on the EVE University wiki:

      Hulkageddon is a popular event spanning several years. It is also an unpopular event spanning several years.

      • Kelduum Revaan says:

        Its actually something (in EVE at least), which lead to the relevant ships being rebalanced: The old “week-long” things weren’t a problem, but when its a year-long event, it becomes a balancing issue.

  4. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Market rigging will be fun!

    Stockpile then cut off supply! Edit: a minute too late

    • Warduke says:

      Speaking of economy… disappointed to see the new video ads at the bottom of each RPS post.. cheapens the site I think.. That’s why I always preferred this to the PCG site. “Click here to see what actress looks bad in what clothes…” a dose of pop-crap with every article.. Ahh well.

  5. jrodman says:

    I’m doubtful.

    Getting a real economy to work correctly in a game environment is not a trivial thing. It takes a lot of focus and refining. And if you succeed, you’re left with a real economy in a game. Something only a certain fraction of players are going to find fun.

    And it will limit your ability to do other things easily, or in some cases at all.

    Well, I wish them success. I don’t expect it, but for the kind of players who like this kind of thing having some choices is great.

    • Reapy says:

      A voice of reason!

      I thought we all were over this marketing bullshit about in game economies and PIRATES OMG BE A PIRATE!!!! It is like everyone rolled over and forgot everything that has happened from basically ultima online on… look at all the ways games have shaped their virtual economies, with huge growing pains, and when you are done it is just what he said, a boring ass real world economy, no fun at all, might as well trade stocks.

      I’ll go find popcorn and wait until the first few large scale collaborative player manipulations of the econ start ticking in, or the first realization of the amount of grind you’ll have to do for that cool ship… should be a good time.

      • Jenks says:

        Can you explain to me what you think has happened since Ultima Online and on that we’re all forgetting about?

        • Taidan says:

          Ultima Online started its life aiming for simulation, with an incredibly ambitious amount of player freedom. Players generally used this freedom to be complete s**ts to each other.

          Subsequently, Ultima Online (and all its descendants) have had to evolve to become less simulation and more restrictive and “gamey” in order to keep people from abusing various systems, thus (in theory) keeping the game fun.

          It’s kind of exactly the opposite of how you think games like this should have evolved.

          • jrodman says:

            Unless of course, you’d been playing MUDs and such for years prior. In this case, everything that happened was amazingly stupefyingly obvious. Such hubris Origin had when refusing to research prior art.

      • vandinz says:

        The game isn’t a business simulator, he wants the economy to run properly. If it is, it’ll be generating missions like it should, in the really world. Still, even if it’s not running correct, it’ll still be generating missions for players to take, which is what the game is really about, not sitting at some desk checking through stock prices.

        • Phendron says:

          Plus, if the game actually creates tangible connections to different economic systems, this could pave the way for unique playstyles like a robber baron who hoards select goods with the intent to raid trade routes and drive prices up. No part of that doesn’t sound fun to me.

    • Lemming says:

      Having an economy player-enhanced rather than controlled would seem the optimum way to go. Use NPCs and AI-side events to shift extremes created by players so things don’t become one-sided. There’s no reason it couldn’t work just fine. A total player-driven economy for a game like Eve works well because their players are into that from square 1. People will want this game because they want to play Star Citizen, not Eve. Anything that bogs the game down into stuff that avoids you getting into a dogfight on a regular basis is probably best left to the AI.

      • differenceengine says:

        I need to read more about this and although I’m wanting to like this game, I’m slightly dubious about the donation system (14 million dollars?!?).

        Looking at the the player influenced economy, it is going to be hard to nail, especially if you’re going to allow the AI to also run missions. For example, if every player agreed to try and completely block all trade, would the AI revolt and “hire” mercenaries of uber skill level that could defeat pretty much all players, just to get the economy running again?

        Or, taking a leaf from maritime history, would the navy get involved and try to hunt everyone down? If my planetary economy was under constant threat, I’d definitely get the police/military in sooner rather than later.

        Of course this is an extreme, but it’s fun to think that there is a solution to player insanity.

        • kaffis says:

          Yes, that’s exactly the way the simulated NPC aspects of the economy would react if the sum of player action threatened to cut off all trade to system X. It would get the UEE (the government) involved in the form of the police and military, it would generate mercenary missions for escorts of the NPC shipments (which would be taken by NPCs if no players broke ranks to take them), and it would increase the value of those shipping runs to entice player traders to risk them.

    • 2late2die says:

      But it’s not actually real economy. Yes, it’s more real than most “economies” in games but it’s still not real. It’s actually a fairly big simplification of what a real economy would have to be – a streamlined economy if you will. For example, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t take into account things like working conditions and workers’ health, economies of scale, inflation, cost of fuel, cost of power for manufacturing, and I’m sure a few dozen other things that professional economists could point out to.

      It may still fall flat on its face of course, but I think they’re on a good path here – the economy is complex enough to create a more believable, dynamic universe, that reacts to player actions programmatically, not just via scripted events, but not so complex that only people with economics degree could understand it.

      • kaffis says:

        It *is* set to take into account many of the things you’re mentioning, at least from what this post/video has told us: Luxury imports can raise worker morale, fuel and energy costs and logistics are included parts of the system, and the game will be using fees and taxes on most steps along the way to introduce cash sinks to hedge against inflation.

        Now, I agree — if Chris Roberts were to ask me for my most valuable advice to his project, my one-sentence answer would be, “Hire an economist to design and manage your economy, and poach a seriously high-class network engineer from the likes of Cisco because routing algorithms are going to be the perfect solution to simulating economic traffic across the galaxy.”

  6. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    “Go get X tons of material” is always a boring quest, because it never has any context. THIS is how you do fetch quests that feel real and eliminate the tedium involved. There is a lot more at stake than an XP and cash reward for a random macguffin device.
    I really hope this works out.

    • MasterDex says:

      It’ll still ultimately be a fetch quest a random player picks up, tedium and all. It’s nice that the flavour is markedly more real but ultimately, it’s only flavour, no different really than the flavour text that sent you to get those 10 Wolf Pelts.

      • Anders Wrist says:

        Except that if this system works as explained these supply missions will have an actual impact on the economy, and on the world, as the video states. In games where you fetch 10 wolf pelts, they just vanish into thin air, and the next player gets to do the same thing all over again, without there being any lasting impact on the world.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Exactly. They aren’t REALLY 10 wolf pelts, there just 10 nothings. But if this is going to have the touted economy Mr. Roberts talks about, those wolf pelts are going to be leather armor, and without the pelts, no armor… still need the pelts, but now there’s increased value in armor and less available.

          It almost sounds too good to be true.

          • Reapy says:

            Yes, but your impact on the economy will be negligible. You come back with 10 wolf pelts, great, the factory needs 300,000 to run, have fun doing that mission 30,000 more times.

            And the numbers have to be that high, because now you have a major problem with 1000′s of players all getting 10 wolf pelts per second, and those 200 or so guys that are botting 20 guys each 24-7 on that mission.

            I thought UO proved this long ago, the whole economy model of supply and demand in the gamy “THIS IS FUN!!” state is best left to single player games where you can script npc’s into reasonable behaviors, not an essentially free for all multiplayer environment.

            Why is everyone eating up this guy’s bullshit with a big grin on their face? If blizzard were writing this same stuff the bullshit detectors would be firing on all cylinders, instead he seems to be able to rip out ‘yeah we’ll have XYZ’ HARD TO FUCKING DO in the game, just like that, wave of the wand.

          • qrter says:

            Reapy makes a good point – how would you possibly notice this change? It’ll be tiny, otherwise it’s unsustainable (and unrealistic).

          • Cinek says:

            ” You come back with 10 wolf pelts, great, the factory needs 300,000 to run, have fun doing that mission 30,000 more times.” – Maths fail.

          • jrodman says:

            >>> 10 * 30000
            300000

            What am I doing wrong here?

            Or are you quibbling about the 29,999?

          • Loiosh says:

            Hello Reapy,

            “And the numbers have to be that high, because now you have a major problem with 1000′s of players all getting 10 wolf pelts per second, and those 200 or so guys that are botting 20 guys each 24-7 on that mission.”

            Your issues were addressed in the livestream when they spoke about the economic system. The ‘quests’ (correctly: missions) that are shown are only available when the factory in question requires the resource. There won’t be 200 guys running the same mission because the factory will not accept deliveries unless it has a need (this is covered in the video). What will actually be important is not taking the obvious (urgent/critical) delivery missions for goods, but figuring out the production cycles on the various factories in various economic nodes and making deliveries as they use up resources, before an order is placed. They will accept deliveries if they have space in storage and pay for them. The missions that will be created are for more urgent needs. That’s where you’ll see the larger guilds making their profits, by being aware of production.

            “Why is everyone eating up this guy’s bullshit with a big grin on their face?”
            His history of game design. This system is similar to the (Microsoft) cut-down economy that was in Freelancer. The original design goal was to include a fully living economy like this, but when they got bought, Microsoft nixxed the idea and wanted them to neuter it to make the mission structure more simple. Freelancer was still ambitious, and well received, and managed to have the basic version of a live economy like this. The reason people believe Chris is he has a proven track record of making great games, and has already made a basic model like this work in a shipped product.

        • jrodman says:

          Will it be fun to go to turn in your quest and find someone else beat you to it by 2 seconds?

          Or will it be fun if your factory doesn’t get materiels because someone troll-takes the quest and doesn’t do it?

          Because as far as I can tell one of these two outcomes is guaranteed.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            I’m not sure how they’ll stop that but I’d assume a factory will need constant supply. Perhaps it only needs 1 tonne of explosives to make a batch of missiles but if you bring more explosives it could stockpile them, leading to a lack of future explosive fetch quests and perhaps bring down the value of explosives temporarily. The arguments against this type of economy are numerous, like I said it seems too good to be true, but hopefully they will address these extremely obvious flaws you’ve pointed out.

          • Loiosh says:

            “Or will it be fun if your factory doesn’t get materiels because someone troll-takes the quest and doesn’t do it?”

            The factories will not only place multiple orders for deliverable, they will accept deliveries without a work order (and reward faction bonuses). The missions, by the way, are restricted based on your faction association. Players with higher faction with whomever controls the factory/economy node, will be offered the missions first and as they prove themselves capable of making deliveries, will be offered earlier and better deals. Players who refuse to deliver or fail to deliver will be penalized with a fee, or bounty if they do it too often, and not allowed to take that faction’s delivery missions any longer.

          • jrodman says:

            So mostly the former, but with the additional slop of factory storage.

            Which still means you you might not be able to deliver something the factory would have wanted because someone else got there first; but in that case you (probably) weren’t explicitly asked to do that. Hopefully. Maybe.

        • mechabuddha says:

          There’s a reason for those wolf pelts vanishing into thin air, though. Closed economies like these need money sinks – ways for the game developers to siphon money out of the economy. Otherwise there’s a real possibility of over-inflation. By making the wolf pelts vanish into thin air, currency is effectively removed from the economy, keeping inflation down. Or so says the armchair economist – please let me know if this is wildly off.

          • jrodman says:

            Theoretically that could be true, but in the traditional wolf-pelt-style game the wolf pelts for the quest come from essentially nowhere. They only appear if you’re on the wolf pelt quest and they can only be useless or turned into that quest giver to poof into xp, money and possibly quest reward items. Indeed usually even trading the useless items to other people on the quest is made impossible, as is obtaining more pelts than you need to finish the quest. So it has no effect on the economy at all, beyond that quest turnins generate currency from nowhere and are inflationary.

            In THIS game, it sounds like the metaphorical pelts would come from real sources with real supply chains down to mineral mining probably, and would turn into goods so would not depart the economy.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Yeah, if getting the pelts meant killing some wolves that didn’t just respawn moments later then those wolves are now gone, there are less pelts available and pelts increase in value, as well as pelt made products.

            The reason for most artificial money sinks is because the whole economy is artificial. I think inflation is guaranteed in a game like Star Citizen, but inflation isn’t a game killer…especially when there are “gods” who can artificially fix serious problems with stimulus packages or something.

            Anyway, I’m sure those ships and upgrades and weapons will be the money sinks. But hopefully when you purchase a ship your money doesn’t just vanish. It goes to the ship seller, who uses it to increase his stock or whatever.

          • Jenks says:

            You need artificial money sinks in terrible MMOs with no economy. Games with degrading weapons or exploding spaceships that need to be replaced have a real way for money to flow back into the system. Think Eve, not WoW (“no drop” items, gross).

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I think there’s also to be various ongoing costs associated with operating in the game. Docking fees and repair costs and insurance payments and so on. Perhaps those could be adjusted as necessary to help keep things in balance, with some or all of the payments being removed from circulation, like a government destroying currency.

        • MasterDex says:

          Fetch quests in Eve Online can have a real impact on the economy. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a fetch quest.

          Let’s take the video as an example. Let’s say I’m the guy that wants to make something in the factory. I do my bit and a fetch quest is created. Then you come along and accept that quest. To you, it’s just another quest, you don’t care that I need them to create missiles or that the economy may be affected, you’re just doing this for the reward of doing it. And who cares if the price of missiles goes up if you fail, you’re more concerned with the cost to you if you do. So we end up with a bunch of random players creating jobs that need materials and a bunch more random players that pick up fetch quests to supply those materials.

          And while the economy is ebbing up and down with all that activity, I’m just making some missiles for myself, and you’re just doing a fetch quest for some reward.

          That’s how it is in Eve Online, and the economy there is practically completely tied to the actions of the player. But a fetch quest is just a fetch quest, a merc contract is just a merc contract and so on and so forth, until goonsquad arrive and fuck shit up.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            “To you” is wrong though. To me that means a lot and really changes the entire game. It’s all about perspective, and you’ve got mine all wrong!
            Just knowing that the “flavor” text in the quest is actually TRUE is going to be awesome. I’m just worried that this won’t actually happen.

          • MasterDex says:

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to speak for you, I was just using the two of us in place of two random players.

            I completely understand where you’re coming from, and I agree that this kind of bond between player and economy can really help in bringing meaning to the menial but the point I was trying to get across was that eventually, that magic factor will all but fade as more people start playing and the actions of a single player on a single run will be rather miniscule – leading ultimately to all of us sighing to ourselves and saying “I’m not doing another shitty fetch quest! If AllYourBa5e99 wants 10 semiconductors, he can get them himself!”

            Buuut, I’ve been known to be wrong in the past so who knows, this could be one of those times. :D

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            I guess I don’t expect that sort of economy to keep me playing for 10 years or anything, but if it works it would certainly be fun for a good while. I’ve always wanted a game like, although I usually pictured an Elder Scrolls-like with working economy and traveling supply wagons, etc. It’s just a game I’ve always wanted though when devs make an attempt it usually isn’t as “organic” of an economy as I’d like. I think Star Wars Galaxies came closest to scratching this itch, but it wasn’t completely what I had in mind.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            To me the real genius of the idea is that the NPCs will run every part of the economy themselves if no one else does. That way if mining is an experience that makes you want to eat your own soul with a pudding spoon to stop the pain you can just let the AIs do it. Then steal from them. >.>

  7. derbefrier says:

    I swear evertime they release more info about this game they get another million bucks. They got 2 million in the past 6 days. Its really amazing and I can’t wait for this game. As far as economies go, video game economies are always fucked up to some extent but this isn’t a bad idea. We will see how it goes I guess.

    • gschmidl says:

      Yesterday was the cut-off for limited-edition ships and lifetime insurance, so there was a LOT of last-minute purchasing.

      • Jenks says:

        New registers can still get lifetime insurance ships if they have an older backer buy the package for them and gift it.

  8. John Mirra says:

    I just hope it won’t turn into another Space Excel.

    • Bimble says:

      It can all be presented in a simple way, with deeper information for those who want it. Everyone is happy.

  9. Velko says:

    I hope they will have some sort of automatically-spawning AI transport fleets. Otherwise the human players will just happily blast all AI transports into pieces for whatever reason and then won’t bother with the “fetch quests”, stopping the entire economy on its tracks.

    • jrodman says:

      That sounds like huge fun in a single player game!

    • Matchstick says:

      AIUI the idea is that NPC units upto and including the military can be used to step in in situations where the overall economy is threatened.

      It’s all well and good enforcing a blockade by preying on NPC cargo caravans but eventually the NPC military is going to get annoyed and start accompying the cargo ships with destroyers and escort carriers.

      But as jrodman says that could lead to some epic gameplay :)

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      Imagine how cool it would be and the emergent gameplay possibilities that would be caused by an economic crash in the game.

      The stress of having 5 missiles in your bay and knowing that those are the last 5 missiles you’re likely going to have for a long time.

      Areas of the game could turn into destitute, wild-west type areas.

  10. Screamer says:

    Shiny!

  11. VCepesh says:

    I’ve always wanted a good space sim that I can truly get into, that dream game, that knew it was set in space and allowed me to feel the space and the future around me.
    I’ve never seen any.
    Most often that not it is about a budding capitalist in space, with gameplay somewhat between East India Company, Age of Sail-type of warfare combined with WWII-era dogfigting,
    I understand why, and it’s not only a lack of imagination on developer’s part – I myself have only the vaguest of ideas how to make it work on a different formula.
    Well, at least, hopefully, a lot of people who aren’t me, are going to be satisfied.

    • MasterDex says:

      Out of curiosity, what sort of game would you like? What would you do different?
      I’m asking genuinely, don’t read the above as some snotty-nosed nerd getting angry that you’re not happy with his beloved game. – I cringe that I have to say that but you never know on the internet, lol

      • Laurentius says:

        Well i can say what i would like to see: world that is runing interestingly even without players like in Football Manager, simulation that act and react even without players input. So if there is supply for X material and players aren’t going around to get one, there still should be NPC corparations doing it anyway as a equal actors to players. Game world should be almost in constant change, so noone could really monopolize the game, anybody who get to the top should know that it’s impossible to sit there because there will be to many forces against you and you will be dethorned so all you can do is just to ride the wave knowing it will end sooner then later.

        • Docs says:

          Well every part of the process he mentioned in the video can be done by either NPCs or players, if a player doesn’t come along and do it then an NPC will likely do the job instead.

          It’s hard to tell right now if one group could just monopolise everything, but they would be under constant threat as larger warships/carriers are persistent, meaning they wont disapear if you go offline. Players could attack them at any time and hijack them, so you’d require a lot of organisation to keep all your assets safe.

  12. studenteternal says:

    He is really saying the right things, but I don’t know. It sounds like ol Peter’s game pitches and I have no faith that he can actually pull any of this off. I would love to be wrong though, but I am not putting any money into this pot until there is something substantial to show in terms of actual progress.

    • UpsilonCrux says:

      You’re right. I mean, why should people have faith in someone who’s trying to do something ambitious and interesting, whilst utilising our PCs (which is why we all gather here) to their fullest potential?

      I find it hilarious that we (PC gamers) have complained for the past five years or more about how consoles were holding back PCs. Along comes a project which attempts to honestly address this, by means of crowdfunding (because let’s face it, this would not have gotten funded through regular publisher channels), and people get all sour-faced and downright suspicious. The past two articles published here both seemed to provke a very cynical response in people. What’s going on?

      As regards not seeing anything substantial, this is the nature of crowdfunding. We are simply privy to details at a much earlier point than we normally would on a non-crowdfunded game. If it were being funded the regular way, we wouldn’t know anything about the game until next year at the earliest.

      If everybody had taken your attitude, this article wouldn’t be here, and the game would not be getting made.

      • Mule says:

        I echo this sentiment exactly.

        A great many of the comments I see in general make the RPS community seem like a dog that’s been beaten one too many times by the hand that promises a treat. I can understand this sentiment, we have ALL been lied to before many times by developers.

        At the same time I personally try to avoid reacting in that way to new hands in the mix at least. As an example, Peter Molyneux has smacked me more than once in the past and I am not incredibly wary of him. Chris Roberts on the other hand does not create that kind of a feeling in me, I have genuine affinity for his ideas, the letters he had written about his concepts, and the interviews he has given. Could it fail? I worry that it might, but I still won’t come on to every article about this project and trash it like it simply has no chance, that seems counter-productive and cynical to me.

        For those who believe it is all such a lie I say sit and wait, wait for the alpha, wait for the game to release even. There’s no sense in crapping all over it as being a complete fabrication at this point however the Star Citizen team has already shown far far more than I have ever seen of a game in this level of production including full on gameplay demos as early as the crowfunding campaign’s beginning. I was really impressed by the fact that they were selling a prototype instead of merely an ‘idea’ about a prototype.

      • blacksun_redux says:

        Because its easier for people to play the jaded cynical “seasoned gamer” with nothing to lose, than to actually stick your neck out and say, “Hey, I’m In to this. I like what I see so far. I support the team and I stand behind them”.

        Sure, it may not meet all expectations. But the position of nay-sayer only rewards in the event of failure. Then I guess people get to have their big ego boosting “told you so” moment.

  13. lomaxgnome says:

    I remember the developers of Ultima Online saying things almost identical to this. “Kill off all the sheep and the hungry dragon will come attack the town!” Sounds great on paper. When magnified to MMO scale, hasn’t worked out quite as well. But then again, Ultima Online is still running…

  14. Maxheadroom says:

    What I dont get (and I’ve not been able to find) is while they’ve stated that all (non-cosmetic) items will be obtainable through normal play, just how much ‘normal play’ that will involve.

    I mean, when even low end ships cost upwards of $75 real cash, you’re unlikely to be able to grind one out in a couple of weeks, or even months.

    The way it is at the moment it seems like the only ship most people will have access to is the newbie starter ship, but i could be wrong

    • arccos says:

      That’s my concern as well. So much has to come together for this game to be interesting, successful, and worth playing. Free-to-play has to walk a fine line between value for paying customers and a decent game for free players. The cost of the ships so far seem ridiculous, and the crowdfunding “upgrades” so far are offering competitive advantages for real money.

      It’s pretty disappointing so far.

      • Docs says:

        The game isn’t going to be free to play, you’ll buy the box but it wont have a monthly sub. The ships people are buying are for backers wanting to fund the game, they likely aren’t going to be selling ships after the game is released.

        I think it was mentioned that a Constellation will take something like 60 hours of gameplay to get, that’s the $225 ship which requires a crew of 4 players/NPCs.

  15. Sam says:

    It feels like they either needed to go the whole way and have an EVE-style player driven economy, or have a faked up (but perhaps more interesting through careful scripting) economy. For instance, it’s a nice idea that if you blockaded a station for a while then you could charge them through the nose for the food you’ve stockpiled. Other players might notice the price of food going up at the station, or the station will generate high paying missions to transport food there. So players are attracted to the station, meet your blockade and you have an exciting emergent combat encounter.

    But so far as I can tell that’s not possible in Star Citizen. The dynamic instancing system means that someone could fly a juicy cargo ship full of food to the station you’re supposedly blockading and you’ll never see them because your instance is full and the cargo ship is offloaded to another one. Their delivery of food will push the price of food back down again because the economy is handled globally. Someone has daringly run your blockade by virtue of server architecture.

    So it ends up with it being a neat thing to know that the economy is vaguely real, but it doesn’t actually provide much in the way of meaningful mechanics for the player to manipulate. Even what should be dramatic events like the blockading of a port turns into only a minor effect on the economy due to the realities of how the game works. Similarly delivering or failing to deliver 10 tons of cargo to a station that is handling orders of magnitude more every hour is just going to be completely meaningless so far as the economy is concerned.

    But because the economy is being modelled you can still end up with unintended negative consequences out of any player’s control. The price of missiles might incredibly high because they didn’t plan out the right mix of factories in the starting universe. Which means no one can afford to use missiles, which completely throws off combat balance, which makes some ship types useless.

    There’s also the issue of real-money purchased ships and lifetime insurance that will poof into existence whenever the real-world-wealthy player needs a new one. Which makes the real economy look like a bit of a joke.

    • Cinek says:

      I think you are reading into it much more than it’s said. Also at the same time forgetting that this game will try to blalance itself out to some state of equilibrium (so your example with missiles is completely invalid – something like that might occur only with very intense player interaction). Also there’s nothing “fake” in this economy, it’s still fully simulated, only not all of the pieces in a puzzle are players. Actually: only a minority of it are players.
      Sorry, but your comment looks like a trolling attempt. Or a joke.

      • Sam says:

        (It isn’t a trolling attempt or a joke.)

        For my high priced missiles example, imagine if the game launched with 200 missile factories, but only 1 mine that produced metal alloys. Obviously they’d not make such an extremely unbalanced starting condition, but please stick with me for a hypothetical scenario. The missile factories send out mission requests for metal. Very few of the missions can be completed as there’s not enough metal available, so the missile factories start offering more and more money for metal. Obviously the factories will not sell their missiles at a loss, so the missiles are sold at a very high price. This scenario can play out without any player involvement at all. In fact it would probably require player involvement to solve it, by having players build a load of metal alloy producing mines (my understanding is that NPCs will not build new factories by themselves).

        It’s an exaggerated example, but the important thing is that the price of missiles is being determined by the simulated economy rather than by what the developer thinks will create balanced combat. In some ways this is a very interesting aspect of the game, with industry having significant impacts on how combat plays out. But what it absolutely doesn’t do is make for a game with balanced combat. How efficient it is to use a gunboat will depend largely on how expensive missiles are, and that is now out of the direct control of the developers.

        My point is that there are downsides to a simulated economy, mainly the loss of developer control over the value of items in the world. There are upsides to a simulated economy too, which can be seen in EVE. But I am concerned that many of these will not be visible in Star Citizen’s world due to instancing and external purchases.

        By the way, the only time I mentioned “fake” was in suggesting that they could avoid the pitfalls of a simulated economy by instead faking economic events. Such faked events would be more easily observable by the players, and kept within controlled limits by the developers.

    • Josh W says:

      The thing is that it’s vitally important in a game like this that instancing does not work that way; you wouldn’t set up multiplayer strategy games to put mutliple allied players in instance, and all of the other side on the other. In the same way, games like this have to keep track of who is on who’s side in order to make instancing work:

      If you’re blockading or intercepting, then this kind of strategic movement should automatically make sure you end up in an instance with the kind of player you’re trying to fight, but also means that the system will also have to leave space for their escorts or people who would like to help them.

      Its a very similar problem to mount and blade or similar games, making sure that the battle spaces that are set up for these battles properly reflect what people were trying to do, subdividing armies etc.

      This is not an inherent problem to the instancing system, it just means that the characteristics of instancing must be made part of the gameplay.

  16. Bimble says:

    Got to admit he’s saying all the right things. i want this game now.

  17. Calabi says:

    I dont like it. It’ll be broken it wont work and wont be fun.

  18. Crosmando says:

    Shame about the whole multiplayer part.

    • Mule says:

      You can run your own “Server” of the universe by yourself and just fly around with all NPC’s doing everything. This was possible with Freelancer which was not totally simulated, but it was still a fun way to play the game, explore the universe, etc.

      You can even do it and invite 3 of your best mates to come do it along with you and play the whole thing co-op.

      They have stated this feature is a requirement to offer the kind of mod support they want to offer with the game, as mods obviously are not viable in the ‘persistent universe’ on their servers.
      .
      I understand some people’s tendency to disbelieve every little thing that sounds good, the people that have spent money thus far have a lot of faith and believe their trust to be well placed. If these promises do come to fruition though I hope to see you all out there or at least read your stories of emergent gameplay on this site!

  19. Arglebargle says:

    Obligatory snarky comment: Good luck, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    If you want to enjoy/suffer through this project from the inside, I hear Roberts is hiring now….