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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:59 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:51 am
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Okay, since the Beta is starting quite soon on the heels of the Alpha, I will attempt to get the rest of my thoughts in quickly.

This post is all about LUXURIES and how we could make them more interesting:

While I certainly think that "holes" as described above, could help make luxuries feel "right", there are a few additional possibilities for spicing up the top goods. My first thought is that each luxury should feel different from the other, and not merely in terms of price per unit and location of markets. Here are some possibilities:

It's an illegal drug. So dealing in it requires shady contacts. When you first get the trade "license" (lets call it a medical use exception :remywicked: ), you can only see two markets, one supply and one consumption. And these may not be the most profitable ones. At this point, every other skyland appears to you to not even trade in that good. However, with each level of the Black Market skill, you make more and more underworld contacts, which not only reduce your "tax" on grog and nip, but allow you to be trusted enough to know about other dealers and suppliers. Each level of Black Market therefore opens more skylands for trading the good (some which usually do supply, some which usually do demand). Combined with the Affinities idea above, you can see how the skylands with the best chance of a really good nip price (supply or demand) might not unlock until Black Market 5.

Two clarifications on catnip. First, while I think catnip should have a larger number of markets (skylands where the good can be traded, given enough Black Market), I still don't think we would want to make it universally tradable. Maybe with BM 5 a player might be able to trade it on 1/3 ot 2/5 of the skylands? I dunno, would take some balancing.
Second, because this setup would make Catnip require its own additional skill to be really good, the margins on nip might want to be adjusted to be a little better, relative to diamonds and unob, than they are now. This would make up for the extra investment players would have to make to be "nip traders".

Diamonds could function the way that luxuries do currently, although with many fewer possible markets. Thus, there would be a few places that produce and a few that consume, set at reasonable distances (what is reasonable depends on that margins for the good - which could be adjusted). The system we have for all 3 luxuries now is essentially sound - they are supposed to be long haul goods that reward the multi-leg journey it takes to get them to the best market. So having one good preserve this model is a good idea. But limiting the number of markets in between the supply and demand would make the good feel a little more exotic and would prevent the "flooding" and "draining" from margin trading that I mentioned above in a previous post.

If You want a flavor justification for this model, think of it as there being only certain skylands with diamond mines on them, and only certain other skylands with the high end jewelers capable of buying and polishing bulk, uncut diamonds for conversion to retail.

Okay, this good is literally called Un-OBTAIN-Ium. That name was probably the thing that amused me most about the whole game when I first started playing. However, it implies that the good should be hard to obtain, and therefore valuable. When it is green everywhere on the map except a few places, it doesn't feel terribly rare, OR terribly valuable. So here's how I would set it up:

By default, there are no Unobtainium markets ANYWHERE. Every once in a while (every week or two) there is a semi random Unobtainium "drop", where one skyland recieves a one time, non-replenishing, high purple supply of Unobtainium. Many of you will recall that this is how all lux goods worked in both 2.2 and 2.3. The difference would be that at the moment the drop is generated, the game ALSO generates a few (3-6 say) infra-red demand centers. So for example, a minute before the drop, a player may see no skylands (well maybe only at the very beginning of the round - see below) with Unob markets. Right after the drop, they would suddenly see maybe 6 skylands trading unobtainium, 1 at purple and 5 at red.

Now, to clarify two things. First, I think it would be a good idea for the game to look at where the "drop" is assigned and to then have function that automatically makes sure that the corresponding red markets are generated at least X km away. This will prevent insane, one-hop unob routes from temporarily ruining things.

Second, there is a big question about what happens once the purple is used up. My initial thought was that after the supply drop is used up (ie. after the number of units there drops below a certain number due to players buying it up), all the markets would disappear again until the next time a drop occurs, at which point new markets would appear. The problem there is that this would cause real headaches with queues. You can imagine players who bought near the end of the supply period getting caught with a full hold of unobtainium and no market to sell to (until the next drop). The solution, I think, would be to have all the markets from a previous drop persist until the next drop occurs. Thus, there would always be markets for unobtainium (whichever ones were generated by the most recent drop), but the actual frenzy of player activity would be concentrated on the first day or two (until the supply location ran out). After that, most markets would sit at red, letting any stragglers sell off their unobtainium at their leisure.

Whether the supply is a one time amount, or whether the skyland produces for a day or two and then starts running out is something that can be played with, based on whether drops get eaten up too fast in actual practice. But that doesn't change the rest of the plan.

Again, for those of you who like to have a flavor rationale behind game mechanics, you can imagine that a drop represents an Unobtainium Swells bursting out from the ocean and being discovered and gathered to the nearest skyland, where it is auctioned off. When news of the Swell spreads, certain other skylands inevitably make it known that they are in need of some extra unobtainium to help fix various buoyancy issues (the skylands all float because of unobtainium, so I figure when new structures get built or things get mined, they might start to list or tilt and require artificial correction by way of unobtainium). Or you can come up with whatever other explanation you like for why skylands have a need for unobtainium.

Anyway, as always, I apologize for the insane length of my post. I just like to make sure it has enough detail to be understood correctly. :)


PS) I plan on trying to finish my post about a system of "Contract" trade missions as soon as I can. I think it could work really well with some of the things suggested in this thread.

System: Chrome - Mac OS 10.7 - MacBook Pro (Intel - 2011 model)

 Post subject: Infrared labels and realistic luxury goods
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:58 am 

Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 5:28 pm
Posts: 64
Location: Berkeley
Faction: Flight School
Wow, Fex. You design games yourself, or just have a lot of time on your hands? (and like people to respect your creativitah).

First off, can we label your idea for random infra-Reds, so it's easy to refer to? Some genius came up with "infra-red" (can some historian trace this etymology please) and just having the label drew more people into the ideas.

I was thinking:
-"rotating infrareds" (simple language, but doesn't sound random) or
-"quantum infrareds" (continues science argot, conveys randomness, conveys the uncertainty)
-"Fex reds"
-"bubbling bloodies" (the zoomed-out map is a watery cauldron bubbling with meat, some Red "rare" meat, some bloodier than you can see w/o cutting into it)

Of course people choose their own language, but Fex should have his say.

Second off:
I like all the luxury goods ideas (although I'm waiting for critiques from others) b/c they match the real world. That's a hard task in a game; make it fun but real.

Catnip is marijuana. Marijuana is illegal most places, so it works like a black market good in real life. Lots of places can grow it, some legally, so you have Purples visible. And lots of rumors, but Red and Yellow demand is opaque. Good stuff.

Diamonds could be realistic on the model of rich nations like 19th-century America importing diamonds from Africa.

They are not found just anywhere. And where found, no one has as much diamonds as wheat. So scattered but consistent Green/Blue diamonds (not Purple). Just as importantly, not everyone in the real world wants diamonds; some people prefer necessities and can't afford diamonds. So neighboring skylands might be blank. Some rich nationd love diamonds and can afford them. So a few distant skylands are Red all the time (with quantum infra-Reds).

A couple skylands are Yellow, meaning they consistently produce a few diamonds more than they consume.

Unobtainium-as-plutonium is not as literally realistic but is good for variety and feels realistic. I imagine an element needed for complex economies only, read some skylands only, which by its nature is found at random places around the world, in small batches that run out. Or maybe aliens "drop" them to toy with us.

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