Sprint 27 - Trade in the Skies: ROCHE LIMIT

[color=#cc0099]Our Narrative Director, Chris, goes in-depth on how the upcoming trade system will work in Sunless Skies![/color]
edited by Absintheuse on 11/27/2017

Wow ok so a lot has changed. When I first read these changes I was shocked! I nearly fainted. But upon further review I am staring to warm up to the idea. I have some questions, concerns, and praise.
I’m assuming no, but does the changes apply to supplies and fuel? I assume you will be able to buy them in the hub port.
Does each hub port buy all goods or only goods from that region?
The buying and selling at ports happens at the base price. I know that you want to have story driven trade, but if you made exports a little less expensive it would allow trade similar to sunless sea while still having the focus on story. Also, as it stands right now if you do not get viable prospects or bargains you are locked out of any trading content. If you cannot buy and transport 7 verdant seeds, you should still be able to engage in some trade until the prospects change up.
Cross-region content. I really hope that occasionally trade opportunities between regions. I can see people in albion willing to pay a lot of money for imported bronzewood, or hours, for example. I am very worried that each region is going to feel like a separate, removed mini-game, and allowing trade between regions would make a lot of sense.
I am unsure if 1 export is enough, hopefully story trade events keep each port from feeling economically stale.
I love the idea of exports/imports. The fact that the main hubs buy and outer ports sell just makes sense and is intuitive. It will make trade easier while giving more of a sense of identity to the ports. In SSeas, it seemed like certain trade goods were sold everywhere, and didn’t really tell you anything about the port that was selling it
The idea of having prospects and bargains, especially since they are story events, not just reduced prices.
Tags and affiliations. The fact that certain bargains only appear in certain ports (bohemian ports, metropolitan ports, etc) is incredible! This add flavor and story to the game and is augmented by the fact that your affiliations can also affect which prospects and bargains you can access.

All in all I am very excited to see these changes to trade and especially the fact that it is story focused, but I would like to see this on top of SSea type trade so that both options are available (I see no reason why they are exclusive). I also hope that trade can happen in between regions (I know there’s only one so far, but going forward?).

Keep up the good work failbetter!
edited by Ludovide on 11/27/2017

I have to echo the concerns regarding goods being bought and sold at base price at ports. If the only way to make money through trading is via bargains and prospects, the only reason to ever buy something at a port is so you can stockpile it and hope a prospect shows up. And there’s basically no need to ever sell to a port for base price, unless you’re in serious need of some emergency sovereigns.

The bargains and prospects themselves look very fun. I love the flavour and worldbuilding attached to them and I’m sure they’ll lead to some fun and potentially disastrous situations.

I’ll concur with the comments about both buying and selling being at base price. Without a somewhat reliable way of getting money, I’m worried that being at endgame is going to be challenging economically, as any sort of travel consumes both fuel and supplies, a lot of storylines will be cleared out and their rewards reapt, and profits can only be made through a randomized system.

I appreciate the need for a more responsive endgame, but I am also afraid of how the random generation involved might hinder playthroughs with only a few stories left to do.

Having all of the ports buying and selling at base price is a bad mechanic. It doesn’t make sense in terms of game play, narrative, or simple logic.

If you don’t want trade runs to be the main source of profit, that’s one thing, but making trade run at a loss under normal circumstances makes absolutely no sense, and having such a totally illogical trade system undermines every part of your world building.

Why do the outer ports export goods to the hub? Because it’s profitable. A cargo ship making a run from the outer port to the hub and back has more money at the end than the cost of the fuel and supplies needed to make the run. If I’m at the outer port and headed for the hub, I should also be able to turn at least some small profit. Filling my hold with goods that I know are exported to my destination should not be an exercise in futility.

If the hub port can produce every good as cheaply as the outer ports, there’s no reason to establish the outer ports. They exist because they do something the hub can’t and because the hub will pay more for it than it takes to do it.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to echo the other criticism here - the base price thing is just… silly.

The other mechanics introduced are actually really interesting - bargains make a lot of sense, and add an extra bit of text interaction and flavour. Prospects are particularly cool, actually. Having them represented on the locomotive tab makes sense, keeps them within easy checking distance, and gives a way for players who are chasing money to make it reliably if they focus on it. That’s all really good!

But there’s a huge gap between ‘We aren’t making a complex economic simulation where prices fluctuate based on supply and demand’ (which is fair enough, I don’t come to Sunless Skies for an economy simulator) and ‘there is literally no point in ever picking something up unless I’m actively hunting for it’.

Unless you can just pick things up and store them in the bank? In which case the story-based trade or prospects becomes ‘remember that time someone in New Winchester told me that Lustrum wanted tea? I got it out of the bank and then took it to them. The end.’

Using this new system, why would you ever want a quest to reward you with anything other than sovereigns?

I don’t mean to sound harsh - I love the game you’ve put together here, and am back playing again and again to see how it continues to develop. But even with ROCHE LIMIT talking us through the exact design process and goals, it seems like you’ve burnt down the garden to plant a single tree.

I loved reading about this. It sounds like it will provide net profit faster than the old trading system, but be more likely to lead to more interesting situations (if you don’t have it so the player is attacked by 3 marauders at once due to a pirate ambush you’re missing a trick).

However I do have to agree that I’ll miss being able to fill up excess cargo space with goods to make a few extra gold on the side. If Prospects/Bargains are common enough to sustain a player without needing that reliable income then that’s fine ofc, but I just worry about being able to sustain travel costs once a lot of the storylets have paid off.