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Trading: buy high - sell low! Which games did the trade runner mechanic best and hwy?

std::namespace

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Discuss!

I mean this
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Which game does this in a way that is not braindead simple?
What mechanics is it using, that goes beyond "sell high"?
What decisions are required from the player?

Dont mention randomization...
 

Lady Error

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Strap Yourselves In
The only one I remember is Uncharted Waters from 1991. There is also a good poker mini-game to lose your profits from trading and pirating.
 

Nutmeg

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I've played two of these kinds of games

Space Rangers 2 and Mount and Blade. I can't really remember much about their economic models, except that I was more impressed with the former, but in the end the kind of game that results is quite simple and tedious in both cases (though I don't imagine moreso than other similar games). I guess I would recommend Space Rangers 2 to people interested in this sort of thing.

Cool thread btw
 

Galdred

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Aren't X4 and Helium Rain about setting up trade routes and production facilities?
Iirc, Eve Online also had a strong trade route optimization component, but it was mostly comparing prices among sectors, and optimizing depending on travel time and risk.
 

AdamReith

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Last game I played where trading felt worthwhile and fun was 3030 Death War.

Nothing fancy or anything but it was fun getting hot dealz as I explored the galaxy.

Also seemed by far the best way to make money.
 

std::namespace

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Awrite, so stream of thought about trade gayme design:

core principle in such a trading puzzle (excluding sim and larp stuff) should be some kind of non linearity
ideally interacting iwth an optimization problem
rock paper scissors in space and time

concept puzzles we have:
BUY
TRANSPORT
SELL

lets exclude from the design the sell and transport side, imagine a game where you only buy shit
the goal is to buy is much shit for as low price as possible and stuff it into a limited cargo
the simplest form on the buy side would be the amount and price of a good
eg in endless sky/escape velocity the supply is unlimited, price flat, max cargo fixed by count

now we introduce non-lin optimization:
SUPPLY is hard limited by local production/import/factionrelation?, can be less than your hold (eg partrician2 has this, starsector has production)
supply can be higher if buying from other traders or black market, at nonlin price jumps and the amount available is not predictable
supply is not unter player control (yet) but production in port would behave nonlin, eg double production -> x4 supply
the optimization on player part is deciding where to dock knowing the production sources for diff goods, eg:
port1
prodA=3
prodB=7

port2
prodA=6
prodB=4
if production was linear you would know that both generate ~10 suppy and pick the one where more expensive goods are available
but if its nonlin, you dont know, you can approximate

a ship now has a CARGOHODL with a fixed volume but also max mass (eg approaching infinity has this kinda...)
if you buy goods, you have to optimize for count (or rather profit per unit) not overall money paid
and decide how to maximize count, ie by many low volume goods, which are medium mass or low mass but high volume
the max count limits are from the ship cargohold parameters (endless sky has mass and "volume" for ship components but not trade)
its even possible to introduce some kind of inventory tetris for different cargohold layouts, but when buying possibly 1000s units its not "realistic"
i guess one could argue that goods come in standard containers and those could be tetris'ed into layout, its a kinda lame puzzle though... it would differentiate ships even more though

PRICE depends on supply, and amount of units bought, and amount of money spent
spending 10 credits gives a 1% lower price, spending 100 credits gives 2.314%, in this vein
but spending 100 credits for 10 iron gives 2.314% +0.1% from 10 iron while spending the same 100 credits for 77 syringes gives 2.314% +1% becaues of the higher count of units
making this discount into an optimization problem would require absurd rebates thouhg... so i dunno

i have not mentioned goods that are triggering sensors, are illegal, slow you down, limit supplies and range, etc
because we are desiging exclusively on the BUY side now
also not mentioned are character abilities or similar that would modify eg supply, eg faction relation could give more supply or better price but at the cost of the other faction

what i think would be the most gameplay irl time spend on is cargohold stuffing with optimization towards count vs volume vs mass
the inventory tetris would need to be really tightly designed
how to makes this more fun without being repetitive... the ship always keeps its shape... and the cargocontainers should be realistically the same form...
GmKrYr5.png
 

std::namespace

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btw the game star traders frontiers (has traders in the name rofl) utterly fails the BUY side gameplay, cargo hold is just a number, you buy the priciest stuff you can, thats it... what garbage...
there is supply and demand though, its just very linear, very simple, no optimization, no decisions required

btw first computer game like that 1974 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trader
which is very simple
leads to mmo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_Wars

now > TRANSPORT
again we need nonlinear and optimization problem as core design
we have bought a cargo hold full and need to get it somewhere, we are not thinking about profit yet, we are designing the transportation gameplay, so how to make it entertaining
starsector has you evading pirates and police by clicking around, you pull em and then cloak in asteroids, circle around, fairly tedious once you get it, also costs you upkeep while in space
i dont like the risk-reward axis being just resources, its just rolling a die to see how much you spend, its nonlinear in a sense but all randomness is

one decent idea is discoverable routes, so its not just riks, its upfront investment for later reward
infact this could interact decently with ingame loans which if used alone are also a straightforward non-decision
fixed routes are knonw (but have "weather" conditions and pirates etc), low margin, high competition
discoverable routes should not guarantee higher profits
movement can trade fuel efficiency for speed (nonlin yay), we need speed to outrun other traders (optimization problem yay)
then we can add fluff like weather, pirates, police, randomshit, like what kind of cargo, if cargo/mass influences movement or sensors or something,
also a more involved route, more stops, should always be able to generate a better profit per time but not guarantee it
here is simple tradeoff could be used, eg single stop is less risk

...its surprisingly hard to come up with transport gameplay thats not just clicking

also BUY
i forgot that one could trade item-for-item instead of going for currency whcih can potentially have more margin if the route is right for good supply/demand places
eg
i sell 10 panties for 50 credits and buy 11 dildos for 50 credits OR
i sell 10 panties for 12 dildos directly, single merchant, but this would be like an exclusive connection or timebased or anything non regular maybe, otherwise it establishes a fixed best route, a non-decision


note to self: the interface in the game for comparing prices should resemble excel
you basically will note every price in it at a stationA at timeX and be able to compare ingame without using excel
startraders frontiers has an abysmal interface, really

also game to try: trade empires 2001
 

std::namespace

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PC adaption of Reiner Knizia game. Well, a great auction game, anyway, with very tough AI competition!
great idea to steal from existing board game designs!
sadly, they all have the luxury of a human adversary... so the designs are often revolve around move-countermove that requires the clever player to guesstimate and predict the opponents move
ai can very rarely do this
 

Alex

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I think the basic trading game works best as a context for other actions rather than the centre of the gameplay of the game. Solving a linear optimisation problem is not something inherently fun by any stretch (depending on your temperament, learning how to solve it could be fun, but actually solving it is mostly a mechanical job that is not really interesting by itself). Rather, I think the point of having trading in game should be to give the player context for something else in it. In games like pirates or frontier: elite, having to go to a specific place to get to a market might mean having to deal with pirates, working your way through dangerous areas, facing the elements, etc. A market might also be part of the exploration of the game, something you could miss or even avoid because of the dangers in the way. In a more detailed game (maybe a tabletop RPG), it might be fun to see the intricacies of trade. Perhaps the new lands you've discovered begin to slowly mould themselves around the trade you bring as well. Natives of an island might start all harvesting the spices you buy because you bring interesting baubles for them to pay for it. Simply maximising your pay might not be what you want these markets to not only give you money, but also be healthy communities. Perhaps the place you sell wheat to is a bulwark against an orc invasion, so you want them to have plenty of metal to build their own weapons and you don't want the food prices there to be so high revolution might follow. There is also the possibility to play with economy itself, rather than just being part of it; though I don't think it fundamentally change that economy by itself is an optimisation problem. It might, however, open up to you some interesting options, especially if the game is more roleplaying like.
 

RobotSquirrel

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I'm probably going to vote X3 because there's enough scope in the game that there's always things to buy so you never really feel on top of things - adding Mods that allows for dynamic diplomacy keeps it all feeling fresh as you war industry the heck out of the game, you can also see your impacts on the economy based on performance. X4 isn't as good because of the fact that there are crystals, that whole mechanic undermines the fact its supposed to be a dynamic economy. The main problem I have with trade games is getting too ahead and bypassing too much of the hobo phase, I like it when the game kicks me back a bit and gives me more things to aspire to, in terms of X3 it was creating a massive carrier fleet and building a space empire.

More so this, though: Hardw[a]r
Its good don't get me wrong, but the repair shops are infinite money makers, there's no reason to use Cell 1 2 3 or 4 when the fusion event is so early in the main story. You can't make your own moths which sucks and the only good trade resource is narcotics, trading anything else doesn't rope much money. If you want to see Hardwar working at its best, try the demo (ie. Load up a Multiplayer session with Alpha crater only) and you'll see how the games really supposed to play of course even that has issues as you can buy a specific hangar in Alpha that rakes in money. Trading in alpha I mainly traded chemicals until I had enough money for a hangar, then you go full Trump mode and buy every unclaimed hangar in Alpha. I still love the game but it is flawed.
 

Gostak

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PC adaption of Reiner Knizia game. Well, a great auction game, anyway, with very tough AI competition!
great idea to steal from existing board game designs!
sadly, they all have the luxury of a human adversary... so the designs are often revolve around move-countermove that requires the clever player to guesstimate and predict the opponents move
ai can very rarely do this
I really suggest you try that suggestion, though.
The guy successfully trained a neural net for this before this recent mainstream "AI" explosion we got to witness by now.
As I said, really tough competition there.
 

Sinilevä

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The most fun trading I have ever done was in Sea Dogs series. You could trade variety of goods from food to building materials and slaves. Also each island in the Carribean would have some goods, that are prohibited, so you could smuggle them for great profits. It would, of course, have it's own consequence as you could get spotted by the patrol and end up fighting the army of the particular nation, which would ruin your reputation with the said nation. If your rep is bad enough that nation might start hunting you as a criminal. You could also build your own colony using the building materials you buy. There are two games coming out next year, that suppose to give another birth to the series and there is a faint hope, that they are not shit.





Although I checked the demo of the last one and the combat was kinda meh...
 

AgentFransis

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The only good trading game I know of is Trade Empires. Unfortunately modern windows seems to hate it with a burning passion and I've been unable to make it run in a playable way for years.

Anyway, the game is about building a trade empire in various historical scenarios from ancient Mesopotamia to British Industrialization. You build roads, canals, railways, ports etc. connecting your trading posts, then you hire merchants and set up trade routes consisting of a series of a series of stops and buy/sell orders.

Markets have zones of control and they generate supply or demand for goods based on buildings in their zones. Palaces and temples demand various luxury goods, manufacturies demand raw materials and produce goods while dwellings demand stuff like food, cloths and pottery. When there's demand the prices rise over time and when there's surplus prices drop over time. If you supply most of the dwelling demands and keep the prices reasonable more dwellings spawn eventually giving rise to towns and cities around your markets. You can grow them to huge cities that need massive supply chains just to keep them fed. Ultimately your job is for your merchants to buy goods at low prices by not overstressing your production centers and sell high by not oversaturating your demand markets. The cash you make you invest in more production buildings, demand buildings, infrastructure, better tech as it gets discovered (like the wheel! Patent lawyers didn't fuck around even in Sumerian times), better vehicles for your merchants and bodyguards to keep the unwashed masses grubby paws off your stuff.

Some of the scenarios are quite difficult for various reasons and it's easy to go bankrupt if you don't plan well. The game likes throwing curveballs at you like dwellings starting to demand salted fish instead of normal fish or dyed clothes in the middle of the scenario forcing you to restructure half your network.

Anyway it's great fun and has huge historical flavor covering many historical civilizations and famous trade routes like the Roman Empire, the Silk Route, bronze age Mediterranean, China in various ages, the Indian ocean in the age of sail, Islam and Byzantium, medieval Europe and the ones I mentioned above. It has nice sprite artwork and a ton of authentic music for the various times and regions for extra flavor. If you can get it to run be sure to tell me how cause I'd love to play it again.
 

HeatEXTEND

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Used to have a lot of fun with Machiavelli the Prince back in the day, has "exploration", trading and politics. To be fair no idea how it holds up today but if you're starved probably good for a go.
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Looking up those images was a trip :lol:
 

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