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Planned Feature Trading (at a profit)

Discussion in 'Build Beta and Brainstorming' started by pedrwyth, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. pedrwyth

    pedrwyth Privateer Storm Modder

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    I have been thinking about the economics of trading as it stands in the game and am considering trying to revamp things. :(

    All I have done with the code previously was try and make sure all avenues of purchase and sale gave the same results but as is pointed out elsewhere simple trading export to import does not often give a profit. :oops:

    However I don't want to just tweak the export import price factors (although that will play a part) but actually get into changing island products (which remain much as per stock game except for the additions for new islands and goods plus a change to allow for rum consumption) - so that island hopping routes around the arc of islands can be viable. :sailI might also want to review what is contraband (which are also still pretty much stock game allocations) in the process.

    so for example

    New Grenada export A import B,D

    Aruba,Curacao,Bonaire export B,C Import A D

    La Grenade export D,E import C,A,F

    etc

    but perhaps longer trips, ie skipping the adjacent island, gives more meat to the voyage :onya, or is the pattern too neat and unrealistic :nogood.

    I haven't decided how to differentiate islands within nation island groups such as Aruba,Curacao,Bonaire perhaps with an additional different extra export and import. I might also include some dynamically added exports/imports away from the hard coded ones to give some variety within each playthrough.

    I have seen some dire warnings about breaking the economy by any changes and don't yet fully appreciate how the dynamics interact so will need to tread carefully. Although it is somewhat counter intuitive I would intend to leave the price increase per unit within transaction as you buy and decrease in selling price as you sell since it does prevent buy/sell cycling giving a profit.

    Anyone any thoughts, suggestions or objections at this early stage in my thought process? :shrug
     
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  2. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    This sounds like a really noble effort, @pedrwyth
    Indeed most of the Import/Export/Contraband goods were set by copy/pasting without much thought.
    So I definitely appreciate your willingness to go through it and improve on that! :woot

    That was mostly @Grey Roger who is concerned about a genuinely dynamic economy where the goods change during the game.
    But it sounds to me like you don't intend to do that, so chances are that it'll be fine. :onya
     
  3. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Yes, my big concern is if supply and demand on the island itself play too big a role. You arrive with a hold full of silver, sell the lot, and the price drops because there's now a lot of silver on the market. You buy all that silver and the price rises because there's a shortage of silver. Repeat until rich. I've seen another game whose trade mechanism was pretty well ruined by this.


    The other problem is if prices change too much at random compared to the difference between import and export. You need to be reasonably sure that if, say, Bonaire is exporting coffee and Puerto Rico is importing coffee, then you can expect to make a profit by taking coffee from Bonaire to Puerto Rico.

    The system by which the price changes during the transaction, in an attempt to prevent this, looks like the trader is trying to swindle you - he offers a sale price, you agree it, then he changes the price when you actually produce the goods. In reality that would be grounds for legal action against the trader - or in this setting, more likely the trade negotiation would end with drawn swords!

    The net result is that under the current system, I never try trading. If I'm playing a merchant character then I tend to make my money by delivering cargo - a hold full of whatever the trader on Bonaire wants delivered to St. Martin will generate a lot more money than a hold full of anything exported by Bonaire and imported by Puerto Rico, especially after both traders have changed the prices during the trades.
     
  4. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Indeed I don't like that myself either.
    Price changing after the transaction would be preferrable, I reckon.
     
  5. LarryHookins

    LarryHookins Buccaneer Staff Member Storm Modder

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    You can stop the price pumping by not changing the price until you're at another island.

    I don't remember how it's done in NH, but there should be a difference between a buy price and a sell price, and that difference should be enough that you'll never be able to do any price pumping. A storekeeper will buy goods at a lower price than he sells them for; the difference is his profit. If you do it this way, you can change the price at midnight and you still won't be able to price pump.

    Just because one island exports a good and another island imports it doesn't mean you should always be able to make a profit on that good because of the merchant's buy and sell price difference.

    It helps if you have the most recent prices at both islands, although they may be a bit out of date. You can calculate the profit per unit of weight of a good, and you'll be surprised at what might make a profit. The only time you can't expect to make a profit is buying a good that's an import and selling it where it's an export.

    Setting up a working trading system is no trivial matter and you should expect to spend many hours in a spreadsheet before a single line of code is ever written.

    Hook
     
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  6. pedrwyth

    pedrwyth Privateer Storm Modder

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    As far as I can see trawling threads for comments no-one actually has found a way to make a living by buying and selling in the early game as it stands. I have a vague recollection of a succesful route from Eleuthera to somewhere in the south back in 3.4 but generally ever since the stock game I resorted to smuggling to turn a profit. Actually I wonder if the whole trading approach being non=profit making was semi-deliberate (in at least the stock game) to ensure anyone who tried to make an honest living would find it impossible and be forced to turn to piracy or smuggling - It was badged as pirates after all!

    Of course in the stock game the storms were a frequent disaster for damage costs. What I would ideally like to create is a situation where buying a full cargo of an export good and taking it to an import location should provide just a little profit over the basic sailing costs (of food and rum and crew salary) for a smallish trader. A merchant delivery quest should always be more profitable but is of course not necessarily where you want to go but with a working system you could at least get a cargo for the return journey.

    I accept there is pretty much universal dislike of moving prices during trading negotiations (as I thought of it - oh I can only give you X for that much) but to avoid price pumping I think the value changes will need reducing considerably. This is because of the amounts that four large ships can move once he player has acquired enough wealth to buy out whole stocks can bring wild price swings.




    To summarise how I see the thread is no-one likes the feel of the dynamic in-sale price adjustment BUT prefer that to a price pumping loophole.

    That could be changed without effecting the current system dynamics if the price change was run in the background. What I did before for sale was work out the start price and price for last unit and averaged them (which left the economics pretty much the same for selling the whole cargo) but made the mistake of using the ship quantity not the fleet quantity and also not showing that price in the initial interface selling price so the player saw a straight drop from the price for one unit. Won't work for buying because you can't second guess the quantity to be bought. @LarryHookins' suggestion of switching the price on reaching a different island may have possibilities although tracking the event and which prices need adjusting by the time you reach another island could get complex. Also someone playing as a privateer with effectively a home base could avoid the price change by keeping returning home - so a bit more thought to go into that one (perhaps boarding a ship could trigger the change too?).



    Anyway for now I am looking at import/export/contraband distribution and have mocked up a spreadsheet of what goods could be where but hadn't thought about changing island ownership in different periods affecting smuggling/contraband :modding - so back to the drawing board - maybe even different distributions of import/export in different periods would make more sense.
     
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  7. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Rather than switch price on arriving somewhere else, perhaps switch price when you leave this island?
    Code:
               Pchar.quest.quest_name.win_condition.l1 = "MapEnter";
               Pchar.quest.quest_name.win_condition = "quest_name";
    That triggers if you go to WorldMap or if you DirectSail to another island. A privateer who doesn't leave his home base by doing either of these is soon going to run out of targets, which in any case are only going to be coastal traffic and most of the time they will belong to the island where he's sitting.

    Of course, that means you could start at the port of your choice, go to WorldMap, go back to sailing without moving anywhere so you're still at the same port, which triggers the price change. Anyone who is that determined to mess with the system at the expense of going out and doing fun stuff is welcome to do so!
     
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  8. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I'd be very surprised if that were a conscious choice, but indeed the original game was not delivered with a really substantial focus on anything free play, let alone honest trading.

    Sounds sensible. :onya

    I've got to admit I can't imagine whether personal trading or merchant delivery quests should be more profitable.
    As far as I'm concerned, they should both offer some measure of profit. If you do your personal trading well, I reckon you should be allowed to beat the merchant delivery quest profit margins.
    But of course that could simply work because if you are doing it yourself, you can maximize the amount that you carry.

    I concur. :yes

    Maybe "change it the next day"?

    EDIT: Or do what @Grey Roger suggests above. That would work very similarly, but might be even more robust.

    How important is it for island ownership to affect smuggling/contraband?
     
  9. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    It's been ages since I played the stock game, but I'm moderately certain that one of the first pieces of advice someone gave was to buy sandal in Oxbay and sell it in Redmond, and that did produce a profit.

    Cargo quests are a useful way to get yourself some starting money. After I'd sold my initial cargo and stocked up on supplies, I didn't have enough money to buy anything. One cargo quest solved that problem.

    But if you can make more money by trading than by a moderate range cargo quest right from the start, then either the Commerce skill and perks are irrelevant or you're going to make silly money when you get them. Hint: if you plan on trading as a career, get yourself a qualified quartermaster - he'll either have the skill and perks already, or he'll get them more quickly than you. ;) Of course, when you have Commerce 10 plus Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce, either in person or from the quartermaster, plus a larger ship, then you certainly ought to be able to make a lot more money trading than doing deliveries.
     
  10. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I recall a walkthrough of the stock game that contained a list of profitable trade routes.
    And eventually that was added to the "rumours" in the game, which are probably wildly inaccurate by now.

    Agreed. :onya
     
  11. Ambrois LeGaillard

    Ambrois LeGaillard Sailor Apprentice

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    Very interersting thread, let I watch and follow, because I have a big interest in this.

    One of the "lives" that I like in PotC-NH is the Trader/Merchant, then any tip about prices and merchandises is good for me.
     
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  12. LarryHookins

    LarryHookins Buccaneer Staff Member Storm Modder

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    In TEHO there simply are no profitable trade runs until you get a purser with trade abilities. There are three trade abilities, one to change buy prices, one to change sell prices, and after a character has them both there is another ability that changes both. Prices are also affected by trade skill of you or your purser. There is an amulet that gives a small advantage too. But the main thing is the abilities. Without those trading isn't profitable.

    There is no price pumping in TEHO. Prices stay constant during your entire transaction and for the rest of the day. If you're buying the store might run out of the goods, and if you're selling the store might run out of money. Prices apparently change during the midnight update, and that is probably for every store in the game. In any case the price difference between buy and sell is enough to prevent any kind of price pumping.

    Once you've traded at a store, the prices are recorded and you can refer to them later. Your recorded prices for a colony change when you visit the store again, if you get new prices from visiting a merchant ship, and sometimes the storekeepers have the price list for another store.

    I don't know if this is the best system, but it works, and no one is worried about people exploiting some part of it. It should be a good base system for whatever you want to add. The TEHO source code is available here on PA for those who wish to study it.

    I do other things to make money until I've found a purser, then I make most of my money by trading. Hauling cargo for a storekeeper will give you navigation skill and some other benefits while trading only raises your trade skill. I'll often get a cargo to haul, then fill my hold with whatever is most profitable for the trip. I'll also haul passengers and do courier runs for the harbormaster, and that doesn't use any cargo space.

    Hook
     
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  13. pedrwyth

    pedrwyth Privateer Storm Modder

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    . I like the fact that a nation is consistent with its policies on contraband. If you don't stick to that it will become a mess, not only that but the smuggling code assumes that nation=contraband (see post #87 raising morale thread) Where incidentally I too think it is a bad idea to vary what is contraband simply on patrol level and it may make sorting out trading as per my idea for checking some pattern to import/export even harder.
    Thanks for the summary @LarryHookins I did a little TEHO but not enough to know any of this, I do have the code to refer to when I'm back home so might creatively borrow any that looks useful. The prices you last got (I think) are recorded for reference in colonies screen in POTC too but gaining info from a merchant ship (although I think friendly contact mod is not done in POTC) sounds good as well as possibility a storekeeper will know his competitors prices.
     
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  14. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Correct. The base functionality pretty much works, but it was abandoned before becoming a fully fledged feature.
    The code is still in the mod though, in case somebody would want to pick up where the previous person left off.
     
  15. Bathtub-pirate

    Bathtub-pirate Sailor

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    Definetly not the case. Being a succesful trader in the stock game was piss easy. Because neither the prices nor the amount of available goods did ever change. It was constantly reset. So you could go for some high value good (like ebony), buy it where it was exported, sell it where it was imported (ideally nearby) and you could make the same trip time and time again. It was bare bones as hell and it allowed me to buy a warship in no time. Very easy to exploit.


    Being a trader in the mod
    As far as being a trader in the mod goes: You definetely can be profitable. Though, to be fair, it is quite a while that I have been playing as a pure trader. Sure, it is not really worthwile in the early game. But as soon as you have some skill in commerce, that starts to change. And now you can even start with 5 in commerce straight out of the gate if you do a merchant free play. Only get the basic commerce perk in addition to that, which is easy enough (one escort mission unlocks it) and you should be able to engage in trading relatively early. Of course, you can short cut the entire ordeal further down the road, by getting a good quarter master once you have a decent overall level yourself.

    As I remember it, the key to succesful trading was to diversify your cargo. I used to buy a range of goods in moderate quantities and preferably (but not necessarily only) at export prices. I would only buy more, when I knew that I would make my way to several ports, where the good in question would be in high demand. Loading up only on one type of good will rarely be profitable (unless you bloody steal it, of course^^). Because even with a single bark you can carry as much as two to three times the stock amount of any import good (the amount that an importing settlement does typically have by default). Which will make for tremendous price inflation. That is why diversifying what you carry is VERY important.

    Also, concentrate WAY more on buying at export rates than selling at import rates. Import prices are nice and dandy ..... up until a certain point. They may be higher, but they also inflate faster. That just comes with the territory. As long as you buy stuff comparably cheap and have sufficient trading skill, you will profit. Even if you sell it where it is not an import good per se. And don't be too hellbent on selling everything in one go. Always keep track of the price per unit that you paid when you bought this stuff, so that you can sell it in qunatities that will yield an acceptable profit per unit sold. And if that means that you don't sell it all in the current settlement, then so be it.

    I think that too many players approach the trading in a way of "loading up in port A, selling it all in port B". As if they would do a cargo run. And that minset will not get you far as a trader.
     
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  16. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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  17. Homo eructus

    Homo eructus Freebooter Storm Modder

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    If that's so, maybe it should be explained or hinted at somewhere, like in the commerce book, in Malcolm's tutorials or even in the random pieces of advice you get from civilians. Not that most players would read the tutorials anyway, but at least the information would be there for those interested enough to look for it.
     
  18. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Fair point.

    @Grey Roger, @Hylie Pistof and/or @DeathDaisy: What do you think?
     
  19. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    The main thing that could be mentioned is how the price of a good changes as it is being bought and sold. That made me lose money before I started paying attention to the costs at the time of purchase/sale.
     
  20. pedrwyth

    pedrwyth Privateer Storm Modder

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    Thanks for that - so we now have a model for successful trading.:wp I must admit I was a load up with a cheap looking cargo player. So I will put my thoughts in abeyance until I get a chance to playtest @Bathtub-pirate 's approach. After all why change it if it works? :shrugI could still look at the obviously unpopular moving price feast in due course.

    Feel free to pass on any further thoughts on the topic though.
     
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