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trading system idea

#1
hi there, just found out about Limit Theory today when searching the net for good spacecraft games.
i watched a few videos and read some posts (mainly dev updates).
gotta say i'm very impressed by LT and am looking forward to get it. :)

now the actual post:

when i hear trading i think of trading goods, not exchanging something for money.
what i'd like to see in the release is a way to trade goods for goods (no money involved).

if such way is provided but money is still a thing in the game then i'd like an option to disable money trading for my playable character (so it doesn't show in GUIs).
assuming money is still a thing, AIs obviously could still use it to trade with one another.
there could also be factions that follow my idea and reject money themselfs.
(has money pros that outweight greed and corruption?; nobody good-natured would want that in a healthy, well-functioning civilization (cuz it aint gonna stay one for long))

feedback welcome

best regards,
square
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Re: trading system idea

#2
Welcome to the forums. I am the resident :goat:.

From what we have been told, it sounds like the AI will look at goods as volume/profit puzzles.
This means that the AI will see that trading item A for item B will net it more profit, then it'll do so. But this will then be better for you to just sell item B directly.
If it sees selling his item is more profit, then you wont get the trade at all.

With two AIs one will always be the loser in the equation, thus the trade will never actually occur.

Unless specifically dealing with very poor AI, or with stations with very limited cash pools, I don't think trading goods for goods will ever be a positive thing for the player or the AI, while still requiring extra code to allow for it.

Now. If you were asking about this in a multiplayer mod scenario, then yes I would see the benefit of it. Allowing players to trade things between each other that they don't want to just drop, or allow AI, or other players to acquire.

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<+BMRX> Silver Invokes Lewdly Verbose Experiences Readily With Absurd Rectal Expeditions
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Re: trading system idea

#3
Hey mate, welcome to the forums.

The primary issue I see with this is that for each item to be traded for another item, they need to be valued and once you start valuing items either by individual worth or static worth, you've now just created a currency without the middle man (Money). While this supports your suggestion, it's also a slip backwards economically. If buying and selling goods were gears then currency is the grease that lubricates the two.
Regarding individual vs static worth, that already happens with money as well. People apply a price on what they'll pay for something and businesses apply a price to what they'll sell. The result is a selective and competitive market.

Additionally it creates a lot of hassle and annoyance in regards to trading items, first finding someone who wants the item you don't want, then making sure they're offering the item you do want in the correct quantity. Essentially it's just a lot more hassle than it's worth and is, when you break it down, very similar to currency trading on the back-end only without the benefits.
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Re: trading system idea

#4
square wrote:
Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:26 pm
has money pros that outweight greed and corruption?
ease of use, ease of exchange, ease of aquiring the goods one actually wants, ease of aquiring the amounts of things one actually needs.

Example:
Mike the Miner produces iron ore and is hungry.
Bob the Baker has bread and has no use for iron ore.


With money mike exchanges his ore for some small, easy to transport token which is accepted by everyone, goes to bob to get a bite of bread and keeps the leftover money for other expenses (new tools, rent, maintainance, etc)


Mike has to exhange his iron ore for something bob wants.
He goes to the smeltery who give him some block of iron which he trades for a pickaxe because the forge doesnt have anything else available at the moment.
Mike could need that pickaxe at some point but now hes hungry.
So he goes to the gravel mine and exchanges the pick for a half ton of gravel
Which he somehow drags to the builders guild in exchange for […]
(A half dozend exchanges later)
[…] who gives mike the toy for bob's daughter and bob gives mike some bread.
Mike has something to eat and only one day has passed in his long chain of exchanges.
The bread with nothing to put on was a bit dry, now mike is thirsty and gets another lump of ore...


And now think how much more complex those chains become in a larger and more high tech civilisation.
(where do i get a few grams of lithium from to buy a battery pack..?)


Also, how does the lack of direct money prevent corruption and greed?
Cant i pay off the safety inspector with some nice jewelry?
What prevents the (highly profitable) transport company from charging ever higher prices/shares for their service?
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Re: trading system idea

#5
It's a fair question.

My response: what have you got against money?

Money happens to be a useful bottom-line reference for the value of objects. If I convert X to a money-value, and Y to a money-value, that makes it very convenient for you and me to compare the value of X and Y. Without money as an atomic-level measure of value, comparing X to Y becomes much more difficult: if I give you 3 X, is 5 Y sufficient compensation? Or 10Y? or 50Y? Or 0.1Y? Or do you require some number of goats to make up the difference? In whose favor?

Money solves this problem. So is there some reason why LT should do away with money?
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Re: trading system idea

#6
As Flat Said, Money is ultimately just a mutually agreed upon measurement of value. Most modern societies run on Fiat Currencies, a legal fiction that governments can "make" money. Fiat Currencies utilize the rate of creation of Money-Units vs the size of the actual economy to derive the value of a given Money-Unit.

However, Fiat currencies have no inherent value. For the purposes of LT, the only things that have an inherent and tradable value are Time, energy, and reputation.

Assuming the old market structure like described in Update Video 15 remains the way AI assign value (a gaussian distribution, possibly effected by culture vectors) then what replaces variable-value money-units is what the AI think their time is worth.

The thing about time as a unit of currency is that it's rate doesn't change, you get exactly 1 second of time every second :ghost: Which means that your time budget is limited, and unless you can multitask or delegate, it's also sequential; A player or NPC can only give the next hour of their time to a single agreement, others have to wait in a queue or outbid the holder of the current slot.

I don't imagine it would be too difficult to track the "energy" of an object, as you could just add the joules or whatever that brought said object from raw materials to finished good, as well as the energy expended in transporting it from place to place. And objects could slowly have this value decay over time based on quality or somesuch.

This gives you "Object Sum Energy" multiplied by "AI Time valuation" to give you a object valuation in units we can call Time Dollars.

Now, Does an AI's valuation of their time change over time? Does it change depending on who they're talking to? Does it change depending on how much time they have queued? Does it change based on risk to life, property, and reputation? TBD...

But, let's consider the consequences of using sequential time trading, multiplied by inherent energy value as a form of commerce. Time can be bought and sold to third parties, but ultimately, that time debt is going to have to be paid by someone, or many someones. Buy a personal army for 100 hours, do you want 10 people for 10 hours each or 100 people for an hour or 6000 people for a minute? But remember, an AI's time valuation is gaussian, 100 "hours" might be much more or less expensive than the nominal value depending on who you're dealing with. Time is also fleeting, in that doing nothing costs just as much as doing something.


Alright, now let's consider Reputation as currency. And to be honest, I feel that reputation would be a good parallel to a standard money system. You scratch my back, I scratch yours... You want a lot of back scratches but don't scratch mine, then frak you, I'm not scratching your back anymore and I'm telling everyone that you didn't reciprocate, making it harder for you to get a back scratch from anyone.

Reputation is however far more flexible and fluid than money, and we're dealing with Ai that need numbers. I would propose the idea that Reputation is a value that increases over time and by doing favors for people. And you can also spend your reputation for favors. Because the value of a favor is fuzzy, you could have a range of values and the actual cost of that favor is selected randomly from within that range. The higher your reputation, the smaller the values of that range of possible costs. So if You're respected, calling in Favor X will cost you anywhere between 80 and 120 reputation points... If you're Honored, the same Favor X will cost you between 70 and 100 reputation points. If you're worshiped, then its only 10 to 20 reputation points.

However, unlike money, favors can be failed. This would of course cause a significant blow to your reputation, so there's that to consider.


Anyways, just some food for thought, i'm too busy to think this whole thing through :monkey:
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Re: trading system idea

#7
i hoped we could skip the philosphical part. i kinda invited you for it tho..

this could work since every trading party got different supply/demand at times. also note that you could e.g. trade 3 different goods for 1 other good (in a way both are satisfied).
the AI doesn't have to always make profit where "profit" is more money, it would have some acceptable range in worth difference. if someone were to abuse that regularily then the AI would shift that range and it would have impact on reputation (and eventually even cause a war).
an AI could also follow interests (like forging a peace treaty with some faction) and therefore offer better trades to achieve it eventually .
one game i can think of which got something kinda like this implemented is Civilizations 4 with it's technology (and goods) trading. (haven't played other civ games, hence the 4)

of course internally some (float) value would still be needed to represent the worth of some good in the eyes of the AI (depending on supply/demand/interests) but with trading implemented there's no actual requirement to have the player buy and sell floats (or expose it alltogether).

if there's money then i want a money printing facility i can set up (money gotta come from somewhere too) ;)

i hope this respond suffices to answer your replies,
square

edit:
@hyperion, thank you for your thoughts
a reputation system gotta be in place anyway if you want dynamic ploitics so that's not too far fetched.
but i'd take it further than every faction having some global reputation value, i'd make every faction have a unique reputation at the factions it intereacted with (or didn't).
like you said they could tell on each other when they screw up, which impacts reputation. (spore might be a good refference here)
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Re: trading system idea

#8
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:05 am
the AI doesn't have to always make profit where "profit" is more money, it would have some acceptable range in worth difference. if someone were to abuse that regularily then the AI would shift that range and it would have impact on reputation (and eventually even cause a war).
well, how do you define a worth without any monetary intermediary?
what is "too much" or "too little" (in a way that you can tell before you accidentally send them a ripoff...)

it works in civilisation because its not a permanentely needed way to aquire anything.
think if you had to go through a half dozend guilds and trades to get a basic builder....


you also didnt answer my question of how a bartering based economy removes greed and corruption
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Re: trading system idea

#9
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:32 pm
well, how do you define a worth without any monetary intermediary?
supply, demand, politics/reputation -> some float
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:32 pm
what is "too much" or "too little" (in a way that you can tell before you accidentally send them a ripoff...)
there could be some sort of immediate feeback during/after the trade
or just see and interpret the changes in economie
i don't know about what intercultural interactions are gonna be available but those would change as a result of good/bad/fair trades.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:32 pm
it works in civilisation because its not a permanentely needed way to aquire anything.
think if you had to go through a half dozend guilds and trades to get a basic builder....
i don't see how that makes it work for Civ.
no idea what a "basic builder" is. you could trade them what they need to get what they want (which would require the AI to have goals) or just trade em higher quantities or make a more diversified offer. maybe even let the AI make an offer (in the trade GUI).
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:32 pm
you also didnt answer my question of how a bartering based economy removes greed and corruption
it's the other way around. greed and corruption comes from capitalism. (that's the philosophical part where i'd rather not get into)
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Re: trading system idea

#10
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
supply, demand, politics/reputation -> some float
soo... you break it down to some monetary equivalent again?
so its a money based economy again except nobody is allowed to own any money.

the only way where its not going to break down into a monetary system is when there is no "objective" value but only the willingness of someone to do a trade at the proposed conditions
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
there could be some sort of immediate feeback during/after the trade
or just see and interpret the changes in economie
soooo... they agree on any exchange but yell after the fact that they feel ripped off?
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
economie
i see, another german native speaker. :V
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
i don't see how that makes it work for Civ.
barter only works at all in civ becuase its not the primary way to aquire anything.
its a rare case for high level exchanges. not the basic mechanic to aquire anything.
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
no idea what a "basic builder" is.
you know, the basic building units in CIV4, those who build tile improvements and roads/railways.
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
it's the other way around. greed and corruption comes from capitalism. (that's the philosophical part where i'd rather not get into)
because one totally needs monetary exchange to rip off people.
basic instincts to get an advantage over anyone not in your "tribe" leads to greed.

basic social dynamics generate corruption, if one has power and the other has goods they exchange power and goods, its a trade like any else.
the only thing that separates a normal trade and corruption is the law/morale along which the local culture acts.
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Re: trading system idea

#11
Think of a job, you work for x amount of dollars per hour. You can then use this money to buy other products. Product prices vary based on the supply and demand of the product. With money removed someone is giving you a product in exchange for your time. The product becomes a standard where the more you have the better off you are. Greed appears again.

It is human nature to want to better oneself so that you aren't homeless, starving, and unclothed.
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Re: trading system idea

#12
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:56 pm
supply, demand, politics/reputation -> some float
soo... you break it down to some monetary equivalent again?
so its a money based economy again except nobody is allowed to own any money.

the only way where its not going to break down into a monetary system is when there is no "objective" value but only the willingness of someone to do a trade at the proposed conditions
that float i mentionied is supposed to represent that willingness.
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
soooo... they agree on any exchange but yell after the fact that they feel ripped off?
they only agree within the acceptable range of "willingness".
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
i see, another german native speaker. :V
just a typo, you are right tho
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
barter only works at all in civ becuase its not the primary way to aquire anything.
its a rare case for high level exchanges. not the basic mechanic to aquire anything.
still don't see why it should break when used more regularly
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
you know, the basic building units in CIV4, those who build tile improvements and roads/railways.
isn't there just 1 type of builders?
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:19 pm
basic instincts to get an advantage over anyone not in your "tribe" leads to greed.
if you have such instinct you are probably a bad person... :ghost:
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Re: trading system idea

#14
0111narwhalz wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:15 pm
square wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:27 pm
if you have such instinct you are probably a bad person... :ghost:
No, you're probably a biologically successful person who outcompetes your rivals. :ghost:
And an economically successful person who provides enough funding to put their kids through good education and kick start them on the path of economic success.
:smirk:

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Re: trading system idea

#15
I'm not going to hit the "capitalism BAD" thing too hard; this is a forum about a game.

I will note that the high level of corruption in non-capitalistic societies reveals that it isn't a side-effect of capitalism (more properly, of the fundamental concept of private property ownership), but of human nature. So while capitalism isn't perfect -- what thing created and operated by humans is? -- "corruption" is a very weak argument against it.

OK, that said :D , let's consider Hyperion's suggestions. It seems like what we're talking about here is a fixed exchange rate versus a floating exchange rate. (There's a larger question of whether there should be an exchange rate, of goods for some conceptual money-representation, at all. I'll address that later.) (Oh, another note: a fixed-exchange rate system is often called "pegging" the value of the local currency to some presumed stable external quantity. I do not recommend Googling the term "pegging" -- at least, not if you have SafeSearch turned off. :o )

The U.S. fixed the value of the dollar to gold (ratified at the Bretton Woods conference) until 1971, when President Nixon suspended that practice. By 1973, the present floating exchange-rate system was operating. Since then, most other developed nations have similarly switched to a floating exchange-rate system, either entirely or, in the case of China, partially.

Both systems have benefits and (depending on your point of view) problems. A fixed exchange rate is useful when there is a need to stabilize the value of money. As long as the proven estimates for the resource to which you've pegged your currency remain stable, and you (a government) faithfully maintain the money supply at some fixed proportion to that resource amount, then the value of your currency is likely to remain stable. This is why developing countries, and countries whose leaders are serious about to trying to recover from an economic collapse, will often peg their currencies to gold ("go on the gold standard").

But developed nations prefer a floating exchange rate, primarily because, following Milton Friedman, they have adopted a monetarist economic policy model in place of the command-economy Keynesian model. Monetarism means managing the key behaviors of a national economy -- primarily GDP, inflation, and unemployment -- by controlling the money supply relative to purchasing demand (and national debt) and the prime interest rate for lending money for capital projects. A floating exchange rate leaves a nation free to print as much or as little money as it wants, enabling a monetarist economic management system to work. (Friedman actually advocated sticking to a money supply increase rate of 3-5 percent annually, but the busybodies who run nations these days prefer a more interventionist system.)

OK, so the point of mentioning all the above is to look at Hyperion's suggestions in the light of an exchange-rate policy. Specifically, to what extent are time, object-energy, or character reputation relatively fixed-amount resources? That's what will tell us whether pegging the amount of a government faction's currency to each of them constitutes a fixed or floating exchange rate, and thus the implications for that government faction's ability to manage its economy using monetarist principles...

...and the reason for my typing out those previous paragraphs is to suggest the point that Limit Theory may not even need this level of analysis.

The big question, I think, is that notion of "factional governments." If Josh doesn't implement any such thing, then all this talk of pegging local currencies to any resource is moot. For that matter, I'm still unclear on Josh's attitude toward local currencies, because that implies an exchange rate when government-factions trade with each other. That would be cool in a simulation, but -- even with all the shiny new cycles the ECS may give us ;) -- I'm not convinced it's necessary for the kinds of fun that Josh promised Kickstarter backers this game would deliver.

It's very possible, I suspect, that Limit Theory may abstract away currency exchange issues and simply declare that there's one galactic currency not pegged to any resource, and factions of any-and-all sizes just pay for missions/projects out of whatever revenues they take in. No debt, no lending banks, no attempts to control inflation or unemployment, no monetary policies of any kind, just spend-it-if-you've got it from the individual NPC all the way up to the multi-sector megafaction, from the dawn of time (in-game) to the moment the human player starts playing.

This doesn't eliminate money as a type of reward for goods and services rendered. It just simplifies economic play so that it doesn't take over the game.

But we'll see what Josh chooses to do.
Finally, back to this notion of the abolition of money in a "post-scarcity" futuristic universe. Here's something I wrote on that notion a few years ago. (Note: This is meant in fun, and isn't intended to be nasty to anyone.)
[transmission initiated by Station X-17 on trade channel 21]

Dockmaster Bob: "Ah, Captain, how good to see you! I have the five containers of blorbocite you requested. All that's required to complete our transaction is for you to transfer five thousand credits to the station account."

Captain Jack: "Umm... we're an advanced society -- we no longer use money?"

DB: "Hmm. Interesting. Advanced society, you say? Well, no matter. We're flexible here; we accept hard currency."

CJ: "We're back to that 'no money' thing, I'm afraid."

DB: "I'll take a certified check."

CJ: "We don't have checking accounts."

DB: "I'll take a bank draft."

CJ: "No banks, either."

DB: "How about a credit note from your government?"

CJ: "Which part of 'we don't use money' was not clear to you?"

DB: "Well, what do you have to offer me, then?"

CJ: "Twelve goats? Very fine goats, you'll love them."

DB: [stares]

CJ: "No? Well, do you like beads? Ooooh, look at the pretty beads...."

[transmission terminated by Station X-17]

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