Economy

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Trilarion
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Economy

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:38 pm

Modelling something resembling the real world will result in extreme complexity, so we need to simplify strongly and use unrealistic shortcuts. However it shouldn't behave as unrealistic as the original game. This part has given me a strong headache but now I think I have come up with something reasonable.

Veneteaou
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Re: Economy

Post by Veneteaou » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:00 pm

It's going to be incredibly difficult and game-changing to step away from the unrealistically-simple economy of the original games, because minor nations don't have enough capital to support the amount of finished goods they buy. In Imp1, minor nations were a tool used to inject money into the major powers. I will play a game through and see if I can figure out some idea of how minor nations determine their need for finished goods, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was calculated based off of the game date or something equally arbitrary.

I'm positive that the economic system of Imperialism wasn't an entirely-calculated closed loop economy. Money was randomly generated by minor nations, and finished goods were randomly consumed.

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Re: Economy

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:58 pm

You say it exactly. The economic model from Imp1 is completely unrealistic. Minor nations will just buy everything. The price somewhat depends on the exact amound of supply, but basically stays stable. In the end game when the minor nations were conquered you could end up with no trade partner and therefore no income. Because of it's simplistic nature it was terribly unbalanced and dare I say not much fun.

Now the difficulty is to have a model that is more realistic, still quite simple and giving the player some strategic challenge.

My ideas were:
- part of your production can be sold to yourself
- supply beyond demand lets prices drop, otherwise they vary randomly
- your domestic demand can be increased by industrialization
- if domestic demand is not meet, your workforce will become unhappy
- specialization gives you improved productivity but then you will have to trade your products away
- trade gives you diplomatic influence (the effect can be increased by subventions)

So selling goods and trade is important for:
- keeping your people happy
- earning money
- gaining diplomatic influence for trades

If everything is balanced right the profitability increases with increased industrialization, which ultimately means a bigger army can be supported which means... bad times for the neighbours.

The main differences to the original Imp model are:
- you can also sell to yourself
- the amount to sell at a reasonable price is limited by a certain demand
- specialization is even more important because productivity can not be high in all industrial areas of a nation

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New Economy Model

Post by Xylander » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:39 pm

The original economic model was, as Veneteaou said, very simple. Minor Nations should provide money for the major nations' development - they had no economic model. I have thought about how a manageable economic model could improve this and came to the following ideas:

1. Workforce
Every country has a population. As long as people live outside your capital they won't participate in our economic model. They'll have all their needs fullfilled automatically.

You can 'pull' people into your capital to get workers for your economy. Workers provide you with Workforce Units (WU). They'll need something to eat and clothes. As long as they don't have a job (unemployed workers) you'll have to provide food and clothes for free! 1 worker needs at least 0,2 units of food and 0,1 units of clothes (see 3. for details). If they don't get it they return home. You can only get a certain number of new workers per turn so you may be interested in maintaining a pool of unemployed workers (e.g. for ongoing projects).

Everything you want to build (farms, mines, rails, railway stations, forts, factories) or produce (food, resources, wagons, products, arms) requires the employment of workers. In this way the size of your workforce limits what you can do. Employing workers requires payment, too.

2. Worker payment

Whenever you issue building or production you'll have to use WU. Using WU costs money (wages). The money you spend on wages goes to the Internal Market Budget (IMB). Employed workers will pay for food and goods. Their cumulated needs (see 3.) leeds to demand for those goods on the internal market. If the IMB is too big or too small to buy everything they need, wages will drop or rise accordingly.

3. Worker promotion

Workers will have a level, starting with uneducated laborers providing 1 WU each. Their only needs are food and clothes. When paper and furniture becomes available (that means you have it in your stockpile) they start promoting and some will become craftsmen. Your workforce will consist of all sorts of workers. Craftsmen don't need more food than laborers but they'll buy paper and furniture and provide 2 WU each.

Worker promotion provides your country with increasing WU per food resource. Because food is a limited resource (and you have to produce it) a growing economy will need advanced workers. There will be more than two levels, at least master workers should be added.

4. Markets

Depending on technology industrial production creates more goods than needed to satisfy your internal market. You can offer the rest on the world market. Minor nations will employ their workforce mainly to produce resources. They can't satisfy their internal market's need for anything besides clothes and food. They sell resources and buy goods on the world market.

You will have to develop minor nations to increase their resource output and demand for goods.
I suggest making arms and ships available on the world market, too. Minor nations will have to buy those things to build an army.

Your internal market will have demand for food. To produce it you'll have to develop your country (building a rail network and waggons) and employ workers as farmers.

5. Money

Where does money come from? This is a critical question! You can only spend money you earn somehow (that holds for minor nations, too!)

Every nation has a Nation Wealth value (NW). Everything a nation builds (not produces!) has a value that can be calculated by summarizing the prices of all resources needed for building it. NW is the sum of a nation's buildings' values. The game will track your NW's growth and provide you with tax income (a fixed share of your NW's growth). To make tax income more stable the game could calculate tax income based on the last 10 turns medium NW growth.

A nice side effect of this model is that you'll try to have an ever growing economy ("we must invest more!") to keep taxes high - like real nations! Investments in minor nations (e.g. building infrastructure there) will count towards their NW, though. They'll spend their (increased) taxes buying (hopefully your) goods.

If a player has to pay for something that doesn't employ workers (e.g. research, education) the money is lost. We can either make everything require workers (e.g. scientists, teachers) so that expenses count as wages and go to the IMB. Or we can let it go, have a not-so-closed economy and balance it out with tax income. That depends on what the player will have to pay for (besides my examples) and how 'realistic' we want it to be.

6. Food and clothes production (calculation examples)

Like in Master of Orion 2 (some may know it) employing your valuable workers in the food production chain is annoying to a player. You'll have to minimize this 'waste' of workforce. You'll need workers for
- building a farm (e.g. 2 WU for three turns)
- working on farms (e.g. 1 WU per farm)
- transporting food to the capital (e.g. 1 WU per 2 units of food)

These are values in the beginning of the game. Remember you'll have to produce clothes for you workers, too! This adds:
- wool production (same as food production above)
- clothes production in a cloth factory (e.g. 2 WU per unit of clothes)

So twenty workers will provide 20 WU but you need 16 WU to supply them with food and clothes:
- 4 units of food (6 WU for production and transport)
- 2 unit of clothes (6 WU for wool production + 4 WU for clothes production)

16 of your 20 workers won't be of any use to the player in the beginning. New technologies will
- make better farms available (deliver more food, but don't need more workers)
- make better transportation available (more transportation per WU)
- allow worker promotion (more WU per worker)

But better workers will need more goods. This way you'll always have to do a lot to satisfy their needs and won't end up with endless workforce (remember you'll need workers as soldiers, too).

7. Development of Minor Nations

It is attractive to a player to buy food and resources on the world market. If you have the money to do so you can buy them and use your workforce for different tasks.
You can either conquer a minor nation, add it to your empire and use it's resources and population (workforce) directly. Or you can develop it and buy it's excess food and resources to support your economy. Even if you decide to develop a minor nation you can do it in different ways. You can just build a transportation network so that they'll export more food and resources or you can invest in education programs that will lead to worker promotion in this country and to increased demand for your goods.

Regardless of what you do you'll have to protect your investment so you'll be in need of a military. And that's the way it always was in Imperialism (and the real world).

-------------------

I think my economy model will lead to a significant decrease of the world market's importance in the game's beginning. Minor nations won't have a transportation network and will only offer very few resources. They can't buy many goods because they don't have the money for it.

Players will start building a transportation network. Large parts of their workforce will be producing food and clothes to satisfy their worker's needs. By doing so their nation's wealth will increase and they start getting tax income. Workers will buy goods on the internal market and this way pay their wages themselves. The player's budget will increase and he can start
- paying for his workers' education (allows worker promotion)
- building a standing army (you'll have to pay you soldiers and they don't produce anything!)
- research projects
- development of minor nations (to gain influence and increase their resource output and demand for goods)

Players will be able to make contracts with minor nations that allow them to build up their transportation network (at least railways and stations) or give them money for education programs. A minor nations KI will only have to decide simple things, e.g. what to buy on the world market, how to distribute workforce and how to spend money on military (it neither has to build factories, infrastructure or anything nor has it to care about education and the like - minors just don't do those things). That leaves us with the problem that a KI capable of managing a major nation won't be an easy thing to implement. But that's a different topic, isn't it?

Let's discuss my ideas - what do you think?
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You ain't gonna need it. (YAGNI)
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Post by Trilarion » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:44 am

Hi,

I think this modell sounds realistic and actually is not so far away from what I had in mind. Also you describe it in detail, which is very good. In terms of realism it would definitely give a better feeling with a huge workforce and a more realistic importance of minor nations.

I would like to avoid a "simulation" feeling. I don't want that the game feels like a simulation, where you just have some parameters (percentage of workers working in factories, percentage of budget towards education) and the rest is done by the programm. Maybe this means that the modell has to be simpler. Maybe we could do without wages and diminish the price of goods accordingly and they get their demands for free. One thing I can imagine is that growth might be absent for some years and then your tax income drops. That might be a problem.

More later. :)

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Post by Trilarion » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:48 pm

Unfortunately I haven't much time currently to write the responses I would like to write, so I only post the economic modell I had in mind and will respond later.

Key elements are having a fixed demand that depends on industrialization and defining how competition works. Currently not over quality of the goods (all have the same quality), only small for price (discounts) and mainly for relations (priority).

Demand and prices:
  • The average price for each good if demand and offer is balanced is fixed throughout the game (no inflation).
  • Every province has a base demand for different goods and pays money (being created there) for having this demand satisfied
  • This amount of money is limited
  • Are more goods offered than demanded the price will fall, so that the total return does not increase by more than XX%
  • Are less goods offered than demanded the price will increase slowly, so that the total return does decrease and the price does not exceed a limit
  • Smooth, monotonic formulas are available for this are available but can be changed
Markets and competition:
  • Each nation is a market = combined demand of all provinces
  • Competition between competing providers is via diplomatic relation and sales discount
  • One way to implement such competition is to have turns and satisfy the demand in pieces where some pieces are exclusive to providers with good relation and/or high sales discount
  • Another way is to just compute an order of importance (as in the old Imperialism) and have providers have their turn
  • Difficult question is if all should providers in one market should get the same price or different prices or if providers can set a minimal price... (unknown)
  • Exporting is meaningful because it improves relation additionally and the return can be maximized (due to saturation of demand is oversatisfied)
Growth:
  • The demand for all provinces might just increase with time
  • The demand for each province should definitely increase with increased infrastructure/industrialization in that province
  • The demand for all provinces in a nation should definitely increase with increased industrial/technological/worker level of that nation
  • The exact dependence is unknown, one would need to experiment a bit
  • That means that a higher industrial level will also lead to higher demand which in turn delivers higher profit which can be invested
Profit:
  • The difference between total return of all sellings and costs is the profit
  • The profit can be spent for research, diplomacy, investments (infrastructure, industry) and upkeep military
  • Profit must increase with increased technological/industrial level. It must be worthwile to invest (unless there is competition from others which might only be solvable by militaric actions). This means that the demand must increase sufficiently with industrial development, but also not too much so that everybody becomes extremely rich. Maybe limit/normalize the global profit.
Special properties:
  • The demand of each province could vary statistically with each turn
  • Or the base price could vary statistically with each turn (both just so that it feels more realistic)
  • If demand is not meet, civil disturbance could follow or demand could even be reduced temporarily.
  • War in that province could also reduce demand temporarily
  • There are fixed costs, so you'll go down if you don't sell stuff.
Main differences to original Imperialism:
  • Minor nations do not absorb arbitrary amounts of goods
  • Related: Price depends on amount of offered goods (need rule for which price is still acceptable, offers new way for competing)
  • Existence of a home market diminishes dependence on selling to minor nations

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Some critics

Post by Xylander » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:37 pm

Your concept is well thought and I believe we could do that. In fact it's a different approach compared to my proposed model.

I created a model that will produce the desired effects (e.g. demand increasing over time, depending on population/workforce). You defined the desired effects and suggest to implement rules/formulas accordingly. If it is well done, both will give an equal game experience.

My model will be more feasible to experienced players. Your model will be easier to control (by means of implementation).

Though I think it's well thought there are some aspects I don't like so much:
Trilarion wrote:Every province has a base demand for different goods and pays money (being created there) for having this demand satisfied
I don't like the idea that demand is unrelated to working people, building activity and investments! If a player stops producing and building - why should there be demand on the market? Sure, people still need things like food and goods, but demand on a market only occurs when somebody can pay for his need's satisfaction! And if there is no production and no building (read: no creation of value) where should the money come from?

This is a strange idea indeed. Imagine there is a region that has no resources and no factories and no money. People would hardly survive there. There is a second region that has resources and a factory. People there would create some goods and sell them to the first region (every turn). They'd get rich this way. And the money they get comes from the very poor region where people do nothing but survive? I say no!

(In fact in Imperialism the poor region is a minor nation and the producing one is your country. This is the least comprehensible part of this game's economy.)
Trilarion wrote:Maybe limit/normalize the global profit.
Sounds like monster level in Oblivion ... for every level a player gains, enemies become stronger. Killing a rat is equally difficult with level 1 and level 10. No I don't like the idea of limiting profit arbitrarily. Instead I'd like that a player can always spend the money he earns in a useful way (means towards victory). The problem is not heaving so much money - the problem is that you can't do anything useful with it! And why is that? Because money is created arbitrarily by the game ... it can be very hard to compensate this flaw of an economic model successfully (as many games show).
Don't repeat yourself. (DRY)
Keep it simple, stupid. (KISS)
You ain't gonna need it. (YAGNI)
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Veneteaou
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Re: III. Economy

Post by Veneteaou » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:59 am

I've got way too big a headache to dive into these lengthy posts, but this caught my attention:
The problem is not heaving so much money - the problem is that you can't do anything useful with it! And why is that? Because money is created arbitrarily by the game ... it can be very hard to compensate this flaw of an economic model successfully (as many games show).
In many 4X games (including Imperialism) the issue is that there is more money to spend on the world market, while the linear goal of global domination is removing buyers and sellers from the market. At the same time, there is only so much internal upgrading a player can do before they've reached a point of severe diminishing returns.... I've played max internal strength games of Imp1 where I've collected every last tile of resources, built level 3 forts in every province, and purchased/upgraded every last colony resource tile I could buy. You just reach a point where there is nothing left to do. Not that these are good ideas, but some random proposed solutions:

- Upkeep costs on everything. Civilian units, upgrades, town upgrades, forts - everything. I hate this because sometimes it's hard to guarantee revenue.
- Have everything break down over time. I hate this because it punishes the player.
- Make technology extremely valuable and expensive late into the game. I think this is the way to go. Imp1 almost got this right with military unit upgrades being expensive, but late game units weren't expensive enough. The idea should be that outdated units shouldn't be useless 2 turns after technology hits - they should continue to be useful in numbers for some time, and that is done by making upgrades and new units expensive.

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Re: III. Economy

Post by Xylander » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:16 pm

I have a problem with compensating the "too much money" issue with arbitrary costs like upkeep costs. Upkeep or repair costs (in case of deterioration) means two things: paying workers and paying for goods. If you want to have it in your economic model, then include it. If you don't want to have this complexity, leave it completely (no upkeep or repair costs).

If players have money and can't buy useful stuff (read: things bringing them closer to victory) your game has a design flaw. A player should always be short of money because there are so many things he wants to buy (like in reality, isn't it?). Let's look for a solution that prevents inflation:
1. Overproduction must not be profitable. (Market prices can drop below production costs.)
2. No inflation. (Amount of money doesn't grow faster than goods production.)

If production grows too much and there aren't enough buyers, prices will drop and production will sooner or later lead to loss of money (and thats why players will reduce it). Maybe a player with a much larger tax income than others can ruin other players just by dumping market prices(*) - this could be a strategy to win a game.

(* - as there is no way to protect your market in our game. We have no protectionism, tariffs or foreign exchange rates ...)

In any case a player should have won a game before there is nothing useful left to do. Upgrading all tiles to maximum level should never be useful (and far too expensive, too)!
Don't repeat yourself. (DRY)
Keep it simple, stupid. (KISS)
You ain't gonna need it. (YAGNI)
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Re: Some critics

Post by Trilarion » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:25 pm

Thanks for the comments.
Xylander wrote:...I don't like the idea that demand is unrelated to working people, building activity and investments! If a player stops producing and building - why should there be demand on the market? Sure, people still need things like food and goods, but demand on a market only occurs when somebody can pay for his need's satisfaction! And if there is no production and no building (read: no creation of value) where should the money come from?

This is a strange idea indeed. Imagine there is a region that has no resources and no factories and no money. People would hardly survive there. There is a second region that has resources and a factory. People there would create some goods and sell them to the first region (every turn). They'd get rich this way. And the money they get comes from the very poor region where people do nothing but survive? I say no! ...
Actually it's sounds strange at first sight but it actually is what happens in the modern world. So there are regions which are more industrialized than others. One example would be southern germany vs. northern germany now. The modern ways to solve this are a) differing wages, b) differing consumption and c) social transfers (aka the rich pay for the poor otherwise we all may end up in communism). Did your model include regionally differing wages within a nation? And for social transfers there are many automatic systems like government paid unemployment or pensions. Or there is tourism as a possibility for those unindustrialized regions.

In my "model" we could kind of assume that the lowly industrialized provinces show at least some demand because of pensioners or tourists or other social transfers. However the danger is that the minor nations become completely insignificant. After all they aren't industrialized. So where should their wealth to buy anything come from?
Trilarion wrote:Maybe limit/normalize the global profit.
Sounds like monster level in Oblivion ... for every level a player gains, enemies become stronger. Killing a rat is equally difficult with level 1 and level 10. No I don't like the idea of limiting profit arbitrarily. Instead I'd like that a player can always spend the money he earns in a useful way (means towards victory). ...
You're right, that would probably not be a very good idea. Better to get it balanced from the beginning on and to give useful ways to victory. So a very profitable industry should just translate to a huge and powerful army. So we just have to include sinfully expensive killer ships/tanks/canons that you can buy. What do we expect the player to do once the country is fully industrialized? Waging war of course. So war especially extended war must be costly. There must be a severe risk that your economy crashes during a war.

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