Public Review: Money

Past public reviews and discussions.
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Public Review: Money

#1 Post by Aquitaine » Sat Apr 03, 2004 6:25 pm

The quesiton for this review is partly planning for the future, as it requires that we make certain assumptions, and partly a refinement of what we've already done. It is based on this (very long) discussion thread:

There are basically two sides of this discussion (maybe two-and-a-half). All sides agree that there are going to be things in the game which will require payment of some kind. These include:

  • Maintenance of fleets
  • (possibly) maintenance of either buildings or special projects
  • Hurrying production
  • Paying spies
  • Paying tribute
  • Trade agreements with other Empires
  • Events (random or not)
  • Buying another resource on the black market to prevent shortfall

The real question at hand is what form this payment should take. Some people think that we should use existing resources. In this camp, there are two positions:
- Use production (stockpile it) - this would be similar to making trade goods in MOO2, except that it doesn't produce a separate resource; you just 'earn' PP that you use to pay for things.
- Use minerals.

The other camp believes that, if we are going to have things like interstellar trade and we're going to pay for things, we should have a resource called money because it's intuitive; minerals, food, and PP already have a single, stated purpose, and it would complicate things unnecessarily to force one of those other resources to behave as money as well.

For this review, I'd like to avoid the circular argument that we had on the design thread. To that end, I'd like to ask everyone to make a single 'position' post; state what you think, state the best arguments in support of why you personally think that's best, and then defeat the logical arguments against that position as best you can. For now, don't reply to other people's position posts; I will summarize them after a while and direct the discussion if we need more. (this is another thread where you really need to have read most, if not all, of the design thread).

I will delete posts with entirely new suggestions, or that are in response to a post other than this one, until I solicit additional posts. At that time, this needlessly frightening warning will go away.

Have at it. :)
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Aquitaine and Alan Emrich's position

#2 Post by Aquitaine » Sat Apr 03, 2004 6:38 pm

I spoke this morning with Alan Emrich about our economic model and about this question. He and I are in agreement on our preferred solution (and he also likes out primary/secondary focus system and the idea that you can only build certain buildings on planets with certain foci! yay us. :)
I stayed out of the DESIGN thread for the most part, but here's my two cents.

I think the idea of 'stockpiling' production is a very bad one. Production represents a capability, a potential, and that potential needs to be specifically directed to build a specific thing by either an AI 'build list' or the player (perhaps using a build list). This idea is a very simple one and most MOO players are already familiar with it. Trying to make 'unused production' stockpile as some sort of currency that you use to pay your spies, to pay tribute, to hire a leader, or what have you, is counter-intuitive and is asking for cracks in the system. For example: if you use PP stockpiles to maintain a fleet, let's say you need to 'produce nothing' (thus adding to your PP stockpile) on three planets to maintain your fleet. If you produce something on all three planets for any reason, your PP 'income' plummets, and your fleet falls apart because you wanted to build a research lab on all three planets.

Using minerals as cash I like better, but I still don't want to do it. Minerals are a natural resource that fuel industry. Should you be able to trade minerals with another empire? Sure. But should you pay your spies in minerals? Should trade agreements have you exchanging minerals with another empire? Should, essentially, the interstellar 'currency' be a raw material that already has another stated use? I think the answer is no.

I want money. We're using it as money. tzlaine asked in the design thread what we're missing if we don't have it. My answer to that is: a unit of exchange whose primary function is to pay for things. Minerals are not primarily used to pay for things; indeed, they already have a primary use, and it has nothing to do with paying for things.

The other side of that question: what does money give us that we don't have already? It lets us do everything in that list in the first post using a logical and elegant representation in the game to accomplish it. Drek named several strategy games that don't have money; they were Chess, Risk, Warcraft, and SMAC. With the exception of SMAC, none of the first three have trade. You don't have to pay maintenance on your orcs; you buy them once and need your food to keep them, and that's it (and if your food goes away, you just can't replace them - nothing bad happens to them). SMAC's solution is elegant, but 'energy' in SMAC really is money. SMAC has food and minerals seperately from energy. It does use a raw material resource for money, but that resource's primary function -is- money. I wouldn't mind calling our money 'energy' and treating it this way; the only difference I see is that, in SMAC, the natural environment affects your monetary production, so we'd have to ask if we want certain worlds to be better 'trade worlds' than others, but that's a question for another time.

Alan says: we don't have too many resources; PP and RP are not resources but output; in a 4X game with trade, people will want it and expect it. While it's true that realism may not be a good reason to do anything, you also want a certain level of believability within the rules you've built for your universe; galactic empires trading a raw material back and forth violates that in the sense that your players will expect money in a game like this.

Aquitaine says: Other strategy games that are more like us than RISK or Chess all have money; the games we cite as influences in our mission statement have money. We can easily have a non-cumbersome means of producing it (add a column to the foci table in the design doc and a focus for 'trade' - boom, done).

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#3 Post by Sandlapper » Sat Apr 03, 2004 8:00 pm

Pretty much ditto, Aquitaine's position. I agree point for point. Money is simply more intuitive. I can follow the "logic" of the anti-money supporters. While it may work that way, I feel if the game was without money, I would have the same frustrated feeling I had with Moo3; the "Why are you making me do it this way?It would be easier if..." feeling.
Last edited by Sandlapper on Sat Apr 03, 2004 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#4 Post by utilae » Sat Apr 03, 2004 8:07 pm

I think we should have money. Because all resources could be converted to money and money could be converted to any of the resources.

The problem with having something like minerals as money, is that if minerals can be like money, then why not research or pp. Of course they cannot all be made to act like money. Though money is a solution to this problem. As long as the other resources can be converted into money and vice versa, money comes in handy and is indeed very useful.

So, even though it's an extra resource, money really takes away our need to manage the other resources. If minerals were like money, then you would have to watch your flow of minerals, make sure it could feed people and make sure it could act like money and pay for ships, etc. With money we just need to worry about distributing it everywhere that needs it. So we only have to manage one resource, which manages the others.

So, I choose: MONEY :D

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#5 Post by drek » Sat Apr 03, 2004 8:58 pm

I favor Minerals as Money.

I can live with Money as Money.

Production as money is silly, for the reasons Aquitaine stated.

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#6 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:42 pm

I'd like to agree with Money as Money.
[Edited to be a vote/arguement for 'money as fifth resource to pay for the wierd stuff']

However, I'd want to make sure that Money was a Seperate resource.

If we are going to have both Production and Money, they should need something to distinguish them.
In many games, Money is the pooled stockpile version, Production the local version of the economy. (doing the same thing but in different places.. if you do it at a planet/city it takes Production, if you do it Imperially it takes Money)

I'd suggest production be the physical version, money be the 'social' version. (doing different things in the same place)

So more Production could not be used to make people happy, like it can in Civ by building Capitalization, and putting more taxes into luxuries.
More Production could also not be used to produce spies or hire leaders.

And more Money could not be used to get buildings or ships built faster, or maintain them.

All forms of maintenance would be performed with the same type of resource that was used to build the thing maintained.

Now this works fine for building maintenance (each planet pays its own maintenance and the PPs left over go into construction, after all if it could build a building it should be able to maintain it)
But as Aquataine pointed out how do you do fleet maintenance or rush build? (production moving from one world to another.)

*-----This is primnarily a counter argument which doesn't touch on money directly-----

That argument assumes a 'Civ' style economy where each planet/city only does one thing at a time.

I'd suggest that production can easily be used for off world uses by allowing a world to build more than one thing at once, and allocating its PP between those two things.
So if you needed 3 worlds working full time to support your fleet and wanted a research lab on those three worlds, then you would just start diverting 50% of the production from 3 more worlds, and cut back the production on your First 3 world to 50% support, 50% local construction.)

To those who say this is too complicated, that is allmost exactly what MOO2 had.
In our case it could be simpler, since the only 'off world' use for PP would be fleet maintenance and 'rush building' or long term tribute/trade agreements. All you need to do is
'Off World PP Need'-PP of worlds devoted 100% to 'off world production'=Remaining PP Need
The remaining PP Need is then taken from a those worlds that are NOT devoted to 'off world production' in proportion to their output.

In this way Money is not needed for things like maintenance of buildings/fleets and you don't need to exchange Money for Production.

It also makes a PP stockpile an optional thing, excess PP can just be wasted, and shortfalls result in scrapping (but that is only after all worlds are devoting everything to maintenance)

PS if buying a resource off the 'black market' means just changing Money into another resource rather than Exchanging it For another resource without another empire's consent then I'm against that because that just means multiple resources are eye candy.
Last edited by Krikkitone on Tue Apr 06, 2004 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#7 Post by tzlaine » Sun Apr 04, 2004 7:28 am

If PP and RP are simply production rates, as the common conception goes, then they are silly as money. If minerals are things you pull out of the ground, and if our empires are high-tech societies, rocks are *really* silly as money.

Let there be cash.

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#8 Post by Tyreth » Sun Apr 04, 2004 10:26 am

Re-iterating what I said originally, I can't see PP used as a substitute for money. PP is conceptually a potential, while what you build with it is the realisation of that potential. Minerals has more of the qualities of money, so without the introduction of money minerals would be my preferred substitute.

However, ultimately I prefer the simplicity of money, and I really believe it is simpler even though it involves the introduction of a new resource. Anyway, enough has already been said, so I say show me the money!

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The Druuge

#9 Post by guiguibaah » Sun Apr 04, 2004 3:07 pm

Remember the Druuge from Star Control 2? I liked the idea that fired employees were deemed to be trespassing on the Crimson corporation's property and were deemed to serve only one thing... to feed the furnace!

I say make people money. Need a sudden cash/energy boost? FWISSSSH RRRAAAAAAARRRRRrrrrrr.
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#10 Post by PowerCrazy » Mon Apr 05, 2004 8:52 am

Money is a tried and true method of measuring empire worth. It allows an intermediary between resources, gives players a baseline to judge whether their empire is growing or contracting, and how "strong" the empire is.

Also like was said previously all of our inspiration games have had money, and they all seem to work pretty well. Why change something just in the name of being different?

However we need to realize that money will be handled differntly than minerals or food or any of ther resources we will have. It will be used differently, produced differently, and treated differently. Thus it would be impossible to subsitute any other resource for money, at least the way its been in many previous games as well as the way it will be in FO.
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#11 Post by noelte » Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:07 am

I would like to see money ingame. I can agree with everthing Aquitaine said.

Stockpileing production doesn't feel right, all your industry can produce some amount of goods at a time. For instance, if building a ship needs 10 turns, you can't build that ship in one turn only because you stockpiled 9 turns of production.

OK, minerals could be handled as money because they might have some value. But you could also say produced luxury goods have value. How could you handle this. Convering luxury goods into minerals???

At the end, i think money is the natural choise, everybody knows what to do with it. It's more flexible than the others.

But one think i would really dislike is, if you could >>convert<< money into for instance food by buying that food from some kind of black market. I think you might be able to buy food from another empire but never from a black box.

Also, trading with other empires is more clearly, if you can use money (of cause not only money)

So, i vote clearly for MONEY.


PS: Where are all the poeple who didn't want money?

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#12 Post by pd » Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:15 am

i vote for money, too

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#13 Post by Aquitaine » Mon Apr 05, 2004 2:28 pm

Yeah, given how contentious the design thread was, I wasn't expecting near-unanimous support. :)

Unless we get a rush of 'no money!' people in the next couple days, I'll wrap this up and write it into the design document.
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#14 Post by Underling » Mon Apr 05, 2004 2:46 pm

One more for Money.

Most of the points I would have made were already stated. Ease of use, familiarity, money's primary purpose as a medium of exchange rather than being a secondary purpose of another resource, etc....

One more reason I'd like to add for the use of money is its simplicity. As I said several times in the discussion thread, money is a prime example of the KISS principle applied for the end user.

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#15 Post by dstjames » Mon Apr 05, 2004 3:08 pm

Money, Money and oh yeah Money.

Ditto on the reasons. Simpicity, familiarity, logical use etc.

Maybe a little off topic but I dont know if I like the idea of buying resources with money though. It makes sense in the real world that you could buy grain to feed your people from someone else but I think it would needlessly complicate the game.