DESIGN: Economics Category

Creation, discussion, and balancing of game content such as techs, buildings, ship parts.

Moderators: Oberlus, Committer, Oberlus, Committer

Message
Author
User avatar
Aquitaine
Lead Designer Emeritus
Posts: 761
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2003 1:54 pm
Location: Austin, TX

DESIGN: Economics Category

#1 Post by Aquitaine » Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:07 pm

This thread contains guided discussion for the contents of the Economics category. It is moderated by <_your name here_>.

Specific rules for this thread as set by the moderator are as follows:

<_your rules here_>.
Surprise and Terror! I am greeted by the smooth and hostile face of our old enemy, the Hootmans! No... the Huge-glands, no, I remember, the Hunams!

User avatar
solartrix
Space Floater
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:57 am
Location: San Francisco

#2 Post by solartrix » Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:56 am

Hi All, welcome to the economics tech forum.

As best I understand it, AQ would like us to move beyond pure brainstorming to start putting form and substance to some of the theories and applications that will affect an empire's economy. Only trouble is that these techs haven't really been defined, so we'll have to do some pseudo-brainstorming - i.e., come up with crazy ideas AND flush them out with appropriate game effects.

What's a game effect, you say? Well, just follow your browser to http://www.freeorion.org/index.php?title=Effects and have a looksee.

I don't think anyone around here expects all ideas posted to this forum to be completely flushed out, but please try to include some explanation of how they will affect the game and game objects. My job will be to move the discussions along, keep us on topic, and pull together a list of ready-to-go economics techs that the devs and programmers can use to create a cool game universe.

So, all that said, be creative, have fun, and keep an eye on the game mechanics.

Cheers!

User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

#3 Post by utilae » Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:19 am

What meters do economics techs influence?

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12675
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:38 am

Is this thread intended to generate "isolated" tech names and associated effects, or the general progression / structure of the economics tech tree (if such a concept exists distinct from other categories' trees)?

Also, could we get some sense of what is the desired "style" of techs / theories / applications for this category?

And what is the scope of "Economics"? Where are the dividing lines drawn between "Economics", "Construction" and "Production"? In many senses of the word "economics" is quite heavily linked to production... but since they are distinct categories, it seems to me that a clear distinction should be made between their scopes.

Is that done just be the meter they effect (trade vs. production), or is there a more fluff-based difference in the types of names of theories and such? For example, we could have "Labour Relations" or "Worker Psychology" or "Consumerism" that could impact both "Production" and "Economics", depending where the line is drawn. Anything dealing with general infrastructure is under "Construction", but could arguably have been under "Economics" as well.

In addition to consumerism, labour relations, and worker psychology, do we want "Economics" to include all or some of geopolitics, trade law / disputes, economic forecasting / economic cycles, monetary policy, banking, currency manipulation, mass media, corporate governance, corporate regulation, environmental regulation, contract law, and liability issues?

Most of the above is very capitalism-centric. Do we want to have techs for various economic systems like socialism, communism, gift ecomony, planned economy, corporate colonialism, fuedalism, mixed-economics, green economics, communial cooperation, unorganized economy, or morally-constrained economics (eg. religious restrictions on things like charing interest). What about techs related to ideas from those systems, but not tech that are those systems themselves? So you'd have social safety-net (welfare), corporate economics, or ideas from green or planned economics, rather than the systems themselves?

What about more handwavy or weird sounding stuff like (from SMAC) "Sentient Econometrics" or "Adapative Economics" or "Planetary Economics"?

User avatar
solartrix
Space Floater
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:57 am
Location: San Francisco

#5 Post by solartrix » Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:12 am

This is coming from me, not the heavy hitters, so take it for what it's worth...

@utilae: I think there will be a "cash" or "credit" or even "energy" meter (like SMAC) that will be generated by a tax on something and used to support your empire. So, obviously, econ techs will affect that meter. They could also do other subtle things like give a player more flexibility in managing other resources, or modify an empire's "happiness" rating, or affect your ability to trade resources and/or generate cash from trade. Just some ideas to start with...

@geoff: You raised a lot of questions, most of the answers are yes. :-) Seriously tho, most of what you asked about is fair game. I'll try to hit them point by point in a seperate post.

User avatar
solartrix
Space Floater
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:57 am
Location: San Francisco

#6 Post by solartrix » Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:49 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Is this thread intended to generate "isolated" tech names and associated effects, or the general progression / structure of the economics tech tree (if such a concept exists distinct from other categories' trees)?
I'd say both. To my understanding, both the techs and how the tech tree is organized is pretty open at this point.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Also, could we get some sense of what is the desired "style" of techs / theories / applications for this category?
Can't really help guide you there. I think a style will naturally evolve as we get into things, tho.
Geoff the Medio wrote: And what is the scope of "Economics"? Where are the dividing lines drawn between "Economics", "Construction" and "Production"? In many senses of the word "economics" is quite heavily linked to production... but since they are distinct categories, it seems to me that a clear distinction should be made between their scopes.
See reply to utilae. Essentially, econ techs first affect the "cash" your empire generates for support activities. Second, econ techs can influence other parts of the game such as treaties, trade, waste, corruption, efficiency, etc. There may even be room for econ to have an effect on how a player can distribute resources.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Is that done just be the meter they effect (trade vs. production), or is there a more fluff-based difference in the types of names of theories and such? For example, we could have "Labour Relations" or "Worker Psychology" or "Consumerism" that could impact both "Production" and "Economics", depending where the line is drawn. Anything dealing with general infrastructure is under "Construction", but could arguably have been under "Economics" as well.
Good points. See above.
Geoff the Medio wrote: In addition to consumerism, labour relations, and worker psychology, do we want "Economics" to include all or some of geopolitics, trade law / disputes, economic forecasting / economic cycles, monetary policy, banking, currency manipulation, mass media, corporate governance, corporate regulation, environmental regulation, contract law, and liability issues?
Yep. Wherever we can make the case that it falls into econ. Growth or Production might fight us for the environmental legislation idea, but I think it's ok to have a little overlap at this point.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Most of the above is very capitalism-centric. Do we want to have techs for various economic systems like socialism, communism, gift ecomony, planned economy, corporate colonialism, fuedalism, mixed-economics, green economics, communial cooperation, unorganized economy, or morally-constrained economics (eg. religious restrictions on things like charing interest). What about techs related to ideas from those systems, but not tech that are those systems themselves? So you'd have social safety-net (welfare), corporate economics, or ideas from green or planned economics, rather than the systems themselves?
I'm not sure what the devs have in mind here. If there are various forms of government, then obviously each of these will affect your empire in different ways. Whether certain govs allow or dis-allow certain techs is probably still up in the air.
Geoff the Medio wrote: What about more handwavy or weird sounding stuff like (from SMAC) "Sentient Econometrics" or "Adapative Economics" or "Planetary Economics"?
The more the better. :) How about "xeno-greed theory" which opens up applications for 1) trade franchises in other civilizations (allows players to build trade outpost ships and land trade outposts on alien worlds - each outpost generates X cash per turn per system population) or 2) xeno-filesharing network filters (reduces cash lost to xeno pirating networks by 50%) or 3) xeno-greed motivation (gives your diplomats a +10% on your diplomacy rolls).

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12675
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#7 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:10 am

solartrix wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:Most of the above is very capitalism-centric. Do we want to have techs for various economic systems [...]
I'm not sure what the devs have in mind here. If there are various forms of government, then obviously each of these will affect your empire in different ways. Whether certain govs allow or dis-allow certain techs is probably still up in the air.
I make a distinction between forms of government and economic systems. There is significant overlap between these historically on Earth, but there need not be in FO... My previous suggestions were meant as economics systems... Though perhaps intra-empire politics would be a good sub-topic for the economics category to include? It certainly helps distinguish it from construction/production...
How about "xeno-greed theory" which opens up applications for 1) trade franchises in other civilizations (allows players to build trade outpost ships and land trade outposts on alien worlds - each outpost generates X cash per turn per system population) or 2) xeno-filesharing network filters (reduces cash lost to xeno pirating networks by 50%) or 3) xeno-greed motivation (gives your diplomats a +10% on your diplomacy rolls).
There is no diplomacy in v0.3, and no concept of inter-empire trade, so (1) and (3) may be premature... (I assume this thread is for v0.3 mainly... is that accurate?)

User avatar
General W
Space Krill
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:20 pm
Location: Spokane, Washington

#8 Post by General W » Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:39 pm

Okay, I’m still pretty new here, but I’m excited to help as much as I can.
I hope I can be at least some-what helpful in this category as I work pretty extensively with financial matters. I’ve got a Masters degree in business, work full time as an account, and teach some night classes at Eastern Washington University (mostly marketing).

Anyway – enough tooting my own horn.

The questions has come up about where to draw the line between “Economics” and production and growth etc. Obviously this is difficult because there is a lot of historical overlap between these categories (esp. production).

While plenty of people smarter than myself may certainly disagree, I would suggest that at is not really a “hard science” but is really a social study with measurable outputs. “Economics” doesn’t really produce anything – but it does 2 things:

1) Descriptive: Helps us describe, understand, and better interact with the world
2) Contributive: Can help us do almost anything “faster, better, cheaper.”

As an example of #2 – I would say Henry Ford was a consummate economist. As most people are probably aware, Ford didn’t invent the automobile (the first internal combustion engine was invented in 1465 by some German guys) – However, Henry Ford DID come up with the idea for the Assembly Line and made cars available for the general public for the first time.
The assembly line wasn’t so much an invention (like the car) but it was a way to make automobiles faster, cheaper, and on a much larger scale.
To me, this is the heart of economic contributions… efficiency, scope, and ability.

The descriptive function of economics is a little more nebulous – but very powerful. As we understand more about how economic policy (set by governments, companies, or even market forces) affects human behavior (or alien for that matter) – we can set policies and make decisions that are more advantageous.
Example: As our understanding of how interest rates affect the economy increases (low rates drive increases in home building and general consumption along with reduced savings rates) we can manipulate our interest rates more effectively to produce the desired results in the economy – usually sustainable growth.

I am really trying to avoid an economics lecture here – hopefully I’m being helpful.

Here’s the bottom line of what I suggest for Free Orion “economics” technology –

Econ Techs should generally make it possible for the player to do what they are doing already – but in a faster way, a cheaper way, or a better way. I would suggest advancement come in three categories (subheadings under “Theory” and “Application”)
1) Efficiency
2) Scope
3) Ability
Basically, advances in economic technology would allow the player to do things more efficiently – in greater scope – or even add an expanded array of abilities.

Examples:

Theory: Fractal Distribution Economics
Understand how goods are actually distributed across large empires
- Effect Efficiency: +10% to trade

Application: Fractal Distribution Management
New methods for managing far flung distribution chains”
Effect Ability: Allows rush jobs
(I hope I’m not overstepping myself here – by perhaps rush jobs could be disallowed until the discovery of this tech? Even if not, hopefully I’ve still created a useful example)

Application: Fractal Distribution Supply Chains
“Expanding supply chains beyond previous limitations”
Effect Scope: Allows each world to trade with other very distant worlds. Increase trade revenue. (or enhanced trading post ability?)

Okay – hopefully I’ve done more good than harm!
Let me know if I’m going in the wrong direction!
Still, it cannot be called skill to kill one's fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; by these means one can acquire power but not glory
-- Machiavelli, The Prince

User avatar
pd
Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 1924
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:17 pm
Location: 52°16'N 10°31'E

#9 Post by pd » Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:56 pm

the first internal combustion engine was invented in 1465 by some German guys
yes, even before columbus discovered america, we germans were already driving around in cars ;)

in fact the first internal combustion engine was build about 400 years later.

User avatar
solartrix
Space Floater
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:57 am
Location: San Francisco

#10 Post by solartrix » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:09 pm

@Geoff: Good point about economies not being goverments. Perhaps the game could include both? Also, don't limit yourself to v0.3 techs, instead think about the entire "system" of econ techs, 'cause we can always pull out what doesn't fit in any particular build.

@General: Your direction sounds good to me, I say run with it. We may end up with more or fewer catagories in the end, but don't worry about that right now.

@All, let the ideas flow, both for techs and ways to organize them, we'll shape 'em and fit 'em into a plan as we go.

User avatar
General W
Space Krill
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:20 pm
Location: Spokane, Washington

#11 Post by General W » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:39 pm

@pd
You've busted me on some bad history! What can I say... I'm a business major!

Looked it up on wikipedia ... you're right of course.

However it does look like the Chinese beat even the glorious Germans to internal combustion... by like 2000 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_c ... on#History


@solartrix
My work schedule limits my posting time - but I'll pop in as often as I can with ideas. (I'm also getting married next week, so I'll be gone for a week on my honeymoon. - No, you don't need to send me a gift. thanks though.)
Still, it cannot be called skill to kill one's fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; by these means one can acquire power but not glory
-- Machiavelli, The Prince

User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

#12 Post by utilae » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:39 pm

Some useful 'tools' (variables) for making economic techs:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
CurrentTrade
MaxTrade
CurrentPopulation
MaxPopulation
MoneyProduction
MoneyStockpile
PlanetSize
PlanetType
PlanetEnvironment
CurrentIndustry ?could be useful
MaxIndustry ?could be useful
CurrentMining ?could be useful
MaxMining ?could be useful
MineralStockpile ?could be useful
MineralProduction ?could be useful
IndustryProduction ?could be useful

Other Useful variables:
---------------------------
ObjectType
StarType
PrimaryFocus
SecondaryFocus
Owner
ID

Effects Document:
http://www.freeorion.org/wiki/index.php ... troduction

User avatar
General W
Space Krill
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:20 pm
Location: Spokane, Washington

#13 Post by General W » Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:19 pm

Thanks utilae - I'll try to refrence those variables in my tech ideas.

Had a few more ideas to contribute - hope these spark some other good ideas and/or discussion

Theory: Advanced Reverse-Engineering
“Working backwards into the beginning”
Effect Efficiency: increase current industry 5%

Theory: Xeno-Economics
“Understanding Alien Economies”
Effect Efficiency: increase current trade 15%
OR?
Effect Ability: allow trade with alien empires (perhaps this could be specific to the classes of aliens? – ie Aquatic Xeno-Economics, Gaseous Xeno-Economics, Humanoid Xeno-Economics…. Etc.)

Theory: Xeno Reverse-Engineering (preq. Adv. Reverse Eng. & Xeno-Economics)
“Using Alien products to advance understanding of Alien product needs and desires”
Effect Efficiency: increase current trade 15%

Application: Galactic Xeno Reverse-Engineering Lab (Secret Project/Wonder)
Transform the fruits of trade into scientific advancements”
Effect Efficiency: receive a 50% bonus to researching any tech that an alien trading partner has already discovered.
(I know this is just the tech forum, but I think it’d be pretty cool to have a scaled back Great Library (Civ)/Planetary Datalinks (SMAC) type wonder. The idea being that any empire you currently trade with, you can take the stuff you get from them, and get a leg up on getting the technology that your trading partner already has.)

P.S. my icon is ridiculously large – the image it links from doesn’t display nearly that large – and I sadly lack the technical ability to know what’s wrong. Any help is appreciated! -EDIT: Fixed now... Thanks Power Crazy!
Last edited by General W on Sat Dec 11, 2004 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Still, it cannot be called skill to kill one's fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; by these means one can acquire power but not glory
-- Machiavelli, The Prince

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12675
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#14 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Dec 09, 2004 11:43 pm

General W wrote:...Henry Ford DID come up with the idea for the Assembly Line and made cars available for the general public for the first time.
The assembly line wasn’t so much an invention (like the car) but it was a way to make automobiles faster, cheaper, and on a much larger scale.
To me, this is the heart of economic contributions… efficiency, scope, and ability.
I know every "economist" or "business major" will disagree with me, but this is exactly what we need to not include in the Economics category. To me, this clearly falls under Production.

The problem is that in practice on Earth historically, economics and production are very heavily linked. When learning about economics, you learn a lot about means of production and the effect on the economy of a changes in production techniques and such... enough so that "the economy" and "production" seem inextricably intertwined...

However in FO, we do need to make a clear distinction between "Production" and "Economics". So anything that improves "the economy" by improving "production" may not be appropriate, however hard that might be to accept given what is taught in a business / economics degree...

Things like supply chain management, trade, banking, "economic policy" and various social factors like consumerism are approriate though... so I think that's where we should focus.

The basic effect of Economics techs is supposedly to improve the "trade" meter, which essentially just generate money for the empire. (This meter may need to be renamed.) Various theoretical frameworks can describe how this is supposed to work... I think if it as the money / wealth that is being extracted from an economy of a planet. What *that* means, I'm not sure... It's both a measure of how well the "economy" is doing, and how well the imperial government is set up to extract that wealth for other uses... Presumably this "money" is also something that would be traded to other empires for more tangible goods, or be spendable at any other planet within your empire for some benefit, or perhaps be used to pay your military, and related type things.

That all said, I can see one way in which some production stuff can be fit into Economics without infringing on the Production category. The distinction could be made between production of large imperial-scale works, like starships and wonders, and planet-scale consumer goods. The former would be measured in PP as determined by the industry / production meter, and improved by stuff in the Production category. The latter would be of no "practical" use, other than to improve the "economy" of a planet by some nebulous means that's highly dependent on the psychology of consumerism or related issues.

In order for that distinction to work, we should probably avoid talking about "mass production"-sounding techs in Economics, as they sound very much like Production techs. I'm not sure what they should sound like... but to me, the key thing is to make it clear than the relevant Economics techs improve the ability and ease of making small, practically useless things like toys, movies or snack-cakes, purely for the psychological / motivating effect they have on populations.

I think we can probably find enough handwavey theoretical economics mumbo-jumbo to fill out the category without resorting heavily to techs that improve the ability to make toys though...

Some techs relating to marketing or propeganda might fit, though I suspect there will be another category in which the bulk of those will be located... though some of the offshoots of that category can certainly be relevant to Economics.

User avatar
skdiw
Creative Contributor
Posts: 643
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:17 am

#15 Post by skdiw » Fri Dec 10, 2004 3:02 am

Hey Sol, can you post the scope of econ techs like what objects or meter this cat suppose to influence. Where do we post government techs? because it doesn't fit anywhere else.
:mrgreen:

Post Reply