Demand/Production/Stock price dilemma, and Smuggling issues - Save the Merchants!

Hey pilots. I was thinking for a while about how galactic economy works. I was first playing E: D with (don't laugh) Spice and Wolf in mind – a story about two smart people using their wit to turn in some tasty profit. So I did cargo runs, and deliveries, and smuggling, tried piracy (heh) and kept an eye out for opportunities like wars, outbreaks. And HEY. It just doesn't work like I think it should. Some things seem underdeveloped and some completely broken.

Stuff that upsets me:

  1. Non-flexible prices
  2. Smuggling is not a thing
  3. Stations far away from arrival point don't make up for it enough (if at all)
  4. Stations like terraforming and service have unreasonable prices
  5. Commodity list is not full and lacks quality tags.
Here are some of my thoughts:

First of all – general price issue. Have you noticed that when station runs out of commodity, the price won't go up enough to notice. So, like, say there's a Community Goal, and local markets in radius of 30LY run out of precious metals real fast. Normal merchants will rise the price us much as they can without significantly reducing customer interest. So why didn't palladium cost over 20k per canister when there was none around LHS3447 during the new station construction? First of all, the constructors didn't pay as much, so there would be a loss in that case. But why didn't it go up at all? Logic says they would increase price 'till their production rate catches up with commodity purchase rate by reducing the latter ('cause it's easier to change price tag rather than expanding your production powers – at least in short terms).

Also, there're different states like boom, war e.t.c. They should dramatically affect prices (especially wars), because they create extra urgent demands for goods and money. Sure, they create extra missions for the stuff needed, but why pay more to hire freelancers when you can pay less to passerby merchants by making your prices sweeter. Also, they can do both. If goods are needed they can make commodity-seeking missions on their stations and regular delivery missions on their usual (see 'imported from' info) trade partner's stations (assuming arrangements are being made) AND increase buy price on those goods. If they need money or have too high production rates, they can arrange delivery missions AND reduce price on that specific good. Imagine the situation: a person buys 300 consumer technology. He pays you 300k credits less than usual because you've reduced the price, but do you remeber how much a 300 cargo delivery mission costs? More than 1,000,000 credits.

That war is quite resourse-hungry is no secret. That hunger must be sated asap, and thas arouses the hunger for money. So what this state should do is increase import price on war-related stuff (weaponry, medicine, food, fuel and so on) and reduce sell price on everything else. Yes, their export commodity stockpile will grow thin, but war only lasts week so that's a small sacrifice to offer.

Above all that, I don't understand at all why some goods never cost much more than they usually do. Like, why won't all merchants load themselves with consumer tech, tobacco, palladium and such and completely ignore all the cheaper goods. That is logical – those pay more for each cargo place than cheap ones. Yes, some people can't afford that, but most can. What should happen then? Price on those cheaper goods will fall even lower for export and go skyhigh for import. If nobody imports water, it may eventually cost more than palladium because of unmet demand. And then – why carry around palladium if water turns in more profit than palladium costs – and with much lower risks - because green stations give it out almost for free. Sounds weird, huh? But it's actually how it should work. If, compared to local markets (not the non-relevant galactic average), your import price for a specific good sucks, you're not just going to get less of it – you're not going to get any at all.
The more expensive commodity, the higher risk (potential setback if it's lost or brings loss). So it's only natural that they yield more profit. But what I see is quite pitiful – cheap goods don't pay at all in comparison. Not even NPCs should want to carry those around because it's just that sad.

What I'm trying to say here, is that prices should be a lot more responsive to stock\production\demand numbers, as well as faction ongoing states.

That being said, I should mention that all terraforming and service stations I've seen never sold anything useful nor they had at least reasonable prices for imported goods. They were just too low. Sure, they could have contracts for import of all the needed goods at a specified price which differs greatly from the present, but I don't believe that. As I see it, they shall soon perish of hunger because they had no import at all. That, or they adjust their price to interest merchants with something other than waste of time, given that they produce nothing to sell on the market (which means prices must not just be profitable, but yield double profits for the time wasted on the empty run back to normal stations).

Speaking of which. The waste of time. That is what far away (from arrival star) stations are. Their prices are common, and therefore unreasonably low. Time costs, and if there's a market with easier access (two more jumps and still 15 minutes less of boring flight) and same prices, then which would you prefer? So will do every sane merchant. That's why their prices should be waaaay better. See that as delivery payment.

Alright, we have numbers 1, 3 and 4 covered. (though I should admit I did little to none research in the area, all the asumptions are made on my game experience, economy knowledge and common sence)

Now about the most broken part – Smuggling.

Long story short – it's not working correctly at all. Neither missions nor trading.

Missons now are generally safer (no fines on cargo loss) and more profitable variation of usual deliveries. In fact, they pay so much it's always more than potential scan fine. It'd be another story if smuggling punishments were more severe and cargo type sensitive, but I'm not going to write about it now because the other cap got that one covered.

As for the trading with black markets – they never pay enough. I can understand why stolen goods sell cheap, but I definitely don't get why prohibited are always so cheap (it's much easier and profitable to sell them somewhere they are legal). Like, sometimes there's no demand on stuff like landmines and such. But narcotics? Remember what no alcohol law did to USA: even the cheapest bootleg booze was quite expensive, because the "white" market could not offer any at all (personally I think that was the main reason for the law). Stuff becoming illegal means smaller demand than usual but also a very, very little offer (because of risk and/or regulations). So if something is prohibited but demanded, the price will go sky high. Not rock bottom. My suggestions are:

Redo the black markets so they pay reasonably for all the trouble with law.

I think it's necesary for black markets to always show demand on illegal goods (which station needs) with much higher prices than they are now. Demand might be small and price VERY demand sensitive, but it'd be much more interesting and immersive than what we can see now.

The last thing is about variety of goods (like parts for ship modules being put into a canister (just imagine – a canister of FSD cells)) and quality classification for current types. I want to say more about the latter.

Stuff which is called Liquor costs the same wherever it's from. It implies that it's exactly the same quality as any other. However, there're rare goods. If something is a rare good, it defies any logic aside from distance from it's home. That just doesn't seem right, but we can just assume there're standarts for everything and everyone produces nothing bad. Okay.

I can't say I'm quite finished here, but I wanted to share my opinion and am too lazy to continue doing so without any response. I hope this"article" gets through to somebody interested in making our galaxy a better place.

Fair prices for everyone! [money]
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I too would like smuggling to be a bigger deal. More risk. More engagement also. As there's no ranking for this activity it's hard to play it as a role. Perhaps we could gain some recognition and notoriety through the mission system. Which brings me onto the next thought you triggered in me ol' noggin.

Missions are essentially contracts right? So why don't they feel like it? Why can't you negotiate on them? What about longer term contracts instead of just one off deliveries?

What about missions that are designed to get you helping an NPC to shift his produce into different markets. Turn the trader into a travelling salesman and gain commission to reward you going the extra light-year to find new markets.

How about winning a contract with a faction where you agree to fulfill x number of missions for them and in return they part finance a new ship (in their colours) for you. Cue the fleet of faction pledged T9s filling up the spaceways. Flip that over and you get to fly a souped-up police viper for a week catching criminals across their territories.

Apologies I digress. For me I'd simply like a bit more traction in the galaxy and more improvement in the fantasy-realism department. First off the bat; make it appear that black markets are hidden from the view of the local constabulary.

How about black markets being renamed into Smelly Pepe's Pawn Shop? You mean that, right? xD
Ha ha yes! Something like that. It always twanged my "immersion" when the black market was on the same page of the station services as the police communication page. Especially when on Frontier Elite II you sometimes got nabbed by the police for dabbling in nefarious activities.

I used to wonder if it would be possible for the black market page to be a bit more hidden. Like having it as an icon randomly placed on the bulletin board or tied to a specific NPC style of name. So Smelly Pepe's Pawn Shop sounds as good as any place to pick up those lucrative tax free contracts :D
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