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Money Update: Down with Statism!
#1
I find the way money works in Hazeron slightly confusing. If you want to load lots of electronic parts onto your ship and transport them, you have to pay for them. If you want to load them onto imaginary ships and ship them via broker, you don't. If you want to put metal in your cargo, you have to pay for it. If you want to use metal to build your cargo bay, you don't. I've had some very rough thoughts on how to improve things.

Mortius recently suggested increasing ship material costs, to scale with new cities. Without judging that question yet, I wonder if the best ships could be made more valuable and sought-after by eliminating the government's 100% discount, in all cases where it exists. No more statism, no more governmental highway robbery! Those millions of materials, even at the current shipbuilding costs, are worth a vast amount of money. 

Changes would work like this. Existing shipments and perhaps old-style cities should just be exempted, otherwise it gets too complicated to rebalance your shipments etc.
  • Each city has State Resources. This is a special area on the city report, and a value true or false for every individual commodity. A State Resource is any commodity which has arrived by broker or been given to the city by a Fleet ship. Fleet ships can no longer sell directly to the citizen account, unless they are donating things (say, stone for a new city)
  • Broker Shipments Cost Cash. When you send materials via broker, the government account pays for them.When they arrive, they enter the State Resources. This eliminates a weird situation where you can essentially steal vast quantities of things you'd ordinarily have to pay for, hide them away in a government warehouse and remove them permanently from civilian circulation without ever having to pay a penny; juts by sending them somewhere else. Governments cannot usually do this without some kind of compulsory purchase order, which still costs money.
  • Civilians pay for State Resources. When a commodity is fetched from the State Resources, the civilian bank account pays for it at market price. The government is thus remunerated for moving materials, just as a merchant is: only if they are needed. If you ship electronics to a computer factory, you won't lose money. If you ship them to a warehouse where you hold them against emergencies, it costs you to do so. Certain resources can be made available free, to help you jump start a colony or let it fetch food and air even when it is bankrupt. You can control this from some tab, which might give you same sort of options the "sell" tab does now (e.g., required minimum price).
  • State to State Shipments are free. Self-explanatory. You don't have to pay to ship something you already own, since it's out of circulation. Brokers attempt to fetch shipments from State Resources before buying things from elsewhere.
  • Cities have reserve levels in the government account. A city can be set a reserve level of cash. It doesn't ship this cash to its sector or empire capital, but holds it back to pay for shipments and other necessities - the flat "send on half your cash" is abolished. At midnight, if the account is below its reserve, the Empire Capital Bank attempts to refill it, so money flows down as well as up. Thus, the reserve level should be enough to pay for one day's expenses. You need the "can set reserve account level" authority to control this, which the Emperor may wish to withhold from local governors, managing the budget centrally. This system is more flexible than the flat half we have now, and gives the central government more control over the provinces.
  • Ship parts are bought. For repairs and construction on Fleet ships, the government account pays for things used by shipyards. It's never been entirely clear why this has been free in the past. If the parts are fetched from State Resources, they are already paid for and you don't have to pay twice.
  • Ships and military bases have a maintenance cost. This is a flat cost, deducted from the government account. Ships can be assigned a parent city, like avatars. Instead of the confusing old "hail to pay wages" system, the cost is just added to the city's periodic budget. When a ship or base is unpaid, the officer releases the con, base buildings begin to decay. They go back to normal when payment resumes (with arrears or not?). Ships could pay their own costs to keep running in emergencies - and you can still complete orders manually.
  • Colony Cost: Cities have a maintenance cost, depending on their population, to represent the salaries of administrators, roadworks, repairs, local government work in general. This cost is quite steep for small populations, since setting up a city and connecting its services is expensive. It flattens off a lot at higher populations, when economies of scale become viable. When the cost is not met, citizens begin to leave and decay sits in. Empires with only one system/planet (whatever) are exempt (?). Together with the account reserve, this allows Emperors to control how powerful their subordinates can grow - unless ambitious border governors want to engage in covert smuggling on the side (Foundation stuff!), or are permitted free enterprise in a more liberal empire. 

This may not be perfectly worked out - far from it - but in principle it is more realistic. One major problem is that more resources would need to be consumed, in order to create a sustainable economy. Right now, everything ends up being hoarded sooner or later, at the end of its chain. More things that people use and which need replacing would have to be added (Victoria 2's "consumer goods"). But, in the end, money would be concrete and meaningful, rather than nebulous and confusing, as it is now. 

Some possible advantages:

-An Empire Budget screen collating payments in and out across your empire and for each area would, with this system, make it very easy to keep track of you empire's performance in broad terms. It would provide a simple unified metric that you could tally over time and compare to other empires; you could also compare between your constituent provinces or vassals.

-Financial gameplay. Loans, interests, budgets, private corporations and international deals would all have their place. Rich individuals would have power in their own right, even when not part of the government, or when dealing with a foreign government.

-Trade, now much neglected: particularly from young empires which need a cash boost to expand, even when they are resource rich. Older empires, under this system, will also have more need to dump their resources somewhere and keep production flowing, to make cash. Friendly links developed early in the game would be the roots for more interaction among established powers.

-Extremely useful in managing large, multi-player empires. If you want to control a local governor's expenditure, right now you have to set them a budget of not only cash, but all other resources as well, and they have to keep complex accounts to stick to this budget. With this system, you could set a cash budget for your entire empire and each part, and know that this translated to an appropriate amount of materials. Just check the local budget screen to see how the governor is doing.

-As well as giving money more use, the system would help eliminate some major exploits for generating money (though not for company ships, yet). You can't sell preons infinitely to a city, since they are not paid for when they leave your ship, but when they enter the production chain. You can't get rid of them by brokering them somewhere full (so they get jettisoned), since the broker has to pay for them, and if you turn them into rings, those rings still have to be got rid of somehow. Since they have no production use, you're unlikely to get paid for them, even if you ship them elsewhere. To balance this, more products which actually get consumed should perhaps be implemented. Things like computers or power armour should actually be bought by the civilian population and periodically need replacement - otherwise everything stagnates at the top and you can't make any more money.

It would still have some oddities, but those are inherent in the game. In this game there is no private enterprise: you define every aspect of citizen lives, and yet they have their own bank accounts and materials which they own, outside government control. This doesn't entirely fix the strange situations that creates, but I think it's a step in the right direction. Thoughts?
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#2
As a reference for ship maintenance:

The German Navy, by my calculation, was worth 797 million Reichmarks in overall shipbuilding costs, in the year 1898. In the same year, the Reichstag voted 5 million marks annually for maintenance (I chose the German Navy because it only came into existence a few years earlier; thus its assets are simpler to calculate).

A Hazeron year is 13 days. The German Navy's maintenance, in Hazeron terms, equates to 0.0005% of nominal building cost per real day. At this cost, a typical max-volume ship would cost about ¢9,500,000 per day to operate. For reference, my empire, which is not even slightly optimized to create cash, takes about ¢58 million per day in tax (20% income rate), excluding trade, harvester and other income. Perhaps this would be a starting point for discussion, remembering that other new costs are coming into play at the same time. (It is probably a bit too high? Not sure. These ships should be rare). 

This does also suggest that a 1:1 cost for purchasing parts may be too high (maybe, maybe not), though if a clever empire, mid-sized as I currently am, manipulated prices, purchased in the right places, optimized taxes, conducted trade and harvesting and generally ran a good economy, they might be able to purchase a handful of very large ships per real year and operate perhaps between one and two dozen? That would be roughly on a par with most second-rank navies of our own world. If you needed to build a lot quickly in wartime, you might have to take a loan. Certain banks might get very rich on conflict, even provoke it...

It should be possible to sell retired ships for a reasonable lump of their cost. High purchase costs but short build times, together with a refund on scrapping a ship, would then allow players to experiment with prototypes and play with their new toys quickly, without being able to spam infinite numbers of them. Possibly a good dynamic and another balance issue helped.

This could conceivably help ease officer strain too, since there is no point having officers you can't pay for.
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#3
I can agree with the need for increasing the value for money. However, many of these ideas are (in my opinion) either non-viable or would be an absolute pain to set up. For example, consider a city on a 1800 meter diameter gas giant that is meant to ship Q255 adamantine. If they had to pay for it, or the city required some form of maintenance cost above and beyond that which already exists, there would be no viable way to ship that adamantine anywhere. I am a fan of the way city finances currently work, since they don't take an inordinate amount of effort to set up the finances for a simple transfer of resources, either by broker or by selling to the city.

After some consideration, I think the strong point of this thread is the ship maintenance cost. This is a simple, easily understood way to add a cost other than the initial construction to maintaining a fleet. As long as a ship can fetch government funds directly from the empire's capital city to pay the salaries of the crew onboard (to keep the system streamlined), I think this would add an entire new and important use for money, which is only barely used now for purchasing colony materials and research. I'd definitely support adding a maintenance cost to ships due to it being relatively straightforward and making money worth something.
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#4
I agree that spacecraft maintance cost would be interesting, could work a limit to the number of deathstars a given empire can field at a time.
It would however require some thought, since who owns a spacecraft? The empire whom flag it is under? What if a non-emperor avatar makes a bunch of spacecraft and field them all with crew? Should the empire pay for them all? What if the empire can't maintain them all?

Maybe "Fleet Ships" should be made more exclusive like that, add a permission to make and crew fleet ships. Then force players of an empire without that permission to use "Company Ships" that they themselves have to maintain.



I have already suggested once before that bases should cost money, so you need cities to support your military bases. There is however the same question again, who pays for a base if the emperor didn't make it?

There are also the issues of a base being kinda important to make if you want to maintain control over a world. Not having a base is almost a neon sign saying "take my city!"
So how would a non-emperor make a colony and then protect it with a base, while at the same time not be able to bankrupt the empire?

One idea would be to make base maintenance have to be paid from the same system that has the base. That would limit the ability to drain the empire capital, but then what would happen to systems with only a base and no city? Or colonies that don't have money?
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