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Posted: Wed, 12. Sep 18, 23:00
by jlehtone
Timsup2nothin wrote:I got angry. I slaughtered some Xenon.


So, reload. Still angry. Slaughter more Xenon...or maybe the same Xenon...hard to tell.
Memo to Xenon Mainframe: profitss savess chipss.

Memo to Pilot Union: if you go to strike, then the Ancient Ones will break your Gates.

Posted: Thu, 13. Sep 18, 07:20
by Timsup2nothin
I always appreciate it when someone notices the humor buried deep in my walls of text. Thanks jlehtone!

Posted: Mon, 17. Sep 18, 19:48
by Timsup2nothin
Okay, progress report.

From the standpoint of the mineral distribution company, somewhere between none and minimal. I have a Mercury Hauler set to buy at minimum prices from all the mines in Montelaar and shlep the goods to my headquarters east of Legend's Home. He doesn't have a jump drive, so it will be an extended shlep, but since I haven't got anyone to sell the goods anyway I'm in no hurry.

From the standpoint of getting the infrastructure in place things have gone great and there is a sense of completion around Military Fuels Supply Company headquarters. The distribution side is in completely in place, and the supply side is functional for the currently low throughput.

Every Military Outpost in the commonwealth is on the distribution list of a CLS seller who will jump out promptly when they are down to about half their inventory with enough cells to top them up to capacity, even if they sell out while they are waiting. Each race has their own dedicated distributor, so if I get in a scrap with someone it will idle their deliveries without affecting anyone else.

Supply is still being provided by lame CAGs without jump drives, who use the HUB connection to draw from Akheela's as well as Power Circle to Queen's Space and Queen's Harbor to that Teladi sector with the SPPs over there. They aren't very efficient since a lot of their runs to buy at minimum end at a supplier that has already sold to an NPC, but they are okay for current loading. A couple are ready for jump drives and the rest will be pretty soon. Again, there is one CAG for each race, and once the jump drives are installed they will get assigned an appropriate buying region so that a scrap will idle the appropriate one and not impact the others.


I'm pretty pleased with this fuel system. The entire operation will be totally autonomous when it is fully operational.* Having every Military Outpost restocked automatically will provide reliable jump fuel anywhere I need it for anything I want to set up, and the more I use it the more profitable MilFuels will be. That's "fire and forget."

*I think. I'm not sure yet what kind of throughput limit it will have. As long as I restrain myself to using it for jump fuel I wouldn't expect to exceed capacity. Of course the temptation to set up an e-cell supplier for critical fabs using the local Military Outpost as a supplier has to be fended off regularly. I might set something up temporarily just to test the limits of the system once it is completely functional though.

Posted: Wed, 19. Sep 18, 22:54
by Timsup2nothin
Further progress.

My guy shlepping all the way from Montelaar made a couple three runs, or maybe four. Dunno, I was busy. Anyway, I had some inventory to work with but it was obviously going up too slowly to keep up with any sort of distribution. So off I went to the Hatikva's Faith Used Ship Emporium and did some shopping.

They were having a sale on Dolphins, so I picked up a standard Dolphin Tanker and one of those really huge Superfreighter XL things. Set an apprentice Boron to work in the tanker collecting ore from the mines in Rolk's Legacy and parked the giant transfer tank at the trading station.

Then I systematically relieved my MilSec Trading Company of their ore distributing duties so I could reassign the equipment. That operation had a Teladi in a Vulture Hauler doing the buying, importing from Teladi space, and I took him first. He is now running the route from the transfer tank in RL after refueling at the Outpost in Great Trench. Since the Boron had already filled the tank by the time I got him organized he made an immediate impact on inventory.

Distribution in the Military Sector had been handled by a Mercury Hauler, and once their transfer tank and his hold were emptied I moved him as well. Shifted to CAG, he now has the entire region to distribute to, excluding the war sectors, obviously.

He needed jump fuel, so I added a Mercury to the MilFuels operation that runs from the headquarters and sells to the minerals hub, maintaining it at 6000 cells in stock, just for CAG fuel since there's no production.

Ore inventory dropped like, well, a rock. The Vulture, with the out of the way fuel stop, is just too slow, and the laggard running all the way from Montelaar is basically no help.

However, those long runs had gotten him to the point where he could use a jump drive, so I replaced him with a new apprentice and picked him up a good low mileage Mercury Hauler. I noticed that the Vulture had started getting ahead of the Boron filling the transfer tank, so I adjusted the Montelaar buyer and now he only has to drag stuff as far as the transfer tank in RL. The veteran in his new to us Hauler is running a purchase route through the same region we are supplying, using the Outpost in BHS to refuel. Ore inventory is low, but hopefully stabilizing. I'm starting to see some silicon come in as well. When that starts to sell it will slow down the ore consumption.

If this were the usual thing I'd probably just dump in freighters ten at a time and let the chips land as they may. But with an experimental application I'm satisfied moving slowly. My intentions are to expand into new regions by installing a buyer first, to help create a shortage and drive up prices, then install a CAG distributor and move on, backfilling as needed when a single CAG or single buyer proves to be not enough for a region, or when imbalance drives my inventory out of whack.


Speaking of imbalance and inventory out of whack, during the initial fill of the mineral hub the Mercury crashed my inventory at MilFuels, so I'm in the process of shifting the buyers there to jump drives and giving them individual buying zones. Once the initial fill was completed the Mercury slowed down and inventory was recovering, but I'm starting to use fuel from the outposts across the universe so it's time to boost the cap on my throughput.

Overall, this seems to be moving along well enough. Of course, so far there isn't anything "universe wide" about it and I could do what I'm doing so far using no new techniques at all. But there are some critical changes in the structure that will hopefully allow it to reach a higher level of throughput than my previous systems could handle.

We shall see.

Posted: Thu, 20. Sep 18, 11:12
by ConorC
Tim, a question: I've been using a lot of your methods and getting really good results, but I only have maybe 20 - 30 ships moving around different areas trading, the most being in the terran sectors. My question is, how do you keep them all straight in your head?

Posted: Thu, 20. Sep 18, 18:13
by Timsup2nothin
ConorC wrote:Tim, a question: I've been using a lot of your methods and getting really good results, but I only have maybe 20 - 30 ships moving around different areas trading, the most being in the terran sectors. My question is, how do you keep them all straight in your head?
I don't. My head is a very twisted place, and nothing can be kept straight there.

I do keep them straight in my property list though, by using a rigorous system. The key element of that system is recognizing that while a CAG has to have a home base, every ship can have a home base...and that can be used to build a hierarchy structure that is very much like the file tree structure in my computer.

Example from current game:

Early on, while I was still doing the opening plot, I had credits to invest and had picked up a few ships. I wanted the factories in the Argon Military Sector to get with the program and be productive because I knew I would be wanting 25mj shields, HEPTs, CIGs and maybe some other stuff that should be available there but seldom is. So, Milsect Trading Company.

Need a CLS ship distributing e-cells from the local SPP, a buyer bringing in ore, a distributor to sell the ore, a buyer bringing in cahoonas, and a distributor to distribute them. Need a transfer tank for the ore buyer to drop off to, and since there's no trading station for some reason I also need a transfer tank for the cahoonas. So seven ships, minimum.

Since I usually have a "personal fleet" of around a dozen ships and I like to be able to go right to them on my property menu I don't want all these CLS guys cluttering things up. I choose 'NO" for "show ships if homebase assigned" and assign them all to a handy military transport renamed "HQ MilSec Trading Company," and I homebase that to my personal Boa. Conveniently, with a CLS pilot it can also fly around in the MilSector and collect the stuff that I want.

Now, early on all these ships have apprentice pilots and they need a lot of attention, so as I'm in flight I open property, mouse to the Boa and click "owned ships." There's MilSec Trading. At the time it was the only thing there, and the thought that I was wasting a click would cross my mind, but I've learned to be rigorous from the start. Now there are four or five TMs listed there.

Opening the owned ship list for HQ MilSec Trading there's MilSec Energy Distributor Dolphin, MilSec Ore Buyer Vulture Hauler, MilSec Ore Seller Mercury, etc. I name ships "buyer" if they buy and unload to a transfer tank or trading station, and "seller" if they pick up the goods and sell them. If they buy from suppliers and also sell the goods without some sort of relay I name them "distributor." Transfer tanks are named "transfer tank," confusingly enough.

When networks get big I get more TMs to add layers to the structure. Very seldom will opening "owned ships" bring up a list of more than ten to twenty ships.

Things I've learned to establish early:

My Boa owns a TM of some sort named "HQ ScorpCorp Salvage Division." Ships that I'm currently not doing anything with get based to that. As things develop more TMs may get involved to separate "ready" ships from "Equipment Required" and/or "Collector's Items."

It's also kept stocked with shields, has a Disco named "gear locker" aboard with a jump drive, and another one named "Pilot Shuttle" equipped for CLS. It is my MORS (Manually Operated Remote Salvage) ship. When I get a bail I have to do the claiming, but MORS hops in and either loads it on board or sets it up to jump to a shipyard...and gets it off my main property list. I also use it when I want to move an experienced pilot and replace them with an apprentice without disrupting the operation of the ship they trained in. I try to make the TMs I use as file headings at least somewhat useful.

There's also usually a TM with some clever name, in my current game it's Spike's Liquor and Sundries. Spike handles my illegal goods operations, and all the little rum runners, spacefuel buyers, storage tanks where I dump the kind of goods that pirate missions ask for, and other appropriate stuff, are homebased to that.

In most games I have swarms of CLS traders that are what I call the willy-nilly fleet. I buy freighters ten at a time and just throw them on trading routes in some area and leave them to ferment. Sometimes this will involve transfer tanks. Before I buy them I make sure I have a TM available and call it something like "HQ Argon Prime Regional Trading," and the whole laot, tanks and all, gets homebased to that. I might have a handful of such TM's under "HQ ScorpCorp Regional Trading Division."

So, by naming conventions and property list structure I avoid needing to keep things straight in my head. This helps out in a lot of ways besides keeping the property list manageable. When I see a good deal on space fuel I can order Spike's HQ TM to jump and fly there, and when I get the order completed message, since it's from Spike I know more or less what is going on even if I saved the game and a week has gone by.

Hope that helps.

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Thu, 1. Nov 18, 18:35
by ConorC
I've been offline for a while, and was then trying Rebirth (oh boy). I started a new X3TC game the other day, and I'm planning on cornering the market for Cahoonas in Argon space. Thanks for this, your methods will also keep my own head as crooked as it is.

How's the universe wide trade network coming on?

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Sat, 3. Nov 18, 10:55
by Timsup2nothin
ConorC wrote:
Thu, 1. Nov 18, 18:35
I've been offline for a while, and was then trying Rebirth (oh boy). I started a new X3TC game the other day, and I'm planning on cornering the market for Cahoonas in Argon space. Thanks for this, your methods will also keep my own head as crooked as it is.

How's the universe wide trade network coming on?
It's been on a break...I got caught up in a different game for a while. But I am about ready to mount back up.

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Sat, 3. Nov 18, 12:15
by paulhamm
Universe trade networks are really a great way to generate profits from trading. Though making perfect monopolies is tedious to impossible. Creating virtual monopolies is straight forward. As Tim has mentioned making closed loop complexes will really hamper the players ability to control the bulk of the NPC markets. The way I handle this is using open loop complexes. I find them to be far easier to build as you do not need to make them as mega structures. You can just build as you go and they will work. Breaking your complex into sub parts allows you to control the flow of goods. It also allows you to take full advantage of NPC resources. You must always keep in mind that your stuff is more valuable than NPC stuff. People who think what they produce is free will make mistakes that cost profits.

The way I break my complexes up is like this.
Power Only SPPs no other factories, though adding a number of disabled wheat farms is a cheap way to add more storage.
Ore/Silicon (Best place to store ore/silicon is a mine)
Biologics (Bogas, Delaxian Wheat, Chelt meat)
Food (Bofu, Meatsteak, Rastor oil)
Weapon/shield/missile for use (Tempest missile, 2g shield, PPC)
Weapon/shield/missile for sale (Mosquito missile, 1m shield, IRE) Average -1 price for these and just let them rip.
Finished goods (Warheads, cloth rimes, Micro Chips)
Illicit goods (Space fuel, squash mines, Disrupter rifle)

You can of course do some mixing and matching but it is important to keep the resource products separate from the finished/intermediate goods. Doing this allows you to buy and sell resources without having to worry about overloaded storage. Why is storage availability important. Simple, that load of sunrise flowers needs a place to go. Dropping the flowers into your food complex means that you have just stripped that load from the NPC market creating a void. The void allows you to sell a load of sunrise flowers from your farm complex at a higher price than you paid. Making profits.

Use Cag to buy resources from NPC factories and CLS to transfer resources to maintain a minimal stocking/working level. Example time, Your farm produces sunrise flowers and your Food complex produces Nostrop oil. You buy sunrise flowers near minimum price using CAG at your food complex. You use CLS to transfer a minimum stocking level (20-30%) of sunrise flowers from your farm complex to your food complex. You use CAG to sell sunrise flowers to the NPC sunoil refineries from your farm. To make a void in the Teladi food chain you need to build some Teladi factories that produce something you can sell to the NPC at average price -1. You really want to encourage NPC traders to buy finished goods, weapons, shield, and missiles from you. Remember every time an NPC buys finished goods from you at average -1 there is a chance that those goods will be destroyed before reaching there destination. Leaving room to sell more of them. You are out x-1 credits but you can sell more of them. The complex/s you create to sell to traders is what you use to create pressure on the NPC resource generation to make voids that you can then exploit. Over time even just a few factories from each of the races will apply pressure to the economy that will generate voids and increase the value of your resources. The other important use of open loop is that over production, what you want. Is just not an impediment to monopolizing the NPC market.

The biggest problem the NPC market has is transport. NPC traders will happily run long distances even through enemy territory to get the best deals. This means that most of the products that NPC traders move will wined up feeding space flys. I like to setup some early game traders to help stabilize the NPC market. It can collapse if you do not. I tend to play modded so I use EST (Economy Supply Trader) one of the 2 economy mods not included with the bonus pack that work with CLS/CAG. The other is prospector, a smarter auto miner. EST works somewhat like Trade command MK3. Where MK3 is fire and forget, mostly. EST allows for some very nice purpose built traders. I really like the fact I can setup Energy Traders and that is all they do, buy and sell E-Cells to the NPC market. Pilot progression is the same as cls/cag and can be mixed and matched. Higher levels can trade a large variety of of goods. Once they reach jump drive use level they can trade 7 different items. I like using used hauler and faster xl freighters to start. Once I have the cash I transition to Mystral SPXL, Caiman Hauler, and Chokaro.

Once you have the NPC market stabilized it is time to build the for sale goods. These will pay for themselves quickly and make those nice voids in the market. Then I move to farms and mines giving you plenty of resources. Then head into food and illicits. Once you have the NPC market humming you can start buying the equipment you need to outfit your ships. The hub set to buy finished goods can really do a nice job of getting you the weapons, shields, and missiles you need. One of the issues I have with the plain Jane game is that there is no good tracking for price and availability of goods over time. The best I have found is to spot check pricing. This is a very tedious job so check out the universal best buy/sell script that will give you an idea of what the market price for individual goods is. The time to start building spps is when you see that the price for e-cells is pushing toward 14 counters each.

Remember the greatest part of the X3 games is "Your game your way." This is just the basics you can get very refined in how you want to set things up.

Have a great one.

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Wed, 7. Nov 18, 13:14
by zazie
Excellent post, thank you! It reflects most of my experience; I play on a similar approach.

I would only add as a hint that the player should influence GOD as much as possible in early game by placing cheap M5-ships at those NPC-stations vital for your later game, as specialized weapon- or shield-fabs.

In addition I would like to emphasize that selling EC to NPC-stations helps preventing the AI-economy to collapse. Of course there is an overproduction of EC in the Universe but in Vanilla-game the NPC traders will not succeed in bringing in enough EC to the AI-economy/the NPC-stations. I therefore even place some SPP (mostly L-variant) in sectors that are more than one (1) sector away from the closest NPC-SPP. Those SPPs are not meant to make (fast) profits (I call them "Keynes Corporation SPP n" :mrgreen:) - but they will be profitable on long terms.
That is not much different from paulhamm's approach; but in my experience it is worth for the player to invest early in an EC-NPC-supply-network.

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Wed, 7. Nov 18, 22:38
by jlehtone
zazie wrote:
Wed, 7. Nov 18, 13:14
I therefore even place some SPP (mostly L-variant) in sectors that are more than one (1) sector away from the closest NPC-SPP.
Crystals supply? Depend on CAG, trap like Tim, or player Fabs?

I've happily supplied SPP's to paying customers, but those player-built NPC stations use primary resources and -- as you said -- depend on NPC Traders.

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Thu, 8. Nov 18, 17:25
by zazie
In my Vanilla-games I applied a mix of Crystal-distribution by CLS2 supplied by player-own production* and buying NPC-products. Buying at the AI can work (in my experience) if there are at least 2 NPC-Crystal Fabs within a range of 2 sectors and if I offer a price higher than average (higher: ~15% or more). In other words: no rules fixed.
GOD rarely builds more Crystal fabs; I have absolutely no idea how to read those parameters out of the code. My guess is that the random factor for building Crystal fabs is 50% maximum compared to 100% for SPPs or 150% for "Biologics" (as paulhamm named it).

* I think I have started my approach after finishing the "Hub"-plot for the first time. I had a huge overproduction of crystals and was searching for 'intelligent' investment. I had some of the SPPs before, though. But with the crystal-overproduction I could supply a lot of SPPs - and then I saw that this helped to re-establish the AI-economy even in those sectors where NPC-stations had vanished in relevant numbers and the local economy was almost 'dead'..

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Fri, 9. Nov 18, 11:44
by ConorC
OMG I'm such an idiot sometimes.

For the last 2 days I was setting up a small network to corner the ore market around Siezewell, there's only 7 ore mines in the area so it should be easy right? It would be if somebody wasn't an idiot. It just wasn't working. The sellers weren't selling even though the price was right. I re-did the way points, I restarted the CLS commands, I swapped out pilots I did everything I could think of but the just refused to sell. They would sit in my ore hub station on standby for 2 days.

I finally figured it out last night, and this is a real kicker. I never gave them the command to load ore. "DOH!!!!"

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Fri, 9. Nov 18, 12:10
by Alan Phipps
@ ConorC: Heh that's a good one, but I'm sure it seems an understandable error to make to most X vets! :lol:

"Hey Ms NPC Station Manageress, I'm offering self-storage space. I'll park my ships temporarily at your station and you can use the empty cargobays to store any surpluses you might have for a short time until one of my ships undocks. I guarantee that another of mine will be arriving empty at your station soon after that. It's only 0.01 Cr rental per cubic metre of cargobay space per ship docking. As a side-benefit, my ships will keep GoD from taking any interest in removing your station! Are you interested in a deal?"

Re: The universe wide trade network

Posted: Fri, 9. Nov 18, 12:18
by ConorC
It's not the first time I've set up a Tim style trade network, hell it's not even the first time in my current game :?