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Automated corporate economy
Industrial robots, delivery trucks, sec guards!

Sorry in advance for the long post, I hope it makes for a worthwhile read and justed wanted to get some things off my chest.

So RE: making the corporate experience a genuinely fun and immersing one, I�ve come up with some ideas to help reduce the day-to-day burden of GMs and yet keep individual players busy:

1 )   Vehicles moving from location to location, delivering packages between offices, high-tech research materials, experimental chemical compounds, office supplies, whatever. This would be automated, but could result in tons of RP. You could have armoured cars delivering large quantities of cash to banks on an automated but difficult to guess schedule to make it harder for potential criminals. Players could act as guards watching over as goods as they are brought from the street into the office buildings and laboratories, in addition to automated security in the form of judges, etc., to seriously discourage even the most hardened criminals. From what I�ve seen it would appear that this kind of implementation wouldn�t be a far stretch for the current coded systems. The system might open itself up to abuse but players capable doing a heist would be experienced enough to know how to police themselves, and security can always be beefed up and contributed to by GMs. Security would obviously depend on the type of thing being delivered. Additionally, you could have players driving corporate vehicles between locations in a more advanced Withmore Wholesalers type set up.

2 )    Factories and robots. Yes, everything in the year 2090 is automated and the human element is minimal, but let�s not overdo this aspect of the game. We still have auto mechanics, we still have people working at the counter of the local coffee shop, not everything is automated. A factory on Gold would be completed automated, of course, with a production line and robot arms, etc. moving in and doing all the work right down to the most detailed levels testing and tweaking. The activity in a factory room would be displayed by a steady, constant scroll of messages describing the workings of robotic arms, etc., with several of the objects being produced appearing and disappearing from the room as they move along the conveyer belt. These industrial robots have multiple capabilities (e.g. they can produce multiple types of automobiles at an automobile factory, multiple types of optical products at an optics company), all automated. My point here is that there is a place for corpie players in the form of mechanics and engineers. The player job would be based on the electro tech and systems skills. Jobs would include �fixing� defective robots, updating control software, monthly maintenance checks and diagnostic analysis. This could also be implemented on Red in the vein of SHI, but with obvious differences: work is a lot more dangerous, involving raw industrial processes like metallurgy or toxic chemicals or something, with there being a very high risk of industrial accidents and injury to players, whereas on Gold it would primarily be assembly of advanced electronics. So toxic chemical, heavy industrial, and other nasty work for Red factory robots, and sterile, precision electronics, cybernetics production for Gold factory robots. Robots would not all have to be industrial, of course, and it would be along similar lines that you have agricultural robots working in greenhouse like environments, that would also require looking after and maintenance work. So in short, robot engineers.

3   )     Further to this, the corpie economy is obviously not completely self-sufficient. I imagine internal agriculture and industrial production makes the Dome almost self-sufficient, but that doesn�t eliminate the need for import and export with other economies in other countries and other parts of the world. Where do the raw materials come from? Where do the massive quantities of steel, polymers, and raw chemical compounds come from? Where does all the food to feed millions of people come from? I�d imagine very long distance import to a large degree, unless there are mining operations and huge greenhouses nearby Withmore or something. In order for the factories to run, you need raw materials. Goods would be transported via massive transport shuttle systems from all over the globe, and while the actual job of piloting a transport shuttle shipping goods to and from a foreign location is far fetched at this stage, an automated, �one-sided view� of the process, involving operating perhaps robots that move palettes and massive shipping crates from docked shuttles to trucks or something , would keep players busy. Security guards could also overview similar automated processes, like the first idea of security guards watching deliveries to office buildings.

So these are long descriptions, but to put it concisely 1) Automated delivery vehicles moving between corps requiring security and supervision, 2) Perhaps player driven corporate vehicles delivering packages of various types for particular companies, even perhaps large scale trucks delivering raw materials to factories, 3) factories with industrial robots and production lines that require player interaction in the form of mechanics and engineers, and 4) import/export control, involving in a similar vein security guards, the movement of goods to and from transport shuttles to waiting trucks or street-based transport vehicles for shipment to the above mentioned factories.

These are far flung ideas, but how else can you immerse players in the corporate experience without these kinds of activities? Factories I think are a good idea and the possibilities extending from them are numerous. This seems to imply the need for an entire goods based economy, but the basic structure is there on the �small level� in the form of our buying and selling stuff on the street in Red and shopping at stores and so on. Think of the RP! A ViriiSoma transport shuttle containing tons of various chemical compounds lands at the shipping port only to be attacked by a team from a criminal cartel on Red. The security guards and WJF put up a good fight, but are defeated and the thieves make off with a crate of raw chemicals, hijacking the company delivery truck. The poor thieves make it down to Red, where they ditch and burn the truck, open up the crate where they find to their dismay that, instead of extremely expensive Hemostax patches, they�ve got a ton of a strange, glowing, radioactive powder that they don�t know what to do with. They try and get rid of the product by going to various clinics and approach a pharmaceutical company�

(Edited by BuddhaBrand at 11:00 pm on Mar. 15, 2005)

(Edited by BuddhaBrand at 11:53 pm on Mar. 15, 2005)

1) GOLD is like the down-town section of a city. Full of lovely office towers, and shopping districts, and even, in some cases on the fringes of a downtown area, highrise appartments.

One almost NEVER sees a FACTORY stuck in the middle of a downtown commercial core.

Corpies want to see glittering skyscrappers, not gritty smoke stacks.

2) No economy on our game is 'Self Sufficiant'. It is impossible to be self sufficiant due to player base size. It is all controlled and fed by GMs who dump money into the game through IC channels and remove money from the game via IC channels.

3) There is no space within the dome for internal agriculture. All food stuffs are imported and/or produced in aquafarms and agridomes owned by the corporate council and various corporations. These food production facilities are outside of Withmore City, some are scattered (theoretically) about the badlands, but most would be some distance off in more fertile areas. Why do you think a serving of vat grown sushi is so expensive?

4) If you take a look at the current resource use trend in contemporary society, the planet Earth will be largely depleated of easily attainable raw resources in a relatively short time. So where do global societies of our game timeline get raw materials?

� Less accessable, and more costly terrestrial locations
� recycling
� Near-Earth sources, ie: The Moon
� Distant sources, ie: Mars, Asteriods

Note how those are ordered. Terrestrial sources are still primary, and the further out one goes from the Terran soil the less common that source would be. All these are moved in and out of the dome via the NeoTrans Shuttle port, of which the players only see the 'Commercial' side of, not the Industrial.

The idea of a loading-dock employee is an interesting one, but at best that is not a 'corporate' job. That is not a 'corpie'. That is work that mixers would be employed to do most likely.

5) Large automated systems seem like a good idea. But they have some serious draw backs. Mainly, they take hundreds of man hours to impliment. So in building them, you would have even LESS GM activity, as all the GM staff would be building systems rather than GMing. ON top of that, they are sterile. Un-entertaining. Boring.

The Gms are trying to make corporate life more interesting. But to do that we need a critical mass of players as corporate characters. That has by no means been met. Is being a corpie at this time dull? Probably. But, guess what, 4 years ago when I was still a player being a mixer was dull as well a lot of the time.

I belive the key to making corporate life, and by extension mixer life, more interesting is to do more corporate level plots and activity. We are trying to engage this area of the game more. I do apologise to characters who have had boring lives lately. Thanks for the comments Buddhabrand.

Thanks for the good and helpful response.

Hrm, yes, I didn't really mean for the 'factories' to just be straight off the street, I mean, that would be really stupid, heh..maybe set back a significant ways..just 'gold level'.... 'self-sufficient' wasn't what I was trying to get at entirely, I mean, factories could just be treated as different entrance points into the game for goods just like the current ones. The messages could just be token messages you know, unless something happened that would merit GM intervention...    

Anyway yeah, I agree, too much automation would be boring.. I'm just thinking about '24-hour-on-for-insomniacs' and the 'faceless machine' kind of stuff.

I still like the idea of armored cars running on a pre-established (but hard to guess) schedule, delivering lump sums of cash, bonds, blank cred chips, whatever, heh.

Boring? Yeah, it's boring for a while.. then all of a sudden, something happens that reminds "'you' just how precarious 'your life' is" heh...I doubt 21st century corps. are going to be digging the 'life-long employment' model.  

But yeah.. anyway... industrial robots are cool...massive bank heists are cool....and er shipping containers containing raw materials and sometimes a batch of illegal aliens are also cool... trading companies are cool too... O.k.

2) No economy on our game is 'Self Sufficiant'. It is impossible to be self sufficiant due to player base size. It is all controlled and fed by GMs who dump money into the game through IC channels and remove money from the game via IC channels.

With utmost respect to everything that's been said in this thread, I disagree that it's absolutely impossible for our economy to be self sufficient.  It's definitely not an easy task to accomplish but it's a necessary one.  I think it should be a high priority for players to think of ways to give their characters work.

In my unprofessional opinion a good virtual economy is an oversimplified real world economy so I organized my points loosely around an economics book.  These points are meant to facilitate others to come up with their own ideas of changes in the game that would create player to player trade without the involvement of GMs.

1) People have needs, the economy feeds those needs. In sindome the majority of our needs come from a characters motive to perform an action that requires gear or supplies to carry out the action. The actual necessities (which your character can survive without) are monopolized by NPCs (housing, transportation, food) Player utility companies might not be a good idea but allowing players to dip into a market with high necessity just might be the easiest way to foster player to player trade.

2) The value of objects come from the utility they could serve to an individual and from it's scarcity (supply and demand).  People only need something if they don't have it already, therefore the good and service must be scarce to carry value. This shouldn't be too hard to implement with a small player base!

3) Consumer goods and Capital goods.  Not only do consumers needs goods to purchase, but entrepreneurs need capital goods to produce consumer goods.  Those off world resource bases on mars and the moon provide the raw materials needed to to produce your consumer goods.  Those bullets you're shooting into that Mixer down the block just might have started life as a chunk of rock extracted from a passing asteroid.

4) The circular flow of economic activity enforces interdependence between individuals and businesses.  This is the real kicker.  Businesses spend money in the factor market (wages, equipment).  Individuals spend money paying for products. Abstractly, the money is traveling in a circle being passed back and forth providing motivation for production and consumption both of which mean higher quality of life.  The individual performs a specialized job, is compensated for it, and uses their compensation to fulfill their needs.

What it comes down to is players are going to need to be producers -AND- consumers.  Rewards should come from performing either or both of these actions.  Consequences should likewise follow neglect.  Some of the rewards in game so far are stats modification, money, and gear to protect yourself.  The consequences right now aren't too strong, it's not like you'll die from lack of nutrition, but the more opportunities you miss, the more you leave for your enemies.  With a healthy game economy, an active player who is dutifully trading with other players should be able to overcome against any other character that cubesits.  So how do we get more producers and consumers?  The only solution I can think of isn't coding but GM intervention.  From my perspective the economic 'problem' is we have more jobs that need work than we have players.  We have a lack of human capital.  The solution is to flood the markets with skillsofts and sockets.  Pop those suckers in a new player (RPed of course) and the guy will probably stick around and fulfill those empty niches.  I don't care if everybody gets one but me.  It's not that I want to get rich fast, it's that I want to CONSUME!  I'm hungry for spending money on my fellow players!  I want to see people mass producing goods and undercutting NPC store rates and I want to see multiple people able to provide me with a service so I don't feel threatened to use an NPC when the PC that could do it wants to kill me.

We also need to understand there are things we can do as players to make the economy tick.  The goal is to increase player-to-player trade of goods and services.  If you have goods you don't need, try to get rid of them.  If you have skills other players don't have, try to sell your services.  In addition to the supply side of the economy we have the consumers.  Each of your characters IS or SHOULD BE a consumer.  If you need a vehicle fixed, search out a PC to fix it.  Need a doctor? Go to the PC!  Not on drugs? Get on drugs!  Anything to keep the money going from player to player.  It's a small community so some differences may need to be overcome (within reason, we don't want everybody to make permanent friends out of their enemies). In some situations you can hire a player to act as a liaison. It's not going to make things perfect and you may still have IC reasons for going to an NPC rather than a PC but if you do your part and become a consumer the game will seem livelier than ever.

Note: I wrote this for the fun of it. Don't take me too seriously.

I really like the idea of armored cars, automated coruiers, and similar type activities being around on GOLD.   I think any opportunity to commit a profitable crime in game with minimal GM help is wonderful.  I have thought about major crimes for a long time, but most require players that are excited about doing them, which I've seen a bit of a lack of lately, also long, drawn out, heavily gm involved planning.  While thats all good and well, as well as fun, more opportunites for crime and criminals would definately promote more people to preform criminalistic, steal from the rich give to the poor(yourself),down with the man, dark, shady, sort of stuff.  All of which I see as centeral to the CP atmosphere.    

I'd have to agree that the crime level lately has been rather disappointing.  There is more than just killing and stealing.  Just chronic anti-authoritarian hooliganism.  Vandalize, graffiti, and break shit.  I encourage players to spray paint poems in the bathrooms, spray advertisements on the streets, spray threats in the hotels.  Leave your mark and keep things interesting.

woo-hoo!  I'm not the only one who thinks so!   go kill! go mug a motherfucker.  Go plan some huge corperate raid, or rob the mall, or blow shit up!!!!   we're criminals!!!! or for the most part we should be.  

I wasn't exactly saying go on a killing spree. Economic growth comes from production. Rather I was encouraging maiming and vandalism. Just try to make the place as slummy as possible without absolutely destroying everything.

I think the game could benefit from making expenses more necessary.  As it stands now, we don't suffer enough for not spending our money.  Corpies especially should have a large number of expenses they need to meet.  It justifies paying them so much.  They have huge paychecks not for the purpose of being rich but for the purpose of being able to spend it on things that improve their quality of life.  Currently, all the 'absolute needs' are being met by NPCs.

I know the feeling...here are some tips.

Drug Addiction - Great way to get a young, up and starting fixer to bring your drugs constantly.

Employing others - See Above. Need intel? Need pictures? Need someone to bring you soychips? Etc.

See what kind of PC motivated businesses exist and...buy from them.

It sucks to have to go completely out of the way to support the player-based economy...but sometimes its gotta be done...usually its rewarding...and occasionally you hook someone up with 500k worth of gear and you never see a dime.

C'est la vie.