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Author Topic: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System  (Read 857 times)

thompson

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2019, 04:07:13 am »

You don't think the starting scenario arc should come before the economy arc?
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SixOfSpades

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2019, 07:53:47 am »

Agriculture is presently not overly productive but rather the dwarves eat too little food.
It's both, actually, though admittedly the latter problem is far more egregious than the former. For a single tile (approximately 1 square meter) of strawberry plants to be able to produce enough strawberries to count as five separate meals, and to do that EVERY SEASON, year after year, with zero fertilizer (or maintenance like weeding, watering, & pest control), is very much at odds with how crops actually work. The average real-world field grows only one harvest per year--two in a pinch. But yes, the much bigger irregularity is dwarves only eating 1 meal per month.

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. . . what we currently have in fortress mode is ultimately a post-scarcity economy . . .
Another reason for which is the glut of base reagents, as well. Your fort will never run out of stone, gemstones are abundant, plants (and therefore booze) are literally dirt cheap, magma & goblinite are functionally infinite, as are sand & clay (if you have them at all), and the meat industry's supply almost always exceeds demand. Pretty much the only things that can be rare are ores, flux stone, & wood. Ironically, one of the few sources of scarcity is the trading caravan itself, as even if you set your desire for a certain good to the very highest priority, the caravan will still only bring 4 of it.

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What allows seven dwarves to build a fortress, also means that [when] we have 200 dwarves we have insane amounts of surplus value . . .
And to counteract that (since this is the Suggestions forum, after all):
1. The more basic, essential labors (Grower, Miner, Woodcutter, etc.) should be quick & easy to learn--dwarves can get to Adequate almost immediately--but incur rapidly diminishing returns with increased practice: A Legendary should be hardly any faster or more productive than a Skilled. This will reduce problems like an entire 200-dwarf fort being fed solely by the labors of just two Legendary Planters. Instead, the fort will require a much broader agricultural base, with dozens of farmers working--and, since there's no point in getting much better at farming, it will be more efficient for the farmers (and the Overseer) for each Grower to also have an alternate trade to ply in their spare time. Very realistic.
2. On the other hand, the more elite, specialist labors (Gem Setter, Surgeon, Glassmaker, etc.) should be far more time-consuming & difficult to learn--to the point that until a dwarf becomes at least Proficient, he is basically nothing more than a student of the art, his labors don't even come close to turning what could be called a "profit". (Hence, these are the labors that would benefit the most from apprenticeship.) In return, advancing to higher skill levels in these labors would produce noticeably better quality / higher success rates. So to maximize gain, it will be in dwarves'/the Overseer's best interests to have only 1 or 2 dwarves in their entire fort practicing such trades.
3. In general, experience level in a given labor should have very little effect on the time required to perform that labor. It doesn't matter how Legendary that Miller is, he's still gonna need to turn that quern hundreds of times to grind that wheat into flour, just like his Dabbling counterpart. The Dabbler is just going to not know just how fine to grind it, and have his arms get tired sooner.

Admittedly, even with all those changes, that's still not an economy. But at least it's division of labor, which is a start.
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Bumber

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2019, 03:14:12 pm »

For a single tile (approximately 1 square meter) of strawberry plants to be able to produce enough strawberries to count as five separate meals, [...]
That might be literally 5 strawberries, though.
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Five chickens

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2019, 03:27:01 pm »

IIRC, you also lose the ability to set trade priorities once you become the Mountainhome.

Realistically, your fort shipping in a ton of raw materials from the capital, in exchange for a small pile of cheap mugs & stone crafts is the LAST thing that should happen, it should be the other way around. If you're just a colony starting out, the majority of your citizens should be focused on the essential things like farming, mining, & defense--they don't have time to sit around making -orthoclase figurine-s, which the Mountainhome wouldn't want to buy anyway because their Stonecrafters are already way better than yours. What the capital does want to buy from you is your raw & luxury materials like gold & steel bars, unshaped marble, rough gems, tanned hides, and lots & lots of relatively nonperishable food.

Put bluntly, we're almost certainly not going to be seeing anything like a realistic Economy until we've also got a realistic Agriculture system, wherein vast fields of farms, stacked several layers deep, will be required to support any kind of large population.

This makes a lot of sense.  Early on, agriculture should probably be onerous enough to require at least half of your dwarves to focus on farming.  And finding a comparative advantage when it comes to crafting should take a while.

Many excellent points here.
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SixOfSpades

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2019, 10:41:34 am »

For a single tile (approximately 1 square meter) of strawberry plants to be able to produce enough strawberries to count as five separate meals, [...]
That might be literally 5 strawberries, though.

Urist: Hey, I'm gonna make some dinner. Have you eaten?
Kadol: Well, a couple of weeks ago, I ate a strawberry.
Urist: Oh, so you're still full, then.
Kadol: Yeah, I'm completely stuffed, thanks.
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Azerty

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2019, 04:15:11 pm »

3. In general, experience level in a given labor should have very little effect on the time required to perform that labor. It doesn't matter how Legendary that Miller is, he's still gonna need to turn that quern hundreds of times to grind that wheat into flour, just like his Dabbling counterpart. The Dabbler is just going to not know just how fine to grind it, and have his arms get tired sooner.

So, in your scenario, a Legendary Miller might work longer than a Dabbling one?

Admittedly, even with all those changes, that's still not an economy. But at least it's division of labor, which is a start.

Moreover, it will make a majority of the population work in the fields, which was the situation before the Agricultural Revolution of the 1780s.
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thompson

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2019, 05:31:40 am »

I'd be interested in hearing Toady's view on how the economy should ultimately be balanced. Too productive and the economy is post-scarcity and uninteresting. Too realistic and the game becomes a drudge. Would player forts have some advantage, such as higher productivity or faster skill progression? If not, how do you make the fort relevant at all without being swamped by cheaper, high quality imports? Does working your way up from humble primary industries become the standard way to play? I'm not opposed to that, mind you, it would be pretty cool. But at some point a decision will need to be made and that will have significant ramifications.

I'm keen on seeing how the starting scenarios arc plays out. Getting that right will be essential for the economy to make any sense.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 05:34:55 am by thompson »
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GoblinCookie

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2019, 06:01:18 am »

You don't think the starting scenario arc should come before the economy arc?

I don't think there should be an economy arc as such.  It is quite a mistake to treat the economy separately from the other arcs, the economy is in effect the master arc for everything else and treating it as thought it were equal to the other arcs is not a good idea.

But if we *do* have to have an economy arc it is a bad idea to introduce it separately from the starting scenarios.  That is because without an economy the devs will not be able to balance the starting scenarios to the economy when it is introduced, creating a whole load of extra work as the economy breaks the whole starting scenario system and vica versa.

Another reason for which is the glut of base reagents, as well. Your fort will never run out of stone, gemstones are abundant, plants (and therefore booze) are literally dirt cheap, magma & goblinite are functionally infinite, as are sand & clay (if you have them at all), and the meat industry's supply almost always exceeds demand. Pretty much the only things that can be rare are ores, flux stone, & wood. Ironically, one of the few sources of scarcity is the trading caravan itself, as even if you set your desire for a certain good to the very highest priority, the caravan will still only bring 4 of it.

That is (in all but the most unusual worlds) quite realistic.  The largest worlds are I have heard it said the size of Ireland but Ireland has a population of nearly 5 million.  No dwarf fortress large world has a population of more than a few 100k and this will not change because the memory limitations of the game do not allow a realistic population to exist and the economy will only increase the memory requirements of populations obviously. 

Historically the world is in a situation where the resources are super-abundant but the labour needed to exploit the resources is scarce.  Nowadays we are in a situation where labour is super-abundant but resources are scarce, because the population has grown considerably and the ending of the scarcity of labour allowed the demands of the individuals to increase as well. 

And to counteract that (since this is the Suggestions forum, after all):
1. The more basic, essential labors (Grower, Miner, Woodcutter, etc.) should be quick & easy to learn--dwarves can get to Adequate almost immediately--but incur rapidly diminishing returns with increased practice: A Legendary should be hardly any faster or more productive than a Skilled. This will reduce problems like an entire 200-dwarf fort being fed solely by the labors of just two Legendary Planters. Instead, the fort will require a much broader agricultural base, with dozens of farmers working--and, since there's no point in getting much better at farming, it will be more efficient for the farmers (and the Overseer) for each Grower to also have an alternate trade to ply in their spare time. Very realistic.
2. On the other hand, the more elite, specialist labors (Gem Setter, Surgeon, Glassmaker, etc.) should be far more time-consuming & difficult to learn--to the point that until a dwarf becomes at least Proficient, he is basically nothing more than a student of the art, his labors don't even come close to turning what could be called a "profit". (Hence, these are the labors that would benefit the most from apprenticeship.) In return, advancing to higher skill levels in these labors would produce noticeably better quality / higher success rates. So to maximize gain, it will be in dwarves'/the Overseer's best interests to have only 1 or 2 dwarves in their entire fort practicing such trades.
3. In general, experience level in a given labor should have very little effect on the time required to perform that labor. It doesn't matter how Legendary that Miller is, he's still gonna need to turn that quern hundreds of times to grind that wheat into flour, just like his Dabbling counterpart. The Dabbler is just going to not know just how fine to grind it, and have his arms get tired sooner.

Admittedly, even with all those changes, that's still not an economy. But at least it's division of labor, which is a start.

In a lot of contexts, time is the only advantage to skill there is.  Time spent making items is negligible at the moment, it is all about hauling and hauling is why the whole different time-scale in fortress mode is a bad idea for the economy.  It will not make much difference how much time is spent making the items when the labour cost is really the hauling of the items and their ingrediants. 

The division of labour does not make always sense in the game for the kind of skills that historically were specialist.  Carpenters and masons were historically specialist, but the sheer furniture demand for the endless immigrant waves means that it is a better idea to mobilise the whole population to make furniture rather than having a few specialist carpenters/masons.  Division of labour only presently makes sense when demand for the item is low and/or the materials needed are scarce.

Given the caravan always accepts items in almost any quantity, the 'demand' is despite the noted lack of demand from actual dwarves effectively limitless.  This pretty much limits the utility of the division of labour to in effect those making thing materials imported *from* the caravan and absent on the map. 
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SixOfSpades

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2019, 12:31:51 pm »

So, in your scenario, a Legendary Miller might work longer than a Dabbling one?
Sorry if I was unclear. No, the Legendary will still be able to do the job faster/better than a Proficient, just not noticeably so, and certainly not with enough gain in speed and/or quality to justify the time & effort of his working all the way up to Legendary. A lowly Dabbler, meanwhile, is going to waste time making mistakes the first few attempts (possibly even ruining a bag of grain or two), but getting the hang of it soon enough.

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Moreover, it will make a majority of the population work in the fields, which was the situation before the Agricultural Revolution of the 1780s.
Precisely. Of course, I'm not trying to force people to play their game in a certain way, but it just feels wrong for such a (generally) realistic game to do a major disservice to what's been all of humanity's predominant occupation ever since the dawn of civilization. I'm all for procedurally generated cultural differences between one civ & the next, but honestly there doesn't seem to be much room for variance here. Besides, it's difficult to take pride in your supposedly "productive, successful" fortress when every time you scroll through the Units list, 2/3rds of them are No Job or doing leisure activities.
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Bumber

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2019, 01:05:29 pm »

It would be great if we could have trade agreements that let us automatically buy a bunch of food from other sites. That way we wouldn't need to devote the space and labor ourselves.
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thompson

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2019, 04:26:18 pm »

It would be great if we could have trade agreements that let us automatically buy a bunch of food from other sites. That way we wouldn't need to devote the space and labor ourselves.

*Sigh* This has been on my wish list for a while now. Not just food, anything really. Once the FPS drops too much babysitting the game becomes impossible so anything that lets us set things to function without intervention would be great.

Regarding the economy, I can certainly understand GC's view about development of the economy being a core priority. I'd imagine the reason it isn't would be due to the difficulty of balancing something that is dynamic by it's very nature. The way items are represented in game doesn't help matters with varying quality and materials, but there are ways around that. Toady seems to want to prioritize new gameplay for the upcoming releases (magic, starting scenarios), and not having an economy certainly would make those releases easier. Whether that's the optimal strategy is another question of course, but given that he has tried implementing an economy before I'd imagine he's likely already thinking about what needs to change to get those economic interactions working. The code for villian networks could be used as the basis for companies or other organizations, and the society arc would govern how groups interact at a site/civ level. The economy arc may never really happen as a discrete development cycle but rather slowly get built up in the background until one day Toady turns his attention to market dynamics and finance. I could easily see that being folded into the starting scenarios arc. But that's depend on how much the underlying code base needs to change to make that happen. I really have no idea about that.
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therahedwig

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Re: Ideas for Dwarf Fortress Economic System
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2019, 06:55:59 pm »

As far as I know the next big thing that needs to happen is that Entities can currently not at all handle changes in their resources. Like, why animal-taming knowledge doesn't do much at the moment; the civ just doesn't know how to take that information and turn it into a proper tame animal-resource you can select at embark. That's why the entity rewrite of the law and customs arc is a minimum necessity for further economic development. (And coincidentally will also allow civs to generate starting scenarios better :) )

I dunno, I always see a lot of 'toady doesn't care about x, he only cares about y', (eg adventure mode above fort mode) but really the current arc is all about making sure there's cool late game challenges for forts that otherwise would steamroll over all the enemies, with the proper villain AI and interactions making even if you can steamroll, the steamrolling a true narrative spectacle. Similarly, the ordering of the dev goals seems to be geared towards having as few rewrites as possible by having more ontologically fundamental systems (myth, magic, map rewrite, more generated beings) go before the social ones(better, smarter civs, starting scenarios, boats, economy).
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 07:04:31 pm by therahedwig »
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