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Thread: One-feature-a-day articles: #9 International trade and Commerce fleets

  1. #1

    Lightbulb One-feature-a-day articles: #9 International trade and Commerce fleets

    In Pride of Nations, commerce is extremely important, as it was historically. And commerce often means having a large merchant fleet at your disposal. We had to design a system that represented with good approximation the intricacies of commerce in the Victorian era, while trying to keep it manageable by the player. We knew what we wanted though, so we started by designing commerce zones.
    The game would revolve around the central concept that merchandise units are produced within a trade zone, and you have to pick them up from this zone or it would be wasted. Also, we wanted to have buying and selling done by transactions between two countries. This is one of the great things about a turn based engine, using 2 seconds to calculate how transactions succeed between countries is well affordable, while doing that in a real time game is too time consuming.


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    And so the commerce is handled by transactions. A country proposes goods in a given trade zone (most of the time in the trade zone where his capital resides, this is quite enough in complexity), and customers, if they can reach this commerce zone (and you generally need a commerce fleet for that, as long distance land trade was not economically profitable, except for luxuries) will buy your products. But before buying it, they will perhaps compete with other countries. For example Great Britain is a major exporter of coal, and France needs coal. France and other countries will propose purchases in the Great Britain trade zone. So there will be competition, and who will get the deal depends on many parameters, like your commerce techs, your relationships and how much money you are willing to spend.

    Transactions are done in a way that once set, and unless something major happens, you don’t have to tweak them every turn. The same applies to commerce fleets. You’ll not have to hunt constantly across the continents to spot new opportunities, as commerce fleets operate from only 22 sea trade boxes. Twenty-two seems a lot already, but when you have 3 commerce fleets, you’ll generally put one nearby Great Britain (and she will be able to trade also with France and the Low countries), one nearby USA and for the third, well, the choice is yours. So really, there is a minimum of micro-management here, given that the trade is quite concentrated in only a few areas.


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    A nice side effect of this decision (to use only a few maritime boxes) is that they are ‘promoted’ to ‘convoy boxes’ in time of war. In this way, Pride of Nations is able to simulate the submarine operations of the Great War. Place your subs in a maritime box and try sinking some trade ships, to disrupt the enemy’s economy, while evading escorts! Or perhaps you want to go for a more direct approach by blockading the enemy harbors, thus preventing them from operating as an unloading point for merchandise? This is feasible too!

    Screenshot 1: view of a maritime trade box, where you handle your commercial fleets and the small but very important Trade window belonging to the Great Britain trade area.

    Screenshot 2: Portuguese AI is maintaining a commerce fleet in the gulf of Guinea while a US patrol cruises nearby.

  2. #2
    Ah, finally the weird knot-thingies are explained. I like the fact that you don't have to constantly micro-manage everything. That was a bit annoying in games like Imperialism and it would be ten times worse in a game of this complexity.

    By the way, will there be a way to use minor countries' merchant fleets? Or land transport in any way? It feels strange to have to rely on a big navy if you're Austria-Hungary and in the middle of an ahistorically huge rail network.
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  3. #3
    It seems rather stylized, but that's ok to diminish micro-management.

    So, you put your ship in a trade box to trade with the connected countries, but the trading process still is conducted on a country-by-country basis? E.g., you'd propose separate trades to Netherlands and UK?

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    Major Thormodr's Avatar
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    Sounds very reasonable.

    I am glad that there are only 22 maritime trade areas in the world. It sounds like the system won't be too micro heavy. I was also curious as to what would happen in times of war and that was explained.

    It's cool that subs will be in the game. ^^

    I too am wondering if you can conduct trade between nations using railroads or perhaps water transport on rivers or canals.

    For example, Germany trading with Belgium, France or AH.

    Perhaps there will be decisions to link up their railways in order to facilitate trade.

    I suppose there has to be some system in place though for landlocked countries like Switzerland or else they'd be at a huge disadvantage.

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    Major Variton's Avatar
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    Is the amount of commerce in any way related to how large the trade fleet is? I mean: can 1 fleet handle unlimited amount of trade goods.
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  7. #7
    So the private sector doesn't handle trade on its own? It seems kinda
    Age of Empires-y(still a great game) to have the state handle all trade in the era of liberalism and free trade

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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Variton View Post
    Is the amount of commerce in any way related to how large the trade fleet is? I mean: can 1 fleet handle unlimited amount of trade goods.
    Remembering AACW, each single ship had a certain cargo value depending on the ship's size (war ships had none); more ships could then be combined to form a larger transport fleet for goods or units.

    My guess is that it will be the same in PON.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Barón Rojo View Post
    You prefer don't do nothing during years like in Victoria 2?
    Haha. true. But part of me still wants the invisible hand to be invisible. But it was still fun in those "Do nothing years" to watch the proliferation of factories throughout your country. Nevertheless, this sounds different but still good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thormodr View Post
    Sounds very reasonable.

    I am glad that there are only 22 maritime trade areas in the world. It sounds like the system won't be too micro heavy. I was also curious as to what would happen in times of war and that was explained.

    It's cool that subs will be in the game. ^^

    I too am wondering if you can conduct trade between nations using railroads or perhaps water transport on rivers or canals.

    For example, Germany trading with Belgium, France or AH.

    Perhaps there will be decisions to link up their railways in order to facilitate trade.

    I suppose there has to be some system in place though for landlocked countries like Switzerland or else they'd be at a huge disadvantage.

    I'd also be concerned about landlocked countries being too terribly outdone, at least regarding their material needs.

    I'm also glad to see that we can research and build subs later in the game (as with likely everything else coming from the era). It's probably not a massive leap in adjusting the game engine, regarding their raiding mechanics, as those were already in AACW what with the Confederate Raiders and shipping boxes. Of course, the tech research and production will be mostly new. It's interesting seeing how the addition of more nation-building mechanics fits so handily into the primarily military-oriented AGE engine.

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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Nefaro View Post
    I'm ready to go. Let's do this.
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  13. #13
    Hi... interesting set of questions.

    Landlocked countries and land trade. The game assume that every country can trade in the trade areas that are neighboring the trade area where they are (to be more precise, where they have their capital). We assume that in a manner or another, by train, river or camel back you can always do that. This means that Switzerland can trade with the South Germany TA, North Italy TA and some others, which is already quite good.

    Commerce is handled by the player, who is both the state and private sector, this is why we split money in two money types, so that there is still a dichotomy to handle. Handling commerce is part of the fun of the game.

    A commerce fleet can handle an unlimited amount of transactions, but the more you have, the bigger the chances to succeed in a transaction, should you are in competition with others countries.

    I'll forward the remark about Fernando Po, thanks. (I prefer to use the name with only one 'o', to avoid some play of words ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocus View Post
    Hi... interesting set of questions.

    Landlocked countries and land trade. The game assume that every country can trade in the trade areas that are neighboring the trade area where they are (to be more precise, where they have their capital). We assume that in a manner or another, by train, river or camel back you can always do that. This means that Switzerland can trade with the South Germany TA, North Italy TA and some others, which is already quite good.

    Commerce is handled by the player, who is both the state and private sector, this is why we split money in two money types, so that there is still a dichotomy to handle. Handling commerce is part of the fun of the game.

    A commerce fleet can handle an unlimited amount of transactions, but the more you have, the bigger the chances to succeed in a transaction, should you are in competition with others countries.

    I'll forward the remark about Fernando Po, thanks. (I prefer to use the name with only one 'o', to avoid some play of words ).
    That makes sense. Glad to hear about Switzerland still being able to trade effectively.

    So, you build your merchant fleets from your private capital money rather than state funds? Sounds logical.

    No problem with that as long as merchant fleets don't cost too much in the way of maintenance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thormodr View Post
    No problem with that as long as merchant fleets don't cost too much in the way of maintenance.
    Well, everything has a tradeoff... old clipper merchant ships are cheaper than late game steamer ship... but I do not think you will like to have those around in 1910...
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    Major Thormodr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Generalisimo View Post
    Well, everything has a tradeoff... old clipper merchant ships are cheaper than late game steamer ship... but I do not think you will like to have those around in 1910...
    Sounds like a good dynamic. Knowing when to upgrade.

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    I don't know if it has been asked yet, but if you buy regularly goods from a given country, do your relations improve in some way?

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