Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

EVE Trading focused expansion

I believe EVE needs a trading-focused expansion. Why? Because in EVE, everyone is a trader. Of course most people are “traders” in the same sense as the Covetor-miner is participating in PvP. The previous expansions made several obscure or hard to handle features easier. Just consider the Odessey scanning changes. I did not scan before Odessey, besides the newbie scanning missions. I couldn’t be bothered to manually move the probes every time into the same damn formation. Since Odessey I scan a lot:
If I find miners in DScan with several belts, I no longer bother further DScan or jump around to see which belt they are in, just throw a cluster of pinpoint formation probes with 2AU range on the belts and they are found in one cycle. I often scan down miners outside of belts, they typically were in an ice anomaly which is no longer there, but they were too AFK to notice. So the Odessey changes gave me content, I’m one of the EVE players who are satisfied with the expansion.

I think a trading-focused expansion would similarly increase the number of people who engage in EVE trading in a positive, satisfying manner. It would also decrease the now extreme income difference between those who know how to trade and those who don’t. I do not think I “deserved” collecting half trillion ISK by safely sitting in a station and updating orders once-twice a day. My income came from being one of the few who was ready to go upwards in the snow in the very unfriendly trading interface and lack of tools. Most people, having no love for economy didn’t care and by doing so, they locked themselves out from the big money and were condemned to shoot rocks or red crosses for minimal wage. A trading expansion could open an easier way for them, just like Odessey it opened for me in scanning.

The expansion would both contain UI improvements and systemic changes, allowing the trader to focus only on the underlying economy and not on the clicky-clicky. I do not mention the small improvements here, just the features that change the gameplay. Of course for an expansion to be an expansion it needs lot of such small improvements.

The main feature would be the automatically updating order. Currently you set an order and it stays there until you change it or someone accepts it. This leads to 0.01-ing, as without proper knowledge of the item and proper economic knowledge one cannot set a proper price. He either accepts the current buy price (sells to a buy order) or the current sell price (sets his sell 0.01 below current). In the automatically updating order you set two more options: cut size and bottom. Every half an hour if you aren’t the lowest seller, the order is automatically cut under the current lowest by your set value unless you’d go below your bottom. While most people would still set 0.01 as cut, a single reasonable cut would be soon followed, so the price would find equilibrium faster. This way more people would set sell orders instead of accepting a buy order.

The second main feature would be a Jita price follower. Jita is the economic capital of EVE, no point acting like The Forge would be just another region. The change would make the Jita 5-days average price available everywhere where a price is displayed. If you open a market window anywhere, there should be a greyed order with that value. In the price history graph, the Jita 5-days average should be visible anywhere. The value approximation of items should be calculating with this price. When you set an order, there should be a line that compares the price to this value. If you set an order away from this, there should be a warning. No need to always query the Jita market, every item could have its Jita-5 days price cached every 2 hours and that value used.

The third feature would be a reprocess value calculator for both scraps and ores. It would use the mentioned Jita 5-days average to tell how much ISK would you get if you’d reprocess the item and sell the minerals, using your skills and standing with the station. Similarly to the Jita-5 days price, this price could also be cached with perfect refine so the actual calculation would only need to modify it with your skills and standings. The refine value would be available with the price assessment and on the sell window. It would give you a warning if you’d sell below reprocess cost.

The next feature would be a “mass sell/reprocess”. It would be very useful for looters and salvagers who end up with tons of random stuff. The feature would replace “Sell this item” if you have more than one item selected. The input fields are
  • “manual price limit”, if an item is more expensive (according to Jita-5 days) than this limit, it won’t be mass sold, you can handle it manually later.
  • “Jita lowball”: it’s given in %. If you set it to 90%, and the highest buy order is below 90% of Jita-5 days average, the item won’t be sold.
  • “Make sell orders” is a checkbox, selecting it opens the menu selecting the length of the order and another box allowing you to set a Jita %. If you choose this option, the item which wasn’t sold because of the “Jita lowball” will be sold via sell order, setting the percentage of Jita 5-days as price. Another checkbox appears “sell it even if there are lower sell orders”, if you uncheck it, it won’t make sell orders which aren’t the lowest.
  • “Reprocess if better” is another checkbox, which automatically reprocesses the item if the reprocess value is higher than the buy order (and the item wasn’t put on sell order by the previous item)
Market order change should be able not just change the price, but also the quantity. If I have a sell order and want to sell more items, instead of creating another sell order, I could just increase the item count of my current order.

The final big change would be using the older order instead of the newer. So if there is a buy order for 1000 ISK and I set a sell order for 100, the immediate sell should happen on 1000ISK and not 100 like now. It would not only protect against mistypes but also would make large quantity buys-sells easier: you just type in the quantity and some high/low price and you get the items for the same price like you’d buy the sell orders or fill the buy orders one by one.

More mails from saved miners:


MoxNix said...

"The final big change would be using the older order instead of the newer. So if there is a buy order for 1000 ISK and I set a sell order for 100, the immediate sell should happen on 1000ISK and not 100 like now."

This is a change I've been calling for for quite a while.

Of course it'd have to work on buy orders too, if you enter a buy order for 1000 isk, it would be filled first by lower priced sell orders at the lower price.

You make a good point about how it would make bulk buying simpler too.

Another point is the way it works now favors bots over real players. Bots don't make typos and they update frequently than real players so they're usually the hi/low order that reaps the benefits of someone else's typo.

Anonymous said...

This may be your best post in a long, long time. Lots of solid ideas in there.

Other automated tool: buy this fit. It would list all prices for the fitting for a ship, list deviation from market average, and total cost. One or two more clicks and voila! All the modules, ammo etc, or at least those available, are purchased. It would allow for fast reshiping.


maxim said...

Like the order automation change.

Don't like any of the others.

Finding out that Jita is, in fact, the central trading hub is an important rite of passage for a trader. You shouldn't just get rid of it. Setting up a Jita alt is also important because it underscores the station-sitting nature of the trader profession.

What would be interesting is being able to see local station prices of all of your characaters on a single account. So i can put f/ex a character in Jita, a character in Rens and then see both prices of Jita and Rens while flying around Metropolis.

Mass sell is fair enough for a quality-of-life change, but it shouldn't make price decisions for you. You mass sell for a quick buck. If you want efficiency, you open that market details and learn a bit about each individual item.

Supporting the reprocessing decision, on another hand, is a good idea. At the moment there are a bit too many steps to evaluate the reprocess value of an item.
While i wouldn't want to see the reprocess value in the same window as market value, a way to right-click an item and getting the expected reprocess amount along with a market cost in the current station would be great.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid some of your suggestions would kill regional hauling.

Now you are able to sell 'Random Item X' in Rens 100% above Jita average - simply because most buyers don't look at price charts at all or if they do they only see their regional average.
If they can afford and the items seems to be worth the price - they buy. Otherwise they don't.
They don't look up eve-central to find out what Jita prices are.

Let's come back to the 'Random Item X' which is 100% above Jita average but 5% below Rens average.
Buyers now see: green 5% below regional average - they buy because it looks cheap.
Buyers then see: red 100% above Jita average - they may not buy because it looks expensive.

Of course some will buy even if the price is 2000% above regional average just because they can or they don't care or both.
But in the long run you'll find a very equal market.

If I can't make 30% profit with hauling 'Random Item X' from Jita to Rens I stop restocking Rens.
Meta0 and Meta5 can be produced, but Meta1-4 can only be found in loot. You don't find that much hybrids or energy weapons while fighting Angels in Minmatar space and I would bet Rens would dry out of them.

Lucas Kell said...

Most of these changes would simply kill trading. The whole reason trading is lucrative is that it takes an amount of effort and an amount of know how. If everyone could simply dump orders on and have them auto-updated, the market margins would soon shrink to the point that nobody is making profit.

Oh and 0.01ing is fine. As long as your order is the cheapest, it will get bought first, regardless of whine entry is clicked in the market. If you are about, the 0.01ing some items is fine, and keeps the margin healthier. Big cuts more rapidly drop the price, and generally don't stop someone undercutting you until you shrink the margin to the point that the item is now low profit. The trick is picking which items to 0.01, which items to ladder, and how often. That's where custom built market tools come into play.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: this is the point, to kill the ability of getting insane profits just because you learned to handle the awful market interface and placed a Jita alt.

@Maxim: "rite of passage" = "bad design that made me suffer and now let others suffer too"

@Anonymous: if people stop hauling to Rens, the Rens prices will rise.

Anonymous said...

Having played the 0,01 ISK game from time to time, I don't see an automatic price updater changing much. There are very, very few people using offsets that would matter, even if applied more often.

Instead of automating the 0,01 ISKing, a real solution would to get rid of updates at all. Imagine a system like Diablo III, where you enter only the highest price you are willing to pay and the system increases the current bid automatically as far as needed for you to stay the highest bidder. Of course, that cannot be applied as-is to EVE, but you get the idea.

With a system like that, manual updates bring no advantage anymore.

While the Jita price follower sounds nice, I think it's a bit too much. If you only trade and live around Amarr, it's not the price you are interested in. Actually, for me, it would be enough if the current displayed value of items would be tracking the current price better and displayed in more places. A region price follower, I'd agree with.

Reprocess value: yeah, even displaying the mineral value in tooltips in the reprocessing window would be an enhancement. Displaying a summary value in the item tooltip dependend on the station wouldn't work for me, because I am regularly selling at stations where I wouldn't refine. So either let me set the station I refine at, or just tell me best value I can achieve (similar as displaying the best sell value, not the one from the station).

The mass sell feature sounds too complicated and unneeded. Just make it easy (via filter) to find all items I should be selling. The rest can be done easily by hand: Just sell the *handful* items which are worth it (no, selling a single item which bring 1000 ISK sold instead of 990 ISK refined isn't worth it). Then reprocess the rest. I am already doing this using a third-party tool to find the items to sell. I think it's okay that more manual work is required, if you want to optimize above that.

Anonymous said...

Ive been wanting a market expansion for forever, the last thing we got was order hilights.

I'm talking about making corporations matter. Corporate shares and dividends matter. Hell, an actual stock market alongside our commodities exchange we have now. Being able to have traders take down corporations through hostile takeovers would be amazing gameplay, and give smaller corps the ability to make some money throuhg IPOs. Eventually make it so the corporations in eve are the money, not the bounties of rats. Crops hiring players instead of missions etc.

The buy working en masse like that would be great too. Set a buy order above sell orders, buys each at their listed value until you get to your price or amount ceiling, would make mass purchases so much easier.

But yeah, it's good as it is now, but it could be so much better

maxim said...

<< "rite of passage" = "bad design that made me suffer and now let others suffer too" >>

Did you suffer much making these few jumps to Jita with an alt?

Emotional investment is important.

People don't get emotionally invested if they don't spend effort and dedicate resources for a reason that they recognise.
Recognising you need to know prices in Jita, recognising that the way to do it is to have a Jita alt, creating said alt and making a few jumps with it is exactly the kind of investment required.

Alternatively, you can decide that Jita prices can go to hell and that you have enough to haul around in your own region, without going all the way to the Forge. Even if this decision is a mistake, the important point is that you can still make that decision, as opposed to getting force-fed it by the interface.

@Lucas Kell
<< Most of these changes would simply kill trading... the market margins would soon shrink to the point that nobody is making profit. >>
I would find the Eve market game way more interesting if i had more markets that have more or less stable equilibriums. Then the trading game would be less about station-trading something volatile with 1024 alts and more about figuring out and predicting equilibrium differences between markets.

Von Keigai said...

Several of these are good ideas. There are many kinds of orders supported in real stock markets that EVE could use, in particular limit orders. (This is the proper term in English for what you are calling "bottom".)

I disagree with your half-hour price-changes; this still allows .01 bots to game the system, because they update every 5 minutes. There is no good reason not to automate it more. Allow the player to set the period to recompute price, anywhere in a range of 1 minute to 1 week. Each update should happen after the given period plus a random time period of 0-180 seconds. The minimum one minute and random period are chosen to make it impossible for a robot to beat a person in 1c-wars by timing its order-changes.

I disagree with the idea of hardcoding Jita into the game. Have one's reference price be a user preference. By default a player gets the price that is shown now (however it is computed). But he can change his preference to be Jita or any other system, or region, and get prices.

Hans Jagerblitzen said...

If you want to sell CCP on a trading expansion, start with some data. How many players pick up EVE to play the market? What percentage of EVE players actively participate in trade-for-profit (as opposed to ship fitting)?

How do you reconcile this request with CCP's past couple years spent discussing the fact that the game relies too heavily on "spreadsheet gameplay" and are focusing on the visceral space experience showcased in its marketing?

Look - I totally get the "lets expand market and market tools" appeal, it's work that certainly needs to be done sooner or later. But this post is absolutely terrible at actually selling your idea with even the thinnest layer of altruistic veneer.

CCP's already got a host of survey feedback, subscription rate information, exit polling for those that are quitting, not to mention year of talking with players and their representatives. You're going to have to compete with this if you want to make a case for a trading expansion.

Boasting about your wealth and saying that this will help noobs catch up is certainly NOT the same as building a case supported by data. It's just reheating Malcanis' Law.

Gevlon said...

@Hans Jagerblitzen: judging trading after the number of people actively doing it is like judging jump freighters by the number of JF pilots. You can easily come to the conclusion that JFs are the least learned ship class, therefore a failure and no one will mind if it's removed from the game. Result: nullsec depopulated because that 1% JF pilots hauled everything for them.

Similarly a single trader can decrease the margin of items largely, making these accessible to everyone around.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm, as an importer into fountain back in TESTs heyday... I could single handedly drop 100% markups to a reasonable 10-20% just by stocking a weeks supply at 20%+, then watch it do its' thing

Druur Monakh said...

Giving a Jita a special role is a bad idea: Jita is the main trade hub only because players made it so after the previous one (I think it was Yulai) became unattractive. Hardcoding it into the game would go against the 'player driven' principle of EVE, and also miss the fact that Amarr seems to be establishing itself as second-largest hub.

Trans-region price lookups might be a good idea (I haven't pondered it more deeply yet), but let people chose themselves which markets they'd like to follow.

Anonymous said...

This is where I miss the WoW features that enables you to write addons. All of these (and probably many more nice ideas) would have been already impemented by the users.

Lucas Kell said...

"I would find the Eve market game way more interesting if i had more markets that have more or less stable equilibriums. Then the trading game would be less about station-trading something volatile with 1024 alts and more about figuring out and predicting equilibrium differences between markets."
But making it easier would simply add more traders, shrinking margins. Nobody would make profit, and the market would stagnate. That wouldn't be a good thing for anyone.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: instead of 10-50 guys would make 20+ B/month, 100-500 guys would make 2+B/month and everyone else would enjoy the lower prices.

maxim said...


What Gevlon Said, also...

<< "Shrinking margins" >>

Trading game in it's current form is less about actual provision of goods and services to players and NPCs that need them at prices that they are willing to pay, and more like stock market speculation with unclear benefits to the game system as a whole.

In this situation, i think shrinking margins are actually a good thing.
When margins shrink in the main hubs, players will go out there looking for more places to trade goods in. Automations in trading would make it easier to manage, as well. All in all, great for the sandbox component of the game.

Lucas Kell said...

I think you guys don;t quite understand how the market works. If you made it so it was so easy to do, with automatically changing prices, everyone would trade and nobody would make profit. You would destroy trade as a career choice, leaving the only way to make isk from trade reducing input cost on production.

The way the market currently works, it's based on supply and demand, controlled by traders. Traders pick the better margins, and the products the neglect rise in price. If you made trading too automated, it would no longer fluctuate based on that, you would always buy low and sell low. It would be reduced to the way it is in all the old economy games where you have to force economic changes.

And how is automated trading good for sandbox? Surely that's the opposite of a sandbox?

maxim said...

At the moment, most of margins in Eve exist within a single trade hub. This makes trader a lazy job with way too high return. You are right that lower margins will kill this job, but what you can't seem to grasp is that, frankly, it deserves to die.

A space trader should be ferrying goods across the galaxy and back, not sitting on his butt in a single station exploiting market imbalances.

Lucas Kell said...

"At the moment, most of margins in Eve exist within a single trade hub. This makes trader a lazy job with way too high return."
No, there are 5 major trade hubs and margins exist outside of those. In fact, the best margins exist in null sec or mission hubs. Shipping from a market hub to a mission hub makes plenty of isk.

Station trading is not a particularly great income. It's OK, but it takes a lot of time, and ties up your capital. But that's not the only thing that would be killed. If they changed the market and added automation, I could make millions of units of ammo, modules and ships, then sell them at mission hubs, setting the auto price to shrink down as low as manufacture cost+tax+0.01%, so I'd always be the best price and still make a tiny profit, but make a great profit to start.
At the moment, if I want to do that, I have to go back to that region. With automation, I could just leave that, and only go back to restock, since the price would take care of itself. This means every trade would be able to make a tiny profit everywhere, but competition would die. Whoever produces it at the lowest cost automatically wins, with no effort. I could log off for 2 months, and my prices would remain the lowest.
This is NOT a good idea.

I don't think you understand firstly how the market works, and secondly how important the market is to the EVE economy.

Oh and you realise a market hub isn't a market hub because it's got good margins right? Jita has pretty awful margins, but stock moves fast, as people are lazy and can only be bothered to go to one place for everything. No matter what you did to the market, you'd always end up with a hub.