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Star Citizen’s Dynamic Economy

Hello & Welcome to some more Star Citizen, CIG have been building tech towards Dynamic Content and building out the game world with interesting missions, economies and for this to not be faked or static.

The goal of Star Citizen is to deliver a large amount of Star Systems that behave in a logical fashion and then give you the freedom to pursue your interests and gameplay type.

They have been focusing on a single Star System Stanton for the PU up until now.

It’s taken a long time to get one system to where it is BUT they are able to build out systems significantly quicker because of that focus on getting one system fully complete.

This is a summary of the Tony Zurvich Panel Building a Universe at Citizen 2019 and some additional context and questioning afterwards.

Previously Star Citizen’s approach to the ingame economy has been to treat it statically and hand balance it, this is not appropriate. Production and Consumption are faked in the old system.

The Dynamic Content they are building responds to player and NPC actions in a systematic logical fashion.

They want the Economic need to dictate the demand for goods and services.

The Economy is NPC Supported and Stabilized.

The System needs to automatically balance itself with a set of rules that then generates content. It also needs to be easy for them to maintain, modify and balance.

It also need to be process and resource efficient on the backend.

The System they are going to be using is called Quantum.

They are pulling real time data from the game with their new way of simulating everything. They can grab all the player information in from areas, where they are, what they are using, their ship, cargo, and they can pull it from all servers simultaneously. They are able to track a single player in real time, any missions going on, service beacons. Big Brother is watching basically with a giant database of tags and locations.

Missions are offered based on the economy and needs for a particular mission to be completed. Factories will need deliveries of resources and criminals will need to be brought to justice or at least missions will be generated based on those needs.

Missions will ramp up in rewards until they are completed and NPCs will start to take them too until they are done.

Economic Nodes are shops or any entity you trade with that has it’s own stock or can buy/sell items. They take into account what market forces are doing and adjust accordingly.

Prices rise when a good is scarce or in high demand. Too much of a good saturating the market, prices will fall. Factories and manufacturers may supply them with their stock.

Prices and stock in store will be derived algorithmically to simulate what you would expect in a real economy. There can be a huge amount of economic nodes in each Star System.

NPCs will trade and move goods around the verse identifying risk and reward and well as the need to keep the economy turning.

Probability Volumes dictate what you may encounter in a given area. These are dynamic and respond to mission generation and the economy. If a new asteroid field is public knowledge you might be more likely to find an NPC miner there but also pirates there attacking them maybe before security and players start to clear them out. 

Security forces will be more likely encountered at Port Olisar.

They are able to spawn missions outside of normal probability volume proximities as well.

And there are loads of probabilities that cover how likely is it reinforcements will be called in, will a bounty hunter catch up to you (based on your wanted level).

Probability Volumes do not physicalize encounters unless a player triggers them.

They may merge events together when you are travelling in QT as well so that rather than constantly get single encounters you may turn up to a battle in progress.

They also want to have more interesting situations, so you can stumble upon a freighter that’s been boarded by pirates and help.

Quantum NPC Simulation

They can simulate 1000s of NPCs with various traits moving around any given system.

Each of the NPCs can effectively start a chain of events or live their lives that then affects the economy, missions and players. NPCs can own homes,possessions and wealth.

They respond to what is going on in the system, what is available for them to do to make money and how risky is it. NPCs will literally respond to opportunities as the evolve and respond with the appropriate ships and equipment.

If they have somewhere to mine they will do that, then refine their materials, then sell it until it’s not profitable to do that anymore, this could be because the area is saturated or warehouses are full of a good they were selling.

If they start to get attacked they will start getting escorts or sending out bounty hunters.

There are also simulated NPCs working in factories and refineries refining and turning materials into crafted goods.

The economic model takes into account labour available and their costs when pricing goods which in turn affects all levels of the economy. Wages & Job availability fluctuate too.

All Items & Ships in game require various materials to be built. 

NPCs will transport goods around to factories from refineries, then factories to shops.

Consumers buying those goods then completes a simple economic loop.

The next part of PU’s Economic Model is to have NPC requiring ships, repairs, refueling, maintenance that will help drive the economy by them being “real” consumers themselves.

There are going to be lots of shops, refineries, factories and money making opportunities to give choice and help balance the system partly through competition of other ways NPCs want to make money and competing industry.

The amount of effort an NPC is willing to put in and their traits will affect what they choose to do and where the choose to do it. If a mine takes too long to travel too or it takes too long to extract materials then very few if any NPCs will go there.

It will also affect if they break the law and even potentially become pirates.

Pirates will disrupt the economy but it will come to an equilibrium based on how NPCs & players react to them. Do they clear them out? Let them be? Start cashing in on being an escort.

Pirates have to return to one of their bases, sometimes in another star system to rearm, repair and refuel as well as take their loot back home.

Pirates will “attack” areas of high value and will be able to consider risk and reward too.

NPC that they engage will create missions, bounty hunts, escorts, distress beacons & rescue.

In Tony’s Presentation they showed that the Pirates were operating out of a Kraken as their main base.

Security forces are also a factor here, patrolling areas.

Where as pirates will be Quantum Interdicting profitable trade lanes.

All this information being simulated then also allows them to work out accurate probability volumes for encounters for the player, they will accurately represent the ships, equipment, forces and cargos of the area AND what is happening at that time.

This allows for a dynamic economy, security force, pirates, encounters and missions to exist, evolve and change over time.

And importantly any player input to the economy, missions and encounters also affects everything as well, it all gets fed back in.

This even affects NPCs that you see at a landing area, what they are wearing and doing.

You’ll see boom and bust cycles of areas.

And the system is going to continue to evolve.

They are going to be adding NPC Refuel and Transport Missions in the not too distant future.

They want devs to be able to craft custom content and then for lots of variance that’s non-repetitive.

Previously mission creation have previously been pretty static.

They can create missions & encounters with a large level of customization selecting ships, cargo, ambushes and add more types of mission, POI and enemies on the fly too BUT the idea is that Quantum will work that out realtime.

To what exact extent Resources will be limited is still being determined.

We don’t know when we will have a proper full on Dynamic Economy using this yet BUT they are building towards it in each patch we get with some important updates over the next 12 months, the time it takes to move cargo, consumer habits and more will affect you experience and keep it from being repetitive… it’s pretty real BUT it is not Player Led, only player influenced.