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Refining/Autofactory suggestion

Now that mining is actually rewarding, I would like to suggest things for the other two steps of turning rocks into things - refineries and (auto)factories. I think we all agree that the current system is pretty much "set it and forget it", and thus offers very little meaningful interaction with our facilities. There is also a mastery system, which I don't see being used all that much as I guess many people have used their refinery/factory slots to either provide production facilities to their factional stations or to secure a production boost of their choosing in one of the bonus sectors, and with the resource demand being as it is, I don't think they're overly likely to constantly change around to master another resource, making this another barely used system we might fold into another, hopefully more engaging way to deal with refineries.

So what do I suggest? Production xp, which you could split up into refining/autofactorying if you feel like it, or may just leave as one system, both would work in the sense I envision. As the name suggests, you would gain this for producing things, and once you hit a certain amount of xp, your... license or so would level up, and you would gain a point you could then spend on improving your production in a variety of ways. There's really a lot of possibilities here, so I'll list a few:

  • use it to gain a new facility slot, allowing you to build another factory/refinery
  • add a new production line to an existing refinery/factory, allowing you to refine/produce additional things (so you could say add a vandium line to your iriil refinery, enabling the same place to handle both resources, or your autofactory could make explosives and processor arrays - what could possibly go wrong?)
  • improve an existing production line (make it faster, cheaper, give it a small chance to produce bonus resources (i.e. 5% chance to produce 2 units instead of 1 in non-bonus sectors, or 3 instead of 2 in bonus sectors, make it possible to give you one unit of product for every 10/20/whatever batches processed)
  • provide capacity to the NPC economy, basically using your upgrade for a passive income (the frequency of payments would need to be debated, maybe at the end of every IG month?, sum could depend on both levels and a somewhat hidden "economy score" for the place, which could be based on the sum of "economy upgrade levels" in a particular sector).
This would allow players to customise their facilities to a degree, either going a generalist route for the faraway places, or a more focused approach for things they really wish to master, while also making it possible to finally actually make money with them, and finally set refinery A apart from refinery B. Specialisations would tie in here by either starting with an additional upgrade or two/giving 10% more xp/something else. In the wake of this, refineries and autofactories should be made a little more similar, as in just set the rate you're charging (i.e. 105% of base price) instead of having to set it for every product. Also please make it possible to pay the lump sum for the refining batch ahead of time while, as many players (myself included) have asked for. The reason I have included a passive income option here is because I don't really see any way to make refineries/factories earn decent money without drastically inflating the prices for everything all across the board.

I don't think there should be a hard cap on production levels, as the nature of levels usually means that the next one requires more and more xp, meaning it would still be functionally impossible to stick a fully decked out refinery on every station in the sector, unless someone was to invest substantial amounts of time. Larger factories could also spawn "cargo" type station missions, which would require a large amount of cargo units to be moved/processed at the place in exchange for money/captaincy or production xp. May include pirates similar to assassins in passenger missions, and may add a rather large job to the facility of choice, rendering it unable to process other things for a while. It may also require limiting every player to one refinery and one autofactory per location, so two existing refineries of one person on a station would be merged into one with a secondary production line. Production licenses may be reset with a consumable artefact, too.

This is by no means a complete list of options and possibilities, so feedback is welcome. Also sorry to those expecting another wall of text from me, I tried to keep it shorter this time.


  • A lot of us have talked before about how refineries and factories aren't profitable at current but since one of your main aims here seems to be changing that, I have to ask - why should they be? They are, at their core, a hands-off system. If they worked as they 'should,' that is, at a higher profit margin, they would just be a way for players with lots of marks to make even more marks without doing (much of) anything. I don't see passive marks generation for players being good for the game at all, it would just lead to rampant inflation.

    But I don't like being purely critical without offering other solutions so here's my idea. Remove refinery/factory ownership from players. Instead, tie it to factions (and maybe dynasties) linked to their marks account. So if someone uses the refinery, the marks above maintenance go into the factional account.
  • Re: Zoe's comment. A clarification should be made. Autofactories and refineries aren't generating new marks and contributing to inflation. Rather, they serve as a minor marks sink: they're taking some marks out of the game and transferring some to the owner of the facility.

    As far as I can tell, masteries fall flat. I am entirely indifferent towards them in their current state.

    At the end of the day, I think the space economy needs one of two key changes before it can be successful: a more fleshed out cargo hauling mechanism, or a much more engaging refining/manufacturing activity. We are on track for making cargo hauling more engaging. Raw comms take up a lot of space. A ship mod overhaul can fix up cargo mods. Retuning all cargo hold values would be good, such that larger warships are less capable of hauling cargo and economy vessels are the clearly superior option. I think an activity -- other than crafting -- to support hauling cargo would be good, such as NPC cargo missions.

    I'd jump on managing a cargo ship company a la a workshop. Or a fancy factory. Or I'd enjoy consolidating refineries into one or three types, and autofactories into one or three types. Or I'd like these facilities to be run by NPCs. Or held by factions (note: we do have factionless people to consider). I'd even enjoy just getting a bunch of QOL changes for the refinery and autofactory syntax stuff.

    But please give us a balance pass over recipes. That's a must. None of this works if the commodity demands are entirely out of whack.
  • I should've added that simply adding more perks for an activity don't really address underlying issues. Talents, in their current form, are an example of development tacked onto an activity that don't really add a whole lot of value to the activity other than making the activity go faster and giving some people a leaderboard. A manufacturing masteries system, without more, would be similarly mediocre.
  • I think refineries should at least provide some reasonable return on investment. Right now there is no incentive to actually provide a refinery for people to use aside of just -having- a refinery. Let's say you want to build a Magnaril refinery on Danica. One batch takes about 17 minutes to refine for me (mining spec) if memory serves, and you can make a whole mark profit per unit. The refinery costs 52.500 or so marks, let's say 50.000 because we're feeling generous. So in order to break even, the refinery would have to run 17 x 50.000 minutes, which equals about 850.000 minutes, or 590 RL days. So almost two RL years of nonstop (!) refining and we barely broke even. If you buy a ship and do incursions, you're pretty much back where you were financially within a few RL days, and would be a space version of Scrooge McDuck if you did incursions for 590 days nonstop somehow. If you buy new gear for hunting, it's pretty much the same (the weapons from the Floating Market being an exception due to their extreme prices).

    That being said, I would like to return the question: why should refineries and factories, as one of the very few means of interacting with the supposedly enormous economy also involving billions of NPCs, not make money? There is a base price on production, which you can't go below, and a top price sort of set by the ship forge - obviously, if you're producing more expensive than the ship forge, nobody is going to buy it. Since the base prices are easily accessible, people also have a decent-ish feeling for how much something is "worth" paying for, and what is too expensive.

    So in order to make money with economy, this "background economy" may need to be involved - this was where that aspect of my suggestion came in. Let people choose whether they want to participate in the player economy, where you basically end up making military supplies, or whether to partake in the trade for.. don't know, nutrient paste, mechanical components or fancy booze. The cargo mission suggestions seem to lead into the direction of "additional station missions", just ferrying large amounts of things instead of passengers from A to B, which seems a bit generic to me, and not necessarily more engaging. Making it a passive income, where you just say "alright, we're making hydrospanners for the Scatterhome Depot now, which will net me about 5k a week" was the very baseline idea with minimal engagement to see a return on your investment, although I would enjoy a bit more involvement in the process as well.

    Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to see Starmourn turn into an economy sim, there's plenty of those out there already, and I would also really prefer to avoid just idle ferrying of goods around like Achaea used to have back in the day (where you'd buy a large quantity of a base product in port A, then trade it through ports B, C and D for a supply of goods you'd turn in at port E for a reward), so I see "make good in location A, then transport it to B for money" as a bit of a middle ground.
    As for managing fancy factories similar to workshops... I thought about that, too, but it might be difficult to do since you can plonk down a refinery on planets and even some asteroids if memory serves, even those you can't land on or dock with, so that would make physically entering it a bit difficult unless you were to introduce a central office at your faction station/Omni for the factionless from where you could manage everything.

    Turning refineries into a station/faction owned thing would be fine too, but then something would need to replace the spec bonuses.
  • I actually wouldn't mind an "economy sim" or "ferry things like Achaea" system at all. I think the important consideration is these shouldn't be mandatory. But having the option isn't a bad thing by any means.

    We can make marks and get experience with incursions. Now we can also get both with mining ships. We have station missions (? I think? Never done this one). All of these offer nice alternatives without one being mandatory. If one of these econ alternatives is added, I don't see it as a bad thing by any means (though I do agree that if it's got too niche of an audience, it might not be the best use of dev time) 
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