| Monday, March 14, 2005 - 04:11 pm |
There should be a reason for countries to want high quality goods for their citizens to consume. One way to do this is to introduce the concept of perishabiliy into the game, and high quality goods take longer to waste away. In addition, the actual amount of a good that is consumed (by countries) would also be dictated by its quality, in effect each country would consume a certain amount of Good*Quality each month.
I'll illustrate with an example, lets assume a country consumes 10,000 units of Meat a month at 100 quality. Lets also assume that meat decays in quality by 15 points a month. For simplicity sake, lets assume that the country has just run out of meat and orders some more at best price through the normal trading mechanism, and lets assume that the meat that is actually purchased is 80,000 units at quality 215.
First month, the country has 80,000 units of Quality 215 Meat (Q215) in stock and consumes 10,000*Q100 = (10,000/2.15)*Q215 = 4651*Q215, so the countries stock of meat is reduced from 80,000 units to 75,349 units, and because Meat perishes at Q15 a month, next month the meat in stock will be Q200.
Second month, the country has 75349 units of Quality 200 Meat (Q200) in stock and consumes 10,000*Q100 = (10,000/2.00)*Q200 = 5000*Q200.
Third month, the country has 70349 units of Q185, and consumes 10,000/1.85 = 5405
Fourth month, the country has 64944 units of Q170, and consumes 10,000/1.70 = 5802
5th month, the country has 59142 units of Q155, and consumes 10,000/1.55 = 6452
6th month, the country has 52690 units of Q140, and consumes 10,000/1.40 = 7143
7th month, the country has 45547 units of Q125, and consumes 10,000/1.25 = 8000
8th month, the country has 35747 units of Q110, and consumes 10,000/1.10 = 9091
9th month, the country has 28456 units of Q095, and consumes 10,000/0.95 = 10526
***Reorder meat as supplies are running low
10th month, the country has 17930 units of Q080, and consumes 10,000/0.80 = 12500
***Another 80,000 units of meat arrive, this time at a quality of 160
Merge the old supplies with the new, 5430 @ Q65 + 80,000 @ Q160 = 85430 @ Q((5430*65+80000*160)/85430) = 85430 @ Q153
11th month, the country has 85430 units of Q153, and consumes 10,000/1.53 = 6536
Some ramifications of this are:
1. Both 50,000 units at Q200 and 100,000 units at Q100 have the same "country nourishment value" 50,000*200 = 100,000*100 = 10,000,000
2. After 3 months of perishing at Q15 a month (and no consumption),
the 50,000 units of Q155 is now worth 7,750,000 and the 100,000 units of Q055 is now worth 5,500,000
The higher quality units have retained much more of their value
3. Contracts that supply a country with what they need when they need it are much more efficient for items that perish quickly. Lost quality is value wasted.
4. Different product groups (or even products) can be assigned differing rates of perishing (loss of quality). It is not unreasonable to think that milk will degrade in quality faster than books.
5. Product degradation need not always be fixed at the same level. The game might go through a period where wine (for example) increases in quality with time. Other products might have quality degradation that is cyclical, for example: clothes might degrade by 10 points of quality for 2 months and then degrade by 50 points the next month when the "new seasons" fashions comes in, thus going through 4 clothing seasons in a year; cars might degrade by 2 quality points a month and then degrade by 20 quality points at the start of a new year to reflect the discount in value for last years model cars.
6. Countries would need dynamic trade contracts for this to work. A contract supplying a country with clothing (for example) would need to supply fewer/more units of clothing as the quality of the clothing improves/worsens. This could happen through: either a change in the clothes corp buy/supply strategy; through the clothing corp buying/losing quality improvements; or through changes in the transport system (see below).
7. Pehaps the most obvious, as quality falls consumption in unit terms increases.
If items "perish" then delivery time becomes an issue, and the quality of a countries transport system, and the contracts that a country has in place could have a considerable impact.
Currently all products (with the exception of boats) that a country consumes have no delivery time, this is unrealistic. Ideally delivery time could be computed by working out exactly how far each product has come, blah blah blah, a whole lot of work that can mostly be avoided. The game already divides the supply/delivery of products into 3 categories, local market, common market, and international market. These categorations should work fine.
Products produced in the country and supplied to the country by local market contracts should have negligible delivery times, after all they don't have far to go. Products produced elsewhere but supplied by common market contracts should have shorter delivery times than products just bought through the normal trading system. The delivery arrangements for common market contracts are known well in advance, such foreknowledge will enable transportation to be expedited. Products bought on the open market should have the longest delivery times.
Ideally the transport system would be broken up into 4 different categories, road, rail, shipping, and air. Under such a scheme locally made products would mostly be delivered by road, commom market products could mostly be delivered by rail, international contracts would mostly be delivered by sea, and high value quickly perishable products would be delivered by air. But this is not the transport system the game currently has.
One method of converting the road and rail network into 3 transport categories is to assume that the local transport index is 85% roads and 15% rail, the common market transport index is 50% roads and 50% rail, and the international transport index is 15% roads and 85% rail, or any other breakdown that W3C may deem appropriate.
If a country supplies most of its countries needs with local and common market contracts the road network is the most important part of its transport system, and if a country relies primarily on international contracts or buying on the open market then it should aim to have a good rail system.
Lets assume that the "standard" delivery delay for products that a country consumes is 0.5 months if it comes by local contract, 1.5 months if it comes by common market contract, and 4 months if it comes by international contract. This is the delivery delay for a country with 100% road coverage and 100% rail coverage, for countries with a stronger transport network the delays would be shorter, and for countries with a weaker transport system the delivery delay would be longer.
Low transport indexes would need to be bumped up to avoid countries with very poor transport coverage obtaining products that were almost worthless by the time they arrive. There are many ways to do this using logarithmic functions and that sort of thing, for simplicity I'll take the square root of the index if its beneath 100% coverage, and the index itself if its over 100% coverage. This translates to a country needing a rail coverage of 200% to halve the rail delivery time, whereas a road coverage of 25% would only double the road delivery time.
Thus the delivery time (in months) would look like:
For local: 0.5 * 100/(85*(modified road coverage) + 15*(modified rail coverage))
For common: 1.5 * 100/(50*(modified road coverage) + 50*(modified rail coverage))
For international: 4 * 100/(15*(modified road coverage) + 85*(modified rail coverage))
The local, common, and international delivery times for a country need only be calculated once per game month (or maybe less).
For illustrative purposes lets imagine 2 countries, A and B. Country A is a country with a 50% road coverage, and an 40% rail coverage, and would have a local market delivery delay of 0.72 months, a common market delivery delay of 2.23 months, and an international delivery delay of 6.21 months. Country B with a 110% coverage of roads and a 160% coverage of rail would have a local market delivery delay of 0.43 months, a common market delivery delay of 1.11 months, and an international delivery delay of 2.62 months.
So what does this all mean? It means that for a product like Meat which I've been assuming perishes by 15 quality points a month, the meat would lose 10 quality points if it was produced and consumed in country A, would lose 33 quality points being supplied to country A via a common market contract, and would lose 93 quality points if it was bought on the open market. For country B, with the stronger transport network, it would lose 6 quality points for locally produced meat, would lose 10 points supplied by a common market, and would lose 39 quality points for an international delivery.
In terms of game implementation these fractional month delivery times are totally illusory, the country buying system operates in the same way as it does now. If it takes a country 3.76 months for goods to be delivered then the game orders them 3.76 months before, similarly that immediate order that you see for coffee on the trade screen wasn't really ordered this month, it was immediate ordered 3.76 months ago, but is just showing up on the trade screen now. The sole purpose of these fractional delivery delays is to work out how much the quality of a product should be decayed before it is put into the country stock.
These delivery times are "real" however, and the time required for delivery via local, common, and international markets would appear (for the reference of the president) on the transport and trade pages.
I had better make this clear, erosion of product quality, and erosion of product quality due to delivery delay should (at least initially) only apply to end products that countries consume.
A similar system could apply for military equipment. Higher quality weapons (and ammunition) would have a longer operational life. The rate of quality loss for weapons would be very slow maybe something like 2 to 5 quality points a year, and would eventually result in the obsolesence (removal) of weapons. Weapon obsolesence could be handled in 2 ways, either the country auto orders replacements (possibly ahead of time), or alternatively the number of weapons just decays.
A possible way of working it is like this. A country buys 1000 tanks at Q150 (quality 150) after many years the quality has eroded to the point of obsolesence, lets assume that this point is Q98. The tank force is now boosted up in quality to another point, lets assume this is Q102 and the number of tanks is reduced to compensate. 1000 tanks at Q98 = 960 tanks at Q102. 40 tanks get removed from the country's stock, the country may auto order replacements. If tanks decay in quality by 2% a year then unless more tanks were bought to improve the overall quality of the tank force then around 4% of the weapons would be retired every two years.
If you want to buy weapons and blow them up in an imminent war, quality isn't really an issue (though it'd be better if quality did have some bearing on warfare), but if you want to have weapons that will last for a long time (like defensive batteries) higher quality weapons will mean that replacing them is not an issue for many years.
Merging of quality will have to be done with some consideration, particularly with items that perish quickly.
Military equipment, though not in a rapidly decaying quality class is probably the hardest to merge, because weapons are bought in so many small parcels.