8/15/2022 in devlog
Michi explains the reasoning for (not) adding buying and sellng ads to the local markets and Nick talks pricing page changes on the website.
Unfortunately we experienced quite a few reboots this week due to a performance issue that slowly grew over time. This week it reached a size where reboots became almost a daily occurrence. I spent some time looking into it and am pretty sure that I found at least one culprit: The accounting system, which keeps every single booking for the past ten weeks before finally discarding them. For big companies those can be many thousands, and they keep adding up. To mitigate this, we deployed a fix where we reduced the amount of periods we keep to three. This is the simplest solution for now, as we don't use more than three periods in APEX. In the long run, we want to keep more periods in an aggregated way though, for example to be able to show graphs about certain accounting metrics.
There has been an interesting discussion going on in Discord this week about the local markets and commodity exchanges. When we moved the commodity exchanges off-world into stations, we also added corresponding local markets. These local markets are limited to only have shipping ads. At the time we didn't want to have two different kind of marketplaces in the same spot, and at the same time we felt that having the ability to form shipping contracts to and from the stations would be a great addition and simplify trading there.
With the introduction of custom contracts, it is now possible to sell and buy contracts at commodity exchange stations too. This is due to custom contracts not being limited to local markets. Some players pointed that out and a discussion arose, whether we should allow buying and selling ads at the commodity exchanges now or not. The players in favor of adding the other ad types argued that the stations are trading hubs anyway, and trading should not be restricted to one form or another. They also argued that actually finding a seller for a low-volume product might be easier with ads. For example, if someone wants to buy a whole suite of different a-fabs for a construction; missing even a single one might stall the whole project. Local market ads would provide more visibility for these kinds of ads.
We discussed the topic in this week's game design meeting and decided to not add buying and selling ads to local markets on stations and here is why:
We don't want to open up the regular local market buying and selling ads to multiple items per ad. That is what custom contracts eventually will be for.
Having buying and selling ads at these local markets would remove liquidity from some already ill-liquid brokers at the commodity exchange. This is especially a problem for players without PRO, which cannot access the local markets. We need to make sure that they have good access to commodities to keep them in the game.
Adding buying and selling ads would clutter the existing local market interface really badly. In the discussion, filters have been proposed, but the question remains how finely tuned they should be. If they are on a single material level, it gets even harder to get an overview than in the existing commodity exchange material list. Restricting the filters to commodity categories only is just a different version of what we have right now with the commodity exchanges.
That leaves us with the question of how players can find trading partners if the have projects like the before-mentioned suite of a-fabs. We think that the leaderboards we discussed in recent devlogs might be an option: Players could look up the top producers of a certain type of commodity in their region and contact them. Alternatively, we think adding a new type of note or text ad to the local markets might be an option. These note ads would basically be a free text where players could make all kinds of offers and requests, but without immediately forming a contract. This is just an idea, we would love to hear what you think about it!
Last week I spent figuring out how to make our pricing model more transparent and easier to understand for new players. Right now, we have 2 different pages on the website that gives information on purchases. I want to condense this to one page and limit the amount of text that one needs to read in order to understand the model. Currently there are three pieces of information that needs to be understood: free license, PRO license, and support tier packages. In order for a new player to get started without all the confusion, I have proposed to reduce the amount of PRO license information upfront since most will want to just play the game for free to start with. We will then educate them about PRO features through newsletters, in-game notifications that already exist, and of course word of mouth through the community. I think this is better than having a new player read all about PRO at the beginning and not being able to understand how our model differs from a pay-to-win model. We will continue to promote support tier packages as we currently do.
Expect to see some changes to the website in the coming weeks as we AB test changing the pricing pages around.