A Closer Look At The PotBS Economy

Pirate TrinAhoy mateys! And that’s about all the pirate talk I know. Pirates have never been my “thing” and in the great Pirate-versus-Ninja debate, I would probably choose monkeys (ie. I don’t like ninjas either). It’s not that I have anything against either one. I’m just not interested in them, period. While some might consider this strange, or even shameful, for someone who has “Pirates of the Burning Sea” on top of her much-awaited MMO list, I think it’s proof that the people behind PotBS have managed to design a game that is just plain awesome, regardless of genre or setting.It’s no secret either that the one aspect of PotBS that has captivated me so much is its so-called “player-owned economy”. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of seeing this system up close and with FLS’ permission, I would like to share some of it with you.POTBS Economy 101: The BasicsLet’s start with the basics, which everyone who has read this dev log might already know. Each player account can have up to 10 lots on which he can build structures like logging camps, mines, plantations, etc. Most structures occupy one lot but a few of the advanced shipyards require 2-3. You can build a structure on any port where structures are allowed, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Your standing with the faction that controls the port has to be at least “indifferent”
  • You have the deed, materials and the money required to build the structure
  • The port has the resources required by the structure you are building (eg. It has to have gold for you to build a gold mine)
  • You have a warehouse in that port, which basically means that the first structure you build on any port has to be a warehouse. Warehouses don’t count towards the 10-lot limit, and you don’t need a deed or materials to build it, but it does cost you money to build.

Before you can start producing items in your structure, you need recipes. Each structure comes with a default set of recipes but new ones can also be obtained as loot drops. Recipes generally have three requirements for production: 1) ingredients, 2) labor, and 3) money.Ingredients may be raw materials or other manufactured goods or none, as is normally the case with recipes for gathering raw materials.Labor comes in the form of “stored labor” that your structure has accumulated. Now here’s where PotBS “crafting” differs from most other MMOs’ – to produce an item, you don’t sit there and watch your avatar make them. The items are created instantly and placed into your warehouse as soon as you click on the “Create It!” button. What’s the catch? The number of items you can make is limited by your structure’s stored labor. Stored labor is accumulated at the rate of 1 second per real time second, so if your structure sits idle for 24 hours (while you eat, work, sleep or whatever), when you log back into the game you will have 24 stored hours ready and available for you to execute your recipe(s). So let’s say you are a Cheesemaker and the recipe you have requires 6 hours of labor per batch. You would them be able to make 4 batches with one click. I prefer this over the “factory run” method employed in Star Wars Galaxies, where you put all your ingredients into a factory, start it up and then come back to get your finished goods hours later. With PotBS’ method, you can decide what to produce at a moment’s notice. So if you have a buyer who needs bread instead of cheese, for example, you don’t have to tell him “I’ll start a run, come back in six hours”. You can make the bread right there and then. In the same vein, if demand seems to be high for a particular commodity, you don’t have to wait 6 hours to be able to place it on the market.I suppose the money or “doubloons” part of the recipe represents all the other expenses that go into production, and it includes a tax portion. According to the dev log, “the (tax) rates are adjustable for every combination of nations—we can decide that the French particularly hate the Spanish, and tax them at 50 percent.” I have no idea how often this tax rate will change or whether it’s manually adjusted or automatic depending on PvP status, but the idea is that it will be cheaper for you to produce items on your own nation’s soil than on foreign land.Trading GoodsThe Auction House is the primary means of buying and selling goods in PotBS. Direct trading between players is also possible but there is no courier service. In other words, you cannot “send” items to a player who is not online and not in the same port as yourself. Furthermore, the Auction Houses are only linked within a region, although Freetraders can assign training points to a skill that lets them view all items across all regions from any Auction House. This means that if you’re in a port in Florida for example, you can only see what’s being sold in all ports in Florida. Now, if you buy an item that’s being sold in another port within the region, you cannot retrieve that item without sailing to that port. It’s inconvenient yes, but it makes sense and it ties in with the whole PvP theme where business can be affected or even hindered by opposing nations and more so by pirates after your goods.One other distinctive feature about PotBS’ Auction House is its pricing system. It’s a blind bidding system that was, according to its designer, based on Final Fantasy XI’s AH. Being a graduate of the WoW School of Auction Houses, I was bewildered on my first trading attempt in PotBS and it took some digging to fully understand it. So let me try and explain it in my own words.When you put something up for sale, you specify the minimum price at which you want to sell your item. A buyer coming into the auction house will see the total number of such items for sale (including those from other sellers, not just you), and the last 10 prices paid for that item. To buy an item, he will then make a reasonable offer and if it happens to be equal to or higher than your minimum, he wins the bid and your item gets sold. Otherwise, he gets a message saying that the item is not available at his bidding price. If there were multiple sellers whose minimum prices are met with the bid, the one with the lowest price will get the sale.Those who are familiar with the FF XI auction house system swear that it works quite well there. The same type of bidding system was also reportedly introduced in City of Heroes/Villains a few months ago, although no explanations were put forth for that move. As far as I understand, the PotBS devs see the blind bidding auction house system as a means for stabilizing prices by reducing the downward price pressure caused by undercutting, as the tendency would be in a WoW-type auction house.I must admit that as a buyer, that system still drives me nuts, particularly when there are no historical prices to go by but in a way, it forces you to know the economy. The consumer has to know at least how much it cost to produce something for him to be able to bid intelligently on it.What Can I Make?You don’t have to be a Freetrader to produce and sell things in the PotBS economy but Freetraders do get special skills that will help them produce and trade more effectively. Perhaps the biggest challenge for any trader is figuring out what to sell. The easiest commodities to deal in are the raw materials because they don’t require any inputs other than labor and doubloons. At the other end of the spectrum are the ships that everyone, including the traders themselves, will be clamoring for. And in between are hundreds of parts that go into the making of a ship, plus consumables that make a captain’s life complete. Just to give you an idea of what these are, here’s a much abbreviated list:

  • Raw Materials
    • Logs
    • Fish and game animals
    • Ore
    • Sugarcane, wheat, tobacco, grapes, etc.
  • Manufactured Goods
    • Oak barrels
    • Cured meat and fish
    • Hides and furs
    • Leather
    • Nails
    • Ingots
    • Cheese
    • The list goes on
  • Shipwright Materials
    • Anchor
    • Ballast
    • Keel
    • Mast section
    • Transom, etc.
  • Ship Outfitting
    • Sails
    • Cannon
    • Hull
    • General
  • Ammunition
  • Consumables
    • Gunpowder
    • Hull Patch
    • Rum
    • Wine Rations
    • Mast Brace
    • Bandages
    • Smelling Salts
    • And more

I probably missed a few more but you get the picture. The list is rather daunting and I suspect most merchants will choose to join societies (aka guilds), where production efforts can be coordinated better. Personally, I’d prefer to remain a free agent because that would give me more flexibility – I can make whatever I want without someone else telling me I have to make 10,000 boring widgets because that’s what the society needs.The Merchant in a PvP WorldAlthough PotBS has PvE (player-vs-environment) gameplay aspects that appeal to people like me who don’t really enjoy PvP (player-vs-player), as a merchant your productivity can be impacted by PvP, unless you choose to remain in safe harbors at all times. Collecting goods from a warzone area puts you at risk of losing your precious cargo because any player can attack your ship while you’re there. In spite of my PvE inclinations, this idea appeals to me because it presents an opportunity for tactical planning. I think it would be fun to get a into a PvP group and let them battle the enemy while I run a blockade.Well, okay, we’ll see how I feel when a pirate sinks my fastest, uber-est ship and takes my boatload of fine wine.


  1. Restyle says:

    nice to readit gave me a propper understanding of the econemy system

  2. Matt Wigdahl says:

    Nice post! Thanks for this.

  3. Griele says:

    Thanks for the great info. I too am looking forward to the economy of PotBS.

  4. Justin says:

    Nice piece! Quite informative about the economy system is PoTBS

  5. Jack McBain says:

    Good information! I’m a bit concerned with the AH system. One will have to keep some pretty good records in order to know which direction the market is moving and at what rate.

  6. Voda says:

    Good info, being a CoX player I know the AH system verry well. While its designt to stop the heavy undercutting ,its still possilble to do so, you would however need a huge load of friends to help doing it ( depending on storage space).the realy good thing about this system is that it ends the infation deu traders ( yea we do at time ;) ) asking to mutch and will help create a healty but low profit market.

  7. Trifler says:

    Well written article! This gives me a much better idea of how the economy will work in the game and I’m sure I’ll be one of the authors many competitors. ;-)

  8. Justin says:

    My experience with the CoH auction house was, at first, very frustrating (I had also grown accustomed to WoW’s AH), but after a week or so I really started to appreciate it, both as a buyer and seller. In particular, I found that patience was much more rewarded. Since all buyers and sellers will put in a wide range of bids, and sales are only made when the 2 ranges overlap, waiting a few days for the fluctuations to overlap was often all that was needed to buy or sell for the price you desired. Inversely, if something was needed immediately, you always had the option of paying more for it (to the benefit of the patient seller who priced his auction high).

  9. Fritz says:

    … am encouraged to hear from someone who should know (from Beta) that non-aligned freetrading isn’t a doomed strategy — had wondered about that. And it’s always nice to get the current summary of a PotBS topic in one place, rather than the grind of searching boards for bits and pieces of info.

  10. Haibane says:

    The Auction System in FFXI was not that bad experience, but it was kinda the first auction system i experienced, as EQ2 & WoW got released later.I think it gives a more “pirate” touch as you always have to guess how much to pay to get the item exactly.

  11. oleum says:

    Thanks for the overview.I’m still waiting for the download/update to finish, but I do now know a high priority is on getting a warehouse and other structures up so I can store labour.I loved the FFXI AH system and this is a different style of craft system to any MMO I’ve seen.Awesome.

  12. Francis says:

    I hope they add in the ability to scuttle (or burn) your boat should you come under attack ;)

  13. Be a Good Daughter says:

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  15. Bihai says:

    Thank you for the overview. I’ll put it to good use. Avast, me hearties, yo ho! And really bad eggs!

  16. Be a Good Daughter says:

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  17. Daniel says:

    I read similar article also named ser Look At The PotBS Economy at female-gamer.com, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me

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