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I'm looking to create an economic model for a game based on goods created procedurally.

Every natural resource and produced good would be procedurally generated, with certain goods being assigned certain uses.

Fakesium might be used for the production of Weapon A and produced from Fakesium factories which use Dilithium and Widgets as reagents, where Widgets are also the product of Foo and Bar

The problem is not creating the resources and their various production utlities - but getting the game's AI empires and merchants to (Addendum: somewhat) correctly value the goods according to their scarcity, utility and production costs.

I need to create a simulation of goods which allows the various game factions to assign a common value denominator (credits) to each resource, depending on how much its worth to that empire.

I see the simulation being something like: "I have a high requirement for Weapon A. Since I don't have much of Fakesium, which is needed for Weapon A - I must have a high demand for Fakesium. If I can acquire Fakesium, devalue it. If not, increase its value - and also increase demand for Dilithium and Widgets too."

This is very naive - because it may be much much cheaper for the empire to simply purchase Dilithium and Widgets directly rather than purchasing Fakesium, for example. Another example is two resources might allow the creation of Weapon A (Fakesium and Lieron), so we'd need to consider that. I've been scratching my head over the problem and it keeps growing.

By the time the player joins the world, I'd expect enough iterations of this process to have occurred that prices would have largely normalised - and would then only trigger rarely to compensate for major changes (eg. if the player blows up the world's only Foo mine!)

Could anyone suggest resources (books, largely) which outline this style of modelling, preferably in the context of simulations? Since this problem would never occur outside fantasy worlds, I figured this is probably the most likely place to find people who have encountered similar problems and I'm sure there's people who know of good places for Games Developers to start looking at less specific economic theory too.

Additionally, does anyone know of any developers with blogs whose games or research applications perform similar modelling?

EDIT: I think I should underline that I'm not looking for optimal solutions. I'm looking to make the actors impulsive - making rudimentary decisions based on fuzzy inputs about what they care about or don't. I'm aiming to understand the problem area better not derive answers. All the textbooks I've found seem to be about real-world economics or how to solve complex theoretical problems, neither of which are terribly relevant to the actor's decision making.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would skim through any Applied Calculus for Business textbooks. The examples and exercises will be helpful. You will be surprised that the business case you described happens ALL the time outside of gaming. Then proceed to Numerical Sciences or Management Sciences textbooks. That is where your solution eventually lies.

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I had a few comments but I think I'm going to have to do more investigation. Still looking at other ways of looking at the problem (perhaps market psychology? the actors don't have to make great decisions, they can be impulsive and irrational) but this seems a good start, thanks! –  Rushyo Mar 2 '11 at 18:01
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