The Economy As We Know It (thus far*):
Basic Goods: Items produced at a factory, and otherwise unmodified items.
Premium Goods: Basic Goods that have been upgraded through performance tuning/overclocking.
Unique Goods: Items that cannot be produced at a factory, i.e. Vanduul knives, rare loot from boss characters, mission/storyline rewards, rare salvaged parts, alien artifacts, etc.
Raw Materials: Ore, gas and other found, gathered or mined materials that can be refined into parts, fuel, drinking water etc.
Refined Materials: Fuel, metal (plates, rods), and other parts refined from Raw Materials. Some are used at a production node to produce Basic Goods.
Salvaged Materials: Salvaged metal, parts etc. that can be used at a production node to produce Basic Goods.
Items and Loot
First and perhaps most importantly: MOST items in the game will come from the manufacturing system.
There will not be traditional loot drops or loot tables as found in other MMOs.
We will be able to salvage some items from destroyed ships.
Unique items will be found in the universe, from bosses.
NPCs will disappear from the world when theyre killed, so it wont be possible to farm an NPC for loot.
Each star system will have a pre-determined number of people, made up of NPCs and players.
The player population will be smaller than the NPC population (one example states as low as 10%).
When a player enters the system, they take the place of an NPC.
As long as the NPCs are there, they are living, working, trading, pirating, manufacturing, or whatever else -- just as a player would do.
Players will not be able to spike the economy, as the the large number of NPCs working and trading will help keep things in check.
There will always be a market, even if players arent currently filling it.
"We dont simulate the AI stuff if you arent actually seeing it, but we resolve it. "
Crafting in Star Citizen has been compared to SimCity's system.
There is a planned companion app to help manage production when not logged into the actual game.
The production process consists of getting the proper equipment, gathering materials, refining materials, producing goods, transporting goods, improving basic goods (performance tuning), and selling goods.
Factories and storefronts on planets can be owned by players.
Factories consist of multiple production nodes.
Production nodes are specific to a certain type of item, i.e. lasers
Refining can be done on board ships as well as at factories.
Production quality is potentially impacted by employee happiness.
Economy-generating missions are spawned based on what is needed or missing in the supply chain, including piracy.
At each step in the process an NPC will fill the role if a player is not available.
Production is turn-based. You will need the proper grade of electronics, materials, and a certain amount of crew to produce x amount of items per turn. The factory will create an order for whatever you're missing. The orders will go to the mission boards. AI will fill the order if a player doesn't.
If your factory is doing well, purchasing more machines will attract more employees and the population of that planet will actually grow as a result.
"If you go to a factory and the AI has bought all the missiles, there are no more missiles for purchase that turn. Now, of course, if nobodys buying any missiles, theres a big inventory. First of all, the price of missiles would go down, but then also that factory is going to be running at a loss, and so maybe it starts to lay off some of its people."
...if a factory is mismanaged and its owner cant pay his workers and is forced to lay them off, the population of the planet becomes unhappy. And an unhappy planet spawns more criminal missions, which increases piracy in the star system.
Mining will require a mix of Exploration (Scanning), Skill (laser cutting), and logistics (hauling).
Spaceborne gases can be collected from gas giants and extrasolar sources and refined into fuel.
Larger ships are capable of tractoring in spaceborne junk and asteroids.
All devices will have a threshold where they're running at maximum efficiency, and a maximum yield. Performance tuning is the process of tweaking a basic item to find that threshold. Some items will have a potential that will be greater than others.
"Parts are manufactured within tolerances, and while every part that rolls off the line will function precisely to its rated value, its true capability can be discovered by players willing to risk the consequences of failure. Pushing hardware past its rated specifications can have disastrous results though, and even successfully tuned parts will likely be more power hungry and generate a larger signature!"
To alleviate some of the risk, well be able to bench test our equipment in the hangar before taking it into space.
Taxes - on credit transactions
Fees - docking, hangar rental, insurance, fuel, medical bills, repairs/upkeep, ammunition, wages (hired NPCs: