Hey, look at my wealth! – Why being Scrooge McDuck is not such a great idea – Part 1

Scrooge Mcduck

Remember Scrooge McDuck? This was his first appearance in Donald Duck cartoon – loved that one when I was a child

Part 1 focuses on the issues related to storing resources – and why generally it is not such a great idea – unless you have a good reason for it. Part 2 will focus on the actual amount of your reserves, and what you should take into account when determining these. Part 2 – available soon!

This article is a part of our series “Gamers, get your suits on!” on application of management skills and common sense in computer games. You can find the rest of articles here (including part 2 of this article)

In previous article, “On the universality of resources” I have introduced the thought, that keeping resources (or money – which is just another resource) means a loss. Not necessarily a loss as such (since most games neglect the cost of storage), but rather loss of opportunities, alternatives that could bring you some kind of profit.
As I wrote in “On the universality of resources”, storing resources is bad for your economy. Here is a simple example:


Assume we have 100 units of any resource – money, ore, anything. I also have a production rate of, say, 20 units of that resource per hour. I’m trying to gather enough resources to buy something cool, costing 200 units.
What most players do is patiently wait until the stock hits 200 units. Ok, you guys can wait 5 hours, I don’t mind. But do you want to?Let’s do something else. Let’s invest those 100 units to increase our production rate by 20. In games usually you get your investment back very fast, otherwise it would be boring – therefore those numbers are quite conservative assumption.With my new production rate, 40 units per hour I’ll gather 200 units in 5 hours.

So the waiting time is not changed. But what is changed is my economy’s output afterwards, that is doubled! Of course if you had strong economy compared to the requirements of whatever you are building, it might not be worth it. But whatever your economy is, you can find something to build that keeps the same ratio. So the bottom line is:

Whenever you are thinking of building something, that is a considerable effort for your company, think of investing what you gather before building it - if you think carefully you may get some nice bonuses without any setbacks. In this case what you get is stronger economy, that allows to build whatever you did before in 5 hours (instead of 10 hours in case of the “old” economy).

Ok, this was just a simple example of doing big projects. This might sound obvious, but I have seen lots of players out there, who focus on objective to much, without thinking about the way to get there at all – and losing opportunities.  

Storing resources and safety:

What is not so obvious is that in the second case you are simply safer. Why? If you are playing strategy game, your opponent usually wants your resources. And in many games they can get resources by defeating you, but often they can’t get back the resources you have invested.
Let’s say in case of our game 100 units (or more) is something worth plundering. Storing resources makes you a worthwhile target of an assault.

In our example, if you were gathering the resources, you would be a good target for attack for 5 hours. If you did what I suggest, you would be a good target for only 2.5 hours. Not important you say? You are wrong. Why?

  1. The longer you have goods worth plundering, the higher the chance your enemy will actually notice that.
  2. Even if, in 2.5 hours he might not be able to gather enough forces to strike you.
  3. Plus if he does, your stronger economy will be able to produce twice as many defensive units per unit time, as if you did not invest.

Another game, another scenario: resources are worth less than infrastructure, or in this game you can rip infrastructure from your enemy’s hands, but you can’t have his resources. Well, in that case by the time you finish building (unless the building process is instant in your game), you have twice as many resources to spend on defenses, as you otherwise would. That, plus point 3 above still holds.

Challenges of storing resources:

Ok, so we’ve got the safety issues covered. Decent military, some diplomatic pacts, nobody won’t attack us for our resources (think Switzerland). But how do we store these resources, and how much does it cost us?

First things first: as you might have noticed two sentences ago, to store resources you have to make sure they are secure. This usually means some expenditure of that kind of other. Let’s not dwell on this, you do your maths.

But you need to store all of that mess somewhere. In some games this is not a problem for you, since resources are just numbers appearing in the top right corner of your screen (e.g. Starcraft). But in some games you need to build a warehouse first. And you are lucky if this games assumes that warehouses have unlimited capacity (have you ever played Knights&Merchants?). There are also warehouses with limited capacity (equipment docs in X3 series are a pain in the ass here) or with limited capacity AND able to store only a couple types of goods.

Children of the Nile

Keep working for the prosperity of our people! But where the heck are we going to store it?

 

So why would you store anything? This depends on the game. In simple case you do it only because you need to gather enough resources to build something. In our case you need to be able to store 200 units to build whatever it was. Also you might have goods, that you can buy in bulks, but there is no constant supply of such. Or maybe the price fluctuates, and if you buy it now you will save later?

Still, there is the ultimate kind. Add up all of the above, and storage costs per unit stored in case of Virtonomics. So I think you can see, that although it might seem so simple to build a couple warehouses – it is a cost, and often a considerable one. And it all ads up.

You have your own reasons, no point in dwelling on that. But there is one more thing you should consider:

Resources are your rapid-response forces

If you have resources, in case of attack you can quickly build defensive measures, as discussed in “On the universality of resources”. You can also react to changes in the market, or grab opportunities when they arise, even if they might be resource-intensive. This also includes any “Gather XX resources” quests.

Periodic output

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim House

Buying a house in Skyrim? One of the main reasons to do so is to use it as a warehouse. Well, your scavenging output is usually quite periodic. Having lots of spare potions and soul gems is quite handy.

Some of the resources (like wheat in Children of the Nile) are produced periodically, eg. only during winter season. However bakeries operate all year round, so you must somehow store the resources required for whole year. This is a different case, and you usually will be forced to use warehouses.

This is the end of this week’s article. Stay tuned for the second part – where I will discuss how much you should actually store (i.e. what your reserves should be), and what factors should be taken into account.

Adam “Fanatyk” Wojciechowski

This article is a part of our series “Gamers, get your suits on!” on application of management skills and common sense in computer games. You can find the rest of articles here (including part 2 of this article)

About The Author

Adam "Fanatyk" Wojciechowski
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I am a co-founder, admin and manager of this site. From time to time I also write articles here. In real life, I am doing my Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering with Management at the University of Edinburgh. Besides gaming I am an avid cyclist, fountain pen enthusiast and windsurfer.

3 Responses to Hey, look at my wealth! – Why being Scrooge McDuck is not such a great idea – Part 1

  1. Fabian says:

    Dude. Lose with ONE o. You make the same mistake in every single one of your articles I’ve read so far…

    • WriterX says:

      Fixed that. Neither me nor Fanatyk have English as our first language, so errors are bound to happen. Thanks for pointing that one out.

    • Fanatyk says:

      Thanks for the tip, I wrote those articles a loooong ;-) time ago. I’m not really a writer – but a manager – still, I hope the meritorical value was OK.

      Cheers!

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