So in Le Guinn, we may now have specialized worlds, which is cool. I was thinking about one such world, an agri-world, and tried to fathom it: an entire world covered with farmland. Then I thought, is this realistic? Would this be the economically ideal decision? Yes, I understand the advantage of a specialized world, increased efficiency in economies of scale, but the disadvantage is the cost of transporting everything produced to where it's needed, across many light-years no less.
I think it would be awesome if Stellaris applied the costs of transportation across an empire. Currently, a specialized world is always better than a general world, the only disadvantage occurring when there aren't enough colonized worlds to cover each resource. If transportation came with a price, a general world would be better until the efficiency benefits of a specialized world overcame the cost of transporting. Obviously there are many ways this can be implemented, many of which will be too complex, but I think I've come up with a simple way that still serves the purpose.
If you open your planet screen, a rectangle near the mid-bottom shows your planet's production. The beauty is that this actually shows the net balance. If they're all positive, the planet is entirely self-sufficient. Any costs are subtracted directly from what the planet produced. Transportation stays within the planet. If any particular resource is negative, on the other hand, this means the planet is consuming more than it's producing. The difference must be shipped in from other planets (or mining stations). The negatives on the net balance sheet can easily represent the amount of incoming cargo per planet.
The cost for transportation can be directly proportional to this amount. Let's say I wanted the cost of transporting minerals to be 0.05 energy credits per mineral (theoretically, we can make it any amount and any resource, but I think energy makes the most sense). If my planet is producing -20 minerals per month, it would cost 1 energy to import that amount each month.
This doesn't account for distance traveled, but I think if hyperjumps were counted for every potential source and every potential destination, the calculations would get overwhelming. We don't need to count distances. However, we can take it one step further by looking at the sector's balance sheet. If the sector is self-sufficient (all production positive), then any interstellar cargo is going at most five hyperjumps away. If the sector is importing resources (some resources with negative balance), then this portion of resources has traveled farther than the resources that stay within the sector. We can charge a another fee directly proportional to the sector's negative balances. That portion of resources will pay its cargo costs twice: once to reach the sector and once to reach the planet.
The simplicity in doing it this way is that only imports are counted and charged. Exports are not tracked; they are not sent to some central distribution center in the capital and then shipped to a planet. Thus, the empire storage can exists anywhere and everywhere because we don't need to know where produced resources go.
Charge a cost representing the cost of cargo transportation based on a planet's "imports," the negative production on its balance sheet.
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