Feeling up the future

The core elements of a future’s market are:

  1. The sale of the agreement to purchase a set quantity at a set price at a set time in the future
  2. The sale of the agreement to sell a set quantity at a set price at a set time in the future

That’s it: The purchased promise to transact volume at price on date. Future’s markets rely on two things:

  1. A reasonable certainty on market prices in the future
  2. Unpredictable and yet reasonable risks which could significantly affect the prices at that time

Wealth of Nations delivers (a poor) something of a futures market in the way that commodity prices vary with supply and demand (which is clever and works well), but does not allow direct speculative exploitation of that market. I’m specifically interested in a direct speculatively exploitative futures market in a game…

It seems difficult but not impossible to implement direct representation of a futures market in a game if the game is going to play quickly (less than 2 hours). If the players are to build the systems which establishes the reasonable certainty then I suspect it may be impossible as too many iterations are required to build the player investments to deliver that certainty – with fewer iterations the sunk costs of chaos are too low.

Perhaps if the game provided the backdrop of both the base market and the base forces which drive the general curces of future market behaviour? Thus the game would effectively guarantee that the basic curves of value and time were as so, but the players could affect those curves or deliberately cause events to throw them off? Hurm. Curious. That puts the players more in the role of market manipulators, attempting to buy one side of the speculation prospects up cheap before forcing the market in that direction. Hurm. Yeah.

So how would the market represent? How could players see the value curves they would be speculating on, let alone the player manipulation incentive grids for exploitation? That’s a problem.

Imagine a linear track of value. Each commodity has five markers on the track:

  1. Historical market high (plus a date/age?)
  2. Historical market low (plus a date/age?)
  3. Current price
  4. Price at the end of last turn/epoch
  5. Price at the end of the turn/epoch before last

That would seem to sum most of the really basic data needed for market behaviours: trend, range, and velocity. (Later update: Of course it misses volume, which is also key)

I wonder?

This is such a curiously ungainly area for a game.