Monday, June 06, 2022
PrUn Log - Stardate 2022-06-06
In the previous entry of my Prosperous Universe adventures we finished with the open question on whether to build a hydroponic farm to grow coffee beans, which can then be transformed into "caffeinated infusion" aka coffee in a food processor. Lately coffee has been expensive and in short supply, and because this is one of the first luxury consumables many people use to make their pioneers more efficient, that might be both a good source of income and another step towards self-sufficiency.
After running the numbers through a spreadsheet, it appears that the profitable step in that operation is to make the coffee from the coffee beans. Growing the coffee beans, which needs settlers, and thus special habitation and consumables, is both rather more complex and much less profitable. The better solution would be buying the coffee beans, but they aren't always available, and prices are all over the place. Then, just as I had cashed in from a shipload full of the produced goods over the last days, I say a nice stack of coffee beans on the commodity exchange for a reasonable price. I went a bit overboard and bought 50 coffee beans, enough to make 150 coffee, while the daily consumption of my pioneers is 3.
On the plus side, I now have coffee for 50 days (or a bit less if I further grow my pioneer population). But what I realized maybe too late is that this purchase ties up a lot of my capital for a rather long time. And as coffee prices are already going down again, that was probably not such a good idea. If I had put the money into more production buildings instead, it would have been more profitable. Well, I'll slowly brew all that coffee, and then see where the coffee prices went. If they go up again, I can still make a nice profit selling that excess coffee. On the other hand, coffee is a *luxury* consumable, which means it increases efficiency, but isn't absolutely necessary to get pioneers working, so above a certain price people simply stop buying it.
As I mentioned in my series on starting packages of Prosperous Universe, I have permission to run a second account for blogging purposes. The idea is generally to frequently liquidate the company of that second account and try a different starting package. My latest restart was to make a metallurgist base on Montem, but I quickly realized that there isn't much money in just smelting iron, and Montem, in spite of being recommended, isn't actually all that great for the iron part. However, Montem does have limestone, and the combination of limestone and iron is great for making prefabs. So my "metallurgist" base pretty much immediately turned into a "metallurgist / constructor" base.
What I wanted to do was run that base as a regular player would for a couple of weeks, and see how good that starting package turns out to me. And then my plans got perturbated by strange events. You see, I did take a supporter package with 1 month of subscription for the second account; both as thanks to the devs for allowing me to run this for the blog, and to try out the "basic" license that you get after your "Pro" subscription runs out. As such I can take on shipping contracts, which I do, because that would be a typical secondary income of a new player. I am using the FIO Shipment Finder website to find profitable shipment contracts. And there I saw something unusual: Another player offering a whopping 110,000 AIC for a shipment in the Antares sector. Now Antares is pretty far from the Moria sector where the rest of my operation is. But the highest amount I ever got for shipping was 20k, so 110k is hard to resist. So I planned it properly (you need to take some extra FTL fuel for such long trips), accepted the shipping contract and set off. There was an obvious risk that this was some sort of error or hoax, so I admit it helped that I was on that secondary blog account.
In the end I did the shipment, and it did turn out to be an error on the part of the player who had posted it; he had simply added one zero too much at the end. But as he was very nice, and actually able to pay that much money, he paid me anyway. Which opened up a whole lot of opportunities for that account to try out some more things for the blog. First of all being what you do with a large pile of cash in a foreign currency with your ship far from home. Now there is a currency exchange market, but it is somewhat cumbersome, and you need a PRO license to access it. The easier solution is to buy goods in the foreign market with the foreign currency and ship those home. This also opens up possibilities for arbitrage, with for example aluminum being cheaper in the Antares sector than in Moria. However, I obviously wanted to spend most of my foreign cash without buying more goods than my single ship could transport. So in the end I took a mix of 100 aluminum and 4000 fuel, which is now on the long way back home. Well, at least I won't run out of fuel on the way back.
So the next good question is what one would do if one gets a large cash injection into a starter base operation. The safe and boring option would have been to just multiply the operation I already have, but that wouldn't have been of any interest for the blog. So instead I thought it would be good to answer a question I had heard on a recent Twitch stream: If you choose a certain starting package, in how far does that determine your future options to grow your base? Are you stuck with the "career" you chose at the start? The answer is no, you can build production buildings of different careers on your starting base, although for some careers you are limited by the natural resources you can extract on that planet. Montem has little water and fertility, starting a farming operation there wouldn't make much sense.
So my plan now is to build up my base on Montem into a completely different direction, fuel production. That has absolutely nothing to do with what I already have on the planet. And because a refinery needs settlers, I will need settler habitations and consumables. It will be the most complex business venture I tried, and the idea is to use the blog account to show whether extreme diversification is a viable business strategy in Prosperous Universe, or whether the logistics are too much to handle. It is the polar opposite of the business strategy on my main account, which is very much vertically integrated and leaning towards self-sufficiency.