The Trade Game

Ekrem Atamer
6 min readNov 22, 2019


In the Trade Game (Trader Tycoon?), you take up the role of, you guessed it, a trader. Your purpose is to make as much money as possible. Visualization is through illustrations and text. The system is limited and is probably better suited as a companion side-function to a bigger game, or used to enhance an existing similar function.

Merchant. Art by Fay DS

You start by creating your character’s background via a series of questions similar to Mount&Blade. These questions decide your starting traits and base of operations.

My single pager. That’s not a bacteria, it’s a map with countries and locales. Big circles are capitals.

World Creation

The map is fully procedurally generated with the following steps:

  1. The geology is created with terrain features.
  2. Resources are scattered around the map.
  3. A number of countries and their borders are placed. The countries are created with certain parameters such as their ruling method and current ruler.
  4. The rulers are also randomized with a variety of traits.
  5. A number of cities each game with at least one capital. Most countries will also have bigger cities whenever there is a wide open space. However, specifics may change depending on the country and ruler traits.
  6. According to country, ruler traits, resource and terrain locations, political standings between countries and cities will be determined.
  7. Once the world is setup, trading companies are created with all the parameters such as targets, operation areas, operation resources etc.
  8. Finally, the starting resource demands are created and initiated.

Resource Demands

Resource demands are functions tied to resources and locales that decide how much each resource is wanted in each locale. Resource Demands can have the following types (including function parameters)

Demand Scope

These define where the resources are required. The functions are used with the given parameters to create a “demand object”

  1. Global Demand (resource): Resources with this are wanted everywhere. Think certain metals in real world, we will always want some of them.
  2. Static Demand (resource, list of locale): These resources will be wanted in these locales.
  3. Dynamic Demand (resource, source): The source will require the resource and will move around the map or appear in different places. Technically, it’s the source that has the demand but effectively, the demands per locale will be changing over time as more sources travel around. The sources might be a trader (moves around the map) or maybe protection against a random natural disaster (may spread or appear in multiple locale in different times)

Demand Amount

These define how much of the resource is required

  1. Minimum Demand (demand, amount): Resource is required at least as much as the amount. Prices can fluctuate but are most likely to decrease more and more after this amount.
  2. Maximum Demand (demand, amount): Resource is required at most as much as the amount. Price will change drastically after the amount. In fact, trade may even be rejected outright.
  3. Fill-up (demand, amount, time?): A one-time fill-up is required. This will override the min-max demands and is likely to have a time restraint.

Demand Contract

These define who can take care of the trade

  1. Free Trade (demand): Anyone can sell the resources
  2. Exclusive Contract(demand): A contract must be made at the start and once done, only the exclusive partner can do the trade. It is likely that these contracts have time or otherwise restraints (such as not trading to an opponent)
  3. Semi-Exclusive Contract (demand): This contract can have a multiple of methods: It can set one trader as partner and limits the amount others can trade; or sets multiple partners and each has a limit of trade. It can also start everyone at a low amount and increase it as each part is completed.

Demand Timer

These define when the trade is wanted. While this is sometimes defined by contracts etc, sometimes a demand has a stand-alone timer.

  1. Constant: These are required all the time
  2. Other Timer: Those decided by contracts, fill-ups etc.
  3. Time Limit: Likely to appear with events, these are time-limited demands.

These factors all together decide what’s wanted and when. You are thrown into world with little and will have to work your way up.

Game Flow

You are likely to start with a number of resources and a destination to sell or some money and decisions to make. Regardless, you’ll travel often. Travelling works like the old Fallout games: Click the map, you start moving and randomly, you can get encounters. Encounters will work similar to FTL: Scene is described in text (with a nice illustration) and you are expected to make a choice. The choices you have will depend on your inventory, your entourage, your traits and your relations with others. The results of these choices can also have an impact on your future.

For example, you may choose to trade with a rebel leader and receive a letter with his seal. This means that whenever you are ambushed by the rebel raiders, you probably can use it to avoid a fight. However, if the Kingdom patrols find you and they are suspicious enough to search your things and find that letter, you may find yourself in a hairy situation.


You can use your money and influence to get things. Alternatively, completing “quests”, being in good terms with others or combat loot might also be used for “acquisition”.

One type of things that you’ll want are tools such as vehicles and carriage space. Note that I’m not naming any tools, as the game is adaptable to any setting. For a 1800s concept, you might be buying simple tools, horses and wagons. In a space concept, it might be more spaceships, rechargeable batteries etc.

You can also have companions. These might help you carry things, protect you or bring some sort of expertise: Maybe someone to repair your transport, maybe someone that speaks a different language or one with a unique service that can be used as a negotiation token.

Last but not least, you can invest in local businesses to get more favorable prices and in time, even affect the supply or the demand of the locale.

On top of your inventory and entourage, you will also gain personal traits. These will be acquired by achieving certain things. Someone who likes you enough might teach you something. You may be able to pay for a crash course. For example, maybe a companion will tell you about how to spin&stab, where one person keeps the enemy occupied while others prepare for an assault. Then you might stumble upon a random encounter where you meet this guy that tells the most far-fetched stories. You choose to treat him nicely and in return, he gives you pointers on how to spin a yarn better. Now, you get a better chance of success from spin&stab!


Speaking of it, when things are really heated, combat is an option. Let’s go on with the sample and a patrol is about to attack. You can still try to negotiate or to bribe them. You can also decide to use specific tactics like Spin&Stab if you unlocked them. The outcome will depend on the size and quality of forces and the method used. If you are defeated, it’s likely your things are confiscated and you have to suffer prison time (which may cause a full start-over and loss of contacts.)

Time Process

As time passes, diplomatic ties are changed in a randomized manner plus random events happen, which effects every part of these demands, keeping the game dynamic and surprising. You may start in a peaceful world, ignore weapon trade and rely on the sheer number of partners. But what if a big war breaks out and you have to make choices and your regular trade items are now not as requested as much? There will be many choices to make and due to randomization of the map and the diplomatic changes, each game will be different.


As mentioned, there will also be opponents. You’ll have to compete them for contracts, buying resources before a source is out and selling resources in time (for example, before the max amount is reached.)

Depending on their traits, they can be ambitious, aggressive and expansive while others might be very focused or have no interest in growth. You can decide to sabotage them in a number of ways, including sending ambushes and so can they. Of course, your options will be affected by your actions and your actions will also be affected by your options. The shadier things you do, the shadier options you may get… but the shadier your reputation will also be, especially if you aren’t careful about being inconspicuous.


I can see some problems and missing points, but I’m pretty happy with the concept and the basics are quite expandable. Please let me know what you think about the game and also the concept of these one-pagers!



Ekrem Atamer

Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD