I'll write my 2 penny's worth now that I can do that *squee* ooooh exciting times.
So for the player economy to function there are two main areas that need to be considered. Those being Supply and Demand and Ease of use. I'll do my best to cover what i consider the existing issues here to be (specifically in the context of player economy and increasing footfall across EKs which I understand is a goal for ArtCraft) and some possible resolutions I see to these apparent issues.
Supply and Demand
The issue (As i see it)
For there to be a player economy in the game there needs to be the cycle of supply and demand. More specifically there has to be a need for goods and crafters sitting around pumping out all those lovely goodies... like horrid underappreciated vending machines (not bitter).
And there in lies the rub. As things stand at the moment it is relatively easy for every person and guild to get everything that they need to supply themselves. Every tom, hooligan and harry is a jack of all trades but a master of none. Now I know that this is a symptom of the accelerated skill training owing to the place we are in the testing cycle but i can only comment on what i see/read right now.
There is a lack of specialisation. If everyone can craft (broadly speaking) everything they need then there is no (or little) "demand" and so consequentially it follows that there is little need for "supply". This is harmful to both parties in the transaction, a catch 22 situation. If there is no demand then why would a crafter waste their time trying to sell unneeded goods. If there is no supply then why bother trying to buy at all just go and make something yourself, after all you have everything you need available to you strictly speaking.
People will inevitably opt for the path of least resistance and so it is imperative that we make this symbiotic supply and demand relationship necessary for the health of the economy and not just a "oh it would be nice if it worked like this" scenario.
Possible remedies (As i see them)
Create more demand for materials
As i understand it, right now all different materials of all different ranks are dispersed throughout the map. There are no specific points which have anything resembling a unique resource, this needs to change. To create a demand for goods we need to create a degree of monopoly. To use a real world example oil is so expensive because you can only dig it out of so many places in the ground now.
So we need to start seeing the likes of mines that now exclusively house ore nodes of rank 7-10, woods that now exclusively house tree nodes of rank 7-10, quarries that now exclusively house stone nodes of rank 7-10 etc etc wouldn't that be nice. That way there would be a need ("Demand") to trade with the party which now has access to that exclusive resource as it cannot be acquired elsewhere, thus creating a ("Supply") on the part of the vendors and fulfilling the cycle.
It may also be interesting to make some resource nodes/hubs finite. As the campaigns will ultimately end if these were depleted early then it's not the end of the world (and more likely a learning curve for players). Also we could refine the amounts over time or alter them to vary campaign difficulty/strategy.
Caveat: I spoke above about a degree of monopoly. This will need to be measured carefully to ensure that an absolute monopoly does not occur. Absolute monopolies are not fun (Who doesn't fondly remember the cigar smoking unassailable tyrant Blair... sorry "uncle bob"). Todd spoke about introducing a system whereby the more unique and desirable a resource node/hub is then the harder it should be to hold to ensure that an absolute monopoly is a fluke and not a given. I think this would be massively beneficial for the health of the game as it will prevent stagnation.
Create more demand for specialised crafting
To further proliferate the Supply and Demand relationship i think is so essential in the game i think we need to also create more specialisation in crafted goods. As all skills are tied to your immortal crow spirit and not to a character it is not prudent to gate specialisation behind a player themselves. Therefor it struck me that why not make the specialisation a World/EK/Zone/Hub ("Hub") mechanic. Allow me to expand on this.
I believe that each hub should have a stated specialisation. By this i mean that advanced crafting recipes should only be available in certain hubs.
You are in a campaign world and you arrive at Castle Smithy McSmith Face and think "this is grand" and you go away and you buy a nice set of armour and swords for example. But then you think "oh i need me some disciples" but ho now! You can only get those from Fort Nifty so off you pop there and get your Disciplines. Hmmm getting low on food? Better wander over to Munchy El Munch Town for any chance at a decent meal....
I'm sure you get the drift.
Specialisation feeds Supply and Demand, whereas homogeny impairs it.
Caveat: I understand that the concept of "Super EK's" is a contentious subject, with some in favour and some against. Personally am not opposed to the existence of these Super EK's as they will naturally occur in any MMO game. My belief is that they will have to be regulated to help encourage the flow of the game across different campaign worlds and EK's. My instinct is to put a "cap" (1-3) on how many advanced crafting tables can be placed in each EK to prevent homogeny in that kingdom and encourage trade with other EKs. This will not prevent the pop up of Super EKs but will necessitate the involvement of a much wider base of players and so serves to increase footfall across more EKs.
Ease of use
The issue (As i see it)
Before I begin this section I want to make it clear that I think many of the obstacles listed here will be overcome simply as the game moves further on in it's iteration. ArtCraft have done a wonderful job of giving us a functional, if not refined, game world to get involved with. I suspect that many of the issues will be resolved as we move into true alpha and then beta and pick up some more quality of life additions as opposed to core features.
The very first thing that I thought when joining the game is how the segregation between the campaign world and EKs breaks your immersion in the game. Thematically your EK is just a lovely safe world out of the fringe of the universe that Galactus *cough* sorry i mean the hunger, hasn't noticed yet. However functionally having to log out then into EK then out then into Campaign worlds ("CWs") breaks not only your immersion but also the flow of the game, momentum and interest wane. Hell if you're anything like me you'll forget why you went in the first place! It's clunky and cumbersome (Again though a symptom of function over refinement).
The second thing is that buying and selling are still clunky and unrefined. Moreover there is an element of luck involved as well which I think should be iterated out as much as possible. We need to ideally aim for a system whereby players find the buying and selling of goods easy and efficient. There needs to be people to sell goods and people that need to buy them in enough volume and concentration to make it worthwhile.
Lastly i get the impression that there is a concern going around that EKs and CWs will not interact with each other well. That the import/export limit will stifle the use of EKs as legitimate hubs of industry for CWs and that there is confusion on how import/export will work between EKs given their persistent nature.
Possible remedies (As i see them)
First and foremost make EKs more accessible in game. Being able to hop from CW to EK to CW by way of a moongate/portal/puff the magic dragon will improve the flow of the game tremendously. You can have your favourites saved as normal and be able to search for an EK if you need to.
Secondly, I don't want to say take people by the hand more because that is condescending and not what I mean. But take people by the hand more. EKs can pretty much be left because accessibility is a matter for the owner of that EK and if the market area is laid out poorly.... well that's a choice *shrug*. I'm thinking more of the CWs and moving to a system of having pre-designed trade hubs. To prevent anyone and everyone just running around trying to flog their wares anywhere and everywhere move to a system where, say hubs of a certain size and above, there will be a selection of empty vendor slots that a player or guild can rent for a hour/day/week and flog all of their lovely goodies. This will serve to "herd" the player base into these hubs for trading in higher concentrations, which will hopefully increase the chance of someone finding what they need to buy or selling what they need to sell.
Caveat: Again we need to prevent a monopoly so say only 1 vendor allowed per person/guild per hub. Also to prevent vendors being "hogged" after the current tenancy ends that person receives a de-buff or 1 hour(?) whereby they cannot rent another vendor. (This could lead to some interesting gameplay around selling on their slot to competing merchants, i.e. cancelling their tenancy early in co-operation with the winning merchants bid so that that merchant can secure the tenancy for themselves.)
Lastly, perhaps change the import/export rules for the EKs into CWs and vice versa. I know that the function of the import/export rules are to provide a level playing field at the start of each new CW, with the aim of preventing any power imbalance from the get go. Perhaps to maintain this but to also ease the burden on the economy start "grading on a curve"? Allow me to explain what I mean by this.
Say when importing and exporting you have a weight limit you an reach before you can no longer import or export. I would suggest considering making items of different nature count more or less of the weight limit depending on what they do. For example a sword is a tangible increase in your power (it stabs things and they die... yay!) and so i would say count 100% of its weight against the imp/exp limit. A component of an assembly (for example a metal billet) is not a tangible increase in power but could relatively easily go towards making an item that is, so count say 70% of its weight towards the imp/exp limit. Finally raw materials are as far away from useful as you can get and so only count 10% of their weight towards the imp/exp limit. Grading on a curve like this gives greater flexibility to crafters and the economy while still inhibiting any unfair advantage caused by way of imports.
Caveat: This likely isn't a perfect solution but I think it is sound as a starter for 10. It can surely be improved upon if we see what works well and what end up being utter garbage.
TL:DR Don't let me write another post ever again...
No for serious
The above has very much been my observations and opinion on the matter. I'm sure it's likely not all perfect and I welcome any constructive feedback and collaboration. But otherwise yeah, Great job ArtCraft i'm a big fan <3.