Will a trade system be implemented? (with goods such as food, luxury goods, metals, and so on.) And if so how will trade routes work?
I don't have very specific details. But I do have plans to implement trade and I have some thoughts on how to go about it:
- Routes will appear only between permanent settlements (or outposts) and can be either maritime or terrestrial. These routes are not necessarily trade focused. People and knowledge will move through these routes too. Settlements will appear on any terrain cell where urban development occurs, but that's a different discussion altogether...
- Resources for the most part will be abstract and somewhat generic. There will be some basic countable resource types like foodstuff, metals, wood, stone, and wares (and maybe other types). Those resources will be produced by most settlements in different quantities, with some settlements specializing on one type of resource or another. There will also be special resources will be even more abstract, lets say for example, jade, boats, or horses, which can be produced only by some settlements and can be traded away. These special resources will possibly be not quantified. That is, a settlement producing horses will not generate 'X' quantity of horses. Instead, a settlement that 'produces' horses will receive certain bonuses and benefits from it. Other settlements receiving horses through trade will also get those benefits, though the benefits might get scaled depending on multiple factors (trade distance, environment). By the way, the plan is for all unique resources (and maybe some generic resources too) to be moddable. So modders will be able to add more special resources to the game and set their bonuses and restrictions.
So here's the tricky part of implementing trade: The game does not update all terrain cells at the same time, nor updates each cell at a regular pace. Some cells update very frequently while others update ever so rarely. This is what helps the simulation run fast. For trade (and production) to work on such a system, many things will have to be abstracted away. One of them will be accumulation. Resources will not accumulate (nor dissipate) over time. Instead, each cell, when updated, will set a 'production rate' which will define how much resources they can use and trade away at any given time. Trade between settlements will be a continuous thing, where a settlement A will continuously receive 'x' quantity of a specific resource from settlement B until settlement B updates and calculates a new production rate for that specific resource. At which point, settlement A will start receiving 'y' amount of resources instead.
Just be aware that all of these ideas are in flux. I might end up going for a very completely solution once I start working on trade. But be sure that I will add trade to the game in one way or another.