Some of us were speaking in global chat today about how an economy might work.
I tried to make a comparison between some games, but I don't think I was able to successfully get my point across (or even a chance to get to it) through the chaos of the different parts of the discussion going on at once.
One person suggested that we might have player built trade hubs that will provide a location for people to gather and exchange goods. His major concern was that the way death can be exploited for instant travel is a huge limitation on this form of trading.
I drew a comparison to A Tale in the Desert because their player owned trade hubs, I can imagine, would work in a very similar way. There were storehouses to secure the items and people came to barter with the owners based on some small unit of value (one wooden board as a base unit, for example).
This system had instant transportation as a legal possibility, however it had to be earned through work. The economy worked pretty well overall as I recall it.
The reason, and the much larger issue, is rarity of goods. In ATitD, some resources were extremely rare and could even require months of research and layers of technology to locate. Additionally, the technology needed to craft with these materials may take time to develop, and it was not possible for one person or even one tribe of people to spread out over every task.
There were also many crafting processes that required direct and skilled interaction from a player. For instance, you had to actually use tools on an anvil to shape out an axe blade. The better you were at it, the stronger and more productive the axe turned out to be. However it ended up, the resources were consumed. If you were working with gold or mercury, a mistake was painfully expensive.
Skilled labor, forced specialization and rarity of resources were the major factors in a functioning economy in a very simple game with similar production values to this one. Currently in Xsyon, it seems like all of these factors are completely lacking.
The other topic we discussed was EVE online. This has similarities in forced specialization due to training times, and it can be time consuming or expensive to acquire certain resources. An industrial character may purchase these items from the market from those capable of gathering them to produce his goods. Skilled labor was not a part of EVE, but you may be forced to defend your resources in combat (requiring characters with very different skill sets).
This game is the gold standard for a game economy right now.
The difficulty with taking any hints from EVE online is the drastically different implementation of their economy. It took them years to reach this level of respect that their game economy has gained, and they did so with tools and resources that are just not reasonable for Xsyon.
They do in some small areas have the similar player controlled market, but the meat of it is all stored in market databases at NPC faction stations. All of the relevant data on trading every possible item is collected in a database with hard coded tools to dissect every detail for analysis by a team of economists.
While that is an ideal situation, I am not sure how similarities can be drawn or how it can be realistically applied to Xsyon. Perhaps that is something to look at after the most basic first step has been taken and the larger issues such as rarity and specialization are addressed.