From Elite Wiki
The two thousand star systems of the Cooperative once enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity, and perhaps the wealthiest of them can still pretend to. The trade ships that once safely travelled between planets now have to be well armed and escorted to fend off pirate attacks, from small-time criminals desperate for their next meal, to powerful robber barons extracting tithes from everyone who passes through their space.

The Cooperative's police force, concentrated near a few influential planets, can no longer maintain order. The mercenaries they hire for a few credits a kill are too few, too unreliable to do so either. And in the darkness between the stars, an old enemy lurks, fearless, perhaps waiting for order to collapse entirely.

(Oolite website, Introduction)

Trade and economics, yes ... but greatly affected by piracy and by the decline of the Galactic Cooperative.

This page focuses on the wider issues of economics in the Ooniverse. For a discussion of how to succeed as a trader, see Oolite Trading.


Logo64 PoorAgricultural.png Logo64 AverageAgricultural.png Logo64 RichAgricultural.png Logo64 MainlyAgricultural.png Logo64 MainlyIndustrial.png Logo64 PoorIndustrial.png Logo64 AverageIndustrial.png Logo64 RichIndustrial.png

The impact of Piracy

The second Elite novel, Imprint, starts off with the continual fighting off of pirates (the so-called "Knights Templars"). This is set some 20 or so years before Oolite - and things have only gotten worse since then.

Cim created a Space-sim simulator for analysing the relationship between pirates, traders & bounty-hunters in Oolite which you can find here: (Discussion is here).

Trading Commodities

Classic Elite - and thus the Oolite Vanilla game - has a grand total of 17 tradeable Commodities. There is a spectrum of 8 types of world to trade them between - ranging from Rich Industrial to Poor Agricultural.

The Oolite Reference Sheets which came with the game download (search for OoliteRS - stashed away in the entrails of your computer!) tabulates it all quite nicely. The Trading Goods Profit Table is worth looking at for a more comprehensive summary.

There are a number of OXPS which add individual commodities (see Links below), and also others which quite turn aspects of the vanilla game economy on their head.

Critiques of Oolite's economics

1) Cim

  • Cim: Let's assume a 1Tc barrel of Food contains 1000kg of food, or approx 500 person-days of food. A Boa will bring 125Tc, and lets say 2 or 3 arrive each day carrying food rather than other goods. So they're only importing enough food to feed a couple of hundred thousand people at most. We can probably pretty safely assume then that the Food cargo is generally luxury food, interstellar delicacies, and the like, and all planets are usually self-sufficient for basic food needs. The NPC bulk haulers (eg HammerHead) could raise it to a couple of million people, perhaps, which is still negligible.
Cim (2012). Note that arguments exist over the definition of a TC: weight or volume?

Cim wrote 2 OXPs affecting Oolite's Economics. These do not radically re-invent it, but tweak it in certain areas.

  • New Cargoes - emulates the Classic Elite lore, with trade in specialist items: Vargorn mind-silk & thrumpberry juice. Introduces 100 sub-variants of the regular commodities: mud hockey sticks! zero-gravity hockey sticks! Excellent profits only at one or two planets - but get your hockey variety right! Uses the lore and culture to generate new markets. Subscribe to a trade magazine with tips! Go on the Advanced Trading course at your alma mater, the Lave Academy!
  • Risk Based Economy OXP - makes trade in dangerous systems more profitable, trade in safe systems less so. So less money initially.

Consideration of cim's critique

  • Accepting cim's analysis thus leads to implications for population size. The population will be limited by the food supply. In a high TL system, there will be equipment allowing production of food on an otherwise barren planet. But in a low TL system...?
  • The impact of a player's action on market prices will of course depend on the size of the market. Oolite markets seem very small, and one would expect player's actions to have a major impact. If the size of contract trade is factored in, the market size grows considerably, reducing this impact. If the markets on the planet surface are factored in too, then the market size grows immensely, and player's actions become irrelevant.

2) Redspear

Redspear dislikes the way that the most profitable items are almost always Furs & Computers. With Demand Driven Economy he prefers to make different commodities profitable in different economies, and thus creates a reliable profitable demand for luxuries in Rich Agriculturals, computers in Average Agriculturals & alloys in Poor Agriculturals. His oxp includes tweaks for population, economy size & tech level. Redspear prefers an enjoyable game to something which rigorously attempts to replicate reality too closely (and fails!).

Consideration of Redspear's critique

We are all after different things in our game. Redspear's approach certainly adds to the variety and the playability, and will enhance the immersion for many. But why are radioactives the main profit making import for Mainly Industrials while alloys make the profit in poor agriculturals? It may seem haphazard and illogical and for some players this will break the immersion.

3) Stranger

  • Stranger: The Vanilla game descriptions seem controversial. Why does a Poor Agricultural system market have more food and soft goods at a lower price than a Rich Agricultural? We have no such controversy at the opposite end of the scale: a Rich Industrial market has more electronics and machinery at a lower price than a Poor Industrial market. It seems that "Poor Agriculture" is a logically flawed definition: it reflects the system's economic specialization, not the productivity level, nor the richness/poverty level!
Oolite's economical model was inherited from the good old 8-bit 42 KB Elite. Compared with later space sims which feature hundreds of items in their goods lists, Oolite seems modest. You have only 17 goods – and only 14 goods for legal trade. Moreover, even this humble list is mostly useless. In reality you have an extremely limited subset of the most profitable items for your milk runs. Buy computers in industrial systems, sell in agricultural, buy alcohol & and/or furs, sell in industrial, repeat. Sometimes furs more profitable, sometimes alcohol, that’s all. Well, having 100 credits for start you’ll buy cheap food and sell it with good profit, but it is a very short period. Oolite is definitely NOT about economics. You have no reason to buy textiles if you have more cheap and more profitable food. Similarly, you have no reason to buy machinery if there is enough stock of the more profitable computers. And you have no reason to trade minerals, radioactives and alloys – of course, you can collect these items as bounty (if you have fuel scoops and enough free space in the cargo bay).
There are at least three basic types of economy in other space sims, not just the Elite industrial/agricultural dichotomy. And, there are actually at least three groups of goods in Oolite, matching these basic types of economy.
Agricultural goods (food, wine, textile, furs) – here production is not limited by TL, but is strongly affected by environment. It will be good to assume dramatic fluctuations of quantity and price for such items due to weather effects and other unpredictable events, affecting harvest.
Raw materials (minerals, radioactives, gold, platinum, gems) – mining is affected by an unpredictable environment too, but to a lesser degree. In any case, industry needs buffer stocks of raw materials to allow uninterrupted production.
Industrial goods (computers, machinery, alloys, luxury, firearms) – industry is a business with long-term planning, so it is the most stable sector of an economy: don’t expect significant fluctuations of quantity and prices. And high-tech goods will require a high enough TL.
Slave and narcotics (and partly firearms of course) are a special case. This is illegal business, criminal, affected by random events, so quantities and prices for such items will be highly variable.
(Stranger's introduction to SW Economy - but see also his essay, here)

Critique of oxp

The creation of mining economies in agricultural worlds unable to support agriculture is incomplete. The mining worlds bear misleading agricultural icons. Their markets are agricultural with very low prices for the food that they cannot grow and must import. One suspects that the vanilla game code inhibits full implementation of this oxp.

4) Phasted

  • Phasted does a similar thing to Stranger, but rather than introduce a tri-polar model and three new essential commodities, he focuses on the Vanilla game's bipolar model and makes it work more realistically.
  • Proximity of neighbouring systems now affects prices as well as piracy! So one single industrial economy surrounded by a sea of agriculturals will have prices more similar to theirs.
  • Prices fluctuate all the time as one watches, and buying and selling enhances this. Mistakes start to become expensive.
  • Furthermore, "rich" and "poor" agriculturals now impact on their markets as rich and poor agriculturals (Stranger relabels them as Common, Strong & Extreme, treating their wealth as a separate quality). Rich agriculturals have more money to pay for computers than poor ones do (all other factors being equal). Poor agriculturals sell their produce for less.
  • Markets may now stock 800TC or more of a commodity!
Economies are given a comparative rating on the F7 page (data on "system") showing how the neighbourhood affects the local economy. The new rating is on the scale between poor agricultural (Agri 4) and rich industrial (Ind 4).

Critique of oxp

Faulty. After a while (often quite a while) the commodity prices tend towards 0. Also, there are no changes in quantities, just in prices.

A sixth radical OXP

You will see that there are three approaches. Cim looks at the game code and tries to explain the game model in an economic fashion (trade is mostly irrelevant - most planets fend for themselves (economic autarky) trading maybe just a few luxury goods. The trade which goes on may be too small to really matter. Redspear is concerned with playability, and wishes to make more commodities reliably profitable. Stranger & Phasted take another approach, looking at the way economics works and tweaking the game to fit.

These three authors thus wrote OXPs which enhance the economics of Oolite in quite different ways. There is a sixth OXP which works along lines similar to Cim's, Risky Business by Phkb, who sadly offers us no learned disquisition on economics! Risky Business aims to make Multi-Gov, Feudal and Anarchy systems more rewarding for traders, by tweaking prices on a few goods. Goods that are already over the average could be increased. Goods that are below the average could be reduced. Not all goods will be impacted at all locations. Phkb's newest version includes Cim's Risk Based Economy and allows you to choose between one, the other or both (you will need Library.oxp to do so).


Economics was a book written by Aristotle in Classical Greece. He started analysing household accounts (Oikos Nomos - laws of the household) and moved on to look at the accounts of a Greek city state. Hence the term.

Note that of these 6 OXP's only New Cargoes, Demand Driven Economy & Stranger's SW Economy are available through the in-game Expansions Manager.


  • Import and export tariffs - which are high on some worlds - are automatically added or deducted and this is reflected in prices shown (on the F8 screens) quote from Elite's Instruction Manual.
  • Fines for illegality (piracy etc) are paid at the orbital stations.
  • Other fines and taxes are added by OXPs.
Income Tax (Diplomancy OXP by Commander Day) - also fines for visiting system stations without a visa.
Fines for traffic offences (Safe Docking by Phantor Gorth).
Fines for importing illegal goods (Smugglers by Phkb).


This is possible through OXPs

Ship pricing

BB Post by Lestradae (2009):

  • I invested some thought in this lately and came up with the not completely new idea of letting the game calculate the prices based on the ship stats. That would have a lot of good consequences. For example, Uber ships would no longer be so Uber if you had to work really long to acquire them. And the quality of a ship would directly reflect into how difficult or easy it was to acquire.
  • I have devised a suggestion how such a calculation could look like. It even produces rather fitting prices. Example results would be, for example:
A flying strut: 276₢
Adder: 29,500₢
Gecko: 70,760₢
Asp MkII: 120,960₢
Cobra MkIII: 150,000₢
Python: 177,650₢
Tesoura: 432,000₢
Fer-de-Lance (0.6 LS): 606,500₢
Anaconda: 714,150₢
Imperial Courier: 972,000₢
Benulobiweed Firefly: 1,110,400₢
Super Cobra: 1,622,000₢
The Ultimate Uber Ship*: 345,610,000₢
  • The Ultimate Uber Ship has all the highest stats that I found for any ship - but combined in one ship

The calculation would take a Cobra MkIII with a base value of 150.000₢ and then modify the price according to the stat differences in combination.

Basic Ship:

Cobra MkIII:

  • Extended Cargo Capacity: 35 tons
  • Speed: 0.35 LS
  • Energy Banks: 4
  • Missile Slots: 4
  • Possible Equipment: All
  • Manoeuvrability (Pitch/Roll): 1.5
  • Gun Mounts: All 4
  • Energy recharge rate: 4
  • Price without Equipment: 150.000₢

Suggestion for price calculation:

  • Cobra MkIII as standard with Standard Price: 150.000₢
  • Extended Cargo Capacity: Price is raised/lowered 20%/10% per 20 additional/smaller Cargo Bay
  • Speed: Price is doubled (each time)/lowered 20% per 0.1 LS jump up/down
  • Energy Banks: Price is raised/lowered 20%/10% per additional/fewer Energy Bank
  • Missile Slots: Price is raised/lowered 20%/10% per additional/fewer Missile Slots
  • Possible Equipment: Price is taken down 10% per essential equipment piece not available
  • Manoeuvrability (Pitch/Roll): Price is raised/lowered 20% per 0.5 additional/lower Pitch/Roll
  • Gun Mounts: Price is lowered 10% per unavailable, 5% per reduced capacity Gun Mount
  • Energy recharge rate: Price is raised/lowered 20%/10% per 1 additional/lower Energy recharge rate
  • Price without Equipment is result of 150.000₢ multiplied by all multipliers!

Three example calculations might look like this:


Extended Cargo Capacity: 3 tons (Price lowered 20% for non-existing cargo space) M=0.8
Speed: 0.30 LS (0.05 LS down, price lowered 10% as slower) M=0.9
Energy Banks: 3 (1 Energy Bank less, price lowered 10%) M=0.9
Missile Slots: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Possible Equipment: No MilSh, No ECC (Price lowered 20% as 2 essential EQ N/A) M=0.8
Manoeuvrability (Pitch/Roll): 2.25 (Price raised 30% as 0.75 additional Pitch/Roll) M=1.3
Gun Mounts: 1 (Price lowered 30% for 3 unavailable Gun Mounts) M=0.7
Energy recharge rate: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Price without Equipment: 150.000₢ * 0.7 * 0.8"2 * 0.9"2 * 1.3 ~ 47.2% ~ 70.760₢


Extended Cargo Capacity: 135 tons (Price raised 100% due to big cargo space) M=2.0
Speed: 0.30 LS (0.05 LS down, price lowered 10% as slower) M=0.9
Energy Banks: 7 (3 Energy Banks more, price raised 60%) M=1.6
Missile Slots: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Possible Equipment: All (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Manoeuvrability (Pitch/Roll): 1.5 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Gun Mounts: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Energy recharge rate: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Price without Equipment: 150.000₢ * 0.9 * 1.6 * 2 ~ 288% ~ 432.000₢

Imperial Courier:

Extended Cargo Capacity: 135 tons (Price raised 100% due to big cargo space) M=2.0
Speed: 0.35 LS (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Energy Banks: 8 (4 Energy Banks more, price raised 80%) M=1.8
Missile Slots: 8 (4 Missile Slots more, price raised 80%) M=1.8
Possible Equipment: All (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Manoeuvrability (Pitch/Roll): 1.5 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Gun Mounts: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Energy recharge rate: 4 (Price stays as is) M=1.0
Price without Equipment: 150.000₢ * 1.8"2 * 2 ~ 648% ~ 972.000₢
With the current ship prices in Oolite, any pirate other than the entirely non-pragmatic would realise that the average act of piracy nets them a few hundred credits, selling a ship gets tens or often hundreds of thousands of credits, and the odds of surviving each fight are less than 99%. They therefore all sell their ships and retire in luxury.
...I personally just assume that the player is the subject of a giant practical joke and all the shipyard owners stick three extra zeroes onto the price tags when they see you coming... Cim (2013) - and see Cim's idea for a ship-price/maintenance oxp.

Cim's New Cargoes: Specialist Market found on the F4 menu
Cim's SOTL Altmap: 1st of 3 pages of F8 screen commodities!
SW Economy (& others) introduce new commodities: Quirium fuel, medicine, fresh water, oxygen etc
20 seconds later: check the new prices of luxuries, narcotics, alloys & firearms, check the quantity of food above (Real Life Economics)


OXPs introducing new commodities

OXPs with a broader economic scope

  • Demand Driven Economy - by Redspear. Gives each of the 8 system economies one profitable import, with tweaks for population, economy size & tech level, thus breaking away from the Computers-Furs profit model.

  • SW Economy - by Stranger (2012-21). Introduces trade in medicine, water & oxygen. Totally alters trade & prices to bring in some realism. Planet size & economy size are now also relevant to a planet's production, affecting quantities on offer. Attempts to introduce a 3-polar economy (agricultural / mining / industrial).

  • Real-Life Economics - by Phasted (2012-4). Fluctuating markets which react to your actions. Local solar systems also affect prices. Slightly buggy.

  • Hermitage - by Phkb. A totally different take. You run a rock hermit and try to make a profit by mining, trading & attracting customers with black markets & bars...

OXPs doing other things but impacting on Economics

  • Diplomancy OXP - Taxes! wars! citizenship! the need for Visas etc. by Commander Day (2017+)
  • Smugglers - black markets, bribes & smuggling compartments (2015+)
  • Recession.oxp by JohnSmith (2006) - an escort mission, but set against an economic Recession. This oxp is Broken.
  • SOTL Altmap: 40 new commodities, new economies, new governments. A new game using the Oolite engine by Cim. (2017)
New Deal's 8 Economies

Interesting but broken/unfinished OXPs

Note that all relevant oxp's would have been broken when Oolite v.1.81 replaced the old unwieldy commodities.plist & illegal_goods.plist with the new Trade-goods.plist (2014). If they have not been updated, they may still be broken.

  • New Deal - by Vincentz (2015). Unfinished. 4 new economies (Agricultural, Industrial, Mining & Financial) each divided into developed and primitive versions (with snazzy icons!).
  • Switeck's Shipping v0.5 OXP (2010) - AI, Economy, and Ship changes. Again, probably broken now.

BB Discussions

Role of different species

Game issues

Other Discussions

This video clip is good, but lacks context (see how cim's analysis of context in Oolite above can totally change one's understanding of oolite trade). Is the piracy affecting missile production focused on disrupting it - or is it just general piracy, which in this case impacts adversly on the company? This will surely affect the company's response. And, if piracy is bad, will not production move to where the resources are, to prevent disruption of supply chains?

Economics OXP comparisons

Risk-based Economy New Cargoes Risky Business SW Economy Real-Life Economics Demand Driven Economy
Author Cim Cim Phkb Stranger Phasted Redspear
Functionability v.1.81+ needs updating v.1.81+ v.1.82+ needs fixing v.1.79+
Redefines systems economically No No No Yes Yes No
Adds new commodities No Yes No Yes No No
Breaks away from Furs/Computers as most profitable trades No Yes Yes No No Yes
Piracy (government type) affects prices Yes No Yes No? No No
Hub connectedness affects prices Yes No No No Yes No
Economy size affects prices/quantities No No No Yes No Yes
Planet geography affects prices/quantities No No No Yes No No
Prices/Quantities vary dynamically No No No No Price only No

Note: this table currently excludes Phkb's Smugglers. It too has a major affect on trade and economics, but is not directly comparable with the above, since it works on prohibiting trade (thus encouraging smuggling and a black market) which then impacts massively on pricing.

This table also ignores some brilliant oxp's which introduce a focus on just one aspect of economics.


and also: Trade (Classic Elite) & Trade (FE2/FFE)