Contract System

Per request:

Here is what was brought up and discussed during my last Oortian call with @james which was a continuation of a PM thread I had with him and Ollie regarding finally releasing a contract system. I felt it helped drive player interaction which we really need and can disrupt the issues we have around shops. I just presented my ideas and it is up to them to decide if contracts should come soon or later… obviously I want sooner because of the benefits and simplicity over harder stuff like Titans, etc.

All of my feature suggestions are always bare minimum feature sets so that they do not diverge from larger roadmap goals like Titans, etc. After release then we iterate where needed on the foundation design. For me it is important that we have tools in the game that allow us to grow functionality in the game over “full feature things.” That way we don’t wait months for something and can iterate it as it is used because it was delivered quickly. I also don’t want them to create a mico-managing type scenario and instead just give base functionality to allow the sandbox environment to develop them.

The contract system I suggested had basically a Bulletin Board looking asset that people could place on their wall which would allow them to register with the universal contact system. The system allows you to input a contract asking for various topics like items, builds, or whatever your “needs” are along with a budget if you wish to mention that. People can then bid on that contract. Once a bid is selected, funds are put in escrow, contract is done and delivered, and payment is delivered.

The same basic system would exist for Guilds but without bidding. The guild feature was to move people away from the “signs” listing of things to do or things the guild needs.

Obviously the biggest issue around the coding is the “escrow” area and delivery for physical assets versus “build me this requests”. My suggestion was to add another asset like the mailbox but have it be delivery focused and feel kind of like a trade window. This was to help with timezone differences and ease in me getting my stuff and you getting your cash. Plus this asset could be used for basic user transfer as well for those that can’t do it face to face.

Ultimately the “escrow and delivery” parts of the conversation were a rough design and needed much more maturity in how the workflow and functionality might work. Overall I just wanted something simple to start because it is better to have something than nothing. We can always change that something to make it better over time.

I get people will have disputes on I asked for this to be built and what you built was ugly, blah, blah, blah. But for me is it worth arguing over every aspect of a system due to some valid concerns versus getting something out there so that people that want stuff can actually get it without having to deal with discord and a million other things. Why stop release… we can always fix the problems afterward.

Above was player to player contracts. The other part of the contract system would be game based contracts - basically like a quest type scenario. On a coding level they have many components already in place from pervious work in EA on contracts. Also their current messaging system kind of supports this functionality anyway.

This game based contracts system is probably where James had the biggest challenge because the contracts felt too simple or boring because they were do x or get x, etc. My suggestion for this was to just get them out and allow players the ability to build some contracts and present them to developers to be added into the contract system. Additionally, @Havok40k had these suggestions on contracts we could offer:


I can think of two in particular that might be popular:

  1. defend [beacon] from hostile mobs. Kill x mobs in proximity of this beacon. Reward paid on completion.
  2. defend [player] from hostile mobs for X time. Reward paid at end of duration.

The first would be useful for establishing a home or shelter on a higher tier planet, and the second would be useful for players who wish to gather or mine on dangerous planets.

Generated contracts could be interesting ways to inject a little lore and exploration into the game. Some ideas that come to mind…

  1. travel to [random generated wilderness coordinates on x planet] and investigate a disturbance! Then (kill x mobs, activate a relic, place a device, gather x resources) and escape the planet without dying. Reward granted on completion.
  2. travel to [current exo-planet] and place a survey beacon in X regions. Defend the beacon from hostile mobs for X time.
  3. Travel to [planet] and find X lore items. These items are only obtainable/visible when the player has accepted a contract to gather them.

I also added, that here are some others that might be usable that were some suggestions from myself and the ]I[ guild members:

  • get this beacon to x prestige or craft this thing - even though these type of things feel more “feat” oriented.
  • guild based ones like generate X endeavor
  • remove blocks or terraform an area like clear 4 plots of trees or flatten a hill to X altitude
  • there is a wave of mobs endangering a settlement on a planet - go there and protect city
  • there is a sudden surge of meteorites threatening a location - go there and protect
  • players requesting help of hunters or other things for expeditions
  • plow field for player and plant X crop
  • transport X goods from one location to another
  • contracts could be linked to events to help drive participation for them… plus help people go back to Exo planets to replay the events like we talked about when they start showing later.

I do agree that some of these things are sort of boring or simple. Ultimately this is a sandbox and we need generic functionality and features to allow people to create and develop things themselves. If we provide these tools it helps us drive the content ourselves without having to wait on the devs to give us everything.

Plus I see the contracts on a game quest level (not player to player) as a good start to developing content and get some ideas on things that could lead toward dungeons or other stuff.


Already did both for new players several time. Can be lvl 3 world even, when they want to build or explore and I would kill mobs around us and maybe even provide food and such to help them with lost health etc.

Would be great to have it as contracts.

I’ve also already been doing this sort of thing with some players. :+1:

  • Come with me to “X” planet, help me defeat “X” meteors.
  • Come with me & run pest control for “X” amount of time, so I can build/harvest/etc.
  • Clear your inventory, meet me at “X”, and help me carry items to “X”.
  • Custom forge requests - here are the supplies, please forge me an “X” with “X” stats.

@Xaldafax I didn’t read all of it. I just want it in the game. lol


Ability to players make quests/contracts inside game would be cool thing to have.

I have been thinking could game have possibility where players could launch small rockets with fee to destination planet with, for example having one storage block full of items, and destination where that package should be delivered under certain time limit.

It could be one way to get completely random players to help when moving to another planet, let some players gather on planet longer without leaving it or just send items by mail. Maybe we get item mailing, but something like this could be alternative way to do it with require of player action.

If package wouldn’t have been delivered on time, server would do delivery to destination beacon and courier wouldn’t get reward.

We have trading vaults for this, but the management of them takes a lot of work. I would love this sort of thing. Especially since it adds complexity to our interactions but is still rule based. In my opinion, this is a great suggestion.

Contracts have been mentioned first long time ago, when the skill system/progression was introduced together with objectives and features.
I thought the idea disappeared somewhere in the black hole of forgotten features.
It’s good to hear about it. If it’s still being talked about by devs at least we know it can arrive at some stage. It doesn’t bother me in what shape first - I’m sure it can become something good as it’s worked on and tested.

P.S. Found it!! Sure the idea there might be different to what it becomes eventually:


Contracts would be awesome and I think REALLY help with the player base. I know my guild definitely would make a huge use of this system.

I might have missed it… but would this effect request baskets a whole bunch then? Essentially this would be a work around to avoid taxes. Just throw up a request stating that we need a contract to have someone bring us 100 diamonds and here’s a tool to do it.

One part though would be this. Putting out a system that isn’t polished can aversely affect players who can still be on the fence about the game or newer players.

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The problem I see with contracts is how do they work for non-standard items. I can understand how it works if you ask someone to get your 1000 shadow orbs for 1million coin. Then Player A can put the coin into a machine that holds it until player B puts in 1000 shadow orbs, then player B can get the coin and the player A can get the shadow orbs. It is really a lot of the logic in the store stands/request baskets. So not really sure why this is needed anyway since existing game mechanics can handle it. It is the build me this which I think will be a problem. If you contract a player to build you a 3x3 building and they do so, who is to decide if it is right? If the person that is having it built does not like it, do they have any recourse? How will the system be able to tell if the contract was fulfilled correctly? Will the developers now have to take care of disagreements between players resulting from these contracts?

Some of the other examples given I think also suffer from the same issues. Protect me for 2 hours while I mine. How will the system know when to start the clock? What does protection mean? Does it mean if you die then they failed? What if you fall into lava? What if a meteor spawns and you fail to run? Does your failure to try and escape mean the player protecting you failed? Does this mean we will have to set up courts to handle contract disputes?

I strongly disagree with this. The damage something like this can do to the community makes it imperative that it is completely worked thought before a half completed mechanic is thrown into a game. I think the disagreements and issues that will come up in the forums, steam and discord will make the game less likely to attract and retain players.


As an idea, maybe we can start a “quest system” instead of simply a contract system. We could do hard numbers for certain things (for builds, use a majority of x type of block and have prestige above x threshold). We could also then have a “ranking” system with how satisfied the person is with it.

This could allow you to pick your own individual based on how satisfied everyone else was with them too.

If it was collect X amount of things, then how fast was it done. For delivery ones maybe it times you soon as you pick up an item and keeps track, or if it was or was not done before a certain time.

I am all for new content in the game. Adding quests in game is interesting but everything needs to be quantitative and not subject to qualitative decisions. As soon as it is not quantitative then you create a situation where players will disagree and where the developers will end up refereeing disputes instead of developing content.

I am also a little concerned about players “reviewing” performance. How will this be reconciled with the naming and shaming policy?

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Let’s call it player made quests, not a contract system. You will receive x blocks or x items for fulfilling this player selected criteria.

Then there is no anger or confusion. You know what you’re going to get. As for builds, this would require them working up a blueprint system for us to trade blue prints. The blue print when used/previewed coils show the proposed build in fake plots.

Then we could player create quests/contracts and the completed would know exactly what their rewards are and how to finish the build correctly(w the blueprint)


I think that a lot of the potential uses for this system could be great, but I also think that if we’re talking MVP for this kind of feature, it should just be solid and quantifiable contracts. Just the X items for X price type. Limit it to the kind of things which don’t leave themselves open to wildly varying expectations from the poster and fulfiller of the contract. This would give it the best chance of wider acceptance and usage without being overshadowed by he-said/she-said arguments.

I’d also say that I think bidding should be a later feature for contracts. To get it in and simple, just add it in with fixed prices, and add other kinds of acquisition later (like bidding, or a bigger payout for items delivered sooner). Everything else get complicated quite quickly, and ideally needs to be worked on a piece at a time (preferably with community interaction). If you’re looking to push for a more agile approach, that’s all you want to start with.

Even with it that simple, there’s one pretty major consideration that they’ll need to work through. How do we prevent players from locking up other player’s money, or wasting other player’s time?

If a player can set out a contract, presumably it locks the money away in the escrow… how long do contracts last before they expire? How can we prevent other users from simply taking the contract and not fulfilling it? If users can cancel contracts to get there money back, what happens to the other user who was legitimately part way through completing a contract when the first person changed their mind?


Yeah we can’t have someone take a tool out of escrow and then just run off with it either. Or decide to sell the loot to a basket.

By the time we’ve got the right sort of checks and balances in place, or tracking/automation of some kind put in at the tool.avatar level I’m not sure how to guarantee any of this. One of my friends wants to give “quests” in game and this sort of feature would be perfect for it. But even in a completely human moderated flow, the opportunities for a griefer to profit are all down the line.

I mean, I would love this system, but it’s not as trivial as a database tracking the “agreements” and then assume best case when it comes to participation. There’s coin involved it’s essential to cover worst case first.

Code to track and hold a tool to specific uses. Code to hold the target loot in “limbo” until the contract is refilled. I’m not sure how many scenarios exist, or how many types of arrangement people have in mind when they think of this.

A system that facilitates the setup of a contract with no real way to enforce fulfillment is going to rain down a ton of grief, IMO.

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I mean what you proposed basically is the EVE online contract system. The only thing there is you put up collateral so if you do lose your stuff you at least get money for it.

I think the system is doable, it just needs to be fully thought out and safeguards in place. If this was something they were working on, they could outline how they wanted to do it, we could respond with ways to break it and then they could fix it or say not to worry about it because those concerns aren’t concerns to have because it just isn’t possible to do what we thought of.

It is needed because shop stands don’t let you define a larger contract set or something. You would have to put up various signs, baskets, and a whole bunch of stuff versus a simple paragraph. Also basket do not let you negotiate price.

It is needed because we have already seen that people use Discord, Forums, and other methods to make deals.

It is needed because the developers already have a large part of the code done and that original investment in time should be realized.

Yes this was brought up in my original post and something we talked about. At the end of the day the solution is between the person ASKING and the person DELIVERING. Communicate. Be specific. Visit what they are providing and make adjustments. ETC. Just like people do in real transactions between people… It is up to you to make it work… and if you can’t ASK correctly then people won’t take your contracts and if you cannot DELIVER correctly people will not use you.

I don’t know why we would expect the Developers to be responsible for any of this. People already use discord to make contracts and Devs don’t get in the middle of things.

Disagreement already happen a ton in this game. If you take that logic then we need to remove all plot design, guilds, and a ton of other things that people argue over. It is completely unrealistic to continue down a path to try to develop a perfect system … How many other examples do we have in this game that the developers took a long time to release stuff and people were not happy. We have lost a ton of members because of no content and limited game functionality so maybe we should start doing something different.

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I’m actually wondering about the same things as @Kal-El posted earlier about builds and the issues arising from them. Most of the player issues we already have can be fixed by simple communication, but we still see people posting about “people” issues quite often. We would need something like a blueprint system like @anon67769248 posted earlier. Contracts/quests need to be as quantitive as possible to make them easy to use and avoid conflict.

We could also release the part of the system we know can work, then add onto its functionality later. A system like this isn’t like a car, where everything has to be fully functioning from the get-go. It’s more like a children’s park. We can put up a slide and a swingset first for people to play with, then add in a merry-go-round later.

Quests could be an interesting system to see grow over time if the developers decide to pick it up.

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I don’t know if waiting for that is fully needed. It isn’t too hard to provide pictures or give examples to define the build. I don’t see why it is so hard to provide examples or help lower the conflict in other ways. Maybe tiers of builds - simple versus advanced… give people a way to section out the contracts.

Of course we need to avoid conflict but we also need to avoid getting stuck in the mud and not deliver content or systems that are largely written. It seems people are being way too gun shy or taking a possible small issue and making it larger. We have no idea people would even ask for others to build things… how many do it now? How is the few that do it now any different than if they used this system… not really.

Ultimately I believe this is what we need to do… small components… I agree things like build contracts are dangerous but we can always remove the feature or focus on other types of things first.

There has to be something that prevents the abuse of build contracts. There will be people taking up the contract, putting down a few trunks and demanding payment. On the other side there will be trolls that have a contract up and not releasing the money no matter how pretty the build is. The system has to have a clear complete condition or I can’t see how it would work. I too think the ghost-blueprint system is needed before build contracts can happen.

Providing examples and pictures will take you to discord or somewhere else so that kind of ruins the point of it being an in-game system.

edit: I also think the “bring me x y and z” type contracts would make request baskets inferior, or in the worst case completely useless. There is no in-game way of universally seeing all baskets and what they’re looking for, but if I understood you correctly there would be one for contracts.


I know that was the suggestion but how exactly would that work? So now in Sanctum we have to go through a list of all the contracts that have been offered? If the player base actually grows to a few thousand (please let this happen), then how large a list would we be talking about? How would we navigate this? It is one thing to do this for the existing small player base and quite another to do it for the player base we all hope will come over time.

I do agree with you that the basic contract does render the request baskets somewhat useless. I would think it would be better to post a contract than put out request baskets and hope players will see them. I can also see this cutting back the footfall at some of the stores, if players are not searching for request baskets but going right to the contracts.