Exactly why I had some more expansive thoughts on using the Value idea, to which @Trundamere responded with skepticism (rightly too, to a degree).
Unlike in real life, in game people might not care to sell at a loss. Firstly, even in real life it can happen if there is something in place that can cover the losses.
One way to cover “loss item” is to draw customers into a store where they are likely to buy other goods. In Boundless that’s made easier by footfall mechanic, as selling top and highly demanded items can bring enough traffic to cover losses.
And last, but not least - when one has millions made through different means, losing some money is not a problem.
In game though, players can create longer term losses because there is no real danger to it, it’s not your real life and survival at stake.
The problem here is that any new player (and let’s agree we all would love thousands of new players joining the game) that would want to run a shop, would have enough work to try to establish themselves in an existing market with a lot of well established shops in place. Through good work and time spent on progressing their characters (tax, crafting skills, building shops and obtaining machines etc.) everyone can get there.
However, things get way harder when you have a situation where established players can actually sell at a loss (no matter how good are such sellers intentions, like ‘making life easier for other players’).
@Trundamere was right feeling that I had some regulated prices idea, which sounds dangerously at first look and to be true it’s not like I am 100% convinced about such measures.
However, even real life free market is not truly free, as there are always some regulations present.
I was thinking about it this way: if one runs a shop, the price of item with lowest Value, would decide about minimum pricing of other items in the same shop.
To make it work, even remotely, the Value stat would have to be really well balanced. Who knows if it is possible task at all.
Value of crafted items should be based on summed Value of recipe ingredients, spark cost, power cost, difficulty of obtaining of the said ingredients (in case of gathered resources), and also (that’s actually VERY IMPORTANT part) time needed to get the ingredients.
One of the things happening in game when selling at a loss is that some players don’t value time they spend gathering/buying needed ingredients, putting them together in machines etc. It puts players with a lot of playing time available in pole position there.
EXAMPLE OF MINIMUM PRICING SYSTEM: lets say the lowest Value item in someone’s shop is a stone block and that it has Value of 5. If the price of stone is set to 0.2 coins (thinking about coming chrysominter update), then the minimum price of other items in the shop would be in proportion to Value differences between stone and other items.
So, if a stone hammer Value is (arbitrary numbers here) 200, which is 40 times the stone Value of 5, then the minimum price for it would be 8 coins. The shop owner cannot sell below that, but sure she can sell at any price above (with Value stat of items letting inexperienced players find how overpriced a certain item is).
If an iron hammer value is 1000, then its minimum price in the same example would be 40 coins.
P.S. Now waiting for a storm.