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Devs, you have done an amazing job at designing a game that incentivizes trading but a huge problem is we have no safe trading mechanics. We need 2 things. 1) A safe way to trade with other players. AKA a trade window. 2) Auto trading so people can set up trade routes. Something simple like you have to go get a crew member and then you put them in front of a stall and pay them to run your afk shop. This way if Jim on island A has a butt-load of copper and I on island B have a butt-load of silver I can just put a bunch of my silver in my shop and Jim can come buy it. Then I can sail to Jim's island and buy his copper. Without either of us having to be online at the same time. This will create an actual economy within the game. Which is a huge feature this game is missing at the moment. Even more so because you have the underlying structure set up for it.
I have been to around 30 or 40 different suggestion threads all with similar ideas to this but this was something I came up with after reading them all. The Idea Its a pirates life for me. Gold a resource right now that only has use in getting crew, Decorative items, and a few other small things. We are pirates everything should be about gold. Add Trading stalls or even dare I say an Market in freeports that people can offload resources or even animals to that other people can buy for gold. Freeports would take say 5% as their fee but the rest goes to the seller. Freeports become more used in the long run but at the same time leave the ship decay the same so people can't just stick around in them. Freeports also get their own defense fleet that guards out from the zone. The Freeport zone might have galleons while 1 zone over might just have brigs. These will attack people that are attacking others. You can sink these defense fleets and salvage them but doing so gives a reputation decrease with that freeport. When you go below a reputation limit with that freeport the ships of that freeport will actively attack you if you enter their territory. This will limit ship pvp in areas close to freeports between 2 factions that want to be liked by that freeport while also allowing those people that don't care to actively pirate the area. Claims gain an upkeep cost. This comes in the form of gold. The company builds a "Bank" Building this can be included in the tax building if you want. You can only have 1 bank per company and this bank handles the taxes for all your claims. This basically charges companies a cost to keep their claims going. To start its fairly cheap at up to 10 to 15 claims free but once you go over those 10 to 15 claims it starts costing money at like 1 or 2g per hour per claim. Balancing can be done this is just a rough number thrown out. This would mean that these companies that want to claim 500 to 1000 claims worth of islands would have to spend alot of gold to keep it up. as when you have 500 its just 500g per hour to keep all your claims. You wouldn't instantly lose all your claims of coarse if you can not keep it up you would instead be given a 8 hour window to restock your gold before all your claims fall off or you start to lose claims further away from the bank slowly at say 1 every 5 to 10 minutes untill your down to the ten to fifteen closest to the bank. If you have a big enough crew to go out and farm gold you can keep it up for larger claims and longer periods of time. This can also be done with the above trading. People will pay for your metal/animals and you get money to upkeep your claims. Also allow companies to build on your claim but they have to pay a gold tax to you on top of the resource tax from the bank. This can be set from 1 to 5 gold an hour by placing a Rental Claim Flag. This acts sort of like a claim flag but does not claim the territory fully just sets a section as rented territory that they are allowed to build on with no decay timer. Gold is charged to a resource box kept on the claim. Add new craftable Docks. Docks work by placing them down and allowing ships to sail up toward them and allowing someone on ship or the dock when you get in range to interact and select dock. This will pull the boat in and dock the ship. While the ship is docked resources in the dock will slowly repair the ship at a discounted cost for what it costs to repair the ship at a rate of around 400 to 500 damage an hour. The docks can have Ceilings and walls attached to them allowing large sprawling complex docks to be built. There might be different size of docks as well cheap "Thatch" ones will allow Dingys, Rafts, and Sloops to dock at them while larger Wood ones allow Sloops Schooners and Brigs to dock at them. The largest the Stone Dock will allow Schooners, Brigs and Galleons to dock at them. Trader Fleets. Trader fleets work by setting up random spawns of 1 to 4 ships that spawn at a freeport and sail to another freeport. These ships can range in size from sloops to galleons with a full crew and full guns. These fleets carry resources from freeport to freeport as well as blueprints, Tools, and weapons. The smaller ships like the sloops or if you want Schooners carry smaller amounts of resources and lower tier blueprints and gear while the larger ships hold more and have better loot. You can loot these ships in 2 seperate ways. You can either Sink the ships and use a Diving Harness to salvage the ships offf the ocean floor or you can Board the ships. If you board the ships you do not get cannons shot at your ship but instead you have to deal with AI crew on the boats that will engage you in combat. They can be outfitted with anything you can equip yourself and have the gear drop. You can kill a Trader in full Plate with a mace and loot it to get a chance at his armor or you can kill a guy in cloth with a pistol and take that. You have to go below kill the crew and this allows you to claim the loot as well as place a claim on the boat to take the boat for yourself This doesn't take as long as a player owned ship 20 minutes for a sloop up to 3 hours for a galleon. While this might be easy for a smaller ship the larger ships brig and galleon have higher and higher level crew outfitted with better gear. Sloop has a full crew of lvl 20 AIs with common armor and weapons while a galleon would have a full crew outfitted in mythic armor and weapons at level 51. Doing this in a freeport area would cause the local fleet to come and attempt to stop you. More to be added as I read more suggestions. Reserved for more suggestions.