I decided to add a more complex and interesting trade system for
freeciv. Something much like Civ3 trade system with special resources
that can be trade and are requisite for building certain buildings.
I'm not quite sure how it should be done from a the game perspective.

Please tell if there is some other place more suited for this kind of
discussion, as I'm rather new to freeciv's community.

One way would be to copy Civ3's system of trading goods/resources
through treaties, and that each resource is available in all cities
that are connected to a city that has that resource through train,
harbor or airport.
The problem with that approach, as I see it:
1. There's no significance to the amount of that resource available.
You only need one of each to supply all your cities. Surplus is
meaningless unless you can trade it, which from my experience doesn't
happen at advance stages of the game.
2. There is no real meaning the route by which trade goes. You can't
pillage a trade route, nor there is any meaning to the way in which it
is transported (Sending coal with airliners is quite price and
3. You cannot trade in food, so you cannot have specialized cities
that depend on food from other source.

On the subject of resources, I though they could be added as
output_type, so we could trade anything (like science output). Some
buildings / units should have a build cost in special resources as
well, and maybe upkeep to (A coal power plant can't work without coal,
& most modern motorized units will need fuel to work, for example). It
would add some complexity to the game, but it will mostly add a lot of
challenge, as you'll have to acquire sufficient materials to support
your super modern war machines.

On the matter of trade routes, I can think of 3 different approaches,
in my opnion all of them are bad:
1. Civ3's - you have resource. You make treaty to sell that much for
that nation for so much time for so much money / other resource.
Pros: Simplistic.
Cons: There's no physical route, so third party cannot intervene in
some way, and neither does distance have any significance; No trading
between your cities, resource are just magically distributed.
2. Colonization's - Trade is done manually by moving units that carry
trade between places, and bartering (or not, depending on where) on
the price of each resource. Some automation is available.
Pros: Realistic, You can trade any thing, you can intercept everyone's
else trade.
Cons: tiresome and complex micromanagement.
3. Imperialism (1 & 2) - Each turn you can set how much of each
resource you are selling and what you are bidding for. At the start of
each turn you get biddings from other players, and sell offers, and
decide what to sell, from who, at which price, etc. The total amount
resources you can move from city to city depends on how many trade
ships or trains you've got.
Pros: very realistic, interesting, and not extremely complex
Cons: the bidding phase in each turn is very tiresome. micromanagement.

What I suggest (and idea which is not yet fully developed) is this:
To establish a new trade route, send a caravan to the city you want to
trade with.
If this is your city, you'll get a a dialog in which you set how much
of what resource you want to send to that city each turn (or possibly,
each caravan trip),  and if you want something sent back.
If it's not your city, a treaty dialog is opened at both players, so
they can negotiate what they trade and for how much.
A single caravan can trade all kind of resources up to amount defined
in the unit type divided by the time it takes to that type of unit to
get from city A to city B (adjusted each turn, so railroads give great
advantage). Another possibility is that you get amount once every
[trip time] turns, for added realism.
Once a trade route has being established, the unit disappears (but is
still maintained), and a trade route appear in both cities dialogs.
Each city can adjust the amount and if they're of different players,
they can either renegotiate the trade route or if we allow dirty
backstabbing, stop adjust the amount sent from the city without
negotiation (the other player will be altered of this next turn).
Each trade route should also add some trade bonus on both cities. The
upkeep for the original unit disappears when the trade route is
canceled entirely.

Well, what do you think?

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