Ideas concerning game content and game progression
Hello Keen Software House, this suggestion concerns the lack of engaging content surrounding the mid to late game after the engineer is able to construct a jump drive, with there being little driving the player to do anything else after this point.
*Note* When I talk about progression, I am not talking about the 'progression' mechanic that can be toggled on-and-off, but instead the pathway of goals that the player follows through-out the game, such as making it off the planet and gaining the resources available in space.
- With the upcoming updates to the AI, and hinting at an update to the current NPCs in game, I feel that a good remedy to the lack of player engagement is to add fully developed NPC factions that the player can interact with.
Hostile factions, such as the Space Pirates, can have more aggressive AI which causes them to actively seek out players and their ships. Maybe a tracking system, similar to Radar, can allow enemy ships detect you dependent on how larger your ship is, or how close it is to voxels, encouraging specified and small ships. After you reach a certain level of reputation with a faction you could gain the ability to send distress calls out for their help when you are under attack.
Cargo ships could travel between stations, giving players the ability to better find stations. On the subject of stations, the current system of randomly generated isolated stations that sit out in the middle of nowhere, is not all that fun. I personally feel that having a few major stations on each planet, and some that have set coordinates from when the game begins, that are more important, will give a sense of a more grounded world in-game, allowing you, the developers, to spend more time on the stations, giving it more life similar to the mining base, and that asteroid armory starts.
There could be a slight modification to the distribution of ores throughout the system, getting rid of either gold or silver from the Moon/Earth-like area (This would of course be toggle-able), preventing players from simply getting a jump drive before they reach mars, Pertam, or Alien Planet. The player would reach these planets by hitching a ride on transport ships that are operated by the major factions. These ships could have docking ports that the player can dock their ships to, but there could be weight limits, encouraging the player to budget what they bring with them, and force them to build bases as a place to leave what they can't bring with them
Example part 1:
- As an example for Advanced NPC implementation, Say there is a system that consists of Earth-like, the Moon, and Mars. There are three major factions the, Space Pirates and the Earth-Like Coalition (ELC), (I assume there would be a few more factions if actually implemented, such as two warring factions on Mars or pertam, that would add an unbelievable amount of live to the world) The ELC has three major bases, The HQ on Earth-like's south pole, a Transport station equidistant between Earth-like and the Moon, and a 'secret asteroid mining base'. The Space Pirates would have a single well defended moon base.
The ELC HQ would likely not be the players first encounter, but instead smaller trade bases where the player can increase their rep and find out the location of the HQ. Ground bases that spawn enemy drones may encourage players to destroy them, similar to The 'Modular Encounter System' Mod.
After the player makes it to space, they will come in more frequent contact with the Space Pirates (Or the ELC if they decided to blow up a bunch of their bases.) As they make their way up in reputation with either one of the factions, they may gain their support in combat, being able to send out distress signals to call for help (and maybe more enemies dependent on how close they are to either faction's main base).
Example part 2:
- One more planet, either Alien, or Pertam would need to be given new content (A new ore, such as Cadmium) as well as Mars and Earth-like being brought closer together, and both of them farther away from Alien, and two new factions; The Martian Military Alliance (TMMA) and the Martian Defence Force (MDF) (Names of the factions don't really matter of course. I just picked these off the top of my head), two Factions at war with one another.
- Eventually the player will decide to travel to another system. They will have several options, they can ride one of the ELC transport ships to Mars, they can ride a pirate transport which would have a decreased price, but also far smaller weight limit, or they can slowly scavenge ships with gravity generators until they have the resources to build their own jump drive. The latter option would be both the least fun, and the hardest, incentivising working with the factions (again all this would be toggle-able).
It would likely continue from there, with the player making it to Mars, finding gold or silver, and making their own jump drive and being able to make the trip between Earth-like and Mars without any faction's help. However, The jump drive could be given a tier, similar to basic refineries and assemblers (But a decent bit better.) A new ore could be added, Cadmium, this ore would be required to make the Advance-Jump-drive. This new jump drive can easily make the trip between Mars and Alien/Pertam. (The old recipe would be adapted to fit a sort of 'basic jump-drive' that would only be able to make small jumps and to make the trip from mars to Earth-like, and still be useful for smaller ships, even in late game.)
Once at mars, the player would find that the ELC has very little prevalence, and instead the ruling factions would be the TMMA and the MDF would be the Martian system's major factions. To make it to Alien/Pertam the player would need and advanced-Jump-Drive, which they need cadmium for, an ore not present on Mars/Moon/Earh-like.
They have another option however, The Martian factions both have transport bases and vessel that can make the journey to Alien/Pertam, but you'd need to raise you reputation with them to use them. The way you raise your reputation with these factions would be destroying the other factions ships, forcing you to choose a side in the combat, (And more importantly give you an actual reason to attack them.)
Example part 3:
- Once you make it to Alien/Pertam, You'll find that the main faction of the two planets is a run-down mining faction, the Distant Mining Company (DMC). The DMC offers trips to between Alien/Pertam with low cost and a very low weight-limit even at neutral reputation and an average weight-limit Trips to Mars at a higher reputation and cost. Reputation with them would be raised by protecting mining bases scattered through-out the two planets and their moons, as well as resource acquisitions contracts. The Space Pirates would be most aggressive in these two planetary systems.
Now, this progression so far has been heavily reliant on the player starting on Earth-like, but changing ore distributions on Alien/Pertam can fix this problem. getting rid of either gold or silver on both Alien/Pertam would prevent players starting in these two systems from immediately building the advanced-Jump-Drive, requiring them to still go to Mars to get the missing ore, and if Mars is the only place to find gold, and Earth-like/Moon the only place for silver, then players starting on any of the planets or moons would still experience a similar progression, with the only difference being the starting difficulty (Which would add a bit of extra re-play-ability to the game, which at this point would already have a very rich game-play loop)
The game-play progression would follow this pattern, regardless of the starting location of the player; Escape-planet, Raise reputation with faction/fight enemies, escape system, rebuild ship, fight enemies/Raise reputation with faction, escape system, finish constructing advanced-jump-drive, have access to all planets.
- These additions would add so much depth to the game, and would really achieve what I feel is potential that this games has that isn't being used. And with the announcement of the new AI update, I feel like this is something that can really be achieved within the next few major updates. Good luck to the dev team, and I hope you take my suggestion into consideration in future game development decisions.