Post-Warfare Series Update: New Life
While similar in some ways to Ryukki's Post about improving NPCs, this suggestion is more expansive and detailed in potential methods to make such improvements. This is a suggestion for a potential follow-up to Warfare, which would also work well as a multi-stage update path.
Creatures: Game Impact & Variety
- Creature Resources - Even without adding hunger or thirst survival mechanics to the game (not that I'd mind something more involved than DNSK, actually preparing different meals and having eating animations, etc.; God, I'd actually love that), altering creature drops into something besides random mechanical parts would be nice. Even something as simple as "Biomass," with an associated block to convert biomass into useful materials or energy. Alternatively, do not give them an inventory. Adding them to a world provides players with an obstacle, though not one that necessarily needs a reward beyond not dying.
- Passive MOBs - Occasionally seeing animals walking around a planet would be fun, and with the addition of potential new resources, they could be useful. Calling them "passive" doesn't restrict them to being harmless, though. A large beastie, accidentally shot while fighting off more aggressive creatures, may very well pose a new threat. It would make fighting MOBs more involved, requiring at least some amount of situational awareness. Flying MOBs, anyone? Unlike spiders and wolves, these MOBs could be rarer, and not spawn in groups. It's not about cluttering the game beyond its ability to function smoothly; it's only about adding variety. Some of these new additions could even be mechanical monsters gone haywire, and give the same kind of mechanical part loot current mobs give (I use Sektan's Moon Sentinels mod for just this effect). As Ryukki said, opening MOB creation up to modders will also undoubtedly skyrocket SE's palette.
- Interactivity - Currently, grid damage by MOBs has been turned off. I can understand players' frustration with exploding cyberhounds and spiders ripping apart their respawn pod soon after landing, or any number of creative exploits ruined by the same. However, I think the lack of variation and MOB setting controls contributed to this. Being able to jetpack, or stand on a slightly-too-tall grid, and grind a critter to death reduces their ability to challenge players. Giving MOBs a wider variety of attacks, including a vertical attack, perhaps even a ranged attack (spitting, launching quills, etc.) will help keep them dangerous as players advance through the early game. Not every attack, or even every mob, has to damage grids... A small wind-up for some kind of powerful attack would again add additional layers to MOB combat in SE, gauging their movements and repositioning or counter-attacking. Of course, if grids can be damaged by MOBs, perhaps there should be some kind of defenses, too...
Trees & Plants
- Harvesting - Trees are nothing but speedbumps. Why? This is another example of somewhere biomass could be implemented. Sawing down trees with grinders could be very satisfying, especially if they broke up into little harvestable logs after hewing the whole tree down. Even without the multi-step destruction, getting something for clearing an expanse of its trees would be better than useless clutter. I can't be alone in generally picking treeless planets, just to not have to deal with them. If not biomass, adding wood as a game resource opens up a lot of neat building potential. I understand we have the faux-wood painting texture, but having actual wood variants for all of the standard armor blocks that actually sound like wood when destroyed or walked on would be a simple way of turning useless objects into something worth existing.
- Decoration Plants - Adding new plants which can be cut down like trees, or perhaps simply picked using the F key, not only helps fill out otherwise repetitious planets, but adds a lot of potential for interior design. Unlike most of the other sections above, this one is purely about adding cosmetic value to what we have. Something simple, pleasing to look at, and which would be relatively simple to add (compared with critters, their animations, and interacting with grids). The possibilities here are endless, and while mechanically mundane, would be eye-pleasing filler for the rest of the update content. That said, perhaps some of the new MOBs are attracted to certain plants, increasing their spawn rate in areas with them. Don't tell me nobody here would enjoy placing a bunch of shrub blocks around to increase the chance some passive MOBs wander by to enjoy themselves!
I know that Space Engineers was never meant to be a survival game, and that so many things have been added simply to appease the players. That said, I have around 1,000 hours in Space Engineers, most of it survival mode, and not once have I personally made a space ship and left my starting planet. A good 80% or more of my play time has been enjoying Alien Planet: Prepare to Die, fighting off Sektan's moon sentinels whose sound effects are still the only thing I've ever experienced in SE that give me a jump. It's as impacting in my game as creepers are in Minecraft.
Just look at the number of custom planets on the Workshop... Players absolutely love their planets. Why not give them more life? The suggested new resources and blocks are a fairly simple list which could be expanded on to any extent. The new mechanics would give modders so much more tools to add their own creative flair to SE. If some players want the critters, but not grid damage, just make it an option in the game settings. Trap blocks built for fighting critters (or players, perhaps) and wooden armor gives rise to a whole slew of reskins to sell with each update DLC. And hey, if you ever decide to go through with adding real survival mechanics to the game, ovens, refrigeration units, and all of that stuff could certainly go for sci-fi and wasteland-styled skins to go with it. Decorative plants? Flowers come in many arrangements...
I know this last part may rub some in the community the wrong way, but y'know, I'm all for continued support through reskins and decorative whatnots. I played League of Legends, after all... There's no subscription to play SE, and let's face it, if there's nothing new to buy, eventually you'll have sold as many copies of a game as you're likely to sell... I want to see advanced creature mechanics, new creatures, and new tools to fight them with. I want to see lush, varied worlds, interesting to explore besides looking for grey spots to dig-dig-dig-a-tunnel. I'm willing to pay my share if it means Keen keeps improving the SE experience.