I have a lot to add about the update and opinions on it but firstly, I would like to congratulate the team on this update! Its a great addition to the game and, with some balancing, could be a great stepping stone into helping people understand Space Engineers and add a much needed depth to the game!
The addition of the stores is a great addition to the game. Allowing players to build for a purpose. Make trading posts and station hubs for players to buy and sell goods! The factions add a depth to the game that breathes some life into the universe so it isn't solely relying on players for the interactions. Now there is story and some character building elements that will spark imagination in players to pursue better and more imaginative game play.
The contract blocks. What an amazing idea! Linking back to giving players purpose! People wanting to be Bounty hunters, Haulers, Miners, Police, Search and Rescue. Its amazing! It adds a much-needed foundation to make players build with a purpose. With this foundation of imagination, players can build ships with a goal in mind. To think how to better their ship for the next contract and feel like they are accomplishing something! Its a great idea and I hope more gets added to this idea. Player-made Contracts, Custom Contracts (Not just falling into a category) like being labelled "Hunt for the Shadow-Claw Pirate King" something gripping that server admins can create to let players feel immersed in this amazing world you have all created.
The safe zone block. A great addition to the game! Cleverly balanced and well-thought out. Uses a fair but costly power consumption as well as an added 'zone chip'. Its a great idea to make people feel safe so they don't have to worry about their base being absolutely destroyed and they'll have to start over. They can comfortably embed themselves in the universe and always have a safe haven to return to. 1 zone chip per hour seems a bit steep but It makes sense to keep the player constantly working to earn enough to make it last. Keeps the player doing contracts and actual feel like they are working for a purpose. Also, keeps servers clean by offline players (for a long time) being raided and destroyed to keep the server fresh and clean.
Stations, Again with the addition of stores, contract blocks etc its a great addition that adds to the already existing NPC ships. So many factions, I'm excited to see if they all have their own unique ships? That would be a lot of work but would really bring extra life to the factions. The stations are amazing. Really compact, simple, straight to the point and interiors are simple yet beautiful! Great design.
The idea of the stations having safe zone bubbles that are infinite are a great idea. I've traded with players on servers and due to the lack of adequate trading platforms, The length of trades always makes the whole situation tense but with this addition of a safe zone, Trading will be safer and quicker.
The player to player trading is initiative and easy to accomplish. The U.I is well thought out and I appreciate the simplicity of it. It takes away some of the role play of hauling a container to a drop off zone etc but the in-game currency that can be physically dropped (Thank you for making it physical) is a great addition. A new, simple way to trade rather than exchange commodities (How i used to trade).
I didn't get to try the consumables out too much but look forward to how they function. I assume the power kit is a consumable and is able to power your kit in emergencies? If so, I think this function is a good idea but with the plentiful amount of ways players can refill their energy, I can't see the function being used TOO often but might be good to have on you in case of an unexpected and disaster scenario.
The faction icons is a great idea and allowed factions to further develop their name and appearance. Feeling more in-touch with their labels and allowing them to delve deeper into their roles. The icons are good and the customization is a great start. Possibly improving upon them is making it possible to add custom images that players can import? Maybe a toggle-able option as some players might abuse that function and upload 'bad' images. A check box that enables custom faction logos or even a simple painting tool for factions to 'paint' their own logos. Just food for thought!
Reports from the server: I've heard multiple people complain that the faction influence and reputation doesn't effect much in terms of consequences and rewards. I didn't notice them much myself but a few people said that the discount and trading penalty isn't too great? One user reported they accepted escort missions then scrapped the ship they were meant to escort and then sold the parts? Seemed like he enjoyed shooting himself in the foot but apparently it was more profitable than the actual reward but that's just hear-say from him.
Something I didn't get to test too well but, for the contracts. Please make it so that players can make their own custom contracts. The bounty idea had me super excited to pin bounties on pesky players and create a bounty-board on my server but didn't find out how to place bounties myself, they seem randomly generated on people in the server who might be hostile with certain factions. If this is the case, I'de like to understand how it would correlate to player's factions. How does faction rep work? Does it go up and down automatically with damage to blocks or something? Is it possible to set it yourself per faction/player and can you only set bounties on players that are hostile to your faction? I'de like to be able to set bounties on anyone I like but maybe have to pay a initial fee to get the bounty posted (To stop players throwing bounties on anyone that so much, sneezes at them). Ff this is already a function, I'm sorry but I would LOVE to see custom bounty contracts that allow players to target players in the universe or another faction and give co-ordinates they have collected etc. It would just add so much value to the game being able to wage wars, siege safe-zones and intercept haulers etc. I've been playing since the launch of space engineers and have loved the journey and progression of the game. I've watched it closely and all the new additions that have been added and the game has shaped and formed into this dream space game I've been dying to play and I can safely say, this is the most exciting update I've laid eyes on for a game and can not wait to see the possibilities with this update come to life. They are incredible and can not wait to see it go live, I'm on the edge of my seat!
P.S Please make the hauling contract 'Package block' an item that can be placed or at least not exclusive to the contracts. I would like to conduct trades or use them as decoration, they look really cool!
Great work guys!