I am really looking forward to the pre-alpha, but as an 8-year Eve Online veteran and almost 2 years of Space Engineers I have a few concerns/recommandations. I am curious how other people think about this, and if the devs said anything regarding these topics.
My concerns are:
Travel should be slow
Large ships should be full of equipment
Blueprint use should be limited.
Let me explain :).
In Eve online you can go to the central trading hub (Jita) with a couple of carriers or jumpfreighters in less than an hour from anywhere in the 7500 systems.
The introduction of cariers, jump freighters and jump beacon networks (over the years) killed off local trade hubs, and most of the deep space industry. Deep space / 0.0 is now mostly just used for (moon)mining and alliance wars. Trading is mostly limited to the center zone and the profit margins are so low most people do not bother. It also had the side-effect that empires got too big: it is so easy to have fast moving roving fleets cross the universe the empires got bigger and bigger. I miss the early years where you could set out with a group of friends, find yourself an empty solar-system and build yourselves a home. Those days are long gone in Eve-Online: you have to negotiate a rent from an empire, then mine your ass off paying that rent, or you sign up for endless grinding fleet service but never fight for your own home. (this is why I stopped with Eve-online a few years ago)
To avoid this, travel should be slow:
I think we should not have stargates in this game: that would make big empires too easy. People would just restrict their use to their own alliance to get a war advantage.
I think 12 hours flying or so to the next solar-system is fine to start with (was mentioned in one of the videos). Maybe you can introduce a warp drive so that travel to moons and panets within a solarsystem is a bit quicker, but to the next solar system should take hours (at least 1 or 2 hours I would say, enough so that it is a real expedition, not just a little hop and back).
This makes trade more viable, with better profit margins (you could even pay for getting your ship moved while you are offline?: dock it in a huge ship as in the Dune books for instance?)
As long as all the basic building components can be found in each solar system there is no need for fast travel. Slow travel will create many local economies instead of one big one, give room for real exploring, make trade and local industry viable. It will make the universe feel big. It will also mean that many people from two sides of the universe will never meet, but I see that as a plus, not a problem.
In Space engineers, when you build a really big battleship, it is mostly empty space: the power plants, oxygen plants, etc. take very little space. For the rest its an endless repeat of engines and guns, but they slap on on the outside. Inside it is mostly empty space. I do not like that. This way there is no real reason to build a big battleship other than the look: a smaller one is just as strong, and easier to armor.
I would suggest that in DU the equipment should be BIG. And I would also suggest lots of supporting equipement.
For Instance: say a large shield generator can be made stronger with one or more capaciters to handle peak loads, and they need 1 or more cooling systems so it overloads slower, they all need to be linked to a control unit to configure these settings, but they need to physically close to work. Then add that when a shield generator overloads, it explodes (seems very reasonable). This forces you to armor the room on the inside. Follow up with making the shield area it covers a limited sized disk, not a sphere. The effect will be that if you want a battleship to be shielded, you need a series of armored rooms full of equipment.
Repeat this type of thing for large guns, engines, power supply, sensor arrays etc, and you get a naturally big ship. I think a large ship focused for battle should just have room for living quarters and a few small ship bays, but for the rest be full of equipment.
(I am speculating stuff like this fits with the game engine, and should not take much performance as the supporting equipment can just be calculated through as improved stats for the shield module).
A positive side effect is that large trading ships - that DO need lots of empty space - will always be more vulnerable than a battleship of the same size.
I like the blueprint idea to store and recreate your personal designs. But I think it is a bad idea to make mass production too easy (also an experiance from Eve online). In the end somebody will come up with an optimal design for a small scout, miner, fighter etc, and then everyone will just endlessly copy that design. I think we all want there to be lots of variations in ship design.
Standards might still happen, but I think we can fight to keep diversity by limiting the blueprint functionality. One way of doing this would be to make the use difficult (as in Space Engineers you see the blueprint in space, and then have to slowly welt it together from the inside out: very hard to do for large blueprints). You could also make it so that you can reproduce your blueprint, but only 1 reproduced ship of the blueprint can exists in DU: that way you limit it to personal use as a sort of 'save game', but not stimulate mass production. Wat would be the dead of ship variation is the buying and selling of blueprints, I hope we do not get that.
As I expect some wipes in the alpha and beta phases of the game the blueprint is a great help, but personally I hope that it is dropped when the game is out for real. Losing a ship should hurt, and not just for the materials: it should take time and effort to create a new one.
This will limit piracy, because it makes piracy more time-consuming and harder to make profitable, and it will limit war: nobody is going to trow their hard-build ships away because an alliance leader has a temper tantrum. War will come when a group of people feel it is a just cause.
Ok, so far the 3 topics running through my mind lately. How do others feel on these topics? Is this all old news and already sorted?