I generally like this devblog. This is why i take the time to comment select bits of it in this post, expressing my personal opinion about them (and nothing more than that). Quotes from the devblog will be in bold italics.
1. We want to bring meaning and merit to all activities, even those basic ones that don’t require particular skills like mining.
Admirable desire. However, please note that process of mining ores in real life on industrial scale - is highly sophisticated process which requires many skills. Similarly complex mining activities can be simulated in a game, and indeed sometimes were simulated in a few games, already (either intentionally or not).
For example: mining in Ultima Online looks very boring and basic on the surface, however, there is a script language which allows to create relatively sophisticated mining scripts, which control one's character and mine ores without direct player control. Said scripts, with certain modifications, allow for rudimentary adaptations: the script reacts to certain events while running, and possibly adjusts behaviour of the character to produce more desirable result in the end. Such scripts were done by me over 15 years ago, and i imagine nowadays much more complex and challenging ways to do mining can be made, if so desired.
I conclude that there are no "basic" activities. There are only basic implementations of specific systems which allow to have "basic" in-game activities, which some players decide to get involved with (and/or are forced to use, circa "grinding"). Pretty much everything can be made into mini-game, or even fully developed "game inside a game", if need be.
2. We are also aware that even very dedicated fans can’t be connected at all times, and we expect many players to have a busy family and/or working life. With this in mind, we think it’s necessary that whether outside of safe zones or if players like risks and challenges, they need to have adequate time to react should their assets be attacked while offline.
Said "adequate time" is not a solution, because often times attackers will use overwhelming force. This is seen time and time again in all games which allow to do so: raids often happen in a way defender(s) are unable to defend their assets even if they are fully aware of the raid, because of sheer numbers and/or strength of the attacking force.
For example: in Ogame (browser MMO about colonizing planets in space), most attacks are only performed if the attacker is sure his force will utterly crush defender's fleet present near attacked planet. Even more, experienced players only attack if they are sure that the defender can not throw in massive additional forces to defend at very last few seconds before the battle, such as when defender's planet has a moon from which additional large fleet can be sent to defend the planet in almost no time.
So, if the goal is to allow players to ensure safety of their assets (whether all assets, or particular kinds of assets only) - then it will be simply required to give players strictly secure space, to which assets can be put and remain 100% safe. Good examples of such spaces are: player's stash in Diablo 2; personal notes about players kept in friends' list of SWTOR (assuming information in those notes can be considered "assets"); player's ship(s) in Discovery Freelancer (not including items in ships' cargo holds in the event of ship descrution, of course); player's and guild's bank space in WoW; etc.
One important note that it is best when players have rich options which define who, how and when can see / interact with their assets. Whenever such options are present, players are very happy about it. Using above mentioned examples, i know that player's stash in Diablo 2 did not have any such options, and players were often irritated by their inability to allow access to it to their friends; one's ability to keep notes in SWTOR - and also one's ability to select whether to allow anyone else into their personal stronghold(s) - were always enjoyed by players very much; same for various settings of player-made space stations in Discovery Freelancer; same for guild bank's settings in WoW.
3. It’s a no-brainer that many players yearn for “home sweet home” in a safe zone where they can relax.
It is. This is very required for any good MMO, especially next-gen MMO, which DU aims to be.
But required does not mean sufficient. Most players also yearn for neutral grounds, as well. Places where all hostilities are both prohibited, and if attempted - quickly stopped by overwhelming force. This concept was already implemented even back in Ultima Online, where guards were mercilessly overpowering any player who tried to do harm within city limits. Neutral cities in WoW where two opposed factions can walk together without bloodshed, Zoners' space stations in Freelancer which allow everyone to dock and enforce peace no matter what, etc. Such places, where everyone can be sure to be accepted and protected (or nearly everyone, except known criminals for example) - need to exist in number and locations sufficient to provide refuge, if need be, on sufficiently short notice.
The key difference here is that "home sweet home" is primarily needed for personal space - while neutral "grounds" (cities, halls, stations, etc) are primarily needed for social interactions. So, both allow to "relax", yet both provide more functions than just "can relax here" one. Therefore, both "home" and "neutral cities" are designed very differently in many regards, in order to allow those other functions to be used. Players' and organisations' "homes" typically have tools and systems allowing to store and manage assets, decorate, sometimes crafting benefits, resting places, etc. One can call all such "conviniences". While neutral cities / stations / grounds typically have great many guest givers, NPC shops and services, sometimes transportation hubs, large gathering spaces, etc. One can call all such "points of interest", i guess.
It does not always mean the game needs many such places. If the game can provide quick method to travel to such place(s), then even few can suffice. But without fancy things like portals and instant-jump drives able to propel one any distance desired to such place, the game may need procedural ways to generate such spaces in sufficient number, distributed somewhat evenly throughout the game's overall space. They must not be too rare, but neither too common, as it's best to have players able to reach one in sufficiently small amount of time, but also often challenged to reach one despite immediate dangers. Personally, i estimate the ideal "reach safety" time being some ~5...15 minutes (whenever the player does not have any option to "portal" to safety and such nearly instantly, that is), depending on particular gameplay and situation. I mean the time required to reach safety when the player is attempting it as his current primary task, of course. I observe this is indeed the case in most popular games which involve any sort of neutral grounds, including ones mentioned above in this post.
I conclude that "home" and "neutral grounds" locations - differ very much in both function and design, if we talk what MMO players yearn for. It's much important to have both, and have both implementing above mentioned functionalities properly (on top of both giving protection to players, of course).
But, of course, this all is "standard" by now. If DU aims to be truly next-gen MMO, then perhaps more careful consideration along those lines is needed. Perhaps yet another kind(s) of specific "grounds" is something most players would enjoy extremely much, if implemented right? What such "grounds" may be, and why? Those are questions i don't have clear answers for.
4. For the time being we are considering the following option, but we would like to hear your opinons: If the Force Field drops below a certain level, it will activate a temporary Protection Bubble making the Force Field Unit itself (and the construct on which it has been placed) indestructible for 24-48 hours.
I know developers intend only good with this, but i am sure lots of bad will come of such a design in practice. Sorry to disappoint, but this comes from large Ogame experience.
You see, in Ogame, players spend months, sometimes years, to amass great fleets. Other players hunt such fleets, for any substantial defeated fleet produce great amount of valuable matherials. This is "bigger fish eats smaller fish" kind of game. Point is, in Ogame, you can't strike instantly, - it takes hours or sometimes real-life days for your fleet to travel to someone else's planet and attack their fleet, and as soon as you send your fleet to do that attack - the attacked person gets notified he's about to be attacked. He knows exactly when the attacking fleet will arrive.
So where's problem about that, you ask? The need to regularly check what's going on, that's the problem. In practice, it gets old real soon. When players feel they "must" check how things are going in their game regularly, it makes them feel as if it's not a game - but instead, a kind of a job. They often won't realize it themselves, but subconsiously, any such game will repel them. Worst thing about it: the more important for the person it is to ensure regular involvement with the game - the more he'd be repelled by it.
So ask yourself: what happens if someone say goes to vacation? Or someone who got tough times at his job and must spend several days away from the game? School exams imminent? Sickness / hospital? Etc etc. In all such cases, players will know their assets are to remain unprotected. It won't make them happy.
On the opposite, players in say WoW - they _know_ that no matter what, contents of their bank account is there to stay, as is equipment on their characters, etc. Heck, i logged into WoW last year (iirc) after being away from it for several years - and everything was securely there, heck, even looks of my old character in black and red armors was very same to how i remember it being years ago.
The solution is clear here, to me. Do not go the Ogame way. Allow players to ensure safety of all assets if they want to do so. Without any extra price tag nor excessive extra effort needed. In doing so, the game will earn more than players' gratitude: the game with attract many more players than it otherwise would.
P.S. I wish developers best or luck designing the game - without hurry, without setting any release dates, and having great enjoyment in the developing process itself.