Bona fides; I majored in Economics and Finances at Uni, and I’ve literally worked as an exporter/trader in a perishable industry… so yeah, dig me some markets + logistics. Played games all my life. There’s a major crossover in PU with my love for the strategy, what I’ve studied and know, and my life’s major interests; Geo-politics as expressed through economics.
I’d love to put forward some of my initial impressions, simple ideas/thoughts, and usually within each topic some questions for debate! I welcome any and all feedback or thoughts. I’m new to the game itself, so might miss things. I’ve read as much as I can as a precursor, and will mostly be focusing on broad strokes. In the interest of some hierarchy, I will start from the small - and end with the big. If there is any topic you would like me to expand on, I will, but in the interests of brevity, I will keep my claims short. Explanations are there.
First - How I imagine the world
This is the wild-west in space. Akin to The Expanse meets Alpha Centauri. We are the merchants on the front line of the development of new societies. We trade, we plan, we seek out opportunity. It’s important to understand the setting - since this should inform the gameplay! (more on that later)
There should be a cost to “recycling” that is more in tune with cost/benefit. There are several reasons you would want to demolish, but ‘making a mistake’ should not outweigh wanting to change industries. A 10-20% dismantling cost above depreciation should be calculated in.
Pioneers use B-Fabs. Settlers use B-Fabs. Technicians use R-Fabs. L-Habs get the short end… There’s a brilliant progression for the mix Habs. I get that you need PP2 (hence Settlers) for L-Fabs, but there should be another workaround, like a PP1 making L-Fabs more input expensively. It’s eliminating a big source of L-Fab demand which might push people into L-Fab production.
Which leads into this subject - there needs to be a far wider array of products/recipes. Don’t be scared by intricacy. For instance; Halite makes 2Na and 1Cl, but Bleach requires 1Na and 1Cl… and that’s the only recipe for Na… Like, what?
I love the meme of “our H2O is 90% space mud” as much as the next guy, but realism should just be a guiding principle, not a goal. Science Fiction kicks in at a lot of points, but I would love to see an overflow of it. Sodium makes Fizz Pop Space Rocks, a Luxury Ration, or Glow in the Dark Fabric. Throw a hundred recipes in, allow the inherent system design to balance the economy.
I know this is on the roadmap - but it leads to another concept. Imagine if every plot had varying degrees of resource… with a root base “theme” for each planet. Where there’s a lot more unknown until explored. Advantage gained through expense or luck. Perhaps it’s too heavy on the design side, but there needs to be many more elements of imperfect information. Right now, we’re sitting in a perfect information world, where the solution is given to people prepared to “design the system”. There’s no inherent risk/reward dichotomy to playing a certain style, the best rewarded style is cooperation in grand design.
The above sounds incredibly nebulous; but I love board-games where it’s up to the player to decide on a style, and to execute it flawlessly gets rewarded. The depth is a shortcoming, but I would love to see that there is more randomness and risk inherent in the game. You shouldn’t be able to plan for everything.
Which leads into… I hope you guys have planned design that actually involves loss. Under conflict you’ve been quick to point out that it would be top-level and not affect player’s assets directly… which leads me to believe that you’ve not factored in enough risk elements. Where’re the Space Pirates seizing my hold? Magnetic storms I can fly through faster between systems, but risk losing my crew to cancer (and having to pay out workers comp!)? Planetary tectonics? Ships crashing?
I understand that nobody likes loss, but it makes reward that much sweeter. Insurance can be an element worked into the design, underwritten by Factions. Corporations can also become involved in the game later. Corporations can also pay to “police sectors”, to eliminate bugs/pirates, but can then toll the space. So many possibilities. At the end though, it should come down to allowing player agency - Do I do something risky for a higher reward, or vice versa?
Exchange planets - rethink
The current solution to the problem of space on the main hubs is to increase the area. This is a band-aid at best - since either the game gets more popular and space runs out, or another solution is thought of. I’d love to hear more solutions, but I like mine the best, so here it is;
Exchange planets are completely owned by Factions, no extractive/productive bases allowed, you rent office space. Your offices are run by administrators/managers, and you have costs associated with the bureaucracy required to run your company. Your spot is also a warehouse - so you can buy/sell on the markets at any point (stock levels depending). Every player has to build their first base off-hub.
The reason I like this idea? It adds elements of depth/cost/interaction into the game-play by linking you to a Faction (all the future ideas that use this interaction can easily be implemented). Doesn’t benefit one player over another (because of first-mover advantage), and actually feeds into the lore… We are charged by the Factions to build the businesses required to feed the already established planets. We entice workers, we build the infrastructure, we move the goods around, we feed the Faction beasts. Those beasts are, on a macro scale, in conflict with each other - so we are both subsidised by Factions, they are our benefactors, but also beholden to them.
I’m done for now.
I’d love to talk about…
Land Allocation - We need a price for real-estate. We need a real-estate market.
Labour Market - The market is too linked to commodity pricing. There needs to be a separate market with its own Supply/Demand.
Money Supply - Right now the MM’s function as a form of printing money, but it’s imperfect because it has perverse impacts on the commodity markets.
I love the game so far. Looking forward to anyone else’s thoughts.
(oops, this got long)