This is a summary of a topic that has been brought up on the Discord several times recently. Discord discussions are ephemeral and may not make it to a larger audience or to the attention of the devs. This thread is an attempt to make the discussion a little less ephemeral.
Currently LMs require LTAs as a component. This means that in order to build an LM you need to have someone running a POL and GF which delays the ability to build LMs by at least a couple of weeks on game start.
This is problematic due to the large bonuses conferred on planets that have an LM or close proximity to a CX to enable trade. This leads to two problems:
There is a huge reward for COLIQ abuse. The LTAs in the starting packages will be in high demand to build LMs with. It will be easy to start, sell the LTAs, and then COLIQ. People will do this since the reward is so high and there’s no staff to police COLIQ abuse.
Early game cooperation between legit players is limited. If veteran players, or more importantly, new players want to work together on distant to CX planets or planets without “seeded” LMs they are blocked from doing so for potentially weeks or months. New players will likely quit or COLIQ instead of developing a community and economy on their starting planet. Veteran players will avoid these planets or use the unofficial workaround.
Recognition. The first option is just recognition that this is working as intended. Maybe this is what the devs want and if so we just have to play it out and see how it goes.
Seeding. One solution brought up by players is having the devs place LMs on planets that are intended as starting planets. I personally am against this method as it reduces the need for players to build LMs and doesn’t solve the high demand for LMs on non faction planets that may work as starting planets. The cost of the LM when spread across 5+ players is small and not really a roadblock in the way that the LTA requirement is. If the change proposed in the next section is not taken up then I would say that seeding some of the starters is needed or the COLIQ abuse will be even more likely to happen.
Reorganization. The LMs were one of the first planetary projects created and a lot has changed since then. A rebalance of the LM requirements could solve some of the issues presented here. Changing the LTA requirement to BTAs would remove the POL/GF gating and allow LMs to be constructed much earlier. This would reduce the demand for COLIQ abusers as BTAs would easily be available on the CX (player production or the dreaded MM sell). This change would also help meet a stated desire of the devs that people establish themselves outside of faction space by allowing for that possibility much earlier in the game before people get entrenched in faction space. Ideally, in my opinion, the LTA demand in projects should remain unchanged and the LTA requirement should be shifted to WAR or some other project that doesn’t create as significant a gating issue. A side benefit of moving LTA to a scaling project like war or an early POPI building is that the demand would scale with levels and LTA demand was at best moderate in the previous run.