So I played the game for a while a year or two ago, and was pretty successful, mostly due to having been fortunate enough to choose what ended up being the most profitable industry at the time, and some good trades in the early carbon price fluctuations.
Eventually I stopped playing after getting my third base, mostly due to starting to feel overwhelmed by the task of managing three bases, at which point I could not manage to fit the UI for all of them on my screen.
I’ve had some ideas about the game since then, and figured I should share my thoughts. Maybe its too late in the process for some of these design decisions, but you never know!
First of all, I feel like early on in the gameplay arc, when a person first starts, there is not enough to do, by far. You set up a production facility, put in orders, and then you wait. For a long time. At the point that a player first starts playing a game, that is a time of peak interest for the player. The game needs to be able to capture that interest by allowing the player to do things (labor) in order to improve their position.
I also feel that at the start of the game, the player is gifted with way too much value worth of free stuff. The amount of goods to be able to make a starting base is actually huge, and the value from these goods on the market if they were dumped is huge, and would be destabilizing to the market if they were sold. This results in a situation where the player would be rewarded for just making alts and then messing with the market. And there isnt anything else for people to do. Obviously there are rules and anti cheat measures against this, but thats a bandaid to the problem. Ideally, the system would be designed such that this wasnt needed.
In EVE online, and most other MMOs, and also in most Idle games, one starts out with far less resources. One doesn’t start out in the place of a manager of a colony. One starts out as a laborer essentially, having to play the game to earn money, so that they can begin the process of accumulating capital, so that they can begin to get returns over time.
Prosperous universe skips that phase, and just gives you a ton of stuff to start, and I kindof think its a mistake. I think the game would be better if there were an initial phase upon account creation where you had to do a bunch of stuff in order to build up yourself to the point of getting to make a base, and reach the starting point the game puts you in now. For example, the player could perform some sort of minigame in order to gain resources, at a far more inefficient rate than those who are well advanced in the game and doing in through automation via the production from their bases. There are several benefits from this:
- The player’s initial burst of excitement would be channeled into something that pushes them forward in the game.
- One could not create alts and use their starting goods to either disrupt the market and/or profit for their main. Because the alt would need to be built up through labor.
- It mirrors the real life experience of anyone not from a super rich family, where you start off needing to trade labor for capital, before you can begin the process of investing.
This part of the game would be the opening phase of the story arc of the game.
The midgame phase of the story arc should be the experience you get currently when starting off in PU, of running one base, and then later two or three. This part of the game is well represented in the current gameplay.
The endgame phase of the story arc should be when you reach a point that managing those bases becomes too hard and time consuming. At this point, the player essentially becomes the leader of a corporation or a middle manager in a corporation, and should begin to manage other players, to whom they delegate the control of their bases, for a share of the profits. Note that this is one possible form of labor that the player in phase 1 could provide! Running the base of another player in their guild/corporation, for part of the profits. In this way the new player also has expectations that they will not simply dump all the goods on the market, or mismanage things. It is a position of trust, and the player would presumably need to demonstrate trust in some way to get this position.
Another part of the endgame could be players investing into shares of different corporations, which would use the invested capital to expand, and would then later pay back the investors through dividends and/or share appreciation. This endgame could be achieved through further building out the various options for corporations, allowing them to issue shares which are then traded on the market, and allowing players to delegate control of bases that they own for others, with some form of profit sharing implementation.
At that point, the story arc of the game would feel complete. From laborer and/or manager of a base as a job inside a player corporation, to a player running a base or two (possibly inside an corporation structure, or not), to a player owning many bases and delegating out many of them to others.
I feel like this is a game which would have interested me more at the beginning (where it felt like I had nothing to do), and also interested me more and not overwhelmed me at the end (where I had too much to do).
Thanks for reading!