Suggestions for PrUn Development

Hello fellow profiteers and monopolists! I recently joined Prosperous Universe and have been loving the game. It is that perfect combination of science fiction and spreadsheets that I could never fulfil completely from the X series or EVE, and the game is not even done yet. To that end, I have some suggestions for everyone to look over, which I hope will make the game a more entertaining experience. I would greatly appreciate any comments you all have, and hopefully a few will get snuck into the game as it develops.

Starting Game Screen

The configurable UI set up is wonderful, but the starting UI windows are awful. As a new player I spent maybe the first week of my experience trying and mostly failing to use the out of the box UI. Only after a friend of mine gave me a quick rundown on how he configured things did I get the hang of it. The main UI windows give you a bunch of info that you do not really need or care about at first, such as the universe map, while hiding the exchange, your base buildings, and current jobs. For a game advertised as being a financial simulator, why are there no financial spreadsheets staring me in the face first thing?!

This should be easy to fix, as the modularity of the UI system is perfect. Each starting screen should have their base’s window, their current jobs, and the local CX plastered on the screen front and center. The CX in particular should be right there, as big as can be. Move the universe map and probably the planetary info to a new screen. Perhaps a buffer showing the CMDS output as well.

Starting Worlds and Commodity Exchanges (CX’s)

More difficult is a massive understatement for starting on non-CX worlds. I have lost count of how many times I learned about something only when my factory slowed to a crawl. If I was not on a CX world, those errors would have been bankrupting, but thankfully I could just buy the missing item and move on. This sort of learning is good, but the cost on non-CX worlds is prohibitive. My solution? Bring CX’s out to the other starting worlds.

Well not completely. It makes perfect sense that not all planets have full CX’s. But why can we not go to the figurative planetary gas station, grocery store, or so on? Allow partial CX’s which have a limited number of categories to be built. Each CX can start with say two categories base, and you can upgrade it repeatedly to add more categories. This also gives a natural progression for turning waystations into real hubs, like many real life cities.

Sinks, Faucets, and Economic Growth

The market as it currently exists needs a prop to grow and expand. Even long term, I strongly suspect that a steady faucet of currency and thus growth will be needed to ensure the game stays healthy. But the current market maker orders do not offer sufficient flexibility. We need faction orders which can automatically downsize or scale up based on demand, while ensuring they offer room for player orders.

I propose that each AI faction world have a number of automatically generated orders for the goods that world consumes, both on the world itself and in that faction’s primary CX. For obvious reasons, this proposal is meant to be paired with the CX suggestion above or something similar to it. Consumables of all types and raw materials for the world (as determined by their background, and/or balance) would have automatically generated CX buy orders. These orders should buy fixed amounts of goods per order and have expiration dates, then re-evaluate their buy price based on how fast demand was (or was not) met. These buy orders should never go above an already existing sell order so as to not disrupt the selling market, but should otherwise be able to raise or lower their prices as demand allows.

Ships and Shipyards

The construction and maintenance of new ships looks very promising, but I think a few tweaks and additions would help immensely.

First off, ship design. Plenty of people have commented about FTL fuel storage being required even for STL only ships. Then there is the cargo bay. More options for specific specialties would be amazing. We want to encourage such specialization, so the more the merrier. Cargo holds for ores/minerals/metals/liquids/gasses/etc would be perfect.

Second, cost. Ship production has not been around for very long, so this may change, but at present cost for any ship feels so prohibitively expensive that I will never get a chance to own a third ship, at least not for quite a while. Cost wise it also seems to make no sense to build anything except the largest super freighters. Lowering the cost and complexity of smaller ships would help a lot with catalysing shipping.

Third sort of leads from the second in a way. Ship markets should be a thing. At present you have to buy the parts yourself to get a new ship, then add it to the shipyard. You cannot contract this out to a player who is better specialized. Perhaps pair this with a contract overhaul as well, to cover more complex edge cases for trading.

Lastly, shipyards themselves. Please give us different scales of shipyards. Give us big shipyards, small shipyards, shipyards with multiple berths, and so on. Ship building just being an enabler sort of function is boring.

Bases

Your own little piece of dirt (or cloud, or liquid ammonia for the more exotic places). They are the bedrock of basically everything so far, and are well done. But they could be more well done :slight_smile:

Let’s start with area. The current arbitrary limit on area is, well, arbitrary. People should be able to buy more area to increase their facility size. Or pay higher building and upkeep costs to build up (or down). Much of this should be capped by planet size and government policies, but you get the idea. It sounds like much of this is planned in the road map, but I wanted to make it clear regardless.

Experts next. They should be movable from planet to planet, at least within reason. Care should be taken to ensure you cannot cheese your way into bypassing the time investment needed, but the ability to move them as the situation demands would be very useful. Also selling them could be interesting as well, but that is just a random idea I thought of while typing this, so no idea if that’s a good plan.

Lastly, bases and plots and all of that. For the main CX and faction worlds, we will eventually run out of base slots. Some of this can be handled by shifting limits around and all, but ultimately we will run out. So we should just remove base limits, especially for starter worlds, and instead use area and regulate its use accordingly.

Population Infrastructure (POPI) and Governance

To be blunt, what exactly is going on here? I have no idea how any of the population mechanics work, and I think no one else knows either. This itself is sort of the problem. The various governors and high level players sort of allude to the various POPI costs and things they do, but even then half the time they are looking at population reports and going “What the heck is this?” Until we get a more concrete explanation for how this works I am not really sure what to ask for outside of generalized features.

So the government upkeep seems like it is its own sufficiently different thing from normal corporate governance. Maybe it should have separate accounts from the corporation of the governor. Numerous governors have switched into solitary corporations for the express purpose of simplifying government accounting. This seems contrary to what we want out of player organization, so adding features and options to allow for government control independent of corporation control should be added. Also, that’s kind of how the world works too, and even in a futuristic dystopian mega-corporation’s wet dream, government entities would be separate from corporations.

Speaking of government operation, how a governor is decided should probably have options beyond straight direct democracy. I do not know how specifically this should be implemented yet, as the whole “how does POPI work?” thing kind of inhibits detailed suggestions. But seeing some of the shenanigans players have done with governors does demonstrate that something should be done to cover how it works in more detail. Having proper dictatorships, oligarchies, weighted votes, and so on seems appropriate.

Lastly, the AI factions and their space. Many of the features and suggestions above implicitly suggest that the AI factions should be more aggressively managed. So let me explicitly state such here: AI faction space should be run by, well, the AI. Or at least have much more stringent controls on what can and cannot be done with government shenanigans than elsewhere. This mostly boils down to an economic growth argument. You want the area newbies that spawn in to have a healthy economy, and for any restart we want the base conditions to encourage growth. Having more direct control over the government functions alleviates some startup costs for players, while also allowing developer tinkering if you need more incentive.

Miscellaneous

And finally we have the random bucket of suggestions that did not neatly fit into the categories above. These are all a random grab bag, so it makes a lot more sense to just list these as bullet points and such.

  • Add a button to look at CX prices for a material from its info page. This is by far the thing I wish to know the most after looking through material chains.
  • List how much raw materials go into an item on its info page. This is a good eyeballing metric to determine total item complexity.
  • Custom job chains that can be added to the queues. It is really annoying to babysit a PE -> OVE -> EXO production chain. None of the numbers line up, even with recurring orders. Please let us add custom chains of jobs, so that we don’t have to go insane with this.
  • More queue slots. This also helps with complicated production chains that use the same building.
  • Let free players use contracts, but cap the number of open contracts they can have (at 1 or 2 or something very low). Having an entire key feature of player to player interaction be blocked in its entirety is infuriating. Let free players access these but in limited amounts, so they get a taste of things and want to contribute properly.

Alrighty, that concludes this massive wall of text! Have fun dissecting these suggestions and posting your own.

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Hi, I’m the friend mentioned here. I agree that the starting UI is terrible, which is why I trashed it as soon as I realized how adaptable the system could be. We actually checked with a couple other friends we pointed towards the game, and while the crappy UI was not the only issue, it did contribute to why they abandoned the game nearly immediately.

My background is slightly different, so my opinions on how to proceed don’t line up one to one. 20 years ago my Space Sim of choice was Escape Velocity Nova, 15 years ago it was Vendetta Online, and 10 years ago it was EVE. (I blame EVE on @MrWacko.)

When it comes to starting worlds and Commodity Exchanges, I’d lean towards making starting on a world without any CX, if that remains a thing, a pro feature (especially if accepting contracts continues to be a pro only feature).

I have a couple different suggestions when it comes to making ships more affordable. The first is to make an orbit to orbit only option, after orbital activities start to be a thing. The second is to, on very small ships, replace the bridge with a couple crash couches/high-g seats. (Yes, this is borrowed from Traveller, why do you ask?) Along with an option for STL only ships, my hope is to get very cheap ships capable of little more than astroid to space station runs which players could start thinking about investing in around the same time they would be buying their second base.

When it comes to base size, I generally think that larger plots on non-starter worlds – and maybe also non-faction worlds – would be a useful factor to push players towards the fringes of the universe. The other factor I’d like is resource distribution. I would lean towards starting worlds having the widest selection of resources available, but not being the best world for any particular thing. (I’m looking at you Promitor.) Meanwhile, worlds on the fringes could be very good at a narrow niche, but not really generalist worlds.

I am going to reiterate the suggestion for a way to get from the material page to a price listing. My preference is a page which lists an items price at each CX, sort of a reverse of our current system where CXs list the price of all items, but I’m open to other ideas.

Also, there are a bunch of features the community has made, or are similar to features already in the game, which the game would benefit from adding in:

  • A NAV NET buffer which displays something similar to this map.
  • A way to search for planets by the resources they contain.
  • Just as PLI brings up a search menu, so should other buffers, especially MAT.

Also, while this might work fine in other languages, the Company/Corporation distinction is pretty technical in english and thus confusing and easy to mix up. I would recommend changing one of these words to something else; in particularly, I would change Corporation to Trust, but I’d be open to other terms here.

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While I agree Company and Corporation are easily confused, especially when players have the word ‘Corporation’ in their company name, a Trust, to my mind, is a charitable or non-profit venture. Perhaps a corporation could instead be a Conglomerate?

I’d be fine with Conglomerate.
While trust can mean that, it can also mean:

: a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement especially : one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition

From here. This definition shows up in phrases like ‘Trust Busting.’ (It also gives an amusing double meaning to ‘you have betrayed my trust.’)

@MrWacko touches many points which are on the developers radar. They emphasized that their development resources are limited and they focused on the broader content related topics like population mechanics and shipbuilding.
As a result many QoL related issues have been postponed and the current universe is much older than intended but in another thread they asked for the most demanded feature and as a result we now have recurring orders.

Nonetheless in this thread are some important points to take away in my opinion:
As the issue of monetization/subscription model has come up before Christmas I believe PrUn to be at a critical point in its development. As I understand there is some external funds which cover most at the development costs at this point but they will run out in 2021. I don’t know how much cross-funding from Simulogics other game AeroSim is really possible. So if the game wants to stand on its own it is crucial that a certain player base is established.

With at least some money being poured into advertisement on Facebook and Youtube now is the time to improve the onboarding experience of those newcomers. I tracked the active player numbers daily and although there have been many new sign-ups recently it did not translate to more active players. If anything it only managed to balance older players quitting.

So player retention has to be improved significantly. PrUn has to decide where it wants to stand. It is a niche game in its very nature and some kind of accessability vs. depth of gameplay balance must be found. And it is very lopsided in this regard at the moment.
Information about the game should be spoon-fed in the beginning and more beginner friendly default settings (starting planet/starting UI with actual relevant information) should be applied.

Another complaint from newer players I have heard is that there is just to little to do in the beginning. Imagine signing up to a new game, you probably have some time on your hands (Why should you sign up to a new game otherwise?) and set up your company, choose a starter pack and somehow endure to figure out how to produce your first set of MATs. Only to see that you have to wait for several hours or even days for a batch to finish. Chances are at that point that you just close the tab to never return to PrUn.

I think the overall balance can be kept but accelerating the early game experience is key. Things can slow down after a couple of days no problem without breaking the balance, as new players will not produce game-breaking amounts of stuff. But some kind of exponential decay curve of things to do might do the trick. A dedicated newb area with different rules might be another consideration. I don’t know how other similar games do this but maybe some inspiration can be drawn from them.

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