There are at least three factions. Each faction has some sectors, including one HQ sector. In the station for their HQ sector is a vortex containment facility, with a vortex(NegativeSpaceWedgie) they extract premium resources from. Each vortex provides resources proportional to the entire game's premium player base, distributed equally to all the faction's premium players. That way, premium players have a reason to switch to a faction with fewer premium players, and they profit from any increase in player base.
Membership & Citizenship
F2P players are "members", but not "citizens", of their faction. They don't have any restrictions per se, they just don't get premium resource wages — they have to buy premium resources on the market to do their advanced crafting with.
All factions are post-scarcity societies. Survival is cheap. Any member can flop in an unused corner of a station core, breathe government air, eat government food, and drink government drinks, all for free. Going to space is rather expensive, and the exotic materials extracted from the vortices are very expensive.
On top of subsistence, each citizen gets wages, paid in premium resources. The economic listings may also list the wages of NPC citizens, but the numbers of NPC citizens and premium resources extracted are fiddled to maintain balance of PC citizens.
The gear of a faction is divided into three categories:
- Common gear, which still has distinctive looks — think Klingon vs Romulan disruptors.
- Variant gear, which also has somewhat-different stats. This faction's reactors may have more steady output, that faction's reactors may overclock nicely, the other faction's reactors don't put out radiation that would defeat cloaking, etc.
- Faction-specific gear, which has no ready equivalent, and wildly different stats from any rough equivalent. This is like the "long-range sustainable lasers vs powerful terminal-guidance missiles" difference, but mostly in soft sci-fi techs.
Politics is raised to a high art by the Churzak; the result is a people who are sneaky and deceptive by reflex, even when it doesn't make sense. However, they do strive to follow(or subvert) laws, on the grounds that an illegality is a vulnerability. The Churzak use their own energy sources, primarily because regular power plants are hard to stealth; these have their own Mechanic specialty. The Churzak are also the only manufacturer of SOTA stealth gear, and thus a target for reverse-engineering by others. Other faction stealth ships will generally have imported Churzak stealth systems.
- Explorer — A euphemism for a stealth spy ship, although it actually is good at exploring with all those sensors. Decent engines and life support.
- Ambusher — A stealth combat ship. Its fighting style focuses on alpha strikes.
- Merchant — A suspiciously-legit merchant ship. Lots of cargo hold systems. They'll never suspect you of being a legitimate merchant!
- Miner — Drill in the belly, cargo holds. Battery instead of enough power to run its engines at full tilt, but it can make a trip at high speed then sit there and charge. Has a stealth system that, instead of functioning as space stealth, disguises the ship as an outcropping of an asteroid or comet it's landed on. While undocumented, it can be used in space, in which case the ship looks like a little asteroid or comet.
- Crafter — Sort of a cross between the merchant and the miner, with an autofab.
The Dacsi hold the cutting edge of biotechnology. They use it freely on themselves as well as organisms for industrial use, and what began as a "buddy system" to deal with biomod malfunctions has taken on a life of its own: Even a single family unit needs at least 5 members to officially marry. In general, the Dacsi move in groups. Officials are rarely without an entourage of 10 or 12 people, and merchant vessels venturing into foreign sectors typically carry sizable crews and entire extended families.
Dacsi starting ships all come with a crew of 4 NPCs, including a pilot and an engineer.
- Explorer — Capable of operating independently for ages, with a focus on sensors and vortex engines.
- Gunboat — With 4 turrets, puts out an impressive amount of light laser fire.
- Merchant — `
- Miner — Has cargo holds, but not actually any drill systems. Instead, it has a rack of 6 man-pack drills. The NPCs are trained in mining.
- Crafter — Has cargo holds and a wet autofab, but also a manual fab where up to 8 people can work. The NPCs are trained in crafting skills, covering everything between them.
A people with hard luck and little wealth, the Teo are nevertheless tenacious and treacherous enough to get by.
- Opportunist — A little bit of everything, often via manual methods(i.e. a one-man fab bench, a man-pack drill, etc). Good sensors and vortex engines.
- Dogfighter — A maneuverable combat ship.
- Survivor — A heavily-armored brute, that looks like it's been taking a beating for decades and still going strong.
- Pirate — A ship that looks just like the Crafter, but with an imported Churzak cloaking device and an imported Vurilath missile system.
- Crafter — Cargo holds, a smelter, and an autofab.
Spiritual and a font of entertainment, the Vurilath nevertheless carry an undercurrent of violence, with ritual contests to determine social standing. While this is not necessarily military, it usually falls to athletics/endurance contests or solo "pain challenges", and many Vurilath treat this as preparation for a military career.
Part of the reason Vurilath media is so popular is an ongoing memetic war; the self-conscious barbaric splendor of the traditional ways contrasted with the thoughtful supernaturalism of more modern ways, and the deconstruction/reconstruction cycle of "hybrid entertainment". Thus even a connoisseur of all their media can be looked down upon by a Vurilath for not getting it.
- Dogfighter — A maneuverable combat ship, for killing things and taking their stuff. Bob and weave, yo.
- Bomber — A combat ship that hits hard, although it's less maneuverable than the dogfighter and more vulnerable than the implacable. Four tubes, lots of missiles.
- Implacable — A durable combat ship, albeit without much power. The shields turn incoming attacks into spare energy. The big, slow plasma cannon has a readout of the battery's energy wrapped prominently around the edge of the screen.
- Merchant — A ship that looks just like the bomber, but inside is mostly cargo holds. The same four tubes, but only a few missiles.
- Exploiter — Has cargo holds, an autofab, a drill system. The weapon is two tubes for eight missiles.
Each sector is a cube, with a station core at its center. A sector can belong to a faction, or to no faction. A sector's resistance to conquest is based on the service buildings in its core.
In order for a sector to be vulnerable to conquest, it must border a sector of another faction. In the center of each border face is a quest marker. If equal forces from both sides join in a two-faction raid there, they can start a "pitched battle quest". PVP, organized warfare. The losing sector's station loses 2 max upgrade level, which usually results in the destruction of 2 random upgrades. The victorious sector's station gains 1 max upgrade level, which should soon turn into an upgrade per the voting.
The vortices are locked to a shared inertial frame, and this entire civilization is basically locked there too. Asteroids and comets, ejected by nearby infant star systems, flow by, with an average velocity nicknamed The Current. Individual bodies have their own vectors, which constantly reshuffles the field, but there's a strong average. This steady flow of material is the target for miners, at a variety of grades.
- The leetest miners with money to burn on escort pilots go as far upstream as they can go, and fill their holds with the highest-value ores. They may even smelt the ores on the spot and take the best materials as ingots, so the miners who follow may find useful materials in slag left there.
- This pattern repeats, ever cheaper and ever newbier, until you get to the cores, where those with a "miner" starting ship will haul anything that isn't rock, and even fill up their mass driver mags with rock.
- Much of this field goes around the cores, so going perpendicular to The Current has some value, but it's a gamble — you're looking for what others missed, you have to be opportunistic.
- And, of course, downstream of a core region is a mined-out debris field, where nobody in their right mind would go… except all the people who want to go where nobody goes.
Unfortunately for the Teo, they're an exception. Their vortex is downstream of another. (Whose?) Their bad luck leaves them poor(and without a "miner" starting ship), but with tenacity and treachery, some Teo have made do and eke out a crafty living as miners.
The core of a station is built by the NPC government. It provides a few basic services, and can be upgraded. Crafters can craft and contribute things to raise the max upgrade level of the core, and citizens can vote on what upgrade to get next.
A station core starts out as a large, nigh-empty volume. Think of that project to use discarded Space Shuttle main tanks as habitat hulls. From the richest HQ sector with its vortex containment facility and all upgrades, to the poorest frontier sector with no upgrades, all station cores have the same size and shape. It should be big enough that even that richest HQ sector station has unused space for newbies to flop in.
Services available at the core include:
- Bank — A basic service. Also where citizens can collect their wages.
- Respawnery — A basic service. When you don't have anywhere to respawn, you can still respawn at a government respawnery.
- Exchange — A commodity market, adding an auction house at higher upgrade levels. For example: Upgrading to have an exchange allows the trading of premium resources(including selling them to the faction government, so citizens can collect their wages in cash). Upgrading the exchange allows all sorts of commodities to be traded. Another upgrade allows personal items to be traded. Another upgrade allows ship parts to be traded. The last upgrade allows ships to be traded.
Damage to a station affects the core. The minimum core has a level 1 bank and a level 1 respawnery, and thus cores are created with a max upgrade level of 2. If the max upgrade level is increased to 3, then citizens can vote whether to upgrade the bank, upgrade the respawnery, or add a new service at level 1. Damage reduces the max upgrade level, and excess upgrades are lost(destroyed), down to 2. If the max upgrade level is reduced to 1, then there's still a level 1 bank and a level 1 respawnery… but if the max upgrade level is reduced to 0, the sector switches over to the new owner's faction, with just a level 1 bank and a level 1 respawnery, albeit with the new faction's looks.
Players can build onto station cores, for a fee. A station should look from the outside like a massive zero-G coral reef, with each player house module being a voxel. The station cores thus serve as "seeds" for mostly-player-run towns.
Yay space campsites! Having temporary structures is a potential conflict driver. Defend the investment and encourage bringing more people in with this profit multiplier on board… or strike hard and fast and nick a few space intermodal transport containers. Or, have a lil wee pirate sanctuary — not a full station in itself, but lugging enough bits to at least set up camp.
Despite the containment facilities, each vortex bathes surrounding space in exotic radiation. This isn't visible or dangerous, but it can show up on your sensors for navigation, and it powers the "vortex drive". The pseudovelocity produced by a "vortex drive" engine is proportional to the sum of all the vortex radiation reaching it, in the frame of the vortices.
Even out in the boonies, however, the vortex drive is still too fast for fine movement, so ships have maneuvering thrusters, which are Newtonian, albeit with inertial damping autopilot to prevent you spinning off into space. If you're docking, or looking over an asteroid for where to start drilling, you're on maneuvering thrusters.
Potential Issue: The use of pseudovelocity makes rendezvous much easier, especially rendezvous with enemies. Newtonian movement is harder to use — requires KSP-level instrumentation, etc. — but maybe with the help of automation?
Near A Vortex
Travel is fast, you see lots of people, and a lot of them are strangers. Friendliness takes the form of "I am open to all customers" attitudes. The city mouse thrives.
Away From A Vortex
Travel is slow, you see few people, but they tend to be the same people. Friendliness takes the form of insular "us vs them". The country mouse thrives.
- Minimum playable unit: Spaceship design. Stick 1×1×1("size 0") half-ton systems together, wrap with dynamic hull.
- Spaceship Design, Larger Systems: 2×2×2("size 1") are 4 tons, 4×4×4("size 2") are 32 tons, 8×8×8("size 3") parts are 256 tons, etc. The largest systems in G: Spaceships core are 150k tons, which is about size 6.
- Spaceship Design, Canned Hulls: Hand-design some hulls, and make them buyable at a lower price than a comparable dynamic hull.
- Warning: Our open beta is a real beta. Please don't expect a pre-polished product that's there to get us free press.
- Expect a bunch of balance patches, and frankly some bugfixing. For example, the vortex drive gradient will probably be wrong at first, and need tweaking.
Rejected alternatives for MPU:
- Is it crafting?
- Is it combat?
- Is it related to factions?
High Cost×Reward Targets
These are cool ideas that won't be easy to implement right away.
Precursor loot drop: Microbot swarm ship. It's a swarm of microbots and a basic bit of material. You can add more material as a sort-of mining operation, or drop it off, in order to change the ship's size class. Most importantly, the ship can reconfigure its various systems. It needs a suitable precursor base to be found in the depths of.