It's been a while since the last post mostly because the time I have to spend on the game is better spent programming than writing things here. At least until I get stumped on something and need to do something different. Which is where I am at now.
So what has happened since the last post? A lot actually, of the initial roughly 10,000 planets placed in the starting galaxy, around 200 exist within the habitable zone of their respective stars and are able to support life. Of those 200, approximately 80 have been named and exist within the starter player area where it is possible to travel, via high speed shuttles, to each of the planets.
This brings about a new direction I'm taking the game for starting players. Simply put, space flight in this game is a complex operation. I would say it is up there with landing on a space station in the original game Elite from the 1980's. At least up there with my experience which was that about 40% of the time I crashed into the space station and the game was over.
Rather than have all starting players get a ship and be expected to travel around in that, you can take shuttles. The goal is to make money and also gain some valuable experience. So when you start out you can play the game in a few different ways.
The simplest is to trade resources from one planet to another. Planets make significant money in the import/export business of resource trading. So players can join in this by purchasing blocks of resources and heading to other planets to trade them. Small problem though. As advanced as these civilizations are, they do not allow their resources pricing to be exposed. So unless you have your own private network to share pricing, do not expect to easily locate the best place to go and sell your goods.
Another way to make quick money is to take missions. There are various delivery missions you can take which can make you some quick cash when you don't have enough to really invest in resource trading. These missions vary widely and may have significant risk/reward if you are willing to deliver black market goods.
You can also start a small mining business. All the planets offer the ability to run surface mining operations. With some investment of equipment and staff, you can start a small mining outpost and either trade your goods directly with other planets or put them up for sale if you prefer not to be in the delivery business.
Finally, you can craft goods. Not only can you craft things you may need, you can craft things to sell.
So this is where I'm at, I'm building all the systems around gameplay that has nothing to do with space flight which is funny since that's what this game was really supposed to be all about.
Now as for planets not sharing pricing. I'll get into more detail later on, but there's a short version I can share here. A really long time ago a large group of planets got together and began an interplanetary stock market system for resource trading. While a lot of people got really rich off of this system, it decimated the economies of some really great planets. Of the 58 planets that shared the markets, only three remain populated. Of the three, only one has a strong economy. In fear of the same happening throughout the galaxy, planets have all chosen to not offer the means to check current prices without traveling. There are many trade networks that offer pricing and it is common for traders to talk to one another, sometimes offering false leads and other times joining together to share the wealth in huge trades.