I'll start with suggested unlockable technologies. I have a lot of ideas for the game that I would love to know are heard/understood. I'm not a game developer, but a high school English teacher who has spent enough time on this game that he wishes he knew how to hide it from his Steam friends. I have a more complete list of suggestions (don't we all?) but I feel like these are things that I have naturally thought of after playing the game and speculating on ideas that I've seen here and on the Astoneer subreddit. I think that this game is wonderful, and I hope that its depth increases without a dramatic increase of complexity. With that as the main criteria, here is a shortlist of ideas that I would love to see incorporated.
Cartography: Accessible through a menu when it is unlocked, it provides a rough/crude map of all tethers, bases, buildings, maps, and beacons within a certain diameter around the player.
Camera: It takes HDR pics and has several snazzy filters. Is given its own keyboard command (similar to 'T' and 'Q' and 'E'...perhaps 'P'). Can be set for manual use or for automatic capturing. When it is unlocked, it retroactively provides an album of your "big moments" prior to unlocking the technology. Regarding design, the camera could look and function like one of the retro viewmaster devices, except as a camera and a viewing device. Like a backpack, albums of photos can be stored in "wheels" of 8-16 (google image search viewmaster). All captured images would have in-game titles removed and would be up-rez'd and anti-aliased to the max.
Journal: Works in tandem with the camera and cartography, but allows the player to use a pop-up-book style menu to look back through the histories of their "days" on bodies orbiting the star. It could be somewhat scrapbook-y in style, allowing the player to customize the look and feel, or giving them custom text boxes and titles to narrate their own stories, using their own pics. It would be helpful to show the 'viewmaster slides' on the same maps unlocked through cartography. Players would have to 'flip' through days on each planet to see how their cartography has changed over time. Maybe it is just a tabbed notebook, and maybe the charts are 'crude' in the sense that they might be simulated as hand-drawn, in pencil. (Perhaps using the keyboard command 'J' to access?) My thinking is that the journal works from the start of the game, but cartography and camera are added in as they are unlocked, enhancing the journal. Before those technologies are unlocked, the journal might serve only to provide somewhat-helpful statistics, like 'how many tethers you have placed on this planet' and 'how many bases/buildings/vehicles on this planet' or 'resources witnessed on this planet'.
Diving Bell: Pre-Scuba, and is equipped on a normal backpack. Allows some shallow underwater travel, but can only be used with filters and tanks, and makes the player very susceptible to currents and being too lightweight in the water. Must be equipped to a shoulder slot to work. Is crafted using several copper.
Scuba (Amphibious Backpack): Because of how gravity would be affected by something like a simple jump when underwater, this backpack is equipped with the standard amounts of small storage slots, but causes the player to be heavier so that something like jumping seems like a normal land jump when underwater. The player could place tethers underwater, but must wear the backpack to access the O2/power they provide. The backpack might require the player to build it using a lot of titanium. The original storage backpack could be removed and stored in a 2-slot storage spot. When wearing the scuba backpack, the player can travel on land, but cannot run or jump. When they fall (outside of water scenarios), they fall HARD, and their injury/death is hard felt. When underwater, the player WILL sink to low depths if they are not careful. However, the power in the backpack might provide small underwater air-bubble-thrusters that let them jump and thrust - so long as they have power - to safety (within tether range).
Flight Jumper (Airborne Backpack): This equip-able backpack is similar to the amphibious version, but it has flying-squirrel-type webs that deploy in the armpits (think comic Spider-man's armpit webs) when the player reaches specific velocities (usually by falling). When the webs are deployed, the player can glide to medium distances. However, the suit would be affected by wind and storms, and would create a challenge from very high locations, as those locations are not within reach of tethers. The falling damage a player would incur would be less when this backpack is equipped. However, the player would still suffer the same injury/death if their landing velocity or angle is too great/steep. This suit could be equipped with small, 1-slot thrusters that operate similarly to a 1-slot generator. For as long as an organic lasts on a small generator, the player could use the thrusters to "fly" - as opposed to gliding - while knowing they run the risk of going too high. If a player goes too high from their starting point, they will have to glide a very long distance to land without dying. They don't have tethers in the sky (probably) and they might not have tethers far away (probably), so they would have to glide very far out (to land without dying) and try to run to the nearest O2 (to survive). To create a challenge, the thrusters could operate only using as much, say, hydrazine, as one could possibly carry. Where the amphibious backpack has the air-bubble-thrusters built in to the suit and consuming power, the flight jumper would only allow thrusters that operated using hydrazine.
Parasail: With or without the flight jumper, the player can access the parasail, which allows them to travel long distances while carrying a few items. Each parasail would have ~8 single-slot storage spaces and a single 2-slot storage space (for a research item, possibly). A parasail can be equipped with extra oxygen in its slots that protects the player when traveling long distances. It is activated using a running start (downhill), by launching from a vehicle (traveling at a minimal-required velocity), or by a leap of faith and enough wind resistance.The parasail would require a longer running start/greater starting velocity for each item that weighs it down. Items equipped in a normal backpack would count towards the weight issue, whereas items in a flight jumper would not could towards the weight being calculated on the parasail. If one were brave enough to wear an amphibious suit, they would have to use it from a very high distance, and I think that the weight + speed +gravity of the player/parasail should allow the player to land, but destroy the parasail (and all attached items) and hurt or possibly kill the player.
Spacewalker (Zero-G/Zero-O2 Backpack): Intended for weightlessness or very-low-G situations. Is extremely heavy on a planet, but is nimble on a moon or in space/high atmosphere. The suit itself converts power to oxygen if the right attachments are there. If it were worn on Terran, the player could only "storm-walk" when wearing it. However, it is impervious to storms (only atmo storms, not space storms) and provides sustainable life....so long as the player has a solar or wind vane attached to their shoulders, or enough power to survive without sun and wind. It cannot survive a single fall that would provide injury to the player, unless the player wears it under water. IF the player braves the choice of wearing it under water, they cannot use thrusters of any kind and they are heavier than in an amphibious suit (when underwater). Their power converters don't work on solar/wind when in water, but single-slot generators, tanks, batteries would still work to create O2 if equipped to the suit. A fall to great depths under water would allow the player to survive the fall, but they could not thrust to safety, nor could they survive the trip back up with the suit. They could only survive by taking tanks and oxygen with them from the suit, and pray that it is enough to reach the surface, by floating/swimming upward. HOWEVER, ONLY when in SPACE/HIGH-ATMO, the suit automatically uses CO2 emissions from the player, giving them inherent/unlimited tiny thrusting (with itty-bitty wisps of air emitting from the corners of the backpack. The thrusters work, so long as the player has O2. Solar is near-constant in space/high atmo....but space wind (a real thing) is not constant. The player would nearly always have O2 in these situations, so long as one solar is equpped. However, to navigate in space wind, the player must also have equipped at least one wind vane or battery/power supply. The backpack would require two immediate sources of power for the thrusters to work hard enough in high space winds. The danger of high winds in this suit is that it draws a lot of power, taking away from the automatic O2 conversion. If no space wind is occurring and a solar is equipped, the player can spacewalk. But if they get too far without enough power/O2/tether access, they run the risks of a storm ruining their fun. I think - only in weightlessness, the backpack could expand to have 4 shoulder slots, instead of two, but have two less normal slots. Retrieving a dead body's storage contents in space would be futile, so having 4 slots might lessen the blow of defeat.
Cargo Bay: A building that is air-locked and can be used to store both small and large storage items. Perhaps it has giant bins where you can safely 'toss' all of your individual storage items, small or large. Or maybe it has a limited number of storage slots, and you cannot use it to just 'toss' items inside because it has a limited amount. Either way, a storage solution would be nice! I would also assume that it would cut down on the number of items that the game has to keep up with, simply by keeping track of the number of items you threw in, and not by actually generating the interior of the bay - and those items - when you are outside of it. I think that the cargo bay should limit the numbers of supplies that it could hold, and it should not be moveable. It should be a significant storage solution, but should only exist on a land/water/air/space base as an attachment to a base. It might be interesting if it requires two connections to resin nodes to function properly. Two connections, as in, it has to be near enough to connect to at least two strategically-placed resin nodes using the big black power transfer lines. I think it should be a running calculator-looking-interface where you "deposit your small storage items in an air tube. They are sucked downward into the machine and the interface updates to show how many of each item it holds. Maybe a cargo bay can hold up to 32 of every item, but only 32 per type. Like the trade platform, it does not use energy, but might have at least one 2-slot storage spot. For automation purposes, maybe the player HAS to have a cargo bay at every location that they want to transfer supplies to/from.
Supply Drone: If a player has a base with at least one trade platform, one cargo bay, and one 2-slot storage location, they can build their very own supply drone using the printer. I imagine that players would store their supply drones on that 2-slot-storage that I mentioned on the cargo bay, and they would use both to create a supply-transport network using your other cargo bays on the same planet - or, in tandem with the trade shuttle on the trade platform - would work with cargo bays the player has established on other planets/moons. When the player accesses their resources stored on the cargo bay that they are AT, they can instantly gain stored resources. However, if they are trying to pull from storage that they have at any other location, the drone has to fly away (for trades ON the planet at other locations). For trades with cargo bays on other planets/moons, the drone attaches to the trade shuttle, and they fly away together. The player has to wait for their stuff, just like when they trade hydrazine for stuff. Because the cargo bay and the drone deliver supplies in numbers, and don't visibly carry the supplies, they have to be automatically offloaded into one's currently-existing cargo bay. If I already have 32 compound in my cargo bay, adding 8 more should be allowed, but those 8 compound should go flying in every direction, teaching me my lesson. I know that this penalty looks more like a glitch, but it is one of the most endearing things about Astroneer. When my friend logged out of Astro with 8 compounds on his back, they went flying in this exploding gesture and I had to scramble to gather them all before the storm blew them away. It was awesome.
Cam/Beacon Drone: A player should be able to printe a drone with a spot to attach a single beacon. I could take my beacon-adorned drone to a far, remote location anywhere on the same planet and drop it off, attaching it to something like I would dynamite. Then, from my base (and only from the base) I could access a video feed of the camera on the drone, and operate it within 180 degrees of rotation. If the drone is within reach of buttons to activate powered items/buildings/vehicles, the player should be able to activate them via clicking on the feed, but should not be able to move them, UNLESS they can see (in the video feed) and click on their...
"Homebody" Robot: Think Rosie from The Jetsons in looks (or customization of looks within that realm of style) and R2-D2 in regards to sound effects. The Homebody drone is pretty darn slow, but it does the job well and can be set to a number of automated tasks. You do not print a homebody. Instead, it has to be activated as a building (like a printer or a smelter). You build the Homebody base first. Then you use something very rare (like Astronium OR give the option for something crazy like 32 lithium) as the catalyst for building a semi-sentient robot. The Homebody is able to be programmed with a "chore list" of automated tasks that you give it. For example, I could program my homebody to continually generate hydrazine at the fuel condenser (and store it until there are no more spots on the condenser building OR in the cargo bay). I could order it to intersperse that chore with trading hydrazine flats (small storage printables from printer that already exist in the game) at the trade platform for other stuff, which it could then move to the cargo bay (until it is full). Without a list of chores generated by the player, the homebody stays attached to its base/building, and can be set to prioritize the attachments placements for vehicles. If a vehicle is knocked from its attachment because of storm debris, the homebody will remember your preference and move the vehicle back its intended location/hookup configuration. If this happens while the homebody is in the middle of its chores, it will be interrupted to correct the disconnect. The homebody could be "removed" from its base building and attached to a vehicle. When in "transit mode" the homebody consumes a lot of power, but functions as a programmable "escort pilot" to follow you (or stay within a certain distance of you) when you are leaving your base. If a player wants to explore nearby caves, they can attach their homebody robot to a truck with a wind turbine, a big battery, and a solar array. Then, they could build a second truck. The player tells the homebody to "stay near" and it will follow the player (on foot or when in their own vehicle) anywhere that it can reach. On a mission to a remote location, the homebody is not much use, but its greatest use is at home - so it is really good at getting you home. If I drag my homebody robot to the caves, I can then tell him to take home all the research items I just found. He/She is visibly/audibly sad to leave me, then happy to go home. If I had the forethought (and only if) to tell him/her to drop all of that stuff of and come back, he/she is extremely happy to see you when he/she returns, having dumped all of those spiky things off at the home base (and stored them each in their proper locations). If I find myself very lost and I happened to bring my homebody, they can drag me all the way back. However, unlike the typical player, the homebody will navigate slowly and efficiently to avoid all obstacles, to almost comedic effect. The only way that I could program my homebody from another location is if I can "see" it working or see its base at my station using a drone/cam. This way, the player is required to set up a form of network to communicate with their automated buddy. Since accessing a drone feed is only possible from its home base, each one is uniquely tied (or can be) to a single individual habitat (maybe using 3-letter codes to 'pair' a drone with a habitat, or simply by requiring the player to pick a pairable habitat before it is allowed to be built). Using cam drones would require base-to-base setups to allow clicking on homebody within the view-able range of the video feed. If a player places two habitats on two sides of a single planet, then builds a homebody base+robot at each location, THEN strategically places cam drones at each location, they could have their homebodies operating in two places. The homebody is able to travel on foot (think Johnny-5, not Alpha 5) when in range of your base and its buildings/resin nodes. However, the homebody robot moves at a steady walking pace and never runs. A homebody robot will carry one item at a time, large or small. Therefore, it can carry a single hydrazine, or it can carry a small storage flat of hydrazine, but it cannot equip anything in a backpack, like the player. The homebody will finish the task it is the midst of before allowing an interruption to change its course. It is very against randomly tossing small storage items on the ground, but will stack those pesky organics in a nice, neat pile in the near distance, if you tell it to. Just don't expect a lot of stuff to get done very quickly. When it drives a vehicle to follow a player, it is still fairly slow, as the homebody will do everything possible to avoid rocks and steep inclines while driving. If I program my homebody to follow a player who is not its creator, the homebody will comply, but will not become programmable by anyone else. It will also be cautious and distrusting of its distance to connected players to whom it is programmed to follow, but only if they carry dynamite.
More to come (?).