Hello. I have over 170 hours of playing Astroneer.
I've even made some videos, and do enjoy the game.
One thing I like about this game is how intuitive everything seems.
Recently though, things in the game have become less fun, and I believe it has to do with Research.
This game is not complete, which means that you don't have to pretend that it is, and try to make it more difficult to accomplish things in order to pad gameplay.
It seems that they've intentionally made Research less intuitive such that it breaks the playability of the game.
It's now impossible to bank on Research for anything. To illustrate my point, I'll tell you about my recent savefile experience.
I've been playing for a few days, and I can't get off Terra. I have multiple bases around the globe, and I've scoured above and below ground for researchable items and they're not fun to find anymore.
I dig under crystal rocks to find some, I pluck them out of trees, I've gone caving to pick up all I can find. I've gotten all that's reasonable to find in a first base, and this would be when I say "Screw it, I know there's way more on Luna or Exotic" and just up and leave to another planet.
Here's where research is broken:
It's randomly determined to not give me any type of Shuttle.
I can't leave Terra when it makes gameplay sense to leave Terra.
This is the #1 reason I can't say to people who haven't played Astroneer, "Hey, come play this game with me" and lead them through this game to show them why I like it. Research is effectively a hard stop for consistent enjoyable gaming. I can't promise my friend we'll do all the cool things I'd like to show them in a reasonable time frame.
You just have to keep finding researchable items and hoping you'll get a technology that allows you to have more fun.
There's no feedback:
No "You have X items left to research"
No "You now have a 1 in 100 chance to find the next Tech"
Nothing except you now get a lot more random items from what used to get you something to have fun with.
Interestingly enough, the research method you had when I started playing was MORE INTUITIVE than what you have now.
You'd keep researching until you go to research and you got NOTHING: Getting Nothing meant you had researched EVERYTHING. That was fine.
As it sits now, if I didn't already know from previous gameplay sessions that there was more stuff to research, I would stop wasting my time. The last 3 trains of research (Train being Truck with trailer and a total of 8 or 9 research items) have yielded no new research items. That's broken. If this was my first time, I'd say "I guess this is it" and stop researching and never get off the first planet! You've even made research items much more rare, so they're harder to find, drawing out the process more.
Your game is otherwise SO AWESOME. Since it's just in pre-release and in development, please make research more consistent and not a chore. I encourage you to brainstorm an intuitive research system if not just return to giving things out until you quickly get everything.
This game is NOT ABOUT RESEARCH. Don't make it a limiting factor in your game. It breaks it. We all know you will put in many, many more things to research, but that doesn't mean that you need to add artificial pacing to your research now to make it feel like there's some type of late-game content. There is no staging in a game where what you research is inherently random.