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What better way to invest in your own settlement then to network with other NPCs from the same or other planets. Plus expanding your own settlement to house traveling merchants or companions would be a nice way to encourage people to actually want to go back home. These implementations would also make room for more achievements such as making a city for 10 or more NPCs or establishing 3 or more trade routes with other settlements. I guess the best way to start towards this path would be to add some interesting NPCs with programmable AI such as telling them to look for resources, make this building, or find more people to trade with. To go more in depth, these NPCs should be capable of learning what buildings you want by showing them things you've previously built or scanned from exploration: so perhaps you could call this some sort of blueprint mechanic. But this would be hard to do without some actual building mechanics which leads in to my next topic... Building mechanics are a must have! If you're looking for a specific style of building, perhaps the Terraria building mechanics with a 3D twist would fit pretty nicely. With the ability to flatten terrain, you can place floors and then walls and finally a ceiling with materials that you have collected or crafted. Before you place an item, it shows a preview. If you really want to get fancy, you could add some sculpting mechanics, not like the terrain tool, but perhaps more precise and smarter so you won't end up making holes in your building. And finally furniture or other kinds of decorations/utilities such as lights, seats, tables, etc. Sounds like a lot but I guess pre-built buildings would sound like a more practical solution and is bare minimum satisfying. I personally would be happy with that. And finally networking. This would be a great incentive to exploration because you can find new settlements with NPCs to trade with your own. With this, you can draw in resources, grow an economy, and bring the planet or maybe even the solar system to life. But how can one go about doing this? Well, I'm glad you asked! Setting up trade routes could be a breeze. First, the player would have to sign some sort of contract with the head NPC of another settlement. Then, you would have to craft signs that point and direct other settlements towards your own within a given time frame and that follows guidelines such as flat-wide roads and a sufficient inventory otherwise the trade is off and your settlement rep would go down thus discouraging other NPCs to trade with you. But what if your rep is too low? Don't worry, you could do tasks for these other settlements such as hunting and gathering certain resources or sending messages to other places. You could also increase your reputation by maintaining your own healthy settlement. The more happy NPCs, the higher your rep. You could also create even more settlements and throw them in to the mix. Just imagine looking down on your planet and watching everything come to life. But these are only end goals. I understand how hard it would be to actually add these features. Plus I'm not really sure if this would fit in to the style/theme of the game. In fact, I'm not entirely sure on what the whole idea is besides resource gathering and going to another planet. I hope this post gave you guys a good idea. Constructive criticism would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Imagine being able to visit certain planets and these planets would be social hubs where you can randomly run into anyone else who is also playing astroneer, on this planet you can build with anyone, explore with anyone even set up base together. Similar to a MMO. And if you so choose you can invite other players to venture out with you into a party system to visit other planets etc. Same aspect would work for multiple space stations floating in space (maybe being able to build your own space stations that people can visit and dock at) where you would dock your ship get off and walk around and meet new astroneers,NPCs, shop at the stores on board, use facility etc. This idea can be applied to any planet as well this way there will be multiple astroneers living on a planet giving the planets and the universe a more social vibe. There's is something special about wandering out alone and you come across another real actual player. This is my idea.