I have only played this game for a week, but I think it is really fun. However, I would love a strategic element to it (on a world map – keep the fighting as it is). In order to make an extremely simple strategy game into a team effort, each player would only be allowed to be assigned to one task (e.g. if 6 ships are sent exploring, but only three players are assigned to them, the other three ships would be commanded by the AI – and no additional players can be assigned to them until they are back at the base). There should also take time for a player (and ships) to move from one place to another, making even inexperienced players (like me) valuable since they at least might be better than the AI. Finally, a lot of the gameplay would simply be about positioning yourself in areas where fights are likely to happen or close enough that you might help if they do. You would then play the game as you do now, while waiting for something to happen in on the strategic map. The fights would be relatively rare, but you would hopefully remember them as they “matter”. Addendum: I thought that I could make it short but, I know, it became a wall of text.
I think the following would be very cool, and not too hard to implement:
The Precursors empire spanned many galaxies. Now, each faction has found the warp gates which allowed them to travel between them. However, they still have a very inexact knowledge about how to operate them. Now and then, they get the warp gates working, allowing corporations to send expeditions into unknown space. Those who go through won’t, however, be able to return for another 30 years (30 days in real time). At that time, the corporation can return whatever loot they have found to known space (i.e. would require one inventory for regular space and another for the place where the players corporation is located). The temporary map (consisting of some tiles like the present faction map, or simply consist of squares for all I care) could then be deleted or maybe the cooperation could be allowed to stay for another 30 days if they wished.
So, a warp gate opens up for, say, 3 days and any corporation that want to go through can do so (and another could open a week later allowing others, who don’t go through this one, to go through the next). If a corporation goes through, they will simply be randomly placed on the new, temporary, map.
Before they go through, they will have to buy equipment. Unless the corporations are allowed to set up an advanced economy on the other side of the gate, they will have to bring every ship they intend to use straight away. (I started to write about what I think the economy on the other side should look like, but the post is already too long). While there might be some loot after a battle, I think that fighting in itself should be a significant cost (you are playing for your own corporation, not the factions).
At a minimum, I think that they at least should have to find supply (food for upkeep and, in addition, fuel for movement), unless they bring a lot with them.
When a corporation goes through the gates, they should at least have to bring either a station (immobile but cheap), or a hangar ship (mobile but expensive and need supplies). Ideally, you could take another corporation’s base (use one of the maps with stationary guns and put them on the side of the defender).
On this side of the universe, frigate ships should be more OP in battles, but should only be able to move, say, a five square distance from a base or supply depot. They should also use much more supply for movement and upkeep. Interceptors should be allowed to move the furthest away, with the least cost in terms of upkeep and fuel.
There should, on average, exist maybe 2 or 3 worlds for agriculture, and 3 or 4 sources of fuel, forcing corporations to trade or fight unless they brought enough supplies (but sometimes there should be 0, and sometimes a lot, making it uncertain ex ante). There could also be other resources that you can own, thereby creating opportunities for sector control battles between corporations within range.
It should also take some time to explore a sector (a square on the map) and if another corporation moves to the same square while you are exploring, there is an opportunity for battle.
Every corporation should have spies in the other corporations (or be able to buy them), noticing them if another corporation finds anything. In order to extract an artifact, a corporation has to hold that square for X hours (where X might vary). It might also require a PvE fight.
… and so on but I will stop here.
The point is simply that it would be cool if some battles really mattered – i.e. that you would cry as your expensive ships went up in smoke but cheer if you were able to actually extract that very valuable artifact. I would, however, like to have some context to such fights – besides simply clicking on some “hardcore mode” button or similar setup which could produce the same gain/loss spread. The grinding in the regular gameplay could then be seen as practice in waiting of the few battles where you really would win or lose depending on the outcome.
PS: and everyone could have different access to the corporations stuff. I, as a new player, could simply be given access to, say, three interceptors. If I then want to play for an hour or so, I could at the same time have these interceptors exploring something on the world map, while being ready to respond to some random encounter (e.g. two AI ships attacking the explorers).