I am sure the devs already have a clear vision what gameplay will look like, and what is possible with current tech. Nevertheless I want to share my thoughts on gameplay, maybe somebody likes my ideas.
My suggestions are for a possible Infinity MMO not Battlescape.
First of all I don’t like the idea of permanently destroyed ships and paying insurance. I think by treating ships like throwaway objects it diminishes the experience of owning a ship and upgrading it.
It is incredibly frustrating to loose a ship, this alone makes twitch combat uninteresting to me in a space game. I play Elite Dangerous and the amount of whining about lost ships in their forum is incredible, even with a mainly adult audience. Pvp is also largly non-existent in that game.
Who wants to fight epic space battles if the experience only lasts a minute?
To prevent destroyed ships I thought of a specific battle system.
Let’s say a group of players claim a sun system to mine, trade and expand. To do that they have to erect a space station that defends said system. This space station must be bought with ingame currency (very very expensive) and it is destroyable. If another foreign player enters the system he is instantly killed by the mighty lasers of the station or he can enter and dock on the station (to trade, whatever), this behavior is controlled by the stations owners.
If a group of enemy players want to conquer the system, they have to enter the system as a large group, the enemy players are then placed in an instance with the players that own the station. All other players that may have resided in that system up to that point are evacuated, because the station can’t guarantee their safety ( they are kicked from the server).
The battle starts here!
The reason the entering ships are not destroyed by the mighty lasers is that the lasers are not strong enough to hurt the shields of ships that are backed by a mothership, because during a specific time of day the station is recharging (explanation follows).
This gives station owners the option to only fight at certain day times, lets say 17:00 to 23:00 is possible fighting time (because the stations shields are down to recharge or stuff like that).
To prevent total ship destruction, a group of fighter ships alway come accompanied by a larger mothership.
This mothership is controlled by the commanding player. He can tag enemy players for his fighter pilots to see, so he can prioritize enemies that have to be killed first, and stuff like that.
If the shields of a fighter ship fall below 5%, the ship is instantly teleported into the mothership (this can be explained with the same technology that makes interstellar travel possible). The ship is now docked to the mothership and the shields recharge.
This recharging takes maybe 30 seconds, after that the ship can reenter the battlefield.
The commanding player can prioritize whom of his fighters recharges faster etc…
Of course the recharging of the shields takes a lot of energy, the mothership has a limited amount of energy. If the energy is near empty the mothership has to retreat and the battle is lost. (kind of a ticket system like conquer mode in battlefield)
The players can now destroy the station or hack it, or fun stuff like that.
Because every player only owns one ship and it is virtually undestroyable, it is way more fun upgrading every little part of the ship with better weapons and stuff.
I think that would be a good progression system without levels or grinding. The core gameplay should be battling other players not grinding enough resources for a new ship.
Better weapons and stuff should be achievable by setting up a research system in a space station and mining seldom minerals. This justifies the troubles of setting up a station in the first place.
Also you could makes this all possible with a server system. To set up a space station the group of players must have a private server where all this action happens. Like player owned battlefield servers.
If a player enters the player owned sun system he connects to this player owned server.
Of course if they loose this system the can use their server for a new system. To conquer a system the enemy players must have their own servers ready.
Also battles like that can last hours or days. There could for example be a function for a temporary truce if both parties agree to it. The battle is simply paused and fighting can continue the next day.
To me Infinity: Battlescape would be the first step in this direction.
The core systems and unclaimed systems are not player controlled but with instances, that way players could be grouped together for a more alive experience, the chat (if there is one) could be serverwide, the economy is serverwide too.
If a players shields go below 5% outside of the above described battle instance he is teleported to the nearest station. (like the graveyard in WoW)
There also could be large battles against NPC that work in the same manner but with NPC commanders.
Or just lone NPC enemy/friendly ships you can shoot.
The idea of larges battles between hundreds of players is really cool, but probably not possible with current bandwiths. I know of an experimental game that had a thousand players battling each other, but that involved a lot of trickery and is probably not possible with 6DOF movements.
Please excuse my bad english.
What do you think? I know hardcore gameplay has its merits but I think huge battles over territory would be cool too.
Getting better weapons, more territory and influence, and a fun battle system could really make an addictive gaming experience. Maybe my suggestions are really shit, please feel free to tell me :-).