(From an idea in this thread
The Co-operative is not in good shape. In fact, it's falling apart. From the front page of the Oolite website:
The two thousand star systems of the Cooperative once enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity, and perhaps the wealthiest of them can still pretend to. The trade ships that once safely travelled between planets now have to be well armed and escorted to fend off pirate attacks, from small-time criminals desperate for their next meal, to powerful robber barons extracting tithes from everyone who passes through their space.
The Cooperative's police force, concentrated near a few influential planets, can no longer maintain order. The mercenaries they hire for a few credits a kill are too few, too unreliable to do so either. And in the darkness between the stars, an old enemy lurks, fearless, perhaps waiting for order to collapse entirely.
Which is, I think, a Good Thing, from the point of view of a storytelling and game-playing environment. There's always more room for adventure in a dystopia! The Co-operative exists, but only because nobody has gone to the bother of actively and openly seceding. On the map, though, each galaxy is a smooth, homogeneous whole. The systems are all different but each galaxy is one single piece. I think there might be good reason to start showing some cracks in the structure.
We already have a bunch of areas marked off in the various galaxies on ClymAngus's excellent vector maps
, so we have an established starting point right there. But breaking up the galaxies into 6-12 regions, and strings of non-aligned worlds in between, could have a number of gameplay advantages.
1. Paddling Pool for beginners
As mentioned in the other thread, the players could start off in a relatively stable (but relatively unprofitable) zone, where they can learn the basics in relative security - no running into a pirate pack on your first trip out!
2. More interesting geography
By adding a political element to the maps, trade, reputations and legal status can get more interesting. Individual polities might have more, or fewer, or different restrictions on what is and is not legal. And inter-polity rivalry might mean that a high reputation in one area could mean a low reputation in another. Polity A might class you as Clean, but Polity B might think you're an Offender - and/or different polities might have different criminal rating decay rates.
3. A greater sense of travel, and distance
If regions of a galaxy are picked out and identified as being different, they will feel more different: the sense of having travelled will increase (especially if other signifiers are used, e.g. colours of/decals on stations, language used in routine communications, etc.). The existence of borders, and the act of crossing them, would make certain journeys seem more significant.
4. Expanded possibilities for missions
A number of allegiances on each chart would generate possibilities for missions for this or that polity (or for the struggling Co-operative, against the forces threatening to break it up); for sneaking people and items "over the border"; for catching someone within, or successfully escaping from, a specific jurisdiction.
This is not, of course, a trivial change - but I don't think it changes any fundamental aspect of gameplay, so wouldn't need extensive playtesting or balancing. It would need short (i.e. F7 planet description short) descriptions of the polities, and some way of displaying these. It would need to represent the polities on the short- and long-range maps (with tinted backgrounds, perhaps?). Individual systems would need to have code added to assign them to this or that allegiance (which could allow for the possibility for allegiance change, if the map could be made dynamic).
So ... thoughts? Ideas? Problems? Criticisms? Abuse?