The main economic work in StarDrive is the acquisition of new planetary colonies. Colonies produce resources that are simplified into 4 categories: food, production, research, and money. Each resource fills a role. Food is consumed every game “turn” by the colonists on your planet. Insufficient food supply leads to starvation and population shrinkage; sufficient food supply allows population growth. The larger a planet’s population, the more resources it can produce. Production of resources generally is tied to planetary populaton.
“Production” is the resource used to build ships and buildings. For instance, a “mine” building will increase the production of a colony; however, you need production to build a mine. Building up a colony from the initial outpost to an industrial juggernaut involves ensuring that the planet has enough food for the population to grow, and enough production to bootstrap your way up.
So, I tried to model colonization of planets somewhat realistically. When you first get to a planet, you have very little with you, and you are not able to produce very much. However, you can accelerate planetary growth by assigning freighters to carry goods throughout your empire. The freighters are largely automated and will bring food, production, and also new colonists to your recently settled worlds.
Your trade network is therefore vital to properly growing your empire. Consequently, defending your trade network (or attacking your opponents’) is absolutely critical. Research is produced at planets as well with research facilities that you build there. You can choose to focus a planet by building higher-level, more expensive research buildings. You can also trade with alien races to acquire tech.
Finally, buildings and ships all cost money for maintenance. You have to have sufficent population to tax for income, and you can also raise money through trade with alien races and by researching economic improvements.
Yep - what I thought, but doesn't break away from the usual 4X rules. I'd still buy your game but would love someone to make something a little different with the economics.
Thanks for your detailed answer.
Early versions of StarDrive had much more complex economic systems, but I basically shelved that idea for a later title. It was exactly like you said with raw materials processing and so on. I do like that, but it smacks more of work and less of play, and ultimately I want to put accessibility and fun first.