I've just created my first solar system using shadows, and thought you might be interested in the choices I made. I'd also be interested in feedback.
1. I included the eight major planets. I used Luna; Jupiter's moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto; Saturn's moon Titan; and Neptune's moon Triton. I didn't include Titania or Oberon. I think if you're going to use these two moons, you also need to include Eris, Pluto and Rhea, as these are all larger than Oberon. I didn't try to include any asteroid fields, as I found them just too fiddly.
2. I also wondered about which planets to make inhabitable. To be honest, I think it's a bit of a stretch making any planet inhabitable. Calling Venus a volcanic planet may be roughly correct, but that says nothing about the extreme climate. However, I also decided (before reading your post) to make Mars desert and Venus Volcanic. I set the quality at 50%; the reason for this was to make sure I could only colonise them "because they're there" rather than to get any significant economic benefit. The only other object I made colonisable was Titan, as this does at least seem to have some sort of atmosphere; I made Titan an ice planet. That gives me 3 extra colonisable objects, but they can't be colonised until later in the late game. I made Neptune and Uranus frozen gas giants, while Jupiter and Saturn were gas giants.
3. You're right, size matters. Oddly enough, you came to the same size for earth as me, i.e. about 250 (which I believe gives a maximum pop of 25 billion). All the smaller planets and moons had their size adjusted relative to earth, based on diameter. It probably should have been based on surface area, but that led to differences which were just too great. This still doesn't help with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune, which have diameters 10.97, 9.14, 3.98 and 3.86 respectively times Earth's diameter. In the end I (somewhat arbitrarily) set Jupiter at the maximum 1000, with Saturn 900, Uranus 700 and Neptune 650 (Edit: on reflection, I should probably have made Uranus 670).
4. There’s also a problem with distance from the sun. First thing I did was to place Neptune as far from the sun as possible (I clicked a long way out, then kept coming in till it allowed me to place the planet). That gave me the total diameter of the system. Next I reduced the size of Sol to 750, as this allows me to get Mercury much closer in. I placed Mercury (0.4 AU), Venus (0.7 AU), Earth (1 AU) and Mars (1.5 AU) at approximately the right relative distances, allowing enough space so they don’t overlap in orbit. There wasn’t enough space to put the other planets at the correct relative distances (Jupiter is over three times as far away from the sun as Mars), so I put Jupiter about twice as far away as Mars, then Saturn and Uranus equidistant between Jupiter and Neptune; it’s a compromise, but it gives a reasonable feel for the correct scale.
5. For compositions, I gave Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus hydrogen and helium (with much more hydrogen than helium, as the ratios are generally around 10:1). We also need Caslon, so I role play that Caslon is found on Neptune, the most distant planet. Also for role play reasons, I gave Earth no resources: that’s the motivation for the surge into space. Otherwise, I’d give earth Steel, Silicon, Carbon Fibre, Polymer and Chromium. Most other planets get some silicon (there’s a lot of silicon in the solar system). Venus and Mars also get steel, as they contain a lot of iron. Ganymede seems to contain carbon, so I gave it carbon fibre and polymer. I wanted to give Uranus polymer and carbon fibre as it contains methane, but I could only pick gases (bit of an omission not to allow for that, I reckon, but maybe polymer and carbon fibre are supposed to be more complex than what we’re used to).
6. Playing Shadows pre warp, you also need to have a planet with the Warp Bubble Generator ruin (otherwise, you’re making it really hard on yourself). I chose to put that on Titan, along with Yarras marble and Argon.
7. One final point: I wanted the solar system to start off unexplored. First time I tried this, I built the solar system in the same place as my initial colony, and I ended up with all the planets explored right at the start. I couldn’t seem to undo this, even if I reset the system to “unexplored”. I eventually got around this by building a new solar system, making sure it was flagged as unexplored, then adding a capital colony to Earth, and deleting the original home system. I don’t understand the exact mechanics, but that worked for me.
PS Just to round off the complete "anality" of all this, I also added Alpha Centauri, Proxima Centauri, Sirius and Procyon systems near my own. In my defence, I didn't include Alpha Centauri A and B! I would also like to build a "real" galaxy, but I just don't think it's worth the effort at the moment, as the editor is too clumsy and the options inadequate for that purpose.
Final comment: The editor is EXTREMELY sensitive, and frequently doesn't do what you're expecting, e.g., you enter a load of data, then it all gets reset to a default value. I imagine this isn't too high on the priority list right now, but it could use a little work.
< Message edited by Osito -- 5/26/2013 11:15:08 PM >