I think that it would be fair to agree that we are currently in a strange phase of the game. With Schema largely being out of the picture for the time being, the progression of the game is limited to a few individuals who are developing mods for it and a few core code tweaks to serve as a stopgap. As I said above, the last build challenge not only brought current players together, both old and new but also those who were active some time ago. It was fantastic to see some of the old names reappear and I hope that future challenges will keep everyone interested in playing the game from time to time, so long may they last.
The original station competitions did bring in a number of default stations into the game and there were a few that didn't quite make it but almost should have done. The NPC faction contest I feel didn't work as there were so many excellent entries that simply didn't make it into the game and sadly, none were ever picked up as additional factions by adding in the code. We also have two default factions that still have many "temporary" stations. If you skim back through the older assets on the SMD, there are a number of great designs that sadly, are too old to ever be used and the original creators have largely vanished. In fact, many of those who entered that particular competition seemed to disappear soon after and it would he easy to draw conclusions as to why.
Several people have done updates to the default stations and some of the NPC fleets but surely more could be done, with the right encouragement?
It is true, all of these assets could simply languish on the SMD and never become part of the finished game, but with the open access nature of the development at the moment, and with it becoming easier to add or replace stuff into the game, it could be a risk worth taking? If you are just playing the game for fun, it is good to see your own stuff in use. I've found that when I stumble upon my own assets on a multiplayer server.
So, next time you're stuck for ideas as what to build next, may I suggest you tap into the ships and stations that were released several years ago and bring them up to date? Yes, there are a lot of grey boxes but a few slabs, a lick of paint and some new power and weapons later and we can all have something new. Even stuff from the so-called master builders of the time look a little tired now and instead of them residing in the where are they now file, could be viable assets for both new and old players alike.
I entered this competition (three times as it goes) for the fun of it. Not because I thought that I would win (though there's always hope) but because I wanted to share my enjoyment of a game that I have always loved. Personally, I think that it would he fantastic to see even the current default stations and NPC fleets brought up to date. These are typically just a bunch of files that I would imagine be quite easy to swap out with the old ones in future releases of the game (Starloader community correct me on this please) or simply compiled into an archive that could be added to the game. Also, so many people add ships to the dock as to being part of this fleet or the other (myself included), so combine them into a package and release them as a viable NPC fleet for everyone to enjoy.