Well this sure seems to be a heated topic, but I'm grateful that Schine at least offers us the opportunity to discuss it in a forum they actually read and respond to. Most developers do not, which is why most games are only saved by the modding community. Perhaps Schine should focus more on creating robust modding framework so they, or the community, can tailor the core experience to more specific desires? Any game I currently play is a game that easily incorporates modding, whether it be Minecraft, Skyrim, Fallout 4, ARK, the list goes on. In fact the vanilla game, in most cases, is almost unplayable without mods and/or severe config tweaks.
After a bit of reflection it seems obvious: everyone has a different vision of what the game they're playing should be. Most genres, including Sci-fi space, are so complex and varied that it is literally impossible to make a game that will appeal to everyone. Would it not make more sense to have a relatively "vanilla" base game, and then have a series of mods that significantly alter the game to specific playstyles? These mods can be developed by the community, or even by Schine, as addons to the base game. Want a combat heavy PvP style game? Add the "Advanced Combat" mod. Want a "grindy" tiered progression/production experience? Add the "Tiered Progression" mod. Want diversity in alien flora/fauna? Add the "Alien Ecosystems" mod. Don't want any of those things? Just play on default settings. The mods themselves could include a config file to further customize the experience
As for the stated end goals, here is my feedback:
~ Builder - A lot of work has already been done in this area, it is all but complete. All that could be done is adding more blocks/textures for people to use creatively
~ Explorer - The universe is currently pointless to explore; there is a dire need for interesting content, and variable resource distribution. Planets and/or derelict stations should have a chance for diverse flora/fauna to spawn - perhaps even dynamic ecosystems, immersive music and sounds are needed, atmospheric (perhaps even scripted) events should occur, procedurally generated ruins on planets; Something, ANYTHING! needs to happen in this aspect. As it is, jumping from asteroid to asteroid to planet to planet is soooo boring... They are all the same. You can effectively explore every unique area of this game within a few hours and then there is literally nothing new to see (slight procedural differences aside)
~ Industrialist - The factory system is decent as-is, but for creative style building only - input easily obtained resources into a single storage chest, automatically pull out finished goods after a single production cycle. There should be much more complexity to make this feel important, you can currently get an efficient factory producing any block in the game within a couple of hours of starting. There is no R&D, there is no progression of technology, there is nothing gating advancement, there are no waste products to contend with or recycle into other materials, all items take the same amount of time to produce, etc. This is one area of the game that can, and should, take significant time to progress (all configurable of course) But this aspect alone could vastly change the entire way the game is played.
~ Trader - Unless you're going to go go full 4X space trader sim with various alien races to compete with, this role is irrelevant... players can already trade among themselves/shops. If you are planning to go full 4x then a huge amount of work is required in this area
~ Fighter - PvP and PvE content already exists, and is quite good for the average player (although not necessarily balanced against specific meta styles). Please move on for now. The problem here is that so many different playstyles exist, and you cannot possibly cover them all with default settings. Players will have to, at some point, change config settings to fit their style no matter how you develop combat for the base game.
~ Imperialist - What does this even mean? To build up and control fleets? To colonize planets? For what purpose? PvP? Trading? Exploration? Again, unless you're going to go go full 4X space sim with the ability to tailor your own race, have tech/R&D tiered progression, as well as various alien races to compete with, this role seems irrelevant
I feel development of a robust modding framework is paramount so that unsatisfied players can modify the game to their specific vision. Official mods, as well as community content, is probably the best way to tailor the base game into something that can satisfy everyone. Those with specific needs/desires will never be satisfied with the "vanilla" system meant to appeal to a larger audience; and forcing changes to combat, tiered progression, etc is only bound to upset a large portion of players who do not care for or desire those changes.
Regarding Shine's vision of end goals:
It seems clear that many players are not satisfied with Schine's vision, and in a way I agree; a small development team, even one as involved with the community as Schine, even one that has produced an amazing groundwork product, cannot ever hope to satisfy the vision of what each of their players want. The truth is, Starmade has outgrown the initial vision of it's developers, and the expectations of a sandbox style game cannot be contained. The best they can do at this point is to have a decent base game for the casual player, and then develop, maintain, and support a robust modding community to encourage all of the different playstyles.