So not long after I made my last NextColony post, I found a new planet, and have been working up to trying to put it to use in competition with my neighbor, who is at a very similar tech level to mine. (We both got the Mission Control skill within an hour of each other.)
But it turns out the second planet isn't especially useful. I can send Explorers there, and now that I have Mission Control I can send from missions there, but doing missions from Beta usually means I can do fewer missions than I could without it.
The stated value of Mission Control is "two missions per level plus one from the home planet," but what they don't say is that in order to use the home planet mission it has to be the last one launched. If I have two missions going I can launch one from Alpha, but if I have one mission going from Alpha, I can only launch one from Beta, and if I have two going from Alpha I can't launch from Beta at all. Since missions have different lengths, this eventually always leads to situations where I can only launch missions from Alpha. If I time it right to have all my overnight missions expire around the same time I can launch a couple of Beta missions in the morning, but then it creeps back to Alpha as they finish.
The claimed justification for this is fighting exploits, but it leads to a huge exploit of its own: the net result of this is that the clear way to maximize ev for this planet is to build it up until it has a lot of resources and then gift it to new accounts, over and over. It can research Mission Control right away and then while it upgrades the skills of the new account far enough for it to get its own Explorers I can still do two missions from it in its own space, supplying it with Explorers from my Alpha.
Except, if I do that I'm spending a ton of time pushing for ev in a game that isn't fun and doesn't seem to have any notable asset value. So, um, why? We got here by a development process that we're all familiar with:
- Start with a design that isn't very thoroughly thought through.
- Spend your development effort fighting exploits and occasionally adding new features without ever refining out the flaws in the original design.
- Determine that any decision made to fight exploits must be the ideal solution, and never try to find a better one later.
- Determine that making the product unappealing to regular users is a reasonable price to pay to keep people from exploiting your system.
The obvious conclusion is that despite a very different team behind it, NextColony is Steem, at least in the quality of the development process. I joined in this game despite the obvious fact that the team knew nothing about game design because they are generally honest and hardworking Steemians and good programmers and I thought there was a good chance that they would learn. But as we've seen in three years on Steem, the above process isn't one that's conducive to ever learning how to build a better version of the original product, because those choices are never revisited.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with NextColony, but I'm not going to waste my time on the ev-maximizing strategy. If someone else wants to, maybe you'd like to buy a common planet with level 12 mines. I'm tempted to just give it to my neighbor and quit. Which is also a lot of how I feel about Steem lately.