I've been playing SubSpace/Continuum (it's like a massively multiplayer Maelstrom) and it's gotten me thinking. I'd like to see a cross between subspace and an rpg. For lack of a better name, I'm calling it rocket science.
You start by building a 2-d model of the solar system. It would consist of objects and artifacts. Objects are things like stars, planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. Artifacts are things like communication satelites, telescopes, spaceships, missiles, space stations, and asteroid settlements. The position and velocity of each object are well known to all players. There may be thousands of objects in the game.
- mass: if the mass is too small to create an aprecible g-field, ignore it
- radius. If the radius is very small ( < 10^3 m) ignore collisions.
- an image: what it looks like (asteroids can look alike.)
- mass: in case you want to accelerate it.
- visibility. Obviously a ship with fusion engine on will be more visible than a dead ship.
- an image: what it looks like
- Orientation and acceleration (or thrust)
It may be acceptible to treat small asteroids as artifacts.
There is an economy to this game. You can use this to your advantage if you become a merchant. You can buy He3 cheaply at Jupiter, and sell it for more money at Earth orbit. Or buy metals in the Belt and sell them somewhere else.
The next profession is pirate. Why buy goods when it is so much cheaper to gust take what you want?
To deal with the piracy problem, there is the bounty-hunter's guild. They recieve money for killing pirates.
To pay for the bounty hunters, there is a tax on merchants. Some avoid paying taxes by becoming smugglers.
There are IRS agents running around trying to kill smugglers.
There could be other professions: construction, mining, etc.
If course, if the ui is no good, this boat won't fly. First of all, you need to be able to zoom from 1 meter resolution to 10^12 meter resolution. Second, you need an autopilot that is capable of plotting a course to anywhere. Otherwise, players would always be crashing into the sun, or unable to find neptune.
And fuel should not be free.