YES! Well, things are coming along nicely. My huge list of story-related tasks is moving at an incredibly SLOW pace, at this rate the game will be released in 2008 but nevermind that for now, that's a puzzle I will have to solve some other way.
Meanwhile, what's going on is I've figured out basically some of the more important game mechanics. Each system you are in has it's own XP system, only insteadof "experience points" it is (cleverly) "xtermination points", i.e., sort of a pun but really what it is is that you get points for killing aliens in the local system. Early on, it suffices to shoot them without getting hit by their shots. Later on, monsters will have all sorts of deadly behaviours and surprising tactics, invulnerabilities, etc. so it will require more of a learned approach. But the bottom line is, you can only spend XP in the system you earn it in.
How you gain access to other systems is uniform. At each system, you may choose to visit the one of the government headquarters (I don't know how it will work for uninhabited systems, other than, it will probably just reflex back to an earlier system) and buy a passport that lets you travel there. The passport costs (usually quite a lot) of XP, depending on the system level you are travelling to. So, your basic task is to kill enemies, and become strong enough to survive in the next system (of course, it's not totally linear, systems are organized in a tree structure.) This design is of course the very core of games like nethack (and floateye for that matter) and whatnot, and I think it is pretty solid and fun. So I'm very happy to finally have this sorted out.
Other than that, I have a memleak! (Oh no!) Of course fortunately this isn't such a big thing, I'm already seeing a lot of things that shouldn't be happening; hopefully I can get this dealt with today. So far what I know is that fixing this ought to cut load times something like in half, and maybe memory usage too, becuase it's loading for some reason all (or almost all) of the planets twice, hahaha... (ick!)
Well, have fun until next time!