Well, couple days ago I made a list of things that had to be done before the beta test, so I have that sitting. I'm not even sure the listis really complete, but the stuff on it really does have to get done, so it's very useful. Looking at it now, I see that I have to touch up a few things, but probably the main thing left is the bankruptcy and so forth.
So, vex really is all about working the system. Can you find an interesting way to make money? Can you cheat? That is really the idea. The player isn't forced into some course of action, at least not very much. I like games where you can cheat. Players do too. It's bottom line cool when you find some exploit or neat strategy. The downside is it might make the game kind of boring since you execute that strategy over and over. Sort of like, if in Zelda you found some weapon that you could just beat the hell out of every monster in one shot, it would get pretty boring. But that is becuase games like Zelda are really designed around herding the player into one particular avenue of play. The dungeons are so meticulously layed out, but at the same time the only real challenge is figuring out what it is you are expected to do. This is gameplay? Well it is actually pretty fun but vex is steering opposite direction.
A super-weapon or super easy way to get a ton of cash would spoil the fun in vex, becuase then you'd just get stuck doing the same thing over and over again. But most of those things I guard against with cooldowns. Simply, there may a special trade route but you are going to be limited in how often you can do it. Arrgh, anyhow, this is sort of redundant thinking, this has already really been thought about.
What about bankruptcy. The bank has a list of bills that you owe, and a bank balance. These bills, etc. are deducted from your account on a regular (normally daily, except ships which are going to be I think very 3 days or maybe even every 7 days) You can go into the red, but your credit rating starts to falter. I can punish the player variously for poor credit ratings. Maybe like:
rating 0 == bankruptcy
1 == very bad, can't trade at most places
2 == bad, can't buy a vehicle but can still do trades
3 == normal
4 == good, earned over time, not sure what benefits this will have but, probably I can think of it later.
I guess if your credit rating gets to very bad, it's hard to improve because how the heck do you get money without being able to trade? So you can declare bankruptcy. However, when you do so, you are stripped down to your first ship, and all your cargo, gems, and cash are confiscated. They can give you like 1000$ or something to start over, and your credit rating goes to bad. This means you can build it back up to normal by doing trades or whatnot.
I am thinking, your rating will never drop to bankruptcy on it's own. That is only fair. You can't go and take the player's stuff away from him, without first giving a chance to recover. Also, the player may have more money in ships than they owe to the bank, so at the least they should be free to sell their ships if they don't want bad credit rating.
Well, what happens when the credit rating is at very bad? I was thinking before that like, you get called to court, but actually I think it's not neccesary. Also, the bank is central and so it's hard to say, like which culture would be hating on you? It's too strict a penalty I think. If the player wants to be a space pirate, they may not need to really work with the system in a positive way, instead they can just pillage and sell their ill-gotten gains to merchants or whatnot.
Seems like a good system to me!