Well, I think I am back to where I will journal a lot because I have not just stuff to report but things to work through!
Again, I am at the point right now where more or less, I am just adding and improving things where I think they need to be added to or improved. So the question usually is, as I fly my ship around, what needs to change to make this thing more /fun/?
Right now, the answer is still "events". Things need to happen to the player, she needs to recieve communications from other NPCs, perhaps needs to be attacked by space pirates, maybe even needs to witness events such as war, diplomacy and so on.
One thing I could do, is build a dynamic system for cultures, and companies. By this I mean, some little lua system that can update say every 5 or 10 seconds (??? minutes) which computes cultural/social change as a dynamic system. Then, generate events based on that. So for instance, the blatuples will have a cultural definer which says they are XYZ stats, and live with the jummies, and we can use this information to determine how much they like the jummies. Perhaps, they just unilaterally decide on a trading ban with the jummies. Then the jummies respond with some other things. In the end, we filter this up through the gameplay model until the player can see, more or less, what is going on.
We can do the same thing with companies. This is a nicer way of setting prices anyhow, setup a simple dynamic system which interacts with other dynamic systems (e.g., the cultural system).
Anyhow, the cultural model. Basically, we should define "links" for each culture with every other culture. Links will include state information saying how that culture feels about said other culture. I should try and keep the states orthogonal; i.e., one flag for if we are at war, another flag for if we trade, or what have you. The values can push each other around in sensible ways but generally speaking, we should allow for combinations of such things.
How to filter this up? The most obvious thing I can think of is news bulletins. Player can recieve emails.
One other idea is, the player has to pilot a ship and different ships are made by different cultures. So she may be recieved worsely if she runs into a culture who doesn't like that particular culture. I don't like this actually becuase I think it makes it more complicated to allocate/generate ships but it's not a terrible idea. At any rate, we shouldn't forget that the player herself has a home culture, and this should be affected.
Cultural strife should also manifest itself in terms of the common people. If a culture is too oppressed, then maybe it will be much harder to recieve help from people. So your job can be sort of diplomatic, too. What about ships that fly around and attack cities or what have you? It's not a bad idea, either. It seems kind of hard, something that will definitely have to wait until I have ships at least behaving more complex.
Actually, maybe the proper place to start isn't here at all, but in updating monster/ship AI. The cultural model actually isn't that hard to implement, but if I can make it manifest itself in NPC ship AI, I think it will be a real improvement.
Yes actually, I think I won't worry about cultural models just yet. Instead, I need to have better monster AI, better NPC ship AI, maybe bring back police patrols, and the idea I had of defence satellites. This way, I start off by defining the /player's/ relation to the culture, so that when culture to culture relationships are formed they are naturally meaningful.
Okay, yes, that's the direction I have to take first. I have to make the player more aware, make the cultures more significant to the player.
Whew, long entry, but it's a lot to think about.