On research trade: I think a good possibility is that complete technologies cannot be traded at all. I like the idea of trading the components used by the tech. Buying the technology would mean that you have to spend at least 200RP for studying the blueprints. Or something like that.
10-20% of the full RP cost as a fee to understand and integrate the knowledge of complete base technologies seems reasonable (for non-components). Now how to do this in practice?
I guess it could be managed through designing a dummy component that will cost "roughly" this amount of RP and then having the receiving faction research it + SM remove it. That is assuming it's possible to design components in the same field...
Another option is to leave 1 lab unassigned for the correct calculated time, but that will be tricky to both calculate and track (remember) accurately.
I think the risk if we allow full tech trade is that two factions could just agree to trade 2000 RP for 2000 RP and then share everything they research, Both stand to gain vastly more then they stand to lose. So this might be a good idea to ban? Only allow one side trading tech in exchange for credits or something else and perhaps limit it to maximum of one base tech trade per faction and turn.
On RP side: as I’ve been reading through this thread. Several main characters are pretty well defined (CNO, Colony administrators). Others are not in Aurora by default. Head of State and Head of R&D comes to mind. I think they should be represented as well. I have noticed that unassigned personnel get killed much more often. Maybe they can create a diplomatic team as they should have been used to diplomacy as a heads of departments. That would ensure them being in the game.
Question is, should player determine character traits or let game do it, or should SM/GM define traits or mix of beforesaid?
I want to give participants as much freedom to RP their characters as possible, so traits will certainly be free to chose by the players. However they should not always be universally known, and since they don't actually do anything (that I know of) in-game there isn't much point to fiddle too much with it. If I change any traits in the actual Aurora game it is probably of military leaders just to have it there as a reminder & pointer for me on how they would act in terms of risk and other situations that may appear.
I think it's more fun to request that each participant lists their own traits/background history and motivations for their character them self, and then try to act and RP based from that.
Besides as I wrote before it's almost impossible to change anything even with SM access when it comes to leaders, so I mostly see this ending up being a time-hog that don't contribute much to the game or RP.
On starting positions&situation: I definitely prefer one system (no necessarily Sol), with at least one planet/moon per faction. And definitely more people per faction as the selling your (nefarious plan) agenda to the rest of the people of your faction could be fun. Maybe even giving list of some buffs/nerfs to each faction based on fixed amount of “bonus points” for lack of a better term. Something like this was in Master of Orion. I know about research is basically a nobrainer choice, so cost could be higher.
Buffs: boosted research/production/more installations/free tech
Nerfs: negative buffs/unfinished terraforming/lack of resources
Understandably it will pile up work for GM/SM, but only in the beginning. And it could be significant bonus to RP as factions could be much more diverse. Just a thought.
I agree that debates between important leaders in the factions parliament/senate/secret war rooms/palace is certainly one of the things I think can add a lot of fun to the game!
Currently thinking if I should have one list of research "perks" and one of other "perks" too and let each faction HoS at the start chose one from each list to provide a bit unique flavor and feeling to the factions. That might be one way to do it.
Finally the main plot: Clocks are ticking… I think it’s a splendid idea. Some sort of external threat is a great motivator for creating alliances and not going straight to FFA slaughterhouse.
The "main plot" (or goal/victory condition) will be secret and that's part of the fun
My initial aim is just to get a game up and running and get the factions out into space, then we can start worrying about why they are there. Right?