Gyrfalcon wrote:Having a Scout makes some sense. I'm not sure there is a purpose in having a Colonizer or Transport in orbit at the start. Although starting with negative economy does kind of require you to colonize quickly so you can run trade routes.
This is the sort of thing that we will be looking at continually as the gameplay evolves. The idea is to be able to get into the game quickly; the starting Colony Ship might be omitted on harder difficulty levels, but if you want to build one right away, it takes 36 turns... that's a lot of clicking "Next Turn." Even if the galaxy remains as unforgivingly hazardous as it is right now (which is unlikely), I think the player is still benefited by having a prebuilt Colony Ship sitting idle in orbit for 10-20 turns rather than having to build one from scratch.
Prior to the beta, you didn't start with a Transport and there was even a technology that had to be researched to unlock them, and this presented a problem for early colonization; since you couldn't move any population to your first new colony, the growth was glacially slow, and without any income from trade routes, you'd quickly run out of money. So you were essentially forced to choose this tech as your first research target, and build a transport as soon as it was available... and when there's no real choice, that's not fun. (Also, it didn't make much sense that a transport should require more advanced technology than a colony ship.) Again, we might omit the starting Transport based on gameplay balance or at higher difficulty levels, but being able to get one early is critical to early growth.
Tip: even though you can't establish trade routes until you've found your first colony, you can still send the Transport to the Trade Pool immediately. This won't generate income, but it will remove the upkeep cost for the transport.
Currently, the early choice in production is whether to build another Scout or Colony Ship, a Factory, or a Lab. Right now, I think the benefits of a Factory heavily outweigh the other choices, and that's something we will keep tweaking. Scouts are (in my opinion) currently way too expensive, being almost the same price as a Colony Ship. Scouts should be less expensive (especially early when they have no weapons), and Colony Ships should be more expensive. Sven is right now working on a set of changes to relative costs and how they are calculated, including making components (weapons and systems) a more significant portion of the total cost of a ship. This is one of what will be many balance passes on item costs.