Actual gameplay is really difficult, I don’t really know why though… I don’t think MMO makes it more difficult.
I think compare gameplay to art is a good thing to think about.
Making art and environments is really easy. CIG are pumping out an incredible amount of art, the ships, huge moons that are good quality, Lorville and stuff look great too. Hurston will be good as well. Even animations, they seem to have a lot.
I think with gameplay, it’s always bespoke and you need to start from scratch from a design and a technical perspective (whereas art you have a really developed set of flexible tools). So there are implementation issues, optimization, inference with existing gameplay and technical elements.
If you think about mining, you need to create so much stuff. Create the mineable entities, technical aspect of art, interaction, destruction, spawning, all kinds of stuff. And then doing it so it works in a 3D environment adds a lot of work.
I think the biggest problem is that normally in a game, something like crafting is very simple, because it is only there to support the main aspects of the game (like combat). So think about another CryEngine game, Prey. In Prey you just click on dropped items to collect them… they just disappear from the gameworld, a sound plays, and then they’re in your inventory menu. So much much easier to implement than something like mining in the PU. And then to craft, you just pick what you want from a menu. Again, very easy. Even in something like the new Farcry games, or Assassins Creed, Elder Scrolls, if you think about what actually constitutes a lot of the gameplay systems, it’s all very very simple because the real gameplay is in the combat/walking around.
But in an open-world game like the SC PU, these gameplay systems need to be compelling in themselves, in effect being a game in itself… so it’s just a huge huge effort that will never be achieved.
Add in the fact your using an FPS engine, that presumably has much less capability for bespoke gameplay. (For example, level-based engine design and entity persistence/tracking, limited scripting, limited objects (IE most stuff is glued down), limited character interaction) then CIG are really up shit creek without a paddle.