As before, please feel free to steal these ideas for your own space game.
Start game with say, two unpressurized cargo rooms and and zero understood cache weapons. Full tank of fuel and a working fuel scoop. Interstellar drive. No shuttles. Some money in the bank.
This limits you to established sectors where prices are high and margins are thin. Uh, and there are space stations and spaceports handy. The outer sectors have more demand for you, but that’s where the aliens and pirates are. And you have no weapons. And no shuttles.
Starting out! First things first? - Buy food, equipment (4 types), metals, technology and transport it to another planet with a space station. - Pay to unlock regular weapons and fight pirates (tractor beam their stuff or bounty?) - Pay to fix shuttles and go to less developed planets (higher profits, lower volume, higher risk). - Scoop and sell fuel (kind of a last resort).
Now you have some money. What next? - Keep trading - Expand cargo holds to carry more, get pressurized/specialized cargo containers. - Unlock cache weapons for protection/warfare. - Get shuttles to trade with remote planets. - Actively colonize planets (takes a ton of cargo space) and get discounts. - Chase pirates from a sector (remove their base using a cache weapon, take their stuff, get a bounty). - Taxi service (very profitable).
Okay, you’re kicking ass. Endgame content? - Drive aliens from planets using cache weapons. - Fortify hull to allow safe star scooping. - Terraform and colonize entire planets yourself, get all their products for free. - Run a farm from your ship, make tons of money selling its food and animals. - Cause a gas giant to begin nuclear fusion, making arable land on nearby cold, rocky worlds. And making its gas better for fuel scooping. - Destroy an alien base, recover ammo for cache weapons. - Huge money hole: fabricate ammo for the cache weapons at high technology worlds. - Other money hole: fabricate entirely new cache weapons by combining attributes of existing ones. - Travel to other galaxies full of… evil aliens? And kill them?