We have races in game, but I would like to suggest we talk about different roles, and what each could mean in game.
This is the obvious one, with a focus on military strength. Combat ships, weapons, invasions etc would all be tech under this category.
Currently we lack any form of trade system. To me, that’s a massive miss on a game like this. Instead of growing an empire by force you do it with cash. A trader would specialize in buying, selling, and moving goods. The only tech we have currently that fits this would be freighters and cargo/personnel carrier modules. There should be additional tech around buying and selling minerals, goods, and even ships and planets.
Another area that we really lack any development. The explorer would be where tech like improved sensors, cloak, and some engines would be. Additional mechanics should be added to make the explorer a viable role. First, adding in probes. With a probe it could have the chance to find a hidden resource vein, which would increase mineral density on a planet. It could also find relics, ancient technology, or other artifacts. These could give boosts to research, unlock tech, or improve planet stats.
The diplomat would have the ability to create and maintain alliances. They should also be able to collect resources from NPCs, and have some trade skills. The more friends a diplomat has the more resources they generate. There would also be a “Persuade” tech, where a diplomat could persuade an NPC pirate to join the diplomat.
Another role where we have some mechanisms, but we should have a lot more. A builder would be able to build ships and gear to sell to other players. Additionally, they would be able to build portable structures. Similar to the idea of a colony ship being able to deploy power, farm, and climate structures. A mobile structure is preassembled, and then can be transported to a planet and deployed. The construction on planet would take significantly less time, and require no resources. This would allow a player to ship all the structures needed to a new planet, and have everything running quickly.
The scientist would focus on labs and research. They would be able to create and sell blueprints for more advanced ships than what is normally available. They could create improved versions of structures, modules, and ships.
For the non-combat rolls there should also be a system where they can hire mercenaries/bodyguards. Essentially these would be military fleets that are payed to acquire, and they have an upkeep cost. These would be unlocked via different tech The tech would determines the frequency mercenary offers are received, the size and strength of the fleet, and the number of concurrent contracts.
Part of the goal would be to allow each player to develop and advance on their own, with their own specialization. However, for players that work together, leveraging different roles they will be much stronger together.
Dilpomat creates the alliance and improves relationships
Explorer finds and improves planets
Trader moves resources and generates income
Scientist develops blueprints for improved tech
Builder constructs ships and gear
Warrior protects, and spearheads invasions