There is something quite satisfying about terraforming an alien planet. It scratches that eco itch. From an emotional point of view, that is valuable. Cultivating and developing chaos into life.
I did a little mining, but didn't care too much about it. The mutants regularly jump scare me, but they aren't too challenging as you can outjump them, but the converting the terrain to something lush is quite satisfying.
I really like the facts that blocks convert rather than crafting recipes, it feels more natural, and about your controlling the environment. Part of me feels that the start should be based on algae growing on water, you scrape it off, and you mix with volcanic ash to make some type of soil that could develop life (not always, and things like moss sprout off it). Maybe you enrich the mix more and more with volcanic ash, but the creation of life is not guaranteed. It would give it a unique, not so crafty start to things.
I think some of the conversions should be findable in game, like a help/basics tab in the inventory. It's a great reference. It feels needing to go to the readme will alienate a few potential players.
Also, too many crafting recipes at first. Some available initially that are core (such as saplings, tools etc.) but some extra blocks should add to recipes as you discover them perhaps.
Oh, and if you die, restart as it is not intuitive that you need mutants just to be able to get started (apples and digging tool). Maybe a help message on death could help (like the start one which was a cool nudge).
However, great base game. Very satisfying. I'm excited about the potential of this game.
Thank you. I mostly agree with your criticisms. Yes, the early plants are weirdly balanced. Apple tree comes way too early. I already planned to make moss the first base plant, but algae is also a nice idea. The idea I have is that you will use some kind of research station which you need to feed with materias to unlock more and more plants over time, but first you start with the small plants.
I agree the lack of help for the node conversions (marble, etc.) isn't great. Technically, a tooltip exists in the nodes you need to convert but first you have to find that node. That's not ideal. Some kind of more sohpisticated help system is probably planned. I could use the Help modpack I wrote a long time ago, although its usability is not great; having a full-blown help page for every node is kinda overkill. Could use a more simplified version of the help maybe.
Yes, the huge number of crafting recipes is another problem. Procedural unlocking should be done instead.
As for the death: Yeah, I think I'll add a better messaging system to give you advice about various things, like messages from a mission control, idk.
Anyway, I'm glad you like this early unfinished version. As you can see, there are still many rough edges. But I have BIG plans with this game (but I am currently busy with other stuff).