Hey Folks! I think I've narrowed down the short term goal list to two things: refueling the ship at a station, and some sort of encounter system. And since the former is probably quicker to do, it's spreadsheet time!
What you see above is an in-game UI I mocked-up in Unity to cover the ship refueling and restocking operations at a station. Similar to the air traffic control UI I made earlier, a lot of this is just for show. But it does illustrate some of the stuff I want to model in the game.
You're going to pay out the ear to use a high-traffic space station, and this is what that'll look like. Charges and fees for everything. Maybe some backwater landing fields or mining bases will just let you sidle up and leave at will, but Tharsis Landing doesn't have time or space for that. So you'd better be prepared to pay, or risk your ship being in hock to settle your debts.
What this means is that you probably won't be flying between A and B carrying sprockets and consumer goods to turn a meager profit. That's what you do when someone else owns your ship and you, paying you a measly salary one notch better than poverty. I'm sort of picturing that as "the soft death" in this game. If you've failed somehow, you end up just another Joe Schmoe clocking-in to tread water in debt.
Instead, you're working the angles, doing the crime, milking the contacts for more interesting (and not always legal) jobs. Like Mal, Han, Spike, or Holden, the day-to-day for you and your crew is staying under the radar while keeping the ship stocked. So each trip needs to be a big payday, or else risking no-fly status at stations where you're in debt.
I think the encounter system and AI relations/contacts will make that clearer, but before we get there, we need a way to restock at the end of a trip. And that's where this comes in. Once I get enough of this UI up and running, I should be able to fly around indefinitely as long as money is in the coffers. And then the encounter system can start working on the coffers issue.