That's a good alternative. The framework is there would be nice to refine raw mats into other sellable items that are in low supply. But who knows, I think a lot of the louder people in hear are stuck in the idea of keeping the game static as is so who knows.If it was a matter of daring to fly into the black because it's dangerous and risky, then i'd be on board. But if that "dare" is only a dare because it's a huge time suck of boring repetitive jumps that steals your life away and offers no gameplay in return (like it is currently) ...then no. we dont need something to encourage us to endure that.
Fdev will almost certainly make such a new feature (if they were to make it) entirely separate from the rest of the game because they have this idea that doing this will compartmentalize the gameplay so it can be avoided if wanted and not alter any existing gameplay. Not caring that such compartmentalizing of features renders them almost entirely pointless or extremely neutered in purpose at best leading to low player participation and the almost immediate abandonment of further development interest. I would be extremely surprised if fdev were to incorporate these new settlements into the BGS and make them matter.
I would like to see instead, carrier customization increased, their social features increased and improved (local news posting and better in game searching and bulletin board features around them). Carriers treating the owners as owners and not some faceless renter. That would handle the home building aspect (something to say i'm here to myself and others).
Then I'd like to see a full on crafting of a megaship option for players. This would implement the creative, unique building aspect but done in a flyable non-persistent ship that participates in gameplay that is different from the normal blow up enemies and space truck infinitely available items gameplay that regular ships are part of. These can be Dredgers or other alternative but similarly sized ships (not similar to traditional but similar to the new suggestion.. We'll say, maybe 6 times the size of a t10). Our dredgers would be a bit smaller than the traditional, but would have a maw and everything else would have to be crafted and customizable based on how they're crafted and put together. These ships would be directly flyable but dockable too, allowing you to take the helm whenever you're aboard. And participating in unique new gameplay like salvage. Manufacturing. Refining etc that can work together with carriers to create a real economic market based on player activity and participation ...of course assuming fdev reduces or eliminates the infinite alternatives that exist in the current stations.