I think it's both simpler, and more complicated, than that -- and you hit the nail on the head when you said "balancing." The simple part is, the base game isn't balanced. The complicated part is getting the balance "just right" to meet the expectations of the user community. In the stock game, armor seems to be too easily damaged by bumping into things and not resilient enough against weapons. This may be a result of the mass/weight balancing mechanic but, in any event, it is counter to expectations (gats can chew through 2.5m of "armor?" Really?). Additionally, the stock weapons feel anemic (again, counter to expectations). They may be appropriately balanced compared to the stock armor, and this may be an explicit intent for gameplay balance reasons, but they don't provide the visceral satisfaction people seek from the genre. This is the modus operandi for first-person shooters of most ilks (ex: nobody in WW2 got up and ran away after taking a .30cal round to the chest) which is why every last one of them gets modded to bump the lethality. The differentiation and comparison between small and large grid is almost nonsensical. Under no circumstances can a small grid ship with stock weapons make sufficient impression on a large ship with stock weapons before getting totally wrecked. Again, this may be an explicit decision, but is counter to expectations (ref: torpedo, torpedo boat, and torpedo boat destroyer). So, if I have to build a massive ship (and it generally has to be massive, because small blocks are almost useless in any kind of fight) then the payoff should be massive guns. What we get with the stock game is massive ships with (nearly) useless pea shooters, which is why there are so many weapon mods. Add weapons that meet expectations, and suddenly the armor is (nearly) useless -- because it's not really armor. It's just a bullet sponge. Bullet sponges don't care about impact energy, deflection angles, penetration, or spalling. Which means the only way to protect your ship is to add more sponge. Which means more weight, and more thrusters, and more fuel, etc ad nauseum. It's hard to build a ship that looks cool and is still effective in a fight under those circumstances. In my experience, you can have one, or the other, but not both. Shields address this problem directly, by disconnecting looks / weight / construction from protection. The cost is energy usage. You can argue that shields don't actually solve the problem (they just move it someplace else, and probably create a few new problems) but it's the best solution available so far to the armor vs armament problem and, unless / until Keen adds more "realistic" armor (*cough*) it's what we're stuck with. This isn't the forum for rants on the difference between currency and money, or the nature of inflation, so I'll just say that in-game economies can be implemented well, and they can be implemented poorly. As long as the autonomous / automatic proffers conform to relative + differential scarcity, component usage, and demand, I think it will work out. That being the case, I'll wager Keen will need to adjust some ore deposit frequencies / distributions and component utilization to get it right.