Tribal goals/motivators - World Wonders!
Here's a simple idea with potentially pretty huge consequences:
The way I see Xsyon right now is that what we have here is some pretty nifty sandbox environment that is very well thought out at the micro level. However there is this problem of the overarching player motivation which is not really clear... What are we striving for as players and tribes?
The devs made it pretty clear that this is not to be a PvP-oriented game. There is PvP in Xyson but it is not the point of it. So what is the point of the game if it is not "crush your enemy and see them driven before you?"
Imo if this game is craft-centric then there should be some massive tribal crafting goals that can be competed for. My suggestion is to introduce World Wonders - unique structures that require enormous amounts of resources and provide bragging rights and/or maybe some material benefits (like special weapons, armor, clothes...). Those structures would be unique, one of a kind per server, akin to what you have in Civilization basically... and you could put in some maintenance resource requirements to keep the tribe busy even after completing them.
In addition to providing builders/crafters with something to do this would give PvP-ers clear and constructive roles in their tribes thus releasing them from the stigma of being "gankers". PvP-ers could either protect valuable resources needed for wonder construction, go sabotage other tribes efforts at making that same wonder or simply steal stuff from competition in order to make the thing grow faster.
(p.s. just a side note - i'm not suggesting that those wonders should be "the" goal of the game, but just one of the possible things to go for as a tribe. Just like in Civilization where there are many ways to increase your civilization score so imo there should be many different big things to strive for even in a mmo sandbox like Xsyon. Some tribes might go the World Wonder route to make a name for themselves while others might go conquering others etc...)
One more thing - this would actually have a pretty huge impact on PvP. With this you could have a pretty lively PvP game even if you retained safe tribal zones. Imo the biggest problem of Xsyon's PvP at the moment is lack of motivation - why do you attack the other guy? Just because? That sucks imo and stinks of ganking. World Wonders would make each resource area a battlefield with gatherers trying to collect the mats under attacks from competing tribes warriors. You wouldn't even need to introduce sieging mechanics in order to have loads of PvP. Imo "burn other tribes tepee" is just one of the possible PvP motivators and a pretty shallow one at that.
This would give a POSITIVE motive for PvP - "we're building something!" rather than a negative "lets ruin the other guys' day" with an added bonus that small-scale PvP now becomes viable. Siege-oriented PvP games tend to cause zergs - everybody bunches up at one spot trying to outnumber the other... and they're all warriors with crafters staying home twiddling their thumbs. With resource-motivated PvP you'd have more of a guerilla, indian-style actually ( ) kind of warfare with small, diversely composed bands clashing constantly.
(soz for double post in another section.. realized just now this would be a better place to post it)