A couple, IMO.
First question, yes. There’s playstyles to consider and for an “average” player to be able to “easily” support a single portal - there will always be an avid hunter who can do that 20 times in a week or something.
Second question, I think so, yes. “portal network” covers a lot of ground, though. Some people refer to a large hub as a network, honestly. 2 - 3 of the hunters mentioned above and some builders are going to be able to maintain a multi-planet network. In the current game balance, it really takes less than 10 (assuming at least half are ‘avid’ hunters) to keep an all-planets network. This is acceptable because:
We want our average player to be able to easily maintain at least one portal.
This is a bit more specific. “1 large hunt” I’ll assume a group hunt with several experienced hunters at T4 running until inventory is full. Our guy isn’t an avid hunter so he’s going to fill up and bow out. The hunt may go 90 minutes but he’ll be good with let’s say about 216 rough oort (a multiple of 18). People can call me out if that’s way off - it’s been a while since I hunted.
216 rough = 12 mass extractions = 3000 oort shards.
3 stacks is 2700 so if this player wants a portal to one or two multi-planet networks on their home planet, and maybe a ‘local’ shop they’re fine for the next 5 weeks and change. From dipping in on one “good” hunt.
Maybe a 1x2 to the local TNT hub and a 2x4 to something on a nearby planet. It’s still going to be fuel for something like a month.
If they want a portal directly to the TNT main hub it’s 8 blocks and a shard stack per week from almost any planet. Three and a half weeks or so, from the one(partial) hunt.
In the current game balance I’d say it’s pretty easy, and that’s ok. Making it harder would mean more trouble for the little guy (average player) and cause some other issues(?) like player concentration, lack of variety, etc…
I think anybody that plays the game for a minute should be able to support a single portal. Right now even someone who is just semi-competent soloing T3 could easily maintain 1 portal with less than an hour focus on hunting per week. If they’re willing to go with a large group to a higher tier, an hour per month is more than enough for a couple small portals.
I think things are good in terms of having options and being able to get pretty much everywhere. The cost seems to be manageable, price has been stable for a while and could possibly go down - not important though there are plenty of hoarders satisfied with the current market.
I agree with others the balance is good but the time requirements are more intense and I think that this is a good way to balance this part of the game. Even if you have all the oort it really requires a team to develop a sense of reliability and reputation as a solid network when portals are running out of fuel every 4,6,7,12, and 30 days or whatever the variances are.
I miss the compact oort update honestly more than the swords