Re: If I'd wanted a connected game I'd play Eve
". . . the game connects back to pick up universe information . . . as player interactions affect the universe, such as cargo value at various ports up to the outcome of various galactic battles depending on which sides the players backed."
But don't you see - this is exactly what (at least some) people are annoyed about. Whether you play in 'solo' mode or not, you are playing in a shared universe.
It is irrelevant to the argument whether you or anyone else thinks this is a good thing because this was always in the game so those who wanted it have it and have no place in this discussion - the finished game contains the features they want and allows them to play the way they want to.
What is relevant is that there are people who do not want this. They want their own universe, isolated from the trades and battles and goings on of every other commander - one that progresses on the same time scale that they play the game, whether it's once a day or once a month.
These people believed they were getting that feature and would be able to play the game that way but they were misled.
Yes, misled. deliberately, I feel. Not at first - I believe they really did intend to implement a true offline mode that was faithful to the way the name they are trading on worked.
But, at some point, the offline mode was de-emphasised as conflicts arose that required preferencing one over the other and they essentially cut offline mode and continued development that took them further away from their representations to backers.
The fact is that Braben several times hyped the great online sharing of ideas in a passionate community but when it came to actually telling that community what was going on and that a feature listed on the site and in their FAQs was out of favour and may be dropped, he curiously decided not to share that.
Again, whatever your personal preferences, a persistent, online world is a very different thing to an offline one - neither is better or worse but someone who wants an evolving online, persistent world would not be happy with a static world and someone who wanted a static, offline world would not be happy with a dynamic one.
If you think it doesn't matter and solo play fixes everything then you clearly haven't even understood the provided reasoning from Braben, which is that they want the story to evolve and change as players interact and, well, at their whim. They are playing a kind of dungeon master role and this is great for people who want it, but you must understand that some - quite a few - people don't.
I'll give you an example that David himself used in an interview, which was around a particular conflict between rebels and the rulers of a system. The devs noticed that players were 'backing' the rebels by running guns for them, and so they decided to make the rebels a bit more powerful and had them basically ruin a trade run (of some item). As Braben said, this had been a profitable trade for players, but then they found they could trade for more on the black market.
Sounds great, huh!?
Well, not for someone who wants to play offline. Taking the freedom of offline to play (really) however you want, maybe a player was using that profitable trade route to save for a new ship. Let us say, further, that this player doesn't play every day and sometimes not even once a week. One day he goes to run the route once again only to find that it doesn't exist or is no longer profitable and this has occurred due to the whims of a developer half way across the world (for you and me) in reaction to a bunch of players he has never met and it all happened while he was interstate for work last week.
Some people love that but there can be no denying that it is a fundamental difference that simply saying "you can play solo" doesn't quite address.
And of course the above scenario is just one of any number that can affect a player. Another one is the missions that are offered, which are, again, governed by the whims and 'hey; this will be cool!' opinions of the devs.
The major thing, however, is that you can't jump back in the story. You can't sign up a year from now and have the same experience as someone who signed up at the start. The missions he played and the developments he saw are lost to you. Whatever plot points or scripted events played out are gone. You have come in partway through a movie and you can't rewind it. You can ask or read a synopsis, but you can't join in.
Now, one might say that playing offline would entail missing these things altogether and that would be partially correct. The important point missing, however, is the fact that the offline mode would still have needed a story that you could interact with and thus you could explore the different facets of that story in multiple play-throughs. Can you take part in an important story battle on both sides in a persistent, online world? No, because it will never happen again.
Even at the more base levels, Braben identifies 'cheating' as a major reason for dropping offline mode. Which is very strange indeed - who cares if some cheats in offline mode? It doesn't impact anyone else because it's OFFLINE. The logic appears to be: "we need to force people online because cheating online is a big problem". What?
This is the kind of thing that people are annoyed about.
There were loads of people asking for an offline mode, so they agreed and said they would do it. They had a look and said that, yeah, that can be done, but warned backers that it wouldn't be as rich as the online play. They accepted that. So it is a big perplexing when it was announced that offline play was scrapped because it wasn't as rich as online play.