So I'm going over colony and population management now, specifically in terms of landing colonists on the planet.
It occurs to me that when you arrive, your colonists are still in slow sleep until they're woken up and thrown onto a colonist lander. Which means that they are unavailable until they're dropped down onto the surface.
That being the case, that also means that they're not consuming food. Which is cool, this gives the player some time to start developing their colony before dropping colonists to the surface. You can't drop them down until the command center is built which is good as the CC acts as a temporary residence until residential units are built.
Many of the structures can't function without colonists so you can't leave them up in orbit indefinitely so I'm not too worried about balance issues in terms of free colony construction before dropping down colonists.
Anyway, before getting dropped they're sitting on the colony ship in slow sleep. But the colony ship isn't going to stay in orbit forever. In the original game the colony ship would eventually deorbit and crash land on the surface somewhere.
So here's the question:
How long does the colony ship stay in orbit before crashing? The first arbitrary number that comes to mind is 24 turns or roughly two years. This gives the player a little time to get their colony started before dropping their colonists down, but they can't leave their colonists in orbit indefinitely. Should this be affected by difficulty level? E.g., +/-10 turns based on difficulty? Should it only stay in orbit for only a year? Five years?
Thanks for your input!