So, it's going to be one of those types of games. I guess I let myself believe that the raiders were somehow incidental to the game. That with a big enough colony they would become nothing but a nuisance, to be cut down by my security forces before they even had a chance to cause trouble.
I realize now that the raiders are the entire point. They're coming to kill you and wreck all your stuff and it's not a matter of if, but when. There was a point where I thought for sure I had things under control. My station was large and prosperous. I had defensive turrets covering all the entrances. And yet, at around the time I got my twentieth resident, I triggered a random event called "the big one." Wave after wave of raiders swarmed my base. I lost track of how many there were, exactly, though when they'd slaughtered all of my people and blew up the last of my oxygen generators, I managed to inadvertently complete the Goal for killing 50 intruders.
The same pattern repeated with my next base, the first one I played with the unofficial patch. It wasn't the pirate mega-raid, but it was a similar string of misfortune. The raiders would get into their special ships that could fly under my base and subsequently pop up in my undefended interior areas. They'd get maybe 1-2 civilians before security finally took them down, but it was enough. I started losing people faster than they were getting replaced. I didn't reach final extinction, but I was faced with a base where every damned thing was broken because fucking raiders kept killing off my technicians.
Raiders who, incidentally, were able to slip past my exterior defenses because the game's baffling 3/4 perspective means my turrets can only point towards the bottom left or bottom right of my screen.
Needless to say, my initial optimism about this game has dried up.
Funnily enough, though, the cause is not what I thought it would be. Yes, there are aspects of the game that are clearly unfinished - the limitations on camera and building angles are actively hostile to the type of game it wants to be; even after 8 versions of the official patch, there are still path-finding bugs; as far as I can tell, 75% of your security options don't even work (certainly, I've never seen my security people successfully arrest someone and throw them in the brig, or even bring an unconscious person to the infirmary); and on top of all that, there's not enough interesting stuff to build, so much that if a person were not an obsessive builder, perfectly capable of tiling the map just for the pleasure of doing so, they might almost welcome the inevitable tide of destruction, just for the sake of having something novel to do.
I'm not sure what I want from this game any more. If I had to put it into words, I'd say "an infinite string of good luck, such that I never have to face the numerous time bombs built into the very structure of the game" and, failing that "a long-term bias towards events that add settlers to my population and away from events that take settlers out of my population" so that the general trend of my base is towards growth and expansion. And yet I have a feeling that even the more moderate second option is just a polite way of saying "I want it to be over."
My best bet is that knowledge and experience will allow me to simulate the second option. If my defense gets tight enough that losing settlers is rare, then maybe it will feel more like a cute colony-building game and less like a brutal fight for survival where the odds are stacked against you.
Why do games keep insisting on teaching me to embrace failure? Don't I get enough of that in my personal life?