One of the neat things about playing Star Control 2 and 3 back in the pre-internet days was that when I was playing them, I had no idea how much of this “universe” we could explore was actually just potential resource stops, and how much of it was actual places that added to the story in some way. Figuring that out was part of the joy.
I had so much fun even with Star Control 3, because as I was telling @Desslock upthread, I had no idea that their systems were unfinished. Can you imagine playing that game now? People would tell you in this thread a day after release that the systems were broken. That’s probably a bad example though. It was also wonderous to explore a new part of the Star Control 2 map, not knowing if you were travelling in a cluster of worlds where you’ll encounter a new race, or if it’s just another cluster where you need to be careful to avoid those annoying satellites.