A few major gameplay changes were implemented by Simon to fix what he considered problems in the game. Each of these changes have had significant effects on the game and its players.
The GM made the following changes to the game:
Tech pyramids created many unforeseen complications with how the game was played when they were discovered. Since tech pyramids allowed some planets to host sometimes thousands of facilities, this had unforeseen complications for the Construction sphere, which was balanced to usually see only 100-300 facilities per planet. In extreme circumstances, the profits made from both technology and construction put together could breech several million solars per month.
Because of the way this imbalanced the game, the gm changed the way construction and other aspects of the game works to stop the inequality. He made these changes with little warning. Tech Pyramids still had high potential for profit after these changes.
Another reason for this nerf was to prevent another exploit that would allow a house to dismantle a large facility, usually a fortress, for more money than was spent to create it, due to planetary influence discounts, construction discounts, and sphere leader discounts.
The halving of Construction income made construction a much less viable sphere across the board, although it was very effective in curbing Construction's ability to make unbalanced profits. The reduction of planetary influence on costs also was the first step to reducing the effectiveness of Tech pyramids as profit makers, although this process would not be complete until the Sphere Leader Nerf.
Some players were upset with the quickness with which this patch was implemented, because it caused financial difficulties for houses who were taking advantage of the construction bug.
The sphere leader nerf was made with significant amounts of forewarning, and was broken up into 4 separate nerfs.
Simon implemented the first Sphere Leader Nerf in response to the emergence of Merch Pyramids. Since Merch Pyramids hinge on good administrators being able to make enough profit to overcome the maintenance and infrastructure costs of the large numbers of hubs, it became much more difficult to pull off a profitable Merch Pyramid, and impossible to make them work at the scales they had worked previously.
Simon has stated that the second through fourth sphere leader nerfs were not made because of Pyramids, but because admins were never intended to be as much of a boon as they had become in the game, and these nerfs made the game closer to what he had envisioned. Without these changes, he was convinced the game would have stagnated within a couple of months.
The Sphere Leader nerfs caused extreme financial difficulties for many houses in IN who operated many facilities with small profits, because with the nerf their profits were made negative. Many houses were forced to cut costs and re-organize their financial structures. Some houses were so heavily damaged by the nerfs that they quit the game, or closed operations in anticipation of the opening of the new galaxy Fornux.
The combined effects of the Sphere Leader nerf also made it much more difficult to construct profitable Tech Pyramids, although Tech Pyramids still exist to make semi-sustainable research possible and they earn profits for some houses with ideal conditions.