I know, I wrote that message after reading the first message in this thread, as I read through the rest of the thread, I realized that combat was a background activity in TKS where as it was frequent in Elite. Still, flying around in a freighter, buying and selling goods between planets was/is a major part of both games.
I noticed several people saying that space games didn't appeal to them that much. I'm not so picky about a game's environment, though I will admit, I've seen some games that looked interesting except for their environment. What I'm mainly interested in, is a good game with good gameplay mechanics? To me, a poor game in a favorite environment isn't as much fun as a good game in a not so appealing environment.
For an incentive to upgrading your ship, in Elite, the stronger you got, the stronger your enemies got. The bounties you got for each kill grew as the enemies got stronger, also, when you destroyed an enemy, their ship would drop several containers of cargo which you could pick up if your ship was equipped with a cargo scoop, as the enemies grew in strength, their dropped cargo grew in value.
In Elite, the prices of the various commodities that each planet bought and sold wasn't allowed to be transmited out of the planet's star system. To help tradors know what to take to a planet, they could look at a galactic map to see what type of planet it is, do they mine minerals or do the grow plants and animals for food, and so on. Using this, you might find two planets close to each other that you could go back and forth to and make a nice profit, or you might find two neighboring planets that dispite being different have closely matched prices so making a decent profit is a lot harder. This kept trading iffy and interesting.
The urge to explore is created by a backgroud story. I remember flying to a planet where somebody told me, "A unusual ship was here a few days ago, they didn't stay long, when they left they headed towards <some planet name>". You are expected to eventually find your way to that planet where another hint might be dropped, or it might be dropped on one of that planet's neighbors.
I'm not suggesting you make a clone of Elite, that's already been done, including an MMO (massively multiplayer online) version. I'm just recalling what the developer of Elite did. Maybe there's a nugget of an idea here, or maybe not.
On the JAWS keyboard issue, I suspect the same update was applied to Windows 7 as it has the same keyboard laggyness you mentioned occurring for people running Windows 8. There have been over 200 updates to Windows 7 since service pack 1 was released, and no way to do a search, but, I'll try to find it and remove it, to see if that solves the problem, however; I believe that configuring JAWS to go to sleep when TKS is active is the simpler and better approach, as it allows you to leave what Microsoft considers a needed update in place.
I'd love to say I'm going to go play a round of TKS, but since it is around 5:30 in the morning, it'll have to wait until tomorrow, I'm going to try and get at least a couple of hours of sleep. But I am looking forward to this game.