Right, and that's the primary aspect that I'm fuzzy on. I don't really have an understanding of, or experience in, how flexible Unity is when it comes to modding or making a game that is mod friendly from the get-go. I've only played a few (less than 5, most likely) games that were even built on unity, and of those, the modding aspect is hit or miss at best.
KSP, for example, has modding but requires external tools to make that possible. SS has some files that can be altered via text editor (the mission zones, for instance) but I haven't really tried to do anything else with it yet. And Tempest is so early in development that it isn't worth the time to try modding yet.
What's worse is that any actual info concerning modding, even on the Unity forums, is amazingly vague and scarce. Resulting in more confusion than anything else.
Inversely, I don't know how much work went into the "Alamo" and "Iron Engine" engines to make the resulting games so mod friendly. And while that may have been partially intended with the "Iron Engine" I doubt it was with "Alamo" considering when the latter was created.
All that said, I'd imagine that, so long as the actual game files aren't encrypted, that a modding community could make tools to mod SS should such a community pop up and if they really wanted/needed to. HW2 is a great example of that, all the tools used to mod that game were community created, if memory serves, which was possible because the files were simply packed and not encrypted.
I didn't mean to imply that they were/did. My aim was to illustrate that had the game engine itself not required alteration to make the mechanics in those expansions possible, the modding community would have implemented them far sooner and for free. My point was that had the community been able to implement such features in parallel or competition, Star Dock (or IronClad) would not have been able to profit/sell such expansions.
All of that aside and like I said previously, I'd be more than happy to test, and post back on, native modding ability/functionality in SS release builds moving forward and as it develops. Even if only to serve as a data cache regarding what can and can't be modified "as is". Then, when you get to working on actively incorporating modding support, you, and the community for that matter, will at least have some data to start from, however expansive or limited that data may be.