So I'm cooking up a variant Stars Without Number game based around the team being space explorers, more interested in useful discoveries and less on raw profit. (Not that $$$ doesn't come into the equasion, but it's not what drives xp.) I'm cooking up a "Discovery" method of rating findings of the players as xp bundles based on what mysteries they uncover. Kinda GUMSHOE style investigation mixed with classic OSR dungeon crawling. The PC's get better gear and resources based on the Academy's backing of their project. They start out as research scrubs dropped on a dangerous dead world with other teams and they head off to find out what killed the civlization and hwo they prevent it from happening to their colony world.
(If anyone is interested, I'm going to run this for a few months Saturday nights on G+ Hangouts at 7:30pm EST.)
After a fashion I'm going to steal OtherDust's ruins mechanics and tweek the tables a bit for alien worlds (and failed human worlds). I am curious if you were going to play in a setting like this what would motivate your character? What elements can I focus on that would drive home both the horror and desolation of empty (semi-empty) worlds and the 'wow' of space exploration.