Good that you referenced the rule book.
Generally, players want a random and balanced map. This is why when you create a completely random map you place the numbers in a spiral. This is the default way most players create Catan maps in real life. This way the maps are more often balanced and the similar numbers are never adjacent. How to create a random map is also written in the rule book you referenced. But there you see that the spiral is the "default" and complete random numbers is the exception. Players who create the map manually in real life (without the spiral), often move the numbers around until all players are OK with the map. This is not possible in Catan Universe. So why not make the random map properly and use the spiral? This is so simple thing to implement. There are clearly more benefits to creating a map with the spiral number assignment rather than your complete randomness.
Shortened version of how setting up a random board works form the rule book you referenced (with my comments):Set up the frame (easy, you probably have a preset frame object anyway) Randomly place the terrain hexes inside the frame (you have done that, seems OK so far) Place 9 harbor pieces over the frames random locations (this is probably what you are missing and you are not going to waste additional developer time for that? But this is not very important at the moment. Would be nice to have) Place number tokens in counter-clockwise spiral starting from one corner. (relatively simple to implement, all we are asking)
Important: Alternatively, you can use a fully random set-up. Place 1 token on each land hex. Start at one corner of the island, and place the number tokens in random order. In such case, the tokens with red numbers must not be next to each other. You may have to swap tokens to ensure that no red numbers are on adjacent hexes. (This is an ALTERNATIVE to the random map. You implemented the ALTERNATIVE because coding the spiral takes 30 minutes more. Most players coming from PlayCatan will 100% complain that your random map is crap. Just take the extra time to make the random map properly, please.)
You followed the rule book by making the default board also default in your game. If you follow the rule book by the letter, you should also make the decision to allow trading ONLY before building. This is suggested to beginner players in the rule book as well, on a similar level of random maps. This is stupid! Seeing how you would go about optional rules, you would probably make us buy the ability to trade and build in different order too.
But just as combined trade/build phase is a "variant", creating a random map is a "variant" on the same level of "base Catan features". Therefore you should make random map the default exactly like you can trade and build in any order. OK, this went a bit out of topic but you are going to read it anyway.
Have you analyzed PlayCatan at all? The trade offers in PlayCatan do not obstruct your view. You are not required to reply to the trade offers. This makes trading much less painful and faster.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZDrRFcHDsc PlayCatan gameplay. You cna see how trading works. You can just keep playing while someone offers trades.
You know it is a very common problem with developers that they do not understand why their game's User Experience (UX) is bad. They are used to their programs features because they developed them but it is horrible for anyone else who actually uses the program in the end.
Trading preference - this is so basic and it can not hold all of the information you would want to give to other players. And it is so small you won't even notice it while playing. Using it is more trouble than it is worth if the other players don't even notice it all the time.
You only seem to learn from your apps. But your apps already implement trading WRONG. It is a screen which appears on top of the map and you can not close it without replying to the trade. Just look at the PlayCatan trading and LEARN how to do it right. Counter-offers are just on the edge of the screen for the current player. He does not have to react to them, just offer your own trade agreements.
You are saying that counter-offers hinder the gameflow? Wow! You really do not understand Catan if you recommend anything like this! Counter-offer is one of the most important aspect of trading. If only the active player can offer trades there is no way to find out what precise trade offers other players would accept.
The most common trading situation: player A offers 1 wood for 1 brick. Player B makes counter-offer 1 wood, 1 grain for 1 brick. Player A does not have grain so offers 1 wood, 1 sheep for 1 brick. Player B does not want that but Player C accepts. Very easy, fast, simple in PlayCatan. Takes 30 seconds to talk through all the info in CatanUniverse chat.
If you do not allow counter-offers then the game will work in a really different way. People from PlayCatan will hate your current trading system. Also, combined with your timer implementation it is nearly impossible to trade or offer any counter-offers. Just no time and no meaningful way to do it. The only way to counter-offer at the moment is to communicate via chat. Seriously, just take one look at PlayCatan and you see all of the benefits of non-intrusive trade offers. Trade preference is not sufficient for an effective trade system. Is it really that hard to copy a feature which has proven to work?