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Put the "Development" back in "Research and Development"


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So, I've been thinking about Tenenza's post in this thread, and it got me thinking (disclaimer: I actually also discussed it with them over Skype) and I/we came up with an idea.

Instead of protolathing fully complete items, the Protolathe is purely to create restricted or prototype components. And either by hand (Protopistol style) or with a machine (basically a Research microwave that makes devices instead of food), we assemble them.

In short, there would now be SIX machines in the Research and Development laboratory:


  • The Research Console
  • Circuit Imprinter
  • Protolathe
  • Destructive Analyzer
  • Deconstructor
  • Assembly Machine


The console, imprinter and protolathe work very similarly, except the protolathe makes advanced components only.

The destructive analyzer would actually be a destructive analyzer. It could take antag components from the deconstructor (see below) and yield usable components by Research. Which gives a whole new venue of RP - where Wizards actually DO have something valuable to provide NT and so that whole branch of the protocol could actually be played out.

The deconstructor. As it says - you put an item in, you get components out. For instance, you put in a laser carbine, it gives you "1x Laser Rifle Frame, 1x Laser Carbine Diode Assembly, 1x Laser Rifle Frame, 1x Capacitor, 1x Standard Weapon Power Cell". Or put in the wizard staff that can push people and get 3x Unknown Components, which could be identified by the destructive analyzer as "Wooden Rod", "Gravitocapacitive Focus" and "Unidentified Power Source". And of course, there's nothing stopping you from deconstructing a xenoarch artifact, at which point you could either get random components, or pre-listed components depending on it's effect (radio components for the tiny radio things, gun pieces from the guns, so on). Or with the Captain's approval, deconstruct his antique gun and get a compact RTG to give security a whole armoury of slow-firing but infinite laser guns.

And the Assembly machine does the exact opposite - you put in the components and you get a device.

BUT there would be a very slim chance that on standard recipes (and a 100% chance, if you just put random junk in) you get an Artifact. Which is pretty much the same as a xenoarch artifact with effects unknown.

And of course - the difficulty of the recipe scales with the complexity of the item. A security HUD, for instance, would be made of a pair of sunglasses (given from security), a laser diode, a compact communication board, a capacitor and a security encryption key (also obtained from security). On the flipside, a Lawgiver would probably need something like one laser rifle frame, one Lawgiver prototype control board, one laser carbine diode assembly, one double-ionized "stun" laser diode assembly, one high-power laser diode, one prototype portable relativistic mass accelerator, one prototype switching mechanism, one universal recorder and one prototype variable-focus magnetic lens array, or something like that.

Finally - there would probably be new items that could be made. Engineering swiss knife that can switch, with a command, to trigger the screwdriver/wrench/wirecutter/multitool/T-Ray triggers. Holokinetic weapons with the wizard staff's focus. So on.

What would this bring?


  • Actual RP: by being actively involved in the construction process of items instead of just mindlessly going through a preset list of items to deconstruct, there's potential for more RP (without mentioning the RP revolving around the fabricated artifacts)
  • Actual things to do: with the artifact system, the possibilities are almost endless. Even basic requests will give something interactive to do - it's no longer "press a button and give the item". It's a process.
  • Cuts down on chucklefucking: With this concept, and since antagonist/illegal components are not available by default, there's no more loophole to get them. It's no longer a question of "can I find the item that will give me the item" and more of a "can I find the component in the first place" matter. If someone wants a chameleon suit, they'll need to legit acquire a photoadaptive matrix... probably from a chameleon suit. If they want an energy shield, they'll need to find a portable field generator, probably from an energy shield. Or xenoarch artifacts.
  • Cuts down on abusive Research bastion: Should this be implemented, I'd be down for adding a weapons charger to Research because it would take a coordinated, sustained effort to manufacture enough guns to be a threat. Plus the AI will probably question why you're building so many guns, with the time it would take. AND the more advanced the gun, the more time it would take too - a basic laser pistol would maybe take 5-10 seconds, while that Lawgiver might take a whole minute.
  • Gives additional antag options: Both for traitor and other antags, it gives more options - making artifacts until they find something useful for their purpose, having the Wizard actually fall under the "can trade" part of the protocol, or just deprive Security of their guns by deconstructing them all.



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As someone who works only in R&D and nowhere else what so ever, I feel as though this would really spice it up in a good way. It would make it so that R&D would really require some more hands on knowledge, making the occasional tresspasser or assistant completely unable to just nonchalantly walk up and print something against my will. I've always hated how I had to do all the research to print out a laser cannon, and yet any random person breaking into my lab could just walk up and print one out with literally no effort.

Plus it adds tons of variety for every shift, since as it stands I can knock out all the non-mining related research in about 20 minutes if the roboticist is halfway competent, and have nothing to do for the rest of the round. Maybe it's because I'm a masochist for grindy gameplay elements, but I really like the idea of adding in extra steps to do things to make it feel more like I'm actually doing it. Generally, I like the idea of things taking more time to do, so long as it is believably justified.

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