Thoughts on improving research

Interested to know players views on this topic, its a bit big to just re-post here so: … es-design/

What if you borrowed from Roller Coaster Tycoon? You can set the research budget and the general area you want the advancement in, but the actual research is random? So, plonk down the expensive research lab, and tell it you want engine improvements. It might give you a start-stop engine, or it might come up with fuel flex engines, or aluminium blocks.

I Posted on your blog post some thoughts.

Right now you have our Basic Research Office, and one that is Upgradable. Building on that, I know you have mentioned in the past about a Design shop with Clay Models, you could have other departments that would need to be constructed for research as well.

Basic Research center – would take care of the basic First Tier, and researching other research areas.

Design Center- New body styles, chosen from a list generated that will depend on scenarios (Compact, SUV, Sports car, Convertible, Pickup, Ute, Van, Minivan, etc)

Engineering – Mechanical Upgrades to the vehicles -

Electronics – Electronics, Touch screen, etc,.

Manufacturing – the Make Slots

Building Maint. – All those upgrades for faster conveyors, faster imports.

Each one could require their own tile set. Still only allowing one item at a time to be researched, then when you are working on an electronics project, all teams work on it, but Electronics team at 100 percent, and the others at smaller amounts, so that way all 4 or 5 labs can work on a project, but not all at 100 percent.

I can see a tree in my head for it all… lol

To add to this, Basic Research - Opens Advanced Research centers - Which allows Engine research - Which allows Engineering to be built - once built you can delve into 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 cylinder engines, Auto and Manual Trans. Also, Still here but locked until electronics is open, Electric engine, Start Stop, etc.

And you need the manufacturing research department, to make anything, and in order to make it, you need to have researched it initially. So this manufacturing would be the late game research, so you can build your engines, etc.

Under Building maintenance you would have all the upgrades to import speed, Also, I think that it would be cool to be able to research the ability to make a new import slot (knocking out the wall to add it) and an export slot as well. The prices on those would be very high, 100k? more?

I’m seeing a whole interwoven tree in my head, kind of like the one I remember from Civilization Call to Power…

In paper a nice idea, but this would get frustrating real fast when the competition made an upgrade common and you get a penalty for not having it on your car and RNG hates you and won’t give you the research for it.

It does seem like in general people are especially keen on the idea of separate design-studio facilities which have their own tech tree. So I could immediately move research into SUV, Compact and then 4x4 and Sports car to that tech tree, probably also put spoiler there as well (as its mostly cosmetic), plus alloy wheels
Plus we could then add a bunch more cosmetic stuff:

Tinted Windows
Cabin Lighting (foot-well etc)
Sporty seats
Real-wood interiors
Higher-spec leather
and likely a bunch more…

I think the only thing that might work being random, would be body style, but that would limit it for some players who would want to focus on specific vehicle types. But there are elements of that game that would work, like setting a budget, say Low, Med, High, Extreme, where the cost per hour of research would vary from the set amount. So if Med is average, and 100% research, at 10k an hour, Low would be half that, 50% and 5k, High would be 125% and 20k an Hour, and Extreme would be 150%, and 40k an hour. So it would hinder the late game research rush.

Another thought, Adding a Day counter to the game, and limiting the ability to research certain advancements until Day 10, Day 20, Day 30. This in conjunction with the above budget levels would force a balance between overusing extreme early on, because if you over research and have every available research completed by day 5, you will still have 5 days of paying your research staff even though they have nothing to work on.

So, I was playing with this online flowchart tool. This is what I was thinking, Basic research center gets built. Then you can build out from there. Research and Idea, once that Idea is researched, you need to build that new lab. This is not complete, but what I did in a couple of hours of playing around
General overview

This is an HTML version you can click on and navigate.
Interactive (4.54 KB)

First suggestion: Remove research offices from the factory floor. This first occured to me because it seemed weird: why use valuable factory floor space for something that doesn’t have to be done on-site? But then I realized a deeper problem: they have no element whatsoever, nor would any such element really make any sense, that actually involves their position or relation to other components: they’re literally just there to take up space and get in the way of future line expansions, and have no interesting part in the game’s central mechanic. Just abstract their physical location away to some office building.

(I remember it being suggested by someone that QA offices have an area of effect. While QA offices are at least something that really would need to be on-site, I am very opposed to that idea: from experience, I know that there is only 1 of most shops and offices in the entire Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, which is not a small operation. Any limited range imposed on such an office in this game would immediately make people (or at least me) think, “I’m definitely paying these engineers enough to walk another hundred more meters rather than spend millions in construction and staff costs to fill an entire new office of QA staff on the other side of the factory”. Putting them on elevated platforms makes sense to.)

What I’m imagining here is that you start with a design division, a mechanical division, a process division, and whatever, right from the start, analogous to how you start out with all of the broadest available assembly steps, and then upgrade them individually from there, or add more divisions of a given type.

Which also goes into my next point, about not being able to rush thru lots of tech once you have enough money. What I’m thinking there is that there needs to be some application of the “you can’t get a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women to work on it” principle. Maybe just have it so that only one research division can work on the same technology. You can make them faster by upgrading them, but that only goes so far, and it’s fair anyway because you’re locking up that money into research capacity of that particular type. More importantly, any tech dependency paths will have to be researched in order, by one lab at a time. Extra divisions of the same type let you research different techs in that area, and possibly speed up reaching any tech with multiple parallel prerequisites, but they can’t all laser focus on the same thing and blaze thru it.

As for how availability affects thing, I personally find patents depressing to think about, so would prefer that those not be in. But, if they were, then someone else getting a patent shouldn’t stop you from using the same thing. It just makes it more expensive since you have to invent more convoluted designs that get around the patent and more involvement from lawyers. Otherwise, I would expect things to get cheaper/easier as something becomes more widespread, either in research time, minimum upgrade level of the research division needed to get it, or both, until it gets to the point of “Universal, except for you”, when things should be at the point where you can just get parts off-the-shelf from third-party parts manufactures, at which point even a research division much less upgraded than the level required to be the first to research it should be able to get it for you. This would be balanced by the fact that you would be among the last companies to gain access to any tech that you researched like that.

I agree with your sentiment regarding patents, in that in no universe are patents ‘fun’ and I found them a bit annoying in big pharma. Regarding the 9 people in one month analogy, I think this is very easy for us to do, just by reducing the efficiency of the additional research labs. This just needs a new stat for ‘research efficiency’, and will slow things down.

I do want people to build a second, third even tenth research center, but I want to kill off the ideas of building 40 research centers on day 1 using loans and then zipping through everything :D.

If you do that, the natural response is going to be to want to divide the research offices between different projects, rather than having them all on one team like now, so we’d need that option.

Also, couldn’t you just make research take longer, so that you can’t afford to get loans and spend on research without going bankrupt before the payoff?

How about removing the need to build research facilities entirely? Instead of building a bunch of individual buildings on the factory floor you instead have a separate “building” that you don’t actually see. You would start with a small research building that could only do a certain amount of research but you could upgrade that building (and make the cost of upgrading that building cost quite a bit of money). you could also add a funding slider that effects how many research points are created by the research facility. For example the small research facility could provide a maximum of 2 points of research per minute at full funding but only 1 point at 50% funding. you could then make the cost of a fully funded small R&D facility be high enough that you would need to at least have a fairly functional production line going in order to not go bankrupt.

It also might be helpful to split off the processes research from the technology research. I would assume that different research groups would be responsible for that sort of research and it would allow players to improve their production line while still researching new car features. To me it feels like right now you rush the tech to break down the production line first and then you mainly focus on new car features unless you really need a process tech (like faster importers for example). I think breaking them apart allows you to increase the amount of time it takes to research things without making the player feel like nothing new is available. So it may take longer for me to see some new car feature but at least I see that I can now set-up a door panel production area since that just finished researching.