The Hard Drive research system is a really cool part of the mid game, but it's currently very random. It's unclear how many alternate blueprints are available from hard drives and whether the player already owns the ones we're presented with. When hard drive research is complete, we are often prompted to pick between duplicate blueprints because the options are random. Most people are posting about spam reloading at hard drive research completion to cherry pick the best blueprints.
I recommend putting more certainty back into the hard drive research process to dissuade players from gaming the chance mechanic, and I suggest an intermediate system between hard drive research and alternate blueprint unlocks that I'm calling "Material Research".
Here's what I'm suggesting:
- Hard drive research begins when the first hard drive is put into the M.A.M. for research. Upon completion (and any time a hard drive is researched directly after) the hard drive yields three new material research entries (i.e. Material Research: Wire, Material Research: Iron Plate, Material Research: Iron Ingot).
- To complete research on one of these new material research entries, you'll need another hard drive and a sizeable amount of that specific resource.
- Whenever a hard drive is spent to complete an existing material research entry, two new material research entries appear (if available).
- Alternate blueprints unlock when each of that recipe's component material research entries are complete (i.e. Stitched Iron Plate comes from completing Material Research: Wire and Material Research: Iron Plate)
- To offset the need for more hard drives, crashed drop pods could randomly contain 1-2 hard drives.
How Hard Drive Research Benefits:
- In this proposed system, researching all current alternate blueprints would take 20 hard drives (19 material research entries and one Hard Drive to start) instead of 17 impossibly lucky drives currently.
- Unlocking a specific alternate blueprint means pursuing its material components.
- Higher complexity alternate blueprints are no longer available immediately and require more hard drives BUT potentially unlock other blueprints along the way.
- Players have less incentive to spam reload to get a specific material research entry since completing any entry unlocks two more.
- Adding more alternate blueprints to the game is only as complex as the diversity of components. We could have more alternate blueprints within the existing content (like Alternate: Reinforced Iron Plate that are simply more efficient bulk versions of existing blueprints).
- Material research entries can only be unlocked if the player has access to the resource.
- When Hard drive research is maxed out, no more material research entries are available.