I hope I won't be accidentally double posting this, but I do not remember sharing my idea for a more involved Career/Science System I made half a year ago.
The following could potentially be handled as a mod, but I am hoping with some feedback and refinement, it could be worthy of a future update since Career Mode and Science desperately need changes. The following Science Manifesto tackles that, along with changes to the Admin Building and Tech Tree.
Copied from a PDF I wrote:
THE SCIENCE MANIFESTO: CAREER OVERHAUL
Instead of a generic “Science”, it would be split into 3 science types or “currencies”: Biology, Chemistry, and Material. Different science experiments can provide a varying degree of each. Generic instruments could provide all three, while more specialized would only provide one or two. The purpose of the different science currencies would still be used to unlock tech nodes, which now cost different amounts of each. It could also be used for contracts or for events (more on those later)
Biology, Chemistry, and Material Science
CHANGES TO EXPERIMENT RESULTS
Experiment results are no longer abstracted. You no longer receive a ScienceDef result immediately after running an experiment. Instead, you receive one of two new result types: Data or Sample
Data: Functions very similar to how science results are treated now. Experiments that generate number values (Thermometer, Barometer, etc.) will create a “Data” result. Data results can be transmitted via the CommNet system
Samples: Experiments that collect a physical substance (Drills, soil scoops, gas chromatographs, etc) generate a “Sample.” Samples cannot be transmitted via CommNet, but you can run a second experiment on a Sample to convert it into Data, which you can then transmit.
Converting a Sample into Data destroys the sample, leaving only the Data result. One sample could be run through different experiments and be converted into different kinds of data. Here could be some Sample Types:
Atmospheric: Air or gaseous substances collected anywhere on a planetary body
Soil: Ground sample collected anywhere on a body while “landed”
Rock: Geologic sample collected from either specific biomes or from terrain scatters
Liquid: Collected while “Splashed Down”
Particle: A more complex sample that could be collected anywhere in the solar system. Such as solar wind plasma, Neutrinos, comet tail particles, etc.
Samples can be collected and stored or moved. I am thinking is a KIS-style manner, where each takes up space and has mass. Different storage parts could be made to storage different kinds of and/or amounts of samples. Parts could be configured to spawn with a sample already in its inventory, such as to ship experiments to orbital labs (Plant growth, Material bay, etc.)
Upon either transmitting, or returning the sample you will receive a science notification. The menu for this can be set very similarly to how contracts are now. An icon on the GUI can be added for science result logs and would flash once a new result is obtained from either a transmitted Data result, or a completed research project (See: R&D Building, Science Teams). It is from the new menu that you will obtain ScienceDef results, instead of when the experiment is first run.
SCIENCE PART TYPES
Science parts can now be more specialized. Parts could even be used only to collect samples, without providing any data, or to do both:
Collector: These parts could run and generate a sample depending on the condition and biome of the craft. The Sample is added to an internal inventory where it can be moved to be worked on.
Film Camera: Takes images and generates a “sample” film that must be returned
Digital Camera: More advanced Camera that can develop or take digital pictures which are created as “Data” instead
Instruments: These science parts take measurements of the environment or craft conditions, which are created as “Data”
Labs: Lab parts take an input Sample, examine it (destroying it in the process) and converts it into “Data” that can then be transmitted
The R&D Building now has four sections instead of the current two:
Archives: Functions as it does now (Or can be removed)
Warehouse: Stores samples collected during missions that return to Kerbin. Samples can be discarded sold, or moved to the Research Lab for analysis. The Warehouse Inventory can be accessed from the VAB/SPH or nearby in the world (Like KIS) to transfer returned samples back to a craft, if needed.
Research Lab: Science teams in the research lab can analyze samples from the Warehouse for a much greater science return than in-situ experiments. You can run an in-depth analysis for each of the Science types (Bio, Chem, and Mat). Each analysis destroys the sample as part of the research, and subsequent runs of the same analysis on samples from the same biome yield vastly diminishing returns and/or take longer.
In addition to increased science returns, sample research/analysis from a Research Lab has a chance to trigger an event. Events can be beneficial, detrimental, or preferably provide a number of player choices. For example, a sample from Duna could be found to potentially have micro-organisms. You could have the choice of exposing them to radiation or some other substance. Each choice would have an associated cost and either a randomized result, or a specific one depending on the sample and the Event. Events can be wildly different with different choices, and the percentage of each could be adjusted as to be less randomized.
Development Lab: The development lab is the Tech Tree/Technology tab as it is in stock today. A couple of changes are that, like sample analysis, each node takes time to research. The cost of each node will now be one or more of the three new science types; depending on what it unlocks. Nodes for structural parts can cost more Material than other sciences, electrical or propulsion can cost more Chemistry, while manned or life support parts could cost more Biology.
Other desirable changes to the Tech Tree system could be implemented here as well. One such change is using nodes to unlocked upgrade technologies and not necessarily “parts” alone. Nodes could even research KSC building upgrades, or Kerbal abilities. A tech node can unlock a part such as a manned capsule. The capsule has built-in RCS and auto-pilot but both are locked. Two nodes later on the tech tree could then “unlock” the ability for new crafts with that capsule to use each the built-in RCS, or its probe core.
Both sample research and tech node research now take time and funds. Each active research takes a certain amount of funds per day to maintain research. Providing Additional or reduced funding will affect the time it takes to complete each project. Funding would be managed from the Admin Building, along with any other R&D Policies. Research Projects are done by Science Teams. KSC has one Science Team by default, plus one per level of the R&D Building for a total of four teams at the highest level. A science team can be assigned to either research a sample, or a tech tree node. Starting out, you may have both teams analyzing samples for early science gain, and then switch both to research tech nodes once enough is obtained.
MOBILE PROCESSING LABS
The MPL and other parts like it will function very similarly to the R&D Building in that it provides you with the same three sample analysis options. Instead of requiring funds, MPLs need to be crewed and provided with power (and maybe eventually life support). Each MPL will provide a new science team. The efficiency of the MPL will be based on the Kerbals’ experience, and the results based on the location similar to stock now. Perhaps MPLs could also research tech tree nodes, especially if the tech tree is expanded.
EXPERIMENT RESULT FLOWCHARTS
The following are flowcharts to show the process for running experiments and obtaining science.
In this example, a simple instrument part is run. This generates a “Data” result, which can then be transmitted via an antenna, or returned for the same science gain.
COLLECTOR AND LAB EXAMPLE
This example shows a part used to collect a sample which is optionally returned to KSC, ran through and X-ray “lab” experiment, or a centrifuge. You would need to gather three samples with the soil collector in order to do all three options.
MULTI-SITE AND MPL EXAMPLE
This more complex example shows the many options from collecting a sample physically with a Kerbal and then processing it through multiple different experiments. It also shows a possible Event triggered by running a sample analysis in the MPL.
I know it is a lot, but any thoughts or feedback?