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Does anyone else feel dirty when using Mobile Research Labs?


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I think they should produce another resource called "results" which you need physically bring back to KSC. Landing far from KSC would incur penalties in the same way recovered parts do for funds.

They could also maybe throw in a minigame where you need to solve a puzzle now and then to keep the lab going. Like as if the scientists on board are stumped with the science and you need to help them out.

Hm, I thought a little bit about this idea of a minigame and my first hunch is that it could eventually get boring. If it's a riddle, then eventually a player will have memorized all the answers to the riddles.

But it got me thinking that the mobile lab could be more interesting if progress occasionally stopped and could only be restarted by getting a specific piece of data from a nearby biome. Example: "Our research suggests that this Duna surface sample is actually debris from an ice comet impact, but we need to compare it to another native sample. Bring us a surface sample from Duna Highlands!" This also has the effect of stopping infinite timewarping to convert all data to science, and instead forces the player to run missions. This sounds like a good balance of effort to reward.

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In my current career game

Tech Tree Completed except 1 or 2 items I skipped just collecting science from Mun & Minmus.

I haven't gone anywhere else as I am still awaiting the Duna Window.

So now I am looking at using the Research labs for those last items.

Not feeling the least bit guilty about it either.

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I like that they introduce a valid and practical motive to create long term bases and stations. However, they are poorly balanced, they produce a really crazy amount of science. I find they feel closer to being balanced with things like TAC life support and greatly reduced science gains introduced, as well as career mode where you can sell science, but in either case they have the potential to be a lot more fun than they are.

It would be nice if they had integrated scientific instruments (which would require moving instruments around in the tech tree, which is also fine, endgame science instruments just don't make a lot of sense unless you just want to sell science), and even an integrated antenna via shielded port. It's a big part, what kind of engineer can't put a thermometer in this? For that matter, it would look pretty awesome having integrated vents for atmospheric sampling and other visible instrumentation on the exterior surface.

Would also be more fun if the lab counted up a percent of results for a celestial body, across biomes, and generated a fixed science based on how many you've collected. This would give a strong impetus to not only place the lab but to do further exploration around the planet/moon to make the lab more effective. Exploration is good. This would also solve the problem of the lab eventually needing to be pointlessly replaced by another lab in the exact same place when it burns through its allotment of experiments.

Labs should also only count one per surface and one per orbit. A very silly and very effective technique it to simply bomb the flats of Minmus with small landers containing just a lab and instruments and antenna. You can have as many of you like meters away from each other and generate hundreds of science. That's the real balance problem. The lab should last indefinitely but only allow one per body and one in orbit above it. Again, this further encourages exploration rather than cheaply harvesting the low hanging fruit.

I'm not sure how I feel about stock life support since I worry it will make the game even harder for new players to get into, but it really adds so much to labs. The imbalance is nearly entirely addressed by the difficulty of maintaining the installation long term, so you really can't time warp to unlimited science and have to "earn" it. Well, that and restricting yourself to one per body.

Nothing for anyone to feel guilty about, though. Is it "cheap" to science bomb the Mun? Of course. It's also your prerogative, if you're tired of grinding science, you should do whatever makes you enjoy the game more. You didn't cheat anyone out of anything, you adjusted the situation to your preference.

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  • 1 year later...

The multipliers are way too high. But far more importantly, any individual experiment should only be capable of being processed for a single maximum amount of science. So, say a station landed on minmus has a multiplier of 50% (25% for minmus orbit, 10% for kerbin orbit, etc). Well, let us say a materials lab in this biome was worth 100 science. But, this same biome sample was already physically returned to kerbin in a previous mission for that 100 science. Therefore, processing a sampling from this same biome in a newly landed mobile lab should produce enough data for only 50 science. Any future labs landed should produce zero, as once it is processed in a landed lab, no more science for a materials bay in that biome ever. In fact, it should be marked as at 150% in the science building back at Kerbin. 

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I feel the same way. I already limited myself to using only 1 and not abusing time warps, because they are so OP. I think at least there should be a variable rate how it generates science, for example in hard mode it should be much much slower.

Edited by bounty123
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The problem isn't with how the lab works. The problem is with how the science system works. Science should not be connected to tech research the way it's connected right now. It only creates problems. You either have to grind to progress or you get too much science. IMO Research on other bodies should generate reputation, which influences your funding, and the funding is what you should be using to keep launching the rockets and researching more parts. Science should be that extra icing on the cake. Fulfilling the missions should be the priority, not unlocking the tech tree (although it's important too). Money and reputation is important even when you're done reseaeching the tree. Science becomes obsolete at that point and you only exchange it for even more money, ending up with millions that you have not much use for too.

Or we can just feel dirty about using the lab.

Or wait for a mod that gets rid of science points completely.

Edited by Veeltch
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7 hours ago, LoneSnark said:

The multipliers are way too high. But far more importantly, any individual experiment should only be capable of being processed for a single maximum amount of science. So, say a station landed on minmus has a multiplier of 50% (25% for minmus orbit, 10% for kerbin orbit, etc). Well, let us say a materials lab in this biome was worth 100 science. But, this same biome sample was already physically returned to kerbin in a previous mission for that 100 science. Therefore, processing a sampling from this same biome in a newly landed mobile lab should produce enough data for only 50 science. Any future labs landed should produce zero, as once it is processed in a landed lab, no more science for a materials bay in that biome ever. In fact, it should be marked as at 150% in the science building back at Kerbin. 

This would go a long way in balancing it. Each sample should have 3 segments:

  1. Transmission for partial credit
  2. Return for full credit (really depends on what you base your scale on, but semantics)
  3. Process in lab before returning for bonus credit. (Note, should not have to return the lab itself; the sample only needs to dock with a vessel that has a lab at some point)
    1. OR boost to 100% transmission

Of course, these bars are global per sample type. To me, the labs should be something you bring to the Mun for extra science or to Duna for a remote science base that can analyze the samples there and just send the data back.

Edited by Suedocode
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I use the lab mostly after I unlock the tech tree and buildings. At this point I max the strategy that converts science to funds.

I deploy science labs in orbits and on planets and fill them with data. Then while warping while running interplanetary missions, my space program starts earning money. I earn more as my deployed assetts increase.

Edited by SorryDave
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It would definitely feel a lot less "cheaty" if life support were in the stock game. That way the huge amount of science it puts out could at least be a little offset by the need to have to constantly resupply it. As it is now you can just fill out the entire tech tree with 1 science station & a lot of time warping.

I personally dont do it like that, since it seems a little too easy to me & I've never been one to not be able to control myself when it comes to playing games. I have a Munar Science Station in my current game, but I just let it do its thing pretty much in real time so I get a trickle of science every now & then. Although the other day I was trying to get a satellite in orbit of the Sun for a contract, & I guess I used warp a little too much, because when I checked my station it had like 600 science sitting in it. Oops. :wink:

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The problem with the current implementation is that game time is not a resource. Once you hit the lab you can make the whole science part of the game pretty much obselete if you're willing to warp like crazy. I was hoping for an overhaul with 1.2, but alas :(

It's made even easier by the fact that parts don't consume power when not in physics range, so you don't even need to have enough batteries for the dark side.

Edited by TGApples
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I think a good fix is if research took both far less time to complete and produced far less science. Like I said above, multipliers should be 50%, not 7 fold. second, it should take weeks, not years, to finish all the research. Of course, in that case, what benefit is there to leveling up kerbals? A good fix here is for kerbals to boost the science produced...perhaps, they boost the multiplier. A level 0 scientist can process science in the lab at 100%, a level 5 scientist can process in the lab for the full +50% multiplier. 

Then again, as SorryDave has pointed out...perhaps the point of the sciencelab is not science, but money. The game maker presumes you will have unlocked the science tree, so producing effectively infinite science is merely a way to allow late game players to use the strategy of science to funds a time constrained but infinite supply of money to run their post-game sandbox. 

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5 hours ago, RX2000 said:

It would definitely feel a lot less "cheaty" if life support were in the stock game. That way the huge amount of science it puts out could at least be a little offset by the need to have to constantly resupply it. As it is now you can just fill out the entire tech tree with 1 science station & a lot of time warping.

I personally dont do it like that, since it seems a little too easy to me & I've never been one to not be able to control myself when it comes to playing games. I have a Munar Science Station in my current game, but I just let it do its thing pretty much in real time so I get a trickle of science every now & then. Although the other day I was trying to get a satellite in orbit of the Sun for a contract, & I guess I used warp a little too much, because when I checked my station it had like 600 science sitting in it. Oops. :wink:

Even with USI-LS, having fertilizer to last months isn't that hard and it's pretty easy to generate 500+ science per month with them (iirc, I only tested it once in a cheated science mode and decided it was too OP to use).

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I think Roverdude had already commented that the MPL is an alternative way for players to fill out the tech tree, for example if they're not comfortable with interplanetary travel or wish to unlock all parts before going interplanetary. At least at the time, it seemed Squad was pretty happy with the way it's working.

As for me, yeah I personally think it's overpowered. It lets you unlock the tech tree too easily without having to explore further out into space and take on new challenges. There have been SO many suggestions over the last year that could improve it but nothing's been done. *shrug* not sure what else to do here.

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12 hours ago, Veeltch said:

The problem isn't with how the lab works. The problem is with how the science system works. Science should not be connected to tech research the way it's connected right now. It only creates problems. You either have to grind to progress or you get too much science. IMO Research on other bodies should generate reputation, which influences your funding, and the funding is what you should be using to keep launching the rockets and researching more parts. Science should be that extra icing on the cake. Fulfilling the missions should be the priority, not unlocking the tech tree (although it's important too). Money and reputation is important even when you're done researching the tree. Science becomes obsolete at that point and you only exchange it for even more money, ending up with millions that you have not much use for too.

Or we can just feel dirty about using the lab.

Or wait for a mod that gets rid of science points completely.

I align more with this type of thinking. I would rather science be something done in the R&D building at KSC where you could assign scientists and also allocate funding and some formula derived from the level of scientists, number of scientists, and the amount of funding would result in the amount of science per day generated toward a pre-selected goal, basic electricity for example or maybe upgrading an engine.

Missions should bring back data which would also be put into the R&D building and speed up research toward particular goals. Bop for example may have data which would speed up research into the NERVA. Mun could have data which would help research tech for interplanetary missions and so forth.

As you say, funding should be based on Rep which in turn is based on successful missions. Rate of research is based partly on the number of scientists and their level so it provides impetus for recruiting scientists and sending scientists on missions to level them up. (there should be something similar for engineers)

To address the OP, IMO mobile research would just tack on to the same system so a research lab would be used to speed up research on particular tech nodes, in a similar way to the ISS and the unique experiments that microgravity enables.

Edited by John FX
grammar
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  • 1 year later...

Hmmm... let me think about that....errrr, no.

Firstly it's simple use of a stock part, as it was design to be used, not an exploit.

Secondly it seems to me that it's the in-game representation of the arguament in real life for manned as opposed to unmanned space exploration. It's frequently stated by supporters of manned exploration, that having "boots on the ground" gives an order of magnitude or more, potential for scientific discovery compared with unmanned probes.

Thirdly it does take considerable resources to get one of these things to the surface of a planet/moon, compared with a small probe.

I do agree that the lab just seem a bit overpowered as a part, but that has been true of other parts (e.g. the ion drive pre-nerfing) and that didn't stop me using that to have fun in the game using them.

Edited by purpleivan
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55 minutes ago, purpleivan said:

Thirdly it does take considerable resources to get one of these things to the surface of a planet/moon, compared with a small probe.

(ancient thread is ancient btw guys)

Sure, it's hard to land on a surface, but why not just leave it in orbit?  That's what I do when I'm trying to skip the stock science tree heh.  Orbital rendezvous and docking is pretty easy.

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If you have little interest in going further out and are perfectly happy doing your thing on Kerbin, no, I wouldn't call the MPL overpowered.

And even if you wasn't one of those people, I still wouldn't call it like that. A full tech tree doesn't make you a better pilot or astronavigator. If you don't know what you're looking at, even MJ will be like "What do you want?"

I'm on the 10th ingame year on my current career and only recently I fired up my deployed MPLs. Been there before, back in 1.0.5. Anyway, this time around, I'm converting 80% of the science returns (along with 50% of contract income) to reputation. I don't expect to run out of funds anytime soon and it'd be nice to push my rep beyond 94% -yeah, the space tycoon wannabe plays with strategies too :P

PS: Oh, the glorious necromancy :D

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2 hours ago, Rocket In My Pocket said:

Science gains: The multiplier is too much, using a lab should increase the reward of course, but it's just way too heavy handed atm. 

Indeed.  Science badly needs an overhaul and the tech tree is .. still basically a placeholder.  Even today, with the larger, heavier science tree, I think you can still fill it completely with the science from Kerbin's SOI.

I actually liked it better when scientists couldn't reset experiments, and that you had to use the lab for that.  Made it rather worthwhile without a huge science boost. 

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I feel like this same question comes up every month or so and draws the usual set of responses...Just to join the bandwagon I'll add my usual response too..

If it feels "dirty" to rerun the same experience a dozen times on a dozen different labs, then just don't. If you feel like it's a clickfest, then quit clicking...nobody is forcing you to.

In my game I choose to limit myself to processing any given experiment in only 1 lab. Furthermore I reduced the data/science conversion rate from 1/5 to a simple 1/1 ratio. With these changes using a lab doubles the total amount of science a given biome generates IF I'm willing to go through the effort of setting up a lab. Since I use USI life support it's a lot of effort to maintain a lab for months.

With these simple guidelines in place the labs become really interesting and aren't OP. Sure, I wish that @SQUAD would fix it so the game tracks experiments across multiple labs, but it's easy enough to play that way. Let's face it...there are a million ways to "cheat" / "bypass the mechanics" of the game. I can just F12 my way out of any problem. Choosing not to use F12 and choosing not to spam labs is very similar in my mind.

Edited by Tyko
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