Better Science Lab(MPL) - A new approach

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I want to propose a new mechanic in Stock to encourage the use of the part called "Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2". Instead of supplying a slow but infinite source of science points, I suggest one based on the current science gathering mechanic.

Simplified version:

  1. Every SOI has a set amount of science points attainable by the MPL(doesn't matter whether you gathered every experiment or not). For arguments sake, let's say 500sci.
  2. Send a MPL into Kerbin orbit, put a scientist and lots of solar panels on it. Click the "start research" button, then after some time and lots of EC the current attained science points in the MPL will increase.
  3. At any time the player can transmit the current attained science points(to recover some science earlier if need be).
  4. The processing can only continue until the sum of all transmissions and current attained science points reaches the 500sci point least for this SOI.
  5. Sending another new MPL to the same SOI does not get any new science at all: once the 500sci has been reached, then no more MPL science can be done in that SOI...the MPL is essentially useless as far as science is concerned(unless of course you move it to a different SOI).
  6. This science is essentially like a thermometer experiment, except that it is worth a lot more, but it trickles in slowly and takes much more electricity(and the scientist and fuel to get the MPL there)

Advanced version:

  • Every SOI has a set amount of science points(dependent on the total amount of gathered science in that SOI) attainable by the MPL. For arguments sake, let's say 10%
  • -> Let's say there is 5000sci gather-able science(thermometer,gravimeter,crew report,etc.) in the Kerbin SOI, but at the moment the player has only collected(recovered/transmitted) 1200sci. Then the MPL can only processes until it has attained 120sci.
  • -> As soon as the player recovers/transmits more science points(let's say 2000sci more), then the MPL can continue a little bit further(until it reaches 320sci).
  • Simplified version points 2,3,4,5,6 are all applicable here

Unmentioned ideas:

  • Scientist skill level: Should it influence the speed of processing? (time warp nullifies this anyway). OR should the skill level enable "over-processing"(instead of stopping at 500sci, a good scientist can up the limit to 550sci)?
  • Right click menu on MPL: Show the maximum amount of gather-able science point in it's current SOI? (it's a nice way to track progress...although the R&D has a version of this)
  • SOI: Is Kerbin SOI all the science(landed,splashed down, all binomes on kerbin, atmosphere, LKO, high orbit,etc.) except those that are within Mun and Minimus SOI? (In other words, are Kerbin, Mun, Minimus SOIs counted as 3 different unique MPL experiments?)
  • Landed vs Orbit: Should a Kerbin SOI MPL experiment rather be divided into a Kerbin-landed and Kerbin-orbit experiment?


  • Both the previous and current version of MPL stock mechanics did not address the issue of encouraging players to use a 3.5ton fragile structure in space.
  • -> "old" MPL made it sensible to use 1 of each "SC-9001 Science Jr" and "Mystery Goo" when doing a mission that required re-using these multiple times. The boosted transmission value was silly: it had such a slight effect for unmanned crafts(one-way trips usually), but adding 300 LFO to a science probe craft could very well let you even return that science back to kerbin. For manned craft, why would i want to leak out ANY science points by transmitting, when i am planning to bring back that crew? The only sensible argument is that the little bit of transmitted science could help support missions, to refuel those far away kerbals who need it.
  • -> "new" MPL is just ridiculous: Start the game, rush the techtree up to the MPL(get solar panels, and basic rocket parts). A few contracts should get enough money for like 10 MPLs. Build a centipede of 10 MPLs, separated by decouplers, each with lots of solar panels. Put them on the runway. Use the VAB to launch your scientists, and a single kerbal to run around the KSC collecting every piece of science he can. Put this heap of science into MPL nr.1 and process it...retrieve that science, store it in the next MPL. So you fill up all these MPLs by copying the same heap of science. Start research and timewarp to the max. -> Your first Mun landing will be a Saturn V sized craft and science will become meaningless
  • However, i understand why it works this why. Whiny players convinced devs that "career/techtree is such a grind!" is a mechanic that encourages players to build smart and cheap, on a shoe string budget with outdated technology. If you want to build your dreams, then use sandbox to skip the grind or slide the wonderful difficulty sliders at the start of a new game.

I feel the current MPL is overpowered, i vowed to never use it until the techtree is fully researched. The admin building's funds->sci mechanic breaks the techtree as well, but that's for another thread.

I was aiming for an abstract mechanic, where the player doesn't have to micro-manage everything. Where a science lab in space just "does science", sort of encompassing what happens on the ISS(NASA wouldn't make a half-way stop back from a moon landing to fill up the ISS with moon rocks, do they? :P)

This isn't a perfect solution at all, so please criticize and tell me everything that is good, wrong, right, bad about this suggestion.

Edited by Blaarkies

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I agree in that this is better than the currently implemented version and that it is no perfect solution. But if I had a perfect solution, I would already have posted it ;)

In principle I like the advanced version with a percentage of (10 + 3 per star of scientist in it)%. That is for example with a 3-star and a 1-star scientist we have 22%; with two 5-star scientists it would be 40%.

I also like how it makes no difference between the biomes, but I think ground and orbit should be treated differently.

To get closer to the way science is done at the ISS one could add a contract type: Bring an ISPR to a science lab at position x (e.g. duna surface), let it docked there for some time (e.g. 16 days) and return it then to earth. But that mechanic would be boring alone, it would only make a  nice addition. I would then limit the maximum amount of science that can be made in each region; these contracts can still give money if the science there is already finished (perhaps the money would also depend on the number of scientist stars in the MPL?).

Last comment for this post: I did not need to read the "But...why?:"-section to prefer it over the existing system.

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On 1/9/2016 at 2:10 AM, Kaos said:

...I also like how it makes no difference between the biomes, but I think ground and orbit should be treated differently....

Me too. Back in v0.24 when i did my very first mun landing, i was pleasantly surprised to find that each binome had experiments independent of each other, with that could rush through the tech tree(I uncontrollably exploit any farm-able features i find :sealed:). So after doing that way too much i absolutely hate binome hoping now...binomes are a cool idea, but sometimes i wish i could just land on 3 different spots and be done with all the Mun's science.

Regarding the science on contracts thing...have you tried "Zero Science Contracts"? It's a tiny mod that removes any science rewards from contracts. It gives me a bit more gameplay, since with this mod installed i can't get through the tech tree with just low orbital flights anymore.

ISPR missions sound awesome, it could give MK3 size spaceplanes a real use. A simple version could be
"Expand space station ISS with part X" + "Be in LKO for 16days" + "Recover part X"

Contract configurator type mods does this and more, but i'm not sure how well the part ID sticks to parts after docking and undocking. Is it possible?

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