I’ve got some ideas around pretty completely changing the research system in the game. Basic ideas are as follows:
Things like farming and all basic structures unlocked from game start, because it seems crazy to me that colonists going to a new land would have to figure out how to farm once they got there by analyzing magical crystals
Then make crystals really as magical as they appear in game, and completely rework the research tree to be essentially the discovery of NEW technologies/magic based on crystals, which are by my new imagined lore unique to the islands in this part of the world and therefore unknown to the colonists. For example, “crystal mulch soil” for farming which is no longer susceptible to bug infestations, but requires a large investment of crystals to build, crystal weapons and tools, “power armor,” crystal towers which output happy feelings and increase everyone’s mood in a radius, automatic defense towers based on crystal tech, and the like. Long term, maybe even build a bit of lore, try to have destroying crystals for the creation of such items have consequences with the local goblins, who see them as sacred, so you lose relation with all goblins over time if you destroy too many of the crystals…
It’s a wildly, probably stupidly ambitious idea that would take me a long time to be able to even begin implementing, and I didn’t want to start trying anything unless I know that the basic foundation, separating research from crystals, is possible. I was trying to imagine how I might create an invisible “research” resource that could be tracked and spent in the background. I realized, though, that I can probably accomplish the base of what I want in a much easier way, by just balancing the costs of research differently, and making scrolls craftable at a new research and development table. All basic research just requires scrolls, which is just a matter of time (or expense buying them from traders.) But upper level research, involving “crystal tech,” would require crystals as well. And I think I’ll try to make crystals only effectively mineable with iron tools, or maybe even a new “crystal extractor” tool which is gated behind mid-tier research, to make them essentially an end game resource…
The wheels are turning in my mind. Anyway, that’s the crazy, stupidly overambitious stuff I’m dreaming about. I’m good at big ideas and bad at practically implementing them, but I’m going to try to learn in order to create this mod, because I think it would be a really fun twist on the world and game you’ve made.