Friday, 6 April 2012

Invention & Other POS Based Industry


The theory of invention is covered by the Invention guide in Evelopedia.


The practical side of it is roughly as follows:
  • drive up to lab
  • put stuff (BPC, interface, decryptor, datacores) into corp hangar
  • select "Invention"
  • select the mobile lab you just put stuff in
  • select a free invention line
  • select decryptor, base item, output type
  • select output hangar
  • submit invention job
  • wait


I am just going to list off a number of improvements that I would like to see made to POSes in general. In some cases I will suggest mechanisms, but only to communicate my ideas a little more concretely.

Picking A Facility

The first confounding aspect of invention is selecting a lab: it seems to me that if I have just chosen to invent something, I should not need to choose which facility to use. So the only choice to make would be which invention line in that facility I wish to use. This choice could be reflected in the facility selection window by simply preselecting the mobile lab in which the BPC I am trying to invent from is located.
Ideally, the choice of slot would be available before I put my items into the facility. So, for example, there might be tabs for each line in the facility in addition to any corporate hangars that exist.

Finding Slots

This leads to the issue of finding free invention lines in the first place (or available slots of any kind). Of course one option is to open S&I and browse, then attempt to locate the respective facility in space. What I would really like is for facilities that I have access to, to display a label in space indicating the state of their respective lines. This could be achieved using a “flag” containing rows of dots: a Mobile Lab would have rows for ME, PE, copy and invention slots. The dot could be hollow for an empty lab, or filled for an occupied lab. Note that the flags would only show up for people who actually have access to those facilities. Thus I couldn't just wander past someone's POS and see that the CSAA is active unless I have access to the CSAA myself (after all, there's no point knowing that it is busy unless I'm planning to use it).
So I rock up to the POS with my bundle of goods, and I can immediately see that lab 5 has two free invention lines. A POS manager could see that all invention lines are full, and figure that it is time to swap that unused reactor for a Mobile Lab to gain 5 extra invention slots. Sure, some corps will be far better organised than this, but I'm just looking at what would work for a loosely organised general industry corp where members are mining one day, doing ME research the next, perhaps dabbling in invention, and possibly some reactions too.

Activity Selection

At present, everything happens through the right-click menu. Why can't activities be organized by drag-and-drop? For example, what if “accessing” the lab gave me not only a view of corporate hangars, but a tray representing an activity line? I could drag my items into the tray: perhaps the BPC goes in first, then the rest of the tray configures itself for the selected job. If I choose to invent something the tray shows slots for datacores, decryptor, base item, and a data interface.


At present, if I set costs on my labs those fees are charged to the corporation of the entity using the slot. It would be nice if the individual could pay slot rental from their personal wallet.


Ideally, I'd like to see all POS industry revamped completely. As an example of what I'd like to see, here's a little narrative about installing an invention job:
I fly up to the POS with my invention materials ready. I have a BPC, a bunch of datacores, a decryptor and a data interface. Looking over the POS, I see a number of free invention slots. Accessing the free slot, I prepare it with the BPC and select the desired output. The invention interface pops up: I have a bunch of squares into which I'm supposed to drop one ingredient type. The squares have ghosted icons indicating what it's expecting to see in that position. So I drag my datacores into the appropriate slots — the slot only has enough room for exactly the number of datacores required, so I drag the pile of datacores over, click “OK” on the stack split dialog box, and the requisite number of datacores are now present in that slot. As I put the items in these squares, the rim of the square changes colour (or brightness, or both) to indicate that the contents are valid. I have no base item for this run, so I leave that square empty.
Now the interface has decided I have sufficient materials to perform an invention job, it lights up the “Start” button, which allows me to queue the job in that line. In this instance the job begins immediately. The lab now shows one item in queue, using a similar display to the character skill queue. A lab manager could come along and readjust jobs in the queue if they needed to.
At no point have I had to tell the UI something that is patently obvious: in fact, the UI is now guiding me. So no longer do I have to select a lab from a list, when there is only one lab where this job can be submitted (i.e.: the one where I've put the materials).

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