A Way to Make Space Engineers Tiered and Encourage Exploration (Component Modules)
Hello. I've been playing Space Engineers since day one and have enjoyed it ever since. I mainly play creative because because in survival there is not much motivation to reach a new level or complete tasks. I've been thinking about it and have thought a way that I believe could help enhance the survival experience without severely altering the feel the game. I don't know if this idea has been mentioned anywhere else, but here it is.
What would happen is that certain components (such as thrusters, reactors, gyroscopes, ect) be split into two parts: "Housing" and "Module". The housing would be the part you build and weld onto the ship, but would be non-functional without the Module part. The Module would be what makes the Component function and gives it all of it stats (For instance: Durability, Power, Efficiency) , and would be added through an inventory tab or a new "Modules" Tab that functions similarly to the inventory tab.
The housing is what stays the same through all tiers and the module is what "upgrades" the component. There could be, say, 3 tiers available to the Engineer. Starting with tier 1 being the weakest and lowest tech and 3 being the highest with all stats improved along the way. Tier 1 would be the only tier available to the Engineer when a new game is started. New tier modules could be unlocked to be manufactured through the assembler through trading blueprints with a new NPC faction, finding them on ships/stations, or as a reward for destroying pirate ships/bases. A second way of obtaining these modules would be through finding them installed on random encounter ship's components. The Engineer could choose to put these to use in their own ship, or by building a new ship component "Science Lab" where they could put the modules in to be studied. The Module is broken down during the process of reverse-engineering and only crafting components are returned to the player. It would take 3 times studying a component to learn the blueprint for manufacturing.
There could also be introduced "Specialized" Tiers that the Engineer would not be able to manufacture, and could only find by exploring. For instance, a Military Thruster Module would have very high performance and durability stats, but low efficiency stats. An Exploration Thruster Module could have Very High Efficiency stats, but suffer in performance and Durability. There could be a few other Specialized Tiers; like Industrial, Civilian, or even a Racing Tier.
The rarest Tier that could be added would be "Alien", and can only be found on Alien ships or very rare crash sites on the Alien planet and moons. This would be the hardest to obtain, and the faction would be the "boss" of Space Engineers. Having a rare Alien faction would also add a sense of fear (For lower level Tiered Engineers), mysticality, and the unknown to Space Engineers.
Some Components such as Large Thrusters could require multiple Modules to function at its peak. For instance, one Module installed and the Large Thruster would behave as if it were a Small Thruster, two modules would be in the middle, and 3 would function as a Large thruster. Also in these multiple Module Components, different Tiered Modules could be combined and the Components performance would be the mean of the Modules.
A Block that could be added to aid in the exploration and discovery of new tiers would be a Radar. This of course could also be tiered. The first Tier would only give a distance to an object. Second would have increased range, give distance and direction, and once within a certain radius it would give a description of the tracked object. Third would highlight a GPS way point over the object.
Some Blocks that could have the "Module" feature added to them:
-Gatling Turrets (ROF, Ammo Type, Range, [Increased accuracy when radar is installed on parent ship?])
-Missile Turrets (ROF, Ammo Type, Range, Missile Homing Functionality, "")
-Shields (New Block?)
I feel like if this were implimented it would give the Engineers motivation to explore, push the limits of their craft, and Engineer contraptions to meet the needs of obtaining new and specialized tiers.