Ladies, gentlemen, Nightfishes:
...here we go.
I am purposefully dividing the tech tree design into small, chewable pieces. It will be tremendously easy for us to get carried away with this, and we need to be able to separate the game design from the sci-fi stuff. Consequently, we will probably have at least three phases of design for the tech tree.
1) This one - structure of the categories. While the number of categories and which technology lies in which category is probably mutable (or should be), we need to figure out how to define them; that is what this thread is for.
2) What should the categories be, and what parts can we begin to populate now and what parts have to wait?
3) A system for submitting actual techs. This will be last and will be ongoing all the way through the project. I'm going to postpone talking about this since it'd be premature to do it now.
Anyway, on to #1: CATEGORY STRUCTURE.
There are two possibilities that I see here (although feel free to recommend a third). The first is that we have 'generic' science categories ala the MOO series: Physics, Mathematics, Biology, etc; this will result in a small(er) number of categories with lots of techs in each one. This in turn has the effect of reducing the amount of cross-category requirements we can have, depending on how far down a particular branch we let people go without researching everything above it.
The second is that we make the categories more specific when we need to: for example, off the top of my head, we might have:
Light Capital Ships
Heavy Capital Ships
Super Capital Ships
Political Science / Xenoscience
This allows for many more branches on a smaller tree.
What we are deciding here is which format -- /not/ the specific categories (that will come next). So please, post your comments and arguments in favor of one or the other (or a third way) but remember what we've already passed: it will be based on a tech tree similar to Hearts of Iron. If you don't know what that is, I will see about posting a full description, but I think it should be in the passed features thread or the game design archive if we talked about it after the last forum move.
Let the chaos begin.
(and welcome back to design mode, everyone!)