So I’ve been thinking about the tech web for a bit and I think it can be done in a pretty nice way. But there would have to be some rules to it.
- Almost every tech would have some sort of requirement. By that I don’t mean the previous tech (though that would be necessary as well), but rather an event or perhaps a sapience level. Example - For fire, you either need to observe fire somewhere (naturally occurring, another tribe…) or have skills with stone at least at level 3 (idk that’s just a random number), because your first fire-making process would be banging rocks together.
- By unlocking the tech you do not gain mastery of it, but rather just the basics, which you master by actively using them. Higher skills unlock more and more aspects of the technology, along with the technology becoming more refined. Example - Unlocking metalurgy would unlock some parts in the tech editor (the one I’ve been talking about for several last posts - basically the melee and tools editor), however these parts would be far from perfect - basically just random pieces of the most basic metal and very few of them can be considered actually sharp or strong. However, the more skill you gain, you also gain better pieces and over time, as you master the process of forging the ores, you even unlock new metals, alloys and parts. Side note - Metalurgy would definitely require fire and perhaps finding an ore somewhere.
- The web would not be linear, but rather go from one centre to all the other directions. (And perhaps following the @tjwhale’s idea, I think that system with 4 segments would work really well). This will prevent linear technological advancement that is same in every playthrough.
Okay, now to the actual structure of the web. In the very middle of the web there would be “Tools” - the ability to grab and use stuff. This “tech” would get unlocked automatically once the player reaches certain level of sapience. This might probably even occur still in the late aware stage, providing a nice and smooth transition. When this skill is unlocked, the player is basically at the same level as most primates, sucha as chimpanzees, who actually use some basic “tools” such as twigs and so on.
From this center point, there would be a fairly large amount of new technologies to choose from, some (most) of them still locked due to the requirements (my first bullet point). Some of them would be for example fire, domestication, agriculture, metalurgy, or language (some of those might need one more tech before them, but you get the point). Let’s take a look at some of them.
The very first tech. Gets unlocked automatically once a certain sapience threshold is reached. Allows your species to grab items and actively use them. These would be sticks, stones and (can break my) bones. Interacting with these object increases the player’s skill level with the particular item, allowing them to refine them into slightly better shapes, not too late after that even create tools for themselves from said materials. (Unlocks the tech editor). Gaining skills in separate fields (= materials) of Tools improves each field individually, granting you better assets to use.
Grants your species the ability to wield and create fire. Requires either observing fire or stone skill of level at least 3 (or so) as your first way to create fire would be banging rocks together. Fire can scare of predators, provides light and enables you to cook your food. Gaining skills in fire provides better and faster way to create it, along with things like torches, different fireplaces for different situations (there’s A LOT of different fireplaces all with different benefits) et cetera.
Language grants you the ability to communicate. Requires higher level of sapience. Language unlocks a very basic strategy mode, that gradually gets better, as you gain skills by organizing, giving orders and so on.
Grants you the ability to plant crops and kickstart your agriculture. Probably requires Tools and Language. Gaining skills in agriculture grants you better ways of farming, along with gradually better selective breeding (It is called breeding even if it’s a plant, right?).
Domestication gets unlocked by befriending an animal by feeding it, perhaps even providing a shelter to it. These animals will fight along your side.
Metalurgy provides you with new materials to work with. In this stage of the game, this is most notable in the Tools area, where you gain new assets to use. Metalurgy requires fire at least at level 5 (? might depend on the melting temperature?) and finding an ore of a metal you can process with your current technology. Gaining skills in this area is virtually the same as gaining skills in Tools, where you gain skill with each material separately, but on top of that you also gain skills in fire and also metalurgy itself, enabling you to create very basic forges et cetera.
I think this is enough to give you an idea about how this might work. It utilizes systems suggested by @tjwhale, @hhyyrylainen and myself, along with using the system for weapons and tools with stats proposed by me and @Solitarian. I think this proposal might have a chance to make everyone happy. Do we have a tech web? Yes. Is it linear? No. Is it simple “unlock this and you know it”? No. Is it easy to use? Yes.
What do y’all think? Any questions, ideas, improvements?