I see no way in which anyone could seriously not love this latest video update.
Some quick notes:
1. At 3:15, flying up from underneath the Secret Science Vessel, it looked like part of the wings weren't connected to the body of the ship. Once on top, they looked nearly connected. A visual artifact of some kind?
2. "Research is a very uncertain mechanic, unlike production which is a very certain mechanic."
Part of me loves this. It's pretty close to something I've commented on before: some people find it fun to be surprised, while others really do not enjoy it.
Gamist/Mechanics/Achievers in particular do not appreciate surprising results because that implies waste in the production game (to dominate the economic game) that they enjoy. OTOH, Simulationist/Dynamics/Explorers love being surprised, and the new Research system might offer that... as long as surprise is done right.
My hesitation is this: surprise doesn't just mean calling the RNG. It means learning something new about a dynamic system. Surprise needs to be a product of conscious exploration for it to have meaning and value. Fleming was surprised by penicillin, but he would never have discovered it if he hadn't been mucking about with cultures in dishes.
A RNG doesn't offer that conscious influence; rolling dice is input-only. Happily, a simple constructive system with a large combinatorial space is a way to allow for unexpected results, not randomly, but because it's very difficult for any individual to fully map out all the possible permutations of a deep generative system. "Surprise" in this sense is fun because you discovered something new through exploring a part of that system.
But that's quite different from being surprised by rolling dice to arbitrarily produce numbers. That's not much fun for Simulationist/Dynamics/Explorers because they had no way of affecting the result through the use of perception and creativity, which is what they like about themselves and what they want a game to reward.
Yes, choosing which piece of tech to iterate on seems like it might qualify as "affecting the result." But where is the surprise in that play activity? The only new information after selecting a known tech to research are the random numbers of the new blueprints... but that's not a process that's affected by player choice.
As a constructive suggestion, I think a reasonable way that the Research system shown so far might be tweaked to enable enjoyable surprise would be to offer some way to link different sub-technologies. If I research three levels into Fighter tech, and four levels into Thruster tech, and six levels into Scanner tech, then if some interaction between some of the techs at those levels shows me a new kind of tech, that is a wonderful kind of generative surprise. You get it by understanding that there are plausible connections between different kinds of techs, which you can expose by choosing to research different levels of particular branches. You won't know exactly what kind of combined tech my be exposed, which is where the "surprise" comes from, but you should have some idea, which is what rewards perceptiveness and creativity.
If LT just has random numbers for attributes of newly-researched techs, I could live with that. I'm not freaking out here, or being harshly critical in any way that requires a strong defensive response. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure implementing the "surprise" aspect of research solely as randomly tweaking the numeric attributes of sub-techs will be all that appealing to folks who do enjoy exploratory surprise. As shown in today's video, I think this is not as much fun as it could/should be. The good news is that there are design ideas that can help with that. I'm hopeful we might see those (whether it's what I've suggested here or not) in future iterations of LT.
3. At 12:00, did the Startek Corp mining barge #5 just vanish?
4. "AIs posting missions that affect the behavior of other AIs."
YES. YES. This is what lets the social fabric of the game universe be dynamic (i.e., interesting enough to want to play with it). More of this would be just fine with me!
5. Was the light from the lasers actually appearing behind the guns when they fired?
6. The last big system I can imagine to really tie all these newly-shown core components together is an event notification system -- a way for players to understand what's going on in the universe.
I think this got mentioned in one of the recent devlogs, and it's a good thing, too. This is likely to be the human player's main tool (beyond just looking around their local system) for finding game content they want to experience. I hope we might see some suggestions from others here in the forum for what this "content-finder" might include, and what it might look like.
Overall, I consider this another highly successful update. Take a well-earned break, Josh -- great work, as always. Thank you!