I find myself getting a little tired of Cata’s current mid-game. For reference, I’m referring to the period after you get done scavenging for scraps, have trained up some kind of offensive capability, and are now building up supplies and capabilities and begin roaming for better loot. This period currently revolves, nearly entirely, around finding or building vehicular rigs to get free power for almost all of your tools and excellent food storage, generally as part of a mobile death fortress (I call mine, a modified RV, the Wreckreational Vehicle). You don’t HAVE to make one, of course, but any alternatives to superrigging are frankly a waste of time, and often require such high skills that there’s really no reason not to find or build the rigs apart from the challenge of having your time wasted.
For example, consider the rechargeable battery mod. It’s easy enough to build just from What’s a Transistor?, and one can imagine making a bunch and slapping them on your welder, flashlights, hotplate, etc. You may not get to use a tool forever like you would a rig, but you could get by. Except that while recharging mods are easy to produce, recharging stations are hard, requiring Elec 8 and one of the advanced books, and who knows how much Mech to install. So, by the time you can actually build and install a recharging station for your non-rig plan, do you know what you’re already very capable of using? Rigs.
Or consider the charcoal tools chain. On paper, it seems pretty useful: charcoal kilns to make charcoal for preserving food via charcoal smokers, forging metal items in a charcoal forge, purifying water with charcoal purifiers, and eventually ammo. The only thing you’d need batteries for is your welder. Except that, to build all of the above, you’ll need so many batteries. Hey, you know what would help a whole lot with building all of those things? A vehicle welding rig. And since you have that, you know what would make the whole charcoal thing completely redundant, and you probably already have the skills for? Electric forge rig and RV kitchen unit.
Now, I’m not saying that the above should be easier to build. One of the things I like about Cata is its adherence to realism, when possible. A complicated electronic whatsit should need good skills to slap together from scratch, and a ton of heavy and bulky constructions lying around everywhere should be a pain to construct.
I’m saying we should simply find them, in the form of ready-to-use constructions which are juuust convenient enough for a player to consider making them their home base.
For instance, how about a solar home? Like a regular house, but part of one room has been knocked away to fit a “vehicle” consisting of a few solar panels, a storage battery and a recharging station. Toss in some rechargeable battery mods lying around, and any early-game player stumbling across it would find moving in quite a tempting proposition.
Same idea as above but make it a gas-powered generator (engine + alternator) instead, for a smoother transition to mobile living without requiring high Mech: just add wheels and controls.
Or how about a redneck trailer, off by itself in the woods? A busted-up RV, just trunks and beds and trash inside, a couple of charcoal kilns already filled for their charcoal smoker, a fermentation vat and standing keg or two sitting around nearby. Maybe a wrecked car in the yard, for flavor and steel. Not ideal for every player, but if you’re the woodsy type, it would provide a considerable leg up for establishing a permanent base of operations.
tl;dr - for gameplay reasons let’s have more convenient paths to make use of the tools which, for realism, are inconvenient to build from scratch.