His mouth gaped open as he called up his Status page. Much of it remained the same so he skimmed over them entirely. Instead, his eyes narrowed down on his Intelligence score.
The difference of 0.1 at this level actually produced a sea of change. Obviously, the Attribute scores didn't follow a linear pattern of growth.
For example, someone with an Intelligence of 2.0 wasn't twice as smart as someone with an Intelligence of 1.0. Each increment of 0.1 provided a different amount of improvement.
Reaching a score of 2.1 was a vast gulf of difference, especially when it had reached a stable state. Ves once reached a height of 2.2 in Endurance, and that had transformed his body in many ways.
It was a pity that he gained such strength from Dr. Jutland's insane experiments. Jutland hadn't actually been able to break the human limit, so the abnormally high Endurance actually started to break down down his body. If the CFA hadn't reverted some of the changes, he would have died when he reached fifty years old.
"It's far too soon for me to die at fifty years!"
Let alone fifty years, Ves believed he could easily last more than five-hundred years!
Once Ves understood his changes, he didn't hesitate to integrate the immense amount of knowledge provided by Senior-level Physics. What previously took months to digest now took up just a week.
For the next week, Ves did nothing but sit behind a desk while casting his mind inward. An extreme amount of theories with regards to fundamental Physics became understandable over time.
Much of the knowledge enabled him to understand and work with various types of exotics. Before mastering this level of knowledge, the only way that Ves could integrate exotics into his own design was if he obtained a readily available license.
For example, the Veltrex armor system with its three layers of armor plating that withstood different damage types came with several ingenious formulas. The research institution poured a lot of resources into developing these formulas that combined several exotics into special alloys that provided a wondrous effect.
Previously, Ves was purely a consumer of these formulas. Now, he gained the minimum qualifications to produce his own formulas.
"Still, it's not that simple."
The Senior-level Physics only provided him with a broad but fairly shallow foundation. If he wanted to develop an actual formula, then he needed to supplement his Main Skill with several Sub-Skills raised to a certain height.
Right now, Ves didn't hold any ambitious of developing his own component designs. Even though it cost him a lot of money or merits, making use of existing licenses saved him a lot of time and energy.
"A mech pilot doesn't have to know how to build a mech. A ship captain doesn't have to know how to build a ship. A doctor doesn't have to refine his own medicine."
Ves believed that it should be enough to focus on his core job of designing new mechs. Even if the System easily allowed him to unlock a myriad of specialties, he did not have any intentions of imitating the Polymath.
"I have my own way of making mechs come to life."
Even without the relevant Sub-Skills, the Main Skill alone provided a lot of benefits to Ves. He easily understood the heart of each phenomenon and became more proficient in handling advanced technology.
In particular, he gained a comprehensive boost in understanding laser weapons. If before he could only design an average gamma laser rifle design, now he would easily be able to improve the Tainted Sun by more than twenty percent!
Once a week went by, Ves fully integrated his long-awaited boost. Now, he directly met one of the criteria to advance to Journeyman Mech Designer. According to the demands set by the MTA, he only needed to formulate his design philosophy and pass some tests before he could officially leave his Apprentice days behind.
"I still have to design a number of original mechs."
The MTA set a strict bar for anyone who wanted to be acknowledged as a Journeyman Mech Designer. They had to design five original mechs. Naturally, the designs also had to meet a minimum performance standard. In that regard, the Blackbeak already passed the test, so Ves wasn't worried about failing to meet the standard.
Ves first checked his messages again on the isolated terminal. Nothing special had happened although the amount of raids by the Vesians had increased. He figured that the LMC could last a little longer without his presence.
"I've been delaying my next project for too long. It's time for me to make the first step."
He finally felt ready to embark on his next design project. His inadvertent adventure with the crystal ruins had given him a lot of inspiration on how his next design should look like, and he was eager to turn his ideas into reality.
Immediately, he faced an important choice. First, should he collaborate with someone on this project, and second, should he log his every action in detail?
Different from designing his first original mech, Ves faced a lot less constraints this time. He already went through his debut and proved that he could design an original mech without any outside assistance. Now that he gained the mech industry's acknowledgement, he enjoyed a lot more freedom this time.
Ves thought about his gains from the crystal ruins. Once he began to design his mech, it would become obvious that he incorporated alien insights into his work.
"When the MTA checks the logs, they won't care about these matters."
To a behemoth like the MTA, they wouldn't lift their brows if Ves applied some of the principles that powered the alien ruins. His recent upgrade in Intelligence and his acquisition of Senior-level Physics had vastly improved his understanding of the crystal builder's technology. Even if he still couldn't unlock the secret behind the circuits, he still harvested in many other ways.
While Ves had a lot to hide, he didn't mind being stared at by the MTA. Logging his design process would instead insure his claim on his own design and prevent others from accusing him that he stole his design from someone else. That happened more often than anyone thought.
Still, Ves did not entirely wish to rely on himself this time. He knew the challenges of competing directly against the mainstream models and their variants. The market for rifleman mechs was too competitive for Ves to make an impact even with all of his recent gifts.
Ves gently stroked his comm. When the time was right, he'd disable the logs and activate his Superpublish function. He hoped that he could elevate the quality of his design just enough to break into the market.
As for how to explain the jump in quality, Ves could just hand out an excuse that he let an unknown expert make a pass on his own design.
Mech designers with a lot of connections often invited experts to elevate their designs to another level. Most of the time, these experts insisted on being credited by their works, but sometimes they wished to remain anonymous.
In this regard, Ves could easily explain his Superpublish function by crediting an anonymous contributor.
"The only downside to the Superpublish function is that I won't earn any DP from its sales."
This was a very steep price. However, as long as he captured a small chunk of the market for rifleman mechs, the profits would be immense and his prestige would rise well above his fellow Apprentices.
Right now, Ves desperately needed to enhance his prestige and reputation. Otherwise, the Mech Corps wouldn't value him when they eventually called him up to serve the Republic.
Ves moved back to his design project. "Alright, a good design starts with a solid vision."
He aimed to pin down a vision and complete a draft design within a week. After that, he would solicit everyone's opinions before he moved on to turning his draft into a full design.
"I already have a great idea for a vision."
Through his first-hand experiences in the Glowing Planet campaign, Ves acquired a rich perspective on rifleman mechs. As the mainstay of any mech force, they would often be fielded in great numbers.
"Rifleman mechs are rarely sold one at a time to any single customer."
A small-scale buyer like a single-squad mech corps might only ever purchase one knight. As for rifleman mechs, they wouldn't hesitate to buy at least two to four of them in a single instant.
"The market for rifleman mechs is big and profitable. The high volume of sales alone is enough to fight over."
Under these highly competitive circumstances, Ves had to carve out a place for his own design. He set his sights on the upper-premium segment of 60 to 70 million credit mechs.
In the Bright Republic, the vast majority of rifleman mechs sold for fifty million credits or less. The mainstream mechs were no exception, which also made them so attractive in the first place. It wasn't enough that they delivered a higher level of performance, but their pricing also bankrupted many aspiring local mech designers.
Still, the Republic wasn't completely clueless and imposed a number of tariffs and other barriers that made it slightly less attractive to purchase a foreign mech. The Bright Republic wouldn't be able to host such a lively mech industry if they let the trans-galactic corporations operate with impunity.
"The most expensive mainstream mech still costs only fifty million credits." Ves shook his head. "It's hopeless for me to compete directly against them at this price point."
The Blackbeak managed to be successful due to his decision to design a rarely-seen offensive knight. Ves purposefully avoided the crowded market for defensive knights and thereby avoided direct comparisons between the Blackbeak and the mainstream knight models.
He intended to do the same with his second original design, only this time he wanted to differentiate his product through its price category.
"With my existing licenses, I can easily clad my rifleman mech with compressed armor. With the help of my improved Skills, I can also beef up the capability of its primary weapon."
As long as Ves managed to control his costs, he believed he could design a very strong rifleman mech that performed a notch above the mainstream models. Perhaps it would lose out in terms of optimization and refinement, but the boost in raw performance would easily make up for that disparity.
"A rifleman mech that costs at least 60 million credits is absolutely a mech fit for a leader."
With a powerful laser rifle and an ample amount of armor, only the best could make full use of these capabilities. It had to offer a certain level of rounded performance in order to appeal to highly-skilled mech pilots.
"I can take some inspiration from the modifications I made for Fadah's mech. Speed and mobility is essential to a modern rifleman mech. This should be my first priority. I can't skimp on this area."
Firepower was a close second, followed endurance and staying power. Since he intended to reuse most of the licenses he acquired to design the Blackbeak, his next design should also be able to last an entire war.
"Armor is only the fourth priority, but that doesn't mean I should neglect it entirely."
It had to be good enough that his buyers would willingly stomach forking over at least 60 million mechs. That meant that Ves wouldn't be able to cover his mech only partially with compressed armor. He had to give his mech the full treatment without weighing it down too much.
"That's going to be a major challenge."
Even assuming he succeeded in balancing the speed and armor of his rifleman mech, he also had to distinguish his mech from the competition in other ways.
"I need a gimmick."
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