O.k i've recently been thinking of how to organize the research tree for the races, not the contents mind you but the sort of universal structure for which the trees are organized. My current plan is to organize the tree via the ships types affected by it.
Basically something like this
Frigates (research directly relating to military frigates includes frigate exclusive upgrades to shields weapons, PD and abilities)
Cruisers (Research directly relating to cruisers. This included upgrades to shields weapons and additional abilities as well as the ability to begin construction of cruisers)
Capital ships (Research allows for the construction of new capital ships as well as upgrades to weapons shields and engines, as well as the unlocking of certain abilities)
Other (this includes research into generic ships wide upgrades and changes, as well as research into the construction of super weapons and end game tactics)
Now the main reason i have for this set up is because it allows you the player to research with more finesse and allows you to develop more specialized plans rather then all ships have more shields now i can do exactly the same thing i was doing before i got this upgrade. The idea here is that you can make specialized research an integral part of your overall strategy rather then something that is more or less tacked on. For example perhaps your strategy is to use Cruisers as heavy fire and you want to use frigates for screening, well then you pump research into better cruiser weapons and more shields and hull for frigates. Perhaps you want to use cruisers to distract and hold the enemy up while you raid their worlds further behind their lines. Well then shields and hull for the cruisers and FTL stealth engine and weapons upgrades for your frigates. This need for planning is going to be compounded by the fact that all research is going to be expensive and its very unlikely your ever going to get all of them in a game. But don't fret a majority of them wont be 5% damage increase for frigates type of thing. Most research will hopefully be things like Skirmisher main cannon oscillating field upgrade which allows all rail gun based weapons on the skirmishers to fire a three round burst rather then a single shot. This upgrade has both pros (triple the damage) but also has draw backs such as greatly increased recharge time this makes it a strategic upgrade as once equipped (there are three versions of the research on for each type of skirmisher) that particular brand of skirmisher becomes a devastating hit and run. Just get in close let off a couple of volleys nail a few enemy frigates then run like hell rinse and repeat. So by the end there should be a large number of potential combinations for you to try.
In other news I've been thinking about the obvious A.I issues and whilst they should still be able to function it will be in a greatly diminished capacity so they wont use the complex strategies required to truly dominate in this game. As such while the mod will still be released with a single player component i would encourage online multiplayer play and as such will be organizing tournaments where a small number of people compete in matches (1v1 or 4 player ffa) on special maps designed for quick games the winner will then move onto the next round (they will be monitored by me thats y they are gonna be quick) and then once the tourney is done the winner will be announced. Ill also be organizing days for large multiplayer matches so i will be taking an active roll in this.
Also id like to send out the call for coders lots and lots of coders cause as you can see theres allot of work to do so additional help would be appreciated.