I'd usually make a PR with my changes but with the flood of revivability PRs, the maints decided not to accept any further PRs about the topic, so instead I'll just write down my thoughts. I decided to make this its own thread instead of putting it in the crit discussion since it extends beyond the changes of the crit rework and touches on other things as well. Let me first define what I consider interesting and boring gameplay in medbay.
First, interesting gameplay is when a doctor manually fixes a patient, using their knowledge of the game mechanics, chems, the patient's medical state and so on. What counts here is that he is making decisions and is actively engaged. The prime example of this is surgery, as the probably most involved medical procedure. But also things like brain and other organ transplants, etc.
Secondly, boring gameplay is when a doctor puts a patient in a machine, turns it on and then walks away, or otherwise takes a single action and then leaves, especially if there is no or very little decision making involved in this. For example, deciding which chems to give someone in a sleeper is still somewhat more involved than pushing them in the cloner. The cloner is the single most boring and uninteractive machine in medbay. It fixes a patient regardless of their body's state and proceeds totally automatically. Most often the poor clonee even has to go poke a doctor for a mannitol pill for his brain damage. You can grab a greytider with no medical knowledge whatsoever, give him a one minute crash course and he can clone. Once cloners are upgraded, even that part is moot.
The current main issue of medbay is that cloning is easier than fixing people in other ways. We've seen a PR that reduced defib time from 5 to 2 minutes, an attempt to increase cloning time and an attempt to make SR not work on non-clonable races. And now, the big crit rework will completely remove the revive function of defibs. Raising defib times was an attempt to, in the words of the author: "Push[ing] more individuals to use cloning". The now closed 'Revivability Update' attempted to double clone times as if it fixes anything besides doubling the time you can fuck off before checking on the cloner before putting the next body in it.
The crit rework being test-merged has the same issues. By removing defibs as a revival method, you incentivise cloner use, pushing people into the least interesting 'mechanic' of medbay. Now, in the crit rework's credit it also attempts to make you survive longer in crit and give medbay lots of chances to stabilize and pull you out of crit, which is definitely interesting gameplay, but the issue persists that players can avoid that (and often do) simply by letting the patient die and putting them in the cloner.
So, to summarize the current issues:
1. Involved, many-step processes that benefit from player knowledge and experience are interesting. IE surgery.
2. One-click solutions that fix all issues with a patient are boring. IE Cloning, Cryotubes to a lesser extent.
Now, how do we fix this issue? Clearly, we should push people towards 1 and not 2. I've thought about a number of approaches:
Make cloning take longer. This is a solution that's already been attempted, unsuccessfully. Faced with waiting 4 minutes for a patient to clone instead of 2 doesn't actually make doctors chose the more involved procedure, since they aren't the ones waiting as a ghost to rejoin the round. You could raise the time to ridiculous levels before this actually starts having an effect. This solution is clearly unworkable. Rejected.
Make cloning consume meaningful resources. Biomass is easy to make in raw amounts, and besides that all a cloner needs is some power. You could make it necessary for cloners to be fed with some hard to get or valuable ingredient to work, but it would be hard to think of something lorewise fitting, imo (maybe something cargo has to order in an expensive crate?). At least, of something that doesn't just tax the chemist even more. Other servers have cloning cost money I think, but money has no meaning in our economy. Rather bad, imo.
Make cloning come with not easily removed downsides. Having cloning cause some permanent downside or disability that isn't instantly removed by a pill of mannitol or clean SE could potentially work. For example, you could give cloned people a chance of getting a 'cloning trauma', which gives them a mental issue that they then have to play out (maybe even give them a little 'objective' like abductor victims get?). (Bonus: Give the psych something to do). Potentially interesting idea. Less RP-intense alternatives might just be stuff like unremovable disabilities, but I can already see players REEing about that. Workable, maybe?
Make cloning no longer the default/lowest tier revival method. The most 'radical' method. Cloning is used because it is easy and available from roundstart. We could simply...change that. Remove the roundstart cloning setup and lock cloning behind decent research levels. You'd have to undo the nerfs to alternative revival methods while doing that (IE give the CMO omnizine in his hypospray again, raise defib timer, make defibs not insta-kill slimes again because brain damage multiplier lol). This would mean medbay has to carefully preserve their SR pills, patch people up, rush in with their defibs to save on SR, perform surgery to fix internal bleeding, broken bones, etc each time someone dies. Radical, but IMO the best idea so far.
Something that can go hand in hand with 4., make more people reach medbay alive. The crit rework, as far as I can tell, somewhat intends this already. Have the paramedic bring in less dead people and more crit people, so medbay can patch them up, work under time pressure to stabilize, etc. To do so, we could introduce some more tools to stabilize patients, like stasis bags, or simple tweak the crit numbers to make dying slower. Nice but not enough on its own, imo.
So, what do you all think? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis of medbay's issues and what makes good gameplay? And what do you think of the possible solutions I talk about?