Obviously this thread is open to advice/opinion/change =]
I've seen there is a (TTW specific?) thread by deadboy to work on PPA, but that project seems to be buggy/deprecated for a while now??
/Ramble Start - The way the game is currently set, when a player has access to PAs (then better PAs), combat becomes marginally easier. Some players even rush to OA early on for a free PA PERK. I've nothing against powergaming or metagaming (use of out-of-game information to affect in-game decisions), but players too often hurt their enjoyment of a game by doing it, adding linearity and restricting themselves to a set course/pattern. It falls to game designers (modders by inclusion) to "remedy" that when introducing new & tweaked content.
As someone who likes to tweak the gameworld, I feel that the current way PAs work and the PPA mod as well (neat in concept but quite rough in the execution) needs changes to be truly satisfying, specially during early~mid game when PAs should not be an IMMENSE step from normal armors (2x + the DR/DT of full body combat armor, plus extras to stats/skills), surely PAs are to be great, but what has to make it shine is grabbing extras and climbing a tech tree over time. The way vanilla and the PPA mod handle it, by just having 1 PA PERK and (despite of skill) be able to do everything, makes the whole PA business too cheesy/simplified (& lame ^^). /Ramble End
Likely the best way to control PA is by inserting layers/tiers of PA technology and relating it to science & repair, this makes it more feasible to control how powerful PA is early on and how awesome it scales in the later game (and between models as well).
Player and NPCs must also be told via repair script (is it possible?) to have a limited knowledge on how to repair PAs, making it harder to maintain without any PA PERKs. Normal NPCs + Player suffer a 50% penalty to repair PAs (includes helmets, underarmors, etc, all that relates to PA tech), this penalty is (obvioulsy) reduced/eliminated on case specific NPCs that should know better how to handle PAs, and also upon the player by PERK acquisitons.
Players should also (and always!) be unable to equip/unequip PAs during combat (likely scriptable?). Most/all PAs also need to apply a severe penalty for stealth, and stealth fields run(deplete) 50% faster while wearing a PA.
Listed below are (IMO the ideal) PA PERKS to be learned via lvl up or gameplay, just note that each new tier requires the previous one and EVEN AFTER LEARNED, these will temporarily deactivate if/while skill values drop below the minimum necessary. A box should tell that upon PERK acquisition, and a text in notes section explaining at greater length each acquired tier of the PERK.
Basic PA Training (35 science and 40 repair?)
- Shows the workbench option that allows fitting PA (helms too). Equipping a non-fitted PA has severe penalties (slow movement, weapon reload/swap speed, -1 PER on helmets, etc). Going below the needed science/repair minimum values causes the player to temporarily forget how to properly fit PAs, but PAs previously fitted can be used without problem.
- Player penalty to repair PAs is reduced (maybe from 50% to 20%?).
Advanced PA Training (50 science and 45 repair?)
- Player can also fit (at workbench) underarmors, exoskeletons, headgear, all the stuff which is supposedly worn under PA, each piece of these "PA pajamas" serves more or less a specific purpose, like increasing DR, stealth, mobility, stats or skills, whatever is cool to add and feels balanced between the options of this tier.
- Allows the player to properly repair PAs (no penalties).
- Allows the player to create PA repair kits. (Kit effectiveness/weight depends on the model it was created from?)
Expert PA Training (60 science and 55 repair?)
- Allows the player to install 1 or 2 Power Nodes (PNs). PNs add all those unique functionalities that feel like special abilities, such as enhanced strength/reflexes/stealth/aim/DR/etc, running boost or high jump+free fall, HP regeneration, explosions/shocking at close range, etc. Each Power Node requires itself plus a fission battery (fb non-salvageable later on) to be installed, maybe extra stuff depending on the PN. PNs are a bit rare/expensive and (many?) should consume some type of energy ammo while turned on. Maybe use Numlock keys 1/2/3/4 as the default to turn on~off.
- Player can restore PNs that are (rarely) found broken among PA dead enemies/loot/etc. 3 scrapped PNs of the same type are required to make a fully functional one (Workbench).
- Repair kits become a bit more effective.
PA Mastery (70 science and 65 repair?)
- 3 to 4 PNs.
- Player can customize (most) PA models, usually making it somewhat superior, a trade-off between areas to better fit player style.
- Repair kits are again a bit more effective.
Thats mostly it... remembering that each PERK requires the previous tier and is temporarily lost/forgotten if skill requirements drop below minimum (mostly affects workbench/repair options only). I don't know how much extra work it requires to relate a followers PA ability to that of the player, but that would be interesting.
As to learn the PERKs via gameplay instead of lvl up, there is a variety of places in both FO3 and NV (OA, Casdin, Elder Lyons, Lyons Pride, Fort Constantine, Hardin/Macnamara, Remnants quest, etc), however, each place teaches only 1 tier and has a limit of how high this tier can be (based on lore/common sense).
Dunno if I will ever be competent to tweak a mod as advanced as PPA, however, if anyone wants to tweak that one (with persmission) or create a new one, following guidelines that resemble these, please enlist my help =]
I hope to have made the reading to be somewhat pleasing, sorry for the long post but this needed to be explained in detail \o/