I think it would be quite a good idea to seperate the research tree as follows:
/- Laser Pistol -\ Laser Weapons -<-- Laser Rifle -->-Laser Cannon --- Laser Defences \- Heavy Laser -/ /- Plasma Pistol -\ Plasma Weapons -<-- Plasma Rifle -->- Plasma Cannon --- Plasma Defences \- Heavy Plasma -/
This means that once you researched the principle of the weapon itself, (which can be done as soon as you have any plasma-related items in your inventory) you can then spend a shorter amount of time researching ways to apply the weapon's mechanics to a pistol, rifle, or heavy cannon. Then once you've got some experience with that, you can scale up the weapon. Basically what this means is that you have a much bigger delay on aqquiring your FIRST alien gun, although once you've got one, the other two are likely to follow quickly. In UFO, I believe laser weapons already work this way.
Another side-benefit is that we could potentially require you to understand the workings of one type of weapon before moving on to another, allowing the X-net to reference previous weaponry.
Edited by 54x, 11 October 2004 - 04:32 AM.