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Datacards are the portable, mass data storage devices of the Combine. They are used to record scientific and engineering data of technology and equipment designs. They are a physical object in the game that can be picked up and carried from place to place just like a blaster or a lightsaber. Only one technology or design may be recorded onto a single datacard. Recording new information onto a datacard erases the data previously held. The information on one datacard can be copied to another datacard if a character has a datapad.
The primary use of the datacard is in manufacturing. To build anything in the Combine, a datacard containing the design of the object to be built must be present at the appropriate shipyard or factory along with the required raw materials. Every ship, vehicle, droid, piece of equipment, and facility will have a datacard that defines the specifications, blueprints, and processes required to manufacture them. If the datacard is removed before construction is complete, manufacturing stops until the datacard (or an exact copy) is returned.
Manufacturing datacards are broken into three types:
Purchasing a generic requires slots*5,000,000 credits and the total number of active members in your faction must exceed the total number of slots of all generics that your faction owns. Generics can be sold to free up slot room, in this case no money is returned.
The following generic datacards are available for purchase:
Datacards will be central to the R&D process. To generate new, more powerful technologies (or modules), a datacard containing the existing technology will need to be present to use as a starting point. Every weapon, propulsion system, and piece of electronic equipment will have a datacard with the technical data describing the technology. To generate new equipment designs, datacards containing all the different technologies to be used in the new design will need to be present.
Datacards can have custom images purchased for them so they produce the custom image instead of the default. Once set, you have the option of turning the image on and off for production via the production menu. There is a one time fee to set a custom datacard image of 5% of the Raw Material Price (RMP) of the entity on the datacard, with a minimum of 2,000credits. Both regular and large images can be set, and all images are reviewed by the art team before approval. The form to set an image is located under the "Assign Datacard" form.
Given their essential role in manufacturing, characters will guard their datacards closely. This combination of high cost, high demand, and low availability will make them very expensive.
Datacards bring industrial espionage to the Combine in several ways. For starters, stealing a rival's datacard can keep them from manufacturing goods and developing new designs. Plus, the new owner of the datacard can use it for their manufacturing and design projects. And most devastating of all, remember that the RESEARCH variable is part of each datacard. This means a stolen datacard could have precious research and design information that makes it easier for the new owner to create advanced technology!