The Mech Touch Chapter 1033
1031 Collaborative Methods
At first, Ves felt ecstatic about Professor Ventag's offer. Which young mech designer didn't wish to collaborate with a renowned Senior?
Yet after becoming aware of the political implications of accepting the offer, Ves began to view it as a poisoned chalice. Would the benefits still outweigh the costs?
Fortunately, Professor Ventag didn't insist on an immediate answer. He calmly waited as Ves thought through the implications of the offer at his own pace. Such a major decision always required a good amount of consideration. The Senior's respect for Ves would take an immediate nosedive if the latter accepted the offer on an impulse.
First, Ves needed to decide whether it would be a good idea for Ves to to draw himself to the professor's camp.
Right now, Professor Ventag and NORA Consolidated possessed two major associations. They were connected to both the DCTI and the Tovar Family.
If Ves and the LMC collaborated with Ventag and NORA even for a single time, it would immediately signal to the mech industry that he had taken the DCTI's side.
While he would doubtlessly enjoy several benefits if he enjoyed the support of the DCTI, was it worth it for him to be on the opposite side of the AUMD?
Instinctively, Ves still wanted to remain out of the catfight between the two major institutions on Bentheim. Yet rationally, he had to admit that he would never be able to get in the good graces with the AUMD. His background and his current associations already disqualified him from entering their inner circle.
Since Ves would never be able to become friends with the AUMD, why not throw his lot with their main rival instead?
Enjoying the DCTI's backing would doubtlessly strengthen the LMC's position in Bentheim and the Republic's mech industry. He would have access to better suppliers, enjoy better protection in the market and open up opportunities for further collaboration with worthy colleagues.
Therefore, in exchange for closing the extremely minute and unlikely opportunity to become friendly with the AUMD, Ves would be better off cashing his chips with the DCTI immediately while Professor Ventag was still in a generous mood.
However, the DCTI was not an independent institution. The higher school in turn enjoyed heavy support from certain factions within the government, particularly the Tovar Family. If Ves threw his lot with the DCTI, he indirectly moved closer into Senator Tovar's camp as well. This was an even heavier implication that would permanently color Ves' standing within the Bright Republic!
Still, Senator Tovar seemed to favor him increasingly more. Was it really such a bad choice to accept the senator's generosity, especially since he already benefited substantially from his earlier rewards?
A lot of people would kill to catch Senator Tovar's attention and favor. Ves had a leg up from the rest with his various exploits, the most important of which was being instrumental in helping the old man prolong his life! Such a gift was of an incalculable amount of value, so Camden Tovar already thought of Ves quite fondly.
While Ves did not have any interest in becoming involved in any of the five founder families, he figured he would be propelled into their circle sooner or later as his company grew and became increasingly more prominent. If he followed a normal trajectory, he would have to work long and hard to become appreciated by any of the families.
Why not skip that tedious process and make a preemptive move in the direction of the Tovar Family? With the favor bestowed by their patriarch, Ves possessed enough confidence that he wouldn't be mistreated by the family.
Ves did not care about the DCTI. He did not care about the ambitions of the Tovar Family. This was purely a profit and benefit-driven decision. Whether the Tovar Family or Ramzi Family approached him first, he wasn't too picky who he ended up with. Right now, the Tovars had special reasons to favor Ves. Why not strike while the iron was hot and secure this favor?
The warning given by Major Verle rang increasingly hollow to Ves. If there was anything he learned since his return to the Bright Republic, it was that he inevitably needed political support if he wanted to get a leg up from the competition.
Major Verle served the Republic first and foremost. Whether as an agent of Flashlight or a mech officer of the Mech Corps, he only held a middle position which didn't expose him to the necessities to maintain a higher position in society. His opinions were mainly colored by the decisions and actions he witnesses from the higher ups.
No offense to Major Verle, but Ves stood at the cusp of taking a step ahead in society. Of course he needed to take a different approach in matters that ordinarily vexed those with inferior positions.
"Professor." Ves spoke up after five minutes of silent deliberations. "Please elaborate on the form this collaboration will take. I'd like to hear more about the process you have in mind."
Asking for clarification bought Ves some time and filled up the increasingly tense silence between the two mech designers.
Professor Ventag was happy to oblige. "Collaboration between mech designers can take many forms. I'm sure you're already aware of the basic forms. My involvement can be as extensive as you like depending on the form of collaboration."
"Can you provide me with some examples, professor?"
"The collaboration between two mech designers, especially of unequal ability, can take on a form that exist in a spectrum of involvement by the more able mech designer. If you aren't confident yet that you can live up to the standard expected from NORA Consolidated, you can be in charge of drafting a sketch of your mech concept and I will flesh it out into a complete technically-sound design while taking your input into account. If you want to take complete control, you can design your mech from start to finish while I can supervise your progress from a distance."
"Those are two very extreme examples." Ves noted. They also didn't sound very suitable for him even though he felt a great attraction towards the latter possibility. "What about the forms of collaboration that falls in between?"
"The most conventional collaboration would be to work together as equal co-developers in a design project. I don't recommend we go with this route as such projects never end well if the disparity in our design ability is too wide." Ventag shook his head. "We can also go for a division of labor, where you will work on the exterior of the design while I work on the internals. Again, this only works best if the mech designers involved are somewhat equal."
The professor proceeded to explain half-a-dozen other modes of collaboration, each of which aimed to pool the strengths of the mech designers involved in a different way. However, most of those choices came with various downsides and limitations.
It wasn't as easy as it sounded for multiple mech designers to coordinate their work on a single design project!
Ves in fact heard learned of several of those collaborative methods from his earlier studies under Professor Velten.
However, recapping all the different forms of collaboration helped Ves substantially in trying to figure out the best choice. Professor Ventag's personal insights on the benefits and pitfalls of each method illuminated the best way forward for Ves, though not for most mech designers.
"I design my mechs based on defining a prior vision of the end product." Ves stated at last.
"Ah. You graduated from the Rittersberg University of Technology, correct? It would make sense for them to instill this method to you. While it helps keep mech designers on track with their original intentions for their designs, the method will only allow you to express mechs that are only as good as your imagination will allow. Are you aware of the nuances of your approach?"
Ves couldn't help but smirk. "I am a very creative mech designer. I consider my imagination to be one of my main strengths as a mech designer. The prior vision method suits me perfectly."
"The iterative evolution method is more prevalent among higher-ranked mech designers. Are you certain you don't wish to use this method instead? As long as you are willing to push the boundaries of what you are capable of, every design project is a journey of exploration. What we intended to design from the start of our journey can diverge enormously from the design we produce at the end after thousands of iterations."
"Such a method is not for me." Ves firmly shook his head. He already witnessed the other method when he interacted with Oleg, Master Olson's youngest direct disciple. "It involves leaving too many decisions to the results of simulations. For me, it feels as if I am letting algorithms co-design my mech. I want to make my own design choices, even if they aren't the most optimal. What I lose in synergy and optimisation, I'll be able to make it up with increased coherence and compatibility."
"Interesting perspective." Professor Ventag said with a patronizing smile. "Since you are very certain about the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen design methods, I'll not argue with you further. It is certainly easier for us to be on the same page if I am fully aware of what you are designing towards. So how do you wish for me to be involved?"
This was a difficult question. The more a Senior Mech Designer contributed to the design, the less Ves left his mark on his design.
Perhaps a normal Apprentice didn't care so much about this attribute, but Ves stood out because this was incredibly vital to his work!
The more Ves worked on a design, the more he impressed it with his Spirituality. The more he exposed the living images in his mind to the design they would house one day, the stronger its X-Factor took shape!
Professor Ventag's assistance with the project actively weakened its X-Factor in proportion to his involvement!
This was also one of the main reasons why Ves always felt leery about collaborating on a design project. If he ever wanted to design a mech with a strong X-Factor but in a teamwork environment, then he needed to be firmly in charge of the project.
To design a mech that fit the values and aspirations of the LMC, Ves could not afford to choose an equal partnership or letting Professor Ventag take the lead in the design project.
Ves needed to be in charge, yet if he insisted on this choice, he also needed to pay the price.
Any mech he designed would inevitably fall short of Professor Ventag's standards. His design simply wouldn't perform as well as one of NORA Consolidated many solid designs.
If the LMC and NORA jointly published such a mech design, then the latter company would come under intense scrutiny. The mech industry would be wondering why NORA associated themselves with a mech design that was significantly below standard from their usual offerings.
Even if Professor Ventag felt grateful to Ves, the Senior would inevitably be less enthused at such a consequence.
Therefore, the right answer involved a mix. Ves needed to test his understanding of the X-Factor and find out the extent he could maintain its strength while drawing upon the assistance of a very capable mech designer to shore up some of the shortcomings of the design.
"This is a design project where I'm allowed to express myself, right?"
"As I've stated, the collaborative project is an opportunity for you to learn something and help you on your way to advancing to Journeyman. The end product is not as important as the process. That said, if you wish for your mech company to benefit from our association, you will also need to make sure you produce a good quality mech design."
If Ves wanted to accelerate his advancement, then he should do most of the work himself. If he instead wanted to boost the reputation and brand of the LMC, then he should instead accept Professor Ventag's assistance on a wider scale.
Ves was not satisfied with choosing one over the other. He wanted to have it both ways, and he saw a way to make that possible.
Ves began to put out his proposal.