[quote=george moromisato]2. More even distribution across levels: Right now there are more unknown-type items in the early levels and not as many in the mid- and high-levels. [Please suggest some.][/quote]I think this is an unavoidable consequence of deterministic items, because in mid levels you can see some high levels, but eventually you can't see any higher because that's all there is.
But items don't have
to be deterministic: like abandoned cargo crates, an item could be made with undetermined contents. To make it desirable/worthwhile it would have to have a higher ceiling than determined items (e.g. 80% for armor, super-fast weapons, etc.), and at high levels IME resources far outpace costs so burning an armor segment / weapon is usually not the problem it is in mid levels.
We also have multiple storyline-plausible sources for these unknowable items:
Ares Shipyards (because Ares-Commonwealth trade appears nonexistent and making ships takes a lot of resources)
Teraton Nests (because they like to tinker)
Iocrym ships/stations (because they're Outsider type)
On the other hand, the problem could also be solved by having higher than high level items that are still deterministic, just not available in stores or any other means of production. In addition to the above:
stacking +x% to armor (diamond nanotube paste?)
stacking +x% to generic weapon
upgrading weapon damage type / armor level (omnidirectional TeV 9 + two alchemical shards = omnidirectional plasma cannon
self-replicating ammo nanos (it works for armor, why not a bomb or a machine gun or something?)
self-replicating fuel nanos (!)
parallel upgrades (so shields can be efficient and +x%, weapons can be fast and +x%)
external device mount (allows another device requiring a slot but makes it vulnerable to damage)
Power creep doesn't strike me as an issue because these would be (1) drops rather than off the shelf and (2) difficult/impossible to identify.
Regarding the general principle of identification, what about this: having an unidentified item in cargo and docking with a friendly station will allow the player to purchase/barter/earn-via-mission the coordinates of a deep space Tinker station. This reduces the RNG's reign of terror on providing identifier items, but between time spent going to the station & cost of coordinates (or search) & having the same cost as whatever the rate is for identifier item use, obtaining an identifier item will still be a worthwhile choice.