I haven’t seen this mentioned except in passing so here goes…
For starters I’ll get mentioning the elephant in the room out of the way. While you can do a great many “mechanical” things in Dwarf Fortress, the UI and implementation make these features unusable for maybe 99% of the “average gamers”.
So while a lot of what I’m asking for will sound Dwarf Fortressy, there must be abstraction to make these features usable by a wider audience.
The “hardcore” engineers will hate that but “doing it right” is simply not an option if this is supposed to be a game.
I’ll also say that I do not know how “objects” are handled in the game. How settlers can tell a “house” from a house-shaped pile of pixels.
I assume that there will be a system to create objects in the game and tie scripts, properties, and purposes to them.
For instance, a “forge and anvil” object that a smith recognizes as a workplace.
So without futher ado… (or rather TL&DR…)
Muscle power. One of more settlers turning a crank or using an animal for the same purpose.
Conan The Barbarian Movie
(not an animal - just saying)
Windmills have always been popular in mountaineous regions… or very flat ones like the Netherlands.
Kind of relies on the fluid mechanics that - as everyone who has tried knows - are difficult on any larger scale. =)
I would largely decouple power generation from power use.
Much like in some RTS power is “radiated” over a short distance. You do not have to run pipes or axles criss-cross through your settlement.
Power would have a range, though.
To transfer it over a greater range, you build transmitters, much like Protoss pylons.
That is a justified effort without the micromanagement of literally connecting every generator with every machine.
Pressure plate. . .
Admit it - you love em. It’s devilish fun to watch the orc party step on the coloured tile and release the Big Rolling Boulder™ atop the ramp they are facing. Catch!
Lever. . .
Some devices you just can’t trust your settlers with. These are player-only.
Things like the Button Of Earth Shattering Kaboom.
Watch post . . .
Some actions should only be performed when “enemies” are in sight.
The pressure plate that initiates your Goblin Juicer would be inactive while friendlies are in that corridor.
Motivators (no, not whips) / Actors
Stuff that does something.
This could be the “mill” part of a windmill.
A turning millstone that turns grain into flour.
A moving wall, horizontally or vertically (aka elevator).
A valve or pump to drown the orc warband like so many rats.
The more motivators are drawing on a power transmitter (and so generator), the lower the output. Some motivators will have a minimum power at which they stop operating.
Motivators have to be somehow connected to triggers.
Optional, I guess, if you just want the millstone to turn. Period.
In many cases you want conditional operation, though.
How the UI for that works - I’ll have to admit that I cannot tell what would make sense with what little I have seen of the game.
Could be drag & drop to connect a trigger to a motivator. That or a right-click on the motivator opens the motivator’s menu where you arrange the order of triggers and what state they must have for “the signal to go through”.