Fixing Block Count, Block Group, Toolbar, and G-menu Issues
Low block count is attributable to a lot of issues and player dissatisfaction in the game from variety of design options to ship block size restrictions(only avail. on Lg grid) to progression being nonsensical in the Public Survival Test. Often, Keen claims the opposite, that adding blocks complicates things too much. Both can be true at the same time. However, keen tends to confuse complication with disorganization. Complication is nothing more than additional variables that need to be accounted for, but when the variables are disorganized, working with them becomes unsurmountable.
The Keen problems with more blocks are really, (short-sighted) design flaws in the game. For example, take armor shapes. SE has 2 kinds of armor (Light/Heavy), but they are implemented with around 50 total blocks. By contrast, the Empyrion game's solution (with about 5 types) was to have the base armor type be the only block, then a sub menu that lets you choose the shape of the block. The block itself takes up 1 toolbar slot and opens a shape selection menu on right click.
In SE, block variants(and a reduction in overall blocks) could also be achieved by using alternate components.
When welding/ adding components to a block, once the block contents fill-up to a component which has options defined, a small popup appears with a dropdown containing a list of all possible optional components for that component slot. This pop-up could also be shown by a keyboard command when targeting the unbuilt block, with a key modifier that defaults to the first or last type, or defaults to whatever component the player has in their inventory.
Once picked, the block now requires that component in that slot. When the block is completed or even welded to the top of that component, the block's properties (like health, mass, etc) are calculated based on the actual components used. Alone, this would cut SE's armor block counts by 1/2 simply changing Steel Plates to allow for 2 or more steel alloys. Plus you could have a variable range of armor strengths by mixing and matching what plate component is in each of the current Steel Plate slots.
Which Armor texture to use would be keyed on the highest count of each plate type used, the type in the first, last, or largest component slot.
Instead of Heavy and Light, you just have Armor that can range anywhere between the Current Heavy and Light values and is moddable by just adding components to the list without adding new blocks (unless it is a new shape).
For other blocks, component variations could impact not only health and mass, but Antenna, Sensor, Ore Detector ranges; the bounciness of wheels/suspensions; the fuel used in a thruster; the power required for a block to operate; etc.
Every ship could be totally unique even if it looked identical in every visual way. Some lighter, and weaker, but faster and tighter at turns....