In OpenComputers we currently have a simple highly abstracted networking model. We do have ports, thankfully, but besides that the model is highly abstracted and thusly underpowered.
The first suggestion, is remove the abstraction on network communication in the first place. Allow this to be configured in the mod preferences file, but have it enabled by default. By default, there is no “hardware addresses”. A cable is just that, a cable. The only API by the mod is “broadcast and receive”. In the OS provided by the game by default could still have the same API as now. The different is it’d behave like broadcast, with packets being what are broadcasted. The new network card API (excluding any OS-level abstraction would look like this:
Already, we now have a lot of extra things. It encourages crafting an encryption card (or whatever it’s called) because users can now snoop and preform MITM attacks on these packets, since there is no game mechanic (provides by the mod itself) preventing posing as somebody else. That also means you can simulate multiple networks cards in software while crafting only one.
Second, something that kinda complements the idea of the first suggestion. Cable bandwidth limits. Just like normal cables, there is a limit to the amount of data we can cram into a single cable. Since the last suggestion removed the magic of hardware addresses, we actually need to listen to packets on the cable. We can only process so many packets so often. Now, us developers have an actual NEED to work on more complex softwares. We need to design things like intelligent multiplexing algorithms and routing softwares to efficiently receive, decode, process, bundle, re-encode, and transmit packets.
There will also now be tiered network cards, that change things like the maximum number of packets a second the card can receive and transmit. It could also limit what kinds of cables the system can connect to. For example, you might need a tier four to connect to fibreglass.
Keeping on the same note, Radio Frequencies. Just like cables, we can only send so much data through the air at once. One way we allow for more people talking wirelessly, besides just having everybody wait their turn in a long que to talk, is Frequency Multiplexing (FM). This also adds a new unique challenge, but powerful tool, to busy areas. You can allow a lot of people to talk at once using multiple frequencies, but you need to develop systems to send data to users on the right frequency to have them actually receive it.
Radio Frequencies would have different reasons to use it. Higher frequencies can transmit farther, but they use more power and they can be affected by things like weather (If I understand correctly some RF wavelengths can experience interference due to the size of the droplets). Lower frequencies would use less energy, but have lower range, but less susceptible to interference from things like weather (however, if memory serves right, lower frequencies are more noisy; translates in-game to possibly more failed packets and corruption).
In the game, tiered wireless cards have been added. The higher tiers have the capability for wider bandwidth (meaning the range of RFs the card can use), multiple antennas (allowing use of multiple frequencies at once), and higher bandwidth (packets/second it can receive and transmit). To craft these, one good way could be like how you setup server racks. You can open a GUI where there are slots. You need better processor for higher throughput (packets/second) and higher memory for higher throughout volume capacity.
All my suggestion make the game more difficult, sure. That’s why I use it over ComputerCraft. I like having my computers be complex and expensive, they should be! They’re freaking computers.
This adds the ability to design a lot of new things, and new challenges. However, they won’t really effect new players. On your small one or Teo computer network running the default OS, everything will work perfectly fine. Only large-scale complex systems have these issues.