The stages are as follows:
1: Specify purpose of design (what's it for)
2: Specify skeleton (BODY and material which together determine weight and cost)
3: Specify calculating engine - MIND determines weight and cost.
4: Specify visual system (one "eye" or more, monochrome or colour, multiple "eyes" add to weight and cost of brain)
5: Communications system (200 word vocabulary unless you spend more, but the more words it knows the slower it is)
6: SOUL - usually none unless there are unusual circumstances
7: Skills - add to weight and cost of calculating engine, some new skills e.g. Chess, Servant, Porter
8: Interesting built-in gadgets e.g. circular saws, grenade launchers.
9: Calculation of approximate final weight
10: Power plant - tailored to estimated final weight, various options including clockwork, compressed air, steam (coal or acetylene fired), electric, or internal combustion - and fuel
11: Outer casing - papier mache, rubber, aluminium, tin plate, or steel. Find out it's going to be much too heavy and cycle through stages 9-11 a couple of times to get an answer that works.
12: Adjustments for particularly bad or good components.
13: Cosmetic features e.g. rubber masks, lacquered gold leaf inlay, baked enamelled paint, etc.
14: Calculation of performance statistics.
Can anyone think of any stages that need to be added?
The main example for the process will be "Automaton Atkins", a steam-powered soldier. Big, strong, stupid, designed primarily to look impressive, fire a biggish gun, and provide hot water for making tea.
I want to describe a few others. So far the ideas I've come up with are
Alice: A mechanical parlourmaid, domestic skills only.
Porter 12: A mechanical railway porter
Ernie: An assembly-line automaton.
Arnold: An automatic assassin. Think of the Cybermen from "The Avengers" but even more stupid. Quote: "Are you... whirr... Sarah Connaught?"
A "toy" automaton of some sort, e.g. a chess-player or a pet.
Any suggestions for others?