You should be able to press a hotkey or button that advances the game by a single tick when the game is paused. This can be used to, for example, debug AI/GS scripts, see what's going on inside a contraption, or work out other stuff on a tick by tick basis.
Alternatively, a console command tick step can be added which takes in an optional integer argument (defaulting to 1) and runs the game for that many ticks.
Whenever you unpause and pause the game, even if the game is limited to running at 0.25x speed by #8693, that's still 54 ms per tick, which is faster than the time it takes most humans (and some bots) to click the button to unpause the game then the same button to pause it.
Steps to reproduce
Pause the game.
Unpause then pause the game as fast as you can. For example, press the PAUSE hotkey twice in a row, or hover the cursor over the pause button and click twice in succession.
Notice that multiple game ticks will have passed.
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I've used this technique for debugging/testing things a few times, but never went as far as making an actual option for it.
Adding a _pause_mode = PM_PAUSED_NORMAL; towards the end of StateGameLoop() and rebuilding had the desired effect.