[0.8.x] Logistics Robots

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by JackGruff » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:14 pm

Yes, the queues become noticible when you approach 400 active bots with ports spaced furthest apart.

But the I think the best idea is what Dysoch had, give us a version of the Roboport that is purely charging stations, the "Chargeport". The Chargeport could have 9 stations and bots would consider using them over the Robotport's stations. Maybe you could even have it that Chargeport has to be adjacent to a Roboport so that coding the logic is much simpler for you.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by TGS » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:51 am

JackGruff wrote:Yes, the queues become noticible when you approach 400 active bots with ports spaced furthest apart.

But the I think the best idea is what Dysoch had, give us a version of the Roboport that is purely charging stations, the "Chargeport". The Chargeport could have 9 stations and bots would consider using them over the Robotport's stations. Maybe you could even have it that Chargeport has to be adjacent to a Roboport so that coding the logic is much simpler for you.
Yeah, I like this idea a lot actually. The only issue I would see is that it would require additional art and given that they actually 'attach' to the prongs it would have to be large'ish'. That being said, it would be very good to have dedicated charging stations that are a lot LOT less expensive in mats. Cause the roboports are quite expensive early on and honestly I'd like to not have to use the expensive ports strictly for charging.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by slpwnd » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:44 pm

Given our shortage of graphical resources the Chargeport is not going to happen (or at least not soon):) But changing robots to be smarter - do not wait for the charging station to be empty to move there - combined with a little bit faster recharghing should help.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by BurnHard » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:24 pm

When I have covered quite a large area with several roboports, I saw, that the logistic robots all flew to the nearest port after finishing work, queing up there. With all the queuing, it would have been a lot faster if the robots would fly to the next free roboport.

I think, rechargetime is already too fast at the moment and could even increase if the robots would be distributed to the next free roboport if the nearest one is having queues.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by kovarex » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:45 pm

BurnHard wrote:When I have covered quite a large area with several roboports, I saw, that the logistic robots all flew to the nearest port after finishing work, queing up there. With all the queuing, it would have been a lot faster if the robots would fly to the next free roboport.

I think, rechargetime is already too fast at the moment and could even increase if the robots would be distributed to the next free roboport if the nearest one is having queues.
That is already done. The further (regards to A) roboport B is chosen when it's queue is smaller than 2 X (tile distance A to B), but maybe the formula could be optimised a bit.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by JackGruff » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:30 pm

slpwnd wrote:combined with a little bit faster recharging should help.
Make it a research! And if you guys are hesitant to add research to the game, just make it expensive.

One last thing: what do you, the developers, think what the load the bots should be able to handle is? Do you expect them to be able to completely replace all belts? Straight from ore through to everything else? Or just some intermediate product and beyond?

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:05 pm

Logistic bots cannot replace belts. They use heavy amounts of energy. Belts don't.

An example: I have currently a factory which consumes 1000-2000 ore and about the same of copper per minute. And I need in average only 120 bots to transport that to the assemblies, because of this belt/inserter-driven production-streets for electric circuits, or other lower items. If I do it differently, which I made in the factory before, I need more than 400 for the same job! Not to speak from the needed energy...

And another thing is, that the logistic bots transport capacity must be calculated in

Code: Select all

   average distance between two chests * speed * loading capacity
While those of belts are

Code: Select all

   speed * density
(I left away some more variables in both formulas due to unneeded complexity here)

This means: Distance with transport belts are not the same problem as with logistic bots. Or logistic bots makes much more sense, if they transport in a really concentrated areas. But that is sometimes difficult to built and most players tend to make the factory area wide.

For balancing: I mean this is not so clear yet. Currently I see many players trying to do too much with logistic bots. I think it should be a bit more expensive. :) But I don't have a really good idea. Maybe the bots should need more energy, if they take more items? So that the distances they can do get shorter? An research for better bot-accus will help, but that means that the loading stations come to the limit of energy they can use. This means longer loading times, longer queues, more spread of the bots to load, more bots needed to transport, slower transport. There is then a point, where no more bots in an robotic network make sense.

In other words: I think it makes sense to use everything in the right amounts. Some "production streets", for example for the electric circuits, which use belts/inserters only. They can be really as fast, as with logistic bots, if built correctly. And then logistic bots, which take the core materials and use it for the complicated stuff, which is much less items as if you transport everything by bots.
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by Balthazar » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:36 pm

Okay was about to make a thread about this but noticed this was up :D I always use drones when expanding my mining sites, usually setup with a train stop in the middle and then cover every resource deposit in a radius of 4-5 roboport areas with miners. Its very fast and easy to setup and take back down when the miners are depleted, but i've noticed a lot of quirky behavior as well.

I think one of the biggest contributors that you missed is the launch speed; a station can launch its entire drone capacity in about 1 second; if they're launched in response to a train pulling in or new storage being added, any new spike order, most of the drones will follow the same route, and since they all launched in the same 1 second window they will all run out of energy in the exact same spot and at the exact same time, which creates a LOT of the congestion. I have hundreds of ports on a new mining site and the vast majority are always empty, but a few unfortunate ones get massive congestion. (See pic 1) Okay this particular example was kinda forced by putting a bunch of requester chests down, but it typically happens whenever the drones get a big new order, like a train rolling in, removing a bunch of mats from requesty chestys. I think a rework of the routing logic is definitely in order, at least once a link gets congested drones shouldn't spend forever waiting for a slot when there are multiple vacant ports adjacent to the one they're waiting at.

If you're dealing with a high stress net you need silly amounts of roboports; i have this small station for recieving mining shipments then sorting the materials and sending them on to where they need to go and i need this many ports to keep the drones from falling down :( I was losing drones before i added the 28 ports in the middle.

I don't think reducing the drones energy consumption is a good idea; they're allready a huge benefit over inserters and having them be less energy efficient just seems kind of fair. I also have to say that i dont think increasing the energy capacity will accomplish anything at all; it just delays the congestion since the drones are still going to run out of energy at the same place and time, and recharging will take even longer. The rest of the options you listed all sound good tho, and we could definitely do with more research :D

Oh and finally, please nerf the overlays when more than one station is around :shock: (Pic 3)
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:22 pm

Very good idea! Yes, the output of the logistic bots from the roboports should be a little slower.

I watched the work of the bots this week for over 5 hours. I tried several things with them.

For example I let them move the output of some mines over some distance. I made some notices.
Distance 200 tiles, over 200 bots needed. Distance 150, much less, only 110 bots needed. Distance 100: only 60. With a distance of 300 I needed over 400!!

They don't behave as I stated in my formula in the previous post! There is no linearity, it's a bit quadratic. This is because of the limited load capacity of the roboports. Either the bots wait,or they search path to a Roboport, which is not on the route. In both cases they need more time to transport. This brings in this quadratic growing with the distance.

And that brings me to another idea, As your firs pic nicely shows, the bots use always the shortest path to the destination.

But I think it would be faster, when they use paths over other roboports. I mean they could use a similar algorithm as the internet routing: If one path is full ( because the roboports are full of the loading stations) they should search a way over the other roboports. Which might be longer, but in the end it's much shorter, because it's not so crowded.
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by Balthazar » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:58 am

But I think it would be faster, when they use paths over other roboports. I mean they could use a similar algorithm as the internet routing: If one path is full ( because the roboports are full of the loading stations) they should search a way over the other roboports. Which might be longer, but in the end it's much shorter, because it's not so crowded.
Theres another problem i forgot to mention; when you're trying to connect miners you end up having to cover every possible path the drones can take or you'll lose drones when they fly outside the net. For example a setup like this:

A - - - - B - - - - C
|
|
|
D
|
|
|
E - - - - F - - - - G

Will lose drones if they travel from G to C because they cannot recharge in the area thats not covered by roboports. Your suggestion would fix this and make it much easier to have a branching structure to remote mines without covering the entire map in a massive grid :P

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:13 am

Too true.and you don't see, when you loose one...

I had in this moment the idea, that this kind of routing must be researched first.
Something like "intelligent robot routing":
- a robot takes the direct way only, if his accus are full (more than 90%).
- otherwise he takes a route, which leads him over roboports.
- the next tier of this research would be: if the roboports on the route are heavy loaded (the sum of all queues thru the ports is > some number) then try choosing another route.

As result this should happen:
- some bots go directly, because they are loaded
- some go first on a short route over the ports, until they load and then go directly
- some will choose a route around the heavy crowds. They will also go directly, when loaded.

That should spread the bots all around the ports and if this gets long queues at the ports, then the player hasn't understand how to use them. And you can also cheat that system out by making a robotic network bigger, than a bot can fly with one load.
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by slpwnd » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:34 am

Balthazar wrote:Theres another problem i forgot to mention; when you're trying to connect miners you end up having to cover every possible path the drones can take or you'll lose drones when they fly outside the net. For example a setup like this:

A - - - - B - - - - C
|
|
|
D
|
|
|
E - - - - F - - - - G

Will lose drones if they travel from G to C because they cannot recharge in the area thats not covered by roboports. Your suggestion would fix this and make it much easier to have a branching structure to remote mines without covering the entire map in a massive grid
This is something we originally wanted to do - the robots would plan the path within the network only "within the span of the network". Though there was no time in the end. It will come in the future (just put it on our internal todo list).

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by immibis » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:07 am

There's a very simple way to fix robots dying while waiting for a recharge slot, while making them slightly less "realistic": make them not use power while waiting.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:50 am

That would prefer players, which use too much bots. They can handle unloading trains with much less roboports.

Hm. But might be a good idea: if a bot in a queue can see, that he won't come to charger in time, he lands in the Roboport, uncharged. Uncharged bots take an extra slot. They come out only, if there is no queue anymore. If there are no stacks in the port, they are lost.
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by Garm » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:10 pm

Frankly this still wont help from loosing bots that decide to travel from one branch to the other as shown before.

Also i don't think I've seen bots die waiting for queue often enough and I do use a lot of bots with variable amounts of roboports. Usually they experience a large queue surge in the beginning, which evens out over time. In this regard storing bots might be actually worse due to additional time wasted at going in\coming out.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by immibis » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:38 am

If a player has too many bots, they won't gain throughput from the extra bots, because they'll all be waiting to recharge.

And the branch problem is a different problem entirely.

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:39 am

The idea behind it, is to take out the bots, which are too much. This is, because my measurements show for example, that a single roboport is not able to hold more than around 75 bots in the air. Under ideal circumstances! So I can't recommend to use more than 50-60 bots per port ATM.

But, well, the "go inside and wait"-idea is not the best. :)

Hmm. As I wrote anywhere else, before we change it, I currently think, that we need more data, to be sure, that this is really a problem and what can be done. Better knowing that means, that I have more statistics, or more time for such experiments.
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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by liq3 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:51 am

I think a good solution to the problem of suicidal robots is just to make them run at 1/5th speed instead of dying. Pretend they have a solar panel on top or something, but without battery charge run much slower. ;p

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by Deathmage » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:07 am

A use for portable solar panels and how great they are, I joke. Still it would make sense, that or a mass robot recharger that does so but at a slower rate but can hold more robots to charge at once, instead of 4

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Re: [0.8.x] Logistics Robots

Post by ssilk » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:27 am

liq3 wrote:I think a good solution to the problem of suicidal robots is just to make them run at 1/5th speed instead of dying. Pretend they have a solar panel on top or something, but without battery charge run much slower. ;p
I was once the same opinion, but they fly around. Not enough energy and they need to land. There is no slow flight, no slow propeller, either they fly or not.
But well. Maybe they have really a small solar panel and can load the accu again... But that takes quite a while, one day or so.
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