Solar panels less of a no-brainer

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bobucles
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobucles » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:15 pm

FYI lossy power transmission will only BUFF solar panels. Why?

You can build solar panels anywhere, even next to the energy consumers.

You can not build steam power anywhere, especially on a "spawn zone water only" map.

Stop buffing solar panels guys.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:56 pm

Hi everyone, first post here, let me add my two cents to this thread :).

(Everything that follows is in the context of a Vanilla Freeplay Factorio game on a difficulty appropriate for the player; assume default map settings.)

tl;dr: In my opinion solar power is completely optional in the context of a Vanilla game leading to a single rocket launch. The original premise of this thread ("solar is a no-brainer") is pure nonsense. In any case, energy should be made more interesting by adding more options to the game (besides steam and solar).


Now for the long rant:

Is solar "overpowered" in Factorio? Factorio is a sandbox game that you cannot lose. "Item power" is not a useful concept in a game that you cannot win or lose. Everything is equally useful or useless. Solar is not more powerful than a constant combinator or wooden box. You certainly don't need it to launch a rocket (other than it being an ingredient for the satellite cargo).

I'm completely serious when I say you cannot "lose" Factorio. Unless you make it your mission to completely paint yourself into a corner it's practically impossible to not being able to launch a rocket eventually.

Furthermore, the rocket launch is a rather "soft" win condition anyway. My first rocket launch felt more like a victory in Civilization IV: the game was "won" a lot earlier, waiting for a rocket launch animation was more of a symbolic act.

Having said that, what's the issue here that leads to this "solar is a no-brainer discussion" to go on for 13 pages?

I guess that most players will naturally build a solar farm because it's the only energy production upgrade that you get in the entire game (steam power requires no research) -- and to be honest that is perfectly reasonable. After all, most technology upgrades in the game, in fact, are significant upgrades to what you have.

And then you have your solar farm, but it doesn't really change anything, and it just sits there, and that's that. To be honest I don't even understand how anybody could come to the conclusion that solar farms are "OP".

Is solar a "no-brainer"? I think that is completely ludicrous. In a normal play-through (launch a rocket) your factory will probably never need more that 30 MW -- ballpark figure, make it 50 MW if you want.

50 MW is ten rows of 14/10 steam engine setups. It takes 10 minutes to set these up, and you can craft all the needed things before you've even researched Automation 1 (after all, your player avatar has super powers and can craft major industrial machinery in the blink of an eye, and carry around stacks of them in his butt pocket), and it's not even unreasonable to do that!

That power plant will then last you for the rest of the game. If you have a small to medium coal patch that you can dedicate to that, then the resource problem is solved as well (no need to switch to oil).

Why would you replace this with solar? First you'd have to put significant resources into making all the solar modules and accumulators, and then you'll have to spend way more time than it took you to put down 10 rows of steam engines in order to establish your solar farm. Even if you have Foreman and a blueprint from some other game, it's probably going to take longer (per MW) to make a solar farm compared to steam power.

What do you get out of it, then? The only advantage is lower pollution, but what difference does that make? As we've already established, you cannot "lose" the game, no matter how much you pollute -- and each of your metal mines will pollute at least a much as your entire power plant anyway. Getting rid of the coal boilers in your factory is not going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

The bottom line

In my opinion, solar can be skipped about as safely as a lot of other technologies in the game (Trains, Smart Chests, Roboports, most weapons, ...) -- if your main point is to make it to a rocket launch without major headaches (a.k.a. "win the game"). The point of speed-runs not involving solar has already been made by others, and they were spot on.

Solar is clearly the best option for oversized mega-factories, but even there you could, at least in theory, expand indefinitely to the point where you could power everything from depleted oil wells...

In a vanilla game, they're simply not needed, and calling them a "no-brainer" option is just silly.

I also think they're boring and don't fit the spirit of the game that revolves around moving parts and automation.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:45 am

Imagine a "furnace panel" making iron plate without the need of Iron ore. Undeniably overpowered.

Solar panels need to be removed from the game.
It makes me sick to see cannibal mutant underground dwellers defend solar panels.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobingabout » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:09 pm

Although solar is clean and useful for those long hauls, I have to agree with Siggboy, you can do perfectly well with steam power for the entire game, running off depleated oil wells, you can easily create a self contained machine with excess power, for what is basically an infinite power source.

The only real downside to this method is it makes more pollution, but takes less space, compared to solar and accumulators.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:33 pm

My 2 cents: Solar panels are a no brainer, in the sense that they're not interesting. Steam is interesting: There's pollution to worry about, fuel can run out, water piping issues. Solar is just fire and forget. It's not interesting. Once you get accumulators, they get even less interesting. Strategy games are supposed to be a series of interesting choices.

There is only 1 interesting concern with solar is that the space they take up. With the current power generation, they take up a medium amount of space, IMO. A proposed simple fix is to produce less power per panel, which makes them take more space, because people just build more. This is more interesting, IMO. The power density of steam starts becoming more valuable.

There is a subjective balance point where players will decide that steam is too sparse a power generation and they don't want to deal with clearing (and possibly defending) huge swaths of space and will rely on steam instead. That is the perfect point for a game, IMO.

You want the players to have to make interesting choices. Do I use productivity or speed? Do I use main bus or spaghetti? There's a time and a place for both.

In my games, there's no current use for steam except as emergency backup when I'm under massive siege at night and haven't made enough margin on my power production. (I like a 50% margin, producing twice as much as my baseline need.) That's not very interesting. Solar is too cheap, for me.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:16 am

What id like is solar boilers. The ability to make molten salt for high density energy storage. And instead of steam engines have a temperature differential engine to feed the molten salt into that has a small loss on materials used (so you have to also be producing more salt somewhere). That would be interesting to me and allow for a mostly clean energy path

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:26 pm

Sunlight is not a resource to manage in this game.
To fix the panels sunlight should feel more like an actual resource.

Sure you can spam steam engines all you want but you are still limited to how much fuel you have.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:08 pm

But you're not limited. Oil is infinite and can be turned into solid fuel. Thus steam power is a free and infinite power source no different than solar. With steam you need the oil extraction feeding into the set of factories to convert to solid fuel. For solar power you need the series of factories building the entire tech tree needed to get accumulators and panels.

Both are the same amount of work. Both are 'free' and infinite. Solar is just a later game (higher research) tech, that requires a SIGNIFICANTLY larger land allocation and more resources as its cost with lower pollution as its reward. Thats it.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:42 pm

frekkerebba wrote:Sunlight is not a resource to manage in this game.
To fix the panels sunlight should feel more like an actual resource.

Sure you can spam steam engines all you want but you are still limited to how much fuel you have.
Water's similar. It's endless (unless modded). It's a little more restricted by geography, so that's a fun wrinkle.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:44 pm

seronis wrote:But you're not limited. Oil is infinite and can be turned into solid fuel. Thus steam power is a free and infinite power source no different than solar. With steam you need the oil extraction feeding into the set of factories to convert to solid fuel. For solar power you need the series of factories building the entire tech tree needed to get accumulators and panels.

Both are the same amount of work. Both are 'free' and infinite. Solar is just a later game (higher research) tech, that requires a SIGNIFICANTLY larger land allocation and more resources as its cost with lower pollution as its reward. Thats it.
Oil based steam power is not the same as solar. 1) Geography restrictions from water. 2) The setup is much more complex. You need more machines and linking them together is not trivial, therefore is fun. 3) Create pollution.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:55 am

mooklepticon wrote:2) The setup is much more complex.
No its not. The setup for accumulators and solar panels includes the setup for every ingredient they require, and every ingredient those intermediates require, all the way back to the ore gathering and smelting. Just because you're not giving credit to the whole supply chain to produce solar doesnt mean its not several factors MORE complex than oil based steam.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:50 am

seronis wrote:But you're not limited. Oil is infinite and can be turned into solid fuel. Thus steam power is a free and infinite power source no different than solar. With steam you need the oil extraction feeding into the set of factories to convert to solid fuel.


Still Steam engine need water and fuel. They cant just be spammed like panels.

When I play without using panels I actually try to manage my electricity and efficiency modules becomes usefull.
Being power efficent should be important, And that mechanic is removed from the game when you are able to spam panels.
seronis wrote: The setup for accumulators and solar panels includes the setup for every ingredient they require, and every ingredient those intermediates require, all the way back to the ore gathering and smelting. Just because you're not giving credit to the whole supply chain to produce solar
Hopefully you can remember to give credit to the whole investment nessesary to run steam engines purely on solid fuel. If the factory is big.
Just mention that becouse I find the argument "Oil is infinite and can be turned into solid fuel" really bad and extremly bias. (If that quote are used to defend panels.)

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobingabout » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:30 am

frekkerebba wrote:When I play without using panels I actually try to manage my electricity and efficiency modules becomes usefull.
Being power efficent should be important, And that mechanic is removed from the game when you are able to spam panels.
Which again is a false idea, sure, you may be able to have "Unlimited power" by just spamming more panels, but your machines still produce pollution, and those modules will help reduce it.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:04 am

bobingabout wrote:
frekkerebba wrote:When I play without using panels I actually try to manage my electricity and efficiency modules becomes usefull.
Being power efficent should be important, And that mechanic is removed from the game when you are able to spam panels.
Which again is a false idea, sure, you may be able to have "Unlimited power" by just spamming more panels, but your machines still produce pollution, and those modules will help reduce it.
Well the polution mechanic are still there, I meant the Fuel burning mechanic, and how the module save fuel.
Khaylain wrote: There is a lot less investment needed to run steam engines purely on solid fuel, no matter how big your factory is. To make Solar Panels and Accumulators you need to use a finite resource (ores), and an infinite resource (oil->sulfuric acid for batteries) to make a tiny amount of power for the amount of resources you're using. If you're making almost all your crude into Solid Fuel for your power production you shouldn't need that much to feed a pretty big steam setup.
I think that infinate oil and steam engines are seperate topics. So the Oil is infinate argument is still trash when talking about steam engines and panels. If this is a issue the problem are infinate oil, not steam engines.
And comparing solid fuel to sunligh it a bad comparison, when solid fuel steam combo are somthing you actually have to automate. While sunlight is infinate by itself and require no automation.
I run on coal when doing the no panel challenge.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:59 am

A suggestion:
Maybe accumulators should not be able to store power from panels, and that you have to use steam engines to store power in accumulators. For this to work I think steam engines and boilers should get some upgrades you can research in the lab. (maybe able to burn rocket fuel as a upgrade ) That makes it able to produse more power and less polution. Then solar panels will simply be used to reduse the fuel spent and reduse the polution during daytime.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Koub » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:23 pm

frekkerebba wrote:Maybe accumulators should not be able to store power from panels, and that you have to use steam engines to store power in accumulators.
Sorry, but this makes totally no sense. The goal is not to force people using steam, but to make solar less "plop and forget".
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by BlakeMW » Thu Apr 21, 2016 2:52 pm

The problem with the idea of unlimited oil is comparative advantage - Oil is only unlimited given infinite time, the problem is oil income is very much limited with strongly competing uses. Solar power is unlimited and not at all scarce, it is available everywhere and there is little competition for the required resources as the land is cheap as dirt and the materials are simply copper and iron which is pretty abundant.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:40 pm

Koub wrote:Sorry, but this makes totally no sense. The goal is not to force people using steam, but to make solar less "plop and forget".
Steam is also plop and forget. And it requires less research. And less of a factory chain.

Solar requires more tech. Requires significantly more resources. Requires SIGNIFICANTLY more factory setup for the production chain. Requires VASTLY increased land allotment. And only benefit is less pollution from the panels while the entire factory chain producing those parts still pollutes a decent amount.

Since both are infinite plop and forget power production, the goal should not be to remove plop and forget. You cant do that and still have factorio be about automation. Instead the factory chain you design should look interesting which is a thing you can already do for both.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobingabout » Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:48 pm

seronis wrote:Steam is also plop and forget.
Indeed, the only times you really need to pay attention to steam power is:
1. When you expand it (Also applies to solar)
2. When the fuel runs dry, at which point you likely change to oil.

So you only have an additional step, and that's when you switch to oil. If you set it up with oil based fuel to begin with, it's as "plop and forget" as solar.

And where you could consider the more complexities of making sure you have enough fuel... you have similar complexities of balancing solar panels vs accumulators.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:15 pm

bobingabout wrote: 2. When the fuel runs dry, at which point you likely change to oil.
This makes steam interesting, to me. I can't forget about it. If I do, I'm boned. I can forget about solar.

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