Solar panels less of a no-brainer

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobucles » Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:08 pm

[you have similar complexities of balancing solar panels vs accumulators.
Seriously? The ratio is less than 5% off from a direct 1:1. If someone asks for a ratio, you can unironically tell them "build the same of each" and it would serve them well the entire game.
If you set it up with oil based fuel to begin with, it's as "plop and forget" as solar.
But this is clearly false. The player's supply of fuel changes constantly, as coal deposits clean out and oil wells get tapped. Even at extreme endgame after all wells are dry, fuel storage has to be monitored so that it doesn't develop a negative trend.

Solar has no trends, no long term storage and no real disasters to speak of. It works from day 1 and every day thereafter. If a player runs short of solar the problem is both shown very immediately and is fixed in quick order.
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.
The reduced pollution is an AMAZING benefit. Monster evolution is based on pollution, so removing one of the major pollutors will reduce enemy aggression dramatically.

The cost of solar is too high for any speed run benefit, and the payoff doesn't happen for at least a handful of game days. If a person is blasting through the game then solar doesn't have any benefit to them. If someone is marathoning then they'll get paid back many times over in terms of raw resources, difficulty reduction and ease of setup. The value of solar only GROWS as the game advances almost indefinitely, so it is NOT POSSIBLE to have both a reasonable cost early solar AND a reasonably useful but limited late solar. Many mechanics will not allow it, especially with accumulators.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:34 pm

Except its not clearly false. You build oil-2-solidfuel production so that power generation gets saturated first and only excess solid fuel goes to other needs. If you dont have power then nothing else runs so thats a no brainer design decision. I've never once even paid attention to my oil production levels. Steam is utterly plop and forget, and cheaper, and takes less land, and less research. The pollution difference isnt even that big of a bonus with solar because the majority of my pollution isnt from the power generation aspects of my mega factory anyways.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobucles » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:47 pm

Except its not clearly false.
But it is. Steam power has multiple failure conditions, some with non moving parts like setting up pipes and inserters wrong, and some with moving parts like logistic chains and fuel depots. The latter always has the opportunity to fail, even if your personal experience is to have adequate supply chains.

Solar power has only two failure conditions, with non moving parts. Either you didn't build enough, or they're not connected to the grid. They are literally set it and forget it.


No matter how easy steam might be, there is always the possibility of forgetting it until it breaks in some way. Solar doesn't suffer like that.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by seronis » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:43 pm

So you're listing potential failure conditions in the setting up phase. I'll take that.

Now since solar HAS FAR MORE FACTORIES REQUIRED to get accumulators and panels produced you have far more potential failure conditions. Again you're not taking into consideration the entire set of steps needed for solar versus the entire set of steps needed for steam.

You are intentionally ignoring enough of the facts until whats left over finally supports your argument. This seems about as intelligent as most religion Evangelist who also like to ignore facts until they have an argument. At this point further discussion is pointless.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by frekkerebba » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:46 am

The way I see it solar panels is the only structure in the game that do not require any automation, and that is the problem. I think I would feel better about them if they required some kind of automation to work.

Was toying with the idea that panels are fragile and that they take damage from the environment over time. Then the player would have to automate repair packs and have bots repairing the panels as they take damage.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:36 pm

frekkerebba wrote:The way I see it solar panels is the only structure in the game that do not require any automation, and that is the problem. I think I would feel better about them if they required some kind of automation to work.

Was toying with the idea that panels are fragile and that they take damage from the environment over time. Then the player would have to automate repair packs and have bots repairing the panels as they take damage.
They do get dirty, IRL. If there was a dust storm for some reason.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Khaylain » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:50 am

Just add windshield wipers and a fluid, and your solar panels will take care of the dust buildup :D

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Aru » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:32 am

(I made an accidental double post, the next one is the right one!)
Last edited by Aru on Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Aru » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:56 am

ssilk wrote:This type of discussion is comming every 2-3 month. My answer is simple: Change the solar input in a way, that it is more random.
In the moment you do that Solar Panels are no no-brainer anymore. You need to calculate: Will the next solar eclipse be so big, that I come through with my solar power?

See
https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... f=80&t=183
https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... f=6&t=6181
Like RimWorld. It has solar (depends on sun), geothermal, and wind turbines (depends on wind). But there, solar is the cheapest tech, and geo is expensive. You get random events like eclipses, which can leave you in the dark for days, with unpowered turrets, if you don't have backup power or a lot of batteries. It's certainly a viable idea.
mooklepticon wrote:They do get dirty, IRL. If there was a dust storm for some reason.
Keeping the panels clean is the biggest maintenance challenge for real solar arrays, for sure.
The Phoenixian wrote:Pulling once again from reality, (it's not that reality is better, just that it provides good inspiration) there are several types of solar. Factorio obviously uses a form of Photovoltaic, but we can also consider Solar-thermal. It's been suggested before (might've been by me actually, but I think I just helped a bit after it was brought up) but the gist of it is simple:

Solar panels don't produce electricity directly. Instead, each panel contains a pipe and works by heating up the fluid in that pipe. That fluid can then be used to power steam engines.

Now that alone just makes you go and find a new way to boil water but the other thing you can do is have a type of heating oil that gets much much hotter than water can on its own. (either as an upgrade, or exclusively) You just need a heat exchanger to turn that into usable power.
This could be a lot of fun. Solar thermal is more efficient than photovoltaic, you get more power per area. (But the mechanical engines are less efficient.) Steam gets hot, oil gets hotter, molten salts even hotter (700 C and up). Salts would be made in chemical plants, if anywhere. Hotter means more efficient engines, and more energy per storage tank. Solar thermal does require liquid storage for night energy (in real life, capacitors/accumulators are not practical energy storage on this scale, but hot fluid tanks are).
Trough technology is mature and clean, with a long track record demonstrating viability in large-scale application. The technology has been in use since the 1980s. Today, more than 300MW of solar troughs are in operation, with more than 6GW currently in development.
http://www.largescalesolar.org/technology.php

When I google "solar", I see nearly exclusively things about buying panels for end-users to put on their houses. That's it! But, I see both photovoltaic and thermal for large-scale solar things.

Another quote. Notice the emphasis on energy storage as hot liquid... it gives great credibility to all these builds that store hot water in storage tanks.
The working fluid that is heated by the concentrated sunlight can be a liquid or a gas. Different working fluids include water, oil, salts, air, nitrogen, helium, etc. Different engine types include steam engines, gas turbines, Stirling engines, etc. All of these engines can be quite efficient, often between 30% and 40%, and are capable of producing 10's to 100's of megawatts of power.
Photovoltaic, or PV energy conversion, on the other hand, directly converts the sun's light into electricity. This means that solar panels are only effective during daylight hours because storing electricity is not a particularly efficient process. Heat storage is a far easier and efficient method, which is what makes solar thermal so attractive for large-scale energy production. Heat can be stored during the day and then converted into electricity at night. Solar thermal plants that have storage capacities can drastically improve both the economics and the dispatchability of solar electricity.
http://www.solar-thermal.com/solar_vs_pv.html

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bo6 » Sun May 01, 2016 8:33 pm

If we're trying to find ways to make solar not obsolete everything else, I like The Phoenixian's idea to get some inspiration from real life.

Short of making the output of the solar panels random (I like Factorio's low load on my CPU, and I don't think anybody would notice any second-to-second variations) the land required is a pretty big issue.
The Phoenixian wrote: Indeed if factorio took place on an earth-like planet they' would need to be about 500% efficient.
It's pretty convenient to have a 60kW source that takes up 9 squares, especially compared to a steam engine's ~15.4 squares. With current solar PV technology whatever planet that is needs 70kW/m² of irradiance, over 7 times that of Mercury. I don't think if this is changed it should be as brutal in real life and make a 1-megawatt plant take up over 5 acres, but making it take up more space might 'balance' it.

Making solar panels more tech or material expensive should do the same thing, but tech and materials is a balance for everything else in Factorio. Making land an issue for solar PV would give it a pretty unique problem.

Personally, I just don't like my minimap going red when I press Alt; so I always go 100% solar.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Mon May 02, 2016 12:08 am

bo6 wrote:Making solar panels more tech or material expensive should do the same thing, but tech and materials is a balance for everything else in Factorio. Making land an issue for solar PV would give it a pretty unique problem.
How will you make land an "issue"? It's not possible in Factorio, unless you limit the map size, like in the "Tight Spot" scenario (which is really fun and interesting by the way).

People nowadays use FARL to spill out the ludicrous solar farms for their megabases. If solar takes 400% more space than now, you can still spam them mindlessly with robots, it's just more annoying and maybe worse for UPS (while you build it). Player dissatisfaction guaranteed.

Right now solar poses one problem in the post-end game (megabases), and that is that the default "ghost time" is too short for the robots to build the panels in time. Factorio First-World Problems...

Solar needs to be turned into something that needs to be managed/maintained in some way, or it needs to be made so inefficient that you'd only want to use it for niche purposes (like last resort power to keep a coal supply running or something like that).
Personally, I just don't like my minimap going red when I press Alt; so I always go 100% solar.
You know you can turn that off in the options, right? :)
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by fandingo » Mon May 02, 2016 6:45 pm

I read through this entire thread, and there's a lot of good discussion. I'm also a relatively new player (~90 hours and two rocket-launching saves).

I don't think there needs to be any changes to solar whatsoever. I'll try to lay-out three reasons.

1) Many parts of Factorio are "plop and forget" or nearly so. A lot more than you might appreciate. In fact, for most things the only continued interaction is input/output balancing. Sure, you occassionally replace things, but generally, you're mostly doing additive building, so the original stuff is still a one-time situation. The only reason solar is more plop and forget is because it's usually placed far enough away that it doesn't conflict with other items in the same way that a capacity-constrained main bus requires rebuilding other things. If you want to deal with your solar more, place it in the middle of the base, so it gets in the way of everything and then you can fiddle with moving it all the time. I'd even argue, as one person pointed out in a previous page, "plop and forget" is pretty much the objective of Factorio. There's always going to be tension between how fully you automate something and how much oversight and management it requires and trying to find the fun in therein.

(I want to stress that I'm only raising the "plop and forget" argument because other people have made it. Personally, I have absolutely no problem if limited game systems are like this.)

2) Players lose perspective once they get highly experienced. I'm not good at this game, and solar really helps me out. In fact, I simply wouldn't find it fun if I had some coal/solid fuel supply hiccup resulted in a death spiral. I'd probably quit playing that save and possibly the whole game, especially since there's no way to save scum since the overall problem is longer-term than autosave can rescue you from. Solar is so cool and useful to new and intermediate players. It's one of the only systems that the player can trust to function on its own, so you can focus on the actual factory. Many of you think that solar is cheaty, but for newer players, it's a not at all. Any change that makes power meaningfully harder will not be received well by less experienced players. Having an under or unpowered factory is panic inducing, frustrating experience when you're new. I'm not saying that the game must be easy, but it needs to be crystal clear about potentially fatal situations, and I don't think there's much way to do that with power. Jeez, just look at the perpetual confusion of new players to produced/consumed stats. How are you going to explain that a random event means they can't use solar for 2 days? How can you do that in a way that gives the player a chance to overcome it (and remember that could mean needing lots and lots of new accumulators before the event)?

3) The ideas about solar/accumulators(/laser turrets) requiring maintenance or resources sound awful. First, I guess logistics robots are now requried. I mean I use them and have no qualms, but for any player that doesn't want to use them, can't practically make use of them without robots. Of course, many of us use Madzuri's solar/accumulator/roboport blue print, so we have perfect robot coverage on solar. I guess the thing is that people who go massive with solar won't be impacted because they're already using designs that incorporate roboports to self-assemble, so what's the point? Okay, I need I need some assembly plants and resources to produce X to maintain the stuff. Whatever, it just marginally slows down the game and makes it more of a grind. Additionally, like most robot delivered production lines, there's nothing all that interesting for the player to do. Just like how people have correctly pointed out that tweaking costs or output just means more time or building more X. Furthermore, as others have said, until belts, inserters, assembly machines, turrets, pumps, and everything else that moves requires maintenance and replacement parts, it makes no sense for solar.

I can't find the post right now, but a couple of people have pointed out that the issue isn't solar, and I strongly agree. Solar is fine, although tweak the values if you must (it's just maniupalting a time factor ultimately). The problem is that there's just steam and solar. There's no other options, especially late game. I think nuclear power would be a great mechanic because it can be "interesting" in that there's input and output, but the output would be the only resource in the game that requires disposal. (Whereas everything else is either constructed, consumed in a machine, or an intemediate input.) If there was a meaninful third option, then players can choose what they want to use, which is the whole point of a sandbox game.

I think the reaction to unpredictable solar has been pretty consistent, but I'll throw some more fuel on the fire. Nobody wants tremendously unpredictable power. As I mentioned in #2, having a serious power failure without warning (even when due to your own negiligence), simply isn't fun. Oh, you built your base entirely with laser turrets? Well, fuck you buddy. It's simply too devistating, and I can't think of any meaningful way to inform the player about how much they're going to get screwed ahead of time. The problem is that there's no organic way to expose the player to eclipses without seriously negative outcomes. To make it work, you'd have to change pollution to instantly disappear when machines stop to give the inexeperienced player any chance of defending. Rimworld is not a good comparison for eclipses because threats are far rarer, bases are smaller, and outposts are nonexistent. Also, somebody please explain the celestial phenomon where an eclipse can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. The physics doesn't make a lick of sense, even for multiple moons or other bodies, so how is the player supposed to anticipate such long eclipses? The circuit breaker/sensor is a wonderful idea, but like everything with the circuit network, it must be strictly optional. Impossibly long eclipses make the circuit network mandatory.


I play four "building" games with power: Factorio, Rimworld, Cities Skylines, and Prison Architect. It's an unfun chore in all three mostly because I can't see electricity or really do anything with it. It's just a number running through some equations. Practically all of these ideas involve making the chore more involved which supposedly makes it more fun or interesting. I'm unconvienced.


If you guys want to "maintain" your solar arrays, it's easy. Shotgun the crap out them, and now you have a maintaince cost measured in repair packs and full replacement parts. If you guys just want more to do and fiddle with in the game, there's no reason why that must come from solar. It could be some totally new production lines. It's more a question of whether there's a sufficient amount to do in totality of the game rather than in an individual system.

===

I will offer one additional aspect to the replacement batteries for accumulators and laser turrets. The battery electrolyte shouldn't just wear out or disappear. It should leak into the ground and produce pollution. That radically changes how you can lay out solar arrays and where you need to clear biters. Presently, you can build massive arrays unguarded due to lack of pollution, but if they made pollution, it means they need defenses and will draw biters. I still think the whole concept is tedious, uninteresting, and fundamentally just a way to prevent idleness in large (not necessarily mega) bases, but I suppose you get some depth.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Mon May 02, 2016 8:29 pm

fandingo wrote: 2) Players lose perspective once they get highly experienced. I'm not good at this game, and solar really helps me out. In fact, I simply wouldn't find it fun if I had some coal/solid fuel supply hiccup resulted in a death spiral. I'd probably quit playing that save and possibly the whole game, especially since there's no way to save scum since the overall problem is longer-term than autosave can rescue you from. Solar is so cool and useful to new and intermediate players. It's one of the only systems that the player can trust to function on its own, so you can focus on the actual factory. Many of you think that solar is cheaty, but for newer players, it's a not at all. Any change that makes power meaningfully harder will not be received well by less experienced players. Having an under or unpowered factory is panic inducing, frustrating experience when you're new. I'm not saying that the game must be easy, but it needs to be crystal clear about potentially fatal situations, and I don't think there's much way to do that with power. Jeez, just look at the perpetual confusion of new players to produced/consumed stats. How are you going to explain that a random event means they can't use solar for 2 days? How can you do that in a way that gives the player a chance to overcome it (and remember that could mean needing lots and lots of new accumulators before the event)?
I think I like this response the best out of all of what I've read. Solar is awesome in it's own right and is a great step after coal and fits well. If we keep that thought, then another way to balance solar is to devalue it by increasing demand beyond it. One of the reasons that solar is awesome is that it's great for the time you need tons of energy and simply. There are so many nuclear power mods, but you don't really need them. If there was another power usage, a tier above what's needed now, and a nuclear (or massive generator) to supply it, then you've got another point you can balance.

Some SUPER HUGE draw that uses insane energy that a nuclear (or whatever) generator is suited for would be great. I don't know what that would be. This new tier would put solar in a different spot.

(Sure, you can just make ever larger solar fields in the infinite world, but that's not cost-free. It needs to be defended from biters, or at least should need to be.)

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by fandingo » Tue May 03, 2016 4:09 am

I think I like this response the best out of all of what I've read. Solar is awesome in it's own right and is a great step after coal and fits well. If we keep that thought, then another way to balance solar is to devalue it by increasing demand beyond it
Why does solar need "balancing?" This isn't a competitive game at all. It's just a sandbox to build your own creation. When I look at steam power, especially the two times I've transitioned away from it to solar, it's just the player choosing the difficulty that they want to manage. You're trading three high-bandwidth raw resources for two (and coal becomes low bandwidth for plastic and/or vehicle fuel).

I totally appreciate that people want something more from the power generation system, and that's fine. I won't want solar entirely for my future with the game either. I just think that fundamentally changing the dependability and/or capabilities of solar materially hurts many players who, as others have mentioned, aren't well represented on these boards. I think the obvious solution is not to add a bunch of stuff to solar, especially things that are only practical with bots or expert engineering, because that increases the difficulty curve even more. Earlier someone shared a rhetorical difficulty curve for Factorio, and I totally agree with it. If you add artificial maintenance and/or resource consumption (on top of high building cost), I don't think that it alters the difficulty drop-off. The huge hump is still going to be at blue science (or more specifically oil+batteries), but it's always easy after that. If anything, it's just going to make that difficulty peak higher. Right at the moment they should be booming production, there's probably severe problems with power generation.
If there was another power usage, a tier above what's needed now, and a nuclear (or massive generator) to supply it, then you've got another point you can balance.
But what would make use of these extreme power draws? It doesn't make sense for the research for nuclear to come before blue science, which already requires oil to manufacture. There aren't many locked buildings by the time it's reasonable to put nuclear in the tech tree. But really, my qualm goes back to the sandbox point at the beginning. This game is what you make it. Nuclear doesn't have to be insanely powerful or necessary for ultra-high power draw. It just needs to be fun, interesting, and rewarding for a player's individual goals. People will build it because they enjoy some aspect whether it's worry-free energy (like me currently with solar), speed runners (who don't want or need to invest in solar fabrication), players who want more resource management and logistics challenge with an additional high-bandwidth resource, and so on. And, it doesn't have to be nuclear either, although I think the nuclear fuel cycle and power stations can add a bunch of new depth. The solar thermal idea sounded cool as well and could add a bunch of optional logistics/cycling complexity for those who want it.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by mooklepticon » Tue May 03, 2016 4:37 pm

fandingo wrote:Why does solar need "balancing?"

Go play with Bob's Mods God Modules and tell me that balancing isn't important. Balancing is making a challenge that's just difficult enough to be interesting, but not so difficult as to be not-fun.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by The Phoenixian » Tue May 03, 2016 11:22 pm

fandingo wrote:
I think I like this response the best out of all of what I've read. Solar is awesome in it's own right and is a great step after coal and fits well. If we keep that thought, then another way to balance solar is to devalue it by increasing demand beyond it
Why does solar need "balancing?" This isn't a competitive game at all. It's just a sandbox to build your own creation. When I look at steam power, especially the two times I've transitioned away from it to solar, it's just the player choosing the difficulty that they want to manage. You're trading three high-bandwidth raw resources for two (and coal becomes low bandwidth for plastic and/or vehicle fuel).

I totally appreciate that people want something more from the power generation system, and that's fine. I won't want solar entirely for my future with the game either. I just think that fundamentally changing the dependability and/or capabilities of solar materially hurts many players who, as others have mentioned, aren't well represented on these boards. I think the obvious solution is not to add a bunch of stuff to solar, especially things that are only practical with bots or expert engineering, because that increases the difficulty curve even more. Earlier someone shared a rhetorical difficulty curve for Factorio, and I totally agree with it. If you add artificial maintenance and/or resource consumption (on top of high building cost), I don't think that it alters the difficulty drop-off. The huge hump is still going to be at blue science (or more specifically oil+batteries), but it's always easy after that. If anything, it's just going to make that difficulty peak higher. Right at the moment they should be booming production, there's probably severe problems with power generation.
If there was another power usage, a tier above what's needed now, and a nuclear (or massive generator) to supply it, then you've got another point you can balance.
But what would make use of these extreme power draws? It doesn't make sense for the research for nuclear to come before blue science, which already requires oil to manufacture. There aren't many locked buildings by the time it's reasonable to put nuclear in the tech tree. But really, my qualm goes back to the sandbox point at the beginning. This game is what you make it. Nuclear doesn't have to be insanely powerful or necessary for ultra-high power draw. It just needs to be fun, interesting, and rewarding for a player's individual goals. People will build it because they enjoy some aspect whether it's worry-free energy (like me currently with solar), speed runners (who don't want or need to invest in solar fabrication), players who want more resource management and logistics challenge with an additional high-bandwidth resource, and so on. And, it doesn't have to be nuclear either, although I think the nuclear fuel cycle and power stations can add a bunch of new depth. The solar thermal idea sounded cool as well and could add a bunch of optional logistics/cycling complexity for those who want it.
Balancing doesn't just apply to games where players compete with each other. In single player and co-op it's just extremely important instead of utterly essential.

Part of it is that people are naturally drawn towards being efficient, what one might call "laziness" is really just letting us focus our limited time and attention on more important issues. The downside of that, if you have a boring, powerful system in a game then another, more interesting but less potent system might see less use, even if it's much more fun, simply because it's less efficient.

That's part of why I suggested Solar-thermal.

Given your particular perspective, I'm actually quite curious of what you'd think of the proposal I made earlier for Solar thermal, in particular the concept of efficiency scaling with complexity. In your analysis, would it work as the sole form of Solar Panels, as well as a means to let players choose their own difficulty? (Certainly a system with a subtle invitation to ask players to challenge themselves but one that is not meant to be pushy, and still works in its most basic form no matter how late in the game you are.)
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by fandingo » Wed May 04, 2016 5:45 pm

The Phoenixian wrote: Part of it is that people are naturally drawn towards being efficient, what one might call "laziness" is really just letting us focus our limited time and attention on more important issues. The downside of that, if you have a boring, powerful system in a game then another, more interesting but less potent system might see less use, even if it's much more fun, simply because it's less efficient.
I guess my main take is that choosing your own adventure is a big part of sandbox games. I certainly won't deny that many players go entirely solar to make things easier -- perhaps simpler is the better word -- or even just because they're not experienced enough to understand all the issues and tradeoffs. I don't see any problem with that. Games are about having fun, and how that's achieved varies greatly between players. Having power "just work" or not be an ongoing risk seems like a reasonable decision players may like to take, especially in their first bases.
That's part of why I suggested Solar-thermal.

Given your particular perspective, I'm actually quite curious of what you'd think of the proposal I made earlier for Solar thermal, in particular the concept of efficiency scaling with complexity. In your analysis, would it work as the sole form of Solar Panels, as well as a means to let players choose their own difficulty? (Certainly a system with a subtle invitation to ask players to challenge themselves but one that is not meant to be pushy, and still works in its most basic form no matter how late in the game you are.)
I like it, but I have some concerns and comments. I don't think they're particularly serious, and the system could be a fine fit. I wouldn't want photovoltaics gone though. (I'm fine with essentially any linear readjustment of build cost or output of photovoltaics to incentivize the more complex systems, but I think the inherent reliability and trustworthy functionality needs to be preserved.)

First, I think it adds a really good quality logistics chain, and that importance shouldn't be understated. By my count, there's up to five different types of non-transport entities involved (offshore pump, solar heater, steam engine, pump jack, and heat exchanger with the latter two optional). I think that's a good balance of depth and feasibility.

My biggest issue is oil. It simply doesn't make sense as a working fluid due to low critical point (water is +100K and 11x pressure), which is the primary consideration for any major heat transfer liquid where high pressure is feasible. I'm willing to let that slide to some extent in a game, but it throws a major wrench in the player discovery aspect. Unless there's a big flashing light saying that oil is much better, I would never even think to try it because that's not how physics works. Second, consuming oil doesn't make sense. There's no way it'd be used in an open system. The pollution would be far more substantial than burning it. Oil contains carcinogenic and toxic compounds; at least burning oil destroys them, but boiling it into the atmosphere (the only explanation for where it goes)? Biters gon be mad. I guess my point is that, sure, bend reality to use oil, but it either needs to be a one-time fill-up (like people do with water in Uranium Power mod) or a build-time cost for the fabricating assembly plant (obviously that hurts some of the logistics complexity you're seeking). I spent some time last night reading and watching Uranium Power mod info, although I haven't tried to build my own. To me, having a pressurized water resource and recipe makes a lot more sense than oil -- at least it's intuitive and more congruent with reality.

The only other gameplay issue I have is pipes. Pipes are annoying and boring after building. Yes, they present very real routing challenges, but afterwards, there's nothing. At least belts look cool and very obviously do something. Pipes are mostly obstacles, and pretty much the only ongoing interaction with them is to figure out how to get around them.

One issue with increasing the importance of water is that players must be cognizant of that when selecting a map. That's true for any of the settings, but if more and more power systems require water, "water only in starting area" means power generation is tied there -- at least without unreasonable piping. Not a blocking issue, but it is something minor to consider. I think some other suggestions have this same problem where water layout can put the player into a corner. (That being said, I use the water well and landfill mods, so I wouldn't be affected.)

Can you explain nighttime power in your system? I feel that you're implying hot liquid storage, but I'm neither totally sure nor what they means for accumulators. For hot liquid storage, a couple of things. First, it creates a hard dependency on the night time sensor/circuit break to detect when to use hot liquids. I'm not usually a fan of ideas that require new functionality outside their specific parts because I recognize how scarce development time is and how that reduces the feasibility of the idea. It seems like the devs are already planning, to some extent, to include this functionality, so maybe it's not a big deal. Second, fluids are simply not as approachable -- mostly because it's hard to see what's going on with a pipe or pipe system. Belts, on the other hand, are really easy to tell if there's problems (backwards, misaligned, capacity issue, etc.). I think players may have a difficult time setting their night time volumes if it's just like normal tanks. Compare that to the accumulator bar and joules remaining status on the power screen. A similar thing would need to be done for hot liquids, but there's some added complexity if efficiencies are variable and there's piping limitations, too.

Edit: I want to reiterate that I like the idea overall. My tone may have been more severe than I intended. I think my complaints are relatively minor or correctable.
mooklepticon wrote: Go play with Bob's Mods God Modules and tell me that balancing isn't important. Balancing is making a challenge that's just difficult enough to be interesting, but not so difficult as to be not-fun.
I put the quotes around there for a reason. People keep saying "balance" as if there's some objective criterion. However, it's pretty clear that "balance" just means pushing players -- whether they want to or not -- towards more complex and management intensive production methods. The suggestions are not really about balance at all; it's about increasing incentives (of varying degrees and methods) to force people away from the current PV solar. I think your second sentence illustrates the problem of forcing players. Not everyone wants power to be a big challenge or take much time. They only care about power insofar as it helps them build the factory, and so power, even "plop and forget" PV arrays becomes nothing more than an obligation.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Fri May 06, 2016 10:27 pm

fandingo wrote:People keep saying "balance" as if there's some objective criterion. However, it's pretty clear that "balance" just means pushing players -- whether they want to or not -- towards more complex and management intensive production methods. The suggestions are not really about balance at all; it's about increasing incentives (of varying degrees and methods) to force people away from the current PV solar. I think your second sentence illustrates the problem of forcing players.
You made good points, and very eloquently, and I agree with most, but not with this one.

What's "balance" in a non-competitive game? It's the balance between the elements in the game. If you put opponents (aliens) in the game and then offer a weapon that kills all of them with no effort, that's not balanced. It really doesn't matter if the game asked you to "win against the aliens" or not, it's still not balancing the threat against the response (to the threat) properly. (I think combat in Factorio is balanced just fine, by the way, it does have other problems but not this one.)
Not everyone wants power to be a big challenge or take much time. They only care about power insofar as it helps them build the factory, and so power, even "plop and forget" PV arrays becomes nothing more than an obligation.
OK, but this turns it into a general question about the design of the game as a whole. Do we want to dumb down this specific area because some (many?) players don't like managing energy? That would be a reason to make (or not make) a change, but it's not touching the question of game balance.

Also, you say "it helps them build the factory", so in your eyes the factory is to be separated from energy production for the factory. In my eyes the energy source is a part of the factory proper and it should work in roughly a similar way (i.e. pose the same kind of problems, such a throughput management, spatial constraints, efficiency of the setup, etc.). Solar is just too static and undynamic compared to what you call "the factory", it doesn't fit the spirit of the rest of the game very well.

So I guess when people ask to balance solar, they don't want to artificially push the players to having to deal with a complex problem, as you suggest. They just want solar to feel more like most of the rest of the game, which is a management game. Solar doesn't make you "manage" anything at all.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by joe_da_cro » Wed May 11, 2016 12:01 pm

solar
Pro
-Free power Generation.
-No pollution
-Plop and forget

Cons
-No power During the night (offset with accumulators)

Steam power
Pro
- High power generation density.

Con
- Needs Constant Fuel supply eg coal etc
- Needs infrastructure in order to deliver fuel.
- Pollution generation with heating water.

Accumulator
Pro
-Stores electrical energy from any source.
- Discharges at a high rate

-Con
none

see to me the problem isnt so much that solar is too good. its that solar's main drawback is offset by using another item. i mean if you take away the accumulator from the equation both solar and steam are balanced with each other and supplement each other. but when accumulators come into play steam is less relevant and the plop and forget strategy of solar and accumulators are much more attractive.

An idea i had while typing this post out could be to make accumulators discharging generate A large amount of pollution. by large i would say the pollution generation should be the same for boilers per Mj So a accumulator/s discharging at 100Mj/s should generate the pollution of boilers burning 100Mj/s. When charging they would also generate a proportionate amount of pollution. This way during the nights accumulators being the only power generating entity would be attracting biter attacks as the pollution will spread farther from the base. then also when charging during the day it will do it to a lesser degree. what this does it adds challenges to a system that needs it. because when you attract more biters it means your laser turrets shoot more draining more accumulator charge. then during the day less charge can go into the accumulators because charging them generates pollution as well as biter attacks as well.

Imagine this on a death-world map. Then imagine your self a new player. using the accumulator knowing full well it will cause more attacks on your base.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by bobucles » Wed May 11, 2016 12:36 pm

he suggestions are not really about balance at all; it's about increasing incentives (of varying degrees and methods) to force people away from the current PV solar.
That's basically what BALANCE is. You have goals, and different ways to achieve them. The raw values helpp determine which solution ends up being easier than another.

The current energy tech curve has the player setting up boilers early game, and potentially a PV/accu system late game. The boiler system is well known for having kinks and issues that have to be worked out and which grow with the system. The PV/accu system has no such limitation.

Some players feel as though they got cheated by the simplicity of a PV/accu setup. It is, in a word, EASY. Some consider it TOO easy because the original energy puzzle of conveyors and boilers and supply chains eventually stops being a puzzle any more. If there is an energy problem with pv/accu, you just like maek moar. There's not much else to it. "Too easy" is not an unreasonable complaint, when the main goal of Factorio is to build your factory and solve the puzzles that naturally arise as you build up.

Adjusting raw values won't fix it. It CAN'T fix it. The complaint is with the puzzle itself, not with how powerful or weak the tools are.

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