Solar panels less of a no-brainer

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by hi_impact » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:57 pm

Tossing my measly two cents into the power conversation, mostly as an agreement statement to the general sentiment that power is up there in the priorities for a rework.

I think it goes without saying that a higher tech, better boiler and/or steam engine is desired. Keep coal relevant, and provide incentive to improve the early game infrastructure around the boiler steam engines, more than "ADD MOAR 1-14-10's!!" Science 3 feels about right.

A third late game option would also be sublime. Even a 'casual' player who puts off the rocket to set up a few module factories and expands their red/blue circuit lines can run into situations where they are running well into the 40-60 MW range. This is the critical point where coal is being gobbled down at fast belt rates or your solar field has become its own independent nation.

My proposal is that the first rocket launch with a satellite "scans" the map and unlocks a new resource, like Uranium or geothermal vents, or some imaginary thing (though power generation has so far been very rooted in reality in Factorio) and adds a "best" power option that is fun to tackle and manage. Something dangerous, with consequences if damaged or mismanaged.

There are lots of fantasy elements to reach out to as well, such as bottling antimatter, or harnessing radiation from a singularity or some superheated object.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Qon » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:24 pm

hi_impact wrote: Keep coal relevant, and provide incentive to improve the early game infrastructure around the boiler steam engines, more than "ADD MOAR 1-14-10's!!"
3-42-30 is the new ratio for GW steam powerplants. 30 on a row is more manageble for high power production. I might Improve the design even further later on though.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:30 am

Qon wrote:
hi_impact wrote: Keep coal relevant, and provide incentive to improve the early game infrastructure around the boiler steam engines, more than "ADD MOAR 1-14-10's!!"
3-42-30 is the new ratio for GW steam powerplants. 30 on a row is more manageble for high power production. I might Improve the design even further later on though.
3-42-30 is the same ratio as 1-14-10. (Probably something like 3-40-30 would be perfect because the 1-14-10 is actually a 1-13_odd-10 but we can't place half boilers so we need to round up to be safe).
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Qon » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:49 am

siggboy wrote:
Qon wrote:
hi_impact wrote: Keep coal relevant, and provide incentive to improve the early game infrastructure around the boiler steam engines, more than "ADD MOAR 1-14-10's!!"
3-42-30 is the new ratio for GW steam powerplants. 30 on a row is more manageble for high power production. I might Improve the design even further later on though.
3-42-30 is the same ratio as 1-14-10. (Probably something like 3-40-30 would be perfect because the 1-14-10 is actually a 1-13_odd-10 but we can't place half boilers so we need to round up to be safe).
Yes, it's the same ratio. Meant to say the 3-42-30 design. But all boilers are active all the time so you lose power by removing 2 boilers.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by VikingScientist » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:38 pm

I was thinking of putting the idea of electric boilers in a brand new thread, but after searching then I decided to bump this thread instead. In short I would like to see electric boilers introduced to heat water during daylight hours using solar panels, and then redirecting the hot water to turbines during nightime hours to create power; with some apropriate total energy loss of course. This provides an alternative to the accumulators. The nice thing with electric boilers is that they fit immediately into the existing game. You already have the electric pumps (for swapping between storing and using), storage tanks for (hot) water and turbines separated from the boilers, so this is an easy™ implementation to make without needing major changes to the game.

With that said I am really hoping for some major revision of the power management at some later stage. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are amazing because they give "free" energy, but their most prominent flaw is that they are unreliable. These are still open research areas and I'm attending a research talk this very friday on how to deal with long solar or wind draughts. Converting the immediate electric energy into kinetic energy (by pumping water back up a hydro dam) or heat energy (see electric burners above) are both promising techniques to store excess energy for use later and provides amazing opportunities for puzzle-solving in this game.

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Electrical Infrastructure: Solar is too good

Post by Yehn » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:05 pm

...but this isn't a call for a nerf.

I do think, however, each method of power generation should be viable with drawbacks to each. Instead of the end game "Use solar, unless you're going for that all steam achievement".

There's been suggestions for tiered equipment, which could do it (or something like closed cycle steam that doesn't need a water source), but I'll add that I do not think solar should get extra tiers -- it's just too good as is...
Alternatively some later-game alternative to steam entirely... but I just don't think the only 'good' progression path should be solar arrays.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Koub » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:54 pm

[Koub] Merged into older topic that probably covers everything that can be suggested on the balancing solar and power production
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Murdersquish » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:45 pm

Wow, so many pages.

Solar power is not free as people are wont to say. There's the resources for science investment, the resources to build the panels and accumulators, and the opportunity cost for not using the resources for other things. Solar power's more like an investment that may (probably) pay for itself down the road (I haven't crunched numbers).

For steam power, you need iron, copper, stone, coal, and water. Running steam power means you will be expanding to acquire those resources. For solar power, you need iron, copper, oil, and water. Running solar power means you will be expanding for those resources.

What's the difference there? Oil vs. coal. You are trading on resource hunt for another. Oil is more useful than coal, so hunting it is more valuable, but it's also in more demand meaning you might be hunting for it more often.

It may be a "no-brainer', but it's not free.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by m44v » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:41 pm

Murdersquish wrote: What's the difference there? Oil vs. coal. You are trading on resource hunt for another. Oil is more useful than coal, so hunting it is more valuable, but it's also in more demand meaning you might be hunting for it more often.

It may be a "no-brainer', but it's not free.
Not comparable, the oil you invest in solar panels is a one time expense and after that you get free energy forever. With steam you constantly burn coal, solar panels are much more convenient.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Deadly-Bagel » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:32 pm

They could probably stand to be less efficient and perhaps cost less resources to make to offset that, so your solar farms take up more space. This would also help alleviate the fact that solar panels apparently output far more energy than they could be receiving from sunlight.

The devs have said they want to put nuclear energy into 0.14 (or at least some sort of new power generator before version 1.0) which would be compact, high output but require a rare resource and who knows what other wacky problems that come with it. I think the subject of balancing power is somewhat pointless until then because nerfing power now is only going to make the game more tedious.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by The Phoenixian » Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:23 pm

So I've read a bunch here lately I think it's worth reiterating that the core of the complaints with solar vs steam (at least for my own self, but there are others who seem to agree with me) isn't that solar has too much power, it's that solar has very little in the way of logistics puzzles attached to it, even less than steam power, despite having many advantages of it's own.

There's plenty of room for "design it once and forget about it" and "no maintenance required" in Factorio, the first is why we have blueprints and the second is why belts costing no energy is so easily defended despite being accused of being unrealistic on the face of it, but I don't think it's inaccurate to say that you should spend a significant effort designing, managing or otherwise thinking about something for every element of the factory at least once and that process should be engaging and entertaining.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Aug 26, 2016 6:08 pm

The Phoenixian wrote:So I've read a bunch here lately I think it's worth reiterating that the core of the complaints with solar vs steam (at least for my own self, but there are others who seem to agree with me) isn't that solar has too much power, it's that solar has very little in the way of logistics puzzles attached to it, even less than steam power, despite having many advantages of it's own.

There's plenty of room for "design it once and forget about it" and "no maintenance required" in Factorio, the first is why we have blueprints and the second is why belts costing no energy is so easily defended despite being accused of being unrealistic on the face of it, but I don't think it's inaccurate to say that you should spend a significant effort designing, managing or otherwise thinking about something for every element of the factory at least once and that process should be engaging and entertaining.
Basically nailed it.

I don't really have anything else to add... like I wrote the last time... I am baffled this thread is still going on. Also I am already curious about the plot-twist when Nuclear power joins in forming a 3-sided war. I suspect that both Solar Power and Steam Power are probably going to be left in the dust once that happens or at least causing a serious paradigm shift in factory design. Maybe we should be opening a thread taking bets about it.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Fri Aug 26, 2016 6:55 pm

MeduSalem wrote:I suspect that both Solar Power and Steam Power are probably going to be left in the dust once that happens or at least causing a serious paradigm shift in factory design. Maybe we should be opening a thread taking bets about it.
I don't think any paradigm shifts will happen, since energy production is only a side note anyway.

I also don't think the devs will have the balls to make nuclear power actually complex.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:35 pm

siggboy wrote:I don't think any paradigm shifts will happen, since energy production is only a side note anyway.
Well I basically meant maybe the thread will come to an end then if Nuclear Power turns out to outperform both Solar/Steam Power and nobody giving a damn about them anymore as they are considered early/mid game strategies then. But it might even be fuel for more complaints. Who knows.
siggboy wrote:I also don't think the devs will have the balls to make nuclear power actually complex.
You really know how to take the hype out of the train. :lol:

If it turns out you are right about and it being as barebone as possible then it would be a shame because then it could have been patched and stitched together in one of the past updates and not saved up for one of the last major updates before going 1.0

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:47 pm

Well, I won't say that it's not going to be solid, but I don't think it will be as complex as Nucular or Uranium Power (the latter does have some serious design flaws with the pointless enrichment chain, but at least you have to put in some work to get your fuel efficiency).

My guess is they'll probably make you craft your fuel, and maybe have some reprocessing that gives you back some fuel with some incurred loss, but that's probably going to be about it.

I don't think they'll be any fancy heat exchangers, or actual processing chains, or complex ratios that you can tune for the perfect yield -- simply because all of this would be an order of magnitude more complicated than what is currently in the game.

Look at the most involved crafting that we have right now: blue circuits, blue science beacons, maybe modules/capsules. I really don't think it will be more complex than making those to generate energy from Uranium.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:54 pm

To be honest I haven't really looked that much into the proposed ideas for nuclear stuff... and I am also no expert on building nuclear reactors and what else is needed around it.

But if it has at least a half decent crafting chain to keep the power going which also has to be expanded if you want to attach more reactors then it is already far better than Solar Power ever was.

At least I want to have a little bit to puzzle around... gives me the feeling of actually having achieved something instead of "yeah, just plopped down more of the same"... which actually is the way the entire game is, but it somehow isn't so plain obvious if it took a while to figure things out until something works. Just like The Phoenixian mentioned at the top of the page... it should be somewhat engaging/entertaining.
Last edited by MeduSalem on Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:05 pm

If Solar Power is the bar to be passed then that's not really a challenge, don't you think?

I'm not even waiting for Nuclear to be happening in Vanilla, because it has already happened in the form of mods, of which there are at least two which are really solid. I have mentioned Nucular several times, it's so good it could be taken verbatim into Vanilla and the player base would probably be delighted. It does have just the right amount of complexity, maybe a little more than what I expect to be actually happening.

Uranium Power takes it a bit too far, that one is certainly more complex that what we'll see (even if you take the gratuitous enrichment chain out of the picture, which is only pseudo-complex).

Of course, generating nuclear power is really demanding, and dangerous, arguably not even viable, in reality, but that is not something that we should look at.

Let's look at what we should realistically hope for, and what could make nuclear fun:
  • Require automation to be practical (as compared to zero automation for solar, and a very low amount of automation for steam).
  • Tie in with some other parts of the game (combat is most obvious, from crafting bullets/shells and nukes).
  • Be compact and effective enough to scale into the GW without requiring spam or tedium (or gaming the map as in making the coal patches humongous)
  • Give us some complexity at the back end; it doesn't have to be heat exchanger, but at least a little challenge in getting enough water into the reactors to make steam. Having just another way to boil water would be godawful and boring.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:25 pm

I took a quick look at both mods over in the mod section... probably we will get some washed down form of the Nucular one... as the Uranium Power really seems to go nuts with the enrichment process like you mentioned.


And I probably agree to that list of expectations.

Though I fear that for the combat part the combat menu should be slipstreamed first with certain things being removed from the game entirely... because there's already so much crap in there that I can't imagine anybody ever using... and the worst part about it being that the Biters/Spitters are so dull that they don't even require all the different ways to kill them in the first place. We have weaponry that could easily match any Tower Defense game, but the enemy consists just of two types of bugs with almost the same resistances. But that's completely offtopic now.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by siggboy » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:46 pm

MeduSalem wrote:Though I fear that for the combat part the combat menu should be slipstreamed first with certain things being removed from the game entirely... because there's already so much crap in there that I can't imagine anybody ever using...
Yeah, combat is a mess. Right now it's down to flamethrowers + energy shields + laser towers. The rest is useless, as in completely-useless-why-would-you-even-use-that.
The Uranium bullets from Nucular are good, though, they're the only bullets worth crafting.

It boils down to "use the most powerful, skip the rest". There's no need for all the variety. Even worse, there are plenty of weapons that have ALWAYS been crappy-useless (rockets, the idiotic discharge defense, landmines to an extent).

Of course, if the aliens were more intelligent and more varied, it would change the picture. In order to make the current variety of weapons necessary, essentially half of Star Craft would need to be added to Factorio; not going to happen.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:58 pm

siggboy wrote:The Uranium bullets from Nucular are good, though, they're the only bullets worth crafting.
I'm looking forward to them because I'm using Gun Turrets a lot since they are still far more powerful than Laser Turrets and I just like their sound when they shred Biters into pieces... remembers me of the movie Aliens.
siggboy wrote:Of course, if the aliens were more intelligent and more varied, it would change the picture. In order to make the current variety of weapons necessary, essentially half of Star Craft would need to be added to Factorio; not going to happen.
I proposed a quite easy, but powerful idea/solution for that a while ago... It could be quite interesting if the Biter bases would be more commonly spawned ontop of resource patches... and the type of resource patch a spawner sits on top influencing the resistances of the Biters/Spitters. Like Coal patches producing carbon fiber re-inforced Biters/Spiters, Iron Patches producing Iron re-inforced biters and so on, all of which have different resistances. Simple color coding would also be enough to difference in between them (black-ish for carbon fiber, blue-ish for Iron, red-ish for Copper, grey-ish for stone... and green-ish for the default ones that aren't reinforced)... so no new graphics required... just a few checks on the location and set some resistances.

Would require you to set up more varied or specific defenses, depending on what types of Biters you expect to gnaw on your walls.

But yeah... the idea went by unheard like so many things. So the Biters continue to be dull and uninteresting and pose no threat whatsoever.

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