Solar panels less of a no-brainer

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Hannu » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:50 am

I tried to prohibit accumulators (except one accu per laser turret for huge peaks) and found it quite interesting choice. I have to build and maintain the steam capability for full power but solar panels produces the most energy (due to the long day) and give nice decrease in pollution. I thought that adding clouds would be nice way to make more variations in that kind of power system. It would probably be relatively small programming work because there are already the noise algorithms in the game for terrain generation. Maybe 2/3 of time would be clear weather and the thickest cloud layer would reduce production to 1/3 of maximum. Smallest frequency should be long enough, for example 10 game days, so that there would be occasionally cloudy period of several days. Values should have sliders like ores and also possibility to switch weather effects off.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:14 am

Weather/Seasonal effects have been proposed multiple times already... and people argued that it would only require the player to build even more Solar Panels and Accumulators to overcome the imposed semi-random energy gaps.

I would still like to see Seasonal/Weather effects as a gameplay changing feature in the game, but I think that people may be right about how it wouldn't really balance anything. The seasons would have to be so long that it doesn't pay off trying to overcome it with a huge Solar Farm... but then again we have blueprints so making a Solar Farm that is 20 times bigger isn't that much of an issue either.


I remember that I even proposed something like that myself 2 years ago:

Dry Season: Solar Power at full capacity because of sun, Wind and Steam Power at low capacity because it's almost windless and lakes almost dry up (Offshore Pump output gets reduced)
Cloudy/Windy Season: Wind Power at full capacity because of wind, Steam and Solar Power at moderate capacity because it changes between rainy/sunny
Rainy Season: Steam Power at full capacity because of rain filling the lakes, Wind and Solar Power at low capacity because sun almost never shines and the storms being too harsh so wind farms have to be secured

A year with the season effects could look something like that:
Seasons.png
Seasons.png (25.14 KiB) Viewed 3509 times
The power production of any source would never be completely zero but very low... and there would be semi-randomized days within each season... like in the Dry season it might still occasionally rain but mostly its sunny... and in the Rainy season there would still be occasional sunny days but mostly it would rain continously.


With other words my proposal would make the Power Production itself semi-randomized... so you'd have to use a decent balance between all methods of Power Production. Accumulators would be taken out of the equation in terms of that they would become more necessary for every kind of power production to bridge the gaps.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Hannu » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:35 am

MeduSalem wrote:I would still like to see Seasonal/Weather effects as a gameplay changing feature in the game, but I think that people may be right about how it wouldn't really balance anything. The seasons would have to be so long that it doesn't pay off trying to overcome it with a huge Solar Farm... but then again we have blueprints so making a Solar Farm that is 20 times bigger isn't that much of an issue either.
Of course it would not balance anything but break the easy and boring balance in all production chains. I would like the game in which everything are not fully predictable and exactly balanced with small integer ratios. If you liked absolutely no pollution you would make insanely large accumulators but you could also made a trade off and build both solar and steam systems with other logistical challenges. There would be also rare peaks of extreme situations, to which you should anticipate somehow, for example by building some kind of "clever" controller to cut power down from lower priority systems when there would be long cloudy period. There should be other such imbalances too, which would need thinking to solve and using for example combinators which are now just nerdy pieces for perfectionists and computer makers instead of really important elements of the game.

I know that weather is not a new suggestion. But it is good because it would be easy to program and easy to make switchable and adjustable without changing the whole game. For example modifying recipes to produce side products which breaks simple balance would probably fit better to mods.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by quadrox » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:54 am

Hannu wrote: Of course it would not balance anything but break the easy and boring balance in all production chains. I would like the game in which everything are not fully predictable and exactly balanced with small integer ratios.
But how will it add challenge? All it will do is require me to build additional panels/accumulators so that I am covered even in the worst case cloudy weather scenario. Building more solar panels is no additional challenge, it would just make the game more boring.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Hannu » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:43 am

quadrox wrote:
Hannu wrote: Of course it would not balance anything but break the easy and boring balance in all production chains. I would like the game in which everything are not fully predictable and exactly balanced with small integer ratios.
But how will it add challenge? All it will do is require me to build additional panels/accumulators so that I am covered even in the worst case cloudy weather scenario. Building more solar panels is no additional challenge, it would just make the game more boring.
It would force you to think how do you prepare to rare unpredictable events. You could save materials and work and take a risk that you run out of power for example once in hour and live with blackouts. Or you could make expensive backup systems and get problems more rarely. Or you could build a clever power management system to cut lower priority parts of your base off during low power times. Or you could combine all of them.

It would work better if production equipment would be more expensive and it would be very impractical solution to prepare everything by just building huge amount of solar panels and accumulators. Instead you would need to build and maintain coal backup plants with suitable fuel reserve and keep them stand by (exactly like in real state level electric networks). Production costs are easy to mod but I think that there should be some kind of support for modding weather.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by quadrox » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:32 am

Hannu wrote:It would force you to think how do you prepare to rare unpredictable events.
No. I don't see how you can magic-hand-wave away all I have said like that. It would definitely not force me to think - I would simply build more solar panels and accumulators. That is not more challenge, that is not more thinking, it is just more boring stuff.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Fatpony » Fri Sep 30, 2016 1:49 pm

Have solarpanels out been changed to remotely the correct amount of kw per area?

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by The Phoenixian » Fri Sep 30, 2016 5:45 pm

Fatpony wrote:Have solarpanels out been changed to remotely the correct amount of kw per area?
No, trust me, if they been changed to match Earth's solar input per square meter you would have you would have heard about it. There is roughly an order of magnitude of difference after all.
The greatest gulf that we must leap is the gulf between each other's assumptions and conceptions. To argue fairly, we must reach consensus on the meanings and values of basic principles. -Thereisnosaurus

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by HurkWurk » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:18 pm

if you switch from using coal to using solid fuel, there is literally no reason for solar, and no reason to worry about energy consumption rates except oil.
i run 100 steam engines off the production of 3~5 solid fuel factories depending on demand.
The Phoenixian wrote:
Fatpony wrote:Have solarpanels out been changed to remotely the correct amount of kw per area?
No, trust me, if they been changed to match Earth's solar input per square meter you would have you would have heard about it. There is roughly an order of magnitude of difference after all.
there is no reason to switch to a earth normal... first its a 2d game. we are wasting the entire concept of vertical systems. second, you are comparing a 9 square meter of in game solar panel to a real life panel, but not comparing a 9 square meter factory to a real factory.

just be happy that they are approximations and move on.

otherwise, some real math for you. a small factory for assembling parts for stuff like we have in game takes up ~1000 square meters, houses ~50 various machines which in total can produce 1 of what we get in game over the course of hours. each of those 50 machines needs between 5 and 30 amps at 240v (some cases 400v), but simplicities sake lets say 50 machines at 30 amps and 240v, or 288kw. meanwhile if the entire roof were solar panels, they would provide about 200w per meter in good sunlight, or 200kw

thus, if we use "proper" sized facilities, and 1000m of factory is represented by 9m of land, then the blue factory, which consumes 150kw represents about 520m of space. thus solar panels at 9m should represent 520m of power, or 104kw.

in short, the in game solar panels are less efficient than real world norms. when you account for scale.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Deadly-Bagel » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:24 pm

Suck that dinosaurs, these biters are 700m long lmao
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by BenSeidel » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:15 am

HurkWurk wrote:i run 100 steam engines off the production of 3~5 solid fuel factories depending on demand.
The issues I find with a steam engine setup is not the fuel requirements, but the water requirements. While 1 blue belt of coal can feed 300+ engines, it takes 30 offshore pumps on a coast line to feed them the water they need. The most I have had on a map was 3.3k and then I went to solar, not because getting the coal in was difficult (it was actually fun - trains FTW), but running the pipes / landfilling in the lakes took way too long and was not enjoyable. I even tried transporting the water in trains using barrels, but even then the amount you need to move is just staggering!

I really want to see the cooling tower in 0.15. It should make large steam setups viable, especially when you run them on rocket fuel!

BTW, has anyone done the calculations for energy usage for burner inserters using rocket fuel, I remember reading somewhere that they used 14x more energy than yellow inserters, but I think that was based on coal. Surely it should be more efficient when they have to move 28x less?

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:49 am

BenSeidel wrote:
HurkWurk wrote:BTW, has anyone done the calculations for energy usage for burner inserters using rocket fuel, I remember reading somewhere that they used 14x more energy than yellow inserters, but I think that was based on coal. Surely it should be more efficient when they have to move 28x less?
I haven't done any calculation on that particularly, but I'm actually burning rocket fuel in my boilers and I use burner inserters. The rocket fuel may not be the most efficient in the boilers (depends on how you craft them using Assemblers with Productivity Modules and Speed Beacons making it more efficient the bigger your power plant is)... but I can say for sure that the Burner Inserters using rocket fuel are multiple times more efficient than yellow inserters that way. On top of that you will never face a power-death-spiral because the burner inserters will never run out of energy when using rocket fuel.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by BenSeidel » Fri Nov 25, 2016 6:31 am

Firstly, I am a fan of steam. Steam is better/more fun in many ways over and above solar. But the issue with solar is not that solar is imbalanced/OP. Having done many maps with both, both have their drawbacks. Unfortunately, the drawbacks with steam are not things that can be reasonably overcome. Coming up with ideas about how to punish solar is the wrong way to fix the issue.

Issues with solar: requires a limited resource (oil), requires large amount of space & construction time. Requires large amount of infrastructure to get it up and running.
Issues with steam: requires a large amount of transport (for fuel), must be tied to water, requires a large amount of cpu.
Benefits of solar: set & forget, no pollution
Benefits of steam: smaller footprint, less cost per watt, less time installing (excluding landfilling the coast)

Looking at the issues with steam, you cannot reduce the amount of CPU usage for each engine, nor can you deal with the water requirements unless you have a map with a large amount of water. Looking at all the suggestions for nerfing solar, none of them offer a way of bringing solar in line with steam, because steam has issues that cannot be fixed using base design. 0.15 may remove the water issue, but the CPU issue does not seem to be going away. Unless the multithreading becomes a realisation as updating each engine on every tick is an expensive operation.

Anyway from my viewpoint, the bashing of solar shows an ignorance of the real underlying issues because any idea that may make solar less powerful, excluding removing the optimisation that treats all solar panels as a single entity, will not bring the issues with steam back into line with the issues with solar.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Deadly-Bagel » Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:50 am

Isn't this topic redundant now? Steam will be upgradable to MK2 and then heating the water will be done with nuclear power. Water will be heatable past 100 degrees making it more efficient per litre. Request fulfilled?
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:33 am

Deadly-Bagel wrote:Isn't this topic redundant now? Steam will be upgradable to MK2 and then heating the water will be done with nuclear power. Water will be heatable past 100 degrees making it more efficient per litre. Request fulfilled?
I'd say if the topic is redundant remains to be seen...

At least looking back on the topic Steam Power is not the problem... it's mostly that Solar Power as it is now is quite a boring feature to many people.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Deadly-Bagel » Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:50 am

But it's not really... Steam power you throw coal at it and it works, when you need to expand you craft more boilers and steam engines on your way, set it up and you're done. "Make sure your trains and outposts run smoothly" is about the complexity of maintenance. Solar requires much more forward planning because of the huge quantities required so you need to set up a production of solar panels and accumulators, plus it's a good idea to have a secondary steam setup for your laser turrets so you need to consider that too. Also solar drives expansion as you need to clear out huge areas to lay the panels down so combat needs to be up to par. I fail to see how it is any more boring =/

Basically it's preference, some people want to stay on steam but it's currently not designed as an endgame power source so yeah it becomes hard to manage and expand, but they don't want to swap to solar. Thus the creation of this topic. Now that steam will be FAR more interesting and viable for endgame play there shouldn't be any more problems.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Fri Nov 25, 2016 12:02 pm

You are probably right, eventually it's a matter of preference.

Actually I'm not using Solar Power at all and instead use Solid Fuel/Rocket Fuel in my boilers... just because I find a certain degree of satisfaction in the maintenance part.

Because every time I place something that never requires me to come back and check or interfere with things I somehow get the feeling that the game plays itself and doesn't really need me anymore. Sounds contradictionary in a game that is about automatation, I know... but somehow it extends the replayability for me.

Of course I am already excited about the Nuclear Stuff... because the complexity of that is probably going to be exactly my thing.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Nasabot » Sun Apr 23, 2017 5:48 pm

I dont care that much anymore but my argument still stands:

Even if solar panels production cost was HUNDREDFOLD solar energy would still be superior to any other energy form.

Because dividing by 0 = breaking the game. It really is that simple.

I was actually surprised about the nuclear energy addition because in 0.15 by the time it is put in it already is obsolete. Why would you use nuclear energy if you can just build thousands of solar arrays? Ok, the good thing is that nuclear energy is still useful because of the byproduces but its energy production aspect is redundant, unfortunatly.

In my opinion solar panels should have a limited life period. It does not matter how long or short the life period is, the only important thing is, that it is limited (because then you dont divide by 0 anymore).

You also have to consider that "infinite energy" makes other aspects of the game redundant. If there is infinite energy, some combinations of modules, which would otherwise make sense, also become obsolete. You see: Solar energy sucks away depth from other parts of the game. (naming: modules and turrets)

Another point:
One might argue that oil energy(fuel cubes) is also infinite, but I counter: Oil-Energy produces pollution, so there is some sort of "cost". Solar energy does not produce pollution. And this does make a difference.

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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by Koub » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:39 pm

Nasabot wrote: Why would you use nuclear energy if you can just build thousands of solar arrays? Ok, the good thing is that nuclear energy is still useful because of the byproduces but its energy production aspect is redundant, unfortunatly.
If you play in "deathworld" type settings (low ressources, max biters) and every tile of ground space, you have to fight to earn it, maybe you'll be happy not to need literally square kilometers of ground surface dedicated to solar panels.
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Re: Solar panels less of a no-brainer

Post by MeduSalem » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:41 am

Well, I'll quote V453000 from the last Friday Facts 187:
V453000 wrote:For me there is one main reason why Factorio is so awesome and why I can forget myself playing until 4 a.m., and that reason is the infinite loop of 'there is always a bottleneck', you always need to fix something, you have not enough power, or your production of a particular product is insufficient etc.
So while the quote is actually about the research cycle it basically also applies to power production for me as well.

Solar Power is boring... end of story.

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