Overpowered strategies

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Lallante
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Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

The definition of overpowered for the purposes of Factorio needs some thought. Its not a competative or even a PvP game, so balance is not determined by how well competing players can do against each other. Instead, in my mind Factorio is a game where the goal of game design is fun gameplay while incrementally increasing needs for efficiency and complexity. What makes a game of factorio fun is, first and foremost, the need to constantly optimise, rebalancing and upgrade factory designs to meet new challenges (what I will refer to as "complex gameplay"), but without the need to do overly repetative tasks to meet existing challenges ("grind") because you can automate them.

Against that background, what does it mean to be overpowered? It seems to me it means anything that DOESNT require optimisation, rebalancing and upgrades to meet new challenges. Anything that is "deploy and forget" and once implemented has no further complex gameplay. As well as the problem of something being overpowered, there is the problem of some necessary gameplay being too repetative and "grindy". Although these seem like opposing problems they are actually closer to one and the same - i.e. a situation where there is no need or scope for complex gameplay. The difference solely based on how easy the relevant strategies are to implement. Overpowered strategies and required, grindy strategies are bad gameplay.

So theory aside, what does this mean in Factorio today? Any mid-game strategy that can be rolled out infinitely to meet all future challenges without further need for complex gameplay or optimatisation is bad gameplay.

Laser turrets, Solar power/accumulator combos, in vanilla factorio using belts for all resources (because no need for trains if resources arent spread out - thankfully fixed in RSO), the combat shotgun, turret-creep, infinite logistics bots. These are all things you automate very early into midgame and once you have done so are the "apex" of evolution in their respective functions, with advantages across the board against their alternate solutions. These factors ALL need rebalancing.

Nothing should be a one-size fits all solution. There should never be a point in the game where you "no longer need to worry about power" or "dont need to manage biter defences" anymore. Instead you should no longer need to worry about the problem that existed when you implemented the solution, but there should then be a new and harder problem that requires optimisation and IDEALLY a mixed strategy to face.

To take an example of laser turrets - once you have a few tiers of research and evolution factor these replace gun turrets for every useful purpose. Why? Why are they higher damage, longer range, ammoless? At present why bother keeping much more complex-upkeep (due to ammo) requiring gun turrets? Wouldnt it make sense to give them some tradeoffs so there is a continued need for gun turrets? Once you have automated laser turret production, the complexity of gameplay goes DOWN, not up. The same analysis can be done to the other factors I listed above.

In conclusion two main takeaways:
- obviously new research and higher tech levels should mean ease of automation of previous challenges, but it shouldnt mean redundancy of previous approaches.
- any strategy that, once implemented once, is a one size-fits all solution that never needs to be iterated on again for the rest of the game, is a bad strategy.

Finally to face off the inevitable attempt at a counterargument - one-off cost is NOT a significant balancing factor in a game of scaled automation like Factorio. In fact, its largely irrelevant due to the nature of the game.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by bobingabout »

There are a couple of flaws in your argument there, for example, you say thay laser turrets deal more damage than gun turrets.
When you have fully researched bullet ammo damage, and gun turret damage, as well as bullet ammo speed, they do deal more damage than a laser turret with all of it's upgrades fully researched too. Even when you take the resistances of biters into account. The descission then basically becomes Ammo vs Power. Also laser turrets do have a bit longer range.

Reguardless, turrets, and combat in general are going to be looked at for 0.13, so we should probably wait to see what the Devs come up.


Power... Accumulators and Solar panels are overpowered... I can agree. They need a down side, things to make them unreliable. there's a reason why the real world doesn't use 100% "Renewable" power sources. You get a dark, gloomy, calm day... you have very little power from solar, or wind, everything shuts down in a brown out.

Lets start with Solar. The game should have some of those flaws too. the Day/Night ratio should vary with seasons, right now as the game is, we have a permanant summer (long day, short night), there should be shifts to this ratio, making solar less reliable. on top of this, there should also be dark days, when it's cloudy, so solar is less effective. Smog too, polution levels reduce power from light.

Wind power, We already have wind direction and speed in the game, though I don't know if this changes very much right now, but it could be used as a basis for a wind power generator, who's output also changes depending on wind strength.

Accumulators. Currently, Accumulators have a 100% efficiency, and charge retention. It doesn't matter if it's batteries, or capacitors, Charging generates heat, and therefore "Wastes" energy to charge them, they also lose charge over time. Capacitors are fairly charge/discharge efficient when compared to batteries, but have a much lower capacity for their size. Accumulator charge, discharge, and retention should be changed to account for this, and make them less godly. Values should be modable too really. A typical NiMH battery takes 150% electricity to charge, discharge can be anywhere from a 20% to 100% efficiency, depending on current draw. They also have a charge retention decay ratio where they can lose as much as 20% over the first 24 hour period, which falls off to around 50% over 3 months.
I would be happy if they added a (modable tag for) charge efficiency so that it takes more power to charge than is stored. Also a drain tag like what is on inserters and electric turrets for natural discharge(normal charging rules apply, so it can't draw from other accumulators), that can accept flat values (like inserters and electric turrets) or a percentage (probably per second, so it discharges faster when full.)
This basically means you need to keep your batteries topped up.


The changes to accumulators would basically just mean you need more of them, true, but combined with the solar changes would basically mean that you'll need a steam power backup. However, Steam is a secondary, Accumulators are a Tertiary... This means steam engines will power up when it gets dark reguardless of if you have enough power stored in your accumulators to last the night.

What else might be useful is the abillity to have a circuit network connection, so that you can attach a connection between an accumulator, and your steam engines, so that they only kick online during low power situations.

we can already do with with fluids for example, connect a wire from a storage tank containing heavy oil, and another to one containing light oil, then use a small pump to turn on the flow to send heavy oil to a cracking plant if heavy oil > light oil.
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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Evan_ »

bobingabout wrote:What else might be useful is the abillity to have a circuit network connection, so that you can attach a connection between an accumulator, and your steam engines, so that they only kick online during low power situations.
Can't steam power be already regulated this way by an electric pump? (never tried myself, only started to dig into circuitry recently)

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

Bob - show your maths on the Turret vs Laser DPS please - mine shows Lasers capping out at fully 20% higher dps

And they have 50% more range, not "a bit more".

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by bobingabout »

Evan_ wrote:
bobingabout wrote:What else might be useful is the abillity to have a circuit network connection, so that you can attach a connection between an accumulator, and your steam engines, so that they only kick online during low power situations.
Can't steam power be already regulated this way by an electric pump? (never tried myself, only started to dig into circuitry recently)
Although you can use a small pump to control the flow of water to steam engine, you can't use charge of an accumulator as an input to turn it on and off.
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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Koub »

These are fully upgraded :
Laser turret
Gun turret

Laser turret can hit 44 laser damage 7.8 times per second
Gun turret can hit 48.4 physical damage 26 times per second

Behemoth biters (the most resistant ennemy to physical damage) have :
Physical 8/20% resistance
Source
Percentual resistance
Is applied first and will just reduce the damage by the specified amount of percent

Decrease resistance
It decreases the damage by specified number as long as the result damage wouldn't be less than zero. When the result damage would get less than 0, the extra resistance is used as denominator in the fraction of damage that is going to be dealt
Source

So on a behemoth biter, every :
- laser hits for 44 damage
- bullet hits for 48.4x80%-8= 30.72 damage

So as pure DPS (on a behemoth biter, which is the most bullet resistant ennemy) :
- Laser turret hits 44x7.8 = 343.2 net DPS
- Gun turret hits 30.72x26 = 798.72 net DPS

Gun turret does DPS more :)
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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by korda »

For me it's very satisfying to automate something in a way that doesn't require my further attention. I'm not sure if solving one problem should make things worse because solution creates even bigger problem. That would simply feel wrong. Problems should come from outside (for example from biters) or along the way to your goal (for example tech and production upgrades leading to rocket).

Also please remember that game has to be accessible to many types of players, so perhaps some stuff should be left in mods or higher difficulty settings...

But I do agree that combat needs some tweaks... especially offense vs defense balance.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by bobucles »

Accumulator charge, discharge, and retention should be changed to account for this, and make them less godly. Values should be modable too really. A typical NiMH battery takes 150% electricity to charge, discharge can be anywhere from a 20% to 100% efficiency, depending on current draw. They also have a charge retention decay ratio where they can lose as much as 20% over the first 24 hour period, which falls off to around 50% over 3 months.
Nope, nope, nope and nope. Any nerf you throw on accumulators can be solved by
- Building more solar panels
- Building more accumulators
Congrats. You can do the exact same thing by increasing the raw resource cost of either device.

The only way to change the actual META -the way players solve energy production- is to make the strategy of "overnight energy storage" untenable. This can be done in two major ways:
- make the energy source unreliable (such that attempting to store energy during the downtime is an obscene task, prompting alternative solutions)
- make the energy storage fruitless (such as getting rid of it entirely, as any solution which renders energy storage unable to hold out for FOUR HOURS is practically the same thing).

Half assed nerfs won't cut it. Complex rules only serve to change the ratios or resources required to take the easiest solution anyway. The gameplay won't change unless the game rules itself say it can't or shouldn't be done.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

Bob - thanks - I had no idea that there were two damage researches that stack for gun turrets (i.e. the dedicated gun turret damage one and the handheld damage one).

Still, when I use a mix of lasers and gun turrets the biters never make it into range of the gun turrets in the first place so its rather moot. Maybe a range balance is all thats needed?

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

bobucles wrote:
Accumulator charge, discharge, and retention should be changed to account for this, and make them less godly. Values should be modable too really. A typical NiMH battery takes 150% electricity to charge, discharge can be anywhere from a 20% to 100% efficiency, depending on current draw. They also have a charge retention decay ratio where they can lose as much as 20% over the first 24 hour period, which falls off to around 50% over 3 months.
Nope, nope, nope and nope. Any nerf you throw on accumulators can be solved by
- Building more solar panels
- Building more accumulators
Congrats. You can do the exact same thing by increasing the raw resource cost of either device.

The only way to change the actual META -the way players solve energy production- is to make the strategy of "overnight energy storage" untenable. This can be done in two major ways:
- make the energy source unreliable (such that attempting to store energy during the downtime is an obscene task, prompting alternative solutions)
- make the energy storage fruitless (such as getting rid of it entirely, as any solution which renders energy storage unable to hold out for FOUR HOURS is practically the same thing).

Half assed nerfs won't cut it. Complex rules only serve to change the ratios or resources required to take the easiest solution anyway. The gameplay won't change unless the game rules itself say it can't or shouldn't be done.

How about reworking accumulators as incredibly polluting (say, each one is the equivalent of 4 or 5 coal furnaces or boilers), so that using a tonne of them has the major downside of taxing your construction robot repair teams and laser power usage through constant attacks?

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by korda »

Lallante wrote:How about reworking accumulators as incredibly polluting (say, each one is the equivalent of 4 or 5 coal furnaces or boilers), so that using a tonne of them has the major downside of taxing your construction robot repair teams and laser power usage through constant attacks?
Wouldn't that lead to death spiral? More attacks => more accumulator usage due to power drain from turrets => more pollution => even more attacks

Also from my MP experience until you read a bit about pollution you don't actually care about it - I play with two people and while they know about pollution and that it causes enemy to attack they would never normally care or think about ways to counter pollution instead of enemy. I'm bit more experienced, I've read through some wiki pages, read some topics on forum so I can handle myself but they would probably spam accus and that would perhaps kill them and they wouldn't know cause.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Koub »

At the exact point where benefits from solar/Accus will be negated by the disadvantages you want to add solar+Accus, you'll just switch the problem. Most people will use steam because solar will have become a PITA, while some hardcore gurus of the extreme difficulty will be like "meh steam is soooo much too easy, I'm for solar, because solar is for real men".

I think you should take the solar vs steam out of this topic, and focus on the other parts of opness. You can always enrich the debate on this topic : viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18613.
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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by MeduSalem »

How about that to deal with 3 overpowered strategies at once:
Battery Deterioration.png
Battery Deterioration.png (16.83 KiB) Viewed 8325 times
Accumulators/Laser Turrets/Robots deteriorate their batteries and every now and then they have to be swapped with a new one. The deterioration of a battery could be similar to how repair packs/ammunition works with a progress bar and with every recharge the progress bar goes down a bit. Once the progress bar for an item is depleted it turns into a Deteriorated battery. The amount of Recharge cycles a battery can take before it turns into a deteriorated battery is then a matter of balance.

The deteriorated battery then would undergo a recycling process in which the Battery Shell is regained and also for example Sulfur. The Sulfur has to be reprocessed into Sulfuric Acid again. Then the regained components are once more made into a new battery, closing the circle. And pretty much lossless too, except some water.


Basically the approach makes it increasingly harder to scale the use of Accumulators/Laser Turrets and Robots due to binding them to a layout & puzzle solving problem.

This would be compareable to how scaling the Steam Power Plant depends on Oil Industry scaling, Gun Turrets depend on Ammunition and how Belts make layouts more difficult.

The fun part is... it would also automatically balance Wind Energy if it would be a thing or any other Power production having an uncertainty factor... Because they would obviously need Accumulators too to work reliable.



Of course this doesn't need to be in "easy mode"... the devs could perfectly implement a "hard mode" and in hard mode the layouts become increasingly more difficult because more and more things get upkeep elements or additional process cycles.

I wonder if someone could make a mod/prototype to try and see how it works out. If I would know how to mod I might do it myself...

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by RoddyVR »

MeduSalem wrote:How about that to deal with 3 overpowered strategies at once:

Accumulators/Laser Turrets/Robots deteriorate their batteries and every now and then they have to be swapped with a new one. The deterioration of a battery could be similar to how repair packs/ammunition works with a progress bar and with every recharge the progress bar goes down a bit. Once the progress bar for an item is depleted it turns into a Deteriorated battery. The amount of Recharge cycles a battery can take before it turns into a deteriorated battery is then a matter of balance.

The deteriorated battery then would undergo a recycling process in which the Battery Shell is regained and also for example Sulfur. The Sulfur has to be reprocessed into Sulfuric Acid again. Then the regained components are once more made into a new battery, closing the circle. And pretty much lossless too, except some water.


Basically the approach makes it increasingly harder to scale the use of Accumulators/Laser Turrets and Robots due to binding them to a layout & puzzle solving problem.

This would be compareable to how scaling the Steam Power Plant depends on Oil Industry scaling, Gun Turrets depend on Ammunition and how Belts make layouts more difficult.

The fun part is... it would also automatically balance Wind Energy if it would be a thing or any other Power production having an uncertainty factor... Because they would obviously need Accumulators too to work reliable.



Of course this doesn't need to be in "easy mode"... the devs could perfectly implement a "hard mode" and in hard mode the layouts become increasingly more difficult because more and more things get upkeep elements or additional process cycles.

I wonder if someone could make a mod/prototype to try and see how it works out. If I would know how to mod I might do it myself...
I really like this idea. I currently avoid solar panels mostly (usualy build one small field of them just to have them, but way not near enough to power even a part of my base) because the feel boring.
Always felt that the solar panel/accu power generation needed some sort of "upkeep" component, either repair from wear or something, and this fits logically really well. Initialy you plop down the accus and they run fine, after a while their batteries run out and you have to go manualy replace them, then you automate the taking out and putting in of batteries so you dont have to keep doing it. its the same pattern as with gun turrets (that i think is a good pattern). Usable without automation, but gets annoying if you have a lot of them and you have to automate the manual reloading. Making the same sistem for lasers and robots seems like a good idea too, as that ties the systems together, and you get more use from you automated battery recycling then just the power plant. And considering the gameplay value and balancing possibilities that this adds, its only 1 more item (dead battery) and one more building battery recycling (though that can actualy just be a recepie in a chem plant or factory if we eithe allow multiple outputs (which i think is a good idea in itself) or just have the recycling give EITHER sulfur or battery shell/iron/copper. If you dont want to add items, just make batteries deplete and disappear when used up and they have to be replaced by brand new batteries.

So all around +1 from me on this idea.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Koub »

I'm OK for that the exact day you can do all that recycling thing with exactly 0 pollution.
What you are doing right now is triple punishing people who use solar, roboports, and laser turrets.

1st, heavy pollution when you create tour first setup of solar, accus, build your laser turrets, build your building bots.


Let the infernal loop start
Then, for every accumulator, laser and bot, you'll need more electricity to power the infrastructure to recycle the batteries, which inturn need you to :
- add more solar+accus
- more robots (to go and get the used shells bring them to recycling facility or whatever

Building these will make you produce sh*tload of pollution. So you'll get attacked by more by biters. So you will :
- Add more turrets
- add more solar + accus to power these turrets.
Loop is complete, go back to the beginning, and watch your doom.

You've started a loop that is solely targeted at upkeeping your upkeep. Just tell me now, what is the advantage of green solar energy now ? Only cons. Might as well take it out from the game, or make it game over every time you plop one.
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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by RoddyVR »

Koub,

You see it as punishment, i see it as cost of automation.

Roboports aside for now, cause frankly the convenience of robots will outweigh any cost you throw at them and i dont think "they polute so much that i wont use them" is something you will ever hear for real. The idea is that the costs should increase as you start to have insanely large amounts of robots, so that there is a punishment for doing EVERYTHING by robot. Besides, bitters already HATE robots, see no reason not to agravate that hate a bit more by adding more polution to the bots.

You dont have an issue with automation of GUN turret supply adding to the gun turret polution cost? if i put down a gun turret and craft and feed it bullets by hand, then its polution cost is only the mining and smelting of iron ore.
But if i set up a factory to make piercing bulltes and large belt loop with an inserter for each gun turret then ofcourse the pollution cost goes up.
Same with the proposed laser turrets. If you put the batteries in there by hand, there's almost no pollution added relative to current system (depending on how the recycling ends up working). If you automate the whole process, then ofcourse there's a polution cost for that.

As for power generation. Solar Panels are green, notice they arent touched by this proposal at all(though personaly i would make bitters hate large panel fields, but that's a different balance question). But powering your base at night by solar panel just got a hefty polution cost added to it. Yes, that's what is being proposed to make it so that Solar + Accus is not the ONE AND ONLY EFFICIENT/PERFECT method of powering your base.
There are not techs in this game that will power your base at night with green energy (thermal, nuclear....) so if you want to power it at night, be ready to polute. if your choice is Accumulators for night power, then they will be the polution you will produce.
Building these will make you produce sh*tload of pollution.
that's a balancing question. The problem right now is that there is virtualy now way to tweak the balance of Solar+Accu power production. Initial cost is NOT a good balancing mechanic. But tweaking operating costs (via how fast the batteries in Accus will die out) is a much more finely controlable balancing mechanism. If eventualy it is decided that a single battery should last in an Accumulator for an hour of real time game play to be balanced, then so be it. and in that case, your "punishment" is reduced down to a light tickle. I would propose that a battery being used all the time by an accumulator (ie charging all day long, and discharging all night) should run out as fast as a 100 bullet stack in a gun turret firing continuously. But that's just a rough guess from me, trial and error on this system would ofcourse be needed to find a good balance.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by korda »

I believe that batteries needing replacement would mean that if you have power problems because you run out of batteries and you are not producing them fast enough... then... you are dead or have to destroy half of power poles to get it working again.

With steam you only need to supply coal to boilers to get stuff running again, with accus and panels you need whole industry working to get those batteries and probably robots to supply them to accu farms.

"Use steam as backup"

Then why waste the time and resources setting accus if I need to build steam anyway?

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by RoddyVR »

That's why i think its a good idea to leave the battery depletion thing OUT of the solar panels. You still have your infinite power production durring the day. Lasting to start of day is probably faster then setting up new coal mining operation as you suggest.
If you didnt plan ahead far enough to last the night, then you cant really blame the system for the base wipe. Same thing will happen on steam if you run out of coal. Same thing will happen on gun turrets if you run out of iron.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

Koub wrote:At the exact point where benefits from solar/Accus will be negated by the disadvantages you want to add solar+Accus, you'll just switch the problem. Most people will use steam because solar will have become a PITA, while some hardcore gurus of the extreme difficulty will be like "meh steam is soooo much too easy, I'm for solar, because solar is for real men".

I think you should take the solar vs steam out of this topic, and focus on the other parts of opness. You can always enrich the debate on this topic : viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18613.
The point is at the moment there arent any disadvantages at all to solar/accus, regardless of your playstyle (I suppose with the exception of setup cost for people with beginner-level factories, but this shouldnt be a major balancing consideration in a game where all materials are gathered automatically in non-limited quantities).

"Disadvantages" arent a homogenous single pool.

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Re: Overpowered strategies

Post by Lallante »

RoddyVR wrote:
MeduSalem wrote:How about that to deal with 3 overpowered strategies at once:

Accumulators/Laser Turrets/Robots deteriorate their batteries and every now and then they have to be swapped with a new one. The deterioration of a battery could be similar to how repair packs/ammunition works with a progress bar and with every recharge the progress bar goes down a bit. Once the progress bar for an item is depleted it turns into a Deteriorated battery. The amount of Recharge cycles a battery can take before it turns into a deteriorated battery is then a matter of balance.

The deteriorated battery then would undergo a recycling process in which the Battery Shell is regained and also for example Sulfur. The Sulfur has to be reprocessed into Sulfuric Acid again. Then the regained components are once more made into a new battery, closing the circle. And pretty much lossless too, except some water.


Basically the approach makes it increasingly harder to scale the use of Accumulators/Laser Turrets and Robots due to binding them to a layout & puzzle solving problem.

This would be compareable to how scaling the Steam Power Plant depends on Oil Industry scaling, Gun Turrets depend on Ammunition and how Belts make layouts more difficult.

The fun part is... it would also automatically balance Wind Energy if it would be a thing or any other Power production having an uncertainty factor... Because they would obviously need Accumulators too to work reliable.



Of course this doesn't need to be in "easy mode"... the devs could perfectly implement a "hard mode" and in hard mode the layouts become increasingly more difficult because more and more things get upkeep elements or additional process cycles.

I wonder if someone could make a mod/prototype to try and see how it works out. If I would know how to mod I might do it myself...
I really like this idea. I currently avoid solar panels mostly (usualy build one small field of them just to have them, but way not near enough to power even a part of my base) because the feel boring.
Always felt that the solar panel/accu power generation needed some sort of "upkeep" component, either repair from wear or something, and this fits logically really well. Initialy you plop down the accus and they run fine, after a while their batteries run out and you have to go manualy replace them, then you automate the taking out and putting in of batteries so you dont have to keep doing it. its the same pattern as with gun turrets (that i think is a good pattern). Usable without automation, but gets annoying if you have a lot of them and you have to automate the manual reloading. Making the same sistem for lasers and robots seems like a good idea too, as that ties the systems together, and you get more use from you automated battery recycling then just the power plant. And considering the gameplay value and balancing possibilities that this adds, its only 1 more item (dead battery) and one more building battery recycling (though that can actualy just be a recepie in a chem plant or factory if we eithe allow multiple outputs (which i think is a good idea in itself) or just have the recycling give EITHER sulfur or battery shell/iron/copper. If you dont want to add items, just make batteries deplete and disappear when used up and they have to be replaced by brand new batteries.


So all around +1 from me on this idea.


I also really like this idea.

Not only that, but the game-design concept of "recycling" products that feed back in to their own production chain's materials is a fantastic one and would really increase the options and depth of the system. Having more than one option to source raw materials would also be great.

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