So this is quite a long thing, I've gone a bit deeper into the why
than just the what
. Necromant is cool though could perhaps be tuned a little more for pacing. Also some reflections on the endgame stockpiling issues discussed elsewhere
So the different ways to get DNA aren't all equally good - the "higher tech" chemical plant recipes have worse DNA ratios - but that makes sense as they're more about dealing with late game overflow rather than efficiently processing ingredients. But that might not be clear early on in the first playthrough, so maybe x10 on all the numbers to show it's a bulk deal? You get excited about unlocking higher tier DNA tech ... then you notice the DNA ratios are worse ... and that's disappointing until you get to the endgame and are looking at corpse stockpiles and worse
DNA ratios are better
. Maybe make it 100 brains or 50 steaks into 20 DNA + 30 stone taking 100 seconds, to emphasise that point? Maybe even call the processes "bulk DNA extraction"?
The "first steps" tech also feels like it gets too much done for being cheaper than Logistics 1. I think the techs used to be split out? Did they get bundled around the time of the .18 branching? My feedback here is that the current way does feel a bit compressed, too much utility at once in a game where you research sulfur and then separately
batteries. Even if there are a few steps, temporary caches of unprocessed large biters are fine, especially as they stack in 200s. The flesh / brains -> DNA could be a red + green tech, at that point DNA is just for Military Science, DNA extraction could even depend on military 2.
Though, DNA from bones currently depends on Alien Poison from Alien Protein, and that one is a weird tech. It takes red + green + purple but not blue
... and unlocks tech that's red + green + military. Combat isn't purple's theme ... should alien poison be red + green + military instead? Is purple a typo? Otherwise the pacing feels really weird too, purple comes way way later in a game.
Changing the science colour ratio is also a weird thing. It's not something I remember anywhere else in Factorio, and tbh I didn't even notice until I was carefully checking things writing this. But it's in several places - eg spitter processing, fireball damage - so it's a deliberate thing. This might be a new section.
Research cost gradients
On reflection it makes sense; though it's not how vanilla Factorio does anything, it does kind of give you something to do when blue science is online but not yet up to the speed of red / green. That's a cute new design space. But a couple of notes:
- There are almost no situations where a base will make different rates of red & green. It's really only the most high tech colour that might not be up to speed. Everything else generally gets built to be output rate aligned & that's what vanilla Factorio encourages.
- Fireball Turret costs 5 red / 3 green / 1 military ... who builds 5x more red than military?
- Fireball Artillery Tower research costs 2 red / 1 green / 1 blue / 1 military - it doesn't depend on artillery any more, and no longer builds from artillery? That's a very strong combat capability to unlock at just blue science. But that aside, the cost of 2x red feels uneven in an uninteresting way.
- The Fireball Damage upgrade doesn't ramp nicely. Several have red and green not balancing, which we've mentioned. Fireball Damage 13 and 14 take 1 of each colour, and then 15 jumps to this 4-3-2-1-1 gradient. And the research durations are all the same, so all that happens is that research slows down because bases don't overbuild red science like that. (People may not even notice, just look at which colours are needed, queue up some techs, not think about it till it's done.)
So it feels like those research costs are too varied in a way that doesn't don't make the design benefits clear, when otherwise simpler is better. The idea of having tech to research when the most expensive colour isn't yet fully up to speed is cool (though people starting a new colour are likely to rush whatever they need to unlock, but hey). The implementation could be simpler though, something like:
- Make the science colour ratios are either all 1x, or all 2x but with the most expensive colour being 1x
- Make the techs with 2x ratios all have 2x research time cost and 1/2 as many cycles
So for example, some Fireball Damage research cost changes under this scheme:
- Fireball Damage 5: 1r, 1g, 30s may as well stay as it is
- Fireball Damage 6: 2r, 1g, 1m, 30s -> 2r, 2g, 1m, 60s
- Fireball Damage 7: 2r, 2g, 1m, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 30s
- Fireball Damage 8: 3r, 2g, 1m, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 30s
- Fireball Damage 9: 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 30s -> 2r, 2g, 2m, 1b, 60s
- Fireball Damage 10: 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 30s
- Fireball Damage 11: 3r, 2g, 1m, 1b, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 30s
- Fireball Damage 12: 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 1y, 30s -> 2r, 2g, 2m, 2b, 1y, 60s
- Fireball Damage 13: 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 1y, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 1y, 30s
- Fireball Damage 14: 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 1y, 30s -> 1r, 1g, 1m, 1b, 1y, 30s
This way everyone gets used to the research taking 30s (as per the first few ranks), the standard Factorio equal-costs-across-colours is preserved at the "normal" timing of 30s. The "unusual" ranks are all easily identified and happen when each new colour is introduced. The consequences of the ratios are more obvious, and it's better aligned to how vanilla Factorio encourages bases to ratio science builds.
I dunno if it makes sense to have Fireballs unlock at red + green + military but have the damage start back at just red only? But whatever, that's a small thing.
I was looking at the biter processing costs - these do the gradient thing too. But these could even each be bumped up to the next level to better align the capabilities to when they'll turn up in game. Facing medium biters while still on pure red tech is gonna go badly, ditto behemoth with blue tech. Research could be: red for smalls, red & green for mediums, red + green + blue for bigs, and red + green + blue + purple for behemoth processing. (Purple rather than yellow because processing is the industrial rather than combat aspect.) That'd position each of the processing techs more appropriately within the pace of the game. A small stockpile of bodies you can't process yet is fine in a starter base still researching basic techs, bodies stack in 200s.
Alien poison and worm chitin as cul-de-sacs
This point is kind of about inter-mod compatibility, or rather, inter-mod tuning.
Because the bulk sinks for poison and worm chitin are both combat related - upgraded walls and bullets. Someone with different mods might decide on different walls / weapons, and then ... then there's nothing else to do with bulk poison or worm chitin, they just build up.
Protein is only ever made alongside poison, and you need the protein for processing chitin and brains, so there's currently no way to not have poison. Charcoal is a filter, so maybe there's also later tech option to combine alien chemicals and charcoal to produce only the protein?
So, worm chitin. Quite a few mods have different kinds of wall upgrades. It would massively unbalance Necromant to buff the worm chitin walls to be better than any other high tech wall in any other mod. So we've got to let players choose other kinds of upgraded walls, which means a non-combat bulk sink for worm chitin would still be helpful. Even in Necromant by itself, a good defense probably isn't losing walls in bulk in the endgame. What's more likely is throwing grenades at wooden boxes filled with worm chitin.
I was kind of expecting the chitin -> stone conversion to use the worm stuff? Because I already associated that with stone because it's used in walls, which come from stone. Biter chitin I had imagined as more metallic, since it goes into armor & shield (& now bullet) recipes. And there's already a chitin -> worm chitin process, so any chitin oversupply problems get solved by first converting it to the worm stuff. So doing the DNA from worm chitin instead of biter chitin would make sense & address issues.
(Though I also still like the idea of flattening chitin and using it in another green circuit option, or somehow otherwise processing it into, say, cellulose -> plastic. Every base gonna need green circuits & plastic all the time. I especially like the idea of something like chitin + petroleum -> chitin plates + heavy oil and then chitin plates + copper coils -> green circuits. I don't think liquid + solid -> liquid + solid happens anywhere
in vanilla, that's simple and
a new chemical plant pattern to play with.)
I personally see these "stockpiling" things in Necromant to be "how do I deal with these excess corpses?" rather than "how can I get more resources out of killing biters?" because the Schall ores mod already does that pretty well, and you can just play with both mods (which I do). So they don't have to have favourable ratios or even be simple to build around (like the Shall alien ores are). It's that the getting-rid-of-the-corpses is the puzzle, so reintroducing small amounts of inconvenient resources is the gameplay here.