Circuit Logistics/Send and store digitized items

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Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
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Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:27 am

Circuit Logistics/Send and store digitized items

Post by Qon »

I might make a mod
I'm considering making a mod (not a request!) that lets you digitize items and turn them into circuit signals which can then be materialized back into items anywhere you like, instantly or later.
Goals and purpose
The goal is to add a brand new type of logistics alternative to belts, bots and trains. It should also make the use of combinators helpful and rewarding so that avoiding them entirely or using them becomes an option you choose because you want to (like belts, bots and trains) and not because you can't find any use for them.
Similarities and inspirations
The mod is a bit inspired by the excellent Memory Storage mod, but with the ideas and capabilities taken even further.

The Cargo Rocket mod (which was my idea, and which I will update some day) has some similarities, but it has high resource cost and lowish bandwidth and is easy to set up logistics for. That's the opposite of this new idea, but it does kind of teleport items in bulk as well.

Edit: I found RE:Storage Energistics after making this post, and it also sends items with circuit wires. It has requester chests and requires energy based on distance sent and requires research though, so the setup is much more similar to "logistics bots, without bots" where items are simply teleported directly for just an energy cost. For my mod I would like to make as little as possible automatic (by the mod) so the routing has to be handled by the player by automating it all with combinators, which makes our projects very different in gameplay. Use that mod instead if you aren't comfortable with combinators.
What will the mod do
For simple transport in one direction with only a single sender and reciever on a communication wire it will be fairly simple to set up. For more advanced networks the requirements will increase on you as a combinator engineer instead of adding research, materials and power cost.

This will effectively be bulk teleportation with potentially "unlimited" capacity, but with some restrictions that make the combinator contraptions needed more interesting, especially for networks with multiple senders and recievers on a single network. Since throughput is what actually matters for logistics, transportation time is not really a balance factor at all for this mod and teleportation is ok. Throughput will be extremely high as well, but compared to Memory Storage it is effectively the same. I will balance the throughput by making complex networks require more combinator knowledge and by making it fun and rewarding to solve the computational problems instead of throughput. It's PvE after all and it's OK if it is amazing as long as it doesn't make the other transport options pointless in every case for every player and the gameplay is interesting. The running cost is just some electricity and space for the combinators and is asymptotically 0 with larger amounts sent per message, but I think that won't really affect how it actually compares to other transportation in practise anyways.
  • If the materializer doesn't have capacity to recieve the complete message of items then materializing will fail. This adds some tiny synchronization requirements for simple logistics and the need for split and merge computation to large scale logistics.
  • Splitting and merging messages is optional for simple logistics. Might be necessary with higher grade materials because:
  • Possible amount of items sent and recieved might depend on material and grade (easy for ores etc) , like only powers of 2. And to introduce difficulty the amount possible to recieve might not match the amounts sent, which forces split and merge.
  • Messages are send with id codes of some virtual signal unrelated to the item contents of the message so you need specific combinators to inspect messages.
  • id codes are sequential numbers scrambled by the mod with a generated encoder. The encoder details can be learned with circuit signals.
  • Messages that are not recieved instantly are saved by the mod. They can be searched for with range queries and id code decode circuits to enable things like binary search. (I'll have to store messages in fenwick trees for fast lookup). The complexity can again vary with item type. But this does enable sending items automatically between between places without any circuit signal communication between the places if you are comfortable with coding large and complex combinator circuits.
  • Messages should probably have to be transformed/Verified by a single or small set of central verifying combinators (from the mod) to force some kind of network engineering where you have to make sure to avoid signal collision when you have multiple senders and recievers. This avoids trivializing the logistics by having a wire for each Sender/reciever pair.
  • Some messages might be sent by the dematerilizer spread out over multiple ticks. This is again to make it harder to use.
  • Some types of messages might have other time related complexities (maybe only 1 verification per second or something) to encourage larger quantities of items sent per message to make circuit logistics compete with trains instead of replacing all logistics. And to encourage use which is performant with less api calls for trivial amounts.
Any features implementation would depend on if it makes the mod more interesting to use. If it's just overpowered then it's boring. If it's completely inaccesible to people without an engineering degree then it's also kind of pointless. So hopefully it can be balanced so that more complex and efficient logistics require more skill and time invested.
3 questions:
Anyone interested, besides me?
What's a good name for the mod?
Any other ideas on how to balance it to be fun to use and at appropriate difficulty?

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