Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

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pleegwat
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by pleegwat » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:17 pm

I'm seeing a lot of clash between a camp saying 'Bots are OP' and a camp saying 'Bots are harder than you think'.

Are there any ways to change bots so their complexity becomes more obvious? The first aspect I am thinking of here is the current charging mechanic. This appears to be something only heavy bot users see as a bottleneck. Add in a quick-swap battery replacement, probably instant, and infrastructure to recharge old batteries. This should be tuned to be more efficient at recharging bots than direct charging is, and the very existence of the technology is likely enough indication to players that this is a bottleneck - I don't think existing charging would need to be nerfed much, if at all.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by purdueme91 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:17 pm

Tomik wrote:
Image

Also add fucking Loaders, which are already programmed in the game. Allow them to only put things in and out of cargo wagons and other chest types and put ores into and out of furnace type buildings faster then then stack inserters. Not Assembler types and Reactors/Steam Engines types. You do this and suddenly the bonus gained from HUMONGOUS Botport unloading/loading stations and robotic furnace setups goes to zero. Xterminator and KoS will have to redo A LOT of their designs but won´t be as much pissed if you nerfed bots.
^^^This^^^

Loaders make belts fun...Perfect for Angels mods for unloading those damn crushers and leechers... during my last Angel/Bob playthrough the power consumed by the bots unloading the trains just drove me nuts. But stackers into a chest into loaders and bam...full belts.

Cannot wait to try out the new splitters. That will go a long way to fixing the stupid issues I'm having right now.

Oh and here's a nerf to bots not sure if has been suggested. Nerf the Kovarex process. Once you get 40 U-235 you never worry about power again. If there is no Kovarex process, then your infinite nuclear power goes out the window and powering a megabase full of bots becomes that much harder.
Last edited by purdueme91 on Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Frightning » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:18 pm

I feel like much of the discussion surrounding belts v bots is missing some important context, part of why bots are the 'obvious' late game solution to item transport over short (and even medium) distances is because of other gameplay systems being as they currently are. Two things stand out to me in this regard:

1: Modules and Beacons being as they currently are means that there is really only one endgame layout that is optimal. Which is the ever famous alternating rows of beacons and assemblers, which everyone uses because it is clearly optimal. If modules and/or beacons were changed so that there was more than one 'optimal' layout for endgame, belts might be more worthy of consideration.

2: The other thing, which actually partly ties back to point 1, is that bots are actually pretty energy intensive (and so are optimal module-beacon setups, actually), but energy is almost trivially easy to mass produce in the game currently. Even if we ignore solar having 0 running costs (it's at least space hungry and comparatively expensive to setup per MW, which is fair), the both the setup and running costs for all forms of energy generation are still quite low. If energy costs were a more serious consideration, belts would actually have a pretty significant selling point, especially in a world where there were very efficient layouts that were more belt friendly (I actually think a belt-based base with assem3s having 3xEff3+1xSpd3 are a pretty good example of a belt friendly efficient layout, but productivity+speed beacons is just too good to pass up with how it works now).


tl;dr Maybe bots being best is more symptomatic of other systems being in need of more interesting/relevant gameplay design?

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Zeblote » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:19 pm

Frightning wrote:1: Modules and Beacons being as they currently are means that there is really only one endgame layout that is optimal. Which is the ever famous alternating rows of beacons and assemblers, which everyone uses because it is clearly optimal. If modules and/or beacons were changed so that there was more than one 'optimal' layout for endgame, belts might be more worthy of consideration.
Solution: remove beacons. Every design people come up with that involves them looks horrible...

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by super_aardvark » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:20 pm

Idea for bot nerf: Make carrying capacity based on stack size of the item; OR make power consumption based on the stack size of the item (as well as how many are carried).

Example of case 1:
Initially, a bot can carry 2 circuits, or 1 plate or pipe, but can't carry pipe-to-ground, train wagon, etc. After capacity upgrade 1, a bot can carry 4 circuits, or 2 plates or pipes, or 1 pipe-to-ground, but not train wagon, etc. And so on.

Example of case 2:
Initially, a bot can carry 1 of anything, but carrying a circuit takes much less energy per distance than carrying a train wagon. After capacity upgrade 1, a bot can carry 2 of anything, and the same energy ratio applies to different items, but carrying 1 thing takes half as much energy per distance as carrying 2 of that thing -- and maybe all energy costs are reduced, so that carrying 2 items costs the same as carrying 1 item did before the capacity upgrade, or costs only sqrt(2) times as much, or something similar.
Last edited by super_aardvark on Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Lubricus » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:20 pm

nakran wrote:I didn't reply in the last FFF. In fact I was just waiting to see if I could think of something to provide my 2cents.

On the «Bots vs Belts aftermath» of Kovarex

Its true that after setting up the bots you have like a «strong spell» that you can use but I think that the costs are in a different dimension.
Just from the example provided with the express belts its clear that you need an incredible amount of bots (and that's also a lot of resources).
I would prefer the belt over the bot because is cheaper, easy to set up and it does its job.
Setting up the bots in this situation requires lots of resources and power and quite frankly it looks bad compared to belts.
Then you ad another roboport that autoconnects and the bots are going to derp away in another part of your factory and the throughput dives and get worse than the belts.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by DragonMudd » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:21 pm

After reading some comments this past week and today on reddit, I would like to suggest a slight redirection as to the problem. The problem is not with bots, but with electrical power.

1) What drawback are bots meant to have? They're supposed to require a huge energy cost. And in swarms, they actually do. Getting power and getting roboports to charge them gets difficult at times, and you have to get more power. Unfortunately, getting more power is apparently east. As so many have said: just slap down a whole bunch more solar. On some ground the only challenge there is clearing biters and now clearing cliffs. But that's not a challenge, that's just busy work (and with artillery, the biter problem isn't much of a thing any more).

2) Also, there's little or no incentive to ever use efficiency modules, especially in the "optimal" gameplay strategies. We need more incentive for that.

3) The most optimal end game base defense is just a double wall of lasers. This can handle any arbitrarily large number of behemoths. Lasers also are supposed to have the drawback of major electricity draw.

I don't know exactly where the problem is or what the best solution is. Perhaps solar needs a nerf. Perhaps there needs to be some power loss over large distances. Perhaps some other solution. Is the problem just with solar, or does nuclear have a problem as well? (Then again, perhaps a solution that relies less on laser turrets and more on uranium rounds means the extra challenge of balancing uranium for reactors vs killing).

I would love to read about discussion about power in the game. It seems like this could indirectly boost belt design without making any changes to bots at all.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Tekky » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:21 pm

Thank you very much for this week's Factorio Friday Facts! I agree with nearly everything said in it.

I especially like the filter splitters and the fact that we won't have to wait for 0.17 for it. :)

I'm a bit sceptical about the idea of increasing the recharge time of bots, though, because this nerf can be somewhat easily compensated for by simply building more roboports. In this suggestion thread, I am instead proposing that bots should be nerfed by giving them an additional maintenance cost, so that they actually consume additional resources. That way, players would still find bots useful for transporting small amounts of items, but not bulk items such as iron plates. However, my suggestion has its own disadvantages, as pointed out in my suggestion thread.
Last edited by Tekky on Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by pleauser » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:25 pm

changing the bot recharge time just means I add more bots until I get the throughput I need, along with more ports to charge them.. not a real solution.

I agree with someone, make larger concentrations of bots incur a speed penalty (from dodging each other? from the complex pathing issues inherent to their pea brains? lol) perhaps factoring in the number of roboports in the network. this makes them self limiting.
end game research to help mitigate this would be a nice touch.

of course, I can also see folks making smaller networks and more distributed bases.. but thats choice. it would perhaps give belts a better comparison.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by bobucles » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:27 pm

Purple splitters look to be very exciting! My only complaint is that you look at a plain ordinary splitter and it could be set up to do ANYTHING. I think a new entity is important for a filter splitter, merely so it can visually show that "something is happening".

Bot cargo research is probably something that never needed to exist. The main reason bots turned out to move more items than belts is because this simple research makes bots up to 4 times as good. It is also a bit sad that it doesn't help with using blueprints or anything like that and it's also unclear how these bots suddenly get more powerful vertical thrust to carry more things. Frickin' magic I tells ya. I find it interesting that bot speed research doesn't affect much in terms of overall throughput. It looks good for mostly reducing transit lag and getting the same job done with fewer bots.

A multi layered solution to buff belts and nerf bots will probably work best. Yes it's true that existing bases will be hurt by any kind of nerf, but the true pain is when a door closes without any new doors opening. A good solution may look something like bots carrying half the items, charging at half the speed while belts find a way to move more items. No amount of nerfing will stop players from using bots, their utility is simply too high. Players will still use nerfed bots to untangle spaghetti, they'll just be really salty about it. Ultimately I think belts NEED some kind of strong late game boost, so that players can be excited to use them in their crazy endgame bases.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by purdueme91 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:30 pm

DragonMudd wrote: Perhaps there needs to be some power loss over large distances.
What about how Oxygen Not Included handles power/wires? Kinda of ridiculous that I can have a single wooden pole with a single wire carry 200MW without damage. Put a limit on how much power can be handled by a powerline/transformer system. Then you have to rethink huge solar farms and such. Then you could make it that the higher power towers require more space or you have a transformer to step down from your power plants to your assembly.

Probably adds a whole new level of complexity though.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Erannadur » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:31 pm

I have a physics based idea for when other worlds are included in the game (if they ever are). Flying robots can continue to work as is on the planet (or modified however it is finally decided on), but perhaps other planets' atmospheres (or lack of) do not allow flight, or only allow it at a reduced rate. Players might just move any off-world resources back to the starting planet, but perhaps some activities could only be done off world, or be done at much higher efficiencies (I have no examples since I don't know how any of this will look, I just know you aren't getting a helicopter to work on the moon or Mars)

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Tinyboss » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:35 pm

purdueme91 wrote:Kinda of ridiculous that I can have a single wooden pole with a single wire carry 200MW without damage. Put a limit on how much power can be handled by a powerline/transformer system.
I think from a gameplay standpoint this is a fantastic idea, but I'm not sure it can be done at Factorio scale with reasonable performance, unless new constraints are put on power networks, such as a no-loop rule.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by jcranmer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:36 pm

Looking at that priority splitter, my first thought is

HOLY CRAP THAT IS SO AWESOME FOR MAKING COMPACT BALANCERS

It's also nice of Kovarex to show the test that shows just how much more powerful bots are than belts. There were quite a few posts in the last thread that basically said "what are you high? Bot throughput is totally worse than belts."

What's still needed, I think, is ways to buff the throughput of train<-> belt transition system, particularly if you can design it in such a way to prevent bots from being able to capitalize on it. Trains are really the only situation in vanilla where you have a throughput situation in being able to load/unload belts--stack inserters are fine even for beaconed assemblers (green circuits and copper coil are pretty much the only exceptions, but even chests struggle there). Note that this is not the case for mods like Bob's Mods where the module bonus is obscene, but there are other solutions in mods (e.g., loaders), so it's not a major concern.

I do look forward to seeing everyone redesign balancers to use the new splitters.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Mimos » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:36 pm

I built a bot base once (some patches ago when they still used less power) and I didn't like it, I thought it was boring. I just like to spend hours optimizing belt setups so they are able to exactly saturate a belt, being tileable for wasting as few beacons as possible and being compact for good UPS (although it could still be better using bots, I know). But I can also understand players who don't like to spend their limited play time fiddling with belts.

Two examples:
Blue.PNG
Blue.PNG (2.05 MiB) Viewed 1130 times
Green.PNG
Green.PNG (855.03 KiB) Viewed 1130 times
Using these exampes you can see some spots where belts could be improved by not changing belts but inserters and assemblers instead:
  • - Processing units:
    • - each assember which doesn't have a dedicated belt for electronic circuits needs two inserters, otherwise it will be starved at some times, with the inserter idling at in between. Could be improved by increasing stack sizes in the assembers (maybe only for higher tier or beaconed ones?) or maybe some changes to stack inserters
      - the outermost assemblers need rotated input belts for higher throughput (see dedicated screenshot below)
    - Electronic circuits
    • - basically the same issue, here I used chests for buffering instead.
      - I had to balance the iron input because so I could merge the remaining iron plates for supplying more circuit production. Could be solved by allowing inserters to evenly grab from both sides of a belt
Two more issues:
belt rotation.PNG
belt rotation.PNG (230.9 KiB) Viewed 1130 times
- Depending on the rotation of the belt the speed at which an inserter can grab items differs. It took me some time to figure this out to get my station loading from one train to another working properly. Can also be seen in the processing unit production above.
balancer - so sad.PNG
balancer - so sad.PNG (65.54 KiB) Viewed 1130 times
Balancers not working properly is really annyoing right now. But as far as I understand you are already working on it. I'dont really want items being pushed back so another item can be squeezed in a slot that would otherwise be too small, but items not being put into big enough slots is really annoying.


Concering most of the changes suggested above: I'm not really sure if I would really like to have them, because I liked the challenge of building these setups and I wouldn't really want it to be a lot easier. That's why I even think I'd not really like belts being buffed too much. That's probably why I'm also not liking the new priority splitting feature for 100%. There ist probably no change/nerf to the roboports that can make them even remotely as fun (for me) as using belts, although I like them for distributing items to players and some small/remote assembly machines. So I don't really see why you should nerf them. Just for encouraging players to use belts? I don't know. You'd only probably reduce the max factory size at reasonable UPS for players that get the most fun of building the biggest UPSable factory.
Last edited by Mimos on Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

milo christiansen
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by milo christiansen » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:38 pm

Zeblote wrote:
Frightning wrote:1: Modules and Beacons being as they currently are means that there is really only one endgame layout that is optimal. Which is the ever famous alternating rows of beacons and assemblers, which everyone uses because it is clearly optimal. If modules and/or beacons were changed so that there was more than one 'optimal' layout for endgame, belts might be more worthy of consideration.
Solution: remove beacons. Every design people come up with that involves them looks horrible...
That... Is actually a great idea. It removes the #1 late-game layout constraint, making belts much more competitive.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by briezee » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:42 pm

alefu wrote:
Tomik wrote:Also add fucking Loaders, which are already programmed in the game. Allow them to only put things in and out of cargo wagons and other chest types and put ores into and out of furnace type buildings faster then then stack inserters. Not Assembler types and Reactors/Steam Engines types. You do this and suddenly the bonus gained from HUMONGOUS Botport unloading/loading stations and robotic furnace setups goes to zero.
I second this! And maybe also add 90° inserters as a late game research to enable more compact belt based designs.
I would love to see 90° inserters at some point.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by vedrit » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:44 pm

DragonMudd wrote:After reading some comments this past week and today on reddit, I would like to suggest a slight redirection as to the problem. The problem is not with bots, but with electrical power.

1) What drawback are bots meant to have? They're supposed to require a huge energy cost. And in swarms, they actually do. Getting power and getting roboports to charge them gets difficult at times, and you have to get more power. Unfortunately, getting more power is apparently east. As so many have said: just slap down a whole bunch more solar. On some ground the only challenge there is clearing biters and now clearing cliffs. But that's not a challenge, that's just busy work (and with artillery, the biter problem isn't much of a thing any more).

2) Also, there's little or no incentive to ever use efficiency modules, especially in the "optimal" gameplay strategies. We need more incentive for that.

3) The most optimal end game base defense is just a double wall of lasers. This can handle any arbitrarily large number of behemoths. Lasers also are supposed to have the drawback of major electricity draw.

I don't know exactly where the problem is or what the best solution is. Perhaps solar needs a nerf. Perhaps there needs to be some power loss over large distances. Perhaps some other solution. Is the problem just with solar, or does nuclear have a problem as well? (Then again, perhaps a solution that relies less on laser turrets and more on uranium rounds means the extra challenge of balancing uranium for reactors vs killing).

I would love to read about discussion about power in the game. It seems like this could indirectly boost belt design without making any changes to bots at all.
I agree. In my play (with 2 others on a server) once we got enough power generation, we completely cut out efficiency modules and are starting to lean heavily to bot usage over belts/trains.Especially once a reactor is up and running.

However, I don't believe this will solve the issue with belts vs bots. Bots just have too many advantages over belts for belts to ever be competitive. Bots are almost infinitely scalable. Bots do not have to be routed around clusters of structures (rows of assemblers, refineries, etc)
The only thing late-game, IMO, that can compete or win over bots is trains over long distances. But otherwise, belts simply cannot keep up. They might last a little while longer if some of the stuff mentioned in the FFF gets implemented, but there are certain limitations that belts simply cannot overcome that will cause bots to be the best choice.

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by mooop12 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:46 pm

(about belts) It is probably better to leave this issue as it is so that we don't break the existing game.
And then at the end
I strongly believe that bots should have a debuff.
Come on. This kind of indecision in a team honestly doesn't put you in a very good light. Should we fear a bot nerf or should we look forward to a belt boost? I would feel better if todays FFF just wasn't released.

Also: "Hurr durr I don't like playing with bots so everybody should dislike them like I do, they should be nerfed!"

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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Visione » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:48 pm

Hi Engineers o/

So, I just read the FFF #225, two thoughts came up, loaders and infinite research

---
Loaders
---
I was wondering why belt loaders like (https://mods.factorio.com/mods/therax/miniloader) aren't considered an option for belts?
The real problem with belts in end-game are not the belts itself, but the inserters.

here are the stats from the wiki: (https://wiki.factorio.com/Inserters)
inserters transfering from chest to chest/assembler: 27.70 i/s (the case in a robot base, as you insert from chest into assembler (chest))
inserters transfering from belt to chest/assembler: 12.00 i/s (in the case of a belt base, there are some disclaimers, read wiki)

So an belt-base needs effectively 3 times the amount of inserters into an assembler to achieve the same throughput into said assembler!!!!
This is a huge problem make belt-based beacon-based assemblers end-game. The extra belts and inserters
prevent the same amount of beacons as with a robot base.
In other words:
Inserters make belts preform worse at the assemblers themself. Being space of the extra inserters the problem.
I think this is the real culprit of designing end-game high production bases with belts.

Buffing inserters wont work, as that would also buff robots, however, using belt loaders would fix the issue.
Robots are not affected by belt loaders.
Belt loaders have a throughput of 40 i/s instead of 27.70 i/s.

---
Infinite research
---
Why isn't there infinite research for belt speed? just like there is infinite research for robots? Would increase the throughput of (express) belts (and maybe loaders?) even more.
Last edited by Visione on Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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