Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

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golfmiketango
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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by golfmiketango » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:08 am

I have two more comments I'd like to make on this topic. One is pedantic: to nerf is to idiot-proof, or to make less dangerous. The word is derived from the Hasboro, Inc. line of toys whose website can be perused here. A better term is debuff which is jargon for making a gameplay dynamic less powerful.

The other is to do with the progressive quality of Factorio gameplay. Negative Root once said something about bots that really stuck with me: he mentioned that typically you'd reach the bot phase of gameplay after forty to sixty hours of investment. That may no longer be the case for most of us reading this forum, but I suspect it's probably about right for a new player of factorio. What he said that stuck with me was that it's almost unheard-of for a game to introduce a new gameplay dynamic that so completely changes the way the game is played, so deep into the game's story-line.

I think that's true and I think it really speaks to the incredible richness of factorio gameplay that we're even having this debate. The amount of sheer effort required to start a factorio campaign, and not only research robots but then to deploy them en-masse is, in absolute terms, very, very high. With the same amount of time and effort, you could probably play through an entire Grand Theft Auto or Leisure Suit Larry campaign, and basically been done with those games. Even in a more nearly analogous game like Rimworld or Cities Skylines, you could easily have built up to the point where you're starting to bump against the limits of the game or your available computational horsepower.

In vanilla factorio, by the time you are able to build up robot logistics to the levels where it would ever occur to you to say "wait, these robots are totally OP," you will have won the game a long time ago and advanced well into a post-game phase of gameplay where it has started to become necessary to tailor your gameplay to the computational ability of your computer to simulate your base. In this context, the fact that robotic logistics work "backwards" from how they do in real life (insofar as robots are able to move items in huge quantities that would be difficult using conveyor belts), as mentioned by someone above (forgive me for forgetting who you were) makes perfect sense.

If you somehow wind up in the situation of needing to move ten million items of uranium-235 from one end of your base to the other, you have made a huge investment already. It just makes sense that you've transcended most of the limitations your campaign started with way back when you found yourself alone on the surface of an alien planet with a few iron plates and a burner mining drill (who doesn't carry around a few iron plates and a burner mining drill when piloting a spaceship? I know I do). So whether that is done with magical OP robots or magical OP transport belts is not terribly important. Either way, factorio is and should be structured in such a way that you've earned those OP abilities. The ability to do insane stuff like that is your payoff for a large investment in gameplay. You deserve it!

Finally, in defense of robots: If you try to make "one huge robotic network" that moves everything everywhere over a huge megabase using only robots, you will still find it impractical. Trains are absolutely superior for that job.

Personally, I find it more rewarding when I don't overuse robot logistics but there are definitely instances where I would just rather not do the work and have factorio magically "make it so." The fact that this is possible, within certain reasonable limits, feels right, in the broader context of the game.
Last edited by golfmiketango on Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:16 am, edited 3 times in total.

Jürgen Erhard
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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Jürgen Erhard » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:12 am

o6dukeleto wrote:I think a simple logistic bot cap PER network would reduce the immediate ability to "abuse" logistic bots. I would recommend that it be PER network, so that early logistic networks require planning (much like late game networks):
Again with the "I don't like your playstyle, you have to play *my* way or GTFO".

I cover the "whole" map (all I have uncovered) with *one* logistics network. One "horizontal" (east-west) main roboport line, and north-west columns "two apart" (so everything is one construction network). That's how I want to play. That's what I find *fun*. You'd restrict that. Why? For what? Because "Bots are OP". OP is a stupid term. If you worry about OP, lobby the devs to removed or severely restrict the mod API. Because with this, I can *easily* make *WAY* OP stuff. *IT'S AN SP GAME*! (well, I play SP only, because I cannot stand a "main bus", and that's the orthodoxy everyone plays).

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by wlfbck » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:15 am

A feature that hasn't been really mentioned which makes belts more fun are loaders. I only play with loaders nowerdays. Inserters (even the faster ones from bobs) are just too slow and flow-disruptive.

You'll still use bots for the pain-in-the-arse 20 component thingies of which you don't need much, but everything which needs high throughput (green chips or equivalents) you'll do by belt with loaders.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by WarpZone » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:19 am

Caine wrote:
WarpZone wrote:I felt SMART! ... now I'm stupid
Ehhh... okay... I am sure that there is a joke in there :twisted:
You know what? That's fair.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by GenBOOM » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:24 am

wlfbck wrote:A feature that hasn't been really mentioned which makes belts more fun are loaders. I only play with loaders nowerdays. Inserters (even the faster ones from bobs) are just too slow and flow-disruptive.

You'll still use bots for the pain-in-the-arse 20 component thingies of which you don't need much, but everything which needs high throughput (green chips or equivalents) you'll do by belt with loaders.
then you are doing it wrong :p add more inserters and you also need a belt balancer so that the inserters are all active at the same time to get 100% utilization. the belt balancer is different for loading than it is for unloading
03 Balanced Loading
03 Balanced Unloading

padreigh
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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by padreigh » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:26 am

I want bots. period. If someone dislikes them, just do not research them. I also use belts with loaders on Angels/Bobs.

1st post ever, 500+h into the game - Bobs/Angels.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Hertzila » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:27 am

I've never used bots extensively. The one time I played a map long enough to get there, I never used them much. So I don't have much experience with them.

That said, it looks to me like the issue with belts vs bots is scalability. Bots you can scale up almost infinitely with research and simply adding more, whereas belts don't have that research avenue and adding more requires more space and modifying layouts to fit the belts. So rather than limiting robot scale, why not make belts similarly almost infinitely scalable? Add some similarly late-game green belt that (eg.) not only starts at quadruple speed but can also be increased similarly to bot speed. This way belts can keep up with bot speeds without requiring constant changes to layout. Make sure that inserters can still always grab from them and that upgrading them en masse is easier and they will stay relevant, at least in theory.

As a side note, please make construction bots an earlier tech in some way! They are extremely useful QoL addition.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by golfmiketango » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:28 am

GenBOOM wrote:
wlfbck wrote:A feature that hasn't been really mentioned which makes belts more fun are loaders. I only play with loaders nowerdays. Inserters (even the faster ones from bobs) are just too slow and flow-disruptive.

You'll still use bots for the pain-in-the-arse 20 component thingies of which you don't need much, but everything which needs high throughput (green chips or equivalents) you'll do by belt with loaders.
then you are doing it wrong :p add more inserters and you also need a belt balancer so that the inserters are all active at the same time to get 100% utilization. the belt balancer is different for loading than it is for unloading
03 Balanced Loading
03 Balanced Unloading
not sure if serious :P

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Higarian » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:46 am

Bots are great for late game. And greater for pos end gamer.

The only nerf logistic maybe bots needs is making it research recepy requires a white Science pack.

- Mega bases will work out.
- Fun in making the normal non-logistic bots oriented bases stil happen.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Higarian » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:50 am

Hertzila wrote:I've never used bots extensively. The one time I played a map long enough to get there, I never used them much. So I don't have much experience with them.

That said, it looks to me like the issue with belts vs bots is scalability. Bots you can scale up almost infinitely with research and simply adding more, whereas belts don't have that research avenue and adding more requires more space and modifying layouts to fit the belts. So rather than limiting robot scale, why not make belts similarly almost infinitely scalable? Add some similarly late-game green belt that (eg.) not only starts at quadruple speed but can also be increased similarly to bot speed. This way belts can keep up with bot speeds without requiring constant changes to layout. Make sure that inserters can still always grab from them and that upgrading them en masse is easier and they will stay relevant, at least in theory.

As a side note, please make construction bots an earlier tech in some way! They are extremely useful QoL addition.
I wanted logistic bots very early. I love my blueprints and most of the time, when i make a new factory, i get bummed because a simply cant use them. Or i need to remake them manually...

Or at least make some dumb version of construction robot that just work from the player inventory. Something like the coal inserter that you discard when you get normal inserters.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Conventia » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:56 am

My primary feedback on the post is that Twinsen (or the rest of the team) shouldn't state, outright, that belts are more fun than bots. They may result in more challenges, they may be more nuanced to use, they may be more ideal given a set of game design goals, but they can't be said to be more fun, since that's subjective rather than objective. So, while you're saying that you want to be objective, I fail to see how that is the case when you're claiming that fun is objective. Perhaps we just have different world views, or something?

Basically, I have a hard time having a reasonable discussion about the game design of bots vs belts, when the premise is "belts are more fun", to start. If that premise wasn't explicitly stated, I think having a discussion would be worthwhile.
Last edited by Conventia on Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by chimeric10 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:03 am

It's already been said but need to voice my opinion;
Leave bots alone, if anything, buff belts, to make the reason for this discussion superfluous. If bots are so "overpowered" make the reason go away by buffing something else.
If people don't like bots, don't use them, if you can't control yourself, add another story type, "botless" world, where bots just aren't an option in the game.


Adding more ways to achieve something is what makes the game fun. If you limit us to just one way, then I'll go play something else (heaven forbid, I like this game a lot), linear progression is not fun.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by GenBOOM » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:04 am

golfmiketango wrote:
GenBOOM wrote:
wlfbck wrote:A feature that hasn't been really mentioned which makes belts more fun are loaders. I only play with loaders nowerdays. Inserters (even the faster ones from bobs) are just too slow and flow-disruptive.

You'll still use bots for the pain-in-the-arse 20 component thingies of which you don't need much, but everything which needs high throughput (green chips or equivalents) you'll do by belt with loaders.
then you are doing it wrong :p add more inserters and you also need a belt balancer so that the inserters are all active at the same time to get 100% utilization. the belt balancer is different for loading than it is for unloading
03 Balanced Loading
03 Balanced Unloading
not sure if serious :P
let me assure you
Image

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Samlow » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:07 am

Personally, I think there might just be a missing link.

There is no better alternative, so increasing cost or reducing effectiveness doesn't really solve the problem, the problem being:
- Space efficient transportation
- High volume transportation
Bots solve both

There is nothing which provides this. Now, if there were a alternative to one of them, you could refine bots to provide the other. Personally, I'd love to see a factory type sollution to High Volume transportation. Packaging has been named before, but Im all for an in between sollution.

I was toying with the idea of elevated mini-train tracks. It could for example consist of:
Alternatively this system could be underground.
If I get spare time tomorrow I might sketch an example.

- Tracks (can pass over other buildings, basically flying)
- Support pillar (needed every X tracks)
- Loader & Unloader (basically a box that loads/unloads the boxes moving above from an attached chest.
- Minitrain/robot thingies (They are moving containers on the track)
- Network pillar (advanced networking, direction changing)

There is several ways to handle pathfinding, but I'd advocate making it a semi dumb system. Basically, the Minitrains are stuck on the track and follow a preset direction (several options for where: Track, in the minitrain, possibly influenced at loaders/unloaders or in a substation). The bot follows this direction and loads/unloads along the way. The minitrains themselves occupy 1 square each and take power to move.

The system could look pretty much like how warehouses use robots to move around boxes with items in real life, but on a monorail/elevated track

It would need a bunch of options for the loaders/unloaders, minitrains and Networking pillar that allow it to interact with logic gates as well. It should be slightly less flexible compared to normal belts with loading/unloading, but way higher volume. Speed of transportation should be a lot slower than normal trains, but acceleration very high.

Inspirational pictures:
Image
Image
Image

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by WarpZone » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:11 am

Conventia wrote:My primary feedback on the post is that Twinsen (or the rest of the team) shouldn't state, outright, that belts are more fun than bots. They may result in more challenges, they may be more nuanced to use, they may be more ideal given a set of game design goals, but they can't be said to be more fun, since that's subjective rather than objective. So, while you're saying that you want to be objective, I fail to see how that is the case when you're claiming that fun is objective. Perhaps we just have different world views, or something?

Basically, I have a hard time having a reasonable discussion about the game design of bots vs belts, when the premise is "belts are more fun", to start. If that premise wasn't explicitly stated, I think having a discussion would be worthwhile.
Oh, but think of the alternate universes in which they're not deliberately removing a fun feature that lots of people use from the game! That more than makes up for what they're doing in this universe, right? :roll:

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by AntiElite » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:30 am

I've played around with the idea of limiting the amount of total bots you can have in all your networks and extent this with an infinite research, like you do with combat robots. This would buff belts immensely, while ensuring the opportunity of using logistic bots in specific situation.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by SpudBuddy » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:33 am

Add a Decay timer to the bots, If you want to use them you will also need to keep up on maintenance and repair over time. If not bots could slow down or crash onto whatever is below, causing damage. So you have to keep repairing your bots or your base. Belts are cheap and you only have to make them once. Bots on the other hand could overall be considered better would need the constant reinvestment of resources to maintain the bots and logistic network. This would create another need for expansion due to the need for more resources. And poses another problem for resource management, due you keep spending resources to maintain your bots or do you use belts and use the extra resources for something else?

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by ishar » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:46 am

Eh; I think it's a silly argument to have, really. It's easy enough to not use something you don't like or agree to a multiplayer scenario where people don't use something you collectively don't like. Leaving aside that it wouldn't be all that hard to add game modes that disable certain features (e.g. akin to expensive mode); it's like any other argument that "X" is ruining the game. If it's a MMORPG where you are forced to interact with random people, you might have a point, but in a largely single player game that supports mods it just confuses me.

More practically; you guys nerfing bots in an effort to bring them in line with belts would make me (personally) sad because it would (to my mind) needlessly hinder the "lets push things to extreme" late game without adding significantly to the early game. Honestly, I already use belts for practically the entire game except for a few fiddly situations, usually to "patch" an oversight on my part. Of course, at a certain point there's nothing left to do but experiment with design or watch infinite numbers tick up and that's generally when I switch to bot heavy designs.

For example, in my current game bots are [only] used (in my main base) for loading my construction/artillery trains and resupplying me. [Edit: the "patch" here being that I didn't plan for construction/artillery train loading when laying out the base and it's on a peninsula and I don't want to landfill to make room.] Of course, it's 70 hours in [I'm slow], I've nothing left but infinite researches, and I'm using that main base to design/build a huge train & bot based megabase.

How do you measure this idea anyway; if a person uses belts almost exclusively for the entire tech tree and then (after researching a good chunk of infinite researches) uses their belt base to turn the map into a bot-based 2k+ SPM megabase did they use belts or did they use bots? Did bots "ruin" the aesthetic of their belt base? Did bot's existence push them into the megabase? Did infinite researches? I don't think any of those arguments make any sense, really.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Zavian » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:59 am

GenBOOM wrote:
Zavian wrote:Try fitting trains, inserters and assemblers between 2 rows of beacons so you can get 5.5 craft speed. There isn't enough room.
you dont need 2 rows. just add another train next to the first one. get double use out of your single row of beacons and spam trains.
Well I'm talking about competing with builds like this.
BotBasedGreenCircuits.png
BotBasedGreenCircuits.png (2.83 MiB) Viewed 1750 times
Yes technically you don't need an 8x8 build. Technically you don't need any beacons at all, you can just build more assemblers. But that ends up costing more modules and power. If you are willing to settle for just 4 beacons, then that leaves plenty of room for belts. But it means that the train or belt based solution isn't really able to achieve the same craft speed as the bot based solution, so will use more modules for the same production rate. I actually have a belt based green circuit build that does 20 fully compressed blue belts of green circuits in 0.15. (After the compression changes in 0.16, it needs some tweaks). However in order to achieve that, I needed to feed copper and iron from both the east and the west, and I output green circuits from both the north and the south. That makes it pretty unwieldy to attempt to integrate with anything else. A straight 8x8 build can easily share beacons and integrate with adjacent assemblies, if we had belts to feed it adequately. Also note, I'm only talking about trying to get belt based solutions for craft speed 5.5. In the last week I've seen a player insisting he wants 12 beacons per assembler for craft speed 8 :( .

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by malecord » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:04 am

My two cents. Logistic bots are evil only because they are not "realistic". In the sense that they occupy no space and so are collision free. And this allows them to defeat physic and achieve impossible throughput. You can buff belts as much as you like but they will never match logistic bots throughput simply because bots have no throughput limits. They scale infinitely in addition to be extremely flexible (as they should be).

Give them collision box, force them to respect safe distance from each other and you will have brought them in the factorio spirit where you have to take in account numbers and designs. They will still have their use, be part of smart Logistic designs but they won't be anymore the brainless solution for all the problems in the game.

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