Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

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Pascali
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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Pascali » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:09 pm

js1 wrote:
seePyou wrote:Why is everyone trying to remove a part of the game that they do not use? I don't get that basic premise!
All the people arguing to remove the bots are the same people that are not using them! Keep on not using them please and let the rest of the people that want bots continue to use them.
Because the game will be desinged in a complely other way with or without option for bots. And it costs a lot of time with the option for bots. It´s like you say - you design minecraft with an option with or without destroyable blocks.

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Bots vs. Belts... add...

Post by nuhll » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:42 pm

Hi there, since the last FF, i thought about the problem... belts vs. bots.


Whats about adding weight to the items? Does not affect belts, but bots? If bot has copper cable, speed = 1.5, if bot has tank, speed = 0.2 (or what ever)

I guess it would not be needed to show the weights bc everyone know a copper cable is lighter then a tank...

What you think?

[Koub] Merged into the main discussion from isolated topic in Ideas and suggestions
Last edited by Koub on Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Merged from isolated topic in Ideas & Suggestions into the main discussion on FFF topic

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Re: Bots vs. Belts... add...

Post by olafthecat » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:01 pm

I don't really use bots much myself, I prefer belts, but I am more neutral than anything else ion this argument. Since I don't use them, removal will not effect me and if they stay, well, I don't mind to much either. Changing them also is no big deal, as long as it doesn't change belts too much in the process. In experience, I have actually found them harder to use, but to be honest, I'm not very good at this game. I do agree with the merging of the bots, it would make it less complicated, however, it would also completely change the system, annoying some players.
Gonna start playing again with 0.16 build.
That's all.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by anarcobra » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:12 pm

Pascali wrote:Factorio with bots is like bying a puzzle and paying a slave doing it for you.
That's not how slaves work.
And so what? If I get my enjoyment out of watching someone else do the work I tell them to, what's wrong with that?

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Rylant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:13 pm

Pascali wrote:
js1 wrote:
seePyou wrote:Why is everyone trying to remove a part of the game that they do not use? I don't get that basic premise!
All the people arguing to remove the bots are the same people that are not using them! Keep on not using them please and let the rest of the people that want bots continue to use them.
Because the game will be desinged in a complely other way with or without option for bots. And it costs a lot of time with the option for bots. It´s like you say - you design minecraft with an option with or without destroyable blocks.
Maybe. But Minecraft didn't design its game by allowing that option, let it go live for years, and then yank it away when some people depended on playing that way. The one thing that people seem to not want to talk about, is that if you remove a huge aspect of the game, or nerf it drastically to the point where the overall dynamic of the game changes and doesn't allow people to play the game that they want, and have spent hours and hours and hours on, you are going to drive people away. It's just that simple...

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Jarin » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:01 pm

Rylant wrote:The one thing that people seem to not want to talk about, is that if you remove a huge aspect of the game, or nerf it drastically to the point where the overall dynamic of the game changes and doesn't allow people to play the game that they want, and have spent hours and hours and hours on, you are going to drive people away. It's just that simple...
Which is why it's basically guaranteed that we won't see drastic changes in Factorio's logistics design. I think Twinsen was intentionally lobbing a bit of a bomb into the forum to kick up discussion, but even then, he explicitly said "Don't worry, logistics bots won't be removed from the game".

So let's bring the discussion back away from "BOTS GOOD" vs. "BOTS BAD" and see about coming up with interesting ideas to change the bot/belt dynamic up a bit? We've talked about loaders, belt weaving, or just simple price tweaks. Personally, I think the high end belts are a bit resource-intensive for their functionality. Especially the splitters, which you end up needing piles of for any particularly complicated belt jockeying. And like I mentioned before, inserters could really use some more flexibility to allow for creative designs.

Going with the flip-side and reducing bot functionality is not something I'd be in favor of at all, but I'll look at it anyway. The ideal use of bots is to get items moved between locations that would be awkward to run belts. Extending higher-grade underground belts has helped with this a bit, but again, resource costs. Except for the small percentage of players who can fully plan a finished factory ahead of time, the choice is generally between using bots, or completely ripping up and rebuilding most of a factory to build later recipes. Slowing bots a bit or increasing their energy draw would still allow them to bypass the belt spaghetti, while making them a bit less appealing for full factory automation.
Last edited by Jarin on Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by BryanSw » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:01 pm

Any change will potentially drive people away. That by itself is not a good argument in favor of not changing it. Any creative process that has this is a primary concern is going to become stagnant, and how many people the game attracts in the future is going to be based largely on how good the game is -- so if something big needs to change, then we shouldn't be afraid of that. I think bots should stay but be nerfed in some way for game balance purposes. I like the idea of limiting the number of them that can interact with a given location at once.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Pascali » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:08 pm

anarcobra wrote:
Pascali wrote:Factorio with bots is like bying a puzzle and paying a slave doing it for you.
And so what? If I get my enjoyment out of watching someone else do the work I tell them to, what's wrong with that?
Yeah, i know - a lot of pepole like others watching having sex. But having sex is better. If you don´t like to build belts - o.k., watching robots doing the work will be better for you. But why do you have going on playing factorio. The most players knowing about robots after a lot of hours in the game and having fun before to keep playing.

And maybe it´s the best thing to keep both. But bots only for some fabrics possible.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by TiMatic » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:02 pm

svalorzen wrote:Personally I'd like more complex bots, ...
Ich have an idea for more bot complexity.
If we look at the modules, then we see that manufacturing a Tier2 Module requires 4x Tier1 modules and a Tier3 module requires 5x Tier2 modules.
The same for belts. Red belts need yellow belts and blue belts need red belts.
Why not add such levels to bots?
A Tier1 bot would be slow and can carry only 1 item. A Tier2 bot would be faster and can carry 2 items, etc. This can go up to Tier6 bots which can carry 12 items or a complete stack. And to manufacture Tier2 bots you need Tier1 bots and some other parts, ect.
And then it would be possible to limit the number of bots, because they can carry more. And this would also increase game performance, because you need less bots.
Researching bot levels would then not autoamtically upgrade them like it is now, but allow to build the next bot level.

An additional option would be to have an endless mode here. So you can upgrade the bots similar to the kovarex enrichment process, for example: put 20 Tier6 bots and some ciruits into an assembly machine, and then you get 8 Tier7 bots out.
So we need an new recipe like "Bot upgrade process".

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by VFaalcatnodriiro » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:18 pm

TiMatic wrote:[...]So we need an new recipe like "Bot upgrade process".
...and also a reliable method to grab all the low level bots from the network...

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by TiMatic » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:24 pm

VFaalcatnodriiro wrote:
TiMatic wrote:[...]So we need an new recipe like "Bot upgrade process".
...and also a reliable method to grab all the low level bots from the network...
Yes, thats right. I think we could simply add a bot requester chest/tower with a filter condition for this tasks.
And with a definable number or connection to the circuit network you could control how many bots are called and when. So you can upgrade them successively and automatically with negligible impact to the general operation of your factory.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by vampiricdust » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:53 pm

Nah, if you want to make bots more complex, have roboports be for construction and have logistic towers. Make logistic bot towers that have smaller logistic areas and have to be within a roboport's construction area to link up. Then have each tower hold 1 stack of logistic bots as well as have definable logistic networks set by a signal mannually on the tower or changable by a combinator. This way more towers are needed, but only so many can be spammed to cover a given chest.

The addition of controlled network membership would let is have more interesting logistic challenges to logistics. Making more a puzzle that has to be pieced together. Logistic bots would then move in more predictable and interesting ways.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Nondre » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:58 pm

You don't like bots? Don't use them. Trains and belts are a unique challenge, that should not be forced on a player.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by ljdp » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:26 am

I think this mod has an interesting idea for logistic bots: https://mods.factorio.com/mods/Earendel/robot_attrition
If bots had a lifetime, expanding your bot-based factory would get exponentially more expensive.

In the mod, items are not lost when a bot crashes, but If they were I think that would be an interesting trade-off between reliable & slow belts vs unreliable & fast bots.
Last edited by ljdp on Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by meganothing » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:26 am

Tricorius wrote: (Do you realize we are actually saying the exact same thing, but differently? I’m just hoping people will actually begin seeing this at some point.)
Ah, not really. You said balancing doesn't matter at all because it doesn't matter to you ("But in a non-competitive game balancing really *doesn't* matter. At all." and "why does it matter if no one builds them? It matters 0% to me"). I was trying to answer your question (maybe with the wrong words). It isn't about you alone, it is about all players and enough of them (and Wube) want a balanced game so everything has its use, progression is there, ...

The good thing is, if balance doesn't matter to you, it also doesn't matter to you if balance is actually there. So the only thing you now protest against (if you protest) is change.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Rylant » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:16 am

BryanSw wrote:Any change will potentially drive people away. That by itself is not a good argument in favor of not changing it. Any creative process that has this is a primary concern is going to become stagnant, and how many people the game attracts in the future is going to be based largely on how good the game is -- so if something big needs to change, then we shouldn't be afraid of that.
You don't seriously believe that, do you? Yes, positive change and evolving is good. Adding things and tweaking things that aren't working properly is great, and is the way video games ensure longevity and stay relevant. Giving players something and allowing them to play a certain way for years, and then yanking it away from them so they can no longer play that way anymore; to the point where games which are hundreds of hours old will no longer be playable and will have to be restarted, is not positive change, nor is it the right way to do things. I would think, that most reasonably intelligent people would be able to see the difference.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by shirty » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:31 am

TL:DR dont break something that works, make the things that dont work as well better, bots arent gamebreaking they are game expanding.

so i dont own factorio because im really not into buying games that are mid development because so many early access games just fall on their face and end up disappointing. id rather pay more for the complete game than get it a bit cheaper but with more bugs and a chance of never getting finished. (i know factorio is pretty bug free and is highly likely to get finished at this point)
while i dont own it i have played factorio many months ago and its stayed on my list of games to keep an eye on for purchase and i watch youtube/twitch videos regularly about the games progression.
today i thought to check in as im aware the game is approaching completion and found this debate going on and had to comment. these sortof decisions are exactly why i dont buy during development, if bots were to disappear my mind would be made up for me and i wouldnt buy the game and after the inevitable negative review bomb neither would many many others.

from my point of view the game starts with hand mining/crafting and player delivering, it progresses to belt deliverys as you start to add automation to the crafting things, eventually you end up getting bots and they begin to replace belts in many places to get more stuff crafted faster and to allow super late game stuff like the mega bases that produce x rockets per minute.
removing bots essentially means you wanna delete the entire super late game process and that is the reason i would turn away from the title.
i understand that theres ppl who dont like bots but surely theres just as many that do and to please some your gonna anger the rest so i cant understand how this is even being discussed. its all good and well saying "in an alternate universe where there wasnt ever bots..." but you arent in that universe, the universe your in youve built a playerbase and a community and many of them EXPECT bots now. you mention in that alternate universe ppl would probably request something like bots but just get shrugged off as gamebreaking, is it actually gamebreaking or is it game expanding?? many of the things ive seen get made simply wouldnt be possible without bots, bots have made your game better in the eyes of many and have certainly added more content, challenge and playtime to the game.
thousands of hours have been spent planning bot bases and making them as efficient as possible, youd spite those ppl just because some ppl dont enjoy playing like that?!? your original vision for the game obviously didnt involve mega bot bases but since ppl do enjoy doing that stuff why would you even consider removing it. its like skyrim removing the ability to swing a sword because some top guy at bethesda thought 'i like being a wizard and so do many others so lets just remove the swords because they are really strong.' you think that would work out? it mightav if it was never sold with sword classes but if it was sold with them for years and then just removed there would be a review bomb the likes of which are rarely seen. thats the fate of this game if you do remove bots entirely, the bot liking players will shred the game for forcing your playstyle onto players who have enjoyed their time playing with bots

along with many others i think a logi bot toggle at startup would suffice for the belt purists and better belts or ways to compress far more on belts (like this mod https://mods.factorio.com/mods/mckilljo ... lPalleting) might help to make belts more viable in the lategame so belt might not just end up stunting progression to massive production like it currently does.

bare in mind this is all the opinion of someone who has played very little of the game but am very interested in it because of how versatile the mechanics are for a variety of playstyles, my playstyle was more of the speghetti belt base style than the bus or bot bases types. i loved the belt challenge but that doesnt change the fact i think bots are important and you technically cant nerf them for reasons you highlighted yourself. theres always a way to overcome the nerf with more, all that would do is mean more bots are needed which would reduce the performance. any changes to the game at this point should be to add performance not reduce it, i wonder if that pallet mod would improve belt performance as well as overall throughput?

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by BryanSw » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:58 am

I do believe it, and I think it's clearly just a difference of degree. Any tweak to long-standing features is going to make people not be able to play the way they've been playing. Research Revolution invalidated significant parts of long-standing research setups. I think Factorio is much better off for it, but everyone has their own opinion about such things.

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by stretch611 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:40 am

Finally... It only took a week... but I read all 44 pages...
Of course, by the time I finish writing this, I expect a few more posts. :D

First, I'd like to say that many of you need to read the fact in the FFF, that bots are not being removed. While some people understand that, a lot of posts are ignoring that fact. I find bots useful and it would be a shame for that to happen... I'm glad it won't happen.

There are a lot of posts from people who do not want to be forced into a single way of playing. Sadly, in late game, that is already happening. Any late game base is required to go bots or suffer a severe penalty in throughput. Using bots, you have a virtually infinite amount of throughput... If you need more throughput than you currently have, all you need to do is just add more bots. At a certain point you may need to take measures such as isolating roboport networks into minimal sizes supporting the production line, and adding roboports for charging. However, this is not that difficult to do, and even with the added space of extra roboports, any attempt to replicate the same amount of throughput using belts will take exponentially more space. There is no way for belts to compete with infinite throughput regardless of any reasonable buff.

I do believe a nerf to bots is required to balance them against belts.

However, any type of power cost will not be an effective nerf. Power generation in the early game needs to be monitored, but; by the time any player gets to the late game where the number of bots has an impact on power, they should have the means to expand power easily. In late game, if your power is insufficient, you are doing something wrong. Power is unlimited... Nuclear combined with the Kovarex process should provide enough, otherwise increasing the size of solar arrays is effectively free power, and even steam power is infinite if you feed it with solid fuel... oil wells never completely empty and coal is usually available to the point of skipping many patches. Even if coal isn't that abundant. with electric furnaces, the only other need for coal is grenades/military science packs.

Similarly, changing the resource costs would not be an effective nerf either, and is potentially harmful earlier on. In late game, modules have a significant cost... but all costs are meaningless. Everything has a return on investment... the more it costs the longer it takes to recoup. And lets face it, as your base expands in both size and production capacity, your ability to get resources from far away improves as well. You only need resources for science, power, and expanding your base, of which, the cost of more bots easily is covered in the costs of expansion. More expensive robots effectively cripples them in early game, but in late game, it just shifts the amount of resources building them to factories creating the raw materials needed for more bots. (e.g. more resources would go to bots leaving slightly less resources going to science.)

The idea of not allowing bots to be in the same spot is a possibility... However, I think that the increase needed to the pathfinder logic would be a significant performance impact. While that is not reason alone to avoid this, I believe there is a much easier way to accomplish the same thing.

IMO, the best nerf would hit throughput directly. The idea of limiting one bot to interact with one chest at a time would effectively limit the throughput. I think the time necessary for each interaction should be equivalent to the swinging speed of a fast inserter. With a maximum carrying capacity of 4, this would mean that bots can effectively feed chests that are connected to a fast inserter with a maximum stack size of 3. However, they would come up short of supplying a chest connected to a stack inserter. The way around this would require additional chests and inserters to compensate. And remember, there would need to be more provider chests necessary for bots in the pickup... essentially one provider chest for every requester chest that you need full throughput. The other benefit of this approach is that it does not harm the early game, it will not impact most assemblers until after beacons greatly increase the speeds.

Even with a bot nerf, I believe that a belt buff would still be necessary. Right now, blue belts move 40 items/second. Blue circuits require 20 green chips to create and 10 seconds. Essentially 20 assemblers can be supplied assuming a crafting speed of 1. (admittedly, without modules, assembler 2s have a crafting speed of 0.75 and assembler 3s have a speed of 1.25.) However, a speed of nearly 4 can be easily achieved with speed modules in beacons and productivity modules in the assemblers. This means a fully saturated blue belt can only supply enough green circuits to 5 assemblers. This approach still requires belt weaving (and dealing with pipes as well) due to the number of ingredients required in blue circuits. This is greatly underpowered compared to the amount of throughput provided by bots. Even with the suggested nerf to bots, a max of 5 assemblers and required belt weaving is a significant disadvantage to logistic bots.

One idea is to create a Tier 4 belt with 4x the speed of T1(yellow) which would be about 52 items per second. (I think green was suggested as a color.) I do like this idea. and it could be implemented with space science packs which would delay it until after the first rocket launch. The delay would effectively stop it from impacting the early game. This is a start, but essentially it is not enough... in the blue chip example above, you would only get one more assembler with a little left over.

Another idea is a stacked belt. There seems to be 2 different interpretations of this "stacked" belt in this thread. One is a normal belt that can hold a full stack of items instead of individual items. The other interpretation seems to suggest a second (or even a third) layer of belt immediately above the base belt.

On the idea of a belt holding full stacks of items, this seems far overpowered. With green chips, you are talking about effectively increasing the throughput of a belt 200 times. IMO, that is insane. We do not want to replace overpowered bots with overpowered belts. Even the 50x increase of ores seems like way too much. While some products do have even lower stack sizes, many intermediate products are in the 50-200 range (rocket parts being an exception.) I am personally not fond of this idea at all.

I do like the other interpretation of a stacked belt. The way I see it, you make "stackers" instead of splitters... that take two lines of input and place one over the other. I would not use any merge effect other than essentially moving all contents of one belt to the top and the other belt contents to the bottom. This can effectively double the amount of item per second (to 80/s on a blue belt) or allow for transporting 4 different items at once on the same belt... All without needing belt weaving. In the blue circuit example above, it effectively increases from 5 to 10 assembler units supplied, (combining this with Tier 4 "green" belts would increase it to 13 assemblers supplied.) This is a nice little buff without becoming severely overpowered.

The 4 separate lanes in a vertically stacked belt would be helpful as well. As it has been mentioned, you can only have one belt on either side of an assembler in a standard setup with beacons. This means more ingredients can be fed to assemblers without belt weaving.

The vertically stacked belt idea still needs a little flushing out on a few details... such as do splitters work with stacked belts? or possibly only the top or bottom? Can you go underground with stacked belts? One thing that I have considered is that maybe it takes two squares to go underground and two squares to return... this can limit the use of stacked belts with weaving. How do inserters interact with stacked belts? Personally I do not see a change needed for this with the assumption that if they can mechanically move horizontally to pick up from either side, they can probably move vertically to get from the top or bottom belt as necessary.

Additionally, a reversed stacker to separate top from bottom will be needed, and maybe a special piece, a "merger" to combine top and bottom together into a non-stacked belt.

Another possible buff might be to allow for fast long handed inserters, maybe even stack long handed inserters. This could be helpful to throughput if you ever need to have 2 belts on the same side of an assembler.

Of course, now that I finished with my 2 cents, in only a few hours, a new FFF will be started. But, I do believe that this topic will not die. :P

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Re: Friday Facts #224 - Bots versus belts

Post by Alkerae » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:51 am

I really, really like logistics bots, but on my second playthrough I realized just how utterly dependent I'd become on them... and so quickly too! It does feel like something needs to change, to properly force... well, ME, and by extension anyone else going through what I did, to respect them for how overpowered they apparently are. I almost couldn't go back to using belts at all, I had completely forgotten how to play.

However, I also feel like they serve an incredibly important role, and that's why I became so dependent so quickly. Belts are extremely, extremely limited, and this isn't even "by comparison", they just aren't very versatile. Instead of nerfing the logistics, the belt system could be expanded upon. Such as by...
...extending underground belt range based on a tech level, possibly infinitely
...adding a belt split-and-sorter perhaps, a splitter that only sends certain things to certain lanes
...a Y intersection, allowing me to split two lanes into two different belts, or two belts (ab+cd) into two other belts (ac+bd) at a + intersection.
...two way belts, each lane goes it's own direction
...selective push arms that detect specific (or all) items and shove them into the other lane
...grabby arms that let a number of items pass ungrabbed before grabbing one, allowing me to have multiple factories fed by a single source.
...right-angle grabby arms, possibly even grabbing from all 4 sides at once and rotating.
...long grabby arms that don't turn at all, and instead grab an item next to themselves to drop off one tile further away.

I really like a lot of the ideas I'm reading for nerfs to the logistics system too, though, so this whole topic is getting me kind of excited. I think my favorite (of the admittedly few of them I've read) would be to make them their own science type, maybe one that requires a lot of belt spaghetti to properly mass produce, so if you want them you have to go out of your way to get them. And/Or you could then give them to needy or lazy players earlier on in the overall tech tree, but only give nerfed terrible versions until they get further down the tech, which would require a huge amount of time and effort put into specifically logistics research to add the question on whether they're actually saving the player time and effort in the long run or if they're just being their own unique tech path in and of themselves, costing almost as much as they're saving you in the long run by upgrading them into a usable and convenient state.

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