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

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

Post by GotLag » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:35 am

rldml wrote:
Froilen wrote:can you do the same with inserters ?

tell them to put the item in the other side of the belt?

please that would make them easier to build some complex belt layouts
Have you an example where you see magnificent problem without this inserter ability? To make an inserter fill the other side of the belt is basically an easy task with the use of some more belts:

Image
That's the point. It's not a significant hurdle, it's just extra make-work that adds nothing to the design challenge. There's no gameplay or visual justification for the limitation.

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

Post by Caine » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:39 am

GotLag wrote:There's no gameplay or visual justification for the limitation.
It adds to the challenge of designing compact belt based factory layouts. Though this particular case is rather trivial.

Maybe you do not enjoy those challenges (which is fine), but it does add to gameplay.

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

Post by Gendoh80 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:41 am

As a fan of factorio who likes to play with bob and angel but without solar, laser turrets, active provider or requestor chests and bobs inserter configuration (because all of it feels cheeting) I have a little different suggestion of how to banace robots.

In my opinion, the functionality which makes bots overpowered against belts is that a (nearly) infinit amount of robots can pick up from a providor chest at the same time and unload to a requestor chest vise versa. I have not testet it, but I would guess tha even three stack inserters are not abgle to unload a steel chest in the same time as bots without any buildable addition to the chest.

Therefore here my suggestion: Keep the robots itself as they are, but do not allow robots to pick up from requestor chests directly. Instead make a entity which I may call robot landing port, where one robot can land at a time. This landing ports can be build one tile away from a providor chest from which the robot wants to pick up. But instead of picking up directly, an inserter picks out the item from the providor chest and loads it into the robot. The requestor chest works the same only that you have an unloading landing port where a inserter pics the item from the robot and puts it into the chest.
Like this, the throghput of a robot chest is naturally equal to a belt, because they have both the same botteneck - the inserters.
I very much like of this solution is that like this the robots does more fit into the "lowTech", "gatchedTech" theme of factorio where they are only flexible transporing vehicles. And I do not have to imagine how 1000 robots figh into a small chest the same time, search for a specific item and fly away.
And what I like most of this solution is that you have something to do to enhance your robot network by building more landing ports around your chests, which on heavy throughput can make sens to have detached, big landing areas and bring from there the items to the asembers nereby with belts again ...
I could imagine that it would be a little complicated for the developers to handle "multy entity structures" as suggested here to command the robots to the correct landing ports. In this case we could say that you have a chest as building starter, where you have to load/unload the landing place, the iserter only works virtual inside the structure, and all attached landing fields increase the amount of robots which can be loaded at the same time by one (in a simmilar way as the reactors increase theyre efficiency), but every robot is only loaded with a normal inserter speed.
For all of you who wants to overpower bots again there could be a (modded) thech which alows to increase the amount of robots which can be loaded at the same time per landing pot to the ridiculous amount as now, then you need only a few robots more, because they are "waiting" at the landing port longer because of the loading via an virtual inserter.

P.S. sorry for my bad writing, this is one reason why I normally do not write into forums

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

Post by Soloincognito » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:49 am

vorax wrote:I believe the real problem with bots, their game breaking ability, is their inventory access speed. Think about it, if I have a chest which needs to be filled with resources, there is a hard limit on how quickly I can supply items to it using belts. Intuitively that limit is the number of inserters I can place around it times the inserters throughput. Bots do not have any such limit. No matter how slowly bots move, or how few items they carry they will always be able to transport items faster than belts given that I have enough bots.

I think chests should only be accessible by one bot at a time, and this access should take a fixed amount of time. This would cause bots to queue up at chests, and put a limit on their throughput. This kind of limitation "makes sense" to me, and wouldn't feel annoying like lengthening bot charging times would.
Bots would still be incredibly handy for the low volume tasks and "housework" which can be anoying to do using belts, but it would create a compelling reason to invest the time into developing a really impressive belt base.

I also think it would be important for bots to still be able to access a players trash slots, or probably their entire inventory without queuing up.
I agree with every word of this. I decided to register just to add another voice in favor of this direction. It’s such a simple solution that makes so much sense.

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

Post by GotLag » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:52 am

Caine wrote:
GotLag wrote:There's no gameplay or visual justification for the limitation.
It adds to the challenge of designing compact belt based factory layouts. Though this particular case is rather trivial.

Maybe you do not enjoy those challenges (which is fine), but it does add to gameplay.
To my mind it detracts from gameplay by reducing options and flexibility. Sure, a limited toolset means you have to squeeze everything you can out of it, but more flexible tools mean you can create a greater variety of solutions.

The central theme of this week's FFF is making belts more viable as an alternative to just botting everything by making them not such an unnecessary pain in the arse to manipulate.

Inserting on the near side of the belt is not some delightful intellectual puzzle, it's one tile of belt or sideloading loop, that you have to build every time you want to insert on the near side. That's not a challenge, that's a chore.

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

Post by golfmiketango » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:58 am

There will always be a fastest or most effective logistic mechanism for a given situation. That doesn't mean the game is unbalanced. Bots are not superior in every situation but when maximizing throughput between extremely short logistic flows or attempting to move items into extremely space constrained spots they are the best and sometimes the only way to get it done. This is bad why?

As for this "boring" problem... I think they're entertaining, personally. They are anthropomorphic (maybe pet-opomorphic is more accurate?) in a way that makes your base seem a bit more welcoming and less lonely. They also add an element of humor and occasionally create dramatic dynamic visual spectacles

"But they are so easy and belts are intersting"...

Anyone who thinks bots make everything trivially easy has not really put this hypothesis to the test in gameplay. Although certain tasks can be scaled up very fast with them, most cannot. The idea that you can just stamp down more and more blueprints of bot-builds is an alluring fantasy but it's not so. Try it. Go double your blue science, right now, with as few mouse clicks as possible. Oh it worked, did it? No it just looks like it worked. Try to buffer a bunch of the other sciences & run your labs now.... the game won't just hand you the throughput and mining and so on you need to make that "double it" thing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7racSSk7w0) possible by any sort of trivial cut-and-paste mechanism.

This is like the newspaper stand proprietor saying he's going to double his profits by opening up a second store. Maybe he will or won't but he can't just repeat the recipe and expect everything to double, that is not how you become a newspaper-stand mogul or else everyone would be one. Likewise, scaling your base via cut-and-paste logistics might work to get you from 200SPM to 220. But not from 200SPM to 1000. Not even close. You have to find ways of aggregating and exploiting economies of scale as they arise or else your botgistics will fall to bits. Bots are magic until they aren't and then they stop being magic and you have to go back to the drawing board, same as belts.
Last edited by golfmiketango on Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by Koub » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:04 am

That's funny, I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that most people who ask for a bot debuff actually mostly play without them (or with very little of them).
So basically, it's a "bots should be nerfed because I don't use them, so it won't change my playstyle, while hindering the pleasure of those who do like them".
I understand there are some extreme people who made 100% full bot megabases, and also people who did something close with belts only, but let's face it, these cases are surely a minority.
Most people happily mix both, and have fun with that. Nerfing bots will not make belts more enjoyable, and it's not a necessity.

I'd also like to point a comment made one week ago on another topic :
bobucles wrote:I think Twinsen has his head stuck in postgame land. He's seeing players finally reaching Factorio's breaking points in the post post post game, but treating it like a flaw in the main campaign. It's not. Players are reaching those breaking points because their objective is to literally break the game. The distance they have to go to reach those breaking points is nothing short of ridiculous, and the devs should be proud that players have to try so damn hard to finally break something. But step back and put things into perspective. Any balance discussion outside the game's main objective is literally, LITERALLY beyond the scope of Factorio. It's fun to see how far the post game can go, and if you have crazy new tools that help players to go even further beyond that's great. However, game balance in the post game is ultimately not that important. It's certainly not worth game sweeping changes that compromise the enjoyment of the main game.
This expresses very much how I feel about the idea of nerfing bots.

Now I'm very much in favor of making belts more fun. Not necessarily buffing them in terms of performance, but in term of flexibility and usability. What's been shown on the splitters is a perfect example of that.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

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

Post by Reika » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:04 am

mavu wrote:
vorax wrote:I believe the real problem with bots, their game breaking ability, is their inventory access speed. Think about it, if I have a chest which needs to be filled with resources, there is a hard limit on how quickly I can supply items to it using belts. Intuitively that limit is the number of inserters I can place around it times the inserters throughput. Bots do not have any such limit. No matter how slowly bots move, or how few items they carry they will always be able to transport items faster than belts given that I have enough bots.

I think chests should only be accessible by one bot at a time, and this access should take a fixed amount of time. This would cause bots to queue up at chests, and put a limit on their throughput. This kind of limitation "makes sense" to me, and wouldn't feel annoying like lengthening bot charging times would.
Bots would still be incredibly handy for the low volume tasks and "housework" which can be anoying to do using belts, but it would create a compelling reason to invest the time into developing a really impressive belt base.

I also think it would be important for bots to still be able to access a players trash slots, or probably their entire inventory without queuing up.
This is a very good observation. that could be a good solution.
I second this, with emphasis on the last line of the original post.
Image

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

Post by Caine » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:07 am

GotLag wrote:The central theme of this week's FFF is making belts more viable as an alternative to just botting everything by making them not such an unnecessary pain in the arse to manipulate.
Aside from being considerably more powerful than belts, many consider bots to be boring because there is no (perceived) challenge to their use. You do not fix that by making belts boring too.
GotLag wrote:Inserting on the near side of the belt is not some delightful intellectual puzzle, it's one tile of belt or sideloading loop, that you have to build every time you want to insert on the near side. That's not a challenge, that's a chore.
The keyword in my statement was compact. That means complex layout changes and belt sharing tricks to address these issues. I enjoy those challenges a lot.
If you do not care about compactness (or want a trivial solution), then I agree that it is just tedious to add a sideloading belt and inserting on the near side is way easier.

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

Post by The Eriksonn » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:12 am

Please, Please make it so you can connect splitter to Circuit network and tell it what to filter.

Please...

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

Post by majic116 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:14 am

I think the game could start with weaker bots, and after you launched a rocket you could pick a direction in the research tree that you want more OP belts and stuff or bots.
Also you can add some penalties on different bioms on different logistic tools...
So there would be decisions at the late game, and there would be environmental favored ways.
This could add more fun together with keeping some OP upgrades.

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

Post by Esja » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:17 am

I think a few issues make bots more attractive endgame, and a lot of additions could help belts become a meaningful alternative at scale.

• Belts are a dead end technology.

Belts stop getting better at tier 3, whereas bots get better both through research and through simply adding more bots (and charging ports). My suggestion to alleviate that is to add a tier 4 belt whose speed can be upgraded through research.

• Belts' speed is limited by how quickly inserters are allowed to grab items.

If we discuss the idea of a tier 4 belt, I think it would make a lot of sense to finally bring loaders into the picture. Sure, loaders help bots too, but if we're trying to make belts a compact and fast way to move items in the same way bots are, we'll need to improve the tools for unloading from the belt as well.

• Belts are inflexible.

I think the addition of priority and filter splitting helps greatly with this, but I'd look into other common things like "X to Y lane balancers" that people end up making entire blueprint books for and make those copy/paste scenarios a little less painful.

In conclusion:

I think bots right now have an advantage in several areas -- flexibility, throughput, and scaling. I don't think belts will ever truly be as flexible as bots due to their fixed nature, but I think that a lot could be done to make them more convenient and potentially increase their throughput.

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

Post by golfmiketango » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:26 am

[double post, oops]
Last edited by golfmiketango on Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by hitzu » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:29 am

franqly wrote:A simple and effective nerf to bots would be to limit the amount of roboports. Give the roboports and minimum distance they must be placed apart. Less roboports => less throughput, added more bots after a cap wouldn't add sustained throughput because the roboports wouldn't be able to keep up.

this

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

Post by Silden » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:31 am

If you are looking at ways to nerf robots, have them smash to the ground if they run out of juice instead of moving at very slow speed, where you then need a rescue bot to take them to a repair workshop to restore to working use. Any robots hovering around a robot port waiting for a recharge will still lose a little charge, if they don't get resupplied in time, will crash around the roboport. This will introduce a new challenge to make sure you have a suitable infrastructure to recharge the robots, and to repair any that didn't quite make it.

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

Post by Nick-Nack » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:36 am

Koub wrote:That's funny, I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that most people who ask for a bot debuff actually mostly play without them (or with very little of them).
So basically, it's a "bots should be nerfed because I don't use them, so it won't change my playstyle, while hindering the pleasure of those who do like them".
As someone playing mostly without bots I disagree. Nerfing bots would change my playstyle, because I would actually start using them again.

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

Post by golfmiketango » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:37 am

hitzu wrote:
franqly wrote:A simple and effective nerf to bots would be to limit the amount of roboports. Give the roboports and minimum distance they must be placed apart. Less roboports => less throughput, added more bots after a cap wouldn't add sustained throughput because the roboports wouldn't be able to keep up.

this
I could get behind one roboport per sixteen tiles :P

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

Post by Optera » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:43 am

vorax wrote:I believe the real problem with bots, their game breaking ability, is their inventory access speed. Think about it, if I have a chest which needs to be filled with resources, there is a hard limit on how quickly I can supply items to it using belts. Intuitively that limit is the number of inserters I can place around it times the inserters throughput. Bots do not have any such limit. No matter how slowly bots move, or how few items they carry they will always be able to transport items faster than belts given that I have enough bots.

I think chests should only be accessible by one bot at a time, and this access should take a fixed amount of time. This would cause bots to queue up at chests, and put a limit on their throughput. This kind of limitation "makes sense" to me, and wouldn't feel annoying like lengthening bot charging times would.
Bots would still be incredibly handy for the low volume tasks and "housework" which can be anoying to do using belts, but it would create a compelling reason to invest the time into developing a really impressive belt base.

I also think it would be important for bots to still be able to access a players trash slots, or probably their entire inventory without queuing up.
That's the first idea to reduce bot throughput I've seen that couldn't simply be brute forced away by just building more bots or roboports.
To make this work bots would need to be made a fair bit smarter, and cost more performance, so they don't queue up at one chest instead of fully utilizing all potential target/provider chests.

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

Post by vampiricdust » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:55 am

Nick-Nack wrote:
Koub wrote:That's funny, I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that most people who ask for a bot debuff actually mostly play without them (or with very little of them).
So basically, it's a "bots should be nerfed because I don't use them, so it won't change my playstyle, while hindering the pleasure of those who do like them".
As someone playing mostly without bots I disagree. Nerfing bots would change my playstyle, because I would actually start using them again.
Why? Logistic bots already cost more than they add compared to belts. Any further nerf without a cost reduction would further make them cost a ridiculous amount for what they add. You could make 25k blue belts just from the research cost difference alone. Each bot costs 3.4 times as much as each additional belt and roboports are another 13 some blue belts ea h. Using bots now is already 35% less cost efficent by Kovarex's throughput numbers just based on research costs.

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

Post by Zool » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:56 am

Especially in very end-game, the number of belts quickly escalates to stupid amounts, and balancing anything beyond 8in8 is simply annoying.

A couple of researches should be added at the point where rockets are already flying:
- Loaders with filters
- Simple Warehouses (Big chests with a footprint of 4x4 or 6x6)
- Faster Belts
- A NOT criteria for inserters (grab everything that is NOT iron or copper, to make sure a belt is clean)

These tools in combination offer a whole bandwidth of new options to optimize a fab for high throughput, which is basically the main goal after the first missile has been started. And they make belts a damn lot more competetive.

The combination of Loaders with a 6x6 warehouse make a perfect 12 in 12 balancer, or a 6 in 3x6 sorter.
The ability to store bigger amounts of resources evens out peaks in the consumption.
Bigger storages can be built without millions of inserters

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