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

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

Post by Syriusz »

Robotuser wrote:I think, that the minimum space betwen two Robots must be a loot bigger. So the bots have to fly courves around themselves and they cant fly in a row like a belt. They have the same speed but longer ways to go.
20 Drones in real life cant fly in a direkt row because turbulence in the air, the danger of chrases...


This is not possible in real life.
Image
Show me bot that can move 4 locomotives in real life...
Making robots collide or avoid each other will be too CPU intensive...

Belts are just too weak, robots are ok.

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

Post by khentshoon »

Zomis wrote: ...
- Increase costs dynamically

Sort of like how research gets more and more expensive, recipes could also get more and more expensive. If you had 500 bots, the number of materials required to build a single bot would be multiplied by say 20. ...

If the mod API would support dynamic recipes in-game, I would build a mod for this.
I kind of like this idea. However, I think it would be a better idea to determine dynamic recipe based on robot cargo size and speed research. It would make more sense since you are changing the bots' capabilities. This way, the game also does not have to keep checking/comparing number of bots.

What about existing bots? Will they be "magically" upgraded? What would prevent somebody from building thousands of robots before investing heavily into research? Inserters (capacity bonus) and bots (cargo size and speed) all seem to have some sort of "magical upgrade" that gets performed with research. Belts and splitters don't have the same thing.

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

Post by Duskprowler »

I agree that adding another tier of faster belt would help. Also a major problem I have is the length of the underground belt, having it like Bob's mods that extends the reach of the underground belt with tier would be very helpful.

I could also see adding something like a tram that would be placed on pillars and ran above the factory transporting goods around. Though this might be more trouble to make than it would be worth.

One possible solution to your bot problem is to have a warehouse building instead of chests. You could have a request and a store side to the warehouses and the logistic bots would move things between the warehouses which would then need to be connected to other buildings by belts for distribution of goods.

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

Post by EncryptingWolf »

What if logistic robots couldn't transfer items between roboports and a chest can only be accessed by a single roboport. Chests can be reassigned to a roboport and the chests belong to the roboport that was first placed in the area.

Hence to transfer items between areas, belts or trains must be used.

This will encourage the usage case where robots can be efficiently used to complete micro tasks but belts have to be used to give the throughput between the bot based areas.

I don't think that nerfing the bot carry weight or bot recharge times will have any effect other than that there will have to be more bots and hence less UPS.

This might be impractical on the programming side but it's an idea that might or might not work.

Preferably it should be implemented in a way such that it can easily be reversed by mods for the players who prefered a complete bot-based factory.

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

Post by tom.i »

I have an idea, to assign bots carrying just some items, let's say some lighter one. Not to carry iron plates and so on. Just few batteries and so on. It would depends on some weight ration or so.

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

Post by iznano4nik »

Just add an achievement: run 100 missiles with only tier 1 belts!

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

Post by Accrettio »

First let me say that I don't like the robots, and I don't use them much.

But even with that I don't think you should remove bots or nerf them. I think other types of changes would work better. Let's look at some differences between the main 3 ways to transport items: belts, bots and rails:

1. Upgrading
For belts you use 3 iron plates to build a belt, then you need to tear up the belt and replace it with faster belts. The fastest belts take 31.5 iron plates and 20 lubricant to create, more than 17 times the amount of materials. And that's for a 3 time higher throughput.
For bots you use a lot more initial resources than for belts, but that's it. You never have to put more resources into the bots again. You can then get 4 times the throughput by cargo size research, and an infinite speed increase. All of that for free for all of the robots. Of course the research costs a bit, but that is only done once for all of the robots.
Trains and rails use an amount of items to create, but can't be upgraded afterwards. The only research that improves rails is braking force, that let's the trains stop faster. The acceleration and speed is about what fuel is used. The throughput will increase, but I can't get a number for it.

The upgrading of the transport items are handled completely different, and I think that might be the root of the problem. As it is now the updates are dependent on rebuild, technology and resources. I think a combination of those would work for all of the transport ways:
- Belts could keep the need to rebuild. Technology could be used to be able to place items closer together or stack. And resources (power) could be used to make the belts run even faster.
- Bots should need to rebuild to carry more, one idea is to combine 2 robots into 1 better one to increase the capacity to carry. Technology could be used for speed, but please don't allow infinite speed. I don't know how resources could be worked into robots.
- I don't think trains should have to rebuild, since it would create problems with scheduling. Technology and resources are already part of the trains, I don't think they need to be changed.


2. Loading/unloading
Belts and trains are loaded and unloaded by inserters, requiring some time to turn between items. That makes a natural short break between the items, making it a little bit of a challenge to fully use belts and trains.
But for bots there is nothing, 1000 bots can grab 4 items each from the same chest the same second.

If each chest would only have a number of loading spaces, and each action by a bot takes a bit of time, the bots would have to wait for a little while for their turn. Let's say that each chest have 1 loading space, and a bot require 0.2 seconds to load or unload, then only 5 items could be loaded/unloaded per second. By building lots of chests the bots are still overpowered, but I think players would use belts a bit more.


3. Range
The common consensus seems to be that trains are for long journeys, belts for medium ones and bots for short.
If this is the intention I think bots handles too long ranges. I would like to see the batteries of bots run dry faster, but with the same recharging time per KWh. Let's say that a battery now is good for 30 seconds, and it takes 3 seconds to recharge. If lowering that the robot should be able to fly for 10 seconds and then recharge for 1 second.


4. Maintenance
When writing this I came to think about maintenance. Maybe some maintenance should be needed in Factorio? Items that doesn't get maintenance gets slower over time, and finally breaks down. This would work for more or less all man-made structures, robots and trains. This includes pumpjacks, assembly machines, rocket launcher etc.
Maintenance could also require resources, possibly random for each item that is maintained. Of course a broken down item would require more resources than normal maintenance.
By tweaking how often maintenance is needed/how much wear and tear is on the item it's possible to tweak the cost of using the item. Then bots could be a bit more expensive to use than belts and trains, something I think would work fine with the expectation I have of the real world.


Weight
No, I didn't forget to number this one. I was thinking about writing about this, but have seen other people doing it already so I won't.
I just wanted to say that I support the idea.


Last: Mods
Whatever you choose to do please make sure that it's possible to revert the changes with mods. Maybe it's even a good idea if you created the mod for it.
That way I think most players that complain about the changes will at least accept them, even if they don't love them.

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

Post by hitzu »

For everyone who say "bots are ok, belts are weak":
If you make belts stronger then you have to make inserters faster and trains stronger and more capacious. The logistic balance is fine-tuned around the base yellow belt capacity, except bots that went out of control. So instead of nerfing bots devs have to boost everything else just raising the (basically arbitrary) numbers of throughput and production, and inflating the norm up just making the new norm, simultaneously increasing CPU load for everyone in general. It wouldn't be a good decision from the game design point.

Of course, belts have to get some QOL boost, for example, a belt planner for the analogy of the rail planner, or a belt upgrader. But given how much bots are more powerful, they basically cannot be left as is.

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

Post by PacifyerGrey »

Based on latest suggestions
Bots can consume more power the more of them are currently active in their network.
This can be explained that they use more cpu power to control the flight with many neighbors.

This will not hit them much but will make them consume tons of power if used for bulk transfer.

Another idea was limiting number of active bots per network. Nice idea which can be extended by adding a new entity Flight Control Tower which would extend this limit but would have a strong constant power drain so you will not hit small utility builds but bulk transfers will still be possible by throwing lots of extra power on it

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

Post by WarpZone »

I'm sorry for my reaction to the original BvB FFF.

I still feel like the fundamental concept of nerfing something "just because everybody's using it" is flawed. If you believe belts are more fun, just you play with belts, and let me play with bots. All the nerfs you made to bots already didn't achieve your goal of making people use them less because people aren't using bots for the throughput. We're using bots because it's more fun.

Big numbers are fun. Lots of little minions running around doing our bidding is fun. Mindlessly stamping down blueprints is fun. It's just fun in a completely different way from how solving Belt Pipe Dream is fun.

Challenge VS Abnegation.

Even if a hypothetical version of Factorio that didn't have an Abnegation-oriented playstyle were somehow objectively "more fun" than a version of Factorio that supports both Challenge-oriented and Abnegation-oriented playstyles, the fact remains that you literally can't get to there form here without throwing all your current bot players under the proverbial mainbus.

That's only a good business decision if you think the number of players currently using bots is vastly outnumbered by a hypothetical class of players who don't already own Factorio but would gladly pick it up if only it didn't have bots in it. But I don't know how you'd measure that, and I certainly don't think you can prove it.

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

Post by ssilk »

Avezo wrote:
ssilk wrote:Nerf Long Range Transport

This nerfs when a robot needs to run long without pausing: A robot needs more and more rest between rechrching, cause the motor overheats. It can only cool completly down, if it parks into a roboport.
I were thinking about the opposite - remove recharging mid-flight altogether, bots will gradually become slower and slower over the distance instead as their energy drops. Since this doesn't need to be linear relation, it would allow a lot more balancing options and would achieve the same result with less complexity.
Yes, also a idea worth testing it out...
They could recharge at the very end only, better yet instead of recharging, they would be 'charging up' at the very start (would make more sense in such setting IMO). Or just remove charging altogether and when bot is 'released' from roboport, it would consume some of it's stored energy, making roboport itself recharge (this would allow limitations on how many bots at once roboport can 'release', if such limitation was desired in balancing). Oh and 'charge-up' approach would work sooo much better with personal roboport.
Yes. A lot of other sub-ideas which might be quite simple to test...
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by ssilk »

MeduSalem wrote:
ssilk wrote:...
Oh ssilk is still alive... :)
:) My interests shifted a bit and I have a new team at work, which does much more interesting stuff (React, Typescript, Redux)...
But sometimes I still take time to read a bit in the forums.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by ssilk »

LD100 wrote:I think an easy not game breaking debuff is to make charging take longer. Or even make the Roboport discharge over time if it is used constantly. Like getting overheated and then reduce loading speed. And If not used it would automatically recharge itself.
This way you allow fast loading unloading and rare use and penalize constant use.
Charging take longer: Tested such stuff and it doesn't force the player to change the style.
Overheating (make bots constantly slower, the longer it is in air): Worth testing.

The problem is, that bots are designed for short transport, but can be used for long. I haven't time yet to read along this thread, but my comment about that is here: viewtopic.php?f=38&t=56519&start=200#p333972
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by hitzu »

WarpZone wrote:I'm sorry for my reaction to the original BvB FFF.

I still feel like the fundamental concept of nerfing something "just because everybody's using it" is flawed. If you believe belts are more fun, just you play with belts, and let me play with bots. All the nerfs you made to bots already didn't achieve your goal of making people use them less because people aren't using bots for the throughput. We're using bots because it's more fun.

Big numbers are fun. Lots of little minions running around doing our bidding is fun. Mindlessly stamping down blueprints is fun. It's just fun in a completely different way from how solving Belt Pipe Dream is fun.

Challenge VS Abnegation.

Even if a hypothetical version of Factorio that didn't have an Abnegation-oriented playstyle were somehow objectively "more fun" than a version of Factorio that supports both Challenge-oriented and Abnegation-oriented playstyles, the fact remains that you literally can't get to there form here without throwing all your current bot players under the proverbial mainbus.

That's only a good business decision if you think the number of players currently using bots is vastly outnumbered by a hypothetical class of players who don't already own Factorio but would gladly pick it up if only it didn't have bots in it. But I don't know how you'd measure that, and I certainly don't think you can prove it.
If you read the last FFF carefully, they want the choice to matter. Currently, if you want to play effectively you have no choice but bots. That's not fun.

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

Post by SquarelyCircle »

Instead of nerfing their effectiveness, increase the cost. Not necessarily in direct resource requirements.

In RTS games, you might need to create some sort of "farm" to increase the number of units you can create. For bots, I think a logistics farm would make a lot of sense, since it takes processing power to coordinate the robots, and the more robots, the more exponential processing power you might need. In this way, it's certainly possible, and insanely powerful, to have bots, but they become more and more costly to use as you expand. For example, it may cost one logistic farm to process 50 bots. Then, to incorporate another 50 bots requires 2 additional farms, and to get to 150 total bots requires 5 total farms, 200 requires 8, 250 requires 11, 300 requires 15, and so forth, adding a slowly increasing farm requirement as your bots increase. I love having 3000 bots running around, and having massive output from it; it's not imbalanced, it's something you work hard for. I don't want the result nerfed, but I wouldn't mind working extra hard to get increased benefits from bots.
Getting a strong bot base going is THE THING that I enjoy about the game. You work SO hard to get to that point, and when you get there, you start feeling like you've really made it, and you worked hard to get that significant output. If the end result was only slightly better than belts, the entire game would feel flat.

The ENTIRE game would feel flat if the end game weren't overpowered!

Also, if you have individual bots accomplishing less, then it's taking more (real) CPU power per thing you accomplish, so it's making the game run less efficiently. Raising costs keeps the (real) processing requirement for the bots the same, it just decreases how quickly you can get to insane numbers of bots.
Last edited by SquarelyCircle on Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by aristotel2020 »

I agree with kovarex, using only bots leaves half the game unplayed, bots are good and all but only a part of the game, nerfing some numbers on the bots will upset some people, but the game will remain the same for me at least.

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

Post by ssilk »

Xecutor wrote:
vampiricdust wrote:So bots being 2 to 5 times more effective makes sense and actually points to them being underpowered. Couple this with the fact all those roboports alone would have paid for all the blue belts you used in the example, take how many bots you had times 3.4 to get how many blue belts all those bots could have been made into and you start to see that bots are not as overpowered or cheaty as your test makes them out to be. If bots are going to be no better than belts, then the research costs and the costs of bots & roboports needs to be cut down to match. They are overpriced for what they do.
This! Also, belts do not have any operating cost. Zero. They are working completely for free. While the network of roboports in the moderately complicated base consumes very noticeable amount of power.
The problem cannot be solved with more costs! When you are about to have bots researched you have in general more than enough resources (well, depends much on play-style, but I would say in most cases it is no problem to have 1000 instead of 100 robots. Which shows that this statement is more or less true).
SquarelyCircle wrote:Instead of nerfing their effectiveness, increase the cost. Not necessarily in direct resource requirements.
With costs I also mean not only resources, but also time (charging time, time to build), repair (just needs more resources), power (also just more res) and any kind of "more". At the stage of robots the game doesn't win anything from taking more ressources (time, power...).

So any solution of the "bots problem", that goes into need of more resources is going into the "wrong direction". (Need to mention that I'm talking about logistic only. There is no question, that the construction bots as they are are working more or less well, the problem is with the logistics only, cause their advantage increases with every usage, that is the main difference to the construction bots, which aren't used endless).
No love for pneumatic tubes?
Well, we had a lot of discussion about a 4th way of transportation method. But that discussions died, because (in my opinion) there was no real need for that. Might be, that if the bots loose power, that this is again needed.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by ssilk »

ttapada wrote:
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
This is probably the smartest and sanest non-hater idea that I've seen around this topic.
I love it! Totally agree on making each mean of transport to it's specific purpose. Trains for long hauls, belts for shorter distance with good throughout (why don't belts required electricity?!?! Would make sense) and bots to quick short distance light load transport.
I need to disagree: That is just another "more of..." idea, which can be simply cheated by building more chests. That is a backstep to the time where we had no stack inserters and need to build more chests to handle one belts throughput.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by ceresward »

Players would still be able to build robot only factory, belt only factory or combination of those, but the strongest strategy would be to combine all types of transport, each for the part where they are the strongest.
I like this as a goal. One problem that I think needs to be addressed is that bot builds currently don't work very well unless they're put in isolated logistic networks, so they have to be spaced out. And then it's just easier to use trains instead of belts to transport between the networks. If we had something like logistic subnets then it would be easier to build more compactly where belts can make sense again. I posted a suggestion for logistic subnets here. It's not a total solution but without it I think any nerfs/buffs to bots/belts are always going to end up favoring one or the other exclusively.

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

Post by SomeKindOfMojo »

Players would still be able to build robot only factory, belt only factory or combination of those, but the strongest strategy would be to combine all types of transport, each for the part where they are the strongest.
I think the goal would to preserve robots as burst delivery system, but add some tradeoffs to make belts to be better for the constant stream delivery system. With this focus, both systems have a different purpose and would support the player in the way they want to play.
Accrettio wrote:First let me say that I don't like the robots, and I don't use them much.

3. Range
The common consensus seems to be that trains are for long journeys, belts for medium ones and bots for short.
If this is the intention I think bots handles too long ranges. I would like to see the batteries of bots run dry faster, but with the same recharging time per KWh. Let's say that a battery now is good for 30 seconds, and it takes 3 seconds to recharge. If lowering that the robot should be able to fly for 10 seconds and then recharge for 1 second.

4. Maintenance
When writing this I came to think about maintenance. Maybe some maintenance should be needed in Factorio? Items that doesn't get maintenance gets slower over time, and finally breaks down. This would work for more or less all man-made structures, robots and trains. This includes pumpjacks, assembly machines, rocket launcher etc.
Maintenance could also require resources, possibly random for each item that is maintained. Of course a broken down item would require more resources than normal maintenance.
By tweaking how often maintenance is needed/how much wear and tear is on the item it's possible to tweak the cost of using the item. Then bots could be a bit more expensive to use than belts and trains, something I think would work fine with the expectation I have of the real world.
Accrettio and others make a good point... but range could be mitigated by Maintenace

Recharging is one good system for lowering the efficiency of the bots, but this could be combined with Maintenance downtime.

For example a Robot for every 1 seconds of flight it takes damage of 3 hit points. The damage that can be repaired when docked at a Roboport, and is regained at 1 hit point per second. This would greatly effect Robots a Stream delivery system, as it would need downtime between deliveries. So the Robots in Test Setup from the Blog, they might hit 16.4k for the first delivery, but then throughput would drop off greatly. Greater the Range, the more downtime, making Belts better at longer ranges. Robotports would have to be changed to repair robots, but this would have added benefit to a player!

Supplier Box Docking Limits

Robots shouldn't be able to access boxes, there should be a 2x2 docks that can be loaded or unloaded with resources up to 4 robots at a time. Currently, the footprint for Robots is too small and it makes too easy to add Robot logic systems to an existing factory. If Robots could only delivery to docks, then to increase delivery rate more docks would be needed, therefore more footprint would be needed. Combining multiple docks together to increase delivery rate of a resource, would need belts and inserters... Of course, the Player would have more docks slots than 4, as so the Robots would be more efficient in supplying the player. This would have the added fun, that the pallets/container system would be a boon for both systems!

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