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

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

Post by Whirlin »

I really enjoy your thought process in this post... Just thought I would toss in my 2 cents.

From my perspective, one of the hardest aspects of working with belts isn't JUST the compression issues/etc, but also balancing n to n lances of resources... if we could get a more variable n to n balancing splitters within the game... even if it perhaps functioned like https://mods.factorio.com/mods/Eurypter ... tSplitters (except, with more options like lower tiers and higher max item throughput/etc)... That would dramatically exponentially improve the quality of life associated with belts.

It's less about bots in general, it's more of a thousand cuts when working with belts to overcome to make them more attractive later.

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

Post by Scrable »

So, what would you think about adding events into the game?

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

Post by TheBrain0110 »

I'll echo my support to the idea of belt stacking tech, with repeatable tech to increase stack size. (Basically the same as robot cargo size is now) Probably have some cap, not infinite stacking tech, although that could get fun...

And loaders! Those definitely need to be added to the base game! I love the Loaders Redux mod for fully saturating my belts from my train depots.

I also like the idea of having some delay / concurrent interaction limit on chests / machines with robots, so you can't have an infinite swarm loading / unloading to the same tile at the same time. That seems like the best approach to nerf the biggest abuses, while still keeping them useful for their intended roles. Otherwise if you just slow them down / decrease the stack size, the response will always just be to use more bots to compensate. Limiting chest interactions in much the same way that roboports themselves are would solve that problem, and would make perfect sense - that mechanic already exists! Imagine if roboports had unlimited charging ports, that would just be silly. Having bots circle around a chest waiting for their turn to interact with it would look really cool too!

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

Post by Ractaros96 »

I don't like both of those ideas:
- To remove worker robot item size research
- To increase recharge time

But it would be fine to:
- Increase bots power consumption (with nuclear power plants it doesn't bother me and you could get the feeling that powerful solutions like bots require a lot of power)
- Or just make more tiers of faster belts to challenge the bots throughput

You could add both of those solutions to lower bots advantage without taking the fun from players (because building a lot of roboports is not fun, but power plants it is). I've always liked having not enough power and constantly building new power plants, when I played with replicator mod.

And removing worker robot item size research is just taking away something from players and they don't like it.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Loewchen »

The conclusion is, that I strongly believe that bots should have a debuff. They should still be a big and powerful advancement when they are researched, but they should work more like the death spell. It should solve the little stuff that isn't that powerful (in Factorio, it is equal to smaller production). I even believe that robot-only Factory should be possible and not useless, I just don't believe, that they should be 5+ times stronger than anything else.
As said in the previous FFF, I believe this would be the ideal solution:
Loewchen wrote:
TOGoS wrote:The reason flying logistic bots become overpowered is that they take up zero space and pick up/drop things instantaneously. As someone else said they act like teleporters. If we could have bots repulse each other somehow, or have to wait in line to take things out of a chest, that would nerf them in a reasonable way, I think.
I was thinking similar, having a load/unload duration for bots interacting with a chest and a limit on how many bots can do that simultaneously would feel very fitting imo and had the desired effect of discouraging mass usage of bots while not harming small scale bot based setups.
I just hope that if you don't think it is possible to make changes to bots, that you don't overpower/oversimplify belts to compensate for it, there is no setting for belts that would make them more attractive than bots without making them just as dull.

In the end the question should be: "What changes would make for the best game?"

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

Post by EntroperZero »

I still haven't seen much discussion of what bots do to multiplayer, so I'll just snip part of my post from the other thread:
The one negative aspect of logistics bots for me comes in multiplayer games.

As soon as logistics is researched, without a doubt, players start dropping requester and provider chests all over the map, and building little mini-factories to produce things, with no organization. It gets out of hand immediately, you start having production shortages all over the place because bots are grabbing your stuff and shuttling it off to ten different locations that you don't know about, and are difficult to even find. So it can become quite difficult to keep your production machine well-oiled.

Most of the disagreements I see between players are of the nature "stop requesting blue chips, we need them for modules" or "why is yellow science stopped AGAIN?", etc., and it's often because of "rogue" bot networks. At least with belts, you can easily see where your stuff is being sent, and you're kind of forced to build in a more organized way, whereas with bots, you can still build stuff that works, even if it's total spaghetti (a Flying Spaghetti Monster of logistic bots, if you will).
Anyway, aside from this, I *REALLY* like the changes to splitters in today's FFF. You were right that a lot of this could supposedly be achieved by the circuit network, but that never worked the way it should have. And I saw so many players using it and ending up with weird results. Priority and filter splitters just make 100% sense.

I don't think any of the other suggested buffs, like stacking or just even faster belts are necessary. I actually worry that with too-strong belts, trains become less useful for all but the longest delivery routes. They'd be relegated to moving ore or plates around, for all intermediate products, you'd use stacked/fast/whatever belts. I dunno, maybe some people would like that. But I also agree that each of those buffs brings other issues to work out, and belts are working well now (and even better with the new splitters).

The idea of nerfing bots is interesting, because I constantly see discussions about buffing bots, like research to increase battery capacity or charging speed or energy efficiency or whatever, so that you aren't limited so much by not having dense enough roboports clogging up your map. So yeah, I think a lot of people would be upset if bots went the other way.

Personally, I've never used bots as a general "A to B" transportation system, with highly-packed roboports as in the example where you compared bot-to-belt overall throughput. I have done the localized production cell thing with bots, but never saw them as a solution to general medium- or long-distance transport. I guess even if they're optimal, I don't want my base to look like that (or to use that much power).

Maybe power is the solution. I think in general, players don't care how much power they use. If they need more, they just add more, whether it's nuclear, solar, or steam. Power is super-easy to add from the mid game onward. I sometimes think I'm the only one who cares about pollution -- no one uses efficiency modules, beacons are always crammed with speed mods and assemblers with productivity mods. Bots consume lots of power, but it's nothing compared to max-beaconed factories. Of course, making coal or uranium more rare, or boilers less efficient, or solar panels more expensive all have their own issues and would probably be equally poorly received.

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

Post by Durabys »

-REPOSTED-
Last edited by Durabys on Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by MrGrim »

I'm sorry I ever doubted you! To think all of this lead to priority _and_ filter splitters! :D

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

Post by Caine »

The difficult challenge here is to make changes in a way that the interaction between belts and logistic bots becomes at least just as interesting as the interaction between trains and belts or between trains and bots. The belts and bots are competing in the same space and belts have nothing to go up against bots. Many of the mentioned belt buffs such as e.g. loaders just trivialize the puzzles you have with belts. That takes away something from the game.

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

Post by Tinyboss »

AgentPaper wrote:For example, at the start you might be limited to 100 bots total flying at one time. This could represent the "CPU capacity" of whatever system is managing all the bots and the logistics network as a whole. As you research tech, that number would grow, but not by enough to enable a pure-bot factory, at least not one of the scale we're seeing now.
I can only see two ways this ends:

1. The true push-the-limits megabases end up with effectively infinite max bot capacity and are still by far the most efficient way to make a megafactory, or

2. A specific limit is put on the amount of research you can do to increase your bot limit, which puts an artificial limit on the scale that bot factories can reach.

I think the first doesn't do anything to address the existing problem, and the second is utterly against the spirit of the game.

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

Post by Durabys »

Image

Also add fucking Loaders, which are already programmed in the game. Allow them to only put things in and out of cargo wagons and other chest types and put ores into and out of furnace type buildings faster then then stack inserters. Not Assembler types and Reactors/Steam Engines types. You do this and suddenly the bonus gained from HUMONGOUS Botport unloading/loading stations and robotic furnace setups goes to zero. Xterminator and KoS will have to redo A LOT of their designs but won´t be as much pissed if you nerfed bots.
Last edited by Durabys on Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by anarcobra »

AgentPaper wrote:I think that you guys are over-thinking the bot vs belt thing too much. I know it's appealing as a designer to strike the "perfect balance", and have bots and belts co-exist with their own niche, but I suspect that you will find that that compromise will end up just making both belts and bots end up feeling less interesting. Belts will become too powerful, too easy to use, to the point that much of the game becomes trivial (the splitter buff comes to mind). And in return, bots will become so weak and useless that they are very un-satisfying to use.

Instead, I suggest a much more direct approach. Instead of trying to balance bots vs belts, attack the problem directly by restricting the number of active bots that you can have at any given time. For example, at the start you might be limited to 100 bots total flying at one time. This could represent the "CPU capacity" of whatever system is managing all the bots and the logistics network as a whole. As you research tech, that number would grow, but not by enough to enable a pure-bot factory, at least not one of the scale we're seeing now.

This change would mean that bots can remain strictly better than belts, which I think they need to be in order for them to be fun to use. It would also turn the "belts vs bots" problem into an interesting optimization problem for the player. On the surface, the simple answer is "use bots for as much as you can", but with the hard limit on how many bots can be in the air, now you have to weigh each use case carefully. Is it really worth using the limited resources of your logistics network to have bots supply this factory? Or would you be better off laying down a belt-line, using up valuable floor space?
In that case, I would make it an infinite research so that those bases are still possible, but just require a lot of resources to increase the number of bots.
With the right balance you could get to a point where new players can't build a base with just a couple of roboports and tons of robots to make up for bad design, while bot only megabases are still possible.

About the splitter, I like the idea, especially if it becomes controllable by the circuit network. A lot of what it does are things you can sort of do right now, but not quite satisfactorily. With these splitters it might become feasible to route multiple different resources over a single belt. Additionally, these splitters would solve one of the things where right now basically only bots solve the problem, and that's omni-stations. It does more or less obsolete filter inserters, but I barely use those right now anyway other than in mods that add convoluted recipes.

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

Post by psihius »

EntroperZero wrote:I still haven't seen much discussion of what bots do to multiplayer, so I'll just snip part of my post from the other thread:
The one negative aspect of logistics bots for me comes in multiplayer games.

As soon as logistics is researched, without a doubt, players start dropping requester and provider chests all over the map, and building little mini-factories to produce things, with no organization. It gets out of hand immediately, you start having production shortages all over the place because bots are grabbing your stuff and shuttling it off to ten different locations that you don't know about, and are difficult to even find. So it can become quite difficult to keep your production machine well-oiled.

Most of the disagreements I see between players are of the nature "stop requesting blue chips, we need them for modules" or "why is yellow science stopped AGAIN?", etc., and it's often because of "rogue" bot networks. At least with belts, you can easily see where your stuff is being sent, and you're kind of forced to build in a more organized way, whereas with bots, you can still build stuff that works, even if it's total spaghetti (a Flying Spaghetti Monster of logistic bots, if you will).
Anyway, aside from this, I *REALLY* like the changes to splitters in today's FFF. You were right that a lot of this could supposedly be achieved by the circuit network, but that never worked the way it should have. And I saw so many players using it and ending up with weird results. Priority and filter splitters just make 100% sense.

I don't think any of the other suggested buffs, like stacking or just even faster belts are necessary. I actually worry that with too-strong belts, trains become less useful for all but the longest delivery routes. They'd be relegated to moving ore or plates around, for all intermediate products, you'd use stacked/fast/whatever belts. I dunno, maybe some people would like that. But I also agree that each of those buffs brings other issues to work out, and belts are working well now (and even better with the new splitters).

The idea of nerfing bots is interesting, because I constantly see discussions about buffing bots, like research to increase battery capacity or charging speed or energy efficiency or whatever, so that you aren't limited so much by not having dense enough roboports clogging up your map. So yeah, I think a lot of people would be upset if bots went the other way.

Personally, I've never used bots as a general "A to B" transportation system, with highly-packed roboports as in the example where you compared bot-to-belt overall throughput. I have done the localized production cell thing with bots, but never saw them as a solution to general medium- or long-distance transport. I guess even if they're optimal, I don't want my base to look like that (or to use that much power).

Maybe power is the solution. I think in general, players don't care how much power they use. If they need more, they just add more, whether it's nuclear, solar, or steam. Power is super-easy to add from the mid game onward. I sometimes think I'm the only one who cares about pollution -- no one uses efficiency modules, beacons are always crammed with speed mods and assemblers with productivity mods. Bots consume lots of power, but it's nothing compared to max-beaconed factories. Of course, making coal or uranium more rare, or boilers less efficient, or solar panels more expensive all have their own issues and would probably be equally poorly received.
You, actually, might be right about the power. Maybe the issue here is in that the late-game in regular plays just is to easy to expand and real estate is just too cheap/easy to get, so whatever power requirements you have, you can match them with ease.

Bots do eat a lot of power, in megabases that is usually the top power consumer.

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

Post by WhiteFang34 »

Will the splitter priority and filter options be available when logistics is first researched or will it require additional research to unlock the new features? They seem powerful enough additions that they should need additional research that is available a bit later in the game.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by CremionisD »

I like to use bots to build me the stuff that I use to build the rest of the base, so I absolutely don't want to see bots gone completely; Also I kind of don't like the weight limitation idea that I've seen in some posts, since it is anyway possible for the player character to carry TRAINS in his pocket(s)...

So to me it seems the major issue that the Devs have is that bots can reach too high throughput. Well, I guess it should be quite easy to nerf that by limiting how many bots can interact with a single chest per tick, or how many ticks are needed in order to serve a bot at a chest. (i.e. similar to charging). To me this solution seems obvious, and it won't affect low-throughput stuff at all (or even if it does, I'm fine with that).

Then again, I'm sure that those people who already have high throughput designs done and are enjoying it should not be forgotten either. Maybe have this researchable, so that the so called "OP" bots can be reached with a high science cost or something. Or alternatively have a game play setting similar to what you have in the map-gen (railworld, deathworld etc...) Add "Roboworld" checkbox or selection, which boosts bots to what they are now, and perhaps even give them to players earlier.

So those were my thoughts. Don't hate, I'm just throwing out ideas that may be good or bad.

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

Post by aequitas »

I consider myself a casual Factorio player (few week on, few months off) as I need to find time between work and family life to get my factories built. Most of my concerns during the game are in making the most fun, complex, unconventional, perfectionist and optimised factory layout before I launch the first rocket and 'finish' instead of maintaining mega factories filling up more and more belt to reach a certain RPM.

Recently when I picked the game up again to play the 0.16 beta I was disappointed by myself whilst building my factorio and eventually stopped playing before I 'finished' the game. I was working towards some really nice and complex spagett and suddenly figured: "I'll just put some chest here and manually move items until I'v researched logistics robots.", and poof, there went my motivation :(. Of course I could have been more disciplined, never do the research or not use the option when it was research. But that somehow doesn't work, because the choice is there.

I really like the idea of adding more 'features' to belt systems to allow for more interesting designs and optimisations that can be performed as the factory grows and matures without having to decide to nuke it and go for bots.

Looking forward to the new splitters, I think I will finish this factory after all :)

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

Post by <NO_NAME> »

I have yet another idea to improve belt throughput.
Make another tier "insanely-fast-betls" BUT inserters wouldn't be able to use it. This would help in mega factories when main buses have 8 or more belts for each basic material. Player would be able to use spliters to merge 2 (or even more) express belts so the bus don't take that much space. It would solve only some problems but it seems to be very easy to implement and don't interfere with any other game mechanics so maybe it is worth it.

I'm also feeling that bots are removing fun from the game. I'm trying to use them only when belts are impractical, e.g. I need to transport only a few parts per minute from the other side of the factory. However, it is hard to use belts when you know that robots would do it better so why even bother. In the past, the biggest disadvantage of robots was the power consumption. You could make a big coal power plants which make your factory anti-carbon-neautral and draw bitters from the whole map or you could build a big solar power plants but it would take insanely huge amount of space. Now there is nuclear energy which don't have any of these disadvantages.

Maybe it is a good idea to add some disadvantage to bots but I don't agree with persons that say that it should be weight limit. It would mess up repair bots that wouldn't be able to rebuild destroyed buildings that are too heavy. There is also proposition to disallow two bots to use the same chest in the same tick. It is also not good idea because it would be very irritating when player has to wait for robots handle personal logistics request. In my opinion the good propositions are to increase charging time of robots or increase they power consumption or both. I thinking about increasing power consumption so much that in very robot-heavy bases even nuclear energy is starting to be not enough.
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Re: Friday Facts #225 - Bots versus belts (part 2)

Post by Samlow »

My own response to last weeks FF got lost before posting.

I have done game system concept design on games (From the Depths most notably) and the 45 page thread about belts is really fascinating. Almost no-one is saying the current situation is actually fine. There are some problem, but the solutions differ widely.

Theres not a lot of people actually thinking outside the boxes though! Its all about making belts better, or nerfing bots. (everyone agrees trains are cool atm)

The thing my post was about is providing an actual 4th alternative. I broke the problem down into several facets:
- Belts lack throughtput
- Belts lack weaving flexibility
- Belts arent as UPS efficient as Bots
- Bots scale linear

So the first thing I would break however, is bots scaling linear. The most gentle sollution in my eyes is just having diminishing returns on all bots speed within one logistics network. The more bots are in the network, the slower they fly. This would make bots better at smaller segregated networks for production facilities, or larger radius lower volume supply.

But most of all I would love to see a new transport mode which sits in between bots and belts:
Codenamed: Robots on rails

Basically, I envisage a monorail type system, with elevated tracks, where carts with boxes of items follow a set path direction.

This could consist of several components
- Track
- Loader
- Unloader
- Control station
You could also add some extras like a track switch or something. Every track should be as big as a belt, the others 2x1.

On top of the track, there would be 1x1 robot trains driving in one direction. Their logic could be anything from a simple "drive this way" to programmed, depending on how much dev time is spent on that lol. They would functions as such:

- Tracks can be placed "in the air" basically passing over other structures. They are direction agnostic just like train tracks. There could be switch tracks that are logic gate controlled.
- Loaders and unloaders Have a single piece of track on one side, and a item loader/unloader on the other. The loader unloader part functions exactly like the loader redux / mini loader addon. They fast-place/remove items from a belt into/out of their own buffer inventory. Then whenever a cart passes overhead, it loads/unloads them, possibly filtered (filter in the station, not the cart), when done, the cart passes on.
- Control station: could be combined with a switch track, but their main function is to provide the tracks with power and possibly be the cart spawner.

Carts
They would basically be moving chests. Possibly with a filter option, but definitely with the option to limit the number of stacks in each, just like an actual chest.

Research
Ofcourse this could have several tiers. There could be several tiers of carts and loaders/unloaders, and infinite speed/acceleration research if you want. I would place the most basic version before tier 3 belts.

Application
Its basically an in between belts trains and bots. Its not as high capacity or speed as trains (1-5 stacks per cart). Its not as point flexible like bots and belts. However, it is relatively spaghetti friendly, and high throughput, and scales with cart numbers and speed. I envisage a system like this as a main bus replacement / alternative, with unloaders at every side-branch instead of a splitter. It would be flexible enough by going over existing structures and infrastructure, but possibly be limited by not being able to cross its own tracks without providing risk (depending on if theres a track switch added), and not only solves a problem, but provides additional gameplay thats not just a: Belts but with more throughput.

Realistically
Now, my main challenge is that the game is already pretty feature complete, and a system like this would take quite some time. However, if theres some modder out there that would like to pick this up, I would love to give you a hand on deepening the project/balance.

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

Post by aequitas »

Tomik wrote:
Image

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

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

Post by EntroperZero »

psihius wrote: You, actually, might be right about the power. Maybe the issue here is in that the late-game in regular plays just is to easy to expand and real estate is just too cheap/easy to get, so whatever power requirements you have, you can match them with ease.

Bots do eat a lot of power, in megabases that is usually the top power consumer.
Do roboports or beacons generally consume more power in megabases? I don't have a handy save, my old 0.15 server files are gone. I wouldn't be surprised by either answer, though.

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