Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Regular reports on Factorio development.
F_W
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by F_W »

mcdjfp wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:05 pm
IT does not matter how easy or difficult the chemical science pack is with respect to the productivity science pack. If the difficulty of the Chemical Science Pack challenge is lowered, then there WILL be a larger gap to the science pack that follows. Think about it, you are delaying the lesson. Unless removed from the game that difficulty will have to be faced later. Sure maybe you want to pack more of the difficulty increase into the later stages of the game, fine.

But how will the players currently stuck on the Chemical Science Pack react when they get there?

I honestly can't understand what is going on here. It is almost like you, the developers have suddenly decided that the core structure of Factorio is flawed. These challenges are linked. If you make one easier, players will run into the difficulty later. For me productivity is the spike as science packs start dominating my bases production verses building supplies. I am certain other players will site other challenges as their wall
From my relatively new perspective, I would have to disagree. End-game (I mean launching the rocket, not mega-basing) SHOULD be hard. It's the end of the game. It's the final hurdle and should be rewarded as such. Lowering the difficulty of mid-game blue-science is incentive to keep playing the game and give the player a sense of gradual progression. How many people have played a game that became too hard in the middle and then quit before finishing it? My guess is probably a lot. To use your number scale example, I don't see the current blue science hurdle as being 1 2 4 8 16 32. I see the current scale as being something more like 1 2 4 16 16 16

Also, there's a big difference between blue science and purple science. Blue science is the last science pack that is required for EVERY research after it. Only red/green/blue are required for everything that comes after them, while there are techs after Purple/Yellow/Military that don't require those bottles because the tech tree forks into many paths for the player to explore. Making blue science such a huge hurdle as it is now is the main issue in my view, and the fact that it happens at the same time as the oil challenge just makes it seem like TWO difficulty spikes and not just one

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I agree with the dev's changes either. I only agree with their assessment of blue science's difficulty. In my opinion, they could have implemented better ways of smoothing out the difficulty curve. I, like many others, have proposed ideas, but they seem pretty stubborn despite all the feedback (some suggestions had substantial community support too)
Last edited by F_W on Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by zenos14 »

V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
I believe it is very common in Factorio to have to rebuild things, because the player did not expect some things to be needed later, or unlocked a more efficient way to do something (better belts, beacons, logistic robots), or the amount of for example electronic or advanced circuits they will need. However, I tend to agree that having to rebuild because the game suddenly gives you a new mandatory recipe could potentially feel more arbitrary and forced, especially newer players tend to build just s few refineries so the issue does not have to be huge, and setting up a separate refinery instead of altering the original one also has a quite a bit of value as an opportunity to do it again and better.
The fluid mixing error when setting a recipe is quite awful IMO and should be addressed in some way.
Making BOP happen in a chemical plant would just eliminate any chance to reuse your BOP build for AOP and make it certain that it needs a rebuild. This would be especially bad for veterans as they could not build a future-proof BOP they could easily switch to AOP later, and new players should also absolutely be given the chance of “can you adjust it to meet the new demands?”.
While true, I still think there should be something in the BOP to warn players away from lining the input/output sides of their refinery with pipes, not to prevent the player from having to redesign their oil set up, but to encourage them to give themselves enough room to redesign their oil set up. I know from experience that redesigning one or two set ups as you get something new is fun, but finding yourself having to redesign several/your whole factory cause you didn't realize you'd need more room later (or wasn't able to expand in one direction due to biters/terrain) can get very tedious and frustrating, especially when you're still learning
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
Rocket fuel was already losing energy value before, so it just gets a bit worse, with productivity modules still being able to turn it into a gain. The gain however becomes rather small and I have been considering raising the energy value of RF, or decreasing the solid fuel cost to 9.
I did consider to move RF to a chemical plant but that would mean 1 less productivity module which would mean further nerf, and we don’t have many assembling machines with a fluid input, and variety is nice. :)
Ah, my suggestion to reducing the solid fuel needed in rocket fuel was based on the assumption you wanted to keep the costs roughly the same, fine with that, though your comment about how there aren't many assembling machines with fluid inputs reminded me that I kinda wish there was some graphic even on the nonfluid input assembler recipes that had the sealed pipe on the end, it bothers me that it suddenly shows up to be honest
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
I really do think moving the problem solves a lot here. First off because of moving it in time means the player is familiar with the basic part of the recipes and has crude already coming in etc, as mentioned in FFF. Secondly because of moving it to a point when the player also unlocks cracking with it. I can easily see some people will try to avoid cracking and just spam storage tanks, and that’s completely fine - because it is their choice for the time being and at some point they will likely try to set up some form of cracking, be it with circuit network or without it. The important part is, when they encounter the problem they have the tools to fix it properly.
Could you elaborate on why you think it fixes it?
Maybe I'm missing something but your first point about the player being familiar with the recipes/having the raw material (oil in this case) coming in already, were never factors when I stared designing set ups even back when I first had to deal with oil and on top of that, I'm not sure if giving them time to be familiar with the recipes that take gas would help all that much. Again, back when I was first tackling this puzzle "Understand how the recipes that take in the output of oil processing works" wasn't as much of a concern as "Plug in a tank to store the outputs in, have something, anything that takes that output as in input, and connect the pipes", the other recipes were an almost entire nonfactor for the whole oil processing issue other than them being something to dump processed oil into.
Your second point, I'd actually take that as an argument as to putting cracking earlier or making it easier to grab, or failing that, just having an immediately useful recipe available at BOP that takes Light/Heavy oil seems like a tool to fix it, maybe not optimally, but still pretty well
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
While overall this is probably true, people are usually tough to separate into binary groups, AND more importantly, and this is something we are trying to voice all the time, getting through oil is not only confusing but also tedious. A problem solver type of person can easily just stop playing because it is too much for them. And that is one of the things this change improves.
Like I said in my last post, I found cracking more tedious and confusing than oil refining (At least until circuit networks clicked for me). I can sorta see oil being confusing and tedious if by "oil" you mean "Make a set up that produces every single oil related product as an inexperienced player", but just BOP set up? That was less tedious and confusing than setting up a rail network or getting my first half decent furnace set up for me back when I started playing
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
Adding an entity that would magically solve the whole puzzle/problem for you is IMO the real way how to dumb it down. And even if the flare stack would make a lot of pollution or even eat a lot of electricity, these are way too abstract downsides to balance the possibility of a lazier solution. I’m not saying a lazier solution is inherently to be stigmatized, but removing the need to do the puzzle at all does sound like dumbing down.
Adding recipes which output one of the results is even worse even if it was very inefficient.
Even though I suggested it in my last post, I do agree it's not the best solution, I just think it's a better "fix" to the oil issue than the proposed BOP changes and would rather see something you can build to make things easier/be a lazy solution than I would one that doesn't really help the player learn anything
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
This is a decent point. I believe the theme is still there, but I do agree it is less ... simply because smaller frustration will lead to less memorability and standing out in this regard.
I don't think you'd need to trade one for the other though, in my first few playthroughs oil was a fun and interesting puzzle because of the multiple outputs, and this just makes it bland early on, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but multiple outputs was a very fun puzzle and I do feel more than just a couple of recipes need to have it, having something earlier in the techtree might be a better solution if you think it shouldn't be something the player learns at BOP cause honestly, putting it at AOP feels too late to me for such an interesting thing for the player to wrap their head around to show up
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
It’s pretty much the first two, in the sense that it should improve the flow or the game (though the technology changes), while making the basic oil processing step less complex. A lot of negatively responding people say it is only for new players, but we really believe the flow of the game is really important for repeated playing, if not even more important.
I say this as someone who has 2162 hours of factorio play according to steam and has launched maybe...3 rockets in my entire play time, frustration over lack of bots/the tediousness of having to deconstruct/rebuild stuff early in the game when I think up a new design is a bigger speed bump to the flow of the game than oil ever was
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
This was pretty much my first response when I first heard about the whole idea, but now I’d say it’s really not that huge difference between late logistic and early blue science, especially with the basic refinery being quicker to set up. I will be observing this very closely what exact effects will it have. We were considering to add burner powered construction robots a few years ago, but I can’t currently see how and when would those appear.
With robots I feel the question of "How large/complex is the player's factory?" is a better measure of how early the player should get them than science, or rather, "How tedious is rebuilding getting?", especially for inexperienced players who might find themselves experimenting/thinking up better designs. As I said above, a lot of my frustration came mostly from the tediousness of rebuilding when I realized my layout could be slightly better if I made a change but to do so everything in my factory would have to be one tile to the left. Now you may be right and this may not be too big of a change, but bots still come late enough that I remember restarting a LOT when I was playing early on because bots weren't coming early enough and leaving factorio for days/weeks then restarting when I came back was more appealing than tearing down and rebuilding everything
Honestly, thinking on it more, cause I go for bots not so much for logistics or construction, but deconstruction and having an early game bulldozer bot or something that's only good for tearing up trees/rocks/buildings and dropping them off in chests would alleviate a lot of my concerns on both the idea of delaying bots AND now long it currently takes new players to get them
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
This would mean that if the player is not going for early robots, they would just have to do 2 more cracking steps for all of the petroleum gas. That is 2 extra steps adding to the tedium and vastly decreasing the puzzle of advanced oil processing - a typical new player is really not going to set up a circuit network, and the AOP solution would not be different in anything, just more efficient per crude oil.
Fair, but like my comment on flare stacks, I still think it's a better option than the current proposed BOP change as it would give the player a way to prevent backup in their oil production. Though I do like the idea a bit less now, as you are right it'll make AOP less of a puzzle but I will say, half the reason I had so much trouble cracking my teeth on cracking was due to having to balance Light/Heavy/Gas ratios, so I wonder, if they start off with BOP+Cracking and one or two Petroleum gas products, would it be that confusing for new players researching Light/Heavy products one by one to puzzle out how to get it to work with cracking one at a time instead of all (or rather several) at once?
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
I really dislike any science pack to have a fluid input, just looking at the crafting menu and seeing red background is alarming.
I actually wouldn't mind being unable to produce the more advanced science packs by hand, and having chemical science require sulfuric acid sounds pretty thematic in my opinion
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
Some others have pointed out that the refinery looks suspicious and strange without the other inputs and outputs. While it’s not in your face explicitly stated, hints are there. Let’s see how much this is a problem when people get their hands on it. Especially newcomers who aren’t aware of how advaced oil processing looks.
I sorta feel this is already a (very) slight issue, I can tell by looking at the chemical plant that it has two input and two output pipes from either way it's rotated, I actually can't on the refinery, at least not without knowing they're there, and that (like the assemblers not having an input pipe when they're not taking fluid input) has always bugged me about the design, if you guys have the time, I'd suggest you make them stand out more, even if it's just some sort of marking on the design of the building to highlight there are input/output there, not a complaint, just something that'd be nice to have :)
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
Especially if you read this far, thank you very much. Hopefully you have found some answers, and even more hopefully you understand our aim is not to ruin the whole game, and that making a change does not mean it can never be changed, altered or reverted.

Thank you very much for all of your replies. All of them.

V
Thank you for trying to explain things, and I do understand you're trying to improve this game
But sadly, this doesn't really alleviate any of my major concerns/reasons for disliking this change, I still think the proposed solution, and the logic of why you need to make these changes, is built upon one or more mistaken assumptions, and hope you don't go through with it, or if so, revert it shortly after if you do and/or realize there might be a better solution than to simplify BOP like that.

But even despite all that, thank you, and the rest of the team for all your hard work
Last edited by zenos14 on Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Light
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Light »

V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
“Add a tutorial.”
This is always an option and certainly vastly superior to having the player go to wiki/youtube/... for help, but if it can be solved in the game then I’d say it’s much better.
I have to ask how solving the puzzles for us in a logistical problem solving game is "much better" than giving us the information and tools to get through it ourselves. Stuff like that makes me question if the devs forgot the type of game they're selling.

Without problems to solve there's little to no reason to learn, adapt, or even play the game anymore. Easing the curve for those who can't figure things out for themselves is a slap in the face to the rest of us who enjoy learning and overcoming problems, since you've solved it for us so we don't have to think about it too hard. That's quite disheartening and an insult to those who can think for themselves.

Thankfully there are mod authors who know this game better than that and provide even greater puzzles than anything vanilla has to offer. Mods are typically the go-to answer for just about anything the game is lacking which vanilla could have or did have before. This is why I keep expressing my concerns over these sorts of changes in the completely opposite direction the game was headed in versions past.

V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
A problem solver type of person can easily just stop playing because it is too much for them.
Did you have a brain fart writing that? What kind of "problem solver" just throws up their arms and quits when faced with A PROBLEM TO SOLVE?

If any of the engineers said that in my presence I'd throw their ass right out the door since they clearly aren't the problem solvers they're supposed to be. However, they crave challenges because they LOVE to solve problems even if it takes a great deal of time to solve. That's what gets them out of bed and enjoying their time at work besides just the paycheque.

Factorio feeds the inner engineer in all of us to varying degrees. It asks us to solve problems and those who aren't willing shouldn't have bothered to buy the game knowing that's exactly what it's asking of them.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by mcdjfp »

Things are getting too nasty. I meant my comment that you could have released two years ago as a complement. Also as encouragement. I can't speak for anyone else, but I want mention what I was thinking prior to last weeks post about the new oil plan.

I was honestly hoping that 0.17 would hit stable, and 0.18 would quickly lead to a 1.0. Then (maybe after making a different game) in a couple of years you would then start on a Factorio 2 applying everything you have learned to a clean slate.

As for the change. unless you deliberately break mod support (highly unlikely, but I did feel you gloated a bit following the removal of mining hardness), it probably won't hurt me as some of the more complex mods were already looking interesting before this change was announced. Of course this assumes the community survives this.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by julius33 »

I think the change is fine. The amount of long posts here is insane, since there really isn't any discussion going on, only people forcing their ideas unto the developer.

I would be fine with any change to oil, I mean, if you really want to complain about oil being "dumbed down", why aren't you installing Angel Petrochem of Pyaonadons? Exactly...

I have read all of the 11 pages thus far, and you could easily sum it up with the words "the curse of knowledge". Noone posting here is really a beginner. Neither am I, hence why I fully support the ideas the developer comes up with. Its their game, their ideas.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by mcdjfp »

F_W wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:25 pm
From my relatively new perspective, I would have to disagree. End-game (I mean launching the rocket, not mega-basing) SHOULD be hard. It's the end of the game. It's the final hurdle and should be rewarded as such. Lowering the difficulty of mid-game blue-science is incentive to keep playing the game and give the player a sense of gradual progression. How many people have played a game that became too hard in the middle and then quit before finishing it? My guess is probably a lot. To use your number scale example, I don't see the current blue science hurdle as being 1 2 4 8 16 32. I see the current scale as being something more like 1 2 4 16 16 16
I think you misunderstood my point slightly. I also want the endgame to be hard. My concern is that if they make blue (chemical) science easier, people will then start complaining about the productivity science pack. Then what happens. Do the developers stand their ground, or make that one easier as well? I fear that the end result will be that all of the following science packs will also be made easier as well.

As for the values, that was an example. My big hurdle is production science packs. They are the one that feel like the biggest hurdle and force my first major round of base upgrades. If I gave numbers it would be (starting with power to utility) 1 1 1 2 4 16 24, and most of that is really due to the need to set up outposts and deal with biters (1 1 1 2 3 12 20 without biters)

Edit: Tweaked numbers as decimals gave the wrong impression. I was trying to indicate trivial, not that logistic (green) was 10 times tougher
Last edited by mcdjfp on Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Therax »

IronCartographer wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:44 pm
irbork wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:32 pm
I am playing with the oilchanges mod and so far there is one big drawback on the new system. I am trying to play like a noob. I research all the stuff from available tier, automate everything and then proceed to next tier.
So far the biggest problem is switching to run power and smelting on solid fuel to save on coal is ridiculous. It requires about 3 times more pumpjacks and refineries.
This is one reason it would be nice if light oil were the sole product of basic oil processing, with light->gas cracking being unlocked either in the same tech or later in green science...but even a single cracking step represents a compromise on the ease of learning/setup during that initial spike constituting the fundamental oil wall. :|
I think even exposing the PG->solid fuel recipe at BOP is a bad idea. It's encouraging the player to make a mistake. When the player sees that recipe is available, the solid fuel has no use in progression. It's only an upgrade for boilers, vehicles, and smelting. Then later when the need for solid fuel skyrockets because it becomes required for the rocket, what's the most obvious thing to do? It's to scale up the solid fuel production that's already in-place, cracking everything from AOP down to support that production line. It's one thing to have multiple options where some are better but others are generally worse but situationally useful. It's another thing entirely to actively point the player towards a dead end.

If we want gas to be exposed immediately as the only product of BOP, then I'd suggest not unlocking the solid fuel recipe until AOP when the player actually might need it to resolve multi-output blocking. At BOP, all of the player's oil should be going into plastic and sulfur to progress.

On the other hand, if solid fuel is retained as an ingredient in blue science, it makes lots of sense to offer the player light oil immediately, and have them build their solid fuel production around it from the get go. Then introduce cracking, gas, plastic, and red circuits as a secondary product of the oil system.
IronCartographer wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:44 pm
If rushing solid fuel is the goal, it's great. If the player has their sights on blue science and everything it unlocks, even a single step of cracking adds to the monolithic complexity of getting the next science automated.
I don't believe introducing a step of cracking is so complex that users will get blocked on it. It's one additional linear processing step with 2 inputs and 1 output, which players have been dealing with since the automation of red science. As proposed in FFF-305, they're required to set up chemical plants with multiple inputs, including water, to get sulfur to progress. I don't see why that is acceptable but cracking is not.

The real benefit of introducing cracking in red/green science is to get players familiar with the concept before AOP and multi-output recipes. Multi-outupt is the single most confusing part of the entire oil puzzle. Currently, when new players ask for help with heir oil setup, I rarely if ever see them having problems with the new buildings or pipe mechanics including fluid mixing. It almost always involves the question "My plastic was working fine, but after a while it just stopped for no apparent reason."

Making the multi-output puzzle, and that puzzle alone, the challenge of AOP is I think the biggest change that could be made towards smoothing the learning curve without just getting rid of the multi-output requirement entirely. If you've done cracking already to reach blue science, then it's a tool in your toolbox, ready to be used, instead of another thing you have to learn at the same time you're presented with the AOP recipe and its traps.
Miniloader — UPS-friendly 1x1 loaders
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Beltlayer & Pipelayer — Route items and fluids freely underground

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by F_W »

mcdjfp wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:41 pm
I think you misunderstood my point slightly. I also want the endgame to be hard. My concern is that if they make blue (chemical) science easier, people will then start complaining about the productivity science pack. Then what happens. Do the developers stand their ground, or make that one easier as well? I fear that the end result will be that all of the following science packs will also be made easier as well.

As for the values, that was an example. My big hurdle is production science packs. They are the one that feel like the biggest hurdle and force my first major round of base upgrades. If I gave numbers it would be (starting with power to utility) 0.1 0.1 1 2 4 16 24, and most of that is really due to the need to set up outposts and deal with biters (0.1 0.1 1 2 3 12 20 without biters)
Based on your response, I believe I understood your point correctly. If the blue science recipe was made easier, and people complained about purple being too hard, I would draw a line in the sand at that point. It's one of two final science packs that is needed to launch the rocket and win the game. It SHOULD be hard. And so should yellow (especially since you only need a little bit of each). Blue science on the other hand, is "mid-game" and is mandatory for every research that comes after it. It shouldn't be too much of a jump from green/military but in my opinion, it currently is

In my opinion, the difficulty ramp-up when I was new to this game felt like these numbers: Red 1, Green 2, Military 4, Blue 15, Purple 20, Yellow 20
I think it should be more like: Red 1, Green 2, Military 4, Blue 10, Purple 20, Yellow 20

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by mcdjfp »

I tweaked my numbers slightly as the decimals seemed to indicated that green (logistic) was 10 times harder when I was really trying to indicate that power (the first test) and red were trivial on all but the first playthrough.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Allaizn »

Light wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:29 pm
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
A problem solver type of person can easily just stop playing because it is too much for them.
Did you have a brain fart writing that? What kind of "problem solver" just throws up their arms and quits when faced with A PROBLEM TO SOLVE?
Being able to solve a problem because it seems like a fun problem and actually doing it are different things. I fall quite squarely into the group mentioned by V, as I have to this day never finished the game because it gets to tedious towards the end of it - though that's my personal opinion, and I'm certainly not suggesting that it should change, since I still plan on doing it at some point.
Meanwhile I'm at 1.6k hours on the steam version alone, and another ~1k for the standalone plus who knows how much more time spent offline thinking about all kinds of things related to factorio.

You're not totally wrong, but please don't disregard the mathematical type problem solvers - for us the existence and form of a solution is much more appealing then actually executing it.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by sadkov »

Oil was fine initially, really! And, I know an immersive, convenient and cool looking fix for you devs to overcome stuck refinery problem:
.
.
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it is...
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wait for it...
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here comes...
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THE TORCH!!!
torch.jpeg
torch.jpeg (4.6 KiB) Viewed 3489 times
No really, this is the way the oil industry gets rid of unwanted cracking byproducts or natural gases - they burn them! Just make a cool looking building that can consume any flammable fluid and just get rid of it (with some pollution cost, of course).

And to have a little bit of extra fun, you can actually introduce a new mechanic of creating pollution when deconstructing items with non-water fluid inside (you know those oil spillages...) and create pollution when any meaningful item is being destroyed (e.g. no pollution from electric pole, wooden chest or red belt, but some pollution from assembler, miner, blue belt, and a lot from chemical plants and a HELL lot from centrifuges and nuclear reactors. You do it already when burning trees after all :)

Thanks ^_^

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Theikkru »

I would like to champion my earlier proposal to include light oil in basic processing here once more, as I still believe it can better accomplish all the intended game design goals while avoiding a lot of the stickier problems listed in this thread, and is conveniently compatible with most other changes, including those in the FFF.
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
I believe it is very common in Factorio to have to rebuild things, because the player did not expect some things to be needed later, or unlocked a more efficient way to do something (better belts, beacons, logistic robots), or the amount of for example electronic or advanced circuits they will need.
However, I tend to agree that having to rebuild because the game suddenly gives you a new mandatory recipe could potentially feel more arbitrary and forced, especially newer players tend to build just s few refineries so the issue does not have to be huge, and setting up a separate refinery instead of altering the original one also has a quite a bit of value as an opportunity to do it again and better.
While this may be true purely statistically, I think it is very important that the rebuilding be entirely at the discretion of the player. Belts, furnaces, beacons, and robots are all things that a player may decide to upgrade, rebuild, or replace, but always entirely of his/her own volition, because he/she concludes that the benefits of the rebuild or upgrade outweigh the effort lost in demolishing the old setup and the time expended reconstructing the new. Should a player conclude the opposite, the rebuild does not take place, and some other alternative is chosen, with player and game no worse for wear.
Future demand is not entirely unexpected either; a player can always ask his/herself how he/she would expand his/her production to accommodate higher demand whenever designing a new line, and leave space for expansion accordingly. In normal cases, so future-proofing affords the player some degree of insurance against having to tear down his/her hard work in the face of increasing demand. Conversely, the player who does not plan ahead thus has no one but him/herself to blame for the predicament, in a classic case of reap what you sow.

In this new revision, however, it is not very reasonable to expect a (new) player to deduce from existing information (see next point) that the refinery will require additional connections later, and ergo it cannot be expected that the unknowing player would account for it somehow. Thus, upon encountering advanced processing, the hapless newcomer is essentially commanded by the game mechanics to demolish the old refinery (and all the effort that went into it) in order to accommodate the new. (I will also note here that keeping the old refinery and constructing a new one elsewhere is not a satisfactory option, due to the large disparity in output between the recipes; players would still feel pressured to decommission the old to save on crude.) While this may not faze those who just haphazardly cobbled together a refinery or two without so much as a moment's deliberation, it will come as a rude slap in the face to those who spent time meticulously arranging their construct to nestle neatly between its neighbors, or those who carefully aligned it to be expandable in the future. In effect, the game thus punishes players proportionally to how much effort they invested in their basic refinery setup (and worse, all without construction bots to ameliorate the sting). This is a terrible lesson to teach.

If, however, a light oil output were included, players would have to account for it in initial design, and the astute could infer from it the presence of a 3rd output as well. Even in the case where no planning ahead is applied, the assembly would only require routing of one additional pipe on each side for advanced processing; a far more feasible prospect in most situations.
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
Some others have pointed out that the refinery looks suspicious and strange without the other inputs and outputs. While it’s not in your face explicitly stated, hints are there. Let’s see how much this is a problem when people get their hands on it. Especially newcomers who aren’t aware of how advaced oil processing looks.
I must point out that players commenting on said awkward appearance are those familiar with the original arrangement of two inputs and three outputs, and thus have some basis for comparison. New players will be seeing this, among other structures like chemplants and pumpjacks, for the first time, and would have no such foresight. Worse, new players would also be entirely ignorant of not only the possibility of multiple outputs, but also the possibility that said outputs might be distinct from one another, and so, even if by some miracle they sense something amiss about the situation, it is unreasonable to expect them to leap to the conclusion that it is due to connections that will be used for different fluids later.

In comparison, were there a light oil output alongside petroleum, there would be immediate and obvious precedent for both points, on top of geometric suggestion for a third. Together, these are sufficient for reasonable forethought to account for the remaining connections.
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
“Moving the problem does not solve it.”
I really do think moving the problem solves a lot here. First off because of moving it in time means the player is familiar with the basic part of the recipes and has crude already coming in etc, as mentioned in FFF. Secondly because of moving it to a point when the player also unlocks cracking with it. I can easily see some people will try to avoid cracking and just spam storage tanks, and that’s completely fine - because it is their choice for the time being and at some point they will likely try to set up some form of cracking, be it with circuit network or without it. The important part is, when they encounter the problem they have the tools to fix it properly.
I would like to reword the above point to "moving the problem causes more problems than it solves." While there may be some benefits to allowing players to familiarize themselves with the basic setup of crude oil and such ahead of time, this is counteracted in part by the parallel introduction of more advanced recipes that would not have been available during basic processing. Additionally, the problems covered above largely overturn any advantage of preexisting construction, as players likely must demolish and reconstruct large portions of the refining apparatus anyways.

If, instead, an output of light oil were present for basic processing, players would be introduced to the multiple output balance in a simplified package that, while conceptually no less significant, would shave off much of the complexity its full-fledged version requires for solution. Accompanying it with a sufficiently increased solid fuel demand for chemical science packs would provide a configurable and useful sink for either oil product in excess, and would therefore constitute a "tool to fix [output blockages] properly" that would serve well until advanced processing.

(As an aside, I feel I should also note that the last statement quoted above strikes me as a direct contradiction to the position taken by developers when defending the exclusion of splitters and underground belts from the NPE.)
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
“Is this change to reduce complexity, refactor the tech tree, or rebalance the oil production recipes.”
It’s pretty much the first two, in the sense that it should improve the flow or the game (though the technology changes), while making the basic oil processing step less complex. A lot of negatively responding people say it is only for new players, but we really believe the flow of the game is really important for repeated playing, if not even more important.

“Advanced circuits are too advanced to require them this early in a science pack.”
I find this a fairly valid point, but almost all of the things that chemical science pack unlocks do require advanced circuits, and the future science packs build on top of that complexity (and of course the amount of advanced circuits you need) further.
Including light oil as a basic output would only increase the complexity by one production step (light oil to solid fuel), which could easily be balanced with a simplification elsewhere. Changing oil field spawns to include some small amount of oil near the starting area would be a good example of this, in reducing early logistical requirements for retrieving crude. Changing chemical science packs to require plastic instead of advanced chips would also alleviate some complexity, while both being more thematic to the pack title as well as still guiding the player towards advanced chip production.
V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
“The association of the theme of oil as a multiple output problem is weakened.”
This is a decent point. I believe the theme is still there, but I do agree it is less ... simply because smaller frustration will lead to less memorability and standing out in this regard.
Allow me to stress here that challenges are not measured only by the amount of frustration they generate, but also how interesting of a problem they present, and how much of an accomplishment their solutions constitute. Moving and simplifying a challenge like this may aim to diminish frustration, but it also dampens the latter two aspects as well.
More relevantly, however, the association is also undermined as a simple consequence of its delayed introduction; it would become less "the oil problem", and more "that problem that cropped up suddenly halfway down the tech tree and made me rebuild my factory."

Unsurprisingly, including a light oil output in basic processing would keep the multiple output problem alongside oil itself, and would not so suffer.

I would also like to reiterate one point that was not raised: solid fuel appears to have been abandoned. The chemical science pack had its recipe changed to include solid fuel expressly to give purpose to this underappreciated resource, yet the FFF changes here seem to undo all that, sweeping it under the rug in favor of sulfur. I have no quarrel with sulfur itself, but that solid fuel would be again sidelined, I argue, is an unnecessary shame. Please consider increasing its requirement in chemical science instead, and thereby allow it to balance light oil and petroleum gas usage naturally.

In closing, I again implore the developers to carefully consider two-output basic oil processing as a potential alternative method of staging the difficulty presented by oil production technology, and refer to my earlier post for a summary of points.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by _Attila_ »

A number of posts have pointed out that the issue with people quitting around oil/blue science is due to the sudden ramp-up in difficulty. I fully agree with this. I also want to say that I restarted a base each time I got to a point where I would have had to dismantle part of it, because I had a better solution. I wanted to do it right from the beginning, even if it meant redoing the whole base up to that point.

I play with biters on as I find that they are the drivers that force me to move ahead. I need better weapons and defenses to survive and expand my base. Without them I would have all the time in the world and I could ignore military research. Why is this important? Because I look forward to key points in the game that make my survival easier.

With oil usually far from my base I find it really tedious to secure an oil patch, build a railroad to it and having to wait until after blue science is implemented to get a tank and lasers and robots (for wall and laser repair). There is a huge gap at this point in the game that some players are not willing to cross. Even if they do, the next steps are even harder and any point on the road to building a rocket could cause someone to quit.

So, my point is that if the goal is to have more players finish the game, Factorio needs to have a MUCH lower difficulty level that new players can chose to play on until they are ready for the more advanced concepts and the full Factorio experience.
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by IronCartographer »

Post withdrawn due to futility and inflammation. The petroleum will flow.
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Aivech »

As I see it, the proposed change to basic oil processing is not nearly beneficial enough to be implemented.

Supposedly, the change benefits new players by pushing back the complexity of basic oil processing till later in the game.
In actuality, it does not actually solve any problems.

It does not actually teach anything to the player. The proposed change, rather than informing the player on how to run complex multi-fluid setups, simply lets them avoid the problem for a little longer. In the end, they will still run into the oil processing wall, and their existing setup will no longer work, especially if they crammed together the refineries in such a way that they no longer have space to run the additional piping properly.

Additionally, it breaks existing setups. Any proposed change that breaks backwards compatibility with previous versions of the game needs to have an extremely good rationale for implementation, especially as part of a minor version change. If this was for a 1.0 or 0.18 change, or fixed some critical bug or exploit, then fine. Not acceptable just for a balance tweak, especially in the middle of the 0.17 release cycle.
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Zavian »

V453000 wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:27 pm
However, I tend to agree that having to rebuild because the game suddenly gives you a new mandatory recipe could potentially feel more arbitrary and forced, especially newer players tend to build just s few refineries so the issue does not have to be huge, and setting up a separate refinery instead of altering the original one also has a quite a bit of value as an opportunity to do it again and better.
The fluid mixing error when setting a recipe is quite awful IMO and should be addressed in some way.
I'm wondering if adding heavy oil and light oil outputs, and water input, all with zero quantity to the BOP recipe (and making sure they reserve the appropriate pipes and show on the pipes in game) might not be the best fix for these. It solves the fluid mixing on changing recipe, as the pipes are already reserved, so changing recipe won't cause mixing, and it tell the observant new player that "Hey, this refinery also outputs light + heavy oil, and wants water", without forcing them to do anything more than run the pipes a little further away.

Overall the changes don't bother me, since once you have blue science and advanced oil processing, you pretty much want to always switch to AOP + cracking anyway. A cutdown advanced refinery build is still compatible with AOP, so no need to rebuild if you do know what is coming, and if you don't, one or two refineries is all a new player is likely to build until after they have blue science running.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Allaizn »

IronCartographer wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:41 am
It is my firm belief that restoring some small measure of complexity will placate this gut reaction, while ultimately maintaining the refinery's iconic niche at its introduction:
Your whole argument is basically "people are irrationally angry, so let's ignore all reason and do what they want even though we know it's worse".
IronCartographer wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:41 am
The result:
  • Introduces cracking of light oil early, as its own concept, separate from the complexity of the multi-output problem.
  • Provides a clean-room introduction to cracking in a context where it cannot cause blockage, just as steel smelting does not cause a blockage of iron plate
  • Smooths the sequence of oil puzzles...
  • his maintains the non-blocking chemical science (no basic oil balancing problem), while introducing concepts that prevent the oil wall from shifting entirely to Advanced!
FIrstly, cracking is not a concept. What you and a lot of other people confuse it with is the concept of creating the same product using different ingredients, which is not relevant to the player until advanced oil processing or uranium processing drops. While it's in principle possible to decouple multiple-output and multi-path recipes, your approach won't do that.
Your second point is just a reiteration of the first one - and just to drive it home: at this point in the game with your suggested light only approach, light cracking will merely seem like a second refining step, not like some grand new thing. The player has no idea about advanced oil processing even existing.
Thirdly, I somewhat agree that this sequence may make the puzzle marginally better - but so what? The hardness of the puzzle itself was never the problematic bit - the problem was that it was placed in a busy part of the players progress.
As for the last point: you again mischaracterize problems imo. Non-blocking blue science is only a part of the goal - which is to get to blue without too much tedium. Forcing light-petrol cracking makes your starter refinery a lot bigger to accomodate all the cracking, while retaining problems like it needing to be rebuild for AOP (which btw doesn't need to happen with pet-only BOP, but will have to with light only).
If you want to stay with solid fuel, then you also pay for that with a bigger starter oil setup because solid fuel crafts way slower than sulfur. And even if that were to be fixed, you'd now have new players running into the problem of all light oil going to cracking instead of solid fuel - which is a decent part of the AOP problem, and thus just pointlessly have complexity at BOP while the goal was to remove it from there.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by cazzaaa »

This still doesn't address the biggest issues with Oil. Where are the tutorials or better GUI updates to let players more easily know when Oil is backed up?

Prior to Oil, player visual feedback is great because belts are open and at a glance can easily see when it is empty, unlike pipes which make it going through another step to really find out why something stopped. Chances are for plastic you will trace it back to the Chemical Plant, see that coal is fine, but then check the pipes and see they are fine, then open the refinery and see they have the Oil and Gas ready to leave. In that check you will open many entity GUIs to see what the issue is, vs Belts and just seeing they are empty

BOP in my eyes should have 2 outputs to actually teach players at an earlier stage that there can be a process in the game that outputs multiple products. It doesn't have to be PG and HO/LO, why not a solid like a weaker version of SF or something. That way with AOP it isn't the same wall we have now and you then have better tools again to deal with those outputs.

Please, please stop deflecting on GUI and tutorial options when you are trying to deal with problems, as they can help fix the actual issue. You don't need to make knee jerk changes without trying to teach the players first. If we had a GUI that made it easier to identify issues with Oil and a tutorial for it as well, i would be more then happy to see changes to Oil based on feedback from people at least having an option to learn it.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Goose »

I'm in favor of the rocket fuel change, as it makes light oil required for rocket fuel, but I don't think it really addresses the issue in the fff (letting the player know that light oil is the preferable oil to use in solid fuel production)

I purpose to change the light oil to solid fuel icon to stand out a little bit more in comparison to the other solid fuel recipes.
It may not be perfect, but I made a mock-up as an example.
Image
Last edited by Goose on Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Silfir »

Maybe a bit of a provocative question:

The players you're worried about - the ones that might get frustrated trying to solve the multi-input problem - aren't they playing on stable right now? The vast majority of them? It takes at least some savvy or independent research for players to opt into the experimental branch, I would imagine.

That means you haven't even exposed those players to the chemical science pack - which I imagine was already an attempt at solving the problem you're now trying to solve again.

Isn't it worth first introducing the chemical science pack to Stable - the default install - and checking how new players are handling it? You're about to introduce a slew of drastic changes to how oil processing works, after all - isn't that more suited for the version 0.18.0 of the new experimental branch?

Or put in another way - why are you certain that adding solid fuel to the chemical science pack was the wrong approach?

It's especially concerning since you're scrapping that aspect of the change of the chemical science pack entirely and instead increasing its dependence on petroleum gas, by requiring sulfur in addition to red circuits. Which is a major drawback once you do get access to AOP.
Last edited by Silfir on Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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