Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

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

Post by IronCartographer »

mcdjfp wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:59 pm
I am still not convinced that delaying the oil puzzle will help at all. By the time the oil puzzle hits now, a player already has had to deal with simple pipe work for power, and ever more complex belt chains. Will more pipe lessons really make any difference in handling the multi-fluid output oil puzzle? It does not appear (though I may be wrong) that any of the fluid recipes before advanced oil processing will have multiple outputs. Without linked fluid outputs I am not certain what lesson is taught.
The HUGE difference is that they will have chemical science automated, giving them more time to learn and scale things up, while unlocking new uses for oil. The problem doesn't go away, but it lines up with the technologies that become available much more effectively.

Theikkru
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Theikkru »

This set of changes is definitely superior to last week's, but I still think it's got some sticking points that should be worked out:
  • New players will still have to redo most if not all of the oil production chain once advanced processing hits, and there is little to no hinting or foreshadowing whatsoever to suggest that this will happen (i.e. planning ahead is not really an option). This greatly diminishes the logistical advantage of delaying the multiple outputs balancing problem that the revision is supposed to afford.
  • The new player is still going to be hit with just about as large a wall of new recipes and production lines alongside the multiple outputs problem, only now it will involve more advanced recipes such as processing units and lubricant-related products rather than simpler ones such as plastic and sulfur.
  • The association of oil with the multiple outputs problem is weakened (thematic problem).
  • Players are still taught the "wrong" way of doing things initially, especially for solid fuel now that only the petroleum one will even be available at basic processing.
  • Solid fuel got thrown under the bus. People will be even less motivated to touch it at all, now that it must use precious petroleum gas, and are far more likely to just rush rocket fuel.
I recommend that the following two tweaks be made to the current set of changes in order to address these problems:
  • Keep an output of light oil alongside petroleum gas for basic oil processing.
  • Increase the solid fuel requirement of chemical science packs instead of removing it.
This would include benefits such as:
  • introducing the multiple outputs problem alongside oil, allowing players to tackle it early on without too many distracting recipes involved.
  • not involving a significant increase of logistical burden over petroleum only basic oil processing.
  • hinting at the introduction of additional fluids with the geometry of the refinery.
  • reducing the amount of renovation necessary to account for advanced processing.
  • highlighting solid fuel when it is most helpful.
  • providing two solid fuel recipes for comparison of efficiency.
  • providing a straightforward method (chemical science pack solid fuel usage) of balancing oil product usage that works until advanced processing and cracking are available, but cannot supplant them.
  • better balancing the total output of basic processing as compared to advanced processing or coal liquefaction, without making it too attractive by increasing the petroleum output.
  • leaving more choice and initiative in the player's hands regarding pursuit of efficiency and planning ahead in order to save trouble down the road. (New players should be rewarded for planning ahead.)

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Arcitos
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Arcitos »

The explanations by V453000 are interesting and visually appealing but they nevertheless leave me behind a bit puzzled.

My question is: What is your main intention behind the oil change?
  • Is it to reduce the complexity/to smooth out the learning curve for new players?
    Then I’m curious why the "tutorial solution" hasn't been mentioned, as this would be the minimal invasive approach to introduce new players into the oil related game mechanic without producing the hassle caused by changing that many and important recipes.
  • Is it to refactor the general structure of the tech tree?
    Then it is debatable if the green science level or the blue science level is too stretched out. Moving important recipes from green to blue is certainly limiting the player's options in the early-to-mid-game transition phase and I’m very unsure if this limitation weights out the advantages of a the tech tree structure changes. I'm very happy about the fact that Factorio usually leaves it up to the players when and to which extend they want to expand or use their possibilities.
  • Is it to balance the oil production recipes?
    Then why only BOP->PO? Why not BOP ->PO + LO? Why not BOP->LO and LO->PO cracking? Are all other ideas regarding the new BOP-recipe bad? If so, why? At this point I'd like to hear your opinion about those alternatives.
Speaking only for myself: I'm sorry, but I’m unable to get behind your motivation and am not fully satisfied by the explanations. I'm aware of the pros and cons and my personal conclusion is that the proposed oil changes are - IMHO - not a good game design decision. But I’m open to a more detailed explanation and not in general against the change. But currently, the whole thing feels rushed and not in line with the majority of recent good design changes. Please check other recipe possibilities other than BOP->PO, please don't twist the majority of the tech tree just to make this change fit in and please consider creating a tutorial prior to changing the BOP.

And last but not least: Please keep up the astonishing work in creating the best game ever.

I'm amazed by the fact that you postponed the change in order to sort things out. I really appreciate that. I already feared that the postponed version update would cause you guys running out of open bug reports :D

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Serenity »

vorku wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:48 pm
Thus, any proposal wishing to bring back multiple-output before Advanced Oil Processing should explain how the player would find an intuitive way to solve the lock-up without blowing up tanks / chests...
Adding solid fuel in science was in theory a good way to add a real sink for a oil at that stage. However due the long production time of the science pack you need it in minuscule quantities.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by jodokus31 »

I like the oil changes more compared to the proposals of last week
Especially:
- AOP is really needed, because of light oil in rocket fuel. Coal liquefaction would work too. And its far enough away to not put too much pressure on the player.
- Basic Processing is bad enough to consider changing to AOP soon. Even for megabases with max resources its worth to consider, maybe?
- Solid fuel from petro is not needed. Only, if you starving on coal...
- Bots in blue science might be a bit further, but it fits better thematically. Blue science can also be setup a alot faster

Early power could be still problematic, if efficient solid fuel is missing, but we'll see...

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by DanGio »

Theikkru wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:17 pm
Players are still taught the "wrong" way of doing things initially, especially for solid fuel now that only the petroleum one will even be available at basic processing.
About that : why even unlock solid fuel with basic processing ?
Suggestion : "Flammables" tech unlock all 3 solid fuel recipes, and it requires "Advanced oil processing" technology. It simplifies basic processing by removing 1 recipe & 1 item of it, and it gives Flammables a concrete reward.

Edit : but then Flamethrower gets behind chemical science again... nevermind :?
Last edited by DanGio on Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by IronCartographer »

Serenity wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:25 pm
vorku wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:48 pm
Thus, any proposal wishing to bring back multiple-output before Advanced Oil Processing should explain how the player would find an intuitive way to solve the lock-up without blowing up tanks / chests...
Adding solid fuel in science was in theory a good way to add a real sink for a oil at that stage. However due the long production time of the science pack you need it in minuscule quantities.
Making more chemical science requires more of other inputs as well. The only way to guarantee the player could blindly create non-blocking chemical science with multi-output is to precisely balance the output of the fractions with the inputs of chemical science, and there's no way to assume they won't mess that up by using solid fuel for other purposes.
Last edited by IronCartographer on Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by steinio »

Instead of moving robots to chemical science remove chemical science at all.
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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by arrow »

About oil changes:
We made slight changes to the numbers in the recipes - specifically, Basic oil processing results in a bit more Petroleum gas (45 instead of 40), and Advanced oil processing results in more Heavy oil (25 instead of 10) than before. This is because it was common to use Basic oil processing over Advanced oil processing when you needed a lot of lubricant for Express transport belts.
This aleviates my concerns about lubricant starvation. Thank you.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by irbork »

It's ok. I will get over it :lol:
I liked the cracking ratio of 10-1-7. I wonder if the new ration will be as nice?
Last edited by irbork on Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Ambaire »

My primary concern is that the devs appear to be dumbing down the game to appeal to the lowest common denominator, instead of creating a more intelligent solution (better tutorials, UI hints, etc).

Why change basic oil processing? Why not instead add 3 new specific oil processing recipes that produce heavy/light/petro gas at lower rates?

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by bman212121 »

So if I read this correctly, here's where it stands:

Basic processing is still king because it requires so many less things to worry about. You're far better off just doubling the pumpjacks than using Advanced oil.
Construction robots are still buried even deeper into the game than before
Rocket fuel is now considerably more expensive to produce
Flamethrower ammo doesn't require any oil processing setup to obtain now

So yea, I'm not seeing how any of these changes are positive other than to dumb the game down and make it generally more annoying. I guess at this point I might as well download the latest experimental before this mess hits the tree. I've been annoyed with the logistics tweak since that was paywalled behind a bunch of unnecessary science packs, but I've dealt with that one and sucked it up each time I had to deal with it. But these new changes are simply stupid, and mark a huge regression that is completely unnecessary. Guess Factorio had a good run, but it's just silly that you want to push forward with something that generated 30+ pages of complaints by the people who play the game.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Zaka »

Ambaire wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:37 pm

Why change basic oil processing? Why not instead add 3 new specific oil processing recipes that produce heavy/light/petro gas at lower rates?
+1

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Theikkru »

IronCartographer wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:31 pm
Serenity wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:25 pm
vorku wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:48 pm
Thus, any proposal wishing to bring back multiple-output before Advanced Oil Processing should explain how the player would find an intuitive way to solve the lock-up without blowing up tanks / chests...
Adding solid fuel in science was in theory a good way to add a real sink for a oil at that stage. However due the long production time of the science pack you need it in minuscule quantities.
Making more chemical science requires more of other inputs as well. The only way to guarantee the player could blindly create non-blocking chemical science with multi-output is to precisely balance the output of the fractions with the inputs of chemical science, and there's no way to assume they won't mess that up by using solid fuel for other purposes.
The requisite for precision is greatly diminished if the chemical pack simply requires more solid fuel, since solid fuel can be made from any of the oil products. Therefore, in the case where "too much" solid fuel is called for, an increase in oil production in general may be necessary, but a blockage cannot occur.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Avezo »

I were complaining about stuff like that right at the start when changes to science packs, chemical in particular were announced...

Better late than never I guess.

Now, if only you took a look at complexity of red circuits the same way - that it's too early in progression path to require them in chemical science packs as they are now...

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Rhamphoryncus »

IronCartographer wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:03 pm
There's still some concern about people building straight lines across input/output (since the refinery will only take 1 input and 1 output) and then being confused by "Can't mix fluids." when switching the refining recipe, as that has been observed a few times (Edit to clarify: With the input side pre-changes i.e. oil becoming water was enough to cause confusion, even without both input and output at the same time. Then again, output may make the problem/solution more intuitive :roll:).

However, at least by that point they'll have a working refinery and chemical science, so it won't be part of the "oil wall" all at once. :)
Maybe if "Can't mix fluids" also flashed the intended fluid types on the screen for a second, over their intended positions?

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by FuryoftheStars »

I'm still of the opinion that this change is wrong and that the whole problem is being tackled the wrong way. I also think it says something when looking at those images of recipes and fluids and when you remove 2 from the first picture of 15, only 4 others follow suit (and even then that's only because you modified one). Petroleum gas is being used for way too much, and this is part of the problem why things even back up as badly as they do in the first place.

I still think that there is a core understanding issue that should be tackled through further UI improvements and a tutorial.

I also think that if some rebalancing needs to be done by removing something and simplifying basic oil, then it should be light oil that gets moved to advanced and sulfur production gets moved to heavy oil.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by jcranmer »

Unfortunately, the FFF still doesn't address one of the biggest problems people had with the change. Many people, including myself, are of the opinion that the major reason oil is so complex is because it throws people into a multiple-output scenario in an environment where both the cause of issue is often unclear and the possible remedies are unclear. Sure, it defers the problem until you have the tools to solve it (i.e., cracking), but I predict that players will still move to advanced oil processing and then hit exactly the same issues at the same frequency--delaying it won't help them.

What steps are being planned to improve the comprehension of the multiple-output issues?

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by crambaza »

The Oil Changes:

Too bad you seem locked in to this.

Pushing back construction bots is not a "fun" change.

The suggestion made by the user last week, to have Basic Oil Tech produce Heavy Oil only which must then must be cracked down, was the most elegant solution. You learn about the different outputs, because you are making them when you crack down the heavy oil. It's like the game play becoming the tutorial, which is perfect. Then later when you ramp up to Advanced Oil Tech, the change can be plugged into your existing line. You hook up the Light Oil to the Light you have cracked from the Heavy. Same with the Pet. Gas. You are now working with multiple outputs like a champ! You taught the new player how to play efficiently. You taught them through game play.

Your solution to only produce Pet. Gas at the low levels is weird, and doesn't solve any issues. You pushed back the problem, and taught the new player nothing.

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Re: Friday Facts #305 - The Oil Changes

Post by Reika »

While this is definitely an improvement, it is a marginal one: I cannot say I am enamored with these changes, as they do not address some of the core issues:

* Having *any* refinery recipes be simple 1-in/1-out feels wrong, as it does not fit the theme of oil processing nor does it justify something the size of the refinery

* This new system still "teaches" players the wrong thing, such that they will have to massively refactor their entire oil processing setup once they switch to AOP from BOP. And need I remind you, unlike with items, deconstructing fluid handling systems voids the fluid, meaning if they have built this big mess of pipes with 50k stored PG, they will have to lose all of that in order to rebuild, or sit there and gradually consume it while waiting 12 ingame hours to actually do so. I have done the latter in many cases, in many games; it is not fun.

* Having BOP produce only PG and AOP produce all three still feels backwards, as the PG is still the most valuable product, and as such you would expect to get a better ratio-yield of it from AOP, not BOP.

* You have split the "oil wall" into, what? "Handling fluids" and "Handling fluids with multiple outputs"? Is the former even a wall at all, given that the player should already have some grasp of that?

* Making sulfur from PG still does not make a lot of sense from a chemistry perspective.

* There is still no better indications to inexperienced players that fluid is backing up or why than before, and that is arguably the crux of the issue.

* Moving robots later is still a terrible idea, especially given that they are supposed to be what the player entirely moves to for large-scale construction. As I said before, the later you move it, the less likely players are going to actually switch to it as a mainstay of construction.

And it introduces a couple new issues:

* The new chemical science recipe does not feel very chemical-y; the last one, as IronCartographer put it, could be envisioned as the engine burning the solid fuel while the red circuit analyses that; this one...feels ad-hoc.

* A rocket fuel recipe being solid fuel plus *more* light oil - which is the "intended" way of making solid fuel - feels weird. Not actively harmful, but just "why is there light oil in this recipe twice?". I guarantee you that people will start asking why you do not just add the light oil directly to the solid fuel recipe. It also does not make a whole lot of realism sense.
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