Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless? [edit: I was wrong, it's not]

Post all other topics which do not belong to any other category.
Woody
Burner Inserter
Burner Inserter
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2024 1:24 pm
Contact:

Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless? [edit: I was wrong, it's not]

Post by Woody »

Edit: I didn't think of using wood to make steam for coal liquefaction. Wood has a use case and doesn't need to be destroyed on purpose, so my post can happily be ignored.

tl/dr:
What is the design thought behind the decision to not give players sensible and automated ways to use wood?

Wood is an interesting and unique item in Factorio, as most players struggle in their end game to actually get rid of it. We acquire vast amounts of wood when we cut down forests via bots, and that wood usually sits around in storage chests without any use. Why doesn't the game give us an intended way to deal with it?

The possible uses for wood are lacking:
  • The recipes that use wood are few and either things you only build once (Shotgun, Combat Shotgun), that have objectively better alternatives (Wooden Chest) or are used in so small numbers that we use only a tiny fraction of our wood for it (small electric pole).
  • It can be used as fuel for several buildings, but all of them are replaced in the endgame by electric counterparts or, in the case of the boiler, by either solar panels or nuclear power.
  • Lastly it can be used as fuel for vehicles, but it is noticeably worse in vehicle acceleration and top speed than rocket/nuclear fuel. So if a player doesn't want slow trains/cars/tanks on purpose, it makes no sense to use it.
So, a player has to go out of their way to get rid of all the wood. They have to either fuel their trains with ineffective fuel on purpose, use ineffective and polluting ways to generate steam/smelt ores or they have to put wood in chests that they then destroy.

While this problem is rather unique and a bit interesting, it seems weird to me that there is no intended way for the player to deal with it. I neither want to destroy resources on purpose nor do I want to run all my trains on wood. Creating burner inserter loops that use the wood just to get rid of it seem silly.

It almost feels like an oversight by Wube, which is pretty much impossible, so it must be a conscious decision to not e.g. have an options to turn wood into coal.

Is there a reason why there is no intended or automated way to deal with wood? Is it to give players a puzzle with no boring solution à la "just build this building, solved", to let players come up with interesting methods to deal with this? Or is it something else, am I overlooking something? Because, while I appreciate the creativity it stirs in players, it is also rather annoying.

I know this will be different in Space Expansion, we can just dump it all into lava or space, but I am actually curious by the design philosophy behind this.
Last edited by Woody on Tue Jan 23, 2024 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tertius
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Tertius »

I guess there isn't a real (automated) use for wood, because there isn't an automated way to acquire wood and wood isn't growing back. Mines last their time, but as soon as you harvest wood, it's gone. A bit strange, because wood accumulates anyway, but that's the game mechanics. You can use it as fuel, but it's more tedious to build an automated consumer than to just destroy the wood.

As soon as I acquire 16 stacks of wood, I build a wooden chest from of the wood, put the rest of the wood into it, and drive over it with my tank.

Now that I write this, I imagine this kind of automation for it:

An assembling machine creates wooden chests and outputs it to the logistic network. Output inserter activation only if < 0 chests.
In the field, but in reach of the inner (orange) logistic network field of one roboport, there is one wooden chest, fed with wood by a yellow inserter that pulls the item from a yellow belt of 10 tiles length that is fed by a yellow inserter from a requester chest that requests wood. The wooden chest is wired with a programmable speaker. The speaker begins to squeak map global, if there are 800 wood in the chest.
If the speaker begins to squeak, I click my artillery remote and target the chest in map mode, so it doesn't matter where my character is currently.
After the chest is destroyed by artillery, bots will rebuild it from the ghost (and probably the inserter and part of the belt as well) and the cycle begins again.

The most expensive thing with this is the artillery shell, of course. Reminds my of the waste disposal industry here in Germany: extremely expensive tech for just managing the trash.

Amarula
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 511
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:29 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Amarula »

I can't speak to game design decisions, but Wube has always been incredibly supportive of mods and the mod community, and there are a number of mods that build on wood - looking at you, K2, with green houses to grow trees, ability to plant trees, rubber trees for making rubber, and actually using wood to make paper which is required for early science cards!
My own personal Factorio super-power - running out of power.

Tertius
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Tertius »

Growing trees has severe gameplay impact, because enemies are blocked by trees. Trees are not attacked by biters. For game mechanics, they work like indestructible, non-attackable entities. Biters are slowed considerably in dense forests, so you can fortify your base with an indestructible forest you grow instead of building defense walls you need to constantly repair. In pvp multiplayer, this is a thing to balance for sure.

I guess this is one of the reasons why it isn't possible to grow trees in the vanilla game. You can work out to balance the impact of course, but that requires time and work - work better spent (in my opinion) for better manufacturing/production features. I don't really care for better combat features.

Qon
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 2118
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:27 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Qon »

Tertius wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 5:17 pm
Trees are not attacked by biters. For game mechanics, they work like indestructible, non-attackable entities.
Wrong.

Koub
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 7203
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 8:54 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Koub »

Tertius wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 5:17 pm
Growing trees has severe gameplay impact, because enemies are blocked by trees. Trees are not attacked by biters.
I'm pretty sure I've seen trees (as well as rocks) attacked by biters when there is a path to where they're running, but pretty much obstructed by the said tress/rocks.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

Tertius
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Tertius »

Well, just the other day I expanded the area of my base with artillery and attracted huge amounts of biters, and sometimes they got lost in a forest. It may be they attacked single trees to open up a path that otherwise was blocked completely, but they took great lengths to cross a dense forest. Some biters even lost their connection to the zerg and stayed in the forest.

It's in no way similar to walls built by the player. If there exists some way through the forest, no matter how longish it is, biters will search and choose that way without creating their own way by attacking trees. If there is a way through a wall, biters only use that way if it doesn't make them deviate from the shortest path to the target by more than a few tiles. If they have to deviate more than a few tiles, they bite the offending wall part down. That's not what happens with trees.

Kyralessa
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 446
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 5:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Kyralessa »

Tertius wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 2:46 pm
I guess there isn't a real (automated) use for wood, because there isn't an automated way to acquire wood and wood isn't growing back.
This precisely. The game is about automation, so why would the devs include a required ingredient whose acquisition can't be automated?

As others have mentioned, there are mods that automate wood production and thus can justify including wood as a required ingredient. The various versions of Industrial Revolution come to mind, where you can build forestries to generate wood. In IR3 the forestries even cause trees to grow back (up to 50 per chunk) in case you like a forested look in your base. There's also the advantage that the forestries (as well as, of course, the trees they grow) eat pollution.

Woody
Burner Inserter
Burner Inserter
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2024 1:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Woody »

Kyralessa wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 7:41 pm
Tertius wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 2:46 pm
I guess there isn't a real (automated) use for wood, because there isn't an automated way to acquire wood and wood isn't growing back.
This precisely. The game is about automation, so why would the devs include a required ingredient whose acquisition can't be automated?
You seem to miss my point. I am not talking about making wood an ingredient for more recipes. That definitely wouldn't make much sense as wood production cannot be automated. I was talking about automated wood destruction/refinement, e.g. a recipe in the chemical plant to turn wood to coal.

My point is that wood in the late game is basically just waste that you have to go out of your way to get rid of, if you don't want your logistic system to drown in it. And that we don't get "proper" tools to do so, I find it curious that there are no intended ways to deal with it. Yes I can destroy my own chests or let my trains run slowly with wood as fuel on purpose, but in a game that is in every other way so perfectly thought through, this almost feels like an oversight.

To be clear: I am not complaining or looking for a solution, I am very, very, very happy with the game. I am just curious why the devs chose to make wood this kind of trash item without a way to refine it into something useful (except electric poles) or to have it destroyed automatically. Is driving your tank over wood filled chests part of the dev's vision, what they expect players to do?

astroshak
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 597
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by astroshak »

Wood is a fuel. Burn it as such. Put it into your furnaces, your boilers, or as a last resort your vehicles.

While you don’t want it to clog your logistics system, you can make use of that system to efficiently remove any wood you may have.

Woody
Burner Inserter
Burner Inserter
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2024 1:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Woody »

astroshak wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2024 2:23 am
Wood is a fuel. Burn it as such. Put it into your furnaces, your boilers, or as a last resort your vehicles.
Yes, those are the options that I listed in my post.
astroshak wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2024 2:23 am
While you don’t want it to clog your logistics system, you can make use of that system to efficiently remove any wood you may have.
Yeah, well, kinda. To use wood means to use outdated techs like non-electric boilers or to have slow trains. It means to play ineffectively on purpose. That is, as I wrote in my post, the question that bothers me, why the devs put an item in the game that you will have en masse that you wouldn't want to use, without an intended way to deal with it except to play ineffectively with e.g. slow trains.

I do have to say I feel inspired by Tertius' solution, maybe that will replace my wood trains. But again: Not looking for solutions or mods here, or reasons why we cannot grow trees, just thoughts of you why Factorio doesn't have an intended way to deal with the wood problem. Or a developer comment - do they post here? I made this thread here and not in the steam forums to have a slight chance that a dev might read it and feels like commenting on that design choice in a few words.

mmmPI
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 2743
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:10 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by mmmPI »

Woody wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 10:41 pm
My point is that wood in the late game is basically just waste that you have to go out of your way to get rid of, if you don't want your logistic system to drown in it. And that we don't get "proper" tools to do so, I find it curious that there are no intended ways to deal with it. Yes I can destroy my own chests or let my trains run slowly with wood as fuel on purpose, but in a game that is in every other way so perfectly thought through, this almost feels like an oversight.
You can also use wood in boilers to create steam for coal liquefaction or electricity to automate getting rid of it.

It is also possible to set the forest on fire with a flamethrower to reduce the amount of trees in the way of expansion.
Woody wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2024 10:41 pm
To be clear: I am not complaining or looking for a solution, I am very, very, very happy with the game. I am just curious why the devs chose to make wood this kind of trash item without a way to refine it into something useful (except electric poles) or to have it destroyed automatically. Is driving your tank over wood filled chests part of the dev's vision, what they expect players to do?
Only devs can answer this question for sure, maybe the intended way to play is to avoid destroying trees, so that you don't have to deal with the wood or maybe make a collection of shotguns or make defense perimeter out of wooden chest ? Maybe it's on purpose that you have to find a way that depend on the scaling of your base ;)

Koub
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 7203
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 8:54 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Koub »

I would be totally OK with a way to turn unused wood into charcoal : there are many uses for coal, including a "mandatory" sink (plastic bars), on top of avoidable uses (coal liquefaction, explosives, grenades for personal use or military science, ...).

I can imagine a factory that has a need neither for coal liquefaction, nor for grenades or explosives. Enough crude oil, and no need for military research, a factory fully powered by solar or nuclear, with electric furnaces, and there is no natural sink for coal.

I can imagine a factory for which wood would be suboptimal to use : solar/nuclear only power electric furnaces, and trains fuelled by the best fuel, once again, no natural sink for wood.

However, any factory past blue science has mandatorily a coal sink in form of plastic bars. Giving us the way to transform any excess of wood into coal would be an elegant solution, no matter the absence of need for wood in itself.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

FuryoftheStars
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 2541
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by FuryoftheStars »

As mod solutions have been mentioned, but they are all overhaul mods (so do a lot more than simply give an alternative to wood), I'm just going to plug in here that there are smaller mods out there giving a new use to just wood, like gasification and/or charcoal, and other mods that allow trees to regrow or give an actual way to automate growing and farming them.

Aside from that, while I, too, wish trees had been given a little more attention in the game, ultimately I think some of the suggestions were exactly the line of thinking by the devs, namely using wood as a priority fuel for main/backup power generation and/or to generate steam for coal liquefaction.

It might be good to maybe give another use for it, too, but also consider: if one is trying to be so "green" and avoid polluting as much as possible... why are they clear cutting the forests instead of building around them. ;)
My Mods: Classic Factorio Basic Oil Processing | Sulfur Production from Oils | Wood to Oil Processing | Infinite Resources - Normal Yield | Tree Saplings (Redux) | Alien Biomes Tweaked | Restrictions on Artificial Tiles

astroshak
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 597
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by astroshak »

To get rid of excess wood I set up a second power grid. It consists of some boilers and steam engines, however many I feel appropriate, and then however many radars that they can power. I aim for the full power draw from the boilers to maximize wood burning speed. The inserters that feed the boilers, however, are on the main grid.

Once setup (I reuse the early boiler power plant for this) it is a passive systemic elimination of wood from my logistics system. My garbage train brings all kinds of wood, coal, and stone from various outposts. This means those things enter the logistics system regardless. Coal and stone have their uses (plastic and rails or landfill). Wood gets incinerated.

Woody
Burner Inserter
Burner Inserter
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2024 1:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by Woody »

mmmPI wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2024 6:50 am
You can also use wood in boilers to create steam for coal liquefaction or electricity to automate getting rid of it.
... I feel like a giant fool. My whole post is kinda invalid, YES, this is what I have overlooked. Wood isn't useless and you don't have play inefficiently on purpose or waste it on purpose, the late game use case is steam for coal liquefaction! I even remember back then when they implemented that tech and I was a bit weirded out before I started to use it. But I never made that connection to wood, because, well, the coal for the steam is right there anyway.

Thanks!

Tertius
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless? [edit: I was wrong, it's not]

Post by Tertius »

My final contribution to this thread :twisted:


2024-01-23 21-12-08 start=5 length=25 fps=30.mp4
(1.3 MiB) Downloaded 34 times

aka13
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 684
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless? [edit: I was wrong, it's not]

Post by aka13 »

Should've been a nuke :D
Pony/Furfag avatar? Opinion discarded.

mmmPI
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 2743
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:10 pm
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless?

Post by mmmPI »

Woody wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2024 7:37 pm
... I feel like a giant fool. My whole post is kinda invalid, YES, this is what I have overlooked. Wood isn't useless and you don't have play inefficiently on purpose or waste it on purpose, the late game use case is steam for coal liquefaction! I even remember back then when they implemented that tech and I was a bit weirded out before I started to use it. But I never made that connection to wood, because, well, the coal for the steam is right there anyway.

Thanks!
I don't think your post is invalid, because other players could feel the same and you made an exhaustive lists, it was a pleasure to try and complete, there was more post "trees are the ennemy" before coal liquefaction, and really trees are not ennemies they provide oxygen for free and absorb pollution, and or can be used to make plastic ... sort of, they are used in a process that can yield plastic bar, let's spread the words trees are great !

I'm not sure if using coal to generate steam for coal liquefaction when there is no wood available is better than using solid fuel made from light oil gotten from the coal liquefaction. Maybe there was a forum post about that, it's impossible to remember everything anyway :)

Koub
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 7203
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 8:54 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a specific reason why wood is so useless? [edit: I was wrong, it's not]

Post by Koub »

Yet coal liquefaction is not mandatory to get arbitrarily far into the fame, so being compelled to set it up just for the sake of getting rid of one's wood feels off.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

Post Reply

Return to “General discussion”