Everything I've learned so far...

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Zourin
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Everything I've learned so far...

Post by Zourin »

1. Belts are evil.
Oh you coy minx, Transport belt. Promising simplicity; an easy, comfortable lifestyle, and deliver nothing but stress and inefficiency along your little moving arrows. I've routed you, ridden you, split you, and made tunnels for you. I've learned better now, knowing you so well.

Anyone who's played with belts feels the pain of these words all too well. They move items around to wherever you tell them.. only.. they don't always. They back up, they run dry, they over lap, run under one another, and all too often sometimes run under themselves. They split, split again, and maybe split into one. Every step of the way, they're taking up huge amounts of space. To top it all off, it does it all one item at a time. Inserters have to work overtime to supply each individual item, one at a time, first come-first serve, into factories requiring many. Every item 'backed up' on a belt is an item not going to someplace its needed, and all too often, those belts are very, very, very long.

But I've learned better. I am the smartest resource allocator around. I can move things where they need to go, by hand, by car, by train, and by bot. With the right setup I can avoid gratuitous backups and reallocate resources to where they are needed without thousands of metal bits strewn about in labyrinthine corridors. The bearer of this revelation while looking at chests and Inserter Stack Size. Chests to store resources to flow into a particular product line, and from there, as few belts are used as possible. Chests can be used as in-between buffers, later converted into Requester and Provider chests where Bots can easily take over my role. Transient materials can be buffered in-line with chests too, allowing the Inserter Stack Size research to really take effect, multiplying the loading power that would otherwise be limited to single-transfers on a belt system. Those buffers can be hooked up into its own private RedNet, so that too many resources are not held in reserve.

Take advantage of chests, yourself, and your car to move materials around between individual product lines, and avoid laying out labyrinths of belts all over a facility floor. Only use what belts are needed. I still advise belts to run coal to power stations, and belts to run ore to smelting facilities. Rather than run massive coal lines to copper/iron smelters, set up a chest that can feed them. This will mean a much smaller resource drain having thousands of coal on backed up belts, and less headaches routing/building where that line would be. Reconfiguration is much easier when converting to electric furnaces.

2. Know your Tiers of Production
And produce each item separately.

Tier 1: Iron Plates and Copper Bars
Tier 2: Iron Wheels and Circuits
TIer 3: Steel and Advanced Circuits
Tier 4: Circuit Mods

Everything in the game is made of these in varying measures. Set up modular facilities to handle each one for output, ending in a chest/provider chest, in as simple a manner as possible. While furnace goods are pretty straightforward, Chip plants will always be the bane of your existance. Split them apart, modularize them, and you'll be happy you did. These are *resources* not GOODS, so make them separately and allocate them as needed.

eg:
Basic Chip Factory
Input: Copper Bars, Iron Plates.
Factories: Copper Wire (chest buffered), Basic Circuit
Output to chest: Basic Circuit

Advanced Chip Factory:
Input: Copper Bars, Basic Circuit
Factories: Copper Wire (chest buffered), Advanced Circuit
Output to chest: Advanced Circuit.

Because of the simple setup, you can convert basic chip factories easily into advanced just by changing an input chest and the second factory. Using a chest to buffer wire in-between means that Inserter stack size upgrades will make the Inserter more efficient, minimizing downtime in the final factory production rate. Using a smart inserter and a smart chest means that you can use a private circuit (I use Red wire) to tell it how much you want to buffer before it stops consuming more copper.

3. Clean vs Dirty: Both
Personally, I've found that you want both, and you want to do them in seperate facilities when possible. Take advantage of that train tech here once you get it to claim world real-estate.

"Red" (dirty) Factories:
Chip plants are the dirtiest thing around. Really. The resources required for advanced chips, mods, and personal armor modifications are massive, so these will be the best place to load up on your best Production mods to more efficiently use your valuable resources. Defend these well away from your resourcing operations, as a chip complex like this will be a beacon of pollution to Biters. The power draw will be massive as well, so consider a local steam power supply on its own grid.

"Yellow" (semi-dirty) Factories:
Mining arrays, electric furnace smelting, labs and just about everything else besides chip factories can generally be given a pair of basic 'Green" chips to dramatically cut down on power draw and pollution production.

"Green" (Clean) Outposts:
Solar Arrays and accumulator banks are best placed away from factories in unpolluted areas not prone to being along the path of Biter swarms. Having enough solar power during the day allows your steam plants to shut down, cutting off a small measure of pollution. Widespread 'green' chipping in most of your facilities will do very well in reducing just how much power you need to build. Try to reserve Accumulators for emergency laser tower power draw.

4. There's more real-estate than what you start with.
Even if you have a very resource rich starting area, it's generally bad to confine everything into that boundary. Once you have a car and some good gun upgrades, it's time to claim space for yourself. Even if you don't have trains yet, it's probably best to claim first, build second, hook up third anyway. You probably want to try a few different bases spread out a bit:

- Resourcing bases
Copper, Iron, Coal. In the case of the first two, smelt on site for the best results, and use green chips abundantly to keep them low-profile.

- Chip Base
As mentioned a few times, this is a base wholly devoted to the most annoying, dirty, attention grabbing, and royally pain-in-the-butt production. Virtually all your copper is going to get dumped here and burned out as fast as its delivered. There's just no avoiding it.

- Personal Production Base
Repair modules, Armor Piercing Ammo, Grenades, Rockets, Shotgun shells, Turrets, Walls, Combat Bots, transport belts, inserters, train tracks.. This is where you go when *you* need stuff. You don't need constant production, just enough to grab and go and build the rest on the fly. Best designed with a 'bay' for you to safely drive in with a car... with plenty of turrets in case you were followed.

- Research Base: Similar to to the personal production base, but designed for science! Off-siting the chip production can mean significantly tightening base design in general.

4. Don't Cross the Trains
This one was an easy lesson, hard learned, in how not to make the brain bleed. 1 item type, 1 train car. That's it. That will ALWAYS beat any convoluted and foolish attempt to properly (or improperly) sort mixed train contents when faced with the prospect of not only having to SORT items, but also deal with resource backups clogging out space for needed goods. Can it be done? Sure, but the best way to do it is to not have to do it in the first place.

If you look at the tiers, that's the prospect of 5 different core materials that need to get shuttled around: Coal, Iron Bars (wheels can be produced on site), Copper Bars, Basic Chips, and Advanced Chips. Stone you can shuffle around yourself, don't be lazy, as can chip mods. 5 car trains are not difficult to manage, and having more than one can mean continuous service and rapid transit between locales.

Also.. remember. Don't run trains to your "green" zones. Trains attract biters, and lightly defended solar arrays don't take well to having train-hungry biters pathing through them.

5. Personal Logistics Are Awesome
You've built an empire of factories, staved off the alien hordes, and created your own personal botnet to do all the legwork for you. Everything, except keeping YOU well supplied for your activities. Personal logistics are a godsend in this respect. At the very least, make sure you have plenty of ammunition and tier resources that will save you TONS of time crafting all the piddly wires and circuits yourself!

6. Cars have trunks!
If you pull up to an inserter, it will fill your car's trunk space (and fuel), just as if it were a train. The first consideration, of course, was the issue of running into the facility. This was easily fixed by using Long Arm inserters, which give a wider berth to park in. This also gave me another thought: why have only one car? Hop in a car, run it up to the coal plant. Leave it there to fill up on coal, and come back later and drive it down to the smelting facility where another arm can unload it. Why stop at one car? I can leave an empty car while I drive off in a full one!

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Re: Everything I've learned so far...

Post by ssilk »

Very, very nice. I don't know how, but I would like to reuse this nice text for the wiki, some subpage or so... Anything against :?:

To the point number 4:
If you use logistic bots in your train station there is no need to do anything what you described. They will store and they will sort for you. Much better, than any belt and with much less effort in building. Meanwhile I put everything in all wagons. Perhaps your statement is valid for a difference between basic raw materials vs. Iron plates vs. wheels -- that what you said in point 2: You should not mix the tiers. But that only because that is eventually more useable with different train stations.
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Re: Everything I've learned so far...

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Bots are.. dumb. They'll move things to provider chests fine, but if you, say, get a massive influx of Plates and it chokes their common storage, you'll eventually choke the unloading area, and then choke off the train. Perpetually building more storage is just a symptom of the problem.. you're pulling off too much stuff from the train. The problem though.. with mixed storage, is you need to pull EVERYTHING off the car in order to ensure that all needed deliveries can be delivered at all.

It's much easier to unload iron plates into provider chests, wired into a global "GreenNet' with smart inserters doing the offloading. They will sense if the base supply is flush with Iron Plates and not pull anything off the car. No sorting required at all, no particular need for cancerous storage growth. They will pull off what they need (plus whatever the base uses), and the train moves on. If the train leaves with a completely full car (in the case of factory back-up), then you don't have to worry =at all= that there was something on that car you couldn't get delivered.. the logistic is simplified. Only pull off what you need. Train arrives pre-sorted, and the only change between pre-bot logistics (belts) and Bot logistics are that you get to remove the buffer crates, secondary unloaders, and belt lines.

The biggest thing I've been playing with right now has been a "Beltless" design. More of a "Low Belt", but you will not believe how much simpler life is if you do some of the work yourself and rely on chests more than mind-twisting arrays of belts and splitters. Eg. Green Potions? If you have a chip factory (and you'll need them anyway) and a Gear factory, you can (and always seem to) whip up a few hundred basic belts without having to route factories around. Just throw a stack of chips and a couple stack of belts into a chest, feed it in, and let it roll for a half an hour. Output to a chest, swing by occassionally, grab the greens (and reds that just need plates), and throw those in a chest feeding your labs. The little bits of legwork that you're doing already are nothing compared to the time you save not having to run belt networks that may starve critical things later.

Image

That's it. That's the missile factory, and it's enough to keep me flush in missiles for quite a while. All it takes is.. iron and chips! It's also using an 'in-line' construction design where the belts I have to use are almost all under the factories.The short distances prevent having thousands of materials strewn everywhere. I can throw in piles of plates whenever, and chips stack to 256 and that factory (which looks almost identical) is also really easy to keep running whenever I need more chips without running belts from the copper smelters.

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Re: Everything I've learned so far...

Post by ssilk »

Zourin wrote:Bots are.. dumb. They'll move things to provider chests fine, but if you, say, get a massive influx of Plates and it chokes their common storage, you'll eventually choke the unloading area, and then choke off the train. Perpetually building more storage is just a symptom of the problem.. you're pulling off too much stuff from the train. The problem though.. with mixed storage, is you need to pull EVERYTHING off the car in order to ensure that all needed deliveries can be delivered at all.
Well, there is an element, which we miss till now: We need to be able to control the production, the mining sites. But generally train stations with bots is very useable, and also needed, because you cannot handle >10,000 items/minute just with belts. Even if belts are more efficient with total transport work when laying them in parallel lines: you cant bring the power on the street. And I'm sure, you'll need that many at any time. What logistic bots can do is to handle the non periodic income from the trains and modify it into a very constant stream for the furnaces. They are perfect for that job.
It's much easier to unload iron plates into provider chests, wired into a global "GreenNet' with smart inserters doing the offloading.
Hm. no. The whole wiring would make me crazy. I'm sure, wiring is not thought for that. But with 0.9 the the smart inserters can be controlled by the logistic network and THAT will make much more useful stuff possible.
They will sense if the base supply is flush with Iron Plates and not pull anything off the car. No sorting required at all, no particular need for cancerous storage growth. They will pull off what they need (plus whatever the base uses), and the train moves on. If the train leaves with a completely full car (in the case of factory back-up), then you don't have to worry =at all= that there was something on that car you couldn't get delivered.. the logistic is simplified. Only pull off what you need. Train arrives pre-sorted, and the only change between pre-bot logistics (belts) and Bot logistics are that you get to remove the buffer crates, secondary unloaders, and belt lines.
Well, I know that. :) I made some tries to bring that to run.
But in the end, I had really problems with the throughput. Unloading the chests with belts is really inefficient and there are always chests, which cannot be unloaded, because the next train is coming in. Train stations, which can handle everything are in total much cheaper and easier to built and have a much, much, much higher throughput. The trains must not be that big. You can use the train station to reload stuff. And so on. Never possible with belts, or not so easy to build and then it will always make problems. So I see only pro to use a own :!: logistic network at a train station
The biggest thing I've been playing with right now has been a "Beltless" design. More of a "Low Belt", but you will not believe how much simpler life is if you do some of the work yourself and rely on chests more than mind-twisting arrays of belts and splitters. Eg. Green Potions? If you have a chip factory (and you'll need them anyway) and a Gear factory, you can (and always seem to) whip up a few hundred basic belts without having to route factories around. Just throw a stack of chips and a couple stack of belts into a chest, feed it in, and let it roll for a half an hour. Output to a chest, swing by occassionally, grab the greens (and reds that just need plates), and throw those in a chest feeding your labs. The little bits of legwork that you're doing already are nothing compared to the time you save not having to run belt networks that may starve critical things later.
Exactly. My next factory I will try to find out, what happens, if I built the parts for the tiers you mentioned in "own factories". Own logistic networks for every "subfactory". The parts deliver the goods to other factories. Not by logistic network, but either with belts or by train. Of course, you need belts, to help the logistic bots to reduce the traffic for the most needed items. But the way you describe is with blueprints very useful, I'm sure.
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Re: Everything I've learned so far...

Post by Zourin »

Don't get me wrong.. bots are useful, especially replacing ME as the central logistic feature.

Loading/unloading isn't hard. For a 'Twelve Loader' you want on each side, a row of fast arms, a row of smart chests/requestors, a row of smart arms, a gap, and that supplied by a pyramid of splitters (3-2-1), and one last splitter upstream to feed across the tracks. This provides a semi-parallel loading scheme that improves throughput without a lot of real estate. The chests and smart-arms should be RedNetted (just for the loading station) so that not more than a full car is stored in the chests. No more than 25 wires and no running around to do it. It's even cleaner with bot logistics.

Unloading is much the same (splitters not needed), only you want the smart arms to unload and track the chests they're loading into. Set this to some reasonable number based on your consumption. If you set it to only store a thousand, it'll unload until it's backlogged by a thousand units, then stop. It doesn't matter how long it takes chests to *unload* as long as they do eventually if aliens (or you) eat your train.

Generally, you want a full train leaving, and a not-empty train coming back. That's when you know you're meeting the demand from all stations.

As for that screenshot, it's *really* compact as long as you're willing to run around feeding plates, bars, and chips to the things that need them. Almost all my factory 'sets' are three blocks wide. The exceptions so far have been the missile fac needing 1 extra block of width because it needs 3 ingredients, and the Advanced chip factory which is just a double-wide standard (7 blocks) because of the obscene amount of copper wiring it needs.

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