Pollution is counter-intuitive?

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Syrchalis
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Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Syrchalis »

I want to like the mechanic, not just because of the moral value, but also because of the general idea of "pollution bothers biters -> biters attack" but I feel like the mechanic is falling short in many ways.

TL;DR:
It's just not an elegant solution. Evolution (aka difficulty) should be directly related to the players factory size and tech level, not the pollution. Biters should attack in general, the intensity of attacks determined by evolution (aka player strength) and their chosen difficulty setting. Difficulty shouldn't rely on terrain (desert vs. forest), but on what the player selected and what he does in the game.

Pollution isn't good
1. As mechanic to increase the evolution (=difficulty) of enemies
2. As mechanic to tell the AI when to attack
3. at interaction with trees and terrain

The biggest issue I have with pollution is that you cannot avoid it in any meaningful way. Early and mid-game you produce a lot of pollution without much possibilities to do anything about it. Solar panels are somewhat expensive and inefficient in the mid-game and by then a lot of the damage has been done. Shortly after begins the late-game in which you start crafting modules, mainly efficiency one.

And this is where I feel the mechanic fails. Once you equip your mining drills, refineries and chemical plants with efficiency one modules that are pretty cheap to make, your pollution drops like a stone. For a very long time after that you will be invisible to aliens, not because you even wanted to, but simply because you were trying to reduce your energy consumption.

At this point players usually start using productivity and speed setups because there is no reason to care about pollution anymore. Your defenses can hold any attack easily, especially with the new uranium rounds and infinite research (1x infinite turret research and uranium rounds give turrets like 200 dmg per bullet... that's pretty ridiculous).

But shouldn't the game get harder as time goes on? Shouldn't it be easier at the start?

To recap:
1. A research/factory size indicator + time would work better than pollution as evolution factor, though pollution works somewhat okay early/mid game
2. The AI should not be bound to pollution to attack. It just makes the game completely random. The player has absolutely no control about where his pollution goes as he can't sow trees, can't revive trees and can't move resources where his miners will need to be. It creates very hard and very easy games just based on the density of trees, which brings me to the last point:
3. In the desert you will get attacked from all sides all day and in a dense forest you're invisible. New players not knowing this might get a much harder or easier game than they want to. Also people who don't like desert or forest (color, personal preference whatever) can be punished for their choice of terrain.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Tubig »

If you personally don't like the pollution mechanics, then you can effectively disable them using the advanced settings when creating a map.

I doubt the default game balance will be changed based on your objection, especially when you have the option to customise it to your liking.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Koub »

Syrchalis wrote:Evolution (aka difficulty) should be directly related to the players factory size and tech level, not the pollution. Biters should attack in general, the intensity of attacks determined by evolution (aka player strength) and their chosen difficulty setting.
I personnally think that this kind of design is the worst design ever. It reminds me of RPG games where when you're level 1, going through countryside, you only meet goblins and rats, and going the same place on endgame, you only find archdemons and liches. Or the same type of mobs, but with very endgame stuff they could never afford, just to "keep the feeling of challenge". Worst gaming experience ever.

I prefer the evolution as it is now, (even if I'd prefer a way to get it go backwards, but maybe this would be a bad decision too, I'm no game designer, there are some good ideas that are not so good). You can pollute like there's no tomorrow (but get high evolution), you can mae a small factory, with very small footprint, and pollute the absolute minimum, but beware, time is also allowing biters to evelve, although at slower pace, so if you take too long, you won't be prepared when the bigger biters will come. It's a nice balance.
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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Xeorm »

Haven't seen it be too much a problem for early players. The default difficulty is easy enough that it's hard to get screwed by the biters, even in a desert start. It does give an advantage to keep the trees around and like them, which I consider good. As otherwise I'd hate all trees too much. I need at least some reason to like them as it is. They get in the way, are a pain to clear until late game, and decrease in utility very quickly.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Maldor96 »

Tubig wrote:If you personally don't like the pollution mechanics, then you can effectively disable them using the advanced settings when creating a map.
You could also change some of the settings in that tab (if I remember right) to change how much Pollution affects the aliens, try out a few different settings and come back with some findings :D
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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by featherwinglove »

I actually love the pollution mechanic. I am a little annoyed that there aren't any vanilla strategies to reduce or clean pollution, and I enjoy having to race the pollution epigenetic clock as opposed to a real one. There are plenty of mods though. Including one to provide a little motivation :mrgreen: <-- Shameless plug, I know.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by aober93 »

Your proposal sound abit similar to the leveling mechanics in Oblivion. IE the enemies are directly related to the player strenght.

The pollution mechanic is a strong strategic component in the game. You want arcade gameplay, not good for a game like factorio

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Ranakastrasz »

viewtopic.php?f=91&t=21215&start=60

Outdated, but had an interesting approach. Planning to update it myself eventually, again, once I get around to it.

In effect
-3 Evolution factors, Time, Pollution, and Killing
--Same as vanilla, but each is tracked separately, and pollution + killing can go down over time.
--Evo Factor is sum of all 3 factors.

-Time increases to 0.2 over 24 hours, then stops.
-Killing increases to 0.3 after 120 spawner kills, drops by 1 kill per hour. I changed that to one/12 minutes, so that it falls off totally after 24 hours of no killing.
-Pollution increases to 0.5 at... lots of pollution. It changes every second or so scaled to current global pollution and scanned map size. As such, efficiency modules and otherwise cutting pollution cuts the evolution factor dramatically.

It wasn't well balanced, and I couldn't balance it well IMO, but it had an interesting effect. Pollution actively pissed them off, and if you cut your pollution, it would make the enemies less nasty.
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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by AcolyteOfRocket »

Syrchalis wrote: But shouldn't the game get harder as time goes on? Shouldn't it be easier at the start?
No, it should be difficult at the start (but not luck-based) and late game problems should be about efficiency, not existential.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Syrchalis »

Sorry to say this, but you guys are absolutely missing the points here or have no sense for what good design is or what is not.

Pollution does not make any sense. Granted, most of Factorio is very well designed, but pollution is not.

Difficulty in a game should go up with time. Take a campaign in Starcraft - first mission is easy, last mission is really hard - and this is despite the option to choose between 5(!) difficulty settings. It doesn't matter if you play on brutal, the first mission will still be a ton easier than the last.
Okay, but why?
Flow. To keep a player engaged you need to scale the difficulty in a way that it's not too hard and not too easy. Over time the player skill goes up, so the difficulty needs to follow. Factorio does this well in production chain and build complexity, that's the part that is well-designed. But biters do not follow this path:
Early, if you're close to bases (e.g. very small starting area + desert) can be brutally hard, especially if a base has a big worm. The more you progress the easier it gets dealing with biters. Facing big ones is a welcome spike in difficulty - that's what should be happening the whole way in small doses. Instead the game just gets easier and easier as you get more and more fancy tools to lolstomp biters. You could say the difficulty curve is reversed which is really bad. That was an enormous problem in XCOM: Enemy Unknown as well - anyone who knows the game knows how hard the early game is with untrained troops and basic rifles, while once you get laser or plasma guns the game nearly becomes a cakewalk, despite the much harder enemies. The player simply scaled harder than the enemies.
Same is happening in Factorio. The biters are challenging at the start but then don't catch up anymore with the player.

Show me a game where you are actually in threat of DYING to biters. Actually LOSING the game to them. Any player with a little bit of RTS experience will not have any issue staying alive against biters. A huge part of a game is a lose condition. Challenge is the key word here. Factorio offers other kinds of challenges, hence why biters could be neglected completely as mechanic and many play without them. However, if you play without biters you're missing any threat to lose the game. You can only win (except if you get hit by a train... but isn't it a nice indicator for the state of biters when getting hit by a train you built is a bigger threat than the enemies that were implemented to attack you?)

Back to pollution:
What does pollution do well? Essentially - it's name. The moral idea of you destroying the planet of the biters and them attacking you for it. That's what's good about the mechanic.

Everything else is sub-optimal.
Difficulty scaling: Does not work properly because enemies are too weak anyway. Pollution is a terribly indicator for player strength because of efficiency modules. Once you get them you are wealthy and biters should get a lot stronger, but instead you save a lot of energy, a lot of pollution (directly and indirectly) and suddenly are invisible to biters and halt their evolution as well, wait what? Hello, opportunity cost?
Desert vs. Forest: You cannot affect terrain. You can only reroll maps until you get what you want. What you want aesthetically could not fit what you want difficulty or gameplay wise and you can't help that.

About your points:
You can't change pollution triggering attacks in the options. You cannot give them proper evolution either. Sure you can make it super time-related, but that's even worse. What would be a good evolution mechanics is one that is tied to the amount of buildings the player has and his tech level. Small factory = less evolution. Better tools to kill biters = stronger biters.

Not sure what Koub means, because I personally don't enjoy running around one-shotting weak useless enemies in an RPG. No challenge, no fun.
aober93 wrote: The pollution mechanic is a strong strategic component in the game. You want arcade gameplay, not good for a game like factorio
I've not heard something so infuriatingly wrong from start to finish in a LONG while. What is STRATEGIC about pollution? You cannot reduce it when it matters (early game) you cannot direct it, you cannot choose it's origin, you get a free 60-80% reduction ones you reach modules ALONG with the same reduction in energy cost (meaning you get them for the energy cost reduction and pollution reduction is just a nice by-product) - the point in the game where you blindly run into biter bases guns blazing and they provide no challenge anyway.
Factorio is arcade gameplay. Some people have absolutely no grasp for the word "arcade" and throw it around mindlessly. There is little to nothing realistic about Factorio. Pollution is absolutely unrealistic and "arcadey" already but it's also a bad mechanic as well. I will never get those who throw around "arcade gameplay" to prevent good design from happening and prefer to have something pseduo-realistic that is outright bad for the game.
AcolyteOfRocket wrote: No, it should be difficult at the start (but not luck-based) and late game problems should be about efficiency, not existential.
Then why not remove biters completely after a certain point? Why not give a mid-game tech that removes biters and their nests in a huge radius? If they provide zero challenge then why have them at all?

You see, what you say is a way to do it, but it's not THE right way. One could do it that way. The most elegant would be to have efficiency and existential difficulty at all parts of the game, but both start low and increase over time. The sum of both needs to increase. Right now the sum of both is medium at the start, low in the midgame and medium at the end again - not the curve one wants.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Ranakastrasz »

About your points:
You can't change pollution triggering attacks in the options. You cannot give them proper evolution either. Sure you can make it super time-related, but that's even worse. What would be a good evolution mechanics is one that is tied to the amount of buildings the player has and his tech level. Small factory = less evolution. Better tools to kill biters = stronger biters.
True, but you can detect those kinds of things via script, and alter the evo factor via script.
Also, you can, to my understanding, manipulate attacks via script, and I think you can entirely disable innate attacks and script them instead, so that isn't impossible to change via modding.
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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Syrchalis »

Ranakastrasz wrote: True, but you can detect those kinds of things via script, and alter the evo factor via script.
Also, you can, to my understanding, manipulate attacks via script, and I think you can entirely disable innate attacks and script them instead, so that isn't impossible to change via modding.
That is beside the point. I can mod the game to my liking. I can also make my own game and design it to my liking, I did that already, you can find it on steam. My whole point is that pollution - as it is now - is not elegantly and well designed. A first step to making combat in Factorio better than "nuisance status" is to overhaul this mechanic into something meaningful that provides actual choices and makes sense.

Combat needs lots of help in this game. I doubt anyone would argue that Factorio has engaging, fun and deep combat. It doesn't need to be complex, it cannot be complex, Factorio is about factory building, efficiency, logistics etc., not combat - but that doesn't mean combat needs to be super basic, tedious and boring.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Delwack »

I think part of the problem here is expectations of what biters should be. You argue biters should be a challenge that threatens a lose condition (And hence provide difficulty this way). The way biters are (and the way I've always seen them) is they force an additional dimension on base construction, logistics, supply and resource usage when designing and planning your base to meet a need: a need for defense.

Biters in the base game aren't meant to be an existential threat at any stage of the game. Biters are meant to force the player to think about and invest in two things: a defensive design and a new production chain (military).

Biters are in service to the idea that choosing where and how to build your factory (forest vs desert) changes the defense and production chain considerations. This is similar to how you have different sizes and distances between iron ore patches (belts vs trains), or how you sometimes need to go on an adventure to find oil. I agree with you in so far as pollution and biter difficult are not well communicated to the player, especially in how things like desert vs forest effects pollution, and that is certainly something that should be mentioned somewhere (mini-tutorial? scenarios?). A small or large (or distant) patch of ore or oil by contrast is very easy to understand, grasp and start making design decisions around.

The net effect is not necessarily that biters be a threat to your base, but that biters alter your design considerations to provide a level of variety from game to game. You may delay military science in some games becuase you really don't need armor piecing ammo or turret upgrades due to heavy forests, in others AP ammo and an investment in a belt-inserter logistics feed mechanism is a requirement. Then, laser turrets trade logistics for power, a trade-off many people are willing to make. This perhaps suggests a balance issue, if the devs feel they are 'too easy', relatively speaking. Some of this has been solved with uranium ammo and flame throw turrets, but I'm still on the fence if lasers are still too much of a 'no brainer'. Even if we accept that lasers are a given, as biters get stronger designs still need to be revised to increase turret density (and thus energy draw requirements), and then as biter evolution continues the game manages to work logistics back into it again once the enemies are strong enough that the turrets need repair.

As to offensive combat, offensive combat is a component of the game where you are using the tools at your disposal to conquer land for your own purposes. The difficulty of this is mostly reflected in trying to overcome the worms, and spawner reinforcements. The evolution factor provides a decent level of challenge, and I find that offensive combat is decently well balanced now due the combat rebalance. The tank is now the choice tool in the midgame, giving you mobility, protection and the ability to project firepower.

In the past, many people found offensive combat with biters frustrating in the late-game becuase the only way to be offensive vs entrenched nests was to use turret creeping, which was not particularly fun. The devs clearly agreed with you when you said 'Then why not remove biters completely after a certain point? Why not give a mid-game tech that removes biters and their nests in a huge radius? If they provide zero challenge then why have them at all?' because now we have the nuclear missile. Even with no upgrades, a nuke takes out everything (except in some very rare cases a behemoth biter) in a substantial radius. You can also fire them off in rapid succession (say in an 8-point star around you) to effectively wipe out everything in all directions. It is the late game answer to conquering territory, making it fast, simple and easy (and usually available just in time for the tank to start losing a lot of it's effectiveness).

Returning to the defensive question, the challenge in biters is not in 'ensuring you are safe' from them; that is always possible and easily doable. The challenge in biters in calibrating your defensive setup, production, logistics and supply to meet your defensive needs, much like how you would design an iron smelter to meet your iron ore intake and out plate production and throughput needs. Insufficient design and supply results in player intervention, and consideration of superior designs so that player intervention no longer needs to happen. Overdesigns may result in you being able to simply not upgrade for a long time.

The options currently provided allow you to in the late-game need to be tuned to your factory pollution. Mining outpost? Don't want to create better or more advanced designs to include roboports, supply trains, and repairs? eff modules to reduce attack strength.

Base producing tons of pollution over concrete? create a more dense, train-supplied (for flamethrower fuel or ammo), better protected, self-repairing design, or conquer a lot of territory.

These are design decisions that influence your 'defense' need. Just as, except under the most punishing settings possible, you should never run out of iron and get 'stuck', your game should never be threatened enough that a biter attack would 'end' your game. The dimension biters add is you simply need to size your current defensive design and production to meet your defensive need, much the same as you size your furnace to meet your plate production needs. You don't want to spend every 30 minutes redesigning your 'defenses', much as you wouldn't want to spend every 30 minutes refactoring your smelter.

The point was not for biters to be an existential threat that provided you with a 'challenge of survival', but to force you to make design decisions and trade-offs in providing enough of the resource 'defense' in the same way you'd make sure your mines are producing enough of the resource 'iron'. You want to take full advantage of speed/production? You need to either conquer a lot of land to buffer your wall, or you design a defensive system that can self-supply and self-repair. Pollution is the mechanism that is supposed to give the player a sense of 'how much defense do I need?'. That it is somewhat clumsy in providing the player with the information, I agree. That the balance is way off becuase it does not provide a 'threat' to the player? I disagree. Could there we balance tweaks? Of course, but those options are also available in the game as is (same as with ore patch density, etc).

The point is military and defense of your base is in service to the main point of the game: designing your base to meet your goals and needs, and automating away your problems. This is a sandbox building game. Disasters in simcity (or more recently cities:skylines) should not threaten a game over: they should give you more things to think about as you design and build. Biters and pollution as they are accomplish this generally, a few balance issues non-withstanding (though this has imo improved significantly in .15).
Last edited by Delwack on Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by mtilsted »

Syrchalis wrote:Sorry to say this, but you guys are absolutely missing the points here or have no sense for what good design is or what is not.

Pollution does not make any sense. Granted, most of Factorio is very well designed, but pollution is not.

Difficulty in a game should go up with time. Take a campaign in Starcraft - first mission is easy, last mission is really hard - and this is despite the option to choose between 5(!) difficulty settings. It doesn't matter if you play on brutal, the first mission will still be a ton easier than the last.
I might agree with that over the course of a campaign, but difficult within a specific level/map should be constant. In a 12 hour game(Which is about what it takes to launch a rocket and win the game, depending on settings and abilities) difficulty should not change at all.

Also: Nobody uses efficiency modules(You are the only one I know who have written that they have used them). And without them pollution is almost proportional with factory size, so a larger factory will cause a larger bitter attack.

The point with having pollution and time cause bitter attacks is that on high difficulty settings, it requires the user to create an efficient factory*, so the user can get the needed research and defences ready before they cause so much pollution, and waste so much time that the bitters are to strong.

*With efficient I mean one which produces the things needed to do research and defence, without to much waste in resources and power.

Personally I wish power consumption was the same for idle and active buildings, in order to reward well balanced factories, but I digress.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by Tubig »

Syrchalis wrote:Back to pollution:
What does pollution do well? Essentially - it's name. The moral idea of you destroying the planet of the biters and them attacking you for it. That's what's good about the mechanic.
But that is not what this mechanic is about. This is not a enviromentalist propaganda game. "Pollution" is just the name of a game mechanic that describes global and local factory size.
Syrchalis wrote:Difficulty scaling: Does not work properly because enemies are too weak anyway. Pollution is a terribly indicator for player strength because of efficiency modules. Once you get them you are wealthy and biters should get a lot stronger, but instead you save a lot of energy, a lot of pollution (directly and indirectly) and suddenly are invisible to biters and halt their evolution as well, wait what? Hello, opportunity cost?
Efficiency modules require resource to build. Those resources could be used to build other items. That is the fundamental nature of opportunity cost.

Good game design provides comparible options where neither is clearly better than the other. In this case you have the option of building and using effeciency modules that decrease the size metric of your factory with respect to enemy evolution and attack freqency. Those resourses could alternatively be spent building more/better combat capabilities. Neither is decidely better than the other. Thus it is a good mechanic.

There is nothing that forces you to use efficiency mods.
Syrchalis wrote:Desert vs. Forest: You cannot affect terrain. You can only reroll maps until you get what you want. What you want aesthetically could not fit what you want difficulty or gameplay wise and you can't help that.
You can easily change the pollution dissapation rate such that your deserts absorbe the same pollution as a default forested. Decreasing the effectiveness of forests at absorbing pollution is more difficult in that it requires writing a mod, but it is also possible.
Syrchalis wrote:You can't change pollution triggering attacks in the options. You cannot give them proper evolution either. Sure you can make it super time-related, but that's even worse. What would be a good evolution mechanics is one that is tied to the amount of buildings the player has and his tech level. Small factory = less evolution. Better tools to kill biters = stronger biters.
Pollution is a measure of the number of buildings, with a weighting for the type of building.

You can control how far and fast pollution spreads. If you want attacks to come from all around your factory instead of just the areas closest to the polluters, increase the diffusion rate.

How exactly do you propose to measure the size of a base, if not by the number of active building which is what pollution does.

There will never be perfect agreement with respect to game balance. Why would we give extra weight to your claim that pollution is not balanced.

If you believe that your vision for game balance is so much better, how about your write a mod to implement it. It would not be hard to write a mod that disables the attack shielding properties of tree and sets all buildings to count the same towards triggering bitter attacks (ie set the tree pollution absorbtion to 0, have all building emit the same pollution and disable efficiency modules). You could probably even add triggers so that research triggers evolution increases. Test it out and prove to us that those changes make the game better.

If your revision of the game is better, then lots of people will download your mod. Otherwise, I expect most player will trust the current developers to balance the game effectively, and I expect that they have higher priorities that a complete reworking of the pollution mechancis.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by featherwinglove »

Syrchalis wrote:Show me a game where you are actually in threat of DYING to biters.
Easy.

You mentioned X-COM: Enemy Unknown, a game I'm not familiar with. However, I am familiar with Xenonauts, X-COM: UFO Defense (the original from 1994), X-COM Apocalypse, and X-COM: Interceptor (an abomination similar in both gameplay and reasons why to No Man's Sky.) These games have a progression in the enemies somewhat similar to that of Factorio, but it's only the calendar that ticks it along, slower on lower difficulty levels and faster on higher ones. If you get ahead of it, the game gets easier, but if you get behind it, the game gets harder, and can even get impossible if you fall too far behind because it is hard to recover from losing battles in these games (character ranks, equipment, ships, and even entire bases being lost when missions fail.)

Based on your big comment, it sounds almost like Factorio isn't the game you're looking for, and you'd rather be playing Halo 5 c/w social match making hidden ranks most reviewers consider an absolute abomination. I'm mentioning Halo 5 because it also seems like you've missed the basic point of Factorio: base building for rocket scientists. The appeal of Factorio is the design aspect that makes you really think about what you're doing, and as such it is not an RTS, RPG, or shooter. The problems that you have with Factorio (and X-COM) are the problems that I have with everything else turned into pluses, and it's pretty obvious that I'm not the only one.

I'm of the opinion that Factorio's biggest plus is an almost open-source-like ability to mod away any gameplay balance or quality of life complaint you might have. If you like brainfood base-building, but want more of a challenge with the enemies, you can add Hardcorio (good standalone, doesn't play very well with other mods), and Bob's Enemies sans Bob's Warfare (the latter gives you the tools to deal with the former, and they are crazy hard with just the vanilla equipment.)
Tubig wrote:Efficiency modules require resource to build. ... Those resourses could alternatively be spent building more/better combat capabilities.Neither is decidely better than the other. Thus it is a good mechanic.
Usually, one is clearly better than the other, but which one depends on the difficulty settings and mods, and usually requires experience and/or analysis to figure out if you're not making it obvious like with the Rail World preset. That makes Factorio awesome. Muddy Mountains has a serious problem: I'm playing a mod pack that makes 0.15 vanilla Death World preset look like a tutorial level, and part of the reason is because biter hive expansion is so aggressive. The bugs are literally at their most dangerous ever: it being 0.14, I can't even turn it down without typing and/or installing code (not that I would since it defeats the point of Muddy Mountains.) I have Bob's Modules installed, which means pollution cleaning effect is available once I have the mod pack's equivalent of red circuits. But there's still a problem: if the bugs expand into territory I've secured, but not well enough to prevent them from dropping by and making a new outpost, I need to kill those spawners in defense, and that's an epigenetic advance. That means that I need to wall them off to stop the evolution factor increasing just from defending my territory, and all enabled resources (I disabled stone because it's a huge waste product from two of the mods) are set to the lowest frequency. That would be impossible without some serious gear for fighting biters, so I have Bob's Warfare (along with Bob's Enemies), Additional Turrets, Ion Cannons, and Modular Armor Revamp.
Syrchalis wrote:You can't change pollution triggering attacks in the options. You cannot give them proper evolution either.
Oops, that's the oldest difficulty setting in Factorio, better known as "peaceful mode". That's another bit of text that makes me think you've missed the point of Factorio.

A related PSA for all who might be reading this: Factorio is not a death world survival game, and if that's what you're looking for, save your money for Don't Starve, The Long Dark, or SubNautica. You can't even mod Factorio into a death world survival game, and I know this because I have modded Factorio into the closest thing to it. I'm building huge factories just to make enough ammunition to survive and develop the next tier of weaponry before the bugs advance to the next tier of nasty spitters and biters. It still doesn't have that feel of death-just-around-the-corner I get in Don't Starve and The Long Dark (or even Minecraft.) If that's what you're looking for, Factorio is definitely not your game.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

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Tubig wrote: But that is not what this mechanic is about. This is not a enviromentalist propaganda game. "Pollution" is just the name of a game mechanic that describes global and local factory size.
...
Good game design provides comparible options where neither is clearly better than the other.
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Pollution is a measure of the number of buildings, with a weighting for the type of building.
If it actually worked out that way Id be happy, but after many playthroughs both singleplayer and with various people online, I feel it really doesnt. Pretty much however you tweak the map settings, the hard bit is the first few hours, then the difficulty massively drops. And this is with the way people naturally play, normally to save electricity or defend chokepoints rather than intentionally trying to reduce pollution...

Power Generation
Early game, you have no choice on how to generate power, it has to be coal (practically), boilers and steam engines. That generates a lot of pollution, but the player really has no choice other than to play a lot slower. There is no other form of power, there are no efficiency modules at that stage.

Mid to late game, coal just becomes completely unviable. You need a lot of steam engines, water, and a lot of coal. The coal being the biggest problem here, since it means the player has another thing they need to keep building many mines for, and naturally they will seek alternatives to that.

But... all the alternatives produce very little or no pollution (solar, nuclear). So later in the game the player drastically cuts their pollution output (coal boilers+mines) generally to make power generation easier, rather than to reduce biter attacks.

If solar and nuclear caused a similar amount of "pollution" (land/habitat destruction, radiation, etc.) and there was a separate but weaker "clean" solution then fine, but currently this mechanic just pushes the player to actually reduce pollution while advancing.
Efficiency Modules
Tier 1 (miners, assemblers, etc.) and 2 (furnaces) efficiency modules are easily the most used, and also fairly cheap, tier 3 has very few uses. To save 80% of your energy usage I often see them used before the far larger investment of tier 3 productivity+speed, and in many buildings where speed or productivity doesn't make much sense (end product assemblers, miners) for the entire game.

Most players will build these for the energy savings (although slightly less often now we have mid game nuclear), but it also directly reduces the produced pollution... So again the natural solution to some problem, reduces pollution as a side effect, and the player has no choice to have one and not the other.

Personally id rather just see a separate pollution filter module, and if t3 eff was buffed to 80% (or the min energy cap increased) something like "1x efficiency 3 + 2x pollution 3" could maybe give the current effect of doing both, but at far higher cost compared to doing one or the other.
Electric furnaces
Electric furnaces are more convenient since you dont need to deliver coal directly, and are simply better in late game because they can use productivity+speed modules, but steel furnaces cant. They also produce a lot less pollution, especially when you consider that the power generation at that stage likely generates nearly none. Again the player doesn't really have a choice, because they cant put productivity in steel furnaces, and even if they could, the need to deliver coal, especially compared to solar and nuclear is still a massive con from the logistics point of view.
Distance and water reduce pollution
People will frequently build a perimeter some distance from their base to make use of choke points caused by lakes (shorter perimeter length to defend) and to keep an area clear for future construction, or for the large amounts of space needed for infrastructure such as solar, and to some extent trains.

The problem is this convenience causes a lot of pollution to no longer reach spawners, and so again drastically reduces biters (compared to if you had your furnaces/boilers, then a wall, then a spawner just outside the aggro distance).
Separate outposts dont make much sense
So in regards to pollution this is mostly back to the distance problem.

Even on rail world / very-low resource settings, the distances between resources are not very far. And unless you disable water entirely (so boring, flatland) there are lots of lakes it makes sense to link up to defend very large areas.

And even if you did decide to build a defence around each mining outpost rather than the generally easier perimeter, then the biters will occasionally destroy a train, piece of track, power pole etc., for which there is no easy automated solution (so back to the large biter-free perimeter, and almost no pollution reaching them).
Biters dont build bases in locations to generate more attacks
Biters will build more bases in the general proximity (unless disabled), but they are slow to try and reclaim recently lost space, make no effort to punch-through weak perimeter defences to build in blocked empty areas with more pollution, and generally seem to spend most of the time "backfilling" areas that already had enough spawners for the pollution level (which personally I just find annoying, since it doesn't generate more attacks, and makes clearing take a lot longer).
And if you do turn the settings up vastly to make this aspect of the late game a lot harder, you would make the early game near impossible without a very good/lucky start position.
Damage techs reduce the resource cost per DPS
Not directly a pollution concern, but especially with infinite techs (and its natural for people to do research that is literally sitting there to be done), the amount of resources / effort you need for a given amount of damage reduce during the game. This is somewhat offset by evolution increasing biter hp drastically, but biter evolution is hits a cap, and few players have the patience to tweak the evolution speed to match their ability (especially in multiplayer, where people will join/leave causing the player progression speed to vary greatly).
The difficulty drops rapidly when the player gets construction bots
Construction bots allow turrets, walls, etc. to be built far quicker, and automatically repaired or replaced (and in the case of lasers, no ammo is needed). Increasing the biter difficulty generally makes the pre-robot game vastly harder, but once you have construction robots there is a big drop in difficulty.
Late game logistics network makes gun/flame turrets even less used
Not really a pollution thing, but the easiest way to make the ammo based turrets works is logistics bots to deliver ammo (at least to the area then unloaded to a belt along the line), but those are now late game. With laser turrets still being so cheap, powerful, and nuclear energy being so strong, every multiplayer 0.15 game I played just became lets build a solid wall of laser turrets.

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by wlfbck »

SyncViews wrote:
Efficiency Modules
Tier 1 (miners, assemblers, etc.) and 2 (furnaces) efficiency modules are easily the most used, and also fairly cheap, tier 3 has very few uses. To save 80% of your energy usage I often see them used before the far larger investment of tier 3 productivity+speed, and in many buildings where speed or productivity doesn't make much sense (end product assemblers, miners) for the entire game.

Most players will build these for the energy savings (although slightly less often now we have mid game nuclear), but it also directly reduces the produced pollution... So again the natural solution to some problem, reduces pollution as a side effect, and the player has no choice to have one and not the other.

Personally id rather just see a separate pollution filter module, and if t3 eff was buffed to 80% (or the min energy cap increased) something like "1x efficiency 3 + 2x pollution 3" could maybe give the current effect of doing both, but at far higher cost compared to doing one or the other.
Completely aside from the main discussion here, why would anyone ever, ever use efficiency modules? The only reason i produce a couple of them is for power armor mk2. It is just that much better to simply plop down another solarfield or steamengine line.

@topic: Pollution is fine, it's just that it is really easy to just wall of the map outside of pollution range and never really deal with biters again in late game, safe for some expansion. I would argue more for pollution having an environmental effect which continuously grows (bit like the creep in starcraft, but always growing).

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

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wlfbck wrote: Completely aside from the main discussion here, why would anyone ever, ever use efficiency modules? The only reason i produce a couple of them is for power armor mk2. It is just that much better to simply plop down another solarfield or steamengine line.
The problem with steam is like I said it just doesn't scale, you need more coal, more mines, more mines running out, so more effort building new mines... So as soon as you start getting a few hundred MW its very desirable to start reducing usage.
3x eff 1 in a miner saves 72kW (slightly wasteful, 2x has better returns). 72kW is 1.75 solar panels plus 1.48 accumulators, so that is a significant amount of space, and that solar (plus power poles, and likely roboports) is not much cheaper (than 15 red + green circuits).
For an electric furnace 2x efficiency 1 saves 108kW, so an even bigger saving.
Of course, mid game nuclear in 0.15 changes that somewhat (although Ive not run the math for kW per resource, simply not having to clear a vast area of biters is a win).

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Re: Pollution is counter-intuitive?

Post by wlfbck »

SyncViews wrote:
wlfbck wrote: Completely aside from the main discussion here, why would anyone ever, ever use efficiency modules? The only reason i produce a couple of them is for power armor mk2. It is just that much better to simply plop down another solarfield or steamengine line.
The problem with steam is like I said it just doesn't scale, you need more coal, more mines, more mines running out, so more effort building new mines... So as soon as you start getting a few hundred MW its very desirable to start reducing usage.
3x eff 1 in a miner saves 72kW (slightly wasteful, 2x has better returns). 72kW is 1.75 solar panels plus 1.48 accumulators, so that is a significant amount of space, and that solar (plus power poles, and likely roboports) is not much cheaper (than 15 red + green circuits).
For an electric furnace 2x efficiency 1 saves 108kW, so an even bigger saving.
Of course, mid game nuclear in 0.15 changes that somewhat (although Ive not run the math for kW per resource, simply not having to clear a vast area of biters is a win).
(Talking without nuclear)

I usually just plop these down: http://i.imgur.com/r4SUwHi.png Who needs space, it's free. Just chip everything with speed and production.

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