Belts vs Bots - A response to FFF #224

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ActofTreason
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Belts vs Bots - A response to FFF #224

Post by ActofTreason » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:56 am

Hello,

My name is Tyson and I am the creator of the board game Act of Treason (http://www.playaot.com)

After reading this weeks FFF I decided I would comment on it as I am an avid lover of game design and discussions surrounding it.

Mods, if this post is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it.

Twinsen discussed the idea of potentially removing bots from the game, which is an interesting consideration. The goal is to make the best game possible, and the hypothesis is that robots are overpowered and take away from some of the fun and complexity of the game that using belts encourages.

While I agree with much of what Twinsen said - I too personally enjoy belts over bots for much the same reasons as Twinsen listed - With that said, I think that including bots in Factorio does not dampen or remove any fun from the game due to the type of game Factorio is. Quite the reverse, I think bots add to the game and I would like to lay down the case for bots being included based on their own merits. I think bots ultimately improve Factorio. I understand that the decision of the FFF was to keep bots within the game. However, I think it's important that we have the discussion and that the case for bots stands on their own merits.

First, let us break down what type of game Factorio is and what makes it fun to better inform our discussion. For background reading may I suggest my article on what makes games fun if you want to learn more about the different aspects of games and why we enjoy them. You can read that supporting article here (http://blog.playaot.com/2017/12/the-dom ... makes.html).

Factorio is not a competitive game, but a creative and problem solving one which also greatly benefits from a sense of discovery and progression. As such, balance considerations do play a small part in Factorio, but are far less significant than in other games, such as counter-strike where players are highly incentivized to choose the dominant strategy if they want to win. In Factorio there is a dominant strategy, but there is very little incentive to choose it. It is a question of creativity instead of competition. In fact, as long as nothing is absurdly broken or useless, balance should not negatively impact player enjoyment in Factorio.

We see that there is a healthy debate over belts versus bots in the community. With myself, Twinsen and some others all saying belts > bots. But how can this exist when bots are apparently overpowered in comparison to belts?

Since Factorio is predominately a creative & problem solving game, it comes down to player preference. Players can build their factories however they like including self limiting the number of trains they use, robots they use, circuits they use, etc. This can make the game more difficult for some players, but they choose to self opt into this increased difficulty on purpose. Is it for their own enjoyment? How can this be? Well Twinsen actually answers this question himself quite succinctly in his own post: “I also believe that building belts is way more fun due to it's inherent complexities, challenges, and emergent situations” Players use belts instead of bots because it's more fun! Because Factorio is not competitive, players are incentivised to play the game in a way they they find most fun, not which will most likely grant them a win. Winning is only a small part of the fun in Factorio. This means playing anyway under the sun is completely valid. There are clearly people who prefer bots over belts for their various reasons. We all have our subjective idea of what is fun. Factorio being a sandbox game should be open to letting players play however they feel is most fun.

Besides... Belts are already > bots in many ways. Let's examine some ways to play Factorio so that we can see what I’m talking about in practice:

Speedrun: I’ve never seen a fast speedrun of Factorio that includes bots and I don’t think I ever will. Bots are not a dominant strategy when trying to launch a rocket as quickly as possible as the cost to acquire bots does not pay itself off.
Deathworld: By the time a player can research bots, the deathworld is likely already to a point where you can survive easily. Even if that weren’t the case, the opportunity cost of researching bots isn’t likely worth it. One can simply continue to use belts which are cheaper to produce and ultimately perform the same function. The time and resources spent on getting bots are better spent on something which would have more benefit.
Megabase: Same as Standard and Marathon except there is even less emphasis on “winning” and more emphasis on creativity and problem solving. As such there is even more emphasis on player preference. If you want to build a base only using trains, that’s entirely valid and your call even though it’s not optimum.

We can see that when the game actually gets “competitive” or “difficult” where speed, efficiency and effectiveness plays an integral role, belts are the better choice instead of bots it seems.

In addition, bots allow players to find unique solutions to problems that would be otherwise impossible using just belts. These solutions may have their own intricate complexities that make them fun to try and figure out. Thinking about Twinsens quote from before “I also believe that building belts is way more fun due to it's inherent complexities, challenges, and emergent situations (the most common example being belt balancing).” If I use a bot system to solve a problem that I am working on, and that system is sufficiently complex in its own right, I’m actually tapping into the exact same fun fundamentally as I would be if I were using belts. The difference is that belts may not have the ability to perform the task that I am trying to use bots for.

The anti bot argument seems to stem from the fact that there exists some factorio players out in the world that use bots because they are more powerful and yet these players find them less fun to use. I would be interested to hear from any players who this actually describes. I doubt many players like this exist, and even if they do, I am tempted to say they are working against their own interests for a reason that I don't yet understand. Yes bots are are an “easier” way to play, but they are not optimum or else they would dominate in speedrun and deathworld games. (Edit: I elaborate on this in my reply below as I don't cover late game optimal setups that aim for science per second. Yes, bots are optimal for late game, but I do not think their removal from the game would improve how fun optimal late stage gameplay would be.)

In conclusion, I don't think bots dampen any of the Fun of factorio, and instead allow for even more of what makes the game so fun - discovery, progression, creativity & problem solving.

Thanks for reading and I'm very eager to hear your responses.

Cheers,
Tyson
Last edited by ActofTreason on Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by bobucles » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:34 pm

the hypothesis is that robots are overpowered and take away from some of the fun and complexity of the game that using belts encourages.
Let's step back for a minute. The game's primary goal is to build a rocket. Do bots vs belts work have a good balance inside this domain? In my opinion, yes. The balance of bots vs. belts between game start and rocket launch is actually pretty good. Belt spaghetti is the driving force behind building your factory for most of the game. The emergence of the bot network happens very late and players use those bots to deal with a handful of oddball requests. Then the rocket gets launched, cue fireworks, good game you won. This is exactly as the devs intended.

I think Twinsen has his head stuck in postgame land. He's seeing players finally reaching Factorio's breaking points in the post post post game, but treating it like a flaw in the main campaign. It's not. Players are reaching those breaking points because their objective is to literally break the game. The distance they have to go to reach those breaking points is nothing short of ridiculous, and the devs should be proud that players have to try so damn hard to finally break something. But step back and put things into perspective. Any balance discussion outside the game's main objective is literally, LITERALLY beyond the scope of Factorio. It's fun to see how far the post game can go, and if you have crazy new tools that help players to go even further beyond that's great. However, game balance in the post game is ultimately not that important. It's certainly not worth game sweeping changes that compromise the enjoyment of the main game.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by m44v » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:55 pm

ActofTreason wrote: Since Factorio is predominately a creative & problem solving game, it comes down to player preference.
Right, but I disagree that balance is a small consideration in Factorio just because there's no competition, when there's a mechanic that is a one-size-fits-all solution and is simple to use it, it trivializes the creative part of the game. Bot bases are reduced to rows of assemblers flanked by beacons and roboports. Player's preference is usually the path of least resistance, not of the most fun.
Besides... Belts are already > bots in many ways. Let's examine some ways to play Factorio so that we can see what I’m talking about in practice:

Speedrun: I’ve never seen a fast speedrun of Factorio that includes bots and I don’t think I ever will. Bots are not a dominant strategy when trying to launch a rocket as quickly as possible as the cost to acquire bots does not pay itself off.
Deathworld: By the time a player can research bots, the deathworld is likely already to a point where you can survive easily. Even if that weren’t the case, the opportunity cost of researching bots isn’t likely worth it. One can simply continue to use belts which are cheaper to produce and ultimately perform the same function. The time and resources spent on getting bots are better spent on something which would have more benefit.
A speedrun isn't the typical game in factorio, is something you do for get the achievement and never again.
I don't see why you wouldn't switch to bots in a deathworld scenario, because it's late in the techtree? If you need the scalability of bots you don't stick to belts.
Megabase: Same as Standard and Marathon except there is even less emphasis on “winning” and more emphasis on creativity and problem solving. As such there is even more emphasis on player preference. If you want to build a base only using trains, that’s entirely valid and your call even though it’s not optimum.
You will have to define what you mean by "megabase" here, because is universally told that for megabases bots are superior, thanks to their scalability. The scalability of logistics bots is the problem with them, not the idea of the bots. A 1k SPM megabase is possible with belts but almost nobody will attempt to, since with bots they're much simpler and faster to design and to scale, and buffing belts won't change that, it will just move the goalpost.
Yes bots are are an “easier” way to play, but they are not optimum or else they would dominate in speedrun and deathworld games.
A speedrun and a deathworld isn't something that most players do, why would you use them for justify a mechanic that trivializes the problem solving aspect of Facotorio in the scenario that most players play? Nobody is going to remove logistics bots, but their scalability IMO should be addressed.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Frightning » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:46 pm

m44v wrote:~snip~ Bot bases are reduced to rows of assemblers flanked by beacons and roboports. ~snip~
This is actually not the fault of bots, but rather of beacons and modules and how they currently work. The result of their current mechanics is that there really is only one optimal layout for endgame production blocks: and that is the alternating rows of beacons and assemblers with prod modules in assemblers if applicable and speed modules in the beacons. I, for one, think that the complaint about bots OP is blaming the wrong thing. If anything, it's the fact that there is only one optimal layout that is at fault for the uniformity of design we see in endgame production blocks.
Last edited by Frightning on Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Karlito15 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:46 pm

bobucles wrote:
the hypothesis is that robots are overpowered and take away from some of the fun and complexity of the game that using belts encourages.
Let's step back for a minute. The game's primary goal is to build a rocket. Do bots vs belts work have a good balance inside this domain? In my opinion, yes. The balance of bots vs. belts between game start and rocket launch is actually pretty good. Belt spaghetti is the driving force behind building your factory for most of the game. The emergence of the bot network happens very late and players use those bots to deal with a handful of oddball requests. Then the rocket gets launched, cue fireworks, good game you won. This is exactly as the devs intended.

I think Twinsen has his head stuck in postgame land. He's seeing players finally reaching Factorio's breaking points in the post post post game, but treating it like a flaw in the main campaign. It's not. Players are reaching those breaking points because their objective is to literally break the game. The distance they have to go to reach those breaking points is nothing short of ridiculous, and the devs should be proud that players have to try so damn hard to finally break something. But step back and put things into perspective. Any balance discussion outside the game's main objective is literally, LITERALLY beyond the scope of Factorio. It's fun to see how far the post game can go, and if you have crazy new tools that help players to go even further beyond that's great. However, game balance in the post game is ultimately not that important. It's certainly not worth game sweeping changes that compromise the enjoyment of the main game.
Interesting point you make here. But I think you miss the point of Factorio a bit. Factorio is most definitely not over when the first rocket is launched. Yes, it is the end point in the "campaign" and for a lot of fancy runs (speedrun, deathworld...).
But it's not the intended end of the main game. It's a transition point from one major part of the game to the other. With the first rocket you have done (more or less) everything that would be new. After that starts the process of scaling up, outposting, better automation and much more.
This was even acknowledged by the devs in 0.15 with the introduction of the space science and infinite researches. This whole branch of the game starts per definition with the first rocket.

Building a megabase (in a broad sense) is something, that most players will do after some time. After you startet you first rocket x amount of times in x bases with different settings, nearly everybody will reach the point, where you will keep playing a base after the first rocket and reach some level of megabase with it.

My point is: Yes, from the start of the game to the first rocket, the belt-bot thing is well balanced. You need belts for the most time, and when you can get bots, it's optional if you want to invest the ressources/time or stay with belts.
BUT, after that, when attempting to build something like a megabase, bots are just the way to go.
I just recently build a base for reaching 10 science per second. I needed nearly 1k Green Circuits per second for that. That would be 25 blue belts of Green Circuits. Or 65 beaconed, moduled and botted assemblers in a nice, little rectangle.
Yes, it is possible with belts, but it is much much more easy with bots.
And this example is not over the top, breaking the game. It's for 10 science per second, which counts as a quiet small megabase (if i'm right) and is most definitely in the mind of the devs when considering design changes.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by m44v » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:27 pm

Frightning wrote:
m44v wrote:~snip~ Bot bases are reduced to rows of assemblers flanked by beacons and roboports. ~snip~
This is actually not the fault of bots, but rather of beacons and modules and how they currently work. The result of their current mechanics is that there really is only one optimal layout for endgame production blocks: and that is the alternating rows of beacons and assemblers with prod modules in assemblers if applicable and speed modules in the beacons. I, for one, think that the complaint about bots OP is blaming the wrong thing. If anything, it's the fact that there is only one optimal layout that is at fault for the uniformity of design we see in endgame production blocks.
Well, that's a matter of perspective, from mine, such design is possible because bots allow to cram as much throughput as you want in little space with little effort, making it optimal. Even if you change beacons or something so it isn't optimal anymore, the bot build would still be the most trivial. I'm not saying that everyone should learn the pain of dealing with 20 rows of blue belts, just that bots should have a gameplay mechanic so that raising throughput isn't just a matter of cramming roboports.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by BlakeMW » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:21 pm

Frightning wrote: This is actually not the fault of bots, but rather of beacons and modules and how they currently work. The result of their current mechanics is that there really is only one optimal layout for endgame production blocks: and that is the alternating rows of beacons and assemblers with prod modules in assemblers if applicable and speed modules in the beacons. I, for one, think that the complaint about bots OP is blaming the wrong thing. If anything, it's the fact that there is only one optimal layout that is at fault for the uniformity of design we see in endgame production blocks.
Exactly this. I wonder if the game would be better if beacons only had 1 tile of radius. You could still make fairly convenient setups where assemblers enjoy between 3 and 7 beacons, and unlike the 2 radius beacons I don't think there would be anything as dominating as alternating rows, and more importantly it wouldn't favor bots for game mechanical reasons: bots might still be more friendly for UPS or convenience reasons but they wouldn't be a way to straight up double the effective utility of your Speed3/Prod3 modules.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by ActofTreason » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:20 am

Thanks for the responses guys. Definitely food for thought. I can see I neglected talking more in depth on late game optimal play where the crux of this discussion is really taking place - hopefully I can do it justice in my reply here.

Also, not trying to be antagonistic with any of my replys, I know it can sometimes be hard to tell over text. Just trying to state my thoughts and positions - very happy for people to be thoughtfully and critically examining my point of view which is what I see here, so thank you.
bobucles wrote:Any balance discussion outside the game's main objective is literally, LITERALLY beyond the scope of Factorio.
I agree with much of what you're saying bobucles, but I disagree here. Factorio is very much a sandbox game, late game needs to be an important consideration as many players play at that late stage and it is still very much a part of the game that players enjoy.

I can agree that balance for late stage games plays a significantly diminished role, but it's still important to ultimately have everything balanced. I think to make the best game, early game and late game mega bases need to be balanced to account for all players and valid playstyles. My argument is that bots are balanced enough at all stages of the game, and in my opinion do not impact the fun of many players and playstyles. Conversely removing bots would negitively impact many players and remove a large element of fun from the game.
m44v wrote:Player's preference is usually the path of least resistance, not of the most fun.
Players preference is usually towards the most fun choices, until they are incentivised enough to pick a choice that is less fun directly, but more fun in other aspect such as increase win likeliness, ease of use, etc, etc. I understand that may sound like nit picking in regards to your response, but all players are different and will experience the fun of a game differently. Not all players will take the path of least resistance for any given situation. Players will respond to incentives.

Personally, I almost never use bots except in the instances where I must because the task is impossible to perform with belts. I understand that this makes the game harder for me, but I prefer the self imposed challenge. I almost never aim for optimal play when playing Factorio as this doesn't interest me as much as playing and aiming towards other goals.
m44v wrote:A speedrun isn't the typical game in factorio, is something you do for get the achievement and never again. I don't see why you wouldn't switch to bots in a deathworld scenario, because it's late in the techtree? If you need the scalability of bots you don't stick to belts.
I'm just highlighting the advantage that belts have over bots in the early game - Which I suppose is a little off topic because ultimately I do think the crux of the argument is "Bots are the dominant strategy for late game play & bots are less fun to use than belts". I will elaborate on this point at the end of this reply. And yes, you might swap to bots in a deathworld game if you are so inclined. I never ruled that out in my post. I'm just stating that they are not a dominant strategy for survival or for launching a rocket. If your end goal is to get 20 science per second, then yes, bots become a dominant strategy.
m44v wrote:You will have to define what you mean by "megabase" here, because is universally told that for megabases bots are superior, thanks to their scalability.


I take your point. I think it would benefit us to split Megabases into two types: optimal Megabases and creative Megabases. I assume you will see some of each type within the factorio playerbase. Interestingly, as I alluded to before - these are directly competing playstyles - the more you play for optimization, the less you can be "creative" in the sense that you can do as you like. Optimisation by its nature requires using the best solution which means there is only one (or very, very few) dominant strategies, as such there isn't much room for choice. If you are attempting to optimize then you will be following the dominant strategy, which is currently bots. I do not think that changing the dominant strategy to belts would ultimately improve how fun the game is.

Dominant strategies are ultimately boring because they restrict player choice. What's interesting is trying to discover the dominant strategy, not using it. It doesn't matter if the dominant strategy was belts or bots - the fact of the matter is you would just replicate whatever was the best thing to do. Belts might be more "complex" to use, but once you understand how to use them most optimally, the layout required etc, they too would become trivial imo.

You can see this with almost any game - Lots of people enjoy Sudoku, but as soon as you tell them how to play optimally, the game becomes trivial and wining is easy. For a Rubik's cube, one only needs to learn a simple strategy and then completing the puzzle is easy. To increase the challenge, one must complete the puzzle blindfolded or within a time frame, etc.
m44v wrote:A speedrun and a deathworld isn't something that most players do, why would you use them for justify a mechanic that trivializes the problem solving aspect of Facotorio in the scenario that most players play? Nobody is going to remove logistics bots, but their scalability IMO should be addressed
I wasn't using them to justify the existence of bots. I was just stating that there exists many playstyles that are not impacted by bots and which actually favor belts. Again, I will admit that is may be divergent from the central point of contention, never the less I am interested in game design so I rambled and covered it as I find it to be interesting.

---

In conclusion, I think bots add more to the game compared to what take away. I will agree that bots do impact late game optimal play, but not negatively so. I think if you were to remove bots then you'd be taking away more from the game and adding very little in return. I also think that if you were to buff belts or nerf bots you'd simply be changing the dominant strategy - again, without much real benefit imo.
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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by greaman » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:50 am

ActofTreason wrote: In conclusion, I think bots add more to the game compared to what take away. I will agree that bots do impact late game optimal play, but not negatively so. I think if you were to remove bots then you'd be taking away more from the game and adding very little in return. I also think that if you were to buff belts or nerf bots you'd simply be changing the dominant strategy - again, without much real benefit imo.
+1

If bots are superior, then the devs might ask themselves why bots have infinite research, but belts can't be improved beyond the blue ones... (and the additionally hampered compression)

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by stm » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:09 pm

greaman wrote: If bots are superior, then the devs might ask themselves why bots have infinite research, but belts can't be improved beyond the blue ones... (and the additionally hampered compression)
Research for belts is actually an interesting idea. Sounds good in my opinion, though it might be difficult to implement. What would you research: speed or items/tile or both? And would it affect all three belts the same, or just blue?, Or would it be more prudent to split belt research in yellow (no research), red (items/tile) and blue (speed)?
And what about trains? At some poiint belts might be better?!
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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by bobucles » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:58 pm

I can agree that balance for late stage games plays a significantly diminished role, but it's still important to ultimately have everything balanced
Yes, except not really. Finding a breaking point in the game is nice, but there's also an important question of how far a player needs to reach to break it. In this case the breaking point for bots is way way WAY beyond the primary game. Saying that bot bases are OP is like saying that my RPG dream team of max stat lvl 99's is horrendously overpowered. It's certainly true, but it's not a design flaw and it doesn't mean the game's balance is broken. It just means that the player beat the final boss, killed all the super bosses and essentially reached the upper limits of what your game can do. The devs can keep trying to add content but no matter how large the game is, players will eventually reach the end. So the devs ultimately need realistic goals on how far into the post game is "far enough".

It is true that bots have a breaking point, however that breaking point is FAR outside the scope of ordinary play. It only becomes an issue when experts try to push the boundaries of Factorio, which isn't very different from trying to find wall hacks, level skips or cheese in any other type of game. If anything the bot hax only adds to the experience because exploiting bots becomes a goal in of itself. The new tier of modular megabase is living proof of factorio being pushed to its limits. If you really want to go even further, isn't it time to download some mods?

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by rcp27 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:26 pm

Frightning wrote:This is actually not the fault of bots, but rather of beacons and modules and how they currently work. The result of their current mechanics is that there really is only one optimal layout for endgame production blocks: and that is the alternating rows of beacons and assemblers with prod modules in assemblers if applicable and speed modules in the beacons. I, for one, think that the complaint about bots OP is blaming the wrong thing. If anything, it's the fact that there is only one optimal layout that is at fault for the uniformity of design we see in endgame production blocks.
I’ve been thinking this issue over and I think people are looking at the wrong problem. What I dislike about bots is that they reduce every non-fluid production task to the same thing. One requester, one provider, two inserters, max out the modules/beacons and feed it with bots. With belts you don’t get this reduction to a single solution. The reason is not that belts are too slow, the reason is that belts are dedicated. My iron line will never supply copper. My green circuits line will never supply engine units. A mixed green circuits and gears belt will never supply plastic. Each recipe needs different ingredients in different ratios, so has a different optimal solution with belts. That gives variety of gameplay and allows variation. Do you bus gears or make them locally? How about green circuits?

The problem isn’t bots, in my view it’s with requester chests. If there is a single change that would kill the standardized bot base layout dead, it would be to give requester chests just one request slot. The optimal layout for gears would be different from that for green circuits, and different again for red circuits.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Zavian » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:54 pm

rcp27 wrote:The problem isn’t bots, in my view it’s with requester chests. If there is a single change that would kill the standardized bot base layout dead, it would be to give requester chests just one request slot. The optimal layout for gears would be different from that for green circuits, and different again for red circuits.
That's potential interesting idea. But I'm not sure it really solves the overuse of bots potentially removing some of the challenge aspect of the problem. You can still mindlessly copy paste, you just need to use more chests.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by rcp27 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:34 pm

My personal feeling is that bots are not bad per se, and eliminating their use is not necessarily the objective. What annoys me is that bots enable a single uniform base construction where there is no thought required to optimize tasks. For maximum production you want to maximize your beacon coverage. That means compact construction is a high priority. A single request chest means more thought is needed to optimize individual builds, and for low throughput items the space saving of a mixed belt confers a real advantage over bots. This would give players more of a challenge to find the right solution for each type of item rather than just having a huge bank of identical in-assembler-out units for absolutely everything.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Drury » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:06 pm

ActofTreason wrote:In addition, bots allow players to find unique solutions to problems that would be otherwise impossible using just belts. These solutions may have their own intricate complexities that make them fun to try and figure out. Thinking about Twinsens quote from before “I also believe that building belts is way more fun due to it's inherent complexities, challenges, and emergent situations (the most common example being belt balancing).” If I use a bot system to solve a problem that I am working on, and that system is sufficiently complex in its own right, I’m actually tapping into the exact same fun fundamentally as I would be if I were using belts. The difference is that belts may not have the ability to perform the task that I am trying to use bots for.
Belts have the ability to fully replace bots, trains, and, if we consider barreling, pipes as well, in every situation imaginable. This is a fact. What sets trains, pipes and bots apart from belts is that they solve certain problems more efficiently, i.e. by providing more throughput, being more space-efficient, and/or easier/faster to set up. Bots have the unique attribute of being superior in all three of those aspects once bot construction is up and running and ample power supply is provided. There is practically no need to build belts in the lategame.

This wouldn't pose much of a problem by itself, after all nobody is complaining about solar or nuclear superseding coal/solid fuel power generation in the lategame either. The issue that at least I personally have with bots is that they do not pose an interesting design challenge, and if you choose to rely on them (which by the way, the motivation is very strong lategame what with bots being superior efficiency-wise), your Factorio experience will go from designing elaborate belt balancers based on various item-to-item ratios, circuit-controlled or otherwise, to just plopping down roboports and colorful chests everywhere. The design challenge is just not there anymore, and if you care for that kind of thing, the game becomes an extremely deprived version of itself. I believe your article calls this the "creative node", whatever that means. Bots give you none of that, belts do. All the while belts aren't an efficient, versatile transport system like the bots are lategame, which causes people to feel like the game is setting up an expectation of them abandoning belts for bots, and with them all the fun they were having. This feels hostile, and in Twinsen's case, straight up gets one riled up to the point of wanting the damn bots removed.

Do they have an actual point in wanting that though? Not at all. I think solar is extremely boring too, and I'm very glad Wube came up with the nuclear option as a sidegrade, but does that mean we should straight up remove solar now? Hell no. Some people just don't care for the complexities of nuclear and don't mind having the simpler solar option, so let them have it. I just wish lategame short-range transport had an effective sidegrade to the very boring bots as well, one that would actually be both efficient and interesting to use. This could be belts, if they find a way to make them as efficient and versatile as bots (this would require way more than just increasing the throughput), or straight up coming up with a new short-range transport system.
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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Zavian » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:23 pm

rcp27 wrote:My personal feeling is that bots are not bad per se, and eliminating their use is not necessarily the objective. What annoys me is that bots enable a single uniform base construction where there is no thought required to optimize tasks. For maximum production you want to maximize your beacon coverage. That means compact construction is a high priority. A single request chest means more thought is needed to optimize individual builds, and for low throughput items the space saving of a mixed belt confers a real advantage over bots. This would give players more of a challenge to find the right solution for each type of item rather than just having a huge bank of identical in-assembler-out units for absolutely everything.
Well you can fit 6 chests into a 8x8 beaconed build (well more realistically 5 chests since you need some space for power), or 12 chests into a 12 beacons per assembler build (that one has space for 12 chests and multiple power poles). So whilst they might have to change their design a little, they probably only need a 3 different designs. 2 ingredients, 3 ingredient and 4 ingredients. And the 2, 3 ingredient versions can be just cutdown versions of the 4 ingredient version.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Koub » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:00 pm

Sorry to interrupt, but this topic, while originally trying to get into a different direction than the discussion on the FFF thread, seems to me now it's replaying a parallel discussion with the same kind of arguments as in the FFF thread. Am I wrong ? Should I merge this topic in the FFF one to get everything at the same place ?
All your arguments might make sense but being apart from the main discussion won't make them more read.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by HurkWurk » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:56 pm

i'd say merge it.

my view as a player that does not use a lot of bots, is that bots have their own complexities and that they are something you graduate to later in your factorio life.
I for one use them sparingly, as i have never learned the "megabase" aspect of the game, rather before that point, i switched over to using mods to allow for highly dense bases instead. factorissimo buildings, ability to create resources on the map and bobs faster belts with loaders are faster than any bot army.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Epicnoob » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:26 pm

I personally use mostly belts, but do use bots occasionally. I reserve them for "quick hacks" when I just can't be arsed to build a belt setup for whatever reason. For this reason I'd love them to stay. Some reasons include:
Assemblers for stuff I only need for myself to build, and need rarely (nuclear reactors, heat exchangers, etc). I for one can't be arsed to setup automated production with belts for making suit batteries, nuclear reactors, heat exchangers, etc.
I also use bots liberally for stuff that is meant to be temporary, like mining close to base or moving a big supply of coal elsewhere.

On the other hand, my science setup is fully done in belts, only with ore arriving by train.


I do agree that part of the issue also lies in beacons. Even with belts I find myself just building as compact as possible for beacon spam. Often this results in me building alternating rows of assemblers and beacons, just like bot bases would.

Just a quick mention about the idea of limiting requester chests to 1 item only. One thing I also like about it is the possibility to share requester chests between (possibly different) assemblers. If you're producing inserter types with requester chests you might share the requester chests for circuits and iron plates between assemblers producing inserters and fast inserters. This does add a bit of nonstandard optimization.

Edit: However, I don't think it is that easy to limit just requesters to one item. Using active providers you can also force-deliver to buffer and storage chests (which can be filtered for the items you need). There may be some unpleasant workaround that just allows the same stuff, except more cumbersome.

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Re: Belts vs Bots - A response to the latest FFF

Post by Zavian » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:16 am

Personally I say don't merge this into the other topic at this time. Too many decent points in some of the posts especially the first, and if you merge it then they will just get lost the 35 page thread. Most people aren't going to read all 35 pages of that thread at this point in time, indeed most of the commenters in that thread seem to have failed to even understand what Twinsen was saying in the FFF.

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