Mega-Base from the devs

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Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Lastmerlin » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:39 pm

Of course this is yet another topic tied to the bot /belt discussion, but I hope to give it an individual spin.

The main question I would like to ask: What is the biggest base built by any developer so far? And alongside the proposal: Perhaps it would be good investment of time, to send one from the dev-team to test the absolute borders of the game himself.

Reasoning:
The overpowered *strictly better than belts* characteristic of bots only emerges when reaching a status, where power and ressource costs pose no real limitations anymore, in other words, when approaching megabase proportions. This is aknowledged by most participants in the discussion (at least my impression). At least its quite obvious, that the massive and perhaps exclusive use of bots is a characteristic found in most megabases, but hardly any smaller ones up to the *launch a few rockets* scale.

Right now, if you try to push the limits in terms of production, it seems that bots are the way to go. Someone posted a 5k SPM belt megabase recently, so it seems to be possible to use belts as well, but especially when caring about UPS, general agreement is that bots are clearly superior. That means, that restricting bots means restricting the upper mega-base size. Hereby, the fun building a megabase is not just represented by sheer numbers, but by the additional challenges it poses. I can tell from experience, that there is a big jump from 1rpm to 4 rpm (in 0.14), or from 1k SPM to 4k SPM (0.15+) because the monolithic approach fails at the larger size and the train network becomes considerably more complex. So, capping the max number does really hurt the gameplay experience attainable from mega-base building.

So the discussion about bot nerfing is mainly a discussion whether to restrict mega-bases. In the discussion thread several posters have stated, that they never built a base this size or intend to do so. From this point of view it is quite easy to make proposals, that shut down a certain style of gameplay. If you are not interested in such a border case, I can even understand voting for a nerf for pure psychological reasons (you feel better when you lay your belts). However, the infuriated response of those who really need bots for efficiently reaching their target challenge is equally understandable.

For an informed decision you should experience this border area of factorio yourself. Just loading a savegame is a poor substitute, because you miss the hours of planning and layout shifting, you just see the end result. Especially, images are poor to show the experience, because they only show the single production lines, which are inherently boring at this scale. Belts are more visually pleasing, but as a gameplay experience, they are just blueprint, you stamp down as well. If you just load a savegame, and it works and puts out 5k SPM, this is not so exciting. Building it yourself and seeing this beast come to life is totally different. At this scale, most of the gameplay experience is just not easy to visualize anymore. I spent more time with paper and calculator, than actually running factorio.

Hence my proposal: Before you make a decision, build such a thing yourself. For the size scale I propose 5K SPM, because this is the scale, that currently can be reached by bots only at good UPS (and will be blocked out by a considerable bot nerf). In my opinion, it would be fair to visit this area before shutting it down.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby steinio » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:43 pm

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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Lastmerlin » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:35 pm



That is both impressive and scary. Its really funny and entertaining, but also really crazy mess, that is probably an absolute headache to maintain or even expand.
I would like to know how many SPM this produces. I guess perhaps 1K SPM. This is about the size that I estimate to be reachable by the natural growth ("just continue expanding what you have") approach.

I somehow know this look, my first base was built with a similar style and ended up at slightly above 1 RPM at the end. But I really hit a wall then, because it was a crazy mess, that allowed no further significant expansion.

At the end, this only underlines my point: Going up to lets say quadruple production requires fundamentally different approaches and opens up a completely new field of gameplay. Especially the train network is already really nice, but the issues provide a good outlook to the upcoming challenges.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby bobucles » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:04 am

I'm afraid my biggest base is nowhere near the mastery of a true mega base. It is an expensive 4x research spaceEx map, with rich large resource patches. Everything has max prod3's and a growing number of speed3 beacons. The base is split into two major sectors. The vast majority of crafting happens at spawn on a big island. The big smelting array is a 2 minute train ride out to bigger ore patches. There's a 20 blue lane smelter setup for each of iron and copper production, which in .15 used belt black magic to compress ~48K iron/copper per minute. Just about everything else is belt driven, with bots handling fluid barrels and coal for plastics. From this experience I learned that:

- The expensive recipes eat up core resources crazy fast. Duh, it's expensive mode. But this means that huge resource demands for core resources turn into a very small amount of item production at the top.
- I have never had a problem using belts to move everything above green circuits. A single belt of gears and a single belt of steel works wonders. I use little belt capacity for mid tier items or above and a single red lane is sufficient for each science.
- Moving all the core resources keeps getting more troublesome. It took a huge amount of time to set up the 20 lane smelters. The belt driven GC base was a full project, and produces around 6-8 belts of expensive mode GCs.
- Managing belts for mining outposts is always a project. The mass of mining drills fill up 6 or more blue belts for the trains.
- Smelting arrays are simply HUGE. No matter what I do, they take up real estate comparable with the entire science factory put together.
- So much belt balancing! 8-10 belts is my limit for trying to keep belt throughput balanced. Horray for blueprint downloads.

I don't see myself trying to scale belts much beyond this point. It's not like I'm struggling to organize half a dozen unique resources down the production chains. The trouble is is with delivering ONE type of resource in large quantity. Ore outposts become a chore in sorting out half a dozen or more belts. I can definitely see the appeal of bot mining, simply because it's easier to slam down an ore outpost BP in seconds instead of spending minutes to route belts. Belt driven train depots also become exhausting both in terms of pickup and dropoff. Resources need to be reasonably balanced coming in, balanced on the way to their destinations, and outputs have to be compressed reasonably well. Each of my depots ends up turning into a gigantic belt maze as I try to keep resources flowing through my trains as quickly as possible. :roll:

I definitely would like to have an easier time with late game belt compression. I especially would like better ways of handling input and output on trains, which is where I have the most item handling issues. The amount of effort needed to belt, balance, and keep low tier resources flowing just ends up very high, compared to the effort spent on higher tier puzzles. When resources don't need sorting I'd rather not have to deal with such a large web of belts, so anything that boosts sheer raw throughput would be very welcome here.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Daid » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:02 am

I personally don't think the devs should focus on mega bases as you suggest Lastmerlin.

The reason for this is simple. You shouldn't tailor your gameplay towards to top 1% of your player base. I don't think a lot of players go as large and as planned as you suggest. And thus you are a vocal minority. Most people will naturally expand like the base from V453000. Tailoring the game towards mega-mega-bases, is (in my opinion) a waste of effort. Those top 1% will find a way to min/max anyhow, so you don't make their life better, just different, even if they don't realize this.
But it does pose a risk that you will break the game for the "normal" players. Very old example, some balance patches in Starcraft (the first one) that where done to balance out competitive multiplayer seriously broke the single player campaign at some point. Making some maps freakishly difficult. It was fixed later on, but it could scare new people away from the game at all.


I also think the real problem of this belts vs bots discussion isn't nerfing bots. It's "People resist change", you don't like it if your world is changed. In this specific case, you don't like it if your style of play is changed. You will accept it if you feel like it's "better" (magical number goes up) but not if you feel if "worse" (magical number goes down), but only because the feeling of the number going up cancels out your natural tendency to resist change. The only reason you don't like bots being less powerful is because your most optimal 4K SPM base will suddenly only produce 2.5K SPM. While it's still the most optimal you could do, it no longer feels like that, because you could to better before. While if the "roof" was always 2.5K SPM you would have no problem at all, because you don't know about the 4K roof.


(Code speed optimization patches are a different thing. Those improve the world for most people, as not everyone bought a high-end machine just to play Factorio)
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Lastmerlin » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:54 am

Daid wrote:The only reason you don't like bots being less powerful is because your most optimal 4K SPM base will suddenly only produce 2.5K SPM.


That is the point I would like to object to. I already tried to explain in the opening post, but apparently not really successful. If you would just see half the numbers, there would be no problem. Or at least, its just a psychological problem (seeing number drop is disappointing). Psychological reasoning is understandable, but a bad basis for balancing. Having said that, I would like to mention that most votes for bot nerf come from psychological reasons as well - it just feels better to lay belts, if you know there is nothing better.

The point is: Halving (or doubling) the number leads to fundamental changes. Just try to go from a single to a 2/4/8 lane train network. Or go from a single subfactory producing a certain product to 2/4/8. Going from a single drop-off point for a good to 2/4/8. You will see that each factor of two really makes a difference.

Moreover: I dont suggest to focus on mega bases. I encourage to try it once before severely restricting the area. Of course you should not tailor the game for the top 1%, but disregarding them is not the best idea either. Apart from that: I would not consider myself top 1%, but the outlook of this discussion disappoints me as well, so its perhaps rather top 10%. This game-play style is not the "heart" of the game, but perhaps important enough to not neglect it. An advantage over games like Starcraft: There is really little risk of breaking the the "normal game". The standard game until the rocket works perfectly and already has belts as dominant means of transport. Any bot change mainly influences mega-bases anyway.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby PunkSkeleton » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:29 pm

Lastmerlin wrote:The point is: Halving (or doubling) the number leads to fundamental changes. Just try to go from a single to a 2/4/8 lane train network. Or go from a single subfactory producing a certain product to 2/4/8. Going from a single drop-off point for a good to 2/4/8. You will see that each factor of two really makes a difference.

Trains are really terrible example. 2 tracks main lines with sufficiently long acceleration/braking areas when leaving/joining it should be enough, if they're not then you're either doing something wrong or you should decompose your base - for example 1 train full of steel is equal 20 trains full of iron ore in expensive mode. 4 tracks does not increase throughput by much, intersections in such configuration are not efficient enough. Anyway for me it seems that station main station unloading speed with belts is the limiting factor, not the tracks itself and I'm using 1-8 trains... Yes there's "multi-platform" approach but it would take too much space with belts and big enough buffers to even consider - it seems to me it is easier to ship final products to dedicated stations in the main base instead as 1 train full of processing units is like 100 (?, I didn't count it) trains of ore.

But doubling or quadrupling the production of certain item is very easy if you have enough ingredients which in turns means you must have enough resources. I recently did it for engines and it took me 5 minutes only.

In my death world game in 0.15 I used to spent 50% of time claiming new territory (with 0.16 it is easier), 30% organizing resource mining and shipping and only 20% actually building the factory (I'm above 30k iron/copper per minute now). 90% of this 20% is fiddling with belts. Getting 3 belts of copper and 2 belts of iron (actually the ratio I use is 4 belts of iron per 3 belts of green circuits but it means I have to get 2 for the first line) to produce 1 belt of GC takes time, especially if your copper and iron smelting are far apart so they can be extended easily.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby HurkWurk » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:25 pm

i think the point that the mega base phase of the game is after the game is over for many people needs to be restated.

I generally stop playing a map shortly after first rocket launch, and finishing all white non-infinite research. IE when im still using belts for everything.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby JareX » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:22 am

I have playerd around 280 hours of factorio and I have never used trains. All my bases have used belts or belt bus mainly, with the ocasional bot setup.

I have never built a base with more than 1 rocket silo.

I have had a lot of fun with the game and of course I feel that I have a lot to do with it.

That's why I think nerfing bots is a bad idea, because 90% of the player base is not affected by that. Most people are like me and will probably never notice any change on bots. But those other 10% that are used to build mega bases will probably stop playing if they decide to nerf them because it will change the gameplay too dramatically for them. And that 10% of players are the more hardcore ones, the ones that post in the forums, the ones that stream on twitch, the ones that have dedicated youtube channels, the ones that makes the game sell.

I think the developers are smart enough to realize this.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby batorfly » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:23 am

JareX wrote:That's why I think nerfing bots is a bad idea, because 90% of the player base is not affected by that. Most people are like me and will probably never notice any change on bots. But those other 10% that are used to build mega bases will probably stop playing if they decide to nerf them because it will change the gameplay too dramatically for them. And that 10% of players are the more hardcore ones, the ones that post in the forums, the ones that stream on twitch, the ones that have dedicated youtube channels, the ones that makes the game sell.

I think the developers are smart enough to realize this.


I don't think all hardcore/megabase gamers will stop playing (also I think SeaBlock is for hardcore gamers XD), maybe some of them. But generally it's a good point.
I hope dev's realise this too.
For me: Nerfing bots - easy solution to balance logistics (do we really need belts/bots balance that much...). Ease - only argument for doing that.
Focus should be on: compressing belts, buffing belts (filter splitter- good start), optimizations, 0.17 GUI and Mod Portal revrite. Those things are most important. Bot vs Belts disscusion is secondary. I can see with ease 1.0 release of Factorio with current state of balance between bots and belts.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby evildogbot100 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:00 am

Honestly, even if bots are nerfed to the ground, they still have the fundamental issue of being simple. There is much fewer optimisations trick you can do with bots than you do with belts. That's why the idea of replacing bots with cable car seems the best solution for me. UPS-wise, you can buff bot's replacement until they take as many UPS as bots before the change.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby olafthecat » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:03 pm

evildogbot100 wrote:Honestly, even if bots are nerfed to the ground, they still have the fundamental issue of being simple. There is much fewer optimisations trick you can do with bots than you do with belts. That's why the idea of replacing bots with cable car seems the best solution for me. UPS-wise, you can buff bot's replacement until they take as many UPS as bots before the change.


Cable cars/Gondoliers/Elevated Belts
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby OBXandos » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:54 pm

Lastmerlin wrote:For an informed decision you should experience this border area of Factorio yourself.

Hence my proposal: Before you make a decision, build such a thing yourself. For the size scale I propose 5K SPM, because this is the scale, that currently can be reached by bots only at good UPS (and will be blocked out by a considerable bot nerf). In my opinion, it would be fair to visit this area before shutting it down.


There is a fundamental problem with this line of thinking in the game context and even more so in the real world. When a person states an opinion or makes a vote for something, they are making an informed decision. They are making a decision based on the information they have. Now sure they could make more informed decision by building a mega base, but why do they need to? For that person's use case they have experienced what they want to out of the game and formed their opinions based on that. You, as a megabase builder, have experienced something else in this game and made an informed opinion based on that. Neither one of you is wrong and neither is right. To make an even more informed decision you should understand the programming language Factorio is coded in. Beyond that you can make an even more informed decision by understanding the CPU architecture that all of the users play this game on. I mean why stop at megabases? Why do you not strive for omniscience.

In the end each person voices their opinion based on their own life experiences. Asking someone to change their opinion based on your views is quite selfish. Why can't you change your opinion to their point of view?
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby olafthecat » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:46 pm

This belts V bots thing is really annoying me!
Please, stop talking about it under every topic you can find.
Christ!
Welp, i'll i'll just make a new topic for it I guess...
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Lastmerlin » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:01 pm

Well my intention was not to open the Nth topic with exactly the same content and I tried to set a different topic. Sadly, the replies tend to drive all discussions that are somehow connected to the bot vs belt discussion back to the core topic.

Moreover, I once more recognize that knowing very little about a subject, does not stop some from posting and choosing strong words to to so:
PunkSkeleton wrote:Trains are really terrible example. 2 tracks main lines with sufficiently long acceleration/braking areas when leaving/joining it should be enough, if they're not then you're either doing something wrong or you should decompose your base

Apparently, all the Mega-Base builders on Youtube are noobs because they have so extensive train networks with multiple lanes and multiple platforms at many locations.
I recommend to watch this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z77H8M96QPI
It does not only give a good impession how a high-end train network could look like, its also really funny.

OBXandos wrote:
Lastmerlin wrote:For an informed decision you should experience this border area of Factorio yourself.

Hence my proposal: Before you make a decision, build such a thing yourself. For the size scale I propose 5K SPM, because this is the scale, that currently can be reached by bots only at good UPS (and will be blocked out by a considerable bot nerf). In my opinion, it would be fair to visit this area before shutting it down.


There is a fundamental problem with this line of thinking in the game context and even more so in the real world. When a person states an opinion or makes a vote for something, they are making an informed decision. They are making a decision based on the information they have. Now sure they could make more informed decision by building a mega base, but why do they need to? For that person's use case they have experienced what they want to out of the game and formed their opinions based on that. You, as a megabase builder, have experienced something else in this game and made an informed opinion based on that. Neither one of you is wrong and neither is right. To make an even more informed decision you should understand the programming language Factorio is coded in. Beyond that you can make an even more informed decision by understanding the CPU architecture that all of the users play this game on. I mean why stop at megabases? Why do you not strive for omniscience.

In the end each person voices their opinion based on their own life experiences. Asking someone to change their opinion based on your views is quite selfish. Why can't you change your opinion to their point of view?

This is wrong on so many levels, its amazing.
  • Its wrong semantically: At least everybody I know interprets *informed decision* as: Try to collect as much information as possible (with acceptable effort), from different sources and different points of view if possible, and then decide. Interpreting *informed decision* as *use whatever information you already have (may be even no information), do not try to get more* is the style of certain politicians, but thats it.
  • Its wrong technically: You have obviously no clue about computer science. The programming language plays absolutely no role here. In fact, the binary contains only small traces of the original language at the end. Theoretically you could write factorio as well in Fortran (pain) or Assembler (more pain) and get a very similar binary. This binary is compiled for the generic x86_64 architecture that almost everybody has. (I know, these points are a bit simplified but being more precise makes no sense here.)
  • Its wrong about the purpose of discussion: The purpose of a good discussion is not to force your opinion onto someone else. Its to get the other person to understand your point of view.
  • And its wrong logically. Its a perfect case of overextending an argument to absurdity, which is a classical logical fallacy.

Final conclusion: By now, chances are really slim to get an answer by any team member. So the thread has most probably failed. Perhaps someone team member has read it anyway and they will consider giving it a try. Perhaps it makes sense to close this thread. There is nothing more to do than sending in the proposal, and this thread apparently encourages parallel discussion to the main FFF thread.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Koub » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:06 pm

Lastmerlin wrote:[...]
This is wrong on so many levels, its amazing.
[...]

Reminds me of
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Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby OBXandos » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:43 pm

The devs have sort of painted themselves in a corner with the bots. They are just too good at doing everything. Bots vs Belts doesn't really cause any problems in normal gameplay. They can make the little bit of end game easier for launching a rocket. They only really start to become over powered when you start planning for much larger base and eventually making a megabase. I can easily see how many people can say that they need to be nerfed. They really don't need to be as powerful as they are for casual gameplay.

I think one option the could do is change the bots up into two types, 3 if you make combat bots. The first type would be a utility bot that is unlocked fairly early along with storage and passive provider chests. The utility bot would be usable only by the player. They would be able to build blueprints with materials from the player's inventory and also supply the player from either storage or passive provider chests. This would get the player into bots much earlier and make things easier for the player without providing the game breaking advantage of a full bot system. The other type of bot would be the current logistics bot that we have now. Those would be unlocked with the same tech as requester chests and the buffer chest and would be fairly late game. You could also have a tech that allowed the utility bots to interface with the logistics/contruction network and perform the function that construction bots do now.

Bots would be nerfed compared to the current system since they wouldn't be quite as functional earlier in the game. They would also feel like a bit of a buff since you get some of their functionality earlier in the game. Then at endgame and megabase levels they would remain unchanged from what they are now. This combined with some belt utility buffs might make bots feel better for the more casual player and still leave megabase functionality alone for people that want to play that way.

Merlin, I'll go down your list and let's see if we can iron out some points here.

1. "Try to collect as much information as possible (with acceptable effort)" That part in parenthesis is the exact problem. What is considered acceptable effort? Is it the same for you, or the same for me, or the same for someone else? How much information has to be gathered before someone can make an informed decision? Launch a rocket, play X number of hours, build a 1rpm megabase? You are making a qualifier on a persons ability to make an opinion that is acceptable to you.

2. The programming language and even CPU architecture does actually matter here. It matters in all games. It will determine how well a game can perform based on the decisions available to the development team. The devs have stated many times that it may be quite difficult to make many more changes to belt mechanics due to the programming choices they have made to optimize the belts. There are some FFF or forums posts somewhere around here that show the steps each update thread takes through the CPU and how they are handled. Bottom line is programming language, the choices made by the devs with that language, and even the base hardware are all relevant to this game. Is knowledge of that needed to make an informed decision though? Some people may think so and some may not.

3. I agree 100% here. The point of any discussion is to help the other person see your point of view. Have you tried seeing it from mine? Part of the problem here is that a megabase builder cannot see the point of view of a person that just launches one rocket and then starts a new game. The megabase builder has moved past that point and unless they are able to forget their previous experiences then they cannot make an unbiased opinion. You are in essence telling the more casual players to "get on your level" before they are allowed to voice their opinion.

4. It's quite possible that that I committed that fallacy, but I also feel you did when you put the qualifier of "informed decision". As I was previously stating your threshold for informed may not be the same for anyone else. How well informed does a person need to be?
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Re: Mega-Base from the devs

Postby Lastmerlin » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:30 pm

I will not writing anything on the basic belt vs bot topic, use the main thread for that.

Concerning "acceptable effort": This is of course the point to nitpick, if you are searching one. I estimate the required time for such a megabase at 10 to 20 hours, if you skip any tedious things, that do not provide new experience (use creative mode, insta research enough technology etc.). That is not out of proportions considering the importance of the subject. I bet, the base posted above took more time. And if someone really reads all replies to the FFF, this already takes more time of at least one team member.

I am quite sure that they could do it without bigger problems, but its still a lot of time. So the main question is: Is it worth the time? Does it provide a lot more insight than loading savegames provided by players? The intention of this thread was to provide some arguments, that it is indeed a good idea. Whether some dev will decide to try it - we will see. The fact stated in the latest FFF, that they will take more time, is a reason for optimism. Somehow, surely some of the time will go into more in-depth playtesting.

To OBXandos :
I am not really motivated to answer this extensively point by point. Selected remarks:
The computer science parts is still full of misconceptions. The belt optimization is an algorithmic optimization. Algorithms are independent of the specific language (ideally). The CPU optimizations are with regard to the general architecture of a modern CPU, especially cache. I doubt, that they optimize for different CPU types, like different generations of i7. However, the main reason to stop this discussion is: The devs are already excellently informed about these aspects, better than you and me for sure. So, there is no more to add.
Point 3: I regularly play games with less experienced players, and just until the rocket (under different conditions). Usually without a single bot. The point is variety of opinions. Taking opinions of mega-basers only would be a bad idea as well.
Point 4: Just google for *logical fallacy*, you will find extensive lists and surely something you can accuse me of with a bit of creativity. Just reflecting my choice is a bit weak (and complete nonsense).
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