The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

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Rythe
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The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Rythe » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:49 am

First, some necessary background. This is a response to FF#266 - Cleanup of Mechanics where it was announced that the pickaxe was being axed, as in, no longer an equipment option but a researchable powerup that just happens at research completion. The forum discussion crystallized the need to say what kind of game Factorio actually was, is and is becoming. The main thing you need to know from that thread is that, most generically, Factorio is a Hybrid Puzzle/Power Fantasy and the player community is roughly split between favoring one side of that combo over the other.

For disclosure, I'm Experience (Exploration) > Puzzle (Exploration + Achievement) > Power (Achievement).

Now gather around, because this explanation starts in the way back. Before tanks and 2x2 laser towers. Back when production modules were new, and maybe even a little earlier. This is where my idea of what Factorio was and was trying to be was formed. This is when we thought of our industrious little avatars as crash survivors trying to overcome a hostile, alien world, and maybe, one day, even escape it. This was when Factorio was a different game.

As soon as you opened your eyes as brand new player in the campaign (freeplay being newly introduced around then), easing into the experience with no idea about what anything was, the game made it clear that your job was to collect resources, build things, and then collect more resources to build more things. That was the path forward, whatever that path would eventually turn out to be. One other thing was promised too, that building things made progress along that path faster and easier, that those things you built would work with you and with each other for you, to get you to your eventual destination.

This was the raw, undiluted first taste of everything Factorio was expecting to become, slowly consumed by inching along a path where you built things to augment yourself. First directly by way of equipment (pickaxe before weapons and armor), then gently expanding that out by way of buildings that did things you couldn't, then buildings that augment those manual tasks that formed your first sense of the world, then expanding out even further so that buildings helped buildings augment and automate those tasks you first mastered by hand (mining, crafting). It was the gentle expansion of your conscious mind outward into ever new possibilities.

This is how you knew that your first burner drill was your pickaxe, which, itself, was an augmented extension of your hand. It was how you understood that your factory was you.

And soon, you learned that your path was a dangerous one. That the planet was not keen on your success. So, pistol in hand, you told the planet that you would not go quietly into the night. From the humble pistol, you learned what it meant to defend yourself as you journeyed forward. That you needed to defend yourself as you journeyed forward. This formed the basis for understanding that gun turrets were the defense of your factory which was the defense of you.

There was, however, one little betrayal nestled into your first meal of Factorio - the utility belt expansion. This you did not build. You merely researched, and then from the aether came newfound power. But one little betrayal can slip by unseen and unfelt.

Time passed, and your journey forward progressed patch by patch. The planet turned out to be a tedious beast, choked with Biters that could be deadly to the foolhardy or impatient. Means to resolve this needed to be developed. So the tank became your next layer of body armor and the combat shotgun the next upgrade from the line that started with the pistol. All built to be new, more deadly extensions of yourself. But the pleasure derived from these was fleeting, and so nuclear rockets and train artillery were deployed. Then, perhaps, you felt something near satisfaction that the tedium was not so great a beast anymore, the planet tamed so that you could journey forward without fear and with a few lively toys to brighten the scenery.

But somewhere in there came a greater betrayal. Where you were once comfortable with crafted modules empowering your assemblers and refineries to be more, research called down newfound magic that simply and immediately made your defenses stronger. Just because.

No matter. The journey still beckoned, but now with the planet tamed, you started to wonder where you were going. What was this journey for? Why should you become great with sorcerous laser turrets, vast train networks and nuclear power? You sent a rocket into space, sure, but not with you in it. You remained, so there must be something more.

Your labs worked furiously on the problem and came back with an answer - feed me ever more, and you will become ever greater. That is what your journey is for.

One might think this the greatest betrayal of all. Where once your factory served you, now you served your factory for an ever more elusive promise of ever greater power. It is no longer an extension of you, but you an extension of it.

And now, that simple iron pickaxe that formed the basis of your journey can be done away with. Your factory cares for it not, and best that you no longer remember when you were once the master and not the slave.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by ske » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:41 am

I'd add the stack size bonus that applies to normal inserters and even burner inserters. Voila, suddenly all your inserters have double or triple speed. How is that possible? Also magic beacons that somehow make things move faster.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Rythe » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:07 pm

To take this the final step - your factory is your labs and your labs are your tech tree.

Wube has used the tech tree as a crutch for so long that they stumbled into using it to try and fix everything and thus be everything. Making the pickaxe a research powerup is the next step in this transition.

Factorio is now a game about building a cool factory in order to unlock generic tech tree powerups. It's a lesser game.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by BuilderOfAges » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:46 pm

Well said.

Or written.

You know what I mean.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by HurkWurk » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:32 pm

in a perfect world, i would replace 90% of the tech tree automagic with "mark 1, mark 2, mark 3, etc" devices.

you discover a laser tower. you research faster laser shooting, now you can make a mark 2 laser tower. but instead of being a complex recipie, its the original laser tower and say, a red wire... thats it. IE its the idea that you make it better, not that you rebuild it.

the issue with this is that it makes upgrades tedious. but with the new blueprints and upgrade tools, it should not be that bad.

That said, i would not put something like this in place until it, itself can be blueprinted. IE, you can mouse over a bunch of stuff, and away go the robots to "upgrade" them in place. IE not replace with a new model, but actually upgrade.

otherwise, if we are building, "new", the issue becomes that there are mark 1 through mark 20 laser towers. not exactly manageable.

~

a second idea would be a master computer. your base has a heart. that heart does these things for you. so the results are the same as now, just that all electrical connections are also methods for the "computer" to connect something to the "upgrade network" which is the computer fine tuning the control over devices.

then of course, we need micro computers that copy that master computer that we can put into the field so that a firebase in the field gets the same benefits as the turrets at home, etc.

~
alternatively, you can link "repair level" to researched abilities. IE your tech tree represents a 100% fully repaired item. every time you discover a new tech that upgrades things, instead existing things are damaged by ~1%. taking them down from all abilities to 1 less than tech tree max. and if still not repaired since the last time you upgraded, damaged again to ~4% (total 5%) to drop 2 tech levels, etc. the point is, use the repair choice to apply the upgrades.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by sathill » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:52 am

I get about what issue is this topic. But i must say i like factorio and the way its going. I like updates, especially performance (optimization) ones. Nuclear plants and even i like idea of pickaxe being upgrade research. If there is something i want to change there is very great modding community.
So long story short good job everyone.

Core of factorio is building sandbox factory. And its great. It dont need to be 1kspm to be fun. There are a lot of things to have fun with. Design of entire place, railways and trains. Combinators and circuits are like half of game for me. Love them and many people make "unessesary" things with them like lamp display. Modding game just too see how crazy it can get. Over 2000 hours of active play and still not bored. I dont know many other single player games where i can play for so long and have fun.

When some things get fixed it will be even better (0.16 world gen im looking at you).

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Hannu » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:26 pm

In my opinion Factorio has developed to better direction. I do not like most games which has clear objective after which the game ends. If I am still interested, I lose everything. I can begin a new game, but after few runs it is over. It is better that there is no actual end. Then the game is always eventually just growing after you have all tech and found all things can be found. The end will be when I get bored to repeat things. But then I do not feel that I lose interesting project in progress because lazy devs have not given content. And in sandbox game I can decide new personal rules for next game and get different playthrough. All games I have used most hours and felt the best games have been unlimited sandbox games, like Factorio, Kerbal Space Program, Simcity etc.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by stm » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:16 pm

In my opinion it is a good idea to remove the pikeaxes. They do not fit very well to everything else in the game from my perspective.
Your first axe you build once and use it up, after that you go to steel and forget you ever had it (only rarely comming back to remembering after mining so many buildings per hand). The Pikeaxes are not really a consumable which gets used up in relevant quantities (like amunition), nor are they something like armor, which in the beginning is there to keep you alive and afterwards (powerarmor) enables usefull upgrades and can be configured to once own liking (amount of roboports, shields, etc.).
I don't mind the weapons, as they too are a matter of configuring your prefered loadout (though I would prefer to upgrade the pistol the the smg instead of crafting it seperately for example). The Axes are items you make once and then forget about them for the rest of the game if you heavily rely on robots. They just don't fit in my opinion. Even The car or the tank have a nice utility even in the later game stages.
Personally I would set the default mining power&speed of the player at start (higher than now though!) and don't change it ever.
Stm

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Darinth » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:07 pm

A really cool, well written story. I really want to give you kudos for a really cool read.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't do the best job of portraying the problem that you see. It also seems to promote a particularly tedious game mechanic: constant upgrading of your base's physical infrastructure.

The removal the the pickaxe as a physical item seems to bother you because you like the physical item as a representation of changes you've made. It bothers you to assume that changes to infrastructure happen in the background. You like to see them. Just like you'd like to see something physically happen to buildings to represent the results of the research. I'll be honest, in the end I simply disagree with this concept. Yes, in a more 'realistic' version of factorio you'd need to visit every building or have them all reachable by construction robots and every time you research a new technology construction robots would need to visit each building to perform upgrades. I don't see the benefit of this approach, it actually makes you more of a slave to your factory.

What I do hope we see is you going up in your rocket in the official campaign to end the campaign (with an option to come back down and continue, ideally, but for a story driven campaign I'm also completely cool with not even giving that option.) But in the end... you and your factory exist in symbiosis. Neither one will survive without the other. Without your factory, the biters will eventually find and kill you. Without you, there is no factory.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Rythe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:31 pm

Darinth wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:07 pm
It also seems to promote a particularly tedious game mechanic: constant upgrading of your base's physical infrastructure.

The removal the the pickaxe as a physical item seems to bother you because you like the physical item as a representation of changes you've made.
...That is not it...at all...

I dislike the removal of the pickaxe because the pickaxe is the symbolic link for the relationship between the player and their factory.

I dislike research that has no associated item production because the thematic chain is research allows you to build new things which gives the player new/improved capabilities. It's a far stronger experience than generic number upgrades that work like magic in the background.

This isn't about having to rebuild/upgrade infrastructure necessarily or even primarily. It's about getting a new option. That some of those new options are strict infrastructure improvements that build upon past productivity achievements is merely one expression of this theme from among the possibilities.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Koub » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:26 pm

Rythe wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:31 pm
I dislike research that has no associated item production because the thematic chain is research allows you to build new things which gives the player new/improved capabilities.
So you dislike space science, all the military, robotic, ... upgrades ?
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by OBXandos » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:31 am

It took a while to read through everything but I am glad that this post got started. I feel similar to the OP with the direction of the game. Removal of system, mechanic, or idea for the sake of simplicity is not always a good thing. I think I might be in the middle of the road here though.

I liked the idea of constructing a iron pickaxe, it is a tool that makes my character better at doing certain tasks. What I didn't like is having to constantly replace the item as I used it. It just felt like a maintenance I was forced to pay. Then you got upgraded to the steel pickaxe and it again made you even better, but also had to keep replacing. Why does this simple and basic tool constantly require replacement and an assembly machine that pumps out thousands of gears an hour never need any maintenance? Keep the pickaxe, remove the tedium from it.

In relation to the bots, I feel that they are too effective. I feel like the player should have access to personal construction and logistics bots towards the end of green science research, and then they can expand it out to the base wide bot network that we have now. Bots being able to carry entire trains or nuclear reactors is pretty ridiculous, but I can accept it. The problem I see, all of that power has very little cost. This is a clear area where the player can once again be engaged to upgrade their self, their factory, or their environment. Build your initial bots, research a way to make them better, build the better bots with the parts of the old ones, enjoy the better bots. Want to build a bot that can carry a nuclear reactor, add some more engines to it. Want to build a bot that can carry liquids, install a barrel instead of claws. Have a long distance that bots need to travel, add some more batteries to it. This would again further reinforce that the player has improved themselves and that this is their factory.

Partially tacked onto the bot sentiment is the same one about Modular/Power armor. What is the point in the different armors? Light armor is around for like 10 minutes before you unlock heavy armor. Heavy armor sticks around for a little while before you unlock Modular armor. What good is modular armor then? The only power source is solar power that is woefully inadequate for anything beyond night vision and a battery. Not to mention that Modular armor is fairly space limited. Power armor M1, why even build that? You still only have solar power. Once you finally build the Portable Fusion Reactor and Power Armor Mk2 are you able to fully utilize the personal roboport for things. You also have an incredibly powerful combat platform with the personal laser defense modules. With such limited options available until the end of the game there is no real customization of the player. If we had better power options earlier on we could utilize that for more customization options. Night vision, exoskeleton, limited roboport, reach extender, combat platforms, and probably other options could open up with better power and armor options.

There are other things that I could continue on about but the overall point is this: I want a game that has customization for my character, environmental obstacles to build around or deal with, and that instills a feeling that i am actually apart of the world I am manipulating.

Sorry for the long post.
OBX

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by FactorioParadox » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:37 am

OBXandos wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:31 am
It took a while to read through everything but I am glad that this post got started. I feel similar to the OP with the direction of the game. Removal of system, mechanic, or idea for the sake of simplicity is not always a good thing. I think I might be in the middle of the road here though.

I liked the idea of constructing a iron pickaxe, it is a tool that makes my character better at doing certain tasks. What I didn't like is having to constantly replace the item as I used it. It just felt like a maintenance I was forced to pay. Then you got upgraded to the steel pickaxe and it again made you even better, but also had to keep replacing. Why does this simple and basic tool constantly require replacement and an assembly machine that pumps out thousands of gears an hour never need any maintenance? Keep the pickaxe, remove the tedium from it.
I agree: The pickaxe should be kept but the durability mechanic should be removed. After all, guns are also tools and yet they don't have any durability. Sure, it can be argued that ammo is essentially durability but it's not; it's ammo.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by QGamer » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:04 am

FactorioParadox wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:37 am
OBXandos wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:31 am
Keep the pickaxe, remove the tedium from it.
I agree: The pickaxe should be kept but the durability mechanic should be removed. After all, guns are also tools and yet they don't have any durability. Sure, it can be argued that ammo is essentially durability but it's not; it's ammo.
I agree on both counts. If mining drills & guns don't have durability, then pickaxes shouldn't either.
And if they want to remove durability from armor, I'm fine with that. I have never broken a set of armor anyway.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by factoriouzr » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:51 pm

I have requested a way to automatically upgrade things in your factory a long time ago. For eg. you tell your robots to take red belt from you factory if you are at your logistics limit and replace one yellow belt with it automatically (if you tell it to do so). This would apply to all things, assembly machines, turrets, etc. This feature was not implemented but I think it would be a great feature to have in game since this is a chore that is not fun and the game is about automation after all.

I mention this, because if they add more tiers of everything, the game will be even more of a chore and without the feature I mentioned above, I would not enjoy it as much. Constantly having to upgrade your entire factory every time you make a few researches is annoying, tedious and detracts from the game. I know it's a choice to upgrade and might not be necessary in all cases, but most upgraded things in Factorio are simply better in every way then their previous counterparts, so it's pretty much a necessity to upgrade to grow your factory and production speed and capacity.

I think we need the feature I mentioned in the base game as it is now, but we will definitely need it if they add more tiers of things. As such, I think having research that automatically improves buildings, turrets etc is good. It's a way to avoid this tedious replace your entire factory once you get better research. However I do think there should be some tiered buildings/belts etc (which we have now), and these tiered building do need the automated upgrade mechanism I mentioned.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Klonan » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:00 pm

factoriouzr wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:51 pm
I have requested a way to automatically upgrade things in your factory a long time ago. For eg. you tell your robots to take red belt from you factory if you are at your logistics limit and replace one yellow belt with it automatically (if you tell it to do so). This would apply to all things, assembly machines, turrets, etc. This feature was not implemented but I think it would be a great feature to have in game since this is a chore that is not fun and the game is about automation after all.

I mention this, because if they add more tiers of everything, the game will be even more of a chore and without the feature I mentioned above, I would not enjoy it as much. Constantly having to upgrade your entire factory every time you make a few researches is annoying, tedious and detracts from the game. I know it's a choice to upgrade and might not be necessary in all cases, but most upgraded things in Factorio are simply better in every way then their previous counterparts, so it's pretty much a necessity to upgrade to grow your factory and production speed and capacity.

I think we need the feature I mentioned in the base game as it is now, but we will definitely need it if they add more tiers of things. As such, I think having research that automatically improves buildings, turrets etc is good. It's a way to avoid this tedious replace your entire factory once you get better research. However I do think there should be some tiered buildings/belts etc (which we have now), and these tiered building do need the automated upgrade mechanism I mentioned.
Upgrade planner is already finished for 0.17

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by factoriouzr » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:58 pm

Klonan wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:00 pm
factoriouzr wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:51 pm
I have requested a way to automatically upgrade things in your factory a long time ago. For eg. you tell your robots to take red belt from you factory if you are at your logistics limit and replace one yellow belt with it automatically (if you tell it to do so). This would apply to all things, assembly machines, turrets, etc. This feature was not implemented but I think it would be a great feature to have in game since this is a chore that is not fun and the game is about automation after all.

I mention this, because if they add more tiers of everything, the game will be even more of a chore and without the feature I mentioned above, I would not enjoy it as much. Constantly having to upgrade your entire factory every time you make a few researches is annoying, tedious and detracts from the game. I know it's a choice to upgrade and might not be necessary in all cases, but most upgraded things in Factorio are simply better in every way then their previous counterparts, so it's pretty much a necessity to upgrade to grow your factory and production speed and capacity.

I think we need the feature I mentioned in the base game as it is now, but we will definitely need it if they add more tiers of things. As such, I think having research that automatically improves buildings, turrets etc is good. It's a way to avoid this tedious replace your entire factory once you get better research. However I do think there should be some tiered buildings/belts etc (which we have now), and these tiered building do need the automated upgrade mechanism I mentioned.
Upgrade planner is already finished for 0.17
If you look at my suggestion I'm not talking about a manual upgrade planner. I'm talking about an automatic one where you define what you want to upgrade (same as upgrade planner) but the robots automatically upgrade parts of your factory they pick if you have enough items in stock. This way eventually everything will be upgraded automatically.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by Aeternus » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:12 pm

Rythe wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:49 am
One might think this the greatest betrayal of all. Where once your factory served you, now you served your factory for an ever more elusive promise of ever greater power. It is no longer an extension of you, but you an extension of it.

And now, that simple iron pickaxe that formed the basis of your journey can be done away with. Your factory cares for it not, and best that you no longer remember when you were once the master and not the slave.
Analogy of technological development in the mid to late 20th century, isn't it?
But truth be told, sometimes it's fun to make more parts move. The destination forgotten, the journey becomes indefinate. There is no problem so long as the journey is enjoyed.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by QGamer » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:01 pm

Rythe wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:49 am
One might think this the greatest betrayal of all. Where once your factory served you, now you served your factory for an ever more elusive promise of ever greater power. It is no longer an extension of you, but you an extension of it.

And now, that simple iron pickaxe that formed the basis of your journey can be done away with. Your factory cares for it not, and best that you no longer remember when you were once the master and not the slave.
The factory is only the master if you let it be. By "greater power" I assume you mean making better items with better productivity ever faster. But if you have enough patience, you can become the master of your factory: i.e. limit the size of your factory and use your patience to triumph over it. You only have to maintain your factory & set up basic production of every item you need automated. Then wait. And wait. Eventually, you'll make all of the same progress, but it will test your patience a lot more. If you really desire, you can take control back from your factory.

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Re: The Problem With Pickaxes - Digging Out Factorio's Core

Post by bobucles » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:25 am

If you look at my suggestion I'm not talking about a manual upgrade planner. I'm talking about an automatic one where you define what you want to upgrade (same as upgrade planner) but the robots automatically upgrade parts of your factory they pick if you have enough items in stock. This way eventually everything will be upgraded automatically.
There's no easy way for a factory to know exactly what you want upgraded or when. Sometimes things are meant to be NOT upgraded such as weaved belts or burner inserter backups or the like. Sometimes an upgrade needs a physical overhaul such as steel furnaces to electric furnaces. Other times an upgrade process can stall a factory for hours, like stuffing tier 3 modules into everything. The job of deciding what and when to upgrade is best left to player brains. That's more fun anyway.

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