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A thought on water scarcity

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:08 am
by The Phoenixian
Right now in Factorio, water is infinite. It cannot be depleted, polluted, or otherwise made unusable. For the most part, this is all well and good and makes sense within the context of Factorio's terrain system.

But what if it didn't work that way?

In the real world, Water, Energy, and Food are all heavily interlinked. If you have a surplus of power you can draw or desalinate more water to feed more crops. With a surplus of water you can divert more to power plants and crops. With a surplus of food, you need less power to divert water.

On the flip side, a shortage of any of these can produce a shortage of the others. Most forms of electricity are notably water hungry so if the river dries up, you have less water available not just to feed crops, but also to cools nuclear reactors, process oil, or power dams. Which themselves are using more of their power to draw and transport water needed to feed those crops.

So while it's likely not viable for water to be depleted from the terrain, let's imagine that could and other water intensive projects such as crop growth are added.

At first perhaps you need to transport water because the starting springs start to run too low to feed your crops and power your engines. So you spread out to collect from new sources. Then the factory hits the point where you need a lot of water for chemical reactions so you need to spread out yet further. If water can be polluted this brings and added layer of finickiness to crops.

So if you can't manage your usage you have to transport water from father and father away, extending your supply lines and increasing the resource cost of transporting everything.

Likewise, if you're in good times for electricity, you can desalinate ocean water, for a high energy cost, freeing up a lot of long chains.

It gets more interesting in competitive multiplayer: Water is a public resource, which means that multiple bases must share sources. So you have to not ruin your own water economy even as you have opportunities to ruin each other's.

Wouldn't it be interesting to have water management become a part of the game?

Re: A thought on water scarcity

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:00 am
by DaveMcW
Water for agriculture is highly sustainable, we have been doing it for thousands of years in the same places.

Even for un-sustainable agriculture, water management is only interesting on time scale of decades. 1 decade ingame is 438 real-time hours.