Outpost logistics

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Telarin
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Outpost logistics

Post by Telarin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:55 pm

Problem: When building mining outposts, we have very limited logistic options.

1) You can build a LONG string of Roboports along our train tracks so that construction bots can move back and forth from our main base to the mining outpost (or whatever type of outpost you are building.) This seems kind of silly, as you are placing a lot more functionality than needed.
2) You can haul ALL the materials you need out to the outpost to build it and maintain it manually, but this just feels wrong for a game like Factorio where automation is the whole point of the game.

I have a couple possible solutions, though none of them fully solve the problem:

1) Allow logistic bots to travel further between Roboports, they just can't deliver outside the orange radius. This is not really a fix, but at least improves things so that you only need half as many Roboports and little defense posts around them.
2) Give us a special Robot extender port that provides charging, and connects Roboports at a substantially longer distance (maybe one every 200 tiles), but does not provide a delivery or construction radius at all.
3) Give us a way to maintain stock levels by train without having to just blindly load a whole train car up with repair modules. This would help, but doesn't really address the need to be able to do automated construction of the outpost.
4) Give us some way to link trains directly into the logistic network so they can move robots and supplies in an intelligent manner. I honestly have no idea how this would function, but we would need some way to tie stations to the local logistic network and set requested supply levels for the network, and then somehow get inserters to correctly load trains from a supply chest at the main station, and unload at the outpost station.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by BurnHard » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:00 pm

... or let's completely rethink theses mining outposts by implementing some sort of high-tech harvesting robots or trucks that can be simply reassigned to another resourcefield. (along with defence robots)...

I'd like to see the most of stationary buldings, defensive towers etc in the main base. The small outposts are just protected by mobile units.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by Coolthulhu » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:53 pm

I like points 3 and 4.

I see implementation like this:
In addition to regular "air" logistic network, trains would get a per-track logistic network tracking all the items on a given railway network. Train stops would create an area of second logistic network affecting all smart inserters before the train stop (ie. from the direction the train has to come) until another train stop. 2 train stops on Y-shaped tracks could have their signals summed up or cancel out each other to prevent ambiguity.
The network would just keep track of items in the trains on the track.
Alternatively the area of the train logistic network could be limited to intersection of the one described above and local logistic network.

For supply and requests:
Requests could be configurable at stations. Each station would count items in smart chests in the area it is affecting inserters in and subtract the unfilled demand from train network item count. By default, unconfigured smart inserters in train logistic network would try to keep the network item counts from being in negatives.

Example: Station 1 requests 30 repair packs and has 0. No train on the track carries repair packs, so "there are" -30 repair packs on the network. Station 2 has repair packs and unconfigured smart inserters load 30 to next train to balance out the negatives. Now when the train arrives at station 1, it should have 30 repair packs for it to unload. If unloaded, those would be now in the station 1's logistic network and thus wouldn't cause it to request more (until removed from it).

More advanced version: Train stops in regular logistic networks would read all unfulfillable demands and pass them onto the train track.
More advanced version 2: Instead of tracks tracking items, it would be entire train routes doing it. Inserters would only load items on a train if it was programmed to later reach a station that requests them.


I don't like the automatic bots + automatic defense idea. Mining would then just boil down to "throw bots at it". No place for finesse or design. I'd rather have bases that can automatically deconstruct when resources are used up.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by Drury » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:05 pm

I like your last suggestion.

Trains are perfect for linking distant logistics network together. They are fast, they are safe, they can carry a lot of cargo at once. Now only to figure out how it might work.

OpenTTD has a patch called cargodest, short for cargo destinations. This system allows trains to form a fluid network in which cargo flows exactly where it's needed. The cargo is smart and works with different trains' orders, the list of stations it visits and puts itself on trains that go where it wants to go.

This can be achieved by implementing special logistics-based train stops. Plop one down in an area of one logistics network, plot another down in a distant logistics network, put both stops in a single train's driving order. This creates a link between the two stops and they start communicating.

Outpost network stop: "hey guys, whoever is on the same train's order list as me, do any of you happen to have x^y gorram steel plates?"
Main base network stop: "yeah my bots got some plates, want me to stockpile 'em?"
Outpost network stop: "sweet, next time a train comes, make sure to load that bitch full of them and send it over"

Then you could connect each stop to two rows of chests, circuit network style, one row provider, one requester, which would actively react to what the stop wants from them. Then the inserters load/unload the train that comes to the station with the cargo it requests.

In case you have more stops per station, the stop that is working on a certain train's delivery could also reserve its rail, so the cargo isn't loaded into a wrong train.

EDIT: Got ninja'd by a similar idea, albeit not quite the same
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:17 pm

Just a few words to that (because I'm currently thinking very deep into that problem and have written some posts about it):

There are some conceptual differences:

- The system, which calculates, what is needed and where. It must be based on some area-dependend calculation, non-overlapping, think like the logistic system, but it should be another logistic system, not automatic connected to the current robotic-logistics.
- The systems, which transports the items from source to destination.
- The system, which requests/colletcs/stores it in the source-area.
- The system, which stores/distributes in the destination-area.

I recommend to differ between those, because the how-to-transport should not depend on how-much-is-needed-and-where. The routing needs priorities, like for the fact that rails need to be set, before a train can be set. And why should a logistic only be based on trains?

I think the idea with the smart cargo is nice and worth thinking more, but I think it is a bit different for Factorio, because in OpenTTD we have not real objects per item-type, they are just "big stacks". And the second and more important reason is, that creating routes like in OpenTTD is not an optimal gameplay for Factorio. The dimensions are much bigger, we need much more micro-management. I think of complete automation, even creating routes is not needed (possible and sometimes useful, but it can work without).

And a good outpost-logistic should work in my eyes also without logistic bots (has then of course not the same comfort, but the distribution is possible). BurnHard's idea with mobile roboports goes in the right direction.

I think also it should work, no matter what transport system is used: Logistic bots, trains, belts (ok, belts are eventually too complicated, but can work under some special conditions :) ).

And I think we need one or two more transport systems:

- a cart-like system, like described here https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... rts#p21906 and
- some funicular like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Darwinia.jpeg (of course a bit more realistic than in Darwinia :) ).

The carts are good for distances up to 1000 tiles, is very expensive per cart (because it has it's own port and some construction/logistic-robots on board??), needs much energy, filling-stations etc. and can transport high amounts with reasonable speed (later we can extend it with streets and so on), and so are also very useful for the one-time-delivery of items to built up some outpost - something to fill the gap between belts and trains. The funicular-like is nothing else than long-range logistic-bots (every cabin can take 1-5 items and the speed is about the same as logistic bots), or some hyper-speed-belt, which can transport a very steady stream of items (capacity depends on how much cabins I put on the cable). I think that the connections of roboports can be splitted by hand (remove the connections like the wires between poles) and the distincted logistic areas can then be connected like so.


MORE EDIT:
When I think about that a bit more I see a picture: there is on one side the need for some kind of immediate request, somethings which delivers me as ASAP the needed stuff to built or to transport important ores from far away and on the other hand there is the need for some constant delivery, filling up some storages with eventually needed stuff, things which don't hurry so much, constant streams, but once initialized at very high capacity. (For example the train can fulfill both: A train on a route delivers constantly. A train in a depot be send to the highest needs, but with the risk, that it stands still.)

I think we should think into that direction: not mixing these two very different needs. See up what I wrote about distinction between the systems. :)

And last edited: I also prefer 4 and then 3.
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by inthev01d » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:57 pm

I've also had this problem and here's my current attempt to solve it:
I haven't tried this yet because I currently have no time to play, but I'd like to hear your ideas about it!

* Have a supply train with only one cargo wagon
* Have two stations in your main base:
___ The first station simply unloads everything into storage or provider chests
___ The second station has a couple requester chests that hold small-ish amounts of items you want to distribute. E.g. 120 repair tools, 30 laser turrets, 60 wall sections… whatever fits into 1 wagon

1) The train is empty at first
2) It goes to the second station and is loaded with the provider chest contents, then quickly departs before they can be refilled (5 seconds)
3) The train goes to each outpost, one after the other. Each outpost takes whatever is currently needed (missing in the local logistic network)
4) The train goes to the first station and any remaining items are unloaded
5) repeat from 2)

So the basic idea is to have a train that is loaded with a predefined assortment of items, and unloaded as needed.
It's not 100% accurate and may need belts and smart inserters for additional delay if there's a roboport close to the chests, but it might just work!
Maybe hope this gives some of you food for thought.

Of course, this would be quite a bit more elegant if the cargo wagon could temporarily become part of a circuit network while the train is parked at a station

Edit: This is mostly intended to bring supplies that are needed regularly, like repair tools, but the supply train could hold everything that is needed to build a complete outpost in theory.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:14 pm

Yeah, that is a very clever idea how it can be done.
The problem is the amount of things you need at a bigger and bigger growing outpost.

See this: https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... 8&start=10

My train station has more than 30 different chests and a loooooooooong green wire, which reflects the needs in the outpost. Alone the cabling tooks about 2 hours.

I came to the conclusion, that at some point, it's easier to built a second factory. But on the other hand I think, this is not in the right sense of the game. The game cries for "make it central". :) in the end I'm currently in mixed mood about that, for some things it looks logical to centralize, but others could be made at the outpost.
I like your idea and think I try it out as I described here.
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by Telarin » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:31 pm

inthev01d: That sounds like a very workable solution. I will have to do a little fine tuning on my outpost stations to make sure they have a place the supply train can park while the ore train is being loaded without jamming things up, but I've already designed all those structures for use at large mines where I need to run multiple trains. I hadn't considered running a dedicated train for supplies, but that will be changing immediately :)

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ray4ever » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:54 pm

I realy hope that the devs thought of something like this when they posted the following item in their roadmap:

(If time allows!) more circuit logic (circuits for electricity, trains, liquids, etc.)

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by Telarin » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:53 pm

Alright, that method is actually working fairly decently as an interim solution until the developer comes up with something more robust. One very small thing that would likely be pretty easy to add would be to let us connect the Red/Green logistic network to a train station. When a train is at the station, its contents would be added to the network.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:19 pm

ray4ever wrote:I realy hope that the devs thought of something like this when they posted the following item in their roadmap:
(If time allows!) more circuit logic (circuits for electricity, trains, liquids, etc.)
That's the reason, why I'm so behind to discuss it now: They take many of their inspiration from such discussions. :)

And yes, as far as I know their development, I think we will become something which helps. Eventually not in v0.10 and/or not really finished, but it shows the perspective and is useable.
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by BurnHard » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:31 pm

Well in the end I hope they get all things right, regardless of the way they do.

My humble view of things:

1.) Complete replayability, some sort of endless-mode
2.) Absolute Beginners find a way into the game and stay motivated and can win the game WITHOUT...
3.) ...Circuit Systems with logic switches and so on, which are of course very nice for experienced players and therefore should of course have a place.
4.) Game immersion. I have to admit, eg World of Warcraft, the game mainly hooked me because of its stunning music and wonderful designed world. AND
5.) I didn't had the feeling to fall behind others just because I liked to roleplay a lot, fishing for hours etc. Link to factorio: Thats why I really want to see endless resourcefields somehow realized (like oilfields). I want to build enormous structures, at the moment I am sad (YES) everytime I have to deconstruct a depleted mining field ^^ And it gives me some sort of pressure, I want to play for fun and to relax (no problem with very hard enemys and so on).
Last edited by BurnHard on Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:56 am

Hm. Well, I can imagine such an "endless mode", which behaves like so. It's some kind of fish-tank, yes fish-tank-mode is a good name for that.

But I see your wanted endlessly in automatism: Resource field depleted, robots pack their sack and go to the next field. Endless in the sense of Factorio means for me spreading into the fields, not staying all the time at one place. What you want is something, which already exists with the Test mode mod. Or as said some kind of mode.

Because assumed, the task for the "normal game" is really to bring 1 million people down from a colony ship, I think it is not possible to "win" the game without going into that direction. And that means we need to use automatism.
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by kovarex » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:15 pm

Yes, or having filters in cargo-wagon, that would allow have one cargo-wagon with supply of 16 types of materials.

Edit: I think I will try to do some kind of separate logistic systems connected by trains and see what is the easiest solution to make it possible.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by inthev01d » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:52 pm

Telarin wrote:Alright, that method is actually working fairly decently as an interim solution until the developer comes up with something more robust. One very small thing that would likely be pretty easy to add would be to let us connect the Red/Green logistic network to a train station. When a train is at the station, its contents would be added to the network.
Now that sounds good, having a red/green wire connected to the train station kind of feels right and like it fits the current circuit network model (without thinking about how this might work in detail yet, since this would mean "chests" appearing and disappearing).

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:23 pm

kovarex wrote:Yes, or having filters in cargo-wagon, that would allow have one cargo-wagon with supply of 16 types of materials.
Edit: I think I will try to do some kind of separate logistic systems connected by trains and see what is the easiest solution to make it possible.
Like "go to station A, pick up 5 stacks of ore, 5 stacks of copper... Goto station B and drop it..."?
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by GewaltSam » Mon May 26, 2014 6:39 pm

inthev01d wrote:I've also had this problem and here's my current attempt to solve it:
I haven't tried this yet because I currently have no time to play, but I'd like to hear your ideas about it!

* Have a supply train with only one cargo wagon
* Have two stations in your main base:
___ The first station simply unloads everything into storage or provider chests
___ The second station has a couple requester chests that hold small-ish amounts of items you want to distribute. E.g. 120 repair tools, 30 laser turrets, 60 wall sections… whatever fits into 1 wagon

1) The train is empty at first
2) It goes to the second station and is loaded with the provider chest contents, then quickly departs before they can be refilled (5 seconds)
3) The train goes to each outpost, one after the other. Each outpost takes whatever is currently needed (missing in the local logistic network)
4) The train goes to the first station and any remaining items are unloaded
5) repeat from 2)

So the basic idea is to have a train that is loaded with a predefined assortment of items, and unloaded as needed.
It's not 100% accurate and may need belts and smart inserters for additional delay if there's a roboport close to the chests, but it might just work!
Maybe hope this gives some of you food for thought.

Of course, this would be quite a bit more elegant if the cargo wagon could temporarily become part of a circuit network while the train is parked at a station

Edit: This is mostly intended to bring supplies that are needed regularly, like repair tools, but the supply train could hold everything that is needed to build a complete outpost in theory.

I worked out a pretty similar version; maybe a liiitle bit more elegant, but it's pretty easy to work errors in.

I have nearly the same setup as v01d, only i have a central circuit network that connects the storages of every outpost with the inserters that load stuff into the supply train. Now i tell the inserters to only load stuff when the amount of items in the outpost storages drops under a certain level. then the inserters start working, the train drives around, inserters in stations only unload when the stuff is needed in an outpost (they get that information by local circuit networks that connects them with the storage of their outpost), then the train rides back. The only thing you need to control is that the inserters which load the trains have the numbers of all outposts added up, and you must never go above that number. If you do, the wagon will run full with stuff at some point. But if you get that managed, the train will have only some remains riding around, which isnt even that bad; outposts will take it as soon as they need it.

I think I'll add a buffer station in my main station also which takes everything that was not needed, and loads it in provider chests.

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Mon May 26, 2014 8:28 pm

I think this can work. But I don't think, that everyone gets that managed.
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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by GewaltSam » Mon May 26, 2014 11:12 pm

It's more of a workaround, and setting the inserters on my supply station anew every time i build an outpost or need more or less materials is kind of messy. I would prefer a good circuit logic or smart wagons any day of the week. But, well, what can you do :)

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Re: Outpost logistics

Post by ssilk » Tue May 27, 2014 8:23 am

Ok, I make a small list of what is needed to make that work and I try to formulate it as open as possible:

- automateable: I need to set up maximum 2 bigger things and the stuff in-between and then this will deliver the demand without exactly configuring every little item. And it would be really easy to set up, cause it could work just by setting up the two end-stations.
- bi-directional: transport in both directions should be possible. It should not be so, that if I set it up in one direction that I cannot add the other, because it creates a self-feedback or other funny things happen.
- not faster then the train: if it is faster, it will replace the train. Indeed it should be much slower than trains.
- not more capacity then basic belts: same reason as with train. A basic belt carries about 700 items/min. I think to 100-200 here. This is enough to support building up very big outposts.
- indirect transport: instead of delivering items directly from A to C it should be possible to deliver from A to B and then to C.

Some systems I'm thinking of:
- funicular. Has the advantage of relatively easy implementation (just posts and steel wires between, the end stations are also the exchange points).
- carts on a own street/rail-system. This is complicated to set up, cause the streets must be built first. There is the question, how the stations interact and how they can order the stuff from the carts.
- free running carts. No streets but in general the same problem with the massive interaction.
- pipes. Some pipe system like in Portal2 or Futurerama. Again difficult to set up.
- via train/rail system: would be the nicest, cause it must be built not depending on other stuff. But a really working solution is very complex to set up for the players. And if there is a jam it influences everything else. I think it should have some of the above criterias, but for the reliability/complexity I mean it is high-end stuff.

A bit off-topic:

Besides that steady stream of items we need another system, which is really fast. This can be used to order needed items for construction.
- super fast. Order is delivered within seconds (if pre-produced).
- very expensive. Rocket delivery or so...
- one direction only.
- nothing to built up then the sender-station.
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