Inserters repair damaged entities

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sillyfly
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Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:38 am

Here is an idea - why not allow inserters to use repair packs to repair entities?
The idea is to have the means to automate repairing before getting to robots, or for areas where you don't wish do extend your construction network.

The details should be worked out, of course, but what I was thinking of is - give the inserter a single stack which can only hold repair packs. If the inserter has repair packs in front of it it will take some into it's stack (maybe 2 or so), and if it is idle and the entity it should be inserting into is damaged - use a repair pack to repair it. If the repair pack is still usable after repairing - return it to the stack, so it can insert more things into the entity. This is similar to the way burner-inserters fuel themselves.
This could either be introduced as a property for all inserters, or maybe only for the higher-tier ones, like fast- and smart-inserters, or maybe even have a whole new "repairing-inserter" entity (I personally don't think this is the best choice, but it is an option, I guess :) ).

What I imagine is having your front line / outposts with gun-turrets fed by belts with one side having ammo and the other side with repair packs, so the inserters can restock the guns and repair them as necessary.

I know this is all doable with construction robots, but as I said - this is for before you have them, or for areas you really don't want to extend your network to.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by hitzu » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:47 am

Filling up every inserter manually, that is what we are lacking of! :D

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:01 am

hitzu wrote:Filling up every inserter manually, that is what we are lacking of! :D

Hmmm... what?
I didn't say anything about filling inserters manually. What do you mean?

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by hitzu » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:20 am

sillyfly wrote:Hmmm... what?
I didn't say anything about filling inserters manually. What do you mean?
Do you mean that inserters should pick up repair packs from belt and put into themselves? Clogging belts with them would be even worse, until we had robust gameplay mechanics that would force us to permanently maintain our machines. Now we have to repair something very occasionally so it is not bothering job.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:34 am

Yes, I meant inserters should pick the repair packs themselves, if they are available.
And I don't mean for it to be on every belt - most entities rarely get damaged. It is mostly for turrets, where you already have a belt with bullet magazines, but usually only one side is enough.

Certainly, having them go on every belt would be redundant and very silly.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by hitzu » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:31 am

Well, now it sounds reasonably.
But you know, this would bring the whole new function to simple inserters.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:03 am

Yes, it will. To me it makes sense, but I want to hear what others think of this :)

My reasoning is as follows:
Inserters, even regular ones, are clearly capable of some complex actions - an inserter would not pick an item if the entity in front of it is full, it will only pick items the entity needs (in case of assembly machines, etc.), and it will not place items on rails.
Additionally, the simplest inserter - the burner-inserter, has the capability to store some items for it's own usage (fuel), and take items from the supply belt/chest into it's own storage.
Considering these properties already inherent of inserters, it is not too far-fetched to imagine an inserter could recognize the entity in front of it is damaged, and have a little storage of repair packs from which it could draw and repair it. If it does seem too complicated - well, it could be reserved only to the more advanced kinds like fast inserters or smart inserters, as I said in the original message.

As to gameplay value - as far as I see it, adding a new functionality should be considered if it makes the game more interesting or fun, without trivializing existing aspects (e.g. making things too easy, or feeling like a cheat). I think we can all agree that running around repairing all of your damaged turrets is not in the spirit of Factorio - a game about automation. We are constantly encouraged to automate out production lines and bases - making them as hassle-free as possible, so we can exploit more of the planet's resources. So allowing the player to automate the repairing of turrets fits with the spirit of the game, but it should be accomplished in a way that doesn't trivialize the task. So - making a building that auto-repairs all turrets would feel like a cheat; but allowing you to construct a distribution network for repair packs, and an entity that automatically repairs damaged turrets is less so.
Of course, we could suggest introducing a new "repairer" entity, that is somewhat like an inserter, but only repairs entities, but this seems silly to me - as I have shown, it is not too hard to imagine an inserter could already perform this task, so why add a new entity with only one function? It adds nothing to the game but bulk.
As to the option to automate repairing with robots - yes, it already exists in the game, and it is very good, but for me it is mostly suitable for the core of my factory - I don't necessarily want to set up a roboport network in each and every outpost I make, so having a more "low-tech" option would suit me well. Also, having a simpler option would allow us to automate this task before we are ready to have an extensive robotic network.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by starholme » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:15 pm

I really like that idea. I'm fine with only the smart inserters being able to do this.

I'm not clear if this was mentioned above, but the inserter would have to be able to store at least one repair pack internally, in case there is nowhere to place it on the belt(full belt). This would prevent it clogging the inserter hand with the repair pack.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by hitzu » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:26 pm

A brand new type of inserters would be better than changing the existing smart inserter.
Image

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:39 pm

@starholme - yes, this is exactly why I said the inserter must have a small stack for repair packs, otherwise it will be clogged.

@hitzu - could you explain why you think having a separate entity would be better? Is it because you think realistically repairing is too complex a process for inserters to be able to perform, or from game-play mechanics standpoint only? If it's the second one - could you elaborate?

Thanks!

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by hitzu » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:52 pm

I think that adding new very special and needed only case by case function to the already such complicated thing as smart inserter would have a negative impact for the game learning. Smart inserters have many slots in the GUI, adding one more could confuse some players. I cannot imagine any strong reason to not separate functions and I merely can find a use of default smart inserter functionality for turrets.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by immibis » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:00 am

Alternatively, inserters don't have a separate slot for repair packs (which reduces complexity significantly) and instead we let them get jammed. That way you need two separate belts and two rows of inserters if you want auto-repair + ammo feeding.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by sillyfly » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:34 am

Hmm... the problem with this is - what happens if both inserters decide to repair at the same time? Then both get stuck!

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by starholme » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:51 pm

immibis wrote:Alternatively, inserters don't have a separate slot for repair packs (which reduces complexity significantly) and instead we let them get jammed. That way you need two separate belts and two rows of inserters if you want auto-repair + ammo feeding.
sillyfly wrote:Hmm... the problem with this is - what happens if both inserters decide to repair at the same time? Then both get stuck!
I think he means two inserters and two belts, like a regular inserter adding ammo, and a long inserter doing repairs. So they can only grab the 'correct' item.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by MeduSalem » Fri May 08, 2015 4:25 pm

Having started a new map lately I encountered the same problems in early game especially with the spitters. :roll: So I came here to look if someone else had the same idea with inserters already... :D

So I think the idea with inserters being able to pick up repairpacks and repair themselves and the entity they are inputting to would be a great solution for the early automation of defense repairs since it actually takes quite a long time to get construction robots.

Summing up your suggestion:

1) A research could teach inserters how to repair themselves and other entities. It would allow all inserters except burner inserters to do repairs. Burner inserters are too dumb, they have no electronic circuits to learn anything.
2) There needs to be a slot in the inserter UI where the inserter can put a repairpack if it is still usable after it is done repairing to get the repairpack out of the way. This slot appears once the research is conducted so new players won't see that slot right away and can't get confused by it. By the time they are researching the repair-ability of inserters they will pretty much know what they are doing anyways.

I guess this would work quite well without any problems and not be confusing to new players.

Inserters need an Interface anyways because there's some other stuff as well that should be adjustable inside them (like the amount of items picked up, since one can't change that behaviour anymore once inserter item stack bonus is finished researching, or that the inserter should work only in a 90° fashion.), but there are threads about the other things anyways.

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Re: Inserters repair damaged entities

Post by ArchJudge » Tue May 10, 2016 9:24 am

MeduSalem wrote:Having started a new map lately I encountered the same problems in early game especially with the spitters. :roll: So I came here to look if someone else had the same idea with inserters already... :D

So I think the idea with inserters being able to pick up repairpacks and repair themselves and the entity they are inputting to would be a great solution for the early automation of defense repairs since it actually takes quite a long time to get construction robots.

Been playing marathon mod with science overhaul for the past few hours and basically in the same boat as the quote above :D

If only I knew how to make mods and didn't fail at it ...

An alternative solution would be a long handed repair hand like suggested, looks like an inserter but with a welder at the end of its arm, takes 1 long handed inserter and 1 repair pack to build, has to be supplied with repair packs to be operational and can repair in a 360 degree arc with maybe 3 grid range, would act as a nice support defense structure, would even be useful in the late game if the AI of construction robots is coded not to be overwritten and to still fly and repair the repairing damaged structure
I love the smell of concrete paving robots in the morning .... it smells like Factorio

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