Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

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tuhe
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Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by tuhe »

(Disclaimer: Hope this is the right forum. I am still fairly noobish and have limited experience with the mods. I am in the space sciences in SE)

A mechanism that I feel space exploration (SE) implements in a really interesting and unique way is trash/byproducts in space. I think this is an interesting design space for mods and perhaps the expansion.

The way I see it, a byproduct from a single recipe is to first-order just an output, except that (1) it is a type of product you probably already have and (2) you tend to only get relatively little of it compared to the main input/outputs.

This means handling byproducts tend to just increase the spaghetti/risks of congestion of your factory and it is clear that from a practical perspective the effort in trying to use the byproduct is often not worth it. As a consequence, single byproducts from single recipes lend themselves to be put in boxes/voided if possible, which is aesthetically unpleasing.

Single recipe byproducts are therefore a bit like an input (i.e., they require you to run a belt or something), but at the same time just more annoying. I think this is why vanilla/many mods tend to focus on the input side, i.e. make the web of inputs more complicated/deeper, and keep the outputs relatively simple. It feels more 'fair' and gives a better sense of progression (I managed to make product X, and as long as I supply inputs the process will not stop).

What I feel SE does differently is a combination of three things:
  • Firstly and most importantly, there are many recipes that produce the same 5-6 byproducts (scrab/contaminated scrab, new/used/broken data cards, and to some degree empty barrels). These can therefore all go on a single 'trash belt', which is run in the reverse direction of the bus to a 'recycling center', where the products are recycled and added back to the bus.
  • Secondly, some of the byproducts are fairly valuable (fresh data cards). It is clear *these* at the very least should be re-used, and once you are getting into the business of running them back to where they are produced on a belt, you might as well add the other stuff -- in other words, it is a mechanism that is easy to discover and then expand upon.
  • Thirdly, handling byproducts (the recycling center) is itself in my opinion an interesting setup that can be optimized/upgraded over time. I am finding it fun and unique to build using splitters/buffers, and I think it is fun to look at when it is running; most of my factory is just full slow moving belts with stuff, but the trash center is constantly sorting and recycling trash. I can even get an idea about what my factory is doing by looking at the color of the trash!
So from a game-design perspective, I feel that byproducts in SE do two things. Firstly, they encourage a type of design that is (IMO) otherwise nearly impossible to encourage (a sushi belt), and secondly, it creates a natural part of the factory that both works and looks different than the rest of the factory, while still serving a vital role.

Furthermore, it means that actually handling a byproduct when you set up production is no longer frustrating (just run it to the trash belt on the bus), and therefore byproducts don't feel 'artificially frustrating' the way that e.g. getting a bit of water out of a process that requires water as input does. It also means that working on the recycling center (upgrading it, scaling it up, etc.) is much more rewarding as you know that upgrading it will benefit all of the factory.

Liquid byproducts are a bit of another story, as I at least am still handling them 'the traditional way' by running each of them on a fluid bus. I am thinking if there is a way to do something more interesting, for instance by mixing fluids for later de-mixing, or perhaps by letting some buildings require empty barrels as input and produce waste in barrels.

One last thought: I think there is an interesting logistic possibility in giving the player an option to send 'space trash' back to a planet for much more efficient processing, vs. keeping it in space and doing less efficient processing.

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by blazespinnaker »

So, yeah, one of the reasons why I think people are hesitant to talk about SE is because such chatter is fairly anti-thesis. The mod is clearly meant to be an inscrutable puzzle that you play because you like inscrutable puzzles, and everything we might say is a spoiler of sorts.

Unfortunately, this keeps people from talking about SE! Which is a conundrum because, as in the words of notch (minecraft inventor) himself .. "space exploration is quite the experience" (https://twitter.com/notch/status/147674 ... 24?lang=en)

And no doubt someone will exacorbate this serious problem by moving this thread to a subforum, but on the off chance some future factorio player stumbles across this post - do try out the SE mod. There is a breathtaking depth to space exploration, and not just in its complexity, but also in its scope and beautifully intricate game design. Deeply absorbing seems like a very shallow cliche when it comes to describing the journey to spaceship victory and beyond.

It also sets an incredibly high bar for the upcoming DLC - but I'm rather skeptical wube will overcome it as this type of play has daunting expectations when it comes to its players. Disheartening words, I know, but at least SE exists.


..

On the topic of byproducts, I didn't find it to add as much as other concepts. Even without logistics there are fairly basic techniques to handle them. More interesting I think are concepts like the arcospheres. My personal favorite is abstraction, which done right, would be near infinite its potential to expand the problem space of factory design.
Last edited by blazespinnaker on Fri Apr 29, 2022 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by robot256 »

There is active discussion about all aspects of Space Exploration, with appropriate moderation of spoilers, on the official Discord server! Invite link is on the mod portal page. It's a great community.

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by blazespinnaker »

The discord separation helps contain the spoilers, but doesn't do much for spreading word of mouth. Discord channels aren't very stumble upon. Also, there is something terribly intrusive about push media like twitter and discord that some people go out of there way to miss.
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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by Pi-C »

blazespinnaker wrote:
Fri Apr 29, 2022 3:11 pm
The discord separation helps contain the spoilers, but doesn't do much for spreading word of mouth. Discord channels aren't very stumble upon.
Also, some people don't like to register at yet another place. The mod portal may not be optimal for bug reports because the Markdown is easily broken (code may be mangled unless it's indented by at least 4 characters), but I consider it rather inconvenient if Discord or GitHub are the only places where I can report bugs. (Earendel responds to forum posts, at least, but there are modders who ignore all questions or bug reports unless they come over third-party channels.)
A good mod deserves a good changelog. Here's a tutorial (WIP) about Factorio's way too strict changelog syntax!

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by FuryoftheStars »

blazespinnaker wrote:
Fri Apr 29, 2022 2:42 pm
And no doubt someone will exacorbate this serious problem by moving this thread to a subforum
Well, not to sound rude, but seems SE is a mod, wouldn't the appropriate place to discuss SE be the Mods subforum? Not General?

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by blazespinnaker »

Normally I'd agree, but the SE mod is a completely different animal. Calling it just a mod seems a bit inappropriate.
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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by robot256 »

It's also far from finished, which is why advertising it is not a priority. It's not really expected that casual players will enjoy having to repair their bases every few months after a balance update.

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by FuryoftheStars »

blazespinnaker wrote:
Sat Apr 30, 2022 2:50 am
Normally I'd agree, but the SE mod is a completely different animal. Calling it just a mod seems a bit inappropriate.
That's semantics and beside the point.

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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by blazespinnaker »

Is it though? Sometimes exceptions should be made.

Anyways, back on topic, one thing I find sorta ironic about such a well balanced and crafted mod is the arcolink storage at the bottom of the tech tree. Telporting resources.. i've seen that in other mods. It rapidly becomes the equivalent of the infinity chest you get in /editor mode, so, why not just do that. Maybe the mod author was tired of supporting the mod and wanted to put and end to it or something I guess
Pi-C wrote:
Fri Apr 29, 2022 3:27 pm
Also, some people don't like to register at yet another place.
Yeah, discord is a security nightmare as well. Make sure you use the chrome version.
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Re: Thoughts about byproducts in SE and game design

Post by blazespinnaker »

I think if I had only one suggestion, would be either using the small size space assembler or a new assembler of similar small size for manufacturing one off machines. It's nice to create a mall for stuff, but creating a mall with all the extra large space assemblers is a bit awkward.

Don't get me wrong, really dig the large factories (results otherwise look fantastic, especially with the new piping) - but for one off / very infrequent production they seem a bit overkill, especially when you want one for each product.

If more suggestions allowed, as above, I'd also make the arcolink storage a bit more expensive or more limited. for about 10-15 percent of your total arcospheres you can pretty much obviate much of the games mechanics.

A few more intermediate tech/science features might be nice. Some of the mid to later game researching just felt like I was researching to do more researching. Doesn't require significant new art or code, just small quality of life stuff features is good. eg, useful info in infotron(sp?) like production / consumption deltas for the various ingots would be cool. Nothing crazy, just little rewards to break up the monotony of grind.
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