Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

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_alphaBeta_
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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by _alphaBeta_ » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:52 am

changelog wrote:Simplified rail building.
Holding shift while rail building always activates the combination of ghost-rail-building + remove-obstacles, releasing shift returns back to normal manual mode.
It doesn't matter anymore, whether the rail building started with shift or not.
This removed the possibility to do ghost-rail-building without the remove-obstacles, but since it seems to be almost useless, we consider it to be worth the simplification.
The last sentence is not accurate in the early game. I just finished using the obstacle avoidance mode last week long before I had robots. I had to rush trains since I had an abnormally low supply of coal nearby. I lacked the technologies and tools for mass removal of trees and (any) cliffs. This tool was a life saver to snake a path through the complicated terrain in a hurry.

Why not have another modifier key for those that want the obstacle avoidance? Surely there's another key that advanced users wouldn't mind pressing for this feature that was already worked out and working well? The lack of counter-rotation, as was pointed out extensively already, I also find to be quite annoying. Didn't the rotation of the ghost planner carry over between uses, or was that my imagination? Seems to reset every time now.

All these consequences considered, in this case, do not add up to changing the behavior in my opinion. If you guys have made up your mind, please consider the extra modifier key so we keep options open for all play styles.

Now let's add something worth adding, like a toggle for belt immunity equipment in the toolbar. :D

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by mrudat » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:57 am

I would think that until you unlock construction robotics, you would want the rail planner to avoid trees, and to avoid cliffs until you have unlocked cliff explosives.

On the subject of icons, I would think the ideal is that you use the entity graphics for the icon; for the vast majority of entities, this works just fine as they are distinctly different shapes, where the assembly machines are the same shape, just more.

Perhaps have something like, the first tier assembler has a milling machine and lathe with a robot arm that puts things into either, the second tier has the milling machine and lathe with splash guards, and a pipe on the robot arm, and the third tier has two robot arms, and both the milling machine and the lathe work at the same time?

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by shthed » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:32 am

Now that we have an awesome rail planner, can we please also get a belt/pipe planner too?

viewtopic.php?t=64716

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by thelord23 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:44 am

Omnifarious wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:32 pm
The change to rails annoys me a LOT. I avoid destroying as much of the landscape as possible when building a factory. I love having a factory nestled in the trees. I purposely use the rail planner to plan twisty routes that avoid cliffs and trees. I assiduously avoid destroying cliffs unless I have no other real option.

When I can't avoid cliffs and trees and still have a route that isn't completely ridiculous (or have any route at all) I look around for a way to destroy as few things as possible, plan a bit of the route through there, and avoid obstacles for the entire rest of the route.

I've done surveys and watched YouTubers. Distressingly few use the rail planner much at all. And the reason isn't because they have to use shift to get obstacle destruction. The reason is that they want poles or signals placed, or multiple lines placed that are a certain distance from eachother, and things of that nature. So they instead used a fixed set of blueprint templates and stomp their way across the landscape with those, which I find to be kind of sad.

I will admit that the rail planner is a pain to use to plan sets of two (or more) parallel rails, and it would be nice if it were easier to use in that mode. And it certainly would be nice to periodically place signals or power poles along the rail path.

But the change you made is a huge step backwards. And while I think the 'literally unplayable' meme is pretty stupid, I will say that your change makes the rail planner completely useless to me. And since laboriously hand placing rail all across the landscape is also a huge pain, the removal of the feature creates a situation in which I have a choice between upgrading or using rails. Since rails are such an integral part of the game, I will simply not be upgrading.

I consider removal of this ability to be a misfeature, much like I would consider removal of 'item count' conditions at rail stops or taking way splitters. This was a terrible choice. And while I understand that the rail planner interface was complex, removal of this feature in order to simplify it wasn't the right way to go.

Additionally, this does not create parity with ghost buildings. With ghost buildings, you have to hold shift to get item destruction. Otherwise, it doesn't let you place the blueprint. That's not the same behavior as what you've done with the rail planner in which item destruction is the default behavior.

The rail planner confusion comes in with the distinction between ghost (aka rail planner) mode and item placement mode. Rails are the only thing that has a sort of 'ad-hoc' large scale 'blueprinting' ability. And so, in many ways, rail planning ghost mode is like, but also not like a blueprint placement. I don't think it's possible to make the features comparable because they are different in a couple of important ways.
Registered an account only to +1 this! i've been playing this game for a long a time thus far all changes were great and with thought. this seems like - eh we don't have a good solution for new players lets just dumb it down.
Removing a feature is not a feature. if you want to make new players life easier you can simply default it to this new behavior and let us,normal people, toggle that off and go back to how the rail planner currently works - with the extra feature of avoiding obstacles in rail planning.

i always thought that this feature was quite clever and useful... and now just like that you remove it.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by dood » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:08 am

Wouldn't multiple versions of every icon be a huge load on vram?

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Nova » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:39 am

Na, it's not so big. Let's say we have 500 icons with 64x64 pixels, each pixel 4 bytes big. Now we double the amount to compensate for the new icon sizes, resulting in 1000 * 64*64 * 4 Byte = ~16 MByte. That's pretty small, and with some optimizations (4 byte per pixel is absolutely not needed ^^) this value can be much lower.
Last edited by Nova on Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Mendel » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:32 pm

Since you are doing rail building changes anyways, please see my rail building related topic:

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=69478

I mean I'm probably doing something wrong here but I think this should be more intuitive somehow:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90gMu4ABv7w

I guess what I need is a simple way to move the green arrow back or elsewhere on the rail, move it elsewhere from the end of the point where I ended building the rails previously.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by mcdjfp » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:44 pm

I just want to agree with the people who are pointing out that the new behavior for the rail planner causes it to behave differently than blueprints, thus it is not a standardization. Any simplification of controls is countered by the rail planner being an outlier when it comes to toggling terrain clearing.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Codemaster » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:13 pm

Finally my report is fixed. Nice. :D
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=50487

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Shogal » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:52 pm

dood wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:08 am
Wouldn't multiple versions of every icon be a huge load on vram?
No, in mipmap every downscaled texture is 4 times smaller than previous one on each step, so first is 1, 2nd is 1/4, 3rd is 1/16 etc. It's geometric progression, which sum tends to 4/3. So, storing multiple downscaled versions of each icon will just occupy roughly 33% memory of original icons, not even a half.
And i guess, icons take very small amount of ram, comparing to, for example, every frame of assembling machine animation.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Yokmp » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:39 am

Is SVG a possibility? It could be up and downscaled "without" the loss of quality. Im not shure how good it works with more complex images.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Nova » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:29 am

SVG doesn't exist on hardware level. Every SVG image is converted into a pixel image to render it. You could maybe save some download or disk space with that method, but both are even less problematic with these small icon sizes. The workload to implement an SVG renderer into the engine and converting the icons would be much worse than ~5 MB more needed graphics RAM.
Last edited by Nova on Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by peternlewis » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:42 am

ninjayeti wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:59 pm
The sight of three interlocking gears makes me cringe...
Same here.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by Monara » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:18 am

I don't post here often but this seems important enough. I have to agree with everyone about the rail planner changes being the bad kind of streamlining. If the way to use a feature is not immediately obvious to new players, the solution should never be to trash that feature entirely.

I remember when the new rail planner was introduced the avoiding of obstacles was one of its major features. I bet a lot of work went into the pathfinding for that... If the planner is no longer capable of doing that, it is just always going to create straight lines with as few curves as possible. This means it has no advantage whatsoever over just stamping a bunch of long straight rail blueprints. For me the entire point of the planner is its pathfinding ability. It makes me really sad such a great feature is just thrown away to simplify a single key press for new players.

There's another issue I'm seeing and it's the fact many players will unlock rail building long before they get cliff explosives because the infrastructure required for those is just not a priority most of the time. Now the rail planner will be unusable until you go down the otherwise optional military/explosives path.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by meganothing » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:20 pm

I must confess I never knew about the method of holding shift while starting the rail planner. So I always had a hard time laying rails through forests and often used blueprints to get around the limitation.

Could someone explain to me what the problem with the change is for early game? If you don't hold the shift key you don't make ghosts and therefore can lay tracks while avoiding instead of removing trees and cliffs. Since you don't have robots in early game anyway that shouldn't be a problem. Even later the functionality is still there at the moment, it depends on whether viewtopic.php?f=7&t=69469 is a bug or a feature.

I must say the automatic cliff removal is a problem for me as well, I already unintentionally destroyed a few natural defenses with blueprints and track laying.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by 5thHorseman » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:52 pm

meganothing wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:20 pm
I must confess I never knew about the method of holding shift while starting the rail planner. So I always had a hard time laying rails through forests and often used blueprints to get around the limitation.

Could someone explain to me what the problem with the change is for early game?
In .16 starting the rails with shift allowed you to lay ghosts, and you could lay one for ... ever? At least a long way. I only used it rarely so don't know for sure. The cool part of it though was it would automagically route the track around obstacles so you didn't have to clear stuff. Just build 2 stations, shift click one, click the other, and bam there's your rail ghost.

They removed that for a cleaner UI, which I understand but some people liked it which I also understand.
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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by SuicideJunkie » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:28 pm

I for one use the rail planner mainly for obstacle avoidance, and secondarily to make connections between existing pieces of track.

When going to shred through the environment and replace all with the factory, blueprints are the way to go.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by leadraven » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:09 am

I like new rail construction system. I always wanted it to work exactly this way.

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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by H8UL » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:09 am

It's a bit of a quandary. For late game the changes are helpful to rail planning, but for early game, avoiding obstacles is more important. And getting new players to use rail earlier is valuable. Having said that, I found the way it planned around obstacles to be a bit surprising, it flipping into some undesirable circuitous route. I am not sure I ever allowed the rail planner to route around an obstacle for me!

In vanilla I almost never use rail before construction bots because I am lazy, so it probably benefits me over all anyway.

I am just glad we don't have to manufacture curved rail anymore :)
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Re: Friday Facts #290 - Rail building changes & High-res icons

Post by mrvn » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:19 pm

Uristqwerty wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:37 pm
So players may care about 5 bits of rail configuration

- Place ghosts
- Destroy trees
- Destroy rocks
- Destroy cliffs
- Use landfill

and this change reduces the available configurations, in order to simplify the input mode. Would it be reasonable to let the player customize the behaviour of shift and non-shift rail building in the options? Or have a blueprint-like item for placing with a non-default configuration?
This calls for a rail planer that you can drop into your inventory and customize. Just like the deconstruction planer.

Default should go around cliffs I think. Destroying them is late in the game, expensive and often I don't have any with me when I build rails.

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