Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by RobertTerwilliger »

New design is cool, however I don't feel good about bottom "lightnings". To me, as an engineer electro-mechanist, they look... dangerous. Like something went wrong with insulation and it now discharges onto surrounding, and about to explode. This is not healthy machine design. I'd rather make some of bottom cables transparent and glowing with internal charges. Or add some kind of capsule, like lab has (charges encased in outer dome there looks much more at place).
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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by z0rl00t3r »

Really liked this concept that was posted on reddit:

Image

Think it makes a lot of sense to have a mess of cables running around, distributing power, sending data, etc. Fits the short-range speed/efficiency booster better than huge transmission towers. It's also less 'magic' to have cables running underground.

The tesla coil should perhaps be some kind of compute unit and/or power distribution device.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by IronCartographer »

I do like the idea of a design that has some openness to it, allowing visibility of the ground tiles underneath. That would help beacons blend into the background aesthetic of choice, re-focusing the overall appearance of a production area on the production machines themselves.

Another thing that occurs to me is that while electric arcs lack a certain...directionality...there is a very clear way to represent futuristic waves/signals being broadcast: Concentric rings growing as they travel away from emitter antennas or dishes.
futuristic_waves.png
futuristic_waves.png (1.04 MiB) Viewed 1809 times

An effect like this would actually be an improvement over both the "spinning radar" and the "random caged lightning" in terms of clearly illustrating "effect on nearby machines," especially if relatively low to the ground, reflecting its extremely limited range.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by JackGruff »

The fundamental issue has always been that the beacon is the least believable thing in the game. Even against putting an oil refinery in your pocket, its magic stays out in the open, continually visible in your factory. Maybe it's entire purpose needs to be reevaluated.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by JimBarracus »

I think part of the problem to find a good design is that no one realy has a clue how the beacon works.

First off: What are modules?
I think they are some kind of upgrade to a machine and make it work better than the default version.

About this design: How does Sauron's eye make a machine run better?
This design is closer to witchcraft than technology.

I think something like a computing unit would be more suitable.
Something that looks like a server farm and provides additional optimization to the machines nearby.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by eradicator »

IronCartographer wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:07 am
I do like the idea of a design that has some openness to it, allowing visibility of the ground tiles underneath. That would help beacons blend into the background aesthetic of choice, re-focusing the overall appearance of a production area on the production machines themselves.

Another thing that occurs to me is that while electric arcs lack a certain...directionality...there is a very clear way to represent futuristic waves/signals being broadcast: Concentric rings growing as they travel away from emitter antennas or dishes.

futuristic_waves.png


An effect like this would actually be an improvement over both the "spinning radar" and the "random caged lightning" in terms of clearly illustrating "effect on nearby machines," especially if relatively low to the ground, reflecting its extremely limited range.
I thought about that before but came to the conclusion that it's not a good idea. Many RTS games use something similar to signify radar range, etcpp, whatever. But none of them have to cope with situations where these effects are clustered together as densly as they are in factorio. An effect might look nice for a singular beacon but multiplied tens of times on the same screen it'll quickly become overwhelming. So any effect larger than the beacon is imho out of the question and concentric rings probably wouldn't look that great if they're only a tiny deco object at the top of the antenna.
JimBarracus wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:32 am
I think part of the problem to find a good design is that no one realy has a clue how the beacon works.
That's a good point. Maybe it's time to rethink that part. Mods often offer beacons with insanely large radius that completely break the game mechanic. But in vanilla beacons only ever affect machines almost directly adjacent to them, so maybe they don't need to use magic air waves at all, maybe they can just draw some sort of cable connection on the ground. Like the adjacency bonus in Supreme Commander:

Image

Personally i wouldn't mind if the whole concept of magic waves and "beacon sandwich" was trashed, but we all know how likely that is to happen...
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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Oktokolo »

JimBarracus wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:32 am
This design is closer to witchcraft than technology.
Beacons are one of the most witchcrafty thing in the game. So having a witchcrafty design is okay.
I personally already avoid using them (also not using laser turrets).

Would still like the new design as a low-range tesla-turret lighting up biters that come too close to the turret...

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Pithlit »

Ok, let's take a step back:

What is a beacon in Factorio: it "magically transmits effects of modules through the air".

So, what is a module: it's a "thing made of circuits that makes a machine run more efficient". In the real world, I would describe it as as some computer part. Since you can change the machines behavior (speed/efficiency/productivity) with different kinds of modules, I would assume modules are (floppy)-discs with software on it, that controls/optimizes the machines behavior.

Modules in the real world:
floppy.jpg
floppy.jpg (8.37 KiB) Viewed 1685 times
Back to beacons: what problem do they actually solve?
Machines only accept a limited number of modules. To make use of more, beacons are added.

Back to the real world: We can currently not run arbitrary software on industrial machines. Those machines are limited by their hardware components. So if we want to use greater processing power for a industrial device we connect it to a server in our basement.

Beacons in real world:
serverrack.jpg
serverrack.jpg (147.43 KiB) Viewed 1685 times
Now we insert our software modules in our server, and it transmits it's benefits to the machine. And - like beacons - a single server rack can connect to a handful machines.

If we have more machines, than a singe server rack can handle, we construct server rack arrays.

Beacon array in real world:
serverarray.jpg
serverarray.jpg (102.92 KiB) Viewed 1685 times

So the factorio beacons act like real world servers. But: beacons currently transmit their effects "magically through the air". Some people may call it wi-fi, but i have never seen a server rack connecting to a machine via wi-fi. Everybody would use wires for that.

Well, we know data wires in factorio, the red and green wire transmit single data points into the network. But those are more likely the connections of some sensors and actors within a logic network, nothing that does that crazy magic AI stuff servers do :-)

When servers are connected to their environment in the real world it looks more like this:

Effect transmission in real world:
cable_mess.jpg
cable_mess.jpg (15.42 KiB) Viewed 1685 times
TLDR;
So, finally, what I suggest:
* The beacons design could look more like a server rack. So everybody knows: beacons provide computing power. (And there are enough possibilities for blinky lights to show that the beacon is operating). And it's bulky, so it fits to factorios style.
* Instead of "through the air" i suggest cable creep on the floor in the area the beacon supports. Maybe the beacons and machines are connected with those wires (the difficult part to make looking awesome). Wires show that there is a connection between machines (maybe even when lying around on the floor). So no-one might ask "what is that machine doing? Some kind of sci-fi magic making my machines better?", instead people can recognize what this magic is.

Just my personal view on the factorio world :-)

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by meganothing »

RobertTerwilliger wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:50 am
New design is cool, however I don't feel good about bottom "lightnings". To me, as an engineer electro-mechanist, they look... dangerous. Like something went wrong with insulation and it now discharges onto surrounding, and about to explode. This is not healthy machine design. I'd rather make some of bottom cables transparent and glowing with internal charges. Or add some kind of capsule, like lab has (charges encased in outer dome there looks much more at place).
The AssoCiation of Mad scientist Ecosystem, ACME, would like to remind everyone that above is the opinion of a very small minority of so-called professionals who are also responsible for various draconian measures in the name of safety that suspiciously always hinder science and progress.


:)

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by IronCartographer »

A frame of animation from the beacon in Factorio 0.6, for historical perspective:
basic-beacon.png
basic-beacon.png (43.07 KiB) Viewed 1564 times
The return to electrical arcs (blue here, across the top and somewhat in the middle) is an interesting cycle of design iteration.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Deadlock989 »

IronCartographer wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:27 pm
A frame of animation from the beacon in Factorio 0.6, for historical perspective:
basic-beacon.png

The return to electrical arcs (blue here, across the top and somewhat in the middle) is an interesting cycle of design iteration.
That was the 0.1.0 - 0.5.3 lab graphic. It was put on beacons when they were introduced in 0.6.0. You can see them in this 0.4.1 video around the 5 minutes mark.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by MakeItGraphic »

Deadlock989 wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:46 pm
IronCartographer wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:27 pm
A frame of animation from the beacon in Factorio 0.6, for historical perspective:
basic-beacon.png

The return to electrical arcs (blue here, across the top and somewhat in the middle) is an interesting cycle of design iteration.
That was the 0.1.0 - 0.5.3 lab graphic. It was put on beacons when they were introduced in 0.6.0. You can see them in this 0.4.1 video around the 5 minutes mark.
why not link the time?

https://youtu.be/1LwtCdMYhwg?t=300

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Kiu »

While the beacon looks nice by itself, in combination it looks like a protoss building inside a terran base.
And it's kind of strange if it is the only building with variants.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by gGeorg »

As designer already mentioned, beacons are staple in later game. However, next step in thinking is needed - In case of graphicaly attractive (sparkling red monster with Sauron's eye) beacon then all your base suddenly look like a beacon.

It would be better make beacon very neutral, even boring. Something which do not overlap own hit box. That way, production bildings takes attention.
Well it is about production, right?
Making a support blding to steal most attention is bad idea.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by LostInTheForums »

To be honest I don't like it.
-Beacon needs to have rotating top-thing antenna-something
-This reddish painting just seems wrong

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by YadanHubclan »

I also find them out of place and not very cool. The big ass antenna was way cooler than the spire with electricity.

Maybe you could increase the effect radius a lot, however now bots can't cross the field due to eletrosmog !

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by AndrewIRL »

conn11 wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:31 am
Although productivity modules can’t be placed into beacons and transmitting efficiency is mostly a no brained.
Good point, beacons are only for speed.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Xehlwan »

Personally, I don't like the beacon spam. I'd much prefer it if the beacons were rebalanced to a form that didn't allow overlap, possibly with larger range.

That way, it would be alright for the beacon graphics to be cool and flashy, since it wouldn't be repeated in long rows. It could also give the feeling that the beacon is just the visible part of a larger underground support structure, which would make more sense as to how it works.

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by Traniz »

I always wanted beacons to be a function instead of an entity in physical form. like the logistic network but with proximity in mind.

Using a different color cable to show which entity is connected to the beacon network.
Or maybe have beacon slots so that a beacon isn't transmitting RF signals, but rather have a limited set of entities that can use it, but use it's function over distance (boost limited so you can't abuse it).

Concept with blue cable being a beacon connection.
Image

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Re: Friday Facts #339 - Beacon HR + Redesign process

Post by conn11 »

Traniz wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:36 pm
I always wanted beacons to be a function instead of an entity in physical form. like the logistic network but with proximity in mind.
Using a different color cable to show which entity is connected to the beacon network.
Or maybe have beacon slots so that a beacon isn't transmitting RF signals, but rather have a limited set of entities that can use it, but use it's function over distance (boost limited so you can't abuse it).

Not a good idea, this wouldn’t change the most convenient linear or efficient box layout of beacons/ cables. Debugging such a setup with a legion of cabels would be horrendous. Not to mention, that custom cable links aren’t entirely covered by blueprints.

This sounds more, like built in beacons spotlighted in FFF 336 is something for you.

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