Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

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adamwong246
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Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

AFAIK (tell me if I'm wrong): Steam engines will automatically slow once the power needs are satisfied. I suppose this is a quality-of-life thing but I'd like to make the argument that this "feature" actually hampers gameplay.

All the other power sources will continue to operate even when satisfaction is 100%. For instance, the nuclear reactor will waste a ton of valuable fuel if you let it, and this is really cool gameplay aspect. It forces you to really consider how to use signals and switches to balance your grid, conserve fuel and limit pollution. Wasting coal and spewing pollution are bad for your campaign but they make great problems to overcome.

Can we consider what would happen if the steam engines simply ran full-tilt, regardless of the grids capacity or satisfaction? Using combinators, signals and switches, you could easily build a steam plant that can be activated and deactivated as needed. This is a worthwhile engineering experience but it's wasted because the steam engines just shut off on their own.

Perhaps there is some deeper reason for this. If so, please let me know.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by DanGio »

I like it as is because :
- constant fuel consumption by nuclear reactor is additional challenge to tackle, it's good that it comes later when the player has more tools and knowledge
- i like the non-punishing aspect of Factorio balance : build as large as you want, your base will just work

I also fear that boilers running full throttle would waste new players because of pollution -> biters

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

I guess I should have mentioned that this is in furtherance of my modpack, which has the goal of being more "punishing". So maybe this is something that should be implemented as a mod, rather than integrated into vanilla.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by darkfrei »

Modding:

1. You can flush steam from steam engine;
2. or cool down the steam inside of it;
3. built-in power pole and electric energy interface with tertiary consumption priority;
4. built-in infinity pipe, that takes all / half steam;
5. the player must use "terminator" on the end of steam engine pipes, steam engine is disabled without it, internal it's infinite pipe, that flushes all fluids.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by foamy »

Ironically enough, nuclear fuel isn't all that valuable, once you run the math. In 10,000 ore, you'll get around 7 U-235 (and effectively unlimited amounts of -238, as long as you're not shooting it at biters), even before Kovarex processing. That's 70 fuel cells, which is 14,000 reactor-seconds (IOW, enough to power a 4-reactor 480MW setup for a little less than an hour. 10,000 coal in the same time would only sustain ~11.5MW.

The numbers get even more ridiculous once you include productivity in the fuel cell assembler and/or Kovarex processing. Nuclear power is pretty much literally too cheap to meter. It's fun to engineer ways to do it anyways, but it's sort of gloriously pointless.

It would be far more a priority if you had to do it with coal. But the early game onramp is already throwing a lot of concepts at you in rapid succession; not having to worry about your power beyond "am I feeding it enough inputs" would overload things, I feel. Particularly since the boilers are one of the first places belt and pipe throughput issues will be very noticeable, since failures there can bring down the entire factory.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

I'm on the "vanilla is too easy" side of the debate. I was able to easily reach the end-game without trains, signals, blueprints, logistical chests or nuclear.

I also understand that very few people ever get through the tutorial! So yes, front-loading this complexity probably WOULD scare away people. But I might make the argument that if you can't get through the current vanilla tutorial, Factorio is not the game for you. It simply isn't a casual game. Should we really be concerned about losing casual players?

Rather than lose valuable gameplay mechanics, maybe some super-simple interim energy supplies could be introduced to the early game? Perhaps something like a Windmill, something that doesn't consume fuel and hence, needs no signals. That gives the player some plausible backup while they get their "dumb" steam engines networked.

I'd like the game to be more "pure". There are actually a lot of hand-holdy bits that make things far too easy. The Personal Fusion Reactor, for one, violates the laws of thermodynamics as well as all the other precepts of the game, which is that you get something for nothing. The auto-scaling power sources are a similar case, where strict adherence to the rules ruins the fun for casual players, but for a modder, this is an opportunity to make a harder challenge.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by bormand »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:54 pm
valuable gameplay mechanics
Well, constant consumption will not make game harder.

Power consumption rarely drops, so you don't need any circuit control, just add engines gradually, when you really need them. And have a separate generator for a coal patch, just for safety.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

I don't know about you but my power consumption varies wildly when the laser turrets are engaged.

I have a system that disengages my assemblers and miners when the accumulators are low and another that engages my science labs when the accumulators are full. So I preserve power for my defenses (especially important at night) and only burn extra power for research.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by NotRexButCaesar »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:16 pm
I don't know about you but my power consumption varies wildly when the laser turrets are engaged.
Just add some *more accumulators
Last edited by NotRexButCaesar on Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by jodokus31 »

AmericanPatriot wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:00 pm
adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:16 pm
I don't know about you but my power consumption varies wildly when the laser turrets are engaged.
Just add some accumulators
adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:16 pm
I have a system that disengages my assemblers and miners when the accumulators are low and another that engages my science labs when the accumulators are full. So I preserve power for my defenses (especially important at night) and only burn extra power for research.
He uses accumulators
adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:54 pm
I'm on the "vanilla is too easy" side of the debate. I was able to easily reach the end-game without trains, signals, blueprints, logistical chests or nuclear.
...
I'd like the game to be more "pure". There are actually a lot of hand-holdy bits that make things far too easy. The Personal Fusion Reactor, for one, violates the laws of thermodynamics as well as all the other precepts of the game, which is that you get something for nothing. The auto-scaling power sources are a similar case, where strict adherence to the rules ruins the fun for casual players, but for a modder, this is an opportunity to make a harder challenge.
vanilla is probably not the right place to remove "hand-holdy" bits. Writing a mod is possible and seems to be a good alternative to get more challenging.
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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

Perhaps I should have posted this in the mods section but a mod is map current plan.
adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Tue Jan 26, 2021 12:12 am
I guess I should have mentioned that this is in furtherance of my modpack, which has the goal of being more "punishing". So maybe this is something that should be implemented as a mod, rather than integrated into vanilla.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

BTW when I say "vanilla is too easy", I mean "vanilla is too easy for me, a seasoned player." I think it's about right for new players.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

For anyone interested, the network priorities are on the wiki.
Electricity is provided on a priority basis. The demand for energy is satisfied by generators in following order:

Solar panels – Top priority; they always work at maximum performance available, unless they can cover all demand of the network, in which case they match demand.
Steam engines and Steam turbines – They match whatever demand solar panels cannot satisfy; note that Engines and Turbines do have the same priority, leftover demand is equally divided among both.
Accumulator – Last resort. They are only discharged when demand cannot be met by other means. They are also only charged when all demand is met, and there is yet more power available.
There may be situations where different behaviour is desired (such as solar panels combined with accumulators for night-and-day delivery), in which case clever use of a power switch and the circuit network is in order.
I suspect the electrical grid works much like the fluid-system, except that the "fluid" moves through wires instantaneously. Like all factorio machines which produces items onto a transport system, if there's no room, they simply stop. So when a steam engine can't push anymore electrical-units into the grid, it slows to a halt. Which make perfect sense given the internal logic of factorio transport systems. This also explains why the network must have priorities- electricity spreads through the network so it must be managed on-the-side.

Upon further reflection, this feature request might be asking for quite an overhaul of the grid itself. Either re-work the grid so excess electricity just disappears, OR you need an electricity-eater-machine that just eats any excess power on the grid. That would keep your energy-inputs running 100%. (I think?)

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by NotRexButCaesar »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:54 pm
Should we really be concerned about losing casual players?
Yes. As a company selling a product, WUBE should make a product that many people want to buy.
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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by adamwong246 »

If they can't make it through the demo-tutorial, I doubt they are buying the game.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by NotRexButCaesar »

jodokus31 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:34 pm
AmericanPatriot wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:00 pm
Just add some *more accumulators
He uses accumulators
Edited for clarity
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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by NotRexButCaesar »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:01 pm
If they can't make it through the demo-tutorial, I doubt they are buying the game.
I didn’t say anything about that. I meant what I wrote.
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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by Trific »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:01 pm
If they can't make it through the demo-tutorial, I doubt they are buying the game.
I don't think it is necessarily a matter of can't, it's more that they tried it and it didn't appeal. Unlike those of us who went on to buy the game. Making the demo was a smart move, so many people are tired of games that promise and underdeliver.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by foamy »

adamwong246 wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:39 pm
BTW when I say "vanilla is too easy", I mean "vanilla is too easy for me, a seasoned player." I think it's about right for new players.

I think this is, basically, the realm of modding, then. The New Player Experience is pretty critical to a game like this, and Factorio's NPE is pretty crowded already.

Really cool the first time you try a Lazy Bastard run and you're sitting in the dark beside your lone stone furnace as it grinds away on the plates, though. That was an experience that's stuck with me for a few years now.

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Re: Steam Engine should not "scale down" automatically.

Post by Xeorm »

Can't say I'd enjoy it. Early game when steam is your only source of power it'd result in more micro. Busywork essentially. If I had a circuit network or something to have control over it maybe I'd like it, but I can't see the appeal.

Later on it doesn't matter nearly as much. When I got nuclear power I didn't bother with any circuit network shenanigans because as noted above the fuel is cheap enough it doesn't matter.

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