Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

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Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by borthralla »

I understand most people may have fun with beacons and level 3 modules, that's awesome. I'd like to explain why I personally find them unfun.

With beacons specifically, although I understand that they exist as a way to enable larger bases without sacrificing UPS, they don't make sense to me realistically or intuitively. That would be okay if they enabled a greater variety of designs, however the optimal setup is always going to be 4 prod 3 modules and as many speed beacons as you can surround the building. That sort of design leads to constrained space for belts, which reduces the number of build varieties which cause builds to look like this: https://www.reddit.com/r/factorio/comme ... e_builds/
Since beacons are neither intuitively realistic or enabling a greater variety of build designs, I don't personally find them fun. One solution would be simply not to use them, however productivity modules are so powerful that not using them is an extreme nerf to your science output.

Now for why I don't find productivity modules (and more or less all the modules) to be fun.
First of all, similarly to beacons, I don't find productivity modules to be intuitive or realistic. I could understand doing scientific research on a type of building to come up with a more resource-efficient production process leading to a more productive design. However, I don't understand how placing in a few circuits into an existing building and not changing anything else would somehow make the manufacturing process more resource efficient (yet also slower for some reason?).
Speed modules make a bit more sense to me, perhaps they can be thought of an "overclocking" tool of some kind.
Efficiency modules don't make much sense but they would make a lot more sense if they only reduced pollution, but not energy usage.

I also don't like how level 3 modules are so expensive given how essential they are to growing the factory during the endgame. You want to scale up your factory so that you can make the modules faster, but it feels like a waste of time because you end up tearing down those new expansions to make compressed beaconed builds with level 3 prod modules as soon as you're done making a sufficient number of modules. So I tend to spend a very boring number of hours just waiting for the exact number of modules I need to make the new green circuit/red circuits/oil refinery setup. The expense of level 3 modules may be balanced since they are powerful, but the fact that they are so indispensable makes building them feel like a time consuming chore around when it would make sense to start using them.

Alternative ways to address the UPS issue

Without beacons or modules being used with assembly machines, another way to reduce UPS would be to enable scientific research of more advanced facilities which are more productive and require fewer entities. An infinite research path could allow for extremely fast assembling machines, perhaps such advanced assemblers could look more like rocket silos.

If I were to try and implement my suggestions as a mod, it would look something like this:
- Add assembly machine v4 which has productivity and speed equivalent to a fully beaconed/moduled assembler v3
- Remove module slots from labs and incorporate productivity into "Lab Productivity" research
- Add v2 versions of oil refineries, chemical plants, and electric furnaces which are comparable to fully beaconed/moduled v1 versions
- Consider adding infinite research path which increases speed/electricity usage of the high tier manufacturing entities

I'm curious if other people would appreciate a mod like this. If so, I'm curious about balancing the recipes/energy consumption of such entities.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by eradicator »

borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:18 pm
I understand most people may have fun with beacons and level 3 modules, that's awesome. I'd like to explain why I personally find them unfun.

That would be okay if they enabled a greater variety of designs
I don't like beacons at all precisely because they restrict designs too much.

The core of the problem is human though. For some mystical reason people only look for the SPM numbers. I've build a MK2-assemblers-only base that looks awesome (to me), but it's never going to be able to be competitive on a pure SPM-number basis. And a base that is "just large" apparently isn't anything near as good as yet another run-of-the-mill bacon-sandwich "compact" base.

One of the devs even made a mod that tries to keep the numbers while getting rid of the beacons.

If everyone could just forget that the meta-game went up to "20K SPM" and started being astonished about 500 SPM again the problem would be easy to solve ;).
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:18 pm
An infinite research path could allow for extremely fast assembling machines, perhaps such advanced assemblers could look more like rocket silos.

If I were to try and implement my suggestions as a mod,
There's tons of Tier 4/5/6 mods for belts/assemblers/furnaces etcpp on the portal. I don't see the point. I don't want to build *fewer* machines, I want to build *more* machines. You just gotta let go of the idea that "mega" factories must produce #KSPM, then you can enjoy building at mega-scale without beacons.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by Qon »

V453000's mod is cool, but I kind of don't really like "faster machines mod", Tier 10 machines are just makes the game boring because they reduce the scale of builds. They don't really force you to rethink the game at larger scale production.

Beacons are nice in that they require a different kind of design, but it's boring in that it's the exact same "different design" for all products. I think an interesting middle ground would be to have beacons, but not letting the effects stack if a machine is covered by several beacons. You would then try to reduce the beacons as much as possible while still having everything covered by beacons. Or you would cover beacons with assemblers, inverting the design. But the assemblers around the beacons need inputs and outputs so you can't just place them next to each other like beacons.

And without the beacons taking all the space creative and unique direct insertion designs are viable. A little bit of limitation (beacons being necessary) can be a boost for creativity and unique problem solutions. Not having beacons at all is a bit too free and there's not much point to any design except density, the end game is similar to the start and it becomes a bit too much of the same. In V453000's album documenting his base built with his built-in-beacons mod actually used the same designs from the start until the end and he just upgraded things. Seeing a lot of direct insertion was nice though. But that is possible with non-stacking beacons as well.

You can just make beacons have the same effect as 12 beacons (so would have more module slots) but require much more power if you want similar production numbers, if that is something we should really value.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by quyxkh »

borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:18 pm
the optimal setup is always going to be 4 prod 3 modules and as many speed beacons as you can surround the building.
There's setups where speed wins, others where efficiency wins. If it's not fun for you to find them then that's how it is, no one can argue with that, "there's no accounting for taste" is lifted from a dead language and I'd bet the observation was not new then, you love what you love, but the absence of fun isn't intrinsic. Your fascination is just not drawn to these particular subtleties.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by borthralla »

eradicator wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 8:19 pm
For some mystical reason people only look for the SPM numbers. I've build a MK2-assemblers-only base that looks awesome (to me), but it's never going to be able to be competitive on a pure SPM-number basis. And a base that is "just large" apparently isn't anything near as good as yet another run-of-the-mill bacon-sandwich "compact" base.

If everyone could just forget that the meta-game went up to "20K SPM" and started being astonished about 500 SPM again the problem would be easy to solve ;).

There's tons of Tier 4/5/6 mods for belts/assemblers/furnaces etcpp on the portal. I don't see the point. I don't want to build *fewer* machines, I want to build *more* machines. You just gotta let go of the idea that "mega" factories must produce #KSPM, then you can enjoy building at mega-scale without beacons.
People definitely will optimize the fun out of a game given the opportunity, however in a game like Factorio optimization is the whole point! In my view its important that optimization be fun and interesting, and for the early and mid game that's definitely the case for Factorio. My argument is that optimization stops being fun between regular base and megabase due to beacons and level 3 modules, and you can't expect players to make suboptimal designs "in the name of fun".

Also I think the reason besides productivity modules that people tend not to build megabases with huge numbers of machines and inserters is that UPS ends up being a bottleneck. I haven't experienced this myself but it makes sense that there's only so many entities you can have working at the same time before it starts to be an obstacle. It seems like a natural fix to the UPS issue is to allow players to research bigger/faster entities so that the problem transitions from maximizing UPS to maximizing train throughput, which is a lot more fun to optimize.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by borthralla »

quyxkh wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:36 pm
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:18 pm
the optimal setup is always going to be 4 prod 3 modules and as many speed beacons as you can surround the building.
There's setups where speed wins, others where efficiency wins. If it's not fun for you to find them then that's how it is, no one can argue with that, "there's no accounting for taste" is lifted from a dead language and I'd bet the observation was not new then, you love what you love, but the absence of fun isn't intrinsic. Your fascination is just not drawn to these particular subtleties.
Specifically for assembly machines I don't believe efficiency modules ever win due to energy being fairly cheap. Speed modules are only useful in the case where you need to save space, otherwise it is always better to place another assembler. As long as the recipe allows productivity modules to be used, it is universally the optimal choice and I don't think you can seriously argue that it's not.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by NotRexButCaesar »

I personally find the space restriction to lead to some of the most interesting and fun to solve problems in the game, especially when working with direct insertion.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by eradicator »

Qon wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:26 pm
I think an interesting middle ground would be to have beacons, but not letting the effects stack if a machine is covered by several beacons.

A little bit of limitation (beacons being necessary) can be a boost for creativity and unique problem solutions.

Not having beacons at all is a bit too free and there's not much point to any design except density
Obviously just completely removing beacons after having had them doesn't work (not that I have any illusions about how much impact this thread will have on the actual game :p). For the same reasons that in one FFF one dev said they can't remove bots now, but that they wouldn't have added them if they knew what would happen - taking things away from people is a negative action, not giving them something they didn't know existed is a neutral action. I'm not sure if just removing the overlapping works. It would just make beacons behave like a second "electricity network" - cover everything and be done.

Supreme Commander had a nice "adjecency bonus" system where it was important what buildings you place next to each other. I.e. build an assembler next to a furnace to gain a productivity bonus, build it next to a steam engine to gain a speed bonus, etc. Esentially making every building a quasi-beacon with it's own bonus type. To make builds more varied you need to increase the number of possible solutions to a point where it's impossible to find the "perfect" solution that maxes out everything. Beacons only have two "solutions", rows or squares. Nuclear has adjacency, but only amongst itself, and insertion limits it again to a very simple 2*N solution space. Modules should've created more solutions, but productivity is so powerful and so limited that it's difficult to reasonably avoid. Allowing productivity in beacons would probably produce more variety, might give a choice between really slow but productive, and really fast but wasteful. If resources had different rarity (i.e if uranium was reduced to 1% of it's current value) it might then be worth to push productivity i.e. on uranium, but speed on the others. On the other side that kind of change forces you to use prod on U, so again it doesn't increase choice.
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:39 pm
and you can't expect players to make suboptimal designs "in the name of fun".
That makes no sense. You say that you find X "unfun", but you reject the idea of building differently "in the name of fun". And no, I fully expect lots of people to completly optimize the fun out of the game. But you can't complain about "unfun" if you do that to yourself.
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:39 pm
I haven't experienced this myself but it makes sense that there's only so many entities you can have working at the same time before it starts to be an obstacle.
That was my point though. I see no intrinsic value in "large numbers" if the only difference between "large number" and "small number" is each assemblers crafting speed. When you reach the entity limit that your hardware can handle it doesn't really matter how fast each entity is. "Back in the old days" people had great fun building 1K rocket defense bases because that was simply the limit of the balancing back then.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

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eradicator wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 10:39 pm
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:39 pm
and you can't expect players to make suboptimal designs "in the name of fun".
That makes no sense. You say that you find X "unfun", but you reject the idea of building differently "in the name of fun". And no, I fully expect lots of people to completly optimize the fun out of the game. But you can't complain about "unfun" if you do that to yourself.
borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:39 pm
I haven't experienced this myself but it makes sense that there's only so many entities you can have working at the same time before it starts to be an obstacle.
That was my point though. I see no intrinsic value in "large numbers" if the only difference between "large number" and "small number" is each assemblers crafting speed. When you reach the entity limit that your hardware can handle it doesn't really matter how fast each entity is. "Back in the old days" people had great fun building 1K rocket defense bases because that was simply the limit of the balancing back then.
I'd be happy to build differently in the name of fun but I don't like that it comes at the cost of science throughput if I don't design the base around prod 3 modules. The whole point of the game is to automate science with the tools given, and prod 3 modules have an enormous effect on how much science you get from a set amount of inputs (its a lot more than 40% more because its applied during multiple steps during the production process). It's one thing if the path without prod modules is just as good but takes longer to build or is less clean looking, but its another thing if it is impossible to get y outputs out of x inputs unless you use prod 3 modules. To be fare, you don't NEED beacons with prod 3 modules, however only using prod 3 modules without beacons leads to exponentially more modules required and energy requirements and space, so its not realistic.

About UPS, I think when you have a lot of belts that aren't compressed and you have inserters taking things off those belts, it has to go through each inserter and check if the thing is there on the belt or not. It's not like solar panels where they can grouped together and handled in bulk, each entity requires an extra step during the tick and there's going to be a limit at some point. Having fewer entities that can do more per tick does improve things because it reduces the number of inserters/uncompressed belts required.

Thanks for sharing that mod by the way, it looks a lot like what I was thinking about.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by eradicator »

borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:06 pm
The whole point of the game is to automate science with the tools given
Yea, but...what I'm essentially saying is: Why do you think producing 10k SPM is "more fun" than 1K SPM. Beacons do not change the overall complexity of the factory that a given hardware can handle imho.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

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i find higher tier buildings to be a pretty fun design challenge. if you're creative enough, you can find challenge anywhere. i make the simplest things in life more difficult all the time.
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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by fancybreakfast »

I vehemently disagree with a multitude of positions posited in this thread. I am now anxious and afraid that my beloved beacons and modules might get changed at the behest of paragraphs without heads.

I love beacons and beacon layouts. It's all I do, all day. In the past two weeks, Steam says I've played 193 hours on Factorio which is all sandbox beacon layouts and working on my vanilla freeplay project that involves modules and circuits beyond numbers we've previously seen (currently at 11,869 furnaces and 12,686 assembly machines-900 of which are refineries and 652 are plastic.) For a while now I've been making exotic beacon designs with direct-insertion up through the line. 9 inserters max with 8 beacons minimum, pushing 11 beacon DI beyond two, making constellations of stars, shuriken, and mooninites (not joking, the patterns resemble their names and are north of 9 beacons with DI from ore to blue and even speed two.

I adore beacons and modules. I'm constantly fiddling with ratios on cables, avoiding swastika shapes, and applying orange or blue nipples (modules in machines in alt view.)

Describing it without pictures feels like a crime. I'll try to post some later should I find the time. 12/12

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by jodokus31 »

fancybreakfast wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:33 pm
I am now anxious and afraid that my beloved beacons and modules might get changed at the behest of paragraphs without heads.
Download the zip factorio version, which you can keep forever. No steam updates are forced.
I don't believe they change it anytime soon or at all, but maybe you feel better to be safe and keep the current state.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by fancybreakfast »

jodokus31 wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:24 pm
Download the zip factorio version, which you can keep forever. No steam updates are forced.
I don't believe they change it anytime soon or at all, but maybe you feel better to be safe and keep the current state.
Thank you!! I am much more relaxed with the zip. I retract my objection to the lack of beacon affection. May you all find as much--if not more--joy from this game that I've come to adore.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by eradicator »

fancybreakfast wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:33 pm
paragraphs without heads.
Would you mind explaining what that means? English isn't my native language. And I'd like to at least understand how exactly you just insulted me :P.
fancybreakfast wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:33 pm
I am now anxious and afraid that my beloved beacons and modules might get changed at the behest of
Don't be. In the highly unlikely event that the devs go batshit crazy and change fundamental game mechanics, it would be for "The Addon". And when that comes your base is gonna break anyway.
fancybreakfast wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:33 pm
Describing it without pictures feels like a crime.
It is! You are hereby sentenced to posting at least 5 pictures of non-sandwich-row layouts.


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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by Qon »

jodokus31 wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:24 pm
No steam updates are forced.
If you are on stable. If a beta ends you can get forced out of that, I heard. And you still have to rely on trusting Steam to not change their mind on that. And the zip is already a zip, one step less to keep it backed up. Though you probably want your own saves and prints backed up anyways...

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by jodokus31 »

Qon wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:16 pm
jodokus31 wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:24 pm
No steam updates are forced.
If you are on stable. If a beta ends you can get forced out of that, I heard. And you still have to rely on trusting Steam to not change their mind on that. And the zip is already a zip, one step less to keep it backed up. Though you probably want your own saves and prints backed up anyways...
I was a bit unclear, I hope this is better:
With the zip version, no (steam) updates are forced.

f.e.: I can still boot up my 16.36 seablock with the original mods.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

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eradicator wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 3:13 pm

Would you mind explaining what that means? English isn't my native language. And I'd like to at least understand how exactly you just insulted me :P.
fancybreakfast wrote: ↑
Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:33 pm
Describing it without pictures feels like a crime.
It is! You are hereby sentenced to posting at least 5 pictures of non-sandwich-row layouts.
Paragraphs without heads was in reference to the unknown identities and unfamiliar--to me--forces behind the attack on the beacons. I felt like I was up against something I could not see--which I suppose is true since ideas and arguments exist outside the visual plane.

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Re: Beacons and Level 3 Modules Unfun

Post by Hannu »

borthralla wrote: ↑
Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:18 pm
Since beacons are neither intuitively realistic or enabling a greater variety of build designs, I don't personally find them fun. One solution would be simply not to use them, however productivity modules are so powerful that not using them is an extreme nerf to your science output.
I agree. I do not like beacons too. Effect is unrealistic and it makes every build similar. Fortunately game works very well without beacons. You can build as many entities and get as large production lines without beacons. Production is well balanced. Only thing you have to make a compromise is smaller number of production. I have no used beacons since I first tested them.
Now for why I don't find productivity modules (and more or less all the modules) to be fun.
First of all, similarly to beacons, I don't find productivity modules to be intuitive or realistic. I could understand doing scientific research on a type of building to come up with a more resource-efficient production process leading to a more productive design. However, I don't understand how placing in a few circuits into an existing building and not changing anything else would somehow make the manufacturing process more resource efficient (yet also slower for some reason?).
Speed modules make a bit more sense to me, perhaps they can be thought of an "overclocking" tool of some kind.
Efficiency modules don't make much sense but they would make a lot more sense if they only reduced pollution, but not energy usage.
You should not think modules as certain electronic device which changes production with magic. A module is representation of is some kind of hardware upgrade kit. "Productivity module" makes some modifications to utilize raw material better. Such optimizations are very important in industry.

Research is firmware development. When you get better software it is very cheap to replicate to all existing machines.

I think modules are well balanced also without beacons. You need large number and it may be bottleneck, but I think it is better game mechanics. I would like to at least test a mod which would make building significant resource sink. Now building takes few percents of resources used for research.
Without beacons or modules being used with assembly machines, another way to reduce UPS would be to enable scientific research of more advanced facilities which are more productive and require fewer entities. An infinite research path could allow for extremely fast assembling machines, perhaps such advanced assemblers could look more like rocket silos.
In my opinion it would not give much for gameplay. Just larger production numbers from same number of entities.

Number games based on crazyness of exponential growth can be interesting too. But they work best without heavy processing needs of Factorio like game. Also, I like more games which calculate development from time and do not need to run through nights. Swarmsim is very good. Factory idle is interesting but has a flaw that computer has to run always. I have played it during winter because electricity consumed by computer is used for warming house but during summers it cause significant costs and overheat my house.

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