[Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

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UniqueID
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[Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by UniqueID »

Last night I was building a production plant for Research Pack 2's and I finally got to experiment with color coded wires seriously. Plenty of stuff to suggest popped up in as many as ten minutes, there was something that I found to be particularly frustrating. That was the maximum range of the colored wires but as I gave it thought it evolved a bit.

It is possible to attach color coded wires to poles to extend the networks which is good. But… What if I want to build several parallel logic networks over long distances? I can use the electric poles to relay the signals but what if I want to build two parallel networks?
A parallel logic network will make it easier to track the logic conditions but then again, using poles as relays is presenting the player with a new problem, namely that it becomes very hard to visually track the logic network. Why? Because the poles are used to transfer electricity. So each pole necessarily comes with a power cord (I do not discard the possibility that there is a function to drop an electric pole without the power cord but it is too obscure for me). That way we don't just make a parallel logic system but also a parallel power grid… Which is not really all that bad but...
Suddenly a really complex spider web of power cord appears. The power cords may distract the player who is probably already having a very hard time tracking the color coded wires.

Other downside: the electric poles also function as servers for the logic system. So if the player accidentally removes a pole, there goes the server, and he / she may have to rebuild the very complex logic system which took him / her many minutes to set up.
Also, the factories are constantly evolving, and after Electric Energy Distribution 1 is researched, a massive upgrade of the power distribution grid follows. In many cases that can include the poles which also function as servers.
And since the poles are used to provide electricity, another hassle appears when trying to remove logic networks: in order to remove a colored wire, the player has to remove the very pole to which it is attached, which can leave between several facilities and half of the player's factory without power for a while.

That's mostly the reasoning why I am going to suggest a new device! (Please don't discard the suggestion just now!)

A device meant to function both as a logic system server and as a relay. Namely - the Logic Relay!

The Logic Relay is a device to which the player can attach the color coded green / red wires, and then directly plug the wires to the smart chests / inserters in range. As a server it functions the same way as an electric pole. With that difference from the electric pole that the Logic Relay does not provide power. Therefore it does not have a power cord that could connect to the power grid and create hassle when trying to trace the logic system wires.
The relay, as its name suggests can also be used to relay signals from color coded wires over long distances (see "Connection Ranges" below). So logic systems spanning across hundreds of tiles can be created with just several Logic Relays without the player having to go through the hassle of hanging the wires on at least a dozen of electric poles.

The Logic Relay also occupies a single tile of space, as much as a small or a medium electric pole. And even the player can squeeze between two Logic Relays next to each other and they will never stand in the way!

The relay also comes with LED lights that glow whenever the logic condition is met so the player will have easier time to debug the logic system.

However, even though the logic relay is not generating any pollution, it is generating a fairly strong magnetic field and some low-frequency noises which tend to attract biters and other creatures with sensitive hearings.
(It's-a-Me, Logic Relay! Come have a snack with… Me!)


The following is a mere sketch, not a concept art, but I believe it will be enough to give you an idea of how I imagined the device. I consider this more of a frontal view of the device's silhouette. It is very obvious it's going to need an art pass because of the possibility of players having vomits after seeing it.
(I cannot draw a concept art image. Darn, if I could, I'd be making my own games!)


Image

(Turn your head away, it is bad to vomit on your keyboard.)
(And yes, I know that this looks like a keyhole with ears, but that's MY keyhole with ears!)

In size the "Logic Relay" is (almost) half the height of a small electric pole, but taller than the player. The following is a breakdown of the components:

1. Foundation: Made of iron / steel; It’s shape is a truncated cone, slightly rounded.

2. Circuitry Core: This is where the incoming signals from the green / red wires (through the clamps) are processed. Also, the core lights up the green / red light emitting diodes whenever a (green / red) wire condition is met. The core is made of iron / steel and some circuits, at least 3, one for the core itself and two more for each LED. (Optionally the core may have a diode of its own, that would signal whether the logic relay itself is connected to a logic network; and eventually to signal if the logic relay is connected to the power grid and has electricity to operate (depending on whether the logic relay will need power to operate, or not).)
The shape of the circuitry core is a sphere, optionally slightly flattened to look more sophisticated.

3. Top Pole: Made of iron / steel and optionally circuits (at least 4 ciruits --> 2 for each wire --> one for incoming signals and one for outgoing signals). The wires are attached to the clamps on the sides of the pole.
The pole is a cross made of two iron / steel bars, parallelepiped, optionally with rounded edges for a more sophisticated look.

4. Green / red signal LEDs: These light emitting diodes gradually start to glow whenever the green / red wire condition is met (true). They glow in either green or red light depending on the LED color (the green LED glows with a green light, the red LED glows with a red light). They have a dark green / red color whenever not glowing.
The glow of the nodes is not strong enough to light the area next to the logic relay.
Alternatively, the glow of the LEDs is very weak and can light only the immediate vicinity (up to say, several meters) around the node, however with both LEDs lit, the relay is still not glowing stronger than a stone furnace.

*** IMPORTANT ***
(Part of the concept!)
There will be situations where the logical condition is met for a very short amount of time, which will make the LEDs flash very rapidly. To avoid that, it is part of the concept that the LEDs start and stop to glow gradually. That way instead of rapidly flashing diodes, the LED will glow with a dim light whenever the logic system rapidly alternates between met / unmet condition (true / false).
(If we have rapidly flashing lights, this may cause eye strain, possibly a feeling of discomfort, to the player considering that he / she may be spending some time to observe the logic relay in order to debug or un-glitch the logic system.)

Image

5. Color coded clamps (to which the wires are attached). They function the same way as the electric poles' clamps (or whatever those are called in English).


Additional details:


Size and Passability:
The Logic Relay occupies one tile of space.
The player can move between two logic relays placed next to each other.

Material requirements:
The list of materials required to craft the logic relay I am leaving to you but I suggest that the relay is crafted either of iron plates or steel bars, and necessarily from circuits.
Steel bars would steer the device more towards the later stages of the early game and the early stages of mid-game. Advanced circuits, instead of basic circuits will steer the relay to the mid-game. Processing units, though, are excessive.

Electricity requirements:
I'm leaving that part to you. Originally I didn't think about the relay to have any power consumption but the more I gave it thought, and the more I wanted it to be more than just a stick in the ground, so you won't discard it as redundant, the more I thought that it is a computational device and would require power to operate.
However, let the power requirements be symbolic, please. It's the circuits that are going to consume the most power, not the diodes. Or at least make stronger glowing diodes, the higher the power requirements you set.

Time to craft:
I never really got into the timing system of the game. I'm leaving that entirely to you.

Connection ranges:

It would be best if the maximum length of the wire that can be placed between two logic relays is 30 tiles (or as many as the power cord length between two large electric poles). That way the player will be able to create long-range logic systems by connecting two logic relays, or better yet, a logic relay with a large pole to increase the distance. However the thirty tiles length only applies to wire connected to two logic relays. The player won't be able to connect a logic relay to a chest and a smart inserter both at 30 tiles away from it in either direction.
So if I have a chest that's 30 tiles away from the smart inserter I'll have to drop two logic relays, or connect a relay to Large Electric Pole which will relay the signal to the inserter.

Logic Relay to chest / inserter: Same as between a Small Electric Pole and the chest / inserter.
Logic Relay to Small Electric Pole: Same as between two Small Electric Poles
Logic Relay to Medium Electric Pole: Same as between two Medium Electric Poles.
Logic Relay to Large Electric Pole: Same as between two Large Electric Poles
Logic Relay to Logic Relay: Thirty tiles (or same as between two Large Electric Poles)

Research to unlock:
Advanced Electronics 2 or later.
Well, it's the technology that unlocks the color coded wires. It doesn't make any sense to unlock it earlier.

Pollution generation:
None. (It's a computer, after all!)

Priority of enemy attacks:
High. Nuff said.

Pros and cons:

Pros:
1. It will not make electric poles obsolete or undesirable. They will still be a simple (and cheap) alternative to build simple logic systems.
2. The player will be able to build multiple long-range logic systems which will be easy to be kept track of.
3. The player will be able to see if each logic condition is met and it will be easier for him / her to debug or un-glitch the logic systems.

Cons:
1. Requires an art pass before it could be used as a temporary asset.
2. Requires to be redesigned before use in the final game.
3. Requires to be coded with code that's beyond me. ("Hello world!" Programmers will know.)
4. Might make Electric poles undesirable for building logic systems.
5. I paid the $13 license.
6. The devs will never reach this line, either because of the "War And Peace" above, or because they read the previous line. ("Pays pennies and expects to be taken seriously?!!! My pants are all wet now!")
7. Others will find more cons.

At any rate, if anyone has read this, your patience and attenrion span are commendable!
If any of the devs are interested in implementing this into the game, please let me know if I missed something important and would like me to elaborate.

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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by Maudlin »

Hello, so i really like this idea of improving the logic system. I am sure in time something like this will hopefully be implemented into factorio one day.

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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by ssilk »

First of all: I like the idea of this pole. No vomit, no I can really imagine how it should look and that is all, what counts.

I also like, how you describe the current drawbacks of the wires. Yes, they are too true.

Now the question:

What do you mean with "The red/green condition comes true?" Currently the conditions are checked within the smart inserters. And only there. Nowhere else! So how could this pole know, what goes on in some near or far away smart inserters? I mean (no offencement! Perhaps I've overseen something?), did you really understand, how the circuit wires work? :)

7. Others will find more cons.
Definitely a pro. ;)
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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by UniqueID »

The questions answered in the wrong order:
I mean (no offencement! Perhaps I've overseen something?), did you really understand, how the circuit wires work?
(No offence taken.)
If I have to be perfectly honest, I don't have a perfectly clear understanding of how the color coded wires work and how the entire logic system "Chest -> Wire -> Pole -> Wire -> Inserter" works. This one is not really self-explanatory. I know that this is advanced factory building so it would be harder to get a grasp of it… But it is so obscure I had to go to YouTube to watch a tutorial to see that you have to attach the color coded wire to a pole before you could attach it to the item you wanted to.

That's why I said that the pole is functioning as a server, even though the inserter is doing the "thinking". To a newbie it feels as: "What is the most important part of the logic network? Is it the inserter? The smart chest? The wires maybe? No! It's the pole! Everything starts and ends with the pole! The pole is the alpha and the omega!"

One cannot connect the inserter directly to the chest. It hardly makes sense in real life logic, and is the first thing I tried to do - connect the smart chest to a smart inserter. I never had the idea that I had to use a pole even though considering this particular game's design it is perfectly logical.

Now, do not take me all wrong. I have developed an understanding how to use the wires. In fact I built a plant that can produce Science Pack 2's consistently, without stopping for long periods of time and without becoming congested. For that purpose I even had to use both green and red wires simultaneously. (I had a hard time with that and I still would not bet my money on it but I figured out that if you have both wires connected to an inserter, it follows a logical conjunction, so both conditions A AND B have to be true. Namely the inserter will never move if BOTH the red wire condition AND the green wire conditions are not true.)
Currently the conditions are checked within the smart inserters. And only there. Nowhere else! So how could this pole know, what goes on in some near or far away smart inserters?
Thanks for telling me that. I really didn't know about it. Honestly. It's starting to make sense for me.
The chest only tells the inserter: "Hey, I have this number of this item." The pole is there to attach the cables to. And the smart inserter is the one doing the thinking. (To clear misunderstandings: it never went through my head that the electric pole is doing any "thinking". But it still feels like the central part of any logical network.)

Now, the electric pole cannot know anything. The purpose of its existence is to support the cables up above the ground. It supports the power cord. And it also supports the color coded wires (that's why I said it makes perfect sense that the wires have to be attached to a pole; there isn't any mechanics to lay the wires on the ground or under the ground, so you have to hang them from a pole).

However the logic relay is not just a mutilated electric pole without a power cord attached to it. The logic relay is a device that can transmit information through the color coded wires over long distances and provides visual feedback whether the logical condition is true or false.

Therefore I see no problem for the logic relay's circuitry core to perform exactly the same check as the smart inserter. The device is pretty much in the middle of the logic system, it is connecting the chest to the inserter, so it can know exactly the same things that the inserter knows… And tell us what the inserter thinks. (Technically it will not be pulling information from the inserter or reading its mind. But since it will be performing exactly the same checks, it will think exactly the same way as the inserter itself.) (It's like copying a portion of the game's program code for the inserter into the logic relay's code but that's a wild guess, don't take my word for it.)

An example:
We have a smart inserter thirty tiles away. The smart inserter is programmed to pick up gears if the chest on the other side has less than a hundred. The chest has less that one hundred.
The logic relay transmits this information through its twin to the inserter. In the meantime the logic relay also processes the information from the chest, so while the chest has less than a hundred gears in itself, the logic relay lights up its green LED and the green LED will remain lit until the chest has over 100 gears. While the LED is lit this is an indication that the inserter on the other side is thinking: "Hey, condition is true, so I have to keep taking gears and placing them on the belt behind me!" The logic relay is only displaying what the inserter is thinking (because it performs exactly the same check in its circuitry core, and they will both think the same).
Once the chest has the hundred gears in itself, the inserter will stop moving and at the same time the logic relay will turn of its green LED.

And if we have the same situation but the LED is not glowing? That means that the condition is set wrongly; the inserter picks up gears only the gears in the chest are equal to or more than a hundred. The player then changes the condition to "less than" and the logic relay's LED starts to glow green.

It's a mere idea that just popped up but the logic relay can also be used to remotely check the inserter's program ("pick up gears only if the chest has less than hundred"). And ideally even to reprogram the inserter remotely (from "pick up gears" to "pick up solid fuel").
However I doubt that it's a good idea to add the latter to the original post, because it can make the logic relay hard to implement, since it will require modifiying the mechanics of how to program the smart inserters, which will make the suggestion unappealing to the developers.

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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by ssilk »

Yeah. And now take into account, that you can have an unlimited number of inserters connected to one circuit network (red or green). :)

Please be free to read
https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... f=5&t=3149
https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... 183#p24183

That is currently the most relevant doc we have.

But again, I like the idea of an extra pole for that - dunno how that could fit into the rest - and it was a bit of insight for me, that you think the logic is in the poles. I think that is important for further development.
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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

Post by UniqueID »

ssilk wrote:Yeah. And now take into account, that you can have an unlimited number of inserters connected to one circuit network (red or green). :)
Umm... Alright. My mind is blwon. :shock:
The reason I'd rather build a thousand simpler logic networks than one...
It is possible to connect a thousand inserters to a single network. It is also possible to connect a thousand chests to a single network...
And now we have a network with two chests with gears (let's call them chests A and B) and a thousand with other stuff if you like. How do we tell the inserter to listen only to input from chest A and not to care about chest B... (The chests are already in the green network. But neither can be red-networked to the inserter, it has other problems.)
So I'd build ten thousand networks, just to be able to keep track of the information that's flowing through them.
A single network that manages several production lines can become so vastly complex that it can become unmanageable. Not to mention that we don't have any feedback whatsoever as to what the inserters are "thinking" until we see them move (or not move)... Not just until we see them move but even until we see if they are doing the things that are meant to do.
ssilk wrote:and it was a bit of insight for me, that you think the logic is in the poles.
No, I never said I thought the logic is processed in the poles. I even said that I didn't think so. But if I have to be honest, before you explained that the logic is done in the inserters, I never really had an idea where the logic is done (mainly because I didn't care).

However the pole really feels like the most important part of the logic network.
Simply because one can have every other part - chests, inserters, cables... But without a pole one can't have a logic network.

And that's how a newbie, who hasn't been with the game ever since its first playable iteration had been released, feels about the logic circuits.

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Re: [Suggestion] The Logic Relay (Long Read Warning)

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UniqueID wrote: And now we have a network with two chests with gears (let's call them chests A and B) and a thousand with other stuff if you like. How do we tell the inserter to listen only to input from chest A and not to care about chest B... (The chests are already in the green network. But neither can be red-networked to the inserter, it has other problems.)
So I'd build ten thousand networks, just to be able to keep track of the information that's flowing through them.
A single network that manages several production lines can become so vastly complex that it can become unmanageable.
That was the reason for introducing, that the smart inserter also can hear to the logistic network... But that adds just more confusion about what is what. :) the logistic network just adds a very simple way to stop the production, if you have produced enough, the circuit network goes deeper into the details and it can be easily imagined, what would be possible with a lot more entities, that can use the information... :)
Not to mention that we don't have any feedback whatsoever as to what the inserters are "thinking" until we see them move (or not move)... Not just until we see them move but even until we see if they are doing the things that are meant to do.
This is not needed, because this is a self regulating circle:
Too less wheels in the chests ===> inserter begin to work and insert new wheels into the chests ===> wheels in chest rise over the given limit In the inserters ===> inserter stop work

There is much more flexibility in this system as needed and if you look at the wiki page for the circuits (which I updated today) you will find some examples how a non regulated feature is used (or misused?) for other cool stuff.
ssilk wrote:and it was a bit of insight for me, that you think the logic is in the poles.
No, I never said I thought the logic is processed in the poles. I even said that I didn't think so.
But if I have to be honest, before you explained that the logic is done in the inserters, I never really had an idea where the logic is done (mainly because I didn't care).
However the pole really feels like the most important part of the logic network. Simply because one can have every other part - chests, inserters, cables... But without a pole one can't have a logic network.
Hm. Misinterpreted. But what keeps in my mind is, that for a new player it is unclear, where the logic happens... :)
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