Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's beginning to look like a Factory

Ahhh, I love the smell of pollution in the morning. My steam engines are up and running, my mines are extracting those useful ores, and the angry biters are unable to stop all of it. There is a surprising amount of smoke already, and the mines look quite dirty. I love it. Time to start producing things besides mere pollution.

The bare bones of our production strategy

Here's the first small mass production area. All this setup will produce is circuits. Copper is brought up, loaded into one of factories that turn it into copper wire. Then another inserter takes that, along with iron to produce, one circuit. The unevenness between the factories that annoys my OCD? Copper cable needs to be produced in a 3:2 relationship to circuits. Eventually the circuits will exist on their own line to be brought to other factory lines. Right now, all the circuits end up in a chest for easy pickup as I'll use circuits in many recipes that I make myself.

15 furnaces to a side. Outside row has ore, inside row has coal, innermost has the finished plates
 Reminder: Raw materials come from the east, that runs into my furnaces, that run west to be made into more finished products. This whole bit will be expanded as resource consumption expands, but right now is more than enough for our small amount of circuit construction.

One gear production factory can support 10 red beaker factories
Science!!! Our initial crash zone has one factory producing science beakers that requires manual insertion of resources in order to continue operating. Here we've got an initial few that will last as long as I keep the mines on. Of course, all that science is incredibly useless without labs to work on them.

The important college educated factories get the beach front
The biters are really getting worse. There's really not that many of them; I know the problem will grow tremendously before all is done, but I don't have the defenses I'd really like.  Iron armor would be amazing, as would a healthy amount of turrets. Make factories for turrets you say? Madness! Only through science will we defeat this menace. *cough* *Scribbles down on the to-do list*

This takes as much iron as 2 factories. Superstrength is amazing.
I do at least finish the technology to make a decent iron suit. Because I know that math is frustrating for some people, the short answer for what this suit does is reduce small biter damage to 30%. I should have triple the health against them, which is quite nice. Stronger biters will rip right through it, so I'll want to keep upgrading the armor in order to not die.

If you care about math at all, the percentage reduction is applied first. Biters do physical damage, so their damage is reduced by 20%. Then the left number is subtracted entirely. Small biters do 6 damage as a point of reference.

Many biters were harmed in the making of this photo
Here you can see what happens when I don't have enough turrets to fight off the biters. Two turrets were left alone to deal with a surprisingly large pack. They were quickly dismantled, letting the biters run roughshod over the surrounding machinery. Yes...more turrets are needed. And walls. Walls and turrets.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Factoring for the future in Factorio

We have factories and I've set up a little bit of a factory to produce the items I think I'll need for the near future. I'm going to want a small bit of science, but I also really want all those belts for what I'm going to do next. It's time to setup for mass-production.

Radar for the ground
One of the survival recipes you start with is for radar installations. Each consumes a large chunk of electricity, and will provide continuous vision for a decent chunk around it, similar to what your suit does normally. In addition, it will slowly scan chunks at long distance that are revealed for a short period of time. I'll use this for an easy way to explore the surrounding area. Even seeing things is automated!

The red tint implies pollution. The more the better
Here's a closeup view of the map. We crash-landed in what is best described as a swamp, with a good amount of resources nearby. To the left of that lank is where I'll begin placing down the foundations for mass-production, as I want a large area devoid of other features that might get in the way of my grand plan. For now, raw resources from the east will go through the small opening between the water, where it'll be refined, before being further moved to become finished goods.

Easiest way to measure size is to place things down
Bare bones infrastructure of the furnace area. Two lines of 15 furnaces, on the outside ore will come up, while in the direct middle lies a belt for the finished plates. Another line on the inside will bring up coal to power them. Simple yet effective, once I get it running. Alas, I require more technology to really get it working. That'll wait until I have turrets finished.

See? Told you they were ugly
The biter problem is getting worse. Now they come two at a time, eager for blood or smashed metal. Sadly for me, the super-suit comes with a distant lack of protection. Nanites? Check. Water and nutrient creation? Check. Power generation? Check. Superstrength? Check. Armor? Too expensive. Luckily for me, I have some beginning plans for suitable protection. It's this amazing thing that involves draping myself in iron. New invention, only had it for some thousands of years. Go to space and use nanites to boil water and make iron armor.

Thinking back, I should have had some connection between the turret and the chest
I build my first automatic turret along with a single factory to produce ammunition, as my survival supplies weren't intended for automatic weaponry. As long as I make sure to remember that I have only near-infinite ammo, I should be fine in the future. No one around, infinite ammo, fully automatic weaponry, and live targets? I'm really starting to like this place.

Annoyingly, circuit and wire factories come in a 3:2 ratio, so I can't keep everything in line
Let me explain what I'm setting up here. Each line in the middle between the furnaces and the factories will carry some good that is produced elsewhere. One line will be copper plates, another iron, etc. On the left side will be assembly plants, that will produce finished goods that are either left in a chest, or transported along. Wherever possible intermediate goods are made along the same line, like with copper wire. I'll leave some space between each line for...shenanigans. This setup isn't the most efficient, but it's simple and easy to modify.

I also made a shotgun. I'm a simple guy, with simple tastes.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Factorying Factorio

We left off last time with researching the technology for basic factories. Making objects with the nanites in our super-suit is fun, but it's not really a factory game if we don't have actual factories. Which I kind of need to use, or I don't feel at peace. Why do things yourself when you can have robots do them for you?

This is the recipe for basic science beakers

Our research finished and I build our first factory object. Factories work similar to furnaces. Supply it with the necessary ingredients, and it will produce a finished good. Factories are much more varied in what they can produce though. Basic factories can produce any recipe that has 2 or less ingredients. This one by itself isn't terribly useful. We can transfer the copper plates to it easily enough, but also making the iron gears before anything useful is done would be a pain. Instead of doing that ourselves, we'll make more factories instead.
If I were smart, I'd have put an inserter to take the beakers and put them in the science lab
That's better. I drop copper plates in the red factory, and iron plates in the chest, and this setup will work to keep producing items. But I'm still not thinking enough like I should. Automation is the goal; I want to do the least amount of work for a given point as possible.
This game has a day/night cycle. A mod I use makes it gloomier.
Much, much better. Inserters move the iron plates to the transport belts, the belts continuously move items placed on them in the direction of the belt, and at the end inserters take the plates off the belts to be used in the factories and to allow for easy pickups. Glorious! Of course, there are still holes. Each of the furnaces still has to have coal delivered, I still need to deliver copper plates to produce red beakers, and coal needs to be delivered to the boilers to keep the lights on.

In effect, this is how the game goes. I build up sections of the factory that, once I'm done with them, take no additional inputs in order to keep running. Then I move on to other parts that need work done on them, with the occasional shortcut needing additional attention.

If you're clever, try and spot where I went wrong with the new addition
Give that I want to keep the lights on more efficiently than carting fuel back and forth, I add on belts from the coal mine to the boilers. I also expand the whole bit so that I won't worry about power for a good long while. The night is dark and full of terrors. Best to keep the lights shining bright. And by lights I mean big polluting furnaces.

They look uglier when alive
With the boilers setup, we get our first guest: a weird looking thing that could only have been designed by a crazy hippy. I was able to easily put it down with my survival pistol, but I'd prefer to be better prepared for later attacks. Luckily I'm almost done researching our first military tech which will give access to a submachine gun and shotguns.

These things are crazy. No idea who spread them to this place, but they've done a number on this world's biosphere. There's the usual trees and plants, but no wildlife that I can see, outside of a few fish safe in their watery habitats. A hippy's experiment gone wrong, they work wonderfully to stop polluters. Getting a whiff of pollution (sections of the map in the minimap get steadily more red to indicate having more and more pollution) will drive them bad, sending them long distances in order to attack the source of pollution.

Even better, they'll feed off of this pollution. More pollution will cause them to reproduce, expanding in number. As well, they'll evolve into bigger and stronger versions of themselves, doing more damage and requiring more punishment to be put down. There was a whole swath of information on them in astronaut survival school. Sadly the only way to really take care of them is to eliminate the infestation one by one. We'll automate that of course, once we're more situated. For now, we kill them off by ourselves, and try to minimize damage to our factory. This hippy madness will be purged.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


So, as a general rule, the type of games I like to play are not the ones my friends do. Because of that, today I'd like to share one game that I rather enjoy with those friends, precisely because I know that they would never play. Maybe they'll enjoy the writing, at least. If you find yourself ever interested in playing, it's sold on Steam for a round $20. (Exactly $20. They're weird in more ways than one) and it's one of the few games I've seen with a demo. It does have a multiplayer option, as well.

Factorio is a game about making a factory, or more precisely turning ever-increasing amounts of raw goods into finished products, all for a nebulous goal. This is not really a game that you can "win" in the classic sense, and even the goals and background are kind of senseless. It is most assuredly a sandbox game, one which I'd put in the "zen garden" genre of games. There is no goal, aside from managing and creating something, and in the process gaining peace. While it may be strange that my sense of peace is a massive, polluting mess of machines that exist only to create more machines may be strange, it is still peaceful.

The bright orange stuff to the top is mineable copper. This world has abundant surface deposits, lucky you!
This is you. You start on an alien planet, crash-landed with few supplies. The emergency supplies are pretty standard for the sci-fi genre. You come with a pistol, a few magazines, some random parts you were able to scrounge from the wreckage, along with an automated mining drill and furnace. And a super-suit that gives you super strength and has nano-bots capable of constructing nearly anything that doesn't involve heat or liquids.

Yep. Standard. How will you ever survive with just the bare essentials? Much less make the rocket to serve as a flare for people to rescue you?

Not only are you able to easily carry the wood from this entire tree, but you go through it in 3 seconds.
Your first step is to gather fuel. Easiest option is to chop the entire forest down. 50 trees later and we're good to start drilling. There are 5 main raw resources you can collect from the environment. Iron is used to make anything structural, and is the bulk of what we need early to make what we want. Copper is used for anything electrical, and is mostly used later when circuit production begins in earnest. Stone is essential but only used in a few recipes and is relatively scarce. Oil is very useful, but complex enough that we can't even mine it yet. Then there's coal, which we'll use as our main energy source, supplemented by oil if needed.

Each tree gives 4 wood. We're carrying 50 trees while running at full speed. Don't take this game seriously
Now we get to the actual factory portion. Our burner drill (as in, it burns it's own fuel to power the drill) will work automatically as long as it has fuel, an available resource, and empty space to put the ore it mines. In front we'll drop the furnace, which takes fuel, along with some material to produce a more refined product. In this case, our drill produces iron ore, which will be turned into iron plates. We only have the one mine, if we want more mines, we'll need to gather stone as well.

A quick bit of stone gathering and waiting, and we've produced 2 more mines. One to get us more stone, and the other to produce copper ore, which is promptly made into copper plates. Our steady, though slow, supply of copper, stone, and iron will allow us to start the next step: electric power. Electricity is used for the vast majority of machines in order to run (How surprising!) It's only in the strict beginning of the game that you use fuel directly. Aside from furnaces for which the electric version is far away.

The pump has a wheel on the side to get things started, if you wondered
With our initial supplies, we've created the first real new thing: a steam engine. Water is pumped up, fed into a boiler, then into the steam engine in order to create electricity. Super suits and space travel, and the most efficient form of electricity generation is still boiling water. Now that we have electricity, we can start our research to go down the tech tree and expand our budding factory.

To give a sense of how good your nano-bots are, it took 9 seconds to make and get it operational
Our new drill is all around better than the previous. More efficient, faster, though a little larger. It's fast enough that we can almost run two furnaces off of one drill. Look closely and next to the mine you can see 2 arm-contraptions. They're called inserters, and work off electricity to move things from one square to another. They're programmable to interact with the nearby objects if necessary. In this case it will take items from the box that the furnace needs, making sure not to overfill or give it the wrong item.

The research material the lab requires a copper plate and an iron gear, to create a red beaker. I have no idea how this works
Most objects of any complexity are made from multiple intermediate objects. In this case, we want to build our lab to begin research. The lab requires 10 electronic circuits, each requiring a metal plate and 3 copper wires, with each copper plate being made into 2 wires. An iron gear takes 2 iron plates, while the transport belt requires an iron gear and an iron plate. Luckily our nano-bots can take care of everything, once we've collected our iron from the furnaces.

I have a mod to increase research time and materials by a factor of 3, it doesn't normally take this much

Finally, with our lab done we begin our research. Our first item is for basic automated factories. Each factory we make can produce items continuously without our input, which is useful consider the number of items we'll need. Making 4 belts ourselves to create the lab is fine, but making hundreds of belts we'll want for our entire factory would take far too long and be far too tedious.

I should note that the intro bit here is abnormal for the rest of the game. Most of the time later is spent building the factory instead of bootstrapping the beginnings. They even recommend for anyone that does videos to skip the first 15-20 minutes precisely because it's so tedious. The good part about it is the introduction it gives to basic mechanics. Hopefully the silliness of the entire concept helps make it more interesting for a reader.

Let me know what you think too, if you ever get this far down.