Friday, 9 October 2015

UnOff. Factorio FAQ: Advice 1

Frequently Asked Questions
for the computer game
(UnOfficial FAQ: Advice 1)
(official link, though)
Link back to the index.

There is no Advice 2 section yet, but I've included the number, because this is obviously the item that's most likely to warrant multiple blog posts.

QIs it OK to hit the "Restart Game" button, in the game menu, if the random map generation algorithms have given me a really crappy starting area?
A: Yes, it's very okay. Sometimes the RNG even makes you start the game on a tiny island so that any kind of game progress, let alone end game completion victory, is utterly impossible (unless you're using the Landfill mod). Feel free to request a new random map as many times as you like, until the game gives you something that isn't crappy.

sapientius, non contentius labora

QWhich techs should I research first?
A: Factorio is a strategy game, which means you'll always have to think about your current strategic situation and adapt your choices to fit that. Nevertheless, a good general advice is to pick Automation as your very 1st tech and then Logistics as your 2nd, costing 10 and 20 red magic science potions respectively.

Automation enables you to build Assembler Machine 1, which can build objects for you (yay!!), while Logistics unlocks the UnderGround Transport Belts and the Splitter Belt, two objects I consider to be very useful.

Depending on your strategic situation, though, you might find yourself needing to prioritize the tech Military, to get the SubMachine Gun so you can better defend yourself, or Turrets so you can automatically defend your base even when you're not present, or Optics so you can light up your base with Lamps, or Armor so you can survive a bit longer when the Biters and Spitters are trying to kill you. Of these four, I'd say Turrets and Optics are the most defensible alternatives. Either way, you're going to invent all of these six techs fairly soon, as they're "low-hanging fruit", each costing a mere 10-20 red magic science poitions.

Fairly soon, in the game, I'll invent the Toolbelt tech, because I'm an ultra-lazy lazybutt and I very much like having 20 toolbelt slots instead of just 10. That's an expensive tech, though, at 50 red and 50 green.

sapientius, non contentius labora

QWhat do various Evolution Factor values means? How can I see them?
A: I think there's a console command to "print" the current Evolution Factor to console output, but I just use the EvoGUI mod instead. Much simpler.

As for what it does, Evolution Factor starts at zero and culminate at 1.

Once it reaches 1, you better have your Laser Turrets and Accu's in place, Power Armor covering your butt, and so forth, because EvoFactor 1 is 'ardcore.

These notes are for the mobile hippies. I don't know about the worms, sorry:
Initially, only Small Biters can appear.
At Evolution Factor 0.3, Small Spitters start appearing too.
At 0.35, Medium Biters begin appearing.
At 0.55 you start getting Medium Spitters.
0.65 means you get introduced to Big Biters and Big Spitters. Remember to say hello politely, to them, before your Turrets kill them.
1.0 means that very big Biters and Spitters, called Behemoths, start appearing.

At various Evolution Factor values, lesser alien types also stop appearing, but I can't be arsed to look into that. It's not that important.

sapientius, non contentius labora

QWhat are some good ratios, for playing the game?
A: Well, the main ratio is that you should use 1 Offshore Pump to 13 Boilers (or 14, but 13 already gives 99% efficiency so the 14th is almost 100% wasteful) to 10 Steam Engines. Or as alluded to elsewhere in this FAQ, start with 1 Offshore Pump, 3 Boilers, 10 Pipes and 2 Steam Engines. Then as your power need grows, add more Steam Engines and replace some Pipes with Boilers.

Also try to place your row of Boilers horizontally, not vertically, because then you'll better be able to see whether they're "lit up" (burning) or not. They only burn when the thermal energy they produce is required, so when you see all your Boilers "lit up" for more than a couple of seconds time, you can know that you're now using all the power you produce and you need expand power production.

Electric Circuits, the green ones, are very important throughout the game, and you'll need to make many of them. The ideal ratio is to have 3 Assembler Machines making Copper Wire and feeding into 2 Assembler Machines to make the actual Electric Circuits. You'll also usually need multiple Inserters to move the stuff in and out of the Assembler Machines, to minimize bottlenecks.

Some people do fancy complex 2D setup structures, but me, I'm a lazybutt, I just do a long loop around 10 Assembler Machines, 6 making Copper Wire feeding into 4 making Electric Circuits (from a topological point of view, that counts as a one-dimensional structure. I think...). The loop consists of 2 normal (yellow) Transport Belts, the inner one carrying Copper Plates (because they're needed more so than the Iron) and the outer one carrying Iron Plates. Then the 4 Assembler Machines output the Circuits they make into a central Transport Belt. Crude, but I'm sure it works at least 80% as well as those fancy complex setup structures, and possibly even 90% or 95% as well. I'm usually very hostile to the whole KISS idea, but in Factorio it makes sense to me in many cases, especially early in the game before Roboports and automated Blueprint-based construction.

For the production of Magic Science Potions, I like to have 5 machines making red ones, 6 making green ones, 12 making blue ones, and then 2 or even just sometimes 1 making purple ones.

The reason for this is that the base crafting time is 5s per red potion, 6s per green potion and 12s per blue potion, so with such a setup you'd nominally be making 1 potion of each type per second (in reality, if using tier 2 Assembler Machines you'd be making 1 potion of each type per 11/3 seconds, because tier 2 machines have a crafting speed of 0.75 relative to manual crafting (and 1/0.75=11/3), but it's still a nice "evenness"). As I recall, it takes 10s to turn 1 Alien Artifact into 10 Purple Magic Science Potions, so with 2 machines you'd be making 2 potions per (nominal) second, but that may still be desirable if you want to "get up to speed" quickly on purple science.

(The main argument for going with just 1 machine making purple potions is that then you can much more easily put Productivity Modules into it to save on the scarce raw material - perhaps more relevant if you use mods that means you need Alien Artifacts for more things, such as one of my favourite mods, Modular Armor Revamp.)

Advanced Circuits, the red ones, well, the main rule of thumb is that 1 Assembler Machine making Copper Wire can make enough to feed 8 machines making Red Circuits. So 1:8 or 3:24 or whatever. That may sound surprising, and may sound as if it goes against the standard advice of "never ever put Copper Wire on Belts", but the fact is that each Advanced Circuit takes 8 (nominal) seconds to make, which is freakin' slow, so your Copper Wires can be on Belts just fine. No problemo!

Some players have made complex 2D setups where a central Wire-making Machine feeds into 8 different Circuit-making Machines via 8 different Inserters, but me, I don't think there's anything particularly elegant over a more linear setup.

Oh, Steel? Yes, Steel Plate. It takes 5 Iron Plate and something like 17.5 seconds (real seconds, not nominal seconds, since Stone Furnaces have a crafting speed of 1.0 rather than some funky decimal value), and a bit of coal or other piece of combustible chemical energy, to make 1 Steel Plate. Note that it takes exactly 1/5 as long to turn 1 Iron Ore into 1 Iron Plate, so you can have 1 Stone Furnace turning Iron Ore into Iron Plate which then feeds into another Stone Furnace to turn the Iron Plate into Steel Plate. (The tier 2 Steel Furnaces have a crafting speed of exactly 2, thus 8.75 seconds and 1.75 seconds, respectively, to make Steel Plate and Iron Plate.)

One Electric Mining Drill outputs almost exactly enough Iron Ore or Copper Ore to feed 2 Stone Furnaces or 1 Steel Furnace. Electric Furnaces have the same crafting speed as Steel Furnaces (which is 2.0). Note that the mining speed on Stone is slightly different, but (AFAIK) not different enough to matter.

Personally, though, I don't muck around with ore ratios. I just extract a lot of ore, put it onto some freakin' belts, and move it into the gaping maws of my furnaces. Full steam ahead! Conquest through industry! This! Is! Sparta! And that's a good general principle. It's perfectly OK to overproduce low-tier mats (Iron/Copper Plates, green circuits, etc) because they'll just fill up your Belts, with the Belts then acting as a sort of buffer storage. That's fine. You'll find that eventually you'll start consuming more than you produce, then your Belt buffers will gradually deplete, and you'll have to go back and increase production of that one particular basic material.

Many players favour a ratio between Solar Panels and Accumulators of 16 Solar Panels to 12 Accus to 1 Substation, but the main reason for that, I think, is that it makes for a very nice blueprint setup so that you can automate the robotic plonking down of dozens of those sets, gradually moving away from steam power.


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