Monday, 5 October 2015

UnOff. Factorio FAQ: Common Problems

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

QMy Inserters aren't working!!! Help me!!!1!!
A: Calm down. Don't panic... Your Inserters are probably working perfectly.

It's just that each machine has an amount of each kind of stuff that it "wants", and if its input buffer already contains that amount, or more than that amount, then the Inserters won't continue to stuff more into it.

For instance, Boilers and Furnaces "want" 5 fuel items. Either 5 Wood, 5 Coal or 5 Solid Fuel (with only 1 fuel input slot, you can't mix 'em). So if you've already stuffed 8 or 10 Coal into a Furnace, and then set up an Inserter to feed Coal into it from a Belt, then it might seem to you as if it isn't working, and you might start to wonder if you've misunderstood how Inserters work, if you've failed to understand their range or their ability to take from a particular side of the Belts.

Stop and look: If an Inserter is inactive, look at the place it's taking from. Is there stuff to take? If yes, look at the place it's supposed to insert to. Does that place, the machine or container, already contain a quantity of stuff? If so, it might be over its buffer limit. You can over-stuff manually, if you want to, but an Inserter won't do so. Finally, if it's a production machine of some kind, its output buffer might be filled to capacity, which might case it to completely stop "wanting" more input stuff, until its output buffer becomes able to output.

Another problem, related, is if an Assembler Machine's output buffer is full. This causes the Inserters feeding stuff into the machine to stop feeding into it, which again can puzzle some inexperienced players.

sapientius, non contentius labora

QI can't figure out power production! My Steam Engine isn't working!
A: This can be a bit tricky, because it's prone to player misunderstandings.

You need an Offshore Pump to take Water from a lake or ocean, move it into Boilers which are fuelled (anything burnable, anything with a "MW" value,wil suffice - you don't have to use Coal). The Boilers heat the Water until it reaches 100 °C. Then the Water must be moved into a Steam Engine, or a set of Steam Engines connected in serial and/or parallel.

If you mouse over one Steam Engine in such a connected setup, the info window should say that it has Water and that the temperature is well above 15 °C

The last step is to connect your Steam Engines to something that actually draws electrical power, e.g. electric Inserters used to feed Coal into the Boilers from a Transport Belt. This step, actually drawing power from the Steam Engines, is the one that many players fail do to, because the game interface alerts confuse and bewilder them, making them assume they've done something wrong earlier in the process.

sapientius, non contentius labora

QI find the electrical power interface confusing. How do I know if I have enough electricity?
A: I find it confusing too. It's one of the few actual design flaws of this otherwise excellent game user interface.

One trick I use is to place my Boilers down in rows of 13, always horizontally, always with 10 Steam Engines connected to each Boiler line.

Then when I can see that all my Boilers have started to burn continuously, I can know that I'm at the limit of my power production (rather than rolling blackouts happening, many parts of your factory will just start to work at less than 100% efficiency if it gets less than 100% of the electrical power it needs, and there's a risk that some players might overlook that) and therefore I'll need to expand with more Boiler+Steam Engine lines.

Another trick I use is to specifically hover the mouse cursor over a working mine (that is, over an Electric Mining Drill that can still output because the Belt in front of it isn't clogged up with ore), and watch the line. If it's green, then it's good. If it's yellow then it's bad and I need to go expand electrical power. And if it's red then it's very bad and I need to rush to expand power because shit might start hitting the fan at any moment.

Later on, of course, you get the ability to store electrical energy in Accumulators, and so you can use the power screen (just LMB on any Electric Power Pole) to see how much energy you're storing and if it's going up or down), and that's generally a much better situation. But early game, figuring out if you're good or ungood on electrical power is tricksy.

sapientius, non contentius labora

Q: How do I use the Oil Barrels? How do I use Assembler Machines with recipes that require fluids?
A: This first one actually showed up on my Blogger/BlotSpot interface: Someone had stumbled upon my Misc blog by googling a question about how to put Crude Oil into Barrels! So I'll deal with that, but first take the opportunity to talk a bit about fluids in Assembler Machines.

Most work with Fluids is done in Chemical Plants, buildings that have clearly defined input and output valves - also those valves are permanent.

Assembler Machines are trickier, and are potentially confusing, in that no valve appears until you select a Recipe. As far as I know, Assembler Machines can never take a recipe that involves taking in one fluid and outputting another fluid. It's one or the other.

If you pick a recipe that involves a fluid, whether as input or output, a valve will appear at the top of the Assembler Machine for which you've picked that recipe. You can then hover your mouse cursor over the Machine, and press the R key to rotate the machine, moving the valve, in case you'd prefer it at the bottom, or the left or the right side.

Regarding Crude Oil Barrels, well first of all you must make some Barrels. You can make a few by hand, or a lot more using machine. In case you're wondering why those Barrels are useful, it's because many players prefer to move large amounts of Crude Oil by train, setting up oil extraction facilities at remote oil patches, and then having a train move that Crude Oil, in Barrels, from those facilities to the main factory. The alternative is to move the Crude Oil, from these remote patches, by Pipes (hint: use UnderGround Pipes as much as possible), which for quite long pipe runs end up requiring the use of Small Pumps to maintain flow.

Alternatively you can use one of several mods that adds an Oil Tanker wagon to the train system. I haven't actually gotten around to using that option yet (only installed one of the mods), but it's my understanding that those particular kinds of mods tend to work fairly well.

Anyway, someone asked Google to how to fill Crude Oil Barrels:

You plonk down an Assembler Machine 2 or 3 (it doesn't work with the tier 1 Machine, according to the wiki - I almost always use tier 2 machines, so it's one of those things I wasn't sure about, whether it'd work with tier 1 Machine or not, so I looked it up...), select the Fill Crude Oil Barrel recipe, then feed Crude Oil into the valve that appears, via Pipes (you usually won't have to add a Small Pump), and use an Inserter to feed Empty Barrels into the machine, and another Inserter to move the now-filled Crude Oil Barrels out of the machine.

Then to empty them again, at the other end of the train journey, or the other end of the conveyor belt, you plonk down another Assembler Machine, select the Empty Crude Oil Barrel recipe, and use an Inserter to move the Crude Oil Barrels into the Machine. Then you use another Inserter to take the empty Barrels out of the machine, and attach some Pipery to the valve to move the Crude Oil out of the Machine.

(There is at least one mod, probably several, that allows you to put most or even all fluids into Barrels, rather than just Crude Oil. I tend to play with one of those mods enabled, although to be honest I almost never make use of the options it offers.)


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