Hello, This week we will talk about some technology and research related changes coming in 2.0 and the Space Age expansion.
It was rather interesting to read the reactions to the last FFF-375 about quality.
It sparked a lot of debate and we noticed a lot of misconceptions about it. So we would like to address some of the biggest ones:
Overall, the design was driven by our own enjoyment. We play the game and we don't want to bloat it with grindy clutter.
I can't expect everyone to enjoy games the same way I do, it is okay and I respect that. But I believe there will be enough players who will enjoy the ride with us.
This is a simple build to create Assembling machine 3 in quality.
If there's more than 100 of any quality, it recycles them hoping to get the next tier.
The build only receives the basic ingredients from "the normal factory", and all of the quality complications remain here.
In earlier stages you'll likely have just a few of these kinds of builds for items you prioritize the most, however with time you will likely add more of these.
...with which some more upcoming features might help you. ;)
When it comes to how planets and especially their unique resources are discovered, we have realized problems with how Factorio has been doing this for a while now.
If a planet is unlocked by a technology on some science tier, then the starting resources of the planet would also be gated behind these same science packs - because what else, you don't have anything else available yet. This would mean that you could (and most typically would) already be researching ways to process the new unique resource that you have not even seen yet.
Another most fundamental conflict was that we wanted the progress on each planet to result in a single new science pack, resulting in a chicken-or-egg situation. The problem would be, this science pack should need most of the new unique processing steps on that planet, therefore you need to somehow get to discovering the processing first.
The alternative would have been that the science pack is made available immediately on arrival, but then it couldn't really be too interesting as it wouldn't include any of the
processing you have discovered past that point.
The science pack is the primary export for each planet, so in order to prevent planets being just simple mining outposts with a rocket silo, we wanted to make sure most of the processing contributes to produce such science pack.
We have tried to design and implement several approaches in various forms of temporary science packs and even special entities that would act as temporary laboratories, but all of them were just adding mess that wasn't useful afterwards, as it was just a stepping stone to get back to producing a proper science pack that you would eventually ship back to laboratories on your home planet.
The solution that ticks all the boxes is in the end incredibly simple - we added a new method of researching a technology. Instead of processing science packs in a laboratory,
technologies can now be completed with a trigger.
Currently we have a few technology triggers that unlock research:
This means that each time you land on a planet, you discover and exploit its new resources in a way that feels quite natural, as everything happens while you're actually there.
This will make a lot more sense with specific examples once we show you the actual planets and not just this technical background, but there's more...
As we're sure you remember, there are times even in the base game where you do discover new resources - specifically oil and uranium processing. Just like researching processing for a new resource on a different planet, it's similarly strange for the same reasons that you can research deep into oil refining tech tree while you haven't even seen a crude oil patch yet, or unlocking nuclear reactors without having met uranium.
Now in order to really get into oil processing, you will need to have touched some crude oil. This helps prevent the situation where especially in the "green science" tier, a lot of players would research very far ahead from what their factory can currently process, and then later feel discouraged seeing all the piled up recipes to work through.
There's more coming from this - when you crash land on the very first planet! Why does the player immediately know how to craft steam engines, inserters, transport belts? It always feels much better in games when your progression starts as low as possible and you can earn all of the things in the process, which makes it all feel much more deserved in the end.
With the triggers, we could create new technologies for even basic things like pipes, early power generation, labs and the Automation science pack.
Some unlocks, like electric mining drill, radar or repairs packs don't need to be available at the very beginning, so in turn we could add them into their own new "red science" technologies.
Early game technology graph. You can also see for example Steel axe technology now requires you to craft actual steel plates, so you can't just get the steel axe upgrade without having made steel, which has always been weird since steel axe is no longer a real item.
As a result, the following will be all of your starting recipes. Getting back to having unlocked all the recipes you are used to at the start doesn't really take any extra time than previously - the early trigger technologies only require a minimal amount of items to be crafted. But it still contributes to making the progression feel better.
As will become apparent with more things in future FFFs, during the development of the expansion we have arrived to various topics just like this one which stretched beyond the acceptable weirdness threshold, and had to address it in Space Age. The improvements also impacted the base game in a good way - and we are certain that mods will make good use of this as well.
Research queue was a feature that was long requested, and after initially adding it, some playtesting of the game with the feature enabled led us to feel that it had some significant drawbacks (FFF-254). After some more playtesting and community feedback, we settled on a compromise whereby the research queue can be enabled with a map setting when starting the game (FFF-255).
This was okay, but it came with its own problems. A major source of frustration was when you would start the game, play for a while, only to realize after a few hours that you (or your friend who started the server) forgot to enable the research queue. There was no way to enable the queue after starting without using console commands, which would disable achievements.
During 1.1 development, we wanted to address the problem of new recipe discoverability a little bit better, so we added the recipe notifications (FFF-363). The recipe notifications meant that one of the initial negatives of the research queue (for new players and discovering items) was no longer present.
Over the years there have also been a fair share of bugs related to the research queue that we have had to fix, and having 2 code paths and GUI layouts in all the places (Queue vs No Queue) was becoming annoying. In the end we decided to just completely embrace the research queue, and remove all the code related to not having it enabled. So now it is always on and you cannot turn it off, there is no off. There is no longer the strange 'After you launch the rocket' condition for the queue, and no longer will you ever forgot to enable it before starting the game.
We wanted to add some more infinite technologies, and also reduce the resource pressure as the game goes along. The mining productivity is great, and it works very well, but it doesn't give the player much choice in the end-game. The other infinite technologies are more specialized, lots of combat ones, but other than maybe worker robot speed, not much for your production.
So we added a new type of productivity research, the recipe productivity research. Each level will increase the 'built-in' productivity of certain recipes, such as steel, processing units, rocket control units, etc.
We also wanted to let you unlock something super powerful for the end-game, which led us to the idea of the research productivity. Each level will increase the built-in productivity of your labs, and as you might know, that is the most effective place for your productivity modules already. It will require the end-game resources, of which details will come in some future FFFs.
As always, let us know what you think at the usual places.