The missing step between crafting and harvesting no one's really mentioned (supply lines)

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by HappyApathy, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. HappyApathy

    HappyApathy Well-Known Member

    Recently there has been a lot of focus on improving the crafting system, there's also been many requests by players for an improvement in harvesting AI which is planned to be looked into by the devs. The overall goal here is to be able to create a system where resources are automatically collected for the player by AI techs and deposited into silos for storage such that crafting can be done on demand, or even set to automatically churn out parts by itself if a fabricator is set to auto.

    So for what I'm about to say let's assume two things are true:

    1. The crafting system is made to be easy and efficient enough that it can be a competitive alternative to simply selling blocks/resources to buy parts with BB

    2. Harvesting AI works well enough that you can reliably leave your techs to collect and store resources

    Even if these two are in place there's a part of the system that has been little (if at all) discussed by either the players or the devs that has been bothering me for a while that is vitally important to making the whole thing work:

    TRANSPORT

    Specifically, the issue of automated lines of supply for resources.

    What I mean by this:

    For example, I want to setup a system to produce GSO 3-Pound Cannons which requires Titania Ingots which are refined from Titanite Ore, and Carbius Bricks which are refined from Carbite Ore.

    For this example I am going to assume there isn't a location where both resources are found in close proximity to each other, frankly for a more complex recipe you would have to be ridiculously lucky to find everything you need in one spot.

    So I find two sites, one rich in Titanite which I will call site A, the other in Carbite which will be called site B, I setup AI harvesting operations at both and soon have a nice stockpile of each respective resource at A and B, now I just need to get them both together to craft some cannons.

    Do you see the problem?

    What I could do is setup a Fabricator at A, then drive all the way over to B, load up my tech with as much Carbite as possible, then drive all the way back to A and dump my resources into the fabrication system to begin crafting cannons. Alternatively I could build a central fabrication center site I will call C between A and B, however this still requires me to drive to both resources sites to manually pick up loads of resources to bring back to C to craft cannons.

    This might seem interesting at first but if every time I wanted to craft a batch of cannons* I had to make the same trip between A, B, and C it would quickly turn tedious and repetitive. This example here only involves two or three sites for resources and/or fabrication, in reality I would need many more resource harvesting sites to cover crafting requirements, sites D, E, F, G, H, I, etc.

    Instead of exploring the world or finding new enemies to fight the game would devolve into a trucking simulator where I would spend a majority of my time just hauling resources from one site to another to do any sort of crafting, driving the same paths through the same scenery over and over again. For the goal of creating an efficient and mostly automated system for block crafting it would be a huge oversight to leave the one of the most time consuming and monotonous elements to be done by the player.

    I could have massive stockpiles of every resource but I'm not going to be doing much crafting unless I can bring them together; transport logistics, rather then harvesting or crafting, will likely be the biggest bottleneck for a production system and been able to overcome it will be the real determiner if crafting will have any true value or not as players will likely ditch crafting as whole and just use BB if they feel like its wasting their time to have to drive in between harvesting sites just to pick up the resources to do crafting even on a small scale (actually this reason is likely why most players already don't use crafting regularly as it is to much of a hassle too collect resources rather then just buying parts with BB).

    *On a side note another topic for discussion in the future would be how the scope of the game will need to change to justify for what seems to be the devs goal to create a mass production system for blocks when there isn't really a need for such large quantities of blocks at the moment.

    It's one thing to build a fabrication system in R&D where resources are conveniently grouped together or (for the devs) can be spawned at the push of a button, it's another when they are spread out over a vast area with potentially long distances between each other. The means by which supply lines for transport are established needs to be addressed.

    While the devs have focused and talked about crafting and harvesting, I have seen little done or discussed about the step in between that connects the two by bringing resources together. The ability to create and automate a supply line system to transport resources is equally as vital as the automating of resource harvesting and crafting for what I think is the overall vision of what this game wants to be. Something where I can build numerous individual harvesting sites and setup a system where resources are automatically transported between each site or to a centralized fabrication center for part production where my main task once it is established is to protect and maintain it and choose what parts get made instead of having to micromanage everything.

    Suggestions:

    I have thought up some very broad concepts to tackle this issue, all of these would likely require a lot of work and potential game overhaul but to me this is an issue that really needs to be addressed:

    1. Universal shared storage (I like this one the least)
    Resources are dumped into a 'Resource SCU' (RSCU) like block and put into a shared storage that resources can be withdrawn from by any other RSCU when needed, a very common standard approached used by a lot of RTS games like for example StarCraft, where workers dump gas and crystals into a collection center where they are deposited into an abstract universal storage of sorts. While this is the easiest solution it wipes out almost every element of the existing fabrication system by massively simplifying everything removing the need for silos, complex conveyor systems, or techs capable of carrying large resource loads.

    2. Fixed transport infrastructure
    The game Factorio has a lot in common with TerraTech in that they both treat resources as something tangible that needs to be physically brought to production centers. In Factorio belt lines could be considered the equivalent to TT's conveyor system for moving and sorting resources locally, Factorio however also has railways and logistic robots for transport over long distances, I'm going to be focusing on the idea of railways or something similar as a possibility for TT.

    "Technically" it is possible to create a supply line system in TT using only conveyor parts to transport your resources from one location to another, however the length of the conveyor line would likely be ridiculously long which would end up been treated as a massive tech with repairs been an absolute nightmare if a single section gets taken out and the whole thing collapses.

    TT could borrow Factorio's system by been able to establish a network of neutral/passive railways (or even find existing ones built by competitiors) between resource and production sites with specialized train techs that can be automated to collect a certain amount of resources at certain stops, and unload a certain amount of resources at another stop. To effectively construct a system an overhead view of the layout of the land would be a requirement for planning and placing tracks.

    Making a railway system in Factorio is already a complicated system, TT would have the added difficulty of having to implement it in a 3D environment with potentially more complications such as attacks and possible destruction of tracks or trains.

    3. Establishing supply convoys (I like this the most, but it also sounds the most complicated)
    I particularly like this system as it plays the most into TT's existing structure and strengths,. To transport resources players would establish tech convoys that travel over a set path between sites where they either pick up or unload resources. The system would work something like this:

    1. The player would establish a path, likely a complete loop, for a convoy to follow. This could be done through placing way points or by driving the actual path yourself and recording your techs movements

    2. With the path set the player could then assign actions to points along the path, such as "stop here until X amount of resources have been collected" that you could place next to a harvesting site where a tech will pick up resources that harvesting techs have collected, then you could have a second point such as "stop here until no resources are held" which could be placed next a receiver that leads to a fabrication system where the tech will unload resources before repeating the loop

    3. The player would then assign techs to the loop, you could designate a certain tech as a "Leader" whose job is follow the path and perform the actions that it encounters, other techs you could designate as "Followers" whose job it is to simply stay close and keep up with the Leader to act like guards (with a preset path it would be easier to establish things like defensive formations or columns then it would be for when the AI is actively following you).**

    If it is possible it would be really neat if you could assign multiple "Leaders" following the same or different set of actions on the same loop each with their own assigned "Followers" moving with them, this way you could have multiple convoys traveling around the loop simultaneously. You might even have combat groups who just continuously circle the loop to keep it clear of threats acting like a patrol.

    While I imagine this system been on the ground, it could potentially at some point be used for air techs as well to create flying fleets to move resources.

    In an ideal system you would have convoys collecting resources from multiple harvesting sites and dumping them into a centralized storage site where you can use the readily available resources to do crafting efficiently in a single spot without having to drive everywhere yourself.

    I don't know how plausible this is for the development team, but of all the ideas I could think of this one is the most in line with TT's mechanics. The Gauntlet race courses can recreate ghost profiles that follow a previously run path if that's any sign of plausibility for this.

    **If such a system could be established it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine it been used for more advance battle tactics and behavior at some point for both players and AI

    4. Local delivery cannons
    Instead of blasting resources into space for BB, have a type of cannon that launches resources within the world to designated locations, perhaps have 'landing pad' blocks (or for a more comical effect, giant nets) where resources would land and be picked up by a nearby conveyor system.

    Local delivery cannons could potentially have a limited range they could fire, meaning to send resources over a long distance one might need a chain of bases with delivery cannons to get resources to their final destination.

    If such a system were to exist in tandem with suggestions 2 or 3 it would need to be balanced with drawbacks such as been relatively slow, or having a certain percentage of resources lost in transition due to missed shots.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  2. FightBiscuit

    FightBiscuit Well-Known Member

    The auto-routing seems easy, but what sould happen if one of your bases is not loaded? How can the Tech find his way?
    Looks like the devs think that you have all ressources near your base (which is mostly the case except for the Crystals) and the Harvesters carry all your parts there.
    The separation of ressources would bring an awesome game aspect but as I said it`s very hard because the AI needs to work even if you are far away

    Now to your Ideas:
    I also dont like the RSCU Idea because the SCUs are in my Opinion already to OP. If you can spawn your Blocks/ Resources from there everywhere, why would you have to sell ressources with Delivery Cannons? Also it`s not really good for the Gameplay to have everything everywhere available.

    The perfect Solution would be this:
    You select the infrastructure like Road or Railway (maybe even Airports) and drive from one end to the other. The game estimates the shortest and best way (no trees or rocks in the way, no steep hills) and places a blueprint. You`d have to deliver all requred ressources to build your infrastructure. After that is done you can assign Techs to transport ressources or to protect these Techs.
     
  3. ilikegoodfood

    ilikegoodfood Well-Known Member

    I totally agree that universal storage and acess systems, including the current implementation of the SCU, will never work in the long run. Saying that they do make reasonable place-holders while the supporting mechanisms are put into place.

    As for the other two, I think that both would be great. More specifically I think that a wide variety of both would be great.
    I will tackle 3 first.
    As far as I am aware the Devs are open to the idea of more complex AI functions once the basic versions are functional. The types that I have seen discussed include "Patrol" for the guard AI, where a series of points can be assigned and the tech roams from point to point, as if guarding the "track" between them.
    A patrol function may in itself be sufficient for convoy creation, as you would give the tech tools to carry resources or blocks and set the points to the resource/block provider and receiver respectively, thus shipping the blocks or resources from A to B. A variation of it, specifically to ship materials and avoid combat would be ideal.

    As for Fixed Transport Infrastructure, determining what types of systems would be appropriate and which Corporations might like them is rather complicated, and ultimately up to the fine folks here at Payload Studios; that doesn't mean that I don't have some ideas though.
    Road Blocks, Ramps and other Terrain-like features are a fairly frequent suggestion since the release of Gauntlet, and they would allow for the creation of smooth roadways, bridges and other relevant structures. For the sake of clarity I'm going to refer to them as Segments.
    Depending on the size, shape, health and cost of the segments, they could be an extremely powerful tool. Unfortunately, they would probably need a different camera perspective to construct and design, especially since you would probably want to build only as many Segments as needed for a particular Pathway.

    So, my suggestion... This will probably only make sense if you read it all...
    First, you need a Block Provider for pulling blocks out of a connected SCU and passing them to a nearby Scrap Magnet. This allows convoys to collect blocks from a local SCU and transport them elsewhere.
    You also need a Resource Provider that can pull resources from an attached silo and pass them to a nearby collector.
    With these two blocks and a Convoy AI option you can enact Convoys.

    For Segment based transport systems you would allow the player to build series of Large Base blocks, each one acting as a station, a loading-unloading area for that type of transport.
    Railway Station (GSO and GeoCorp?)
    Hyperloop Railway Station (Venture?)
    Elevated Monorail Station
    Truck Depot (For use with Highways)
    Focused Tractor Emitter Station (Reticule Research - Long distance Tractor Beam transfer between fixed relays similar to those seen in Portal?)
    etc...
    Once the player has built and placed the station, they can enter a Segment Placement UI. This UI centers the camera at the end of the final segment, allows zooming out really far and includes a larger radar listing all of your own facilities. The usual inventory pain on the left instead contains a list of all possible pieces that can be added to the existing Segment, thus progressing the Pathway in much the same way as the Roller Coaster Tycoon Games (IMAGE).
    Once you have extended the Pathway to the next base over you build a second Station, which has a slightly "flexible" connector to the other base, thus preventing the player from having to rebuild the base around the station itself.
    Each Station contains a separate Input and Output Silo, with filtered connections to the base. Each "Transporter" then has it's own Filters, thus allowing for control over what it accepts from the station and allowing multiple different "Transporters" to pass through a single station with minimal interference.
    The "Transporters" themselves are modular vehicles that are built out of a much more limited library of "Parts" that can be strung together to create variable and unique transit systems.
    I might decide to build a Monorail-Train that comprises modules something like this:
    Armored Nose-Cone - Shield Generator - Engine - Battery Bank - Storage Container - Flak-Turret - Armoured Nose-Cone
    upload_2016-10-6_21-18-18.png
    Please excuse my poor use of MSPaint for this one... ;)
    While it would be cool to be able to build both the transport rails and transport vehicles completely from scratch, such as in Scrap Mechanic, this would both be very complex from a development perspective and a vehicle design perspective.

    Of course, this is just a very simple implementation that I basically just made up on the go, and I'm sure that there are many, far superior options out there.

    I hope this gives you some nice ideas and isn't too much of a hijacking.
    IN SHORT: Yes Please to 2 and 3.
     
  4. ilikegoodfood

    ilikegoodfood Well-Known Member

    I think that your post is the concise version of mine...
     
  5. reaperx1

    reaperx1 Crazed Builder

    I really like the idea of transport routes and automated delivery, but it would be a lot of work most likely to get that in the game. It would be worth it in my opinion. I think I like it for the defensive patrol aspect most of all.

    While reading the above post I thought about the mobile delivery cannon that we already have. There has been talk about having it shoot chunks at enemies as a weapon and what not, but what if it could shoot those same chunk at a specified base to deliver those chunk to a main crafting base.

    What I envision is a number of small bases setup around my world. One for each resource in the game as an extreme example because you can usually find a few of them close to each other. Each base is equipped with a mobile delivery cannon that could be set to only send the needed resource back to the main base. To really make it believable the mobile delivery cannon should be able to angle itself in the general direction of the targeted base. At said base there would be a RSCU like mentioned above that would collect the incoming chunks. Now to keep this from being misused I think that the RSCU should be an anchored only block that requires power to operate so that it would be useless to carry around with you. Or have other requirements that could only be met by having it built into a base.

    As for the delivering cannon it should only be able to be used for one purpose at a time. So if you are delivering resources to your crafting base it won't sell anything which causes the need for another delivery cannon to be added to the base tech for selling.

    This idea doesn't add as many cool blocks or features, but it uses mostly what we have already and it does make sense that it could work this way. We have been sending chunks into space and back to our home planet for how long now? Why not across the planet that we are on?

    I was thinking that this would be a good first step and could be followed by the proposed ideas in the original post.

    Just a thought

    Have a good one [8D)
     
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  6. FightBiscuit

    FightBiscuit Well-Known Member

    @reaperx1
    The Transport Cannon is a great Idea!
     
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  7. reaperx1

    reaperx1 Crazed Builder

    Thanks:). Have a good one [8D)
     
  8. Pink Kitty

    Pink Kitty Well-Known Member

    I like the transport route option best.
    And given the recent spate of AI work, it's likely to be the easiest for the devs to do.

    Simply have a loading point marked, and a drop point marked, and have the unit wait 10 seconds at both places, travelling back and forth.
    And you get to build receivers and droppers as appropriate.

    Of course, we will need some from of dropper block or functionality.

    That having been said, i've never had the issues mentioned in th OP.

    Me, i collect large amounts of resources and stockpile them, when i'm harvesting.
    Though, TBH, with the SCU and scrappers, i get most of my resources from there.
    And make occasional forays to get a specific resource.

    Though, setting the delivery cannon to deliver to you base, instead of orbit is cool.
    The problem is, all of these options require that a number of processes keep running, when you're miles away.
    I don't think they do at the mo'.
     
  9. Mr-Vagabond

    Mr-Vagabond Well-Known Member TT Translator

    Link the IA with two base and let it operate around a perimeter of itch base, like base 1 : harvesting all 50 meter around, them go base 2 to unload, and go again to base1 to harvest. Have a block like "I.A radio transmitter" perhaps ?
     
  10. HappyApathy

    HappyApathy Well-Known Member

    I don't know about having the game automatically choosing a route for you, there are reasons one might opt for a longer route like avoiding dangerous areas and/or making it easier to defend, also if one were to imagine roads and tracks been possible things like bridges and tunnels (not 'real' tunnels unfortunately due to the game engine, more like your tech enters a hole on side, and after a period of time is spawned on the opposite side at another hole) also been a possibility which would affect how you would want to place your roads/tracks.

    I added local delivery cannons to the list of suggestions, also I think what your thinking of when you say 'RSCU' is like a landing pad where resources just pile up after landing to be picked up by a waiting conveyor system.

    It's not that this is an existing problem at the moment, harvesting AI doesn't even work anyways, but rather one I see arising in the future, if resources were made to have more value for crafting and scarcity becomes more of an issue a system for collecting resources would take on greater importance, right now it's more of a gimmick that you only really do if you want to.

    The way the crafting system is been developed to me suggests that it is meant as a means of mass production for the future as currently game can't justify been able to store hundreds of resource chunks just to occasionally craft out a part now and then when you need it, it is likely the scope of the game will change such that there will be a reason for stockpiling large amounts of resources for production on a larger scale.

    I think the game will pretty much HAVE to change so that events to some degree will happen even if you are not present. If Harvesting AI is implemented but only works as long as I'm sitting there watching it sort of defeats the whole purpose of automating it in the first place. If multiplayer functionality is added the game would have to be able to recognize that events are going on elsewhere in the world without me been there. This is something that will likely have to be addressed at some point.
     
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  11. Zudakas

    Zudakas Well-Known Member

    I love the idea of a transport cannon. I could see a really odd base, where (using rotating anchors) you have an AI attached with a long arm picking up all the resources in the target area, and dropping them onto conveyor systems to be sorted/crafted/refined/etc... I can't see a transport cannon launching a chunk of wood 5000 units with 100% accuracy into a 4x4 collector lol...

    Honestly, I'm hoping they do change it to make certain elements only spawn in certain areas (kind of like trees only spawning in large quantities in the grasslands and crystals spawning in their respective terrain areas). Possibly, even making the resources a bit more rare to get you into using the AI to go hunting them.
     
  12. harpo99999

    harpo99999 ah kick till it starts

    but first, they need to get the AI actually able to harvest & return to the nearest base
     
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  13. Zudakas

    Zudakas Well-Known Member

    exactly
     
  14. reaperx1

    reaperx1 Crazed Builder

    That is kind of what I was thinking, but instead of them visually piling up they would get sucked into the RSCU just like blocks are with the SCU. The best case scenerio would be that the resources chunks are sucked into the RSCU as they get close enough to it but without ever touching the ground and then they would transfer to the attached conveyer system.
    If they were to land on the ground in the general area they could get stuck on or under things and not get collected.

    Have a good one [8D)
     
  15. reaperx1

    reaperx1 Crazed Builder

    Why not? We are already shooting resources off the planet back to some kind of collector on another world when we sell resources with the mobile delivery cannon. I don't think it would be too far out there to think that they could hit a target with some accuracy if it was on the same planet no matter how far away it was.

    Just a thought

    Have a good one [8D)
     
  16. Zudakas

    Zudakas Well-Known Member

    I don't mean in game terms... I mean in actual game physics terms lol... unless they made it intangible and just spawned that particular chunk back in after x amount of time.

    Here's a scenario of what I'm talking about:

    AI (1) is flying back to base. a block of erudite beans off his propeller, causing him to crash into your base instead of the resource chunk that was supposed to go there. OR...

    AI(2) is collecting resources, and is about 100 units from Base A. Base A fires a salvo of wood back to base B. AI(2) attempts to collect the wood, leaving base A behind as he chases the wood to Base B, 10,000 units away.

    I am 10000% sure I want this system in lol... I just think it could be entertaining to return to your base and have enemy ai collecters following chunks back to your base (intentionally, or unintentionally through getting knocked out of the sky lol)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  17. reaperx1

    reaperx1 Crazed Builder

    The resource chunk should not be able to take down any flying tech unless it scared the pilot bad enough that is:p. It should bounce off and may not get collected depending on how far away from the RSCU or collector it lands.

    Have a good one [8D)
     
  18. Zudakas

    Zudakas Well-Known Member

    There was some discussion of firing resource chunks at enemies... Just thinking of friendly fire (lol)
     
  19. Jamie

    Jamie PAYLOAD STUDIOS

    Can I get a TLDR here so I can give some feedback? codertearslolz
     
  20. ilikegoodfood

    ilikegoodfood Well-Known Member

    I can try to write one but that's not something I'm normally very good at...

    A method is needed to get resources from distant bases/locations to other bases/locations.
    Suggestions currently stand at, in order of popularity, as far as I can tell:
    Transfer Cannon - Delivery Cannon that fires to a distant Transfer Receiver
    Convoy AI option - Take X from Point A and drop at Point B.
    Fixed Transport Infrastructure - Trains, Roads etc...

    That's basically what we are discussing.
     
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