Posts by Ernestas

Friday Facts #350 - Electric mining drill redesign

Posted by Ernestas, V453000 on 2020-06-05

Electric mining drill redesign Ernestas & V453000 The electric mining drill is one of the older designs still in the game, and we have had our eye on it for a long time as a candidate for redesign. We would have loved to rework the mining drill in 0.15 when we added high resolution graphics and the pipe patch for it, but we had many nuclear related graphics to do for 0.15, so we just did the necessary minimum and postponed the full redesign. Now was finally the time we could unleash Ernestas onto it.

Friday Facts #334 - New poison cloud animation, flying robot dying effect

Posted by Ernestas, Posila, Dom, Klonan on 2020-02-14

Poison cloud Ernestas, posila The poison cloud animation is a placeholder spritesheet (that kovarex found somewhere on the internet), we have wanted to improve it for a long time, but since it was always such a small detail other things took priority. Well now is the time to finish everything, big and small. Some of the problems we see with the old placeholder animation: The edge (where damage will apply) is not clearly defined The center strongly obstructs vision underneath the animation It breaks the perspective/height illusion with its very circular shape The new animation was done quickly and without the need of any large changes to the Factorio engine. This is the mindset we are in these days, use the engine features we already have to finish things quickly and without trouble, and we try to stop ourselves going crazy with more detail. The smoke capsule itself spawns a bunch of smaller dummy entities which do the smoke drawing, while the damage is kept consistent by only using the central smoke cloud to apply damage.

Friday Facts #323 - Animated water

Posted by Albert, Ernestas, posila on 2019-11-29

Water animation - Concept Albert Since the very beginning of the project, we have focused a lot in the side of the factory, providing better designs for the machines, and expressive animations that give a sense of life and credibility in this area. We put a lot of effort also in the environmental side, adding different tile sizes, improving textures, adding doodads, cliffs, trees, decals, and constantly improving the map generation for a better feeling. But apart from biters and the factory, nothing else moves in this Factorio planet. So the environment is nice looking but it feels somehow unreal due this lack of motion. Today we proudly present the first experiment in this area: Animated water. This animation doesn't try to grab your attention, it's just there. Slowly moving. I personally bet that this animation, with the proper sound design, will provide the natural feeling that the planet needs.

Friday Facts #313 - Light at the end of the bug tunnel

Posted by Klonan, Ernestas, Albert on 2019-09-20

Hello, We have had quite a peaceful week here in the office. Last night we went out for a burger and a beer as a last meal with Ernestas before he flies back home for another few months. It was also quite nostalgic, as we went to a place that we used to go to frequently near our old office, and the staff still remembered us.

Friday Facts #312 - Fluid mixing saga & Landfill terrain

Posted by Dominik, Ernestas, Albert on 2019-09-13

Fluid mixing saga Dominik Hello Factorians, Today I would like to talk to you about my favourite subject - fluid mixing and its prevention. It is a new mechanic introduced in 0.17 that seemed quite simple at first, but has been giving me nightmares ever since. A while ago I took on the task of updating the fluid system (FFF-260). The way it works in 0.16 is that the fluid boxes (the thing that holds the fluid and is contained in entities like pipes or refineries) had no organisation whatsoever except their connections. They would sit there and do nothing and then once per update send fluid somewhere. It had it's issues especially with symmetry, and when you happened to put some fluid where it did not belong, you could end up requiring major demolition works. My task was to develop a better algorithm to move the fluids, and a very very optional side task I had in mind was to do something about the fluids getting to wrong places and mixing. We started by organizing the fluid boxes into systems (connected FBs make a system) managed by a special fluid manager, and optimizing the heck out of it (FFF-271). Soon after, I started working on the new algorithm and anti fluid-mixing. Until then nobody really considered preventing the fluid mixing seriously as it did not seem possible. But when I thought about it, it did not seem that hard. The idea is to simply not allow any action that would lead to fluids getting where they are not supposed to go. When you build a steam pipeline, you should not need nor want it to touch another fluid. In principle, it would only require a few quite realistic mechanisms: A connected block of fluid boxes would either be fluid-free, or it would be locked to one fluid. Two such blocks can connect only if they are compatible - either one has no fluid lock, or they have the same fluid. An assembler can only set a recipe if it is compatible with the fluid locks on its fluid boxes. Have a migration from old saves that can contain mixing. By creating the fluid systems right before, number 1 was almost finished and we only needed to assign the lock. It would be set either by a fluid, or by a 'filter', which is a fluidbox that is set to use a fluid - such as a water pump using water, or assembler having some inputs/outputs given by a recipe. After a while I had both the fluid algorithm and the mixing done (FFF-274). The mixing was not that easy (like 5x more complicated) but it worked pretty well. As for the fluid algorithm, V453000 and Twinsen found some issues with waves on a macro scale, and because it was right before releasing the 0.17 experimental, we decided to hold it off on it for the time being (we have a new version now that seems okay, but has to wait for 0.17 becoming stable first). The mixing made it through though and seemed quite finished. It turned out that the work on it was at most one tenth complete. Some difficulties appeared already before the initial release, but that was only a hint of what would come later. One by one, then ten by ten, bugs started coming. The problem is that as often as not, they were not just little issues with simple fixes. Instead, over and over, they turned the current solution on its head and the code had to be completely rewritten in order to account for the new case. As of now, almost exactly half a year and many rewrites later, it is still not fully bug free. The number one issue was with Assembling machines. It turned out that their code was pretty messy and does not simply allow the checks I needed, so it had to be refactored. The next problem was that the check was not only required when setting a recipe on an existing assembler - as I naively thought - but in about one million different situations I would not dream existed. Building a fixed recipe assembler. Reviving an assembler. Rotating. Blueprint of an assembler. Blueprint with a recipe and a rotation placed over a ghost with a non-default rotation during a full moon. Teleport. Script building. Copy-paste settings. Any combination of these. Pretty much every case would go through different paths in the code and behave entirely differently. Fixing one would break another and so tons of tests had to be written. When these cases finally worked, it turned out that doing these operations when they fail (e.g. can’t rotate because it would cause mixing) brings another wave of issues. And then mods come and the complexity multiplies. All this, although in a more simple form, had to be done for all other entities that can use fluid too, such as inserters (mods...). Another number one issue are underground connections. When playing, you would not think twice about them but on a closer look they are all but simple. They have this (cough) uncomfortable feature (want to shoot myself) that you can build another underground pipe between them (or take it out) and a complex reconnection logic jumps in. It means that based on building order, connections are established and reestablished differently. This is a big thing when building a blueprint with many pipes, or loading a save game. But the largest issue is one tiny corner case with huge implications. Have two underground pipes that have different fluids, but are split by a third, and it gets removed. Until now mixing was theoretically completely avoidable, but here it was and there was nothing to stop it. As a result, a new concept is introduced - a blocked connection. An underground connection that would normally connect but can’t. Establishing it is the easier part. But when does it get fixed? An entity miles away gets rotated, that splits a fluid system, disconnecting the blocked connection from a fluid filter on the other side, and the connection should unblock. But even something as simple as a rotation contains fluid fixes and re-establishing of fluid boxes and if it fails, it still fixes the blocked connection in the process and it can’t be undone... You get the picture. And we are still talking about underground pipes, while anything can have underground connections, including said assemblers, which the previous code did not consider at all. The complexity just goes deeper and deeper, and Rseding is probably right that we should have never gone this way at all. So the bug fixing has been basically running in circles - clearing one batch of bugs, thinking that those were the last ones and the ordeal is finally over, only to find another batch (ideally from some bizzare modder idea) a few days later. Many times I wished that mods never existed. Nor multiplayer, or any players at all for that matter. About two months ago all seemed really fine, with basically no reports and just a few crashes in the automated crash reports. At that moment another nightmare materialized in the form of a talented volunteer bug tester named boskid, who took on a personal crusade to break the fluids to dust (I actually imagine him sitting in his dark room with evil laughter, dreaming about making my next day worse than the previous). In all seriousness, he has done a great deal of work with his bug testing, creating bizzare modded cases and testing scripts, and deserves a big thanks. He is actually coming to our offices next week, so follow the news for reports of developers falling out of windows. An example of a nice configuration he found (and I can’t fix). The whole time we were taking the offensive approach to mixing - crash the game when it happens - so that we know about bugs to fix them. Recently we have decided to put a stop to it and have the mixing automatically fix itself once it is detected, eyeing the end of this episode. Right now I have 3 mixing bugs on the list and I am sure those are the last, and mixing will be done (lying to myself is a way to cope with it) and the new fluid algorithm can come soon after :).

Friday Facts #310 - Glowing Heat pipes

Posted by Ernestas, Albert on 2019-08-30

A few bugs left... WoW classic has been released, which means several of our top men have taken time off to spend hours raiding and having fun in Azeroth. This isn't great timing, as a few new bugs related to train signals appeared. We want to get these bugs solved before we do another release (another stable candidate). As it turns out, the only person with the skillset to fix these specific train signal bugs is also deep into levelling his Priest... (Kov on Pyrewood Village) We are still making the rest of the preparations for the stable release. We have started writing up the stable annoucement blog post, and have produced a 0.17 postcard image. Other than the few more critical rail bugs, there doesn't look like there is much else to block the stable release, on the forum we are down to 27 bugs. Since there are so few bugs left to deal with, some of the team has starting working on 'post-stable' features. Wheybags is working on the new campaign, Oxyd is diving into some detailed pathfinder improvements, and Rseding has started work on some particle optimizations. We will delve deeper into these topics and more in future FFFs, as we always love to do.

Friday Facts #301 - Crash site: First state

Posted by Ernestas, V453000, Albert, Rseding on 2019-06-28

Crash site: First state Ernestas, V453000, Albert For many weeks now the GFX department has been focused on preparing replacements for the placeholder graphics of the campaign crash site. The subject as usual is not that easy because we had to first solve the main concept of the crash site. It happens that those new entities belong to the Factorio universe, but they come from a different reality than the usual DIY/diesel punk of the game. So we had to invent a new way to design machines that look like Factorio but that are not too familiar. Here a proof of concept of the look: The concept is that the big (medium) spaceship broke into pieces as it crash landed, and lost many components that the player, during the introduction, will repair and use for his own profit. The look of the spaceship remnants are a little bit based on the designs of the 60’s/70’s pulp Sci-Fi. Fortunately we can keep the look of Factorio due the accident, which allows us to destroy and dirty up the machines show many inner mechanical details. It is also part of the concept that all the machines that the player builds, are based on an existing technology from his home planet. So the machines that we see in the regular game are like 'cheap' versions of the original ones. For the lab, we keep the dome shape and the beams inside in order to keep consistency with the regular laboratory. So slowly the player gets used to the meaning of the shapes. The generator is similar to a substation -more or less-, connectable like a pole but it also produces electricity. Sometimes we really have to invent. This works like an assembling machine. The design is more based in the (yet unshown) redesign of the assembling machines, rather than on the actual 'classic' ones. These cylinders are like chests. We decided to make them cylindrical instead of a box for this difference in technology level that we are speaking about. The player will recognize them for the shape, color, and they also always have a number printed. You don’t really want to know the meaning of the numbers. All this new content is a work in progress, and we made these new entities first for the testing of the campaign. Based on feedback with testers we will have the chance to tweak and adapt whatever is necessary. In the case of the introduction, the positioning of the entities can have a large impact on the flow of the gameplay. Once we are more sure of the final placement, we can see how all the pieces will fit together. The next round for the crash site is the main crashed spaceship, and some other assets that converts the scene into a full composition, more proper for the introduction of the game.

Friday Facts #295 - New design for the chemical plant

Posted by Ernestas, Albert on 2019-05-17

Hello, the bugfixing period boringly continues, we got down to 159 active bug reports, so in few weeks we should be finally down with this burden. But at least the graphics department has something new to show:

Friday Facts #282 - 0.17 in sight

Posted by kovarex, TOGos, Ernestas, Albert on 2019-02-15

The release plan (kovarex) This week was the time to close and finish all the things that will go to 0.17.0. Not all of the things that we originally planned to be done were done (surprise), but we just left any non-essential stuff for later so we won't postpone the release any further. The plan is, that next week will be dedicated to the office playtesting and bugfixing. Many would argue, that we could just release instantly and let the players find the bugs for us, but we want to fix the most obvious problems in-house to avoid too many duplicate bug reports and chaos after the release. Also, some potential bugs, like save corruptions, are much more easily worked on in-house. If the playtesting goes well, we will let you know next Friday, and if it is the case, we will aim to release the week starting 25th February.